Tag Archives: Christmas

Merry Christmas 2014!

25 Dec

Merry Christmas from my family to yours. Hope you’re enjoying some wonderful time with family and friends, and reflecting on how amazing it is that our Lord and Savior would come to earth as a baby boy.

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Christmas Thoughts: On Trees

21 Dec

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One of my favorite parts about getting ready for Christmas is decorating the tree. This year, we have a real 8-foot Fraser Fir, but every other year that Travis and I have been married, we’ve had a 3-foot pre-lit tree that we just pulled out of the box and plugged in. There are benefits and drawbacks to either real or fake, I think. The fake ones look a little too nice to be real, but they are convenient, economical and much less messy. The real ones are fun to pick out and smell good, but ornaments are often too heavy for their branches and they are needle-dropping factories.

The best part about either kind of tree, though, is the ornaments you put on them. And in my opinion, the best part about ornaments is not whether they color-coordinate or match, but the memories they bring to mind. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a hodge-podge tree full of ornaments that had been gifted, made or were unique in some way, but I personally prefer a tree full of memories and not-so-perfect ornaments than a tree that looks like it belongs in the mall or Martha Stewart magazine. Though those trees definitely have their place too!

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Travis’ mom bought him an ornament every year when he was growing up and wrote the year on it. When he got married, we inherited his collection, so that makes up 80% of our ornaments right now. There’s only one creepy ornament that I could do without – a boy wearing a stocking hat and singing.

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Am I right?

I liked Travis’ family’s tradition so much that we’re going to do the same thing with our kids. Emma’s ornament last year was the token “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament.

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For Travis and me, I buy a picture frame ornament every year that either includes the year or I write it on. The picture I put in is a highlight of the previous year.

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Right now, our tree is at least half decorated with standard red, blue, white and green balls but I look forward to all the new memories that we’ll collect and hang up over the years with fun and unique ornaments – even the very-homemade ones contributed by Emma and her siblings. 😉

Denver Babymoon

20 Dec

Travis works for a small engineering company where all the employees work remotely. Since it’s rare for everyone to be together at once, his boss flew both of us out for the company Christmas party and paid for our hotel two nights! Seriously, Travis works for a great boss/company. We are blessed. Anyway, we thought we’d extend the trip for the whole weekend and make it our babymoon.

Travis’ parents came down Wednesday night to watch Emma for the weekend and we left early Thursday morning for the airport. I think it might’ve been hard on Emma to have us leave while we was sleeping (and then return when she was also sleeping) so maybe next time we’ll try to time it differently. But Emma did great while we were gone regardless.

We flew into Denver around noon on Thursday, ate lunch with one of Travis’ co-workers and his wife (who had been on the same flight as us), and then checked into our hotel. I took advantage of being in the big city to use one of my gift cards at Massage Envy for a prenatal massage, and then went and got a mani / pedi. So wonderful. I seriously haven’t had my nails done since before Emma was born.

That night was the Christmas party, which was really fun. All of Travis’ co-workers and their spouses were there. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. Travis’ boss bought all the employees gag gifts from Sky Mall. It was funny to see what everyone got. Travis got a Snuggie, since our basement (where his office is) is so cold.

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Friday, Travis had a couple of work meetings in the morning so I hung out at the hotel doing some reading and writing. When he got back, he had to do a little more work so I took the rental car and got Einstein Bros. for lunch. I ate my sandwich outside on the patio in the sunny, 70 degree weather. Man, I miss that about Denver.

We went out for sushi that night – I got the fully cooked varieties but they satisfied my sushi cravings. (Seriously, why is that you always crave what you can’t have during pregnancy?) Then we drove out to the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield for their Trail of Lights display. Unfortunately, we had originally planned on seeing a movie after dinner so I had worn flip-flops! My feet were icicles by the time we left, but it was fun anyway.

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Saturday, we slept in and then met our friends D and Doug for lunch at New Peach Garden in downtown Golden. It was great catching up with them. Then we went to see The Homesman in the theater – the most depressing and disturbing movie I’ve seen in a long time. I would not recommend it. It still haunts me. Ugh.

After we checked into a different hotel, we went over to a friend’s house for dinner, and saw several of our friends from our old church. So fun catching up! I wish it were easier to stay connected across the miles.

Sunday, we ate breakfast at Panera (we made sure to eat at restaurants that we don’t have in Brainerd!) with our good friends Randy, Cathy and James, and their 2 kids. We had seen them the night before, but it was nice to have more time with them to catch one on one.

Then we headed to our old church for the morning service, and stayed after to talk to more friends. We drove straight from there to the airport and just like that, our babymoon trip was over. It had a really good mix of busyness and downtime though. We got home relaxed and rested – only to be thrown back into the furnace of Bisky care! She had slept through the night every night while we were gone. Then the night we returned, she woke up about 30 minutes after Travis’ parents left and was awake for a couple hours. Uff-da. (But since then, we’ve extended her awake time by an hour or so, and so far, that has helped a lot!)

