The Mantle

I know I keep saying I’m going to blog about all the renovations/projects we did, are doing and will be doing on our house…and I really want to, someday.  But in the meantime, I am going to talk about our fireplace mantle.

When we bought our house the fireplace was a boring beige brick.

When we did our initial renovation of the main house we covered up the brick with plaster to create a blank canvas and left it until things settled down a bit after our move to finish up.

A year went by and we had the time and figured out what we wanted to do with our fireplace. We made a trip to Whitewater Rock Supply with my dad and picked out some stone for the hearth.

Then with the help of friends and the boys, we installed the stone to cover the fireplace. And that is how it looked for another year.

I had asked for a mantle by Christmas 2016 to hang our stockings on.  After looking around, we found a really cool reclaimed wood place that had what we wanted.  But yikes!! It was really pricey.  So we did some research online to come up with some other ideas to explore, etc…Needless to say, I didn’t get it by Christmas 2016.  But I did hang our stockings up with tape.

One day Justin said, what if we made one from one of the logs on your parents property.  That way we could kind of customize it and it would make a good story to tell!  I was on board with that idea, but didn’t think it would actually happen.  One day while we were on our trip to Oregon in June 2017, my dad got on his tractor and Justin grabbed the chainsaw and recruited me, my mom and the boys.  We all walked up the hill behind the barn and picked out a section of one of the giant trees that fell down a few years ago.

Justin cut the log and my dad carried it back down the hill with the tractor.

The following day, Justin spent the entire day shaping the log with the chainsaw and smoothing it out with the planer and now we had this really cool mantle!

The boys approve!

I love that they have a wishbone in this picture, since this mantle was a big wish of mine, I doubt it was what they were wishing for though…

Then we had to leave it at the ranch until my parents drove back down to California in the fall. But that was fine with me, because fall comes before Christmas, which means I got it up in time for Christmas 2017.

And it is the best Christmas present I’ve ever received and totally worth the wait!

Christmas 2017

(December 2017)

Since Christmas Eve was on a Sunday, our church held services in the morning as well as the evening.  We had family coming that afternoon for Christmas Eve, so it worked out perfect for us to go to the morning service.

Afterwards our family came together and we had our German feast, exchanged presents and enjoyed our time together.  This was the only time I did bring out my camera to take some family pictures.

So blessed to have such a great family!

And on Christmas morning, the boys were completely spoiled with so many presents.  But I think the winner was the firefighter costumes.

And that is a wrap on Christmas, until next year!

 

Christmas Prep

Bear with me!  I am still playing catch up!

(December 2017)

Along with the general craziness/busyness that comes with Christmas, we were also in the middle of construction on our addition.  So I didn’t take any pictures, except for a some candids with my phone.  There are lots of things I love about the Christmas season, and one of those is all the baking and preparing food. The most important thing is getting Oma’s sweet rolls made for Christmas morning!

If you look between mine and my moms shoulders, you can see the wood studs from the framing that was going on for our addition and the old green tablecloth that we hung as a “privacy barrier”

I love carrying on these special traditions!

After we got the sweet rolls checked off the list, it was time to move onto cookies!  I often wish these photos had ongoing audio to hear what the boys are saying.  This year my favorites were, “Why are you so bossy!” and “Hey! This looks like dog poop!” (I wish I had the eye roll emoji for this.  Boys…)

This one took the decorating very seriously this year. He sat at the counter all day long working on cookies.

Success!  I’ll let you guess who decorated which cookie 🙂

And it also wouldn’t be Christmas without Christmas Pageants and visits to Santa.  Jacob’s school put on wonderful show and his class played the part of the Innkeepers.

And if you remember last year when we had out impromptu visit with Santa at the mall, Dylan was not a fan…This year I took them back to see what Dylan’s reaction would be.

There were no tears, just a bit of hesitancy and he wouldn’t take his eyes off of him as if he was trying to figure him out.

Of course Jacob was thrilled to see him and kept chatting away.  This was really a great Santa and he gave the boys big hugs when we were leaving.

Our final Santa encounter was when we went to the December nights at the Rancho Bernardo Inn.

