Monday, December 22, 2008


Wow, what a year it's been. I was just looking through some of the pictures of the past year, and it's amazing to see all that has happened this year. First of all, I'm very blessed to have such an amazing wife who is my best friend! She is also such a patient, kind, loving, and giving mother. Who could ask for anything more? Certainly not me.

The girls are such a joy to watch and play with everyday. They are developing such wonderful personalities and becoming such friends. This morning when I went into their room, Alicyn was sitting on her bed "reading" to Gracyn and both were happy as clams. They've been playing Candyland together on the floor for the past half hour or so. They're beautiful.

This year, we watched Gracyn grow from baby to toddler with all the fun and unexpected behaviors that go along with that. Her latest accomplishment is running. She thinks she's pretty cool as she's trying to run around - and she's very cute doing it. She trying to communicate so hard, and between the grunts and gestures, she's adding new words to her vocabulary each day. She loves to watch her older sister and always wants to be treated as a "big girl."

Alicyn loves to learn and she's a great helper. She loves to read books, count, and write. She is also mom's big helper around the house, especially the kitchen. She can lick beaters better than anyone :) Alicyn is very helpful with Gracyn as well. This year, she did a great job learning to ride her bicycle. She's already talking about riding her 'new bike' next year. She also loves the water - like her dad, and she enjoys crafts -like her mom. Lately, she's been asking about God and Jesus's house, wondering where it is, how we get there, and if there are cookies there. Very cute.

In addition to keeping this house together, Rae has been watching anywhere from 1-3 additional kiddos everyday. She more than pulls here weight around here, no doubt about it. She is the Wife of Noble Character referred to in Proverbs 31: 10-31... Rae has also found some time to catch up with and make new friends in a book club that meets monthly (even though many of them never read the books:), she also played volleyball in a city women's league this fall. She did great and enjoyed a little time out of the house.

I have been blessed with steady employment through these financially tough times. And not only have I been employed, but my hours can't be beat. I did teach some summer school this year, leading team-building initiatives with middle school students the first two weeks, and being the summer school counselor for the last 3 weeks.

As soon as summer school ended, we embarked on a wonderful trip out west to catch up with friends and family. We spent 3 weeks on the road, staying with family, friends, and camping. The girls love the outdoors just like their parents.

Over Labor Day, Rae and I were able to escape for a long weekend with another couple (sans kids) to do some backpacking in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Other than the HOT car ride (sans air conditioning :)) home, it was a wonderful trip. I also had an opportunity to kayak over a 4 day span in Lake Superior. I went up with 3 friends: we kayaked the Apostle Islands, camped on different islands and had great fellowship.

Our family spent an awesome weekend camping in Door County in July with my siblings and mom. My sister and Ed brought their beautiful girl Ella. They adopted her from Vietnam in June, and we were lucky enough to have 2 weekends in early July with her - one of them being the Door County trip. She's beautiful, active, and smart. She's lucky to have such great parents, and they're blessed to have such a sweet girl. We're looking forward to spending time them this weekend.

My brother is still in Idaho teaching. If you don't know him, he's the guy that gives a 100% to everything he does. I'm sure he's a fabulous teacher, and the students respond to him. He came back for a few weeks in July and did some camping with us. He and I were able to get out for a short kayak outing while he was here. He's heading back in a few days for the holidays, and I'm looking forward to playing some hockey with him while he's here.

It's been a great year. We're excited for what 2009 has to offer, and we rejoice in the joys and blessings God has given us in 2008.

Merry Christmas. May the holiday season and 2009 be full of blessings for you and your family.

In His Love,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hurray for Snow Day!

A good sized snow gave us a nice reason to sleep in this morning - well as much as sleeping in as possible with two lil' ones.  Everyone is excited to have daddy home for the day.  He's quite the entertainer with wrestling, hide-n-see, slap jack, fort building, hot chocolate, sledding and my favorite, nap-time.  I've had a chance to catch up on some much needed chores.  

Thank you for the wonderful day, Daddy!  We love you!

