Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

What an amazing year full of all sorts of events big and small.  It's hard to imagine so many things going on in one year or how 2013 will possibly top it.  But I'm pretty sure I say that every year.  But seriously, here are a few (or a lot) of things that went on in 2012:

My Grandma Thies passed away at the age of 91, we celebrated Ethan's 1st birthday, my Grammy moved to Kansas City, John left his job of almost 15 years and started a new one in Denver, he moved 3 long months before the kids and I did, we had TWO family weddings - Jenny and Ian and Matt and Jacquelyn, celebrated 10 years of marriage, went on lots of trips: Winter Park, Tablerock Lake, and Rocky Mountain National Park, we settled into a new home in Denver, celebrated my 30th birthday, John's Grandma Jennings passed away, and we spent the first Thanksgiving and Christmas Day ever away from family. Whew!

We also had a goal of going on 100 picnics in the year of 2012.  We didn't quite make it but we DID get to 60!  That's pretty good in my opinion.

We have made a new outdoors goal for 2013.  We are aiming for 30 hikes this year!  Since we love doing it so much we thought it would be fun to see how many we can go on and 30 seems like a reasonable goal.  Maybe we'll do more!

Since video clips seem to build up and I'm not great about posting them on the blog a lot, I put together a recap of video clips in 2012. I think I'll make one every year.  Maybe sometime years from now I'll string them together and watch/relive our life as it plays before me on a TV screen.

The song playing is called Home by Phillip Phillips.  I have had my struggles with moving away from my friends and family back in Kansas City.  A while back God brought this song to me when I needed it most and I believe He is promising me that this too will become my "home."

As for resolutions there are plenty.  More like goals actually.  Most of them are pretty typical: health and fitness goals, financial goals, parenting goals, and a desire to get more involved with our church.  I love January because it feels like a fresh start.  2012 was a fantastic year and I look forward to 2013 and what it has in store for us.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas in Kansas City Part 2

 Saturday night we headed over to Nanny and Papas after having dinner with Jay and Chelsee at Applebees. (Side note - we ran into Michelle Farnsworth and Terry!  Small world!)  Then Sunday morning we celebrated Christmas with my family: Nanny and Papa, Grammy, Chelsee and Jay, and Katie and Adam.  So many presents to open again!  As I said before we are truly spoiled.  Or blessed I guess you could say!  Thank you everyone for the thoughtful gifts - we are having fun playing with everything back home.

 Helping Nanny make frosting
 Taste testing the frosting
Early morning risers

Later on that day we had a great Mexican Fiesta together before John had to get to the airport to travel back home.  He was supposed to work New Years Eve and day but the flu had caught up with him and he had a lovely puking incident on the airplane and ended up calling in for New Years Eve.

The boys and I stayed with my mom and dad for a few more days and hung out with my mom and  sisters.  My dad had to work.  In fact both Granddad and Papa had to work the whole time we were there.  I wish I could have planned better but we only had a narrow window of time to make it around the holidays.  Luckily Nanny and Papa are coming to visit in February for Ethan's birthday and Grandma and Granddad are coming sometime in March or April.

The flu wasn't done with us yet and I ended up getting sick Sunday night.  I was so bummed because I was supposed to co-teach a Zumba class on New Years Eve morning.  I was REALLY looking forward to it but I had zero energy and still felt nauseous.  Mom and Chelsee took the boys out and let me sleep for 5 HOURS!!  It was much needed.

On Tuesday, New Year's Day, I was finally feeling like a whole person again so Mom, Chelsee and I took the boys out to Oak Park Mall for a little while and lunched at Red Robin.  Meanwhile Katie was busy getting ENGAGED!!!!  My youngest sis is getting MARRIED!!!  Congrats Katie and Adam. : )  You guys are so cute together. And props to Adam on a romantic proposal in the middle of the ice skating rink at Crown Center.  Let the wedding plans commence!

The next morning was all about packing!  How to pack all of our stuff and three extra people with their stuff into our Dodge Durango?  It was no easy feat but we got it squared away and set off on our long - very long - trip back to Denver.

Kansas City was great and we were reminded again (not that we needed reminding) of how much we miss our friends and family.  Merry Christmas everyone.  Thank you for a fantastic visit.  Can't wait to see you all again soon.