Jacob (my little smart cookie) is starting to ask why Santa is in so many different places and why he looks different from the other Santa we saw…so we’ve been giving him the explanation that Santa can’t be everywhere at once, so he has his helpers, etc… I have a feeling he is going to figure this all out soon.  But when he does, that is OK, we will continue to focus on the true spirit of Christmas.

Star Wars Family

(October 2017)

When shopping at Costco with the boys, there is always something that they look for during all the different times of the year.  During the spring Jacob swears he is going to save up his money and buy the $1000 playhouse/slide/jungle gym set.  During Christmas we have to browse the aisles to look at the trees, lights and singing nutcracker and try to avoid the toy aisle!  During the summer months, they look for the massive package of water balloons and they want every beach and pool toy they have.  And in the fall…it is the Halloween costumes and the candy.  And this year, both of them had their hearts set on being Storm Troopers for Halloween.  So the first time we saw the costumes, I looked for their size and they were all so big.  So I looked again next time I went and they had smaller sizes in other costumes but the Storm Trooper costumes were huge.  So I went online to see what I could find and they had some in their sizes, but they were so expensive.  So I looked at Target and other stores that had costumes and same problem, either the wrong sizes or the price was ridiculous. Are there seriously people who will spend $70 for one child’s costume??!!

My mom was in town while I was searching and she was talking to her friend who lives in Palm Desert, and I was talking to my friends who live in Las Vegas and were planing to come visit soon.  After we told them both our dilemma, they started checking the local Costco’s in their areas.  And they found the sizes we needed and saved the boys dream of being Storm Troopers! You really can’t beat the quality and price of the costumes they sell at Costco, best deal in town!

The boys are obviously too young to see the movies, but they know the Star Wars stories from all the books we’ve read and they said their Storm Trooper costume was not complete without a blaster.  So they used their cowboy cap guns as their blaster.

And after all that we went though to get these costumes, we didn’t have time to put much effort into our own.  Luckily, Target was selling some good Star Wars shirts and we grabbed some light sabers and masks from the boys toy supplies to keep the Star Wars theme going.

And we gathered our neighbor friends to go trick or treating together.

Another successful Halloween in the books!

 

Pumpkins and Superheros

(October 2017)

I have a thing for pumpkins. Over the years I’ve created a little collection of pumpkins that I love to put out in the fall.  And when that time of year comes around, I have to stop myself from buying any more.  If we are out and about and I see a decorative pumpkins, I get the look from Justin that says “Nope. We have plenty”  So I’ve learned to get my pumpkin fix when we do our pumpkin carving session.  And I love the tradition of the boys wearing some old costumes from their collection.  This year Ironman and Spiderman joined us.

Spidey waiting patiently for his brother

When he finally came to the table, he immediately took charge and told Dylan everything we were going to do and how it was going to happen.

And he didn’t waste any time getting started

This little spidey has the smirk expression down to a T.

And this one who usually avoids looking into my camera is really starting to come around.

Then it came time to clean out the insides

And every year Jacob seems surprised that the insides of the pumpkins are still slimy and squishy.

This guy opted to stick with a spoon instead of using his hands

When it came time to draw the face, Jacob took this job very seriously

After watching his brother, Dylan wanted his own turn.

And he was happy with his work

Moving on to the next pumpkin

Ugh, seriously?! It’s still slimy!

We ended up with two scary faces for the boys, a Steelers pumpkin for daddy and a camera pumpkin for mommy.

These superheros were very happy with all our hard work!

And then he turned TWO

I am excited that I am getting this post done in the same month as the event happened!  A few weeks ago, Dylan turned TWO!  And he was so excited about it!  That morning, after dropping Jake off at school, I took him to Krispy Kreme for a doughnut treat.

That afternoon while he was napping, Jacob and I made his birthday cake and wrapped up his presents.  When daddy came home he had a birthday balloon from Nonnie and Jacob declared that it was time for Dylan to open his presents.

We had some friends in town that were staying with us, so we all enjoyed a nice dinner outside before it was time for cake.

CHEEEEEEEESE!

Then it came time to blow out his candle

Ever since his birthday Dylan has been walking around singing “Happy Dylan…Happy Dylan” which is his own version of the birthday song.

