Friday, December 30, 2016

Love this Man!

I married my best friend 14 years ago. And today I love him more than ever. If there's any pure grace that God has poured over my life, it's being married to this man.
Here's a blurry pic from our anniversary dinner at Grunauer.
He pampered me with a full day at the spa, and I bought him a framed 1923 Pan Am poster of our favorite vacation spot, Norway, which holds extra meaning since we met on the S.S. Norway cruise ship in 1994, and started out as pen pals. 
(And the stave church on this poster was the one we visited with the kids a few years ago HERE.)

To celebrate with the kids, we also stopped in to tour the church - Corpus Christi in Lawrence, KS - where we were married, which we sometimes do around our anniversary. 

Happy Anniversary, Hubsley! 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas cards over the years

We have fun with Christmas cards. We keep them simple on the years we have a big vacation, and get whimsical - which usually involves something thematic in front of our favorite green garage door in West Bottoms, KC - for other years. My friend, Amy King, and I take each others' family photos for free - neither of us are photographers, but we're pretty pleased with how they turn out (and I think she should be a pro). Here's a montage of our Christmas cards for the past few years - 2014 & 2015 are my faves. :)
 2016 - Greece & Turkey
2015 - "A Cozy Christmas"
2014 - "Magical Christmas"
2013 - Norway, Sweden, Denmark & Estonia
2012 - "Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
2011 - "Conspiracy Claus"

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

On Christmas Eve & Christmas, I feel like radiant beams from heaven just bathe us with the Love that binds us. Deep in my heart, this incredible gratitude wells up and seems to pour over into everything. And I get to soak in my family and see the magic in our kids' eyes - love!
 We went to see Mark play at candlelight Christmas Eve and ran into several friends by surprise.
See Mark there on the keys, beneath the letter "E"? He rocked it!
We kept forgetting to do our regular Advent (each Sunday, we read a devotion and add new figures to the manger), so instead this year we did a twist on our Easter tradition and created a sort of Christmas Seder, to tell the Christmas story. The kids beg to do the Seder more often because they love it so much.
Each item on the plate is a metaphor for something in the Nativity story, and we eat them in order as we read passages from Isaiah, Matthew and Luke. (I think Gryffy's digging the shepherd hat - teehee!)

We spent the rest of Christmas Eve reading books, watching movies (including our traditional "Rick Steves Christmas in Europe" and "Shrek the Halls") and bouncing together on the trampoline.

On Christmas morning, after reading the letter and examining the shark tooth left by the Tooth Fairy substitute (Gryffy's class elf, Scout), the kids dutifully sat at the top of the stairs, with the manger empty at the landing, awaiting the arrival of the Baby Jesus whilst belting "Jingle Bells" and "Feliz Navidad." As soon as Jesus arrived, they proceeded downstairs.
 It's blurry, but I love the look of anticipation on the kids' faces!
And oh, the delight of tearing through presents!

 Lorelei is an avid reader; she carries books everywhere and devours them. She had lost her old Kindle and kept borrowing Gryffy's, so she was pretty thrilled to get a new one.
 We all got mugs. I loved this "L" mug from Anthropologie, which matches mine.
I found this Grinch at Barnes & Noble and knew G would love it - green's his favorite color.
And mischief managed - Mark got me a spellbinding black mug that reveals the Marauder's Map when warm!
Some stocking stuffers. Gryffy always talks about his "curly sexy hair" because of this hair gel. Ha!
 And then, the BIG ONE (which I strictly told Santa NOT to get us... naughty Santa): an XBOX!!!
Just look at the kids' stunned faces!
I believe Gryffy's clapping.
 Scratch-off tickets from the lottery.
 And another Easter tradition that the kids now beg me to make all the time: Eggs Benedict. We used to make Holiday Strata, but this has been going strong a couple of years now.

And for our late lunch/early dinner, we made a honey-glazed ham with green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, strawberry spinach salad and cranberries. We'll just cruise through the rest of the week on leftovers.

Gryffy bought Googly Eyes, the game, for Lorelei, so we all played it as a family. It was awesome fun!

Later we cleaned, went on a rain walk (it rained on Christmas!) and then tested the XBox (which has an ancient Greek feature that Gryffy and I totally dig). And now, I think it's time to grab that Marauder's Mug, give it a spike of the Bailey's I got for Mark, and snuggle up for another movie and a Skype with grandparents in Canada.
 Merry Christmas.
And God bless us, everyone!

Hexen Hausen

One of our favorite Christmas traditions is decorating the Trader Joe's Gingerbread Hexen Hausen. Every year, I call and have TJ's reserve a few for our family before they run out. (I've learned. Those things fly off the shelves like Gingerbread witches.)

This year the kids had some neighbors over for a slumber party, so Mark and I donated our decorating kits to the kids, and watched them create.
The girls' houses were beautifully decorated, with scalloped rooftops and daintily applied candies.
And the boys, well...
They were hands-on builders.

Let's get another look at those girls.
And those boys. Look at the glee on Gryffy's face.

I think they're all very magical! (And apparently Caden and Gryffy thought theirs took the Christmas popper crown.)

Friday, December 23, 2016

THREE Front Teeth

Excuse the just-rolled-outta-bed Christmas morning hair, but look who just lost another snaggle tooth on Christmas Eve!!
That's THREE front teeth, missing on Christmas.

First this one fell out a few months ago...
And then this other snaggle-tooth was suddenly plucked out when he was standing next to me in the kitchen. He was so proud.
 We're a bit slow on the tooth loss. I was the last of my friends, too.
Now just waiting on those permanent teeth to grow in. This little man knows the secret of the Tooth Fairies that visit us, so his sister begged to help the fairy with the note beneath his pillow, along with $1 and a special surprise... a shark tooth!
Santa and the Tooth Fairy all in one night made for an extra magical Christmas Eve!

Monday, October 31, 2016


I think it's fair to say that of all the holidays, Halloween is the one we are all over-the-moon about celebrating. Especially at "Nightmare on 131st Place."
When the Guzzos moved in, they brought along their love of Halloween. And so our cul de sac collectively decided that, while the east 131st Place turned into "Christmas Place" every December, our little western cul de sac would become "Halloween Place" - "Nightmare on 131st Place."
And this year, Mark and the kids surprised me with this super tall inflatable, who just MADE the whole yard, along with our pumpkin carriage that we've had for several years. Aren't they fun?!
 Bob, Joe and I-forget-the-other-name, scurrying up the house.
 Our graveyard beneath the old tree.
I've always loved this sign. And I've always loved witches. Maybe it's the family history in the Salem Witch trials.
Pumpkin man.
Nights are when our cul de sac came to life!
 The Barteks.
 The Beissers.
 The Guzzos. This purple guy was new this year and added an eerie touch!
 One of our firepit and chili hangouts with all the neighbors gathered in lawn chairs.
Boy do we ever love our neighbors!

We made our annual trip to the pumpkin patch with the plane crash. The kids think this is so mysterious.

 Our neighborhood puts on an awesome Halloween parade along the trail that ends in the park.
The grown-ups donned tees. Because 131st Place is the hood life.
Pumpkin carving.

It's so sad that this is the last year Lorelei has school parties! She couldn't find her bat girl mask so I bought a new one that morning and surprised her!
 The girls in L's class.
And at last, Halloween night! (Don't you just love Mark's Mama Bear robe and pajamas in the background? Ha!)
 Happy Halloween!