Christmas in KC Part 1

It was so great to come back to KC for friends and family visits.  Our first stop was the Farnsworth's.  Since John had to work both Christmas day and the day after we decided that our best option was to drive after he got home from work.  So I cleaned and packed as best I could and we rolled out of town around 8:30.  The kids did sleep most of the way which was fantastic but it was harder than I thought to stay awake all night long.  I only drove for a small section between Hays and Manhattan and John drove the rest.  We ran into some VERY dense fog and light snow on the way.  It was about 6:30 am when we arrived and the kids were up and ready to play with Grandma while we tried to catch a few hours of sleep.

That night after Granddad got off work we exchanged gifts with Grandma and Granddad and Jenny and Ian. How spoiled we all are!!!  We all got lots of neat things to keep both the kids and John and I busy.  Thank you for all the wonderful gifts.  We are so grateful and love you all so much. Unfortunately our visit seemed way too short and was further shortened by a run in with the flu that affected Ian, Aaron, and Teresa while we were there.  There was lots of resting and reading and watching new movies involved.  I even learned some knew knitting stitches from Jenny and started working on a new project.

 The boys playing with their new toys
 There was lots of Ellie loving.  Oh how we miss our dog.  
Little Eman taking a rest
 "Fork and Screen" and Grandma and Granddads

Ethan playing around in the cradle up in the playroom

The next day was all about visiting with people.  The kids and I met up with Amy, Jude, Asher and Jett for a play date at the Mall.  It was a much needed BFF date!  The kids played while we caught up and then we had pizza for lunch.  It was nice that Aaron and Ethan are both old enough now to run around with Jude and Asher in the jungle gym area inside Zonkers while we could just sit at the bottom with Jett and visit. Later we stopped by Great Grandma and Grandpapa's.  We also got to see Bridget while we were there.  It was nice to see them and visit for a while.  Later that night John and I went on a date with Chris and Esther.  It was fantastic!  A date?! Good dinner, good dessert, good conversation...  Great day!

Saturday morning was so much fun!  My good Zumba friend Michelle had invited me to teach a few songs with her at her 8:00 am class at the Olathe YMCA.  Over the summer I taught that time slot and I knew a lot of the people that regularly attend that class. Plus with my year and a half of teaching at the Y there were very few faces I DIDN'T recognize.  I had SOOO much fun seeing familiar friendly faces and shaking it with my old class.  It really made my day and made me feel so loved to have so many people happy to see me.
My good friends from Zumba

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Morning: A Lesson Learned

Our first Christmas in Colorado turned out to be a good one.  We had a little bit of a rough start but all ended well and I was reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.

First off, I had built up this moment for weeks as I shopped for the boys and worked on all of my homemade projects.  As a kid it was fantastic to wake up on Christmas morning to a living room full of gifts and stockings overflowing.  The anticipation was so exciting.  As an adult I think the excitement and anticipation is ten fold!  I was positively giddy about seeing our kids open their gifts and experience the "magic" of Christmas morning. After all giving is better than receiving right?!

John had to work Christmas day so we decided that Santa was going to come one night early.  So on Christmas Eve Eve we sat the kids down in the living room and let them open one gift, carrying on John's family tradition of getting a pair of jammies to wear to bed Christmas Eve.  They were excited, and a little crazy, to open a package and loved their winter footies.  Santa had sent mommy an email for Aaron so we watched it together and then they actually went down relatively easy.

The next morning John and I got up early and made sure everything was perfect.  The kids got up around 7:30 and groggily walked into the living room.  Of course they were happy to see the presents but Aaron just looked right past the wrapped "obvious" guitar and actually didn't even open it until everything else was opened.  They were obsessed with the candy in the stockings.  I think they would have tried every piece if they could!  Ethan was thrilled with his mega blocks table - and so was Aaron! 

They did enjoy opening gifts and eventually Aaron decided to open the gift from Santa.  (We decided that Santa fills stockings and brings one gift for each kid.)  I was most excited for this gift.  Aaron had been talking about a guitar for months and he was sure that Santa would bring him one.  I guess I was expecting him to be over the moon excited.  Instead he opened in, strummed it a few times and then set it down.  He didn't seem happy.  When John asked him if he liked it he said, "NO!" So of course we did the whole "oh that's sad, maybe we should just put it away then." To which he said, "OK."  Hmm.... not expecting that.  We put it up and he didn't care.  I was crushed.  I tried to let it roll off my shoulders but we ended up having a conversation with him about being grateful and respectful.  I was worried he would open gifts from other people with the same reaction and hurt others feelings.  