I think they liked the cake

When we moved, it became quite a trek to visit the boys pediatrician, but I liked him, so I kind of lagged on finding a new one.  After talking to a fellow mom who is also one of the doctors I used to work with, she recommend someone whose office is really close to our house.  So we had Dylan’s 2 year old check up with their new pediatrician, who I really like.  He is a healthy boy and checked out great!  When talking about how tall he is, his doctor said that both our boys are projected to be at least 6 feet tall and Dylan is likely to be 6′ 2-3″.  Maybe we will have a basketball player on our hands, he is our athlete after all.  Dylan is currently 3 feet tall and weighs 29lbs 9.6oz.  He did get one shot and the nurse was fantastic and SUPER fast, Dylan didn’t even have a chance to think about it and start crying, another plus for the new doctors office!

Dylan very quickly grew out of the baby phase and is more and more independent every day.  He is my hot and cold kid.  He goes from being happy, silly, playing to throwing a complete fit in just a matter of seconds.  We are experiencing the terrible twos this time around.  But he is also such a love and a snuggler.  He usually doesn’t want to just sit in my lap, he has to have my arms completely wrapped around him like a harness.  He often wants me to hold him or carry him around and it is getting really hard to do that for extended periods of time since he is so heavy!  He is my chowhound and will eat pretty much anything, except for veggies.  Most days I make a double serving of my lunch because he often hijacks whatever I am eating for himself, even though he already had his lunch.  He has 3 of his two year molars in so we are almost done with the teething pains.  He still adores Jacob and when they are not fighting, they really have a great time playing together.  He is a parrot and has been copying everything we say, and picking up new words everyday and stringing a few words together.  Especially with the amount of talking his brother does, I can’t imagine how many words he has absorbed already.  If we ask Jacob a question, after Jacob answers us, Dylan automatically gives his answer too.  He will not be left out of any conversation.  His favorite song is Baa Baa Black Sheep and sings it all day and requests it every single night before bedtime.  This is my kid who is happy to have his picture taken, so I give you his 2 year old picture with Giraffe and Woolly Mammoth.

Happy Birthday to my sweet blue eyed boy!

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Christmas 2016

Our Christmas was filled with family and that is truly all I wanted.  It makes me so happy to have everyone together to celebrate the season and Christmas Eve was exactly that.  We went to church, had a German dinner and spent the rest of the night laughing, talking and playing with the kids.

And Dylan who is our early riser, our alarm clock, who is up before the sun every.single.day…chooses to SLEEP IN on CHRISTMAS MORNING!  We all were up, sitting around in the living room drinking our coffee and waiting for him to wake up.  Jacob was being such a good boy and being SO patient, waiting for his brother to wake up, before tackling the pile of presents.

After making some intentional loud noises, grinding more coffee beans to refill our cups, Dylan graced us with his presence and the madness began.

Look what Santa brought him…The Stinky Truck!

And this little cheeseball was having so much fun!

Our living room looked like an explosion went off and with the exception of taking turns for a few laps around the house with Dylan on his new plasma car,

we hardly said more than a few words to the boys all day since they were too preoccupied with their toys.

And that my friends is a wrap on our Christmas…now I need to get cracking on Jacob’s birthday!  See you soon!

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Visits with Santa

Last year Jacob was a bit hesitant with Santa.  This year however, he was very excited to see him and tell him all about the “Stinky Truck” he wanted.  Thanks to commercials on the kids channel, he learned about this robotic garbage truck that moves, talks and swallows matchbox cars and burps…The Stinky Truck.  At first I kind of rolled my eyes at it and figured he would move on to something else when it came closer to Christmas.  But he didn’t.  We had three encounters with Santa and every single time he told him he wanted a Stinky Truck.  I knew then I had to find one.