A few new pics for you to take a look.  

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thankful and New Pics

Hello All.  Just wanting to wish everyone a Happy Thankgiving.  We are enjoying a dusting of snow this morning and a chilly wind.  Thankfully, we gals are staying inside for now.  

Alicyn and Gracyn have been busy, busy.  Always something to play, more to read, a question to ask or something to be getting into.  "No, no Gracyn!"  And as irritating as it can sometimes be to have busy busy little girls, this is the opportune time to take a break and be thankful for healthy happy toddlers who want to play, ask endless questions and  are always getting into something!  

Thank you, Father, for our precious lil' girls!    

O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; 
let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.  
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.  
Psalm 95:1-2

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What fun....

Rae has posted a bunch of new pictures. We've had some fun and busy weeks and weekends lately. The fall colors were amazing this year. The pictures never do it justice, but we sure enjoyed watching the leaves change. They're all falling off now, and the feeling of winter is in the air....

We spent much of the weekend 2 weeks ago insulating our house. My mom came up and spent Saturday with the girls, while Rae and I blew insulation into the attic and walls. We're sure hoping it helps ease the feeling of winter in the house :)

Last weekend, we were able to get down to Milwaukee for our niece, Ella's, birthday party. She just turned 1 and she's a doll. We went to her party and picked some apples with my sister, Ed, and Ella. Sunday we played in the leaves at my mom's house. It's been a fun filled fall. Life is good!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall Day

Working on adding a few new pics for you. We had a great weekend enjoying a parade and a wagon wide at the nature center. It was a perfect fall day. The colors are peak now and we couldn't take our eyes off our beautiful maple tree yesterday. Hopefully, the breeze blowing now is not going to take away the brilliant color. Also yesterday, we baked a cake for Papa. Alicyn informed me when she grows up, "I can make the cake all by myself and you can help me."

Up next, a big weekend of house projects.

Monday, September 29, 2008

September Fun!

A few new pics for you.  Door County was our destination this past weekend for our last camping outing.  Gracyn took a big digger the first night, so you might notice a fat lil' lip in a few of the pics. Poor thing, but she is fine.  We apple picked with friends and enjoyed biking and ice cream.  All the good stuff :)  The leaves are just beginning to change here and the next few weeks should be an absolute delight to watch.  The kids and I have been busy acorn hunting and finding unique leaves to bring home.  Unfortunately, the acorns had to go after sprouting some magot friends in our display jar.  Alicyn was impressed.  We've added a fish to our family - two actually in one week.  The first one had a tramatic transistion and didn't make it more than the weekend.  This new one, Nemo, seems to be doing just fine.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Thank you for playing bikes, sneaking us treats, and checking on us before you go to bed .  You are an exceptional Daddy!  

Happy Birthday!  Let's get ice cream!

Monday, September 15, 2008


Loud shrill, "Gracyn's biting me!"
"Daddy...Daddy!  You go to work today?"
"Daddy, what you do at work today?"
"Hmmm.  I play with Kyle."
"My undies are wet, but that's okay."
"Is it bed time yet?"
"Does it rain today?"

"Nack!"  (Snack, said with much enthusiam)
"Iah, Iah, Iah."  (Josiah)
"Mil, Mil, Mil."  (Milk)
"EEEEEEEEE"  (Please)
"Na! Na! Na!"  (Banana)
"Wing!"  (Swing)
"BAAAA."  (Bath)

Gracie's latest trick is to climb up on the table via the chairs.  Needless to say, all the chairs are stacked on top of the loveseat until this little "phase" passes.  Her latest sign is "Love you".  TOO CUTE!  We'll try to post a video of that soon.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Back to Work

After being gone most weekends all summer and the lil' getaway out west, this will be our first weekend home.  So begins the continuation of several projects that need tied up.  This week was Justyn's first week back to school and my first week with the extra kiddos.  We are both exhausted and ready for the weekend, but hopefully we won't get too comfortable, so we can keep the project list rolling.  Salsa making has been added as well, so creating additional mess  :)

The updated photos:  
Justyn's boys weekend- a kayak trip to the Apostle Islands.
Our first alone weekend to the Porcupine Mts. (Labor Day weekend)
Our lil' cuties...