Next up, breakfast.  I made biscuits and gravy but it didn't quite turn out as well as Teresa's and neither of the kids ate it.  On it's own, that wouldn't have bothered me but piled in with other events that day it was a little upsetting.  I didn't plan a fancy dinner because I didn't want leftovers since we would be leaving the next day for a week.  Instead we found ourselves in the car driving aimlessly for a place to grab some lunch.  We had settled on Sonic when both kids fell asleep and I sort of lost it.  Sonic?  Who eats Sonic on Christmas? Now they wouldn't nap and the afternoon would be full of trying to occupy sleepy, cranky kids. (Now who's the cranky one right?) After I started to cry about not having a "special" dinner we headed home to try to transfer the kids to bed.

The whole day up to that point seemed to go all wrong.  I had pictured this amazing first Christmas in "snowy" Colorado with just the 4 of us starting our own traditions.  But I actually missed having people to go visit and the hustle and bustle of seeing family and sharing gifts.  We headed home without getting lunch and I figured it was time to regroup.  I sat in the tub while surprisingly the kids actually DID take a nap.  I started thinking about the first Christmas and the gifts that God has given me.  I wondered if God had ever felt about me the way I felt about Aaron's reaction to the gift we had given him.  How many times have I "tossed" it aside like it was nothing.  Especially on the day we celebrate the birth of that gift. Here I was focused on the material part of Christmas and though we read the Christmas story with our kids, I hadn't really taken a moment to thank God for the gift of my salvation.  Or the gift of my husband, or my kids, or my family back in Kansas City.  I had taken for granted all the precious things God has given me and tossed them aside like they were nothing or at least like I was entitled.  I had said without words "oh that's nice" and went on with my day all but forgetting that these gifts were what Christmas was really about. When the kids got up we headed to Red Rocks Church for the Christmas service.  It was a great service and helped me refocus.  Why is it so easy to get caught up in the little things.  A $25 toy guitar from the mall shouldn't have made me so upset.

Afterwards we drove around looking for some place to eat on Christmas Eve. Ha!  Perkins was the winner but it didn't matter.  We enjoyed our dinner and then headed up into the mountains to see the snow and look at lights.  It was a little hairy driving in the mountains WHILE it was snowing but John never let on and we took our sweet time.  The kids fell asleep and John and I just listened to Christmas music as the beautiful snow fell and ate our dessert we got to go from Perkins.  It was the perfect end to our evening.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Our elf pal Dash was a big hit this Christmas season.  He sure hid in a lot of funny places.  On Christmas Eve he flew back to the North Pole until next year.  The kids are looking forward to seeing him again in 2013 around Thanksgiving.  Here's some of the places he hung out.

See you next year Dash!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas in Colorado

I love the Christmas season.  There seems to be so much to do and see and Denver was no exception.  There were so many possibilities but of course we couldn't do them all.  We looked at lights a lot. It was one of our favorite things to do.  So many people decorate here!  One night we picked daddy up at the hospital upon Aaron's suggestion and went out for a drive.  We also went to a candle light walk, saw the lights at Trail of Lights, made our traditional gingerbread house with a twist, and went to a Christmas Parade in downtown Golden.  Surprisingly, we never went to see Santa.  For some reason it just never came up and since the kids had Dash to talk to and express wishes to, it didn't seem to matter.

 Aaron at the Candle light walk.  This was a walk down main street in Downtown Golden.  People sung carols and at the end the Mayor and Santa lit up the river walk with thousands of lights.

 Last year Aaron got tired of us trying to build the gingerbread house so this year we decided that while daddy put it together, the boys would make a forest of Christmas trees!
 We used ice cream cones and decorated them with frosting and candy.  Ethan mostly ate the toppings.  Anytime he actually got a piece of candy to stick to the tree he would later pull it off and eat it.
 Our finished house complete with snow and a back yard of trees.

This was at the parade downtown Golden.  It was the perfect length - 30 min and Mr. and Mrs. Claus rode a motorcycle with a side car!  So cool!  We ate out at Woody's pizza after - LOVE their pizza.