Christmas Thoughts: On Gifts

5 Dec

I’d like to do a short series in the month of December featuring various thoughts I have about Christmas. Here’s the first installation. 

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If I had a penny for every time I heard a Christian lament the gift-giving frenzy that is Christmas in America, I’d be able to buy every Christmas gift I’ve ever wanted.

Don’t get me wrong – I agree that Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Week, and Christmas shopping in general are out of control. Even though I’ve gone shopping on Black Friday the past 3-4 years (at a respectable hour like 6 am), I refuse to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I just can’t imagine ever wanting to buy something so bad that I have to miss out on family time to get it. But I digress…

I think that as Christians, it is tempting to swing the opposite direction of our culture and think that gift-giving at Christmas is bad. I myself, for one, have had the thought during more than one Christmas, “If Christmas isn’t really about the gifts, why are we [meaning my family] still doing that whole thing? Why don’t we just do away with gifts entirely?”

But I think that mindset is missing the point. The problem with Christmas gifts is not that the act of giving gifts is wrong – it’s that the gifts have become ends in themselves. They are often no longer a way to show another person that we care enough about them to spend the time, energy and money to buy something that we hope makes them happy. They are an expectation of the receiver and a duty of the giver.

Deep down, though, I believe that we as humans enjoy giving gifts – even more than we enjoy receiving them. At the very least, we were created to enjoy giving gifts. Why? Because we were created in God’s image and He is the Ultimate Giver. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

So at Christmastime, I think that we can embrace giving gifts as a reflection of our heavenly Father’s character and the greatest gift of all, Jesus. Use this time of year as an opportunity to teach our kids the reasons why we give, and allow them to experience giving themselves, not just receiving. Emma’s still a little young to understand the whole concept, but we plan to make giving to the less fortunate one of our family traditions (throughout the year, but especially at Christmas).

And finally for those of us like me, who still struggle a little with the idea that Christmas gifts feel expected and not spontaneous, it can be helpful to remember that giving gifts to those we love is not just a way of being forced to fight the holiday crowds. Instead, giving can be an expression of Christ’s love to them… and a blessing to ourselves in return.

Christmas & New Years 2013

5 Jan

This year for Christmas, we road-tripped to Minnesota. It is 13 hours to my parents’ house and 16 to Travis’, but we ended up encountering snowy roads on both the way there and back, so it took us about 15.5 to get to my parents’ and 17 to get back from Travis’ parents. Brutal!

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20131222_075017Emma did pretty well though. We drove overnight, leaving around 6 pm on our way out and 1:30 pm on the way back. The way there, Emma fell asleep right away and slept the whole time, only waking up when we stopped for gas. I nursed her a couple of times but she was really easy until the morning. We were supposed to get to Rochester by 8 am CT, but we didn’t end up arriving until 9:30. Once Emma woke up around 7 am, she wanted out of her carseat. I did a few smiles out of her though…

20131222_093044The same thing happened on the way back, except her fussy period was on the front end. We left at her nap time, she slept for 1.5 hours, then was awake for about 3 hours, and fell back asleep around 8 pm. During her awake time, she was somewhat fussy. We stopped to eat dinner and took her out of her carseat, partly to feed her dinner and partly to give the distinction between her nap and bedtime. After she fell asleep for the night, she slept almost straight through until 5 am. She was a little fussy then too until we got home around 7 am. But I was fussy after being in the car that long, so I can’t blame her! We were very relieved to get home. I said what I always say after that trip: “I never want to do that again.”

Other than the drive, our trip to Minnesota was very enjoyable. We spent the week of Christmas with my family, since that’s when my siblings would be in town. Because of my mom’s health, our time in Rochester was very lowkey – we mostly just hung out at home, eating, playing games (Yahtzee and Rummikub), playing with Emma and my nephew Jensen, watching movies and talking.

1531680_10101193921359232_124572735_nJensen saw us putting stuff on Emma’s head as a game, and he decided it looked like fun!

1468708_10101193921194562_1566288813_nEmma did a lot better with sleep than I was expecting, considering she was teething and congested. We did have to bounce her to sleep for the majority of her naps and bedtime, but at least she wasn’t screaming like she did the last time we were in Rochester. She also slept pretty well at night, waking up only a few times and going right back to sleep after I nursed her. Even so, I’m sure that God gave me LOTS of patience. Travis and I also switched off getting up early with Emma, so that one of us could get a little more sleep.

We celebrated Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve morning, since that was the only time we’d all be together. We opened gifts first – Emma didn’t quite get the whole unwrapping thing but she liked all the toys she received! She got a cute outfit from her aunt and uncle and this alligator push toy from grandma and grandpa. I got a couple of new scarves and nail polish.

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IMG_5182 (Large)After opening gifts, we ate brunch. Then my brother, his fiancee and my sister-in-law left and the rest of us hung out until it was time to go to the Christmas Eve service at 4:30. After church, we ate chili for dinner and played some Yahtzee.