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Praise the Lord for safe travels! From WY, we headed straight to the mountains in Colorado. It was just the refreshing we needed. Alicyn was anxious to get to the top as she thought she might make a snowball and then told us, "We forgot the sled.....That's okay, we go home and get it."

Later in the week we headed to NE and spent some time with Grandpa, Grandma, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins and ol' friends. It was super fun. We were a little sad to leave the cute little town of Arnold, but anxious to head home.

Next up a trip to the zoo in Omaha and a night in Iowa, before landing in MN for a weekend with MEAMA. (Amelia) After a visit to a music festival we had a chance to check out St. Paul which was just the relaxing (and ice cream) we needed before heading back to WI.

So the past few days we've been settling in and getting back to the routine. All of us are very thankful for the great visits and hospitality. And we are thanking Jesus for the patience he bestowed with a whiny 3 year old and a squealing 1 year old. I'm sure if it was not for Him, we would have left our precious babies at a truck stop somewhere....

Reflections of the trip to come...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wide Open Spaces

Well, the ole' Subaru has safely gotten us to Wyoming, where Rae's mom lives. WE've been hanging out and relaxing here since Monday evening. After a night in the tent at a beautiful state park in Minnesota, we headed to Burke, South Dakota to spend a night with Rae's aunt and uncle. Rae and the girls stayed home with Aunt Shirley, while I headed to the beach (Missouri River) with her uncle for a men's outing with his church. We had a wonderful visit with them.

Monday morning we headed west some more to Oelrich's South Dakota, where we enjoyed lunch with Rae's grandma and spent an afternoon visiting. After a nice dinner, we got in the car, once again, and headed to the ranch - Rae's mom's.

The girls did a great job on the drive. Alicyn enjoyed a couple videos, some beading work, coloring with her colored pencils, and watching for cows, horses, tractors, barns... all of which we saw a lot. Gracyn got a little more bored and would occassionally remind me of that with a loud shriek in my ear, but overall, she also did a great job.

Since arriving to the ranch, we've been relaxing and enjoying time with Grandma Alice and Grandpa Mike. Grandpa Mike filled up a big bucket with water and Grandma bought some water toys, so the girls have enjoyed spending quite a bit of time playing in the water. Alicyn has enjoyed a few rides on the 4-wheelers, 'looking for cows'. Tomorrow, about 20 family members are heading up to the ranch for a picnic. Rae and her mom have been busily making a menu and getting set for the company. Both are very excited to see everyone.

Mike and his son, Jake, have been working around the house quite a bit over the summer, and they've created a wonderful veranda that we've sat under, enjoying the miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of open space. It's quite a difference from the woods of Wisconsin :) We're enjoying it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Packin' Up

First want to introduce the newest cutie in the photos. Our niece Ella joined the family last month and we couldn't be happier for her - and her proud parents. Welcome home, Ella. We spent the 4th of July weekend in Milwaukee, up to Papa's the following to see cousins Ava and Bella and then camping the following weekend. There we saw the goats, beautiful water, and most importantly ate green ice cream with Uncle Eddie. About a year ago, Uncle Eddie introduced Alicyn to mint chocolate chip ice cream and it has not been far from her mind ever since. "Green is my favorite!" Naturally, it is also her favorite color. It is also mommy's favorite color, but according to her I like purple since green is hers.

So we are packin' up to head west and Alicyn is rather annoyed that we are not leaving now.Time is so abstract to her. She knows we are heading to Grandma Alice's house and she is hoping for a slide out back. Hmmm.... slide down a pile of hay? With snakes? She'll have to be distacted with some baking. She knows we are heading to Aunt Sherry's house and is hoping for another slide out back. Is there still a trampoline? She won't be disappointed with that. Ride in a tractor at Grandpa John's and go fishing with Uncle Jesse are also on her to do list. When I told her we were going to the mountains, she told me she needed her Blueberries for Sal book because there are mountains in that book. Today we carefully chose several new books (from my former teacher days stash) for the car ride and she was sweet to pick a few for her sister.