Somewhere we have pictures of some of the awesome lights at Trail of Lights.  It was a Living Social deal that we found for a Botanical Gardens decorated with thousands of lights.  And it was pretty incredible!  They had trees with their branches wrapped all the way up and then another color draped all around that.  It look like the trees had veins.  And these trees were not some little trees.  They were like 20 times taller than Aaron.  And we have a picture to prove it!  I'll look for the pics and post them later.

It was a great Christmas season. I look forward to next year - maybe we'll even live IN the mountains by then. : )

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Grandma Jennings

Earlier in December we received a phone call that sweet Grandma Jennings had passed away.  I was fortunate enough to have met her before her Alzheimer's had completely taken her mind.  When John and I were dating I remember visiting her and Grandpa Jennings trailer on Uncle Danny's property.  Sundowners had already set in but there were moments when she was still there and she would tell us stories of her past.  Stories I'm sure her grand kids had heard a million times.  Unfortunately she never knew our kids.  Once she came to our house to visit in Gardner and got to see Aaron.  She kept calling him Monkey Doodle - an endearing nick name she once called John.  She touched many lives as did Grandpa Jennings and at her funeral people spoke of wonderful memories.  It is a wonderful blessing that she is now with her Savior and reunited with Grandpa Jennings with a healed mind and body.

Her funeral allowed us a chance to come and visit everyone.  Twice in one month? Yes please!  While in town we spent time with both families of whom we had not seen in 4 months - the longest I think we've ever gone without seeing them.  Here are some great pics from that visit.

 Concentrating hard at Zonkers

 Ethan is going to be the roller coaster kid!  As long as he can still suck his thumb. : )

 Papa and Aaron.  Nanny we need pics with you too!

 Lunch with Grandma and Granddad and uncle Matt

At the funeral.  This is the perfect depiction of our kids personalities!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Kick Off

Last Friday we took the whole day to kick off the Christmas season.  This year Santa sent a special helper to watch over the boys! He arrived that morning and brought breakfast from the North Pole.  (An idea I borrowed from a fellow "pinner" on Pinterest.)  The kids were surprised to see him on the table along with their  choo choos and buckets of "snow donuts" and "snowball hot cocoa."

 Meet Dash - our special Elf Friend from the North Pole
 It's cold at the NP so Dash brought socks to keep their feet warm.
 The story he left tells all about Santa's helpers and how he flies back to the North Pole each  night to report to Santa about all the things that Aaron and Ethan are up to.  That way Santa knows if they are being good little boys.  He hides in a new spot each morning and the kids get to look for him.  They can't touch him or he loses his magic.  Aaron is very serious about this rule.  We don't want Dash to disappear.  We went through a few names before coming up with Dash.  Aaron wanted to name him Jesus because he watches over us.  Smart kid.  But we explained there is no one like Jesus and only He can have that name.  So Dash it is.
 The note Dash left.  We didn't have any decorations up so guess what we spent the day doing?

Daddy also made eggs and bacon to go with our donuts and hot chocolate.  Dash left us hugs and kisses from the NP.  This is Ethan "mid-kiss." : )

We spent the next several hours listening to Christmas music and putting out our decorations.  We went to Ace Hardware and let the kids push their mini carts around while we picked out some new LED "kissmas yites" as Ethan called them. Then we played outside while daddy hung them up - phase 1 at least.  We aren't quite done yet.  During nap time we put up the tree and strung the lights on it so it was ready for ornaments when the kids got up.  The boys were obsessed with one area of the tree and even today it is still heavily decorated in one area!

After a crock pot dinner we headed for downtown Golden for the Candlelight walk. There was a lot of waiting around before we left and the kids were a little antsy but it was still pretty neat.  We saw a co-worker of John's and  hung out with him and his wife.  We drank hot Chocolate, held our little candles in between juggling the kids (next year we'll carry them in our packs), and sang songs off and on as we made our way down to the river walk - Santa leading the way.  We didn't get to see Santa flip the switch or much of the lights as they came on due to the insane crowd and my near panic attack. : )  But the walk by the river was nice and the lights were beautiful. 

It felt like midnight as we piled back in the car and headed home. It was only a quarter past eight!  Everyone was pooped but it was good day.  

More on Dash later.  He sure is sneaky.  He likes playing with toys and climbing plants.