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On Thursday, it warmed up enough that we braved the outdoors. It was Emma’s first experience in the snow. She seemed to enjoy it overall, but was not a fan of her hand in the snow!

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IMG_5222 (Large)IMG_5227 (Large)Travis also went sledding down the steps of the deck.

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IMG_5218 (Large)On Friday morning, Travis and I packed up our stuff and hit the road. We had planned to leave for Emma’s first nap, but she hadn’t slept well the night before, I wanted to shower and we had a crapton of stuff to pack up. So we ended up leaving for her second nap of the day instead. It worked out well. She slept most of the 4.5 hour drive to Nevis. 

Our time there was a lot more lowkey than it normally is, because it was so cold outside. It was hardly above zero the whole time we were there. The day after we arrived, though, it was 30 degrees so we took advantage of the ‘warm’ weather and took Emma sledding down the driveway.

IMG_5252 (Large) IMG_5250 (Large)Another night, Travis, Emma and I ‘went to town’ to have dinner with some friends. But other than that, Emma and I didn’t go outside at all. (Well, I did walk from one side of the house to the other when it was 20 below just to remember what it was like.)  

We opened Christmas presents on Saturday night, so that Emma could play with all of her fun new toys. I’m pretty sure her toy collection doubled on this trip. She got Stack n Roll cups, a xylophone, Rock a Stack rings, a musical book, and several cute new outfits, among other small things.

IMG_5267 (Large) IMG_5266 (Large)The rest of our time we spent eating (of course), playing games (Pictionary and MarioKart on the Wii, Pub Trivia, Catch Phrase and Bananagrams), playing with all of Emma’s new toys, and doing a lot of crossword puzzles and Sudoku. We also watched some movies, though I didn’t stay up for most of the them because Emma was sleeping pretty poorly. I think she went through a growth spurt in addition to teething and the congestion. It was a doozy! Fortunately, grandma was willing to watch Emma in the mornings so that both Travis and I could sleep in until 8 or 9. 

1508513_10201283314429703_1340272208_nOn Wednesday, Travis’ aunt and uncle, aunt, cousin and his girlfriend came up for New Years Day. We ate a late lunch, played some Pub Trivia, opened gifts and then they drove the 3 hours back to the Cities. We got more cute outfits and books for Emma, a calendar, office supplies and I got nice running gloves. 

Emma learned how to use a walker on this trip at both houses. Can I just ask, why can’t they make a walker the right size for a 9 month old? Both walkers had to be adjusted down so that Emma could touch the ground. But we made it work and she really enjoyed standing up and moving around. She could mostly only go backward, but toward the end of our trip, she could go forward slightly too.

IMG_5296 (Large) IMG_5298 (Large)Emma also got to use a Johnny Jumpup for the first time in Nevis. She really enjoyed that too – I think, as much as a normal jumperoo. Definitely a good thing to have on vacation (or at grandma’s house). 

IMG_5260 (Large)She’s also starting talking a lot more, and rolling over a ton, but I will talk more about those things in her 9-month update on Tuesday!

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Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

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Christmas Festivities + House Projects

18 Dec

Things have been pretty busy over here, but life is good!

Wednesday night, we had our Christmas celebration with our care group. We ate dinner together as usual and then played a huge group game of Apples to Apples. It was a lot of fun! Travis and I both won a round.

Thursday night, we went out to dinner with Travis’ company at The Fort in Morrison. It’s a small company (4 men + Travis) so we all had fun chatting and laughing about the crazy stuff that happens on the road.

Friday, I had lunch with a friend and then went to the church to set my table up for the women’s Christmas tea on Saturday.

20131213_141239 20131213_141246 20131213_141253Saturday, Travis worked on the soffet and fascia while I ran errands and frantically baked some Bagel Bites right before leaving for the Christmas tea. The tea was a lot of fun though, and I got to chat with some new faces. Right when the tea ended, I packed up my table quickly, drove home to nurse Emma and then turned around to take her to the babysitters for our date night. We went out to eat at Rock Bottom Brewery and then to Avs vs. Wild game. It was a pretty tame game – the teams were so evenly matched that not many surprise plays happened. But the game ended up going into overtime and a shoot out, where the Wild won!

Sunday, Travis did some more work on the soffet and fascia while Emma napped and I cleaned our house for the first time in way too long (oops). I also picked some friends up from the airport.

Monday, it was in the upper 50s, so we had Charlotte watch Emma while Travis and I painted the soffet and fascia. We got it scraped, washed and painted in about 6 hours!

20131216_115114This shows all the scraping we did.

Tuesday, I took a half day off from work to help Travis put a second coat of paint on. Painting is done! We went from white to a dark brown based on our realtor’s suggestion. I never would’ve thought to paint it dark brown but we think it looks nice! My neck is so tired from looking up for that long.

housepainting1 housepainting2We’re not quite ready for the gutters to be installed – Travis has to add a piece of wood for them to hang the gutters on – but we’re very close!

So that’s what we’ve been up to around here! Next up is packing for our trip to Minnesota. So excited!