Gracie is pretty silly these days. She loves to sing and attempts to mimick about anything. Her current favorite is blowing kisses. There's going to be a lot of time for her to blow kisses from her carseat in the near future!

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Pics.

Words to come...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

More Good Times

Gracie is on the move. She just took off this past week with go, go, go. She giggles when she gets across a room and then turns around to do it again. It's too precious. Tonight she practiced combing daddy's hair. Not much for combing, but it was a great time for her. She continues to eat great amounts and usually finishes Alicyn's leftovers. The spoon is her next great task.

Ali informed me God lives in a little house and He has cookies. In fact she went to His house and had some of those cookies and then she said, "Kind of silly." She is a little girl desperate to get outdoors and we don't mind. "When daddy gets home, we go to Miracle Park." (Actually Memorial, but it's a mouthful for a 3 year old). Growing all to fast. Justyn planned on taking the girls to get a little payday treat - ice cream - last friday. I was hoping to stay home, get the dishes done and keep the treat away from my lips and backside, but when they were leaving and Alicyn looked back and said, " I love you, Mom. Bye, bye." I lost it. Dishes can wait. She is too perfect right now to miss any of it, so I hopped in the car and our happy little family went together. - And she wasn't too keen on sharing her favorite green ice cream, so not much of it made it to my lips :)

Another week and Justyn will be finished with school, but then getting ready to work for the summer school session. He is ready for a break. It's been a tough year. As for me, I've decided to catch up on some reading so I can actually contribute when attending book club. In the past 3 weeks, I've read Snowflower and the Secret Fan, Mutant Message and These is My Words (correct title). On Sunday afternoon, Justyn gave me a nice little gift by watching the girls after nap time, so I could loose myself in the hammock with a good book. It was a little piece of bliss and I had 3.5 hrs of time to myself!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lots of Fun

We've been having a great time this spring with the girls. Alicyn turned 3 on May 4th. She's getting so big! Just before her birthday she was walking down the steps, I walked over to pick her up, and she said, "No Dad, I'm getting 3." Sob sob. We bought her a 'big bike' last year at a garage sale. We finally pulled it out on her birthday. She's taken to it quite quickly, and she does a great job riding it. Lots of Fun.

Gracyn has started taking a few steps!!!! She's still lacking confidence, which seems to be her biggest stumbling block right now, but she enjoys trying to walk between Rae and I. Her personality is just blossoming right now. She loves to say "Hi" and wave, and she loves to give kisses. Lots of Fun.

We headed down to Madison last week for a few days. I had a conference for work. Rae and the girls went along. We checked out the zoo,went out for some pizza, and spent time with my step-sister, Melissa, and her family. They were gracious enough to let us stay with them, and Alicyn had a great time playing with Bella. Lots of Fun.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Animal Lover

So we had a great weekend. Justyn and I had a chance to go to a marriage conference that was wonderful. The main points were: a woman's deepest need is to be loved (and what that does and does not look like), a man's deepest need is to be respected (and what that does and does not look like), and our marriage is ultimately a way to reflect Jesus. What spoke to me most which isn't anything new, but sometimes we need reminded I'm serving for Christ. So ultimately, it isn't about Justyn or the kids, it's about Him. So when I'm frustrated about changing another poopy diaper for the thousandth time or feeding them again or serving in the church or making a meal for someone or.. or..or.. I need to just keep reminding myself "unto Me, unto Me, unto Me." (meaning Jesus, not literally me). It's not about them or myself, but about Him. I know, not that shocking, but it really spoke to this tired mom's heart. Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs if anyone is interested or if you have a chance to see the videos or conference.

So after that refreshing time, we took the girls for a nice long bike ride -or as Alicyn would say "bumpy ride!" Sunday, after worship, we took the girls to the zoo in Green Bay. It was great and the weather was awesome. Oh, and so this brings me to Animal Lover. This morning Alicyn found a lady bug on the floor - "Mommy, I found a lady bug. Let's put it outside." Unfortunately, this lady bug was already dead - I mean sleeping, but we gently set her free outside where she belonged. Now if all these spiders would mysteriously fall asleep....

That's all from here. Will try to get pics up later.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stamps or Stickers?

Check out one of the new pictures. Alicyn went cruising by with her box filled with goodies; the usual duck, bunny, ball, books, .... I did a double take and noticed she had decorated her prized box with stamps! I guess the flowers and fun smiley faces just weren't as cute as the liberty bell!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He Is Risen!

First, I'd like to give props to Jesus for raising from the dead and God's awesome plan for redemption. Easter is the best time for me to reflect on my old self and and my new. Wow! He has done some serious heart work in my life. I have a lot of growing yet, but the best work yet being in the area of forgiveness. Forgetting and forgiving are totally different, but I'm amazed with how much He has totally blotted from my memory as I give it to Him. Thank you, Jesus! I've been a Christian for 11 years now and just want to give a little praise to my savior on His Super Sunday.

Enough, Rae.

We are good here. The stomach flu and then a nasty cold wiped us out this week. Yousers! Justyn was such great help and I will be very happy to quickly forget about this week. Amelia, made a quick visit, but she didn't find lil' Ali in much of a playing mood. Poor thing. It was great to see the whole Smith family, but it feels like a dream that they were here. Justyn's been working on the dreaded bathroom project. Not sure where his vacation went, but our pink tile shower had a few surprises for him. It was built to last and Alicyn is unfortunately reminding him, "Daddy, you make a big mess. Daddy, you broke the wall." He did break the wall in the hall from pounding on the shower so hard - and the pink tiles still won't budge! Naturally this led to needing more tools - always. ;) We are laying low for the holiday with a quick trip to worship this morning. The girls and I hung out in the nursery so we could help out with all the extra babies. Lots of little ones. Alicyn was happy to find a present this morning. Jelly beans, a puzzle and brush....

Gracyn is moving to move. She's not walking on her own yet, but nothing is safe anymore. She pushes everything and is quick to find you if you have something to eat. Alicyn too, "Mommy, what are you eating?" "I want to eat that too." Before we all became sick she was doing so well with her manners, but apparently the virus took that skill because I haven't heard a please of thank you in a week! Grrr. Why it irritates me so much, I'm not sure.....

A nice snow today. Ali stuck out her tongue and tried to catch some. Nice big flakes that were really fun and floaty. I told Justyn I thought they were pretty. He told me, "Snow is pretty in December"!

A hair cut for me has left me with a little new sass. Good thing, I needed a little pep. I chopped it off for the Locks for Love program and put layers in what was left. It's cute. I'm calling it my grown up haircut. Now that I'm 30 :)

We hung some curtains. They look cute and cozy just like our little cottage. I still don't like the paint, but shhhhhh don't tell Justyn. He's a little bitter over it..... ;) I hear there is a good sale going on across town, so maybe....

Gracie's awake! Happy Easter Everyone!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Look who's 1!!!!

The year has gone so fast! Gracyn turned 1 today. She's such a joy. Grandma Dawn, Great Grandma Marje, Aunt Jenna, and Uncle Ed all came up to help us celebrate the big day this weekend. We had a wonderful visit.

Here is a little birthday cake video.

(also, the first three pictures on the slideshow are short videos. You can watch them by clicking on the picture)

Monday, February 18, 2008


It has been snowing for two days straight, and that's after already having a foot of snow on the ground. It's hard to believe spring is SUPPOSED to start in a month! The girls and I went out and played in the snow this morning while mom was at the physical therapist. After trying to sled in the yard for a bit, we (I) decided that we'd go for a walk. I pulled them in their sleds while Hunter walked along side. We just walked down the roads since there is no traffic and noone remembers what pavement actually looks like anyway.... We're loving the snow!!!! We keep hearing everyone say how this is what winter was like when they were young :)

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Congratulations, Gracyn!

We are proud to announce Gracyn has finally popped not one, but TWO teeth this week. She is pretty excited about her new chompers and has managed to bite herself several times. Our little girl is also suddenly moving all about. We like to call it a modified crawl with one foot in front and one foot in the back. It's not the quickest method, but she is motivated to find all kinds of new treasures - mostly chunks of old playdough, broken crayon pieces, chalk, old stickers.... all the things two year-olds leave laying around. Gracyn is also very good at cruising by holding onto furniture, walls, chairs. There isn't a safe place left in the house, especially since she is very interested in heading straight for the stairs!

Alicyn is currently occupied with her Valentine balloon from Daddy. We love you, Daddy!

Looking forward to the weekend!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Pictures

Just wanted to share a few of the latest. Gracyn is showing off her standing skills. Notice you will not find her on her tummy in any of the photos. Alicyn loves to swim with daddy. She LOVED making her gingerbread house and daddy loved eating it. Notice she didn't want to share the ball blower with her lil' sister and see all the babies on the steps? She was busy playing and came into the kitchen, "Mommy, they naughty. They in time out." All those babies were in time out so I had to take a pic. LOL. It was too cute. Yesterday, while walking by the freezer section in the store she called out, "Look, ice cream!" I said, "Yes, but it's not good for us." She replied with, "Oh, it's good for daddy." Notice the one where Gracyn is on the little bike and Ali is next to her. After I snapped the photo, Alicyn managed to accidentally push her sister off. Crash! Gracyn let her know she was not happy with some serious screaming. And finally, the awkward ones are from Ali's view. I wanted to highlight her natural talent with the camera. Ahhh... good times. Stay warm everyone!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Leader?

I prefer to think of my little Ali as a leader. Some may recognize it as bossy, but I'll keep on telling myself she is a leader. Here are a few of her bossy language skills. "Mommy. You sit here!" "Mommy. You play play-dough!" "Daddy. You don't do that." "Gracyn wants this one." I'm praying for patience and keep reminding myself she is two. Her favorite conversations include her friends. Bella, Bella and Bella. "We go swimming. I go on the slide with Bella. Bella goes in the water with her daddy." Most mornings revolve around how Amelia didn't want to ride the train at Bay Beach (last August) and still, "I go in the jumper with ME-A-MA." Next week we are starting up with music class again, so that should provide some new fiends and some fresh entertainment.

Gracyn is becoming quite the leader herself. She still refuses to crawl, so is rather vocal about wanting attention and wanting some fingers to hold on to. She loves to pull up and walk with guidance. Her two favorite tricks are waving and signing more all while flashing a brilliant smile.

Is the sun shining anywhere else or did I get left behind? I love Wisconsin, but all this gray is getting REALLY old. Thankfully it is snowing, so that keeps a fresh glow on the monotone hues. But the real glimmer of hope is shining to the east 40 miles where the Packers are getting ready to host the Giants this weekend. Who knew it would be such a fantastic year? Alicyn likes to watch football with Daddy and says "Go Packers". Most of you know I'm a little bit anti-cheerleader, but I'm going to have to break my stance this weekend. She will be too precious in her Packer outfit with pig-tails and pom poms. ;)

Justyn is doing well. A leak in our roof kept him busy the past week. Poor guy. We just looked at each other like .... I don't even know how to describe it, but it's too natural to have more projects on this house. Nothing could really surprise us.

So I turned 30 and haven't felt right since. I have something, but not sure what it is. Hopefully it will go away soon. Pretty much every muscle in my body is tender like I worked out hard, but... I didn't. Did someone forget to tell me this is what 30 feels like? Thanks to Justyn for 2 buckets of paint for my birthday (and some nice flowers), I was able to cover the annoying yellow color (if you saw it, you know) in the hall, paint our bedroom a new fantastic creamy yellowish color and paint our ceilings white. It's nice to have those projects wrapped up, so we can move on.

I wrote. I'll let Justyn post some new pics. Happy New Year Everyone!