Our first visit with Santa was completely unplanned.  I was returning something at the mall and when we were coming down the escalator we saw Santa.  So we walked by and stopped for a minute to wave and let the boys get a good look at him.  Jacob was so excited and dancing around.  It was early, the mall had just opened and there was no line, so I decided to take the boys to go sit on his lap.  At first Dylan was jumping and dancing along with Jacob just a mere few inches from Santa’s lap, after Jacob climbed up onto his knee, I started to lift Dylan up and he completely lost it.  I froze for a few seconds trying to decide if I should save Dylan from the jolly man in the red suit or back away so they could snap a picture. Yep, I backed away for the picture…

I then quickly rescued Dylan and listened to Jacob chatting Santa’s ear off.  Of course I ended up paying a ridiculous amount of money for this picture, but it is kind of priceless. And for the record, I did feel a little bad for Dylan, but he got over it real quick.

The following week, we went to the Bernardo Winery for their Holiday Nights.  This time there was a long line for Santa, so Justin and I were taking turns standing in line, and walking around with the boys.  One time when I was walking with them, we scored a bench next to where Santa was so the boys climbed up and danced to the music while watching all the kids have their turn with Santa.  Jacob and I asked Dylan several times if he wanted to go see Santa and each time he shook his head, nooooo.  When it came our turn, he was actually okay with it, so I put him on his lap and stepped back for the picture.

Our final encounter with Santa was at the Rancho Bernardo Inn for their December Nights.  This time my parents were with us.  Usually Santa is on their outside patio next to the fireplace, but it was raining so he was moved inside of one of the ballrooms.  When it came our turn, Jacob hopped up and I started to put Dylan on his lap and he decided he was not going to like it again.  So I put him on my lap and we did the family picture first,

then I slid him down to Santa’s lap for the boys picture.

And not only was Santa there but Elsa made an appearance too!  So the boys had a nice little visit with her.

I wonder what next year will bring when we see Santa…

When we were not busy chatting up Santa Claus we were busy preparing food and baking in preparation for Christmas.  And I often find myself wondering why we only make this stuff one time a year?

First up on the agenda was Gingerbread cookies! The boys were great helpers with this one.  They couldn’t wait to get their hands on that dough (yes, they were clean!)

When working in the kitchen, Jake really likes to help, or I should say he likes to do it himself!  Every step along the way he says “I can do it!” and takes over, and he really is pretty good at this.

They both had fun with the cookie cutters

Then the best part is decorating them

The hard part was convincing them that we couldn’t eat them all because we had to save them for Christmas!

The day before Christmas Eve, my mom and I started getting all the food prepared for Christmas Eve dinner and made Oma’s sweet rolls for Christmas morning as tradition calls for.  It was a little bittersweet since Oma went home to Heaven just about 2 weeks before.  This is definitely a tradition that will carry on.

And what fun is baking without a little bit of Champagne!

The food was wonderfully delicious!  And it always amazes me how quickly it all disappears after you spent days making everything.  Maybe that’s why we only do it one time a year.  But to me the preparation part is just as fun as the celebration part so it is all well worth it!

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Star Wars Christmas

The boys have really gotten into Star Wars.  They have never seen the movies, still a little too young for them.  But they have several Star Wars books filled with short stories that explore the world of Darth Vader, Storm troopers, The Death Star, Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2 and C3PO. Those stories are among Jacob’s top picks before bedtime.  And they love to play Storm troopers, where daddy and Jacob are Storm troopers with blasters made out of legos and they are looking for the rebels and chasing RD-D2 (played by Dylan) and blasting off in their rocket (the tee-pee).  Such imagination with these boys!

A few days before Christmas some friends came over with early Christmas presents for the boys.  They got a baseball tee, a drone, and some snugly blankets with Superheros and Star Wars characters on them.

But the favorite thing for both of them were the light sabers.

They immediately started playing Star Wars

Then Dylan finally let us correct the way he was holding his light saber and it was game on!

So Star Wars paraphernalia along with Superheros, Cars and Toy Story are quickly taking over our house.  I am excited for the day (or I should say weekend) when the boys are older and we can have a Star Wars marathon.  It has been years since I’ve seen the original movies and I’m not even caught up on all the new ones.  In the meantime, we will keep reading the stories and perfecting our light saber skills.

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Choo Choo Train

I know I’ve said this many times…I love this blog.  It is my memory book, it is my place to do something with some of the thousands of pictures I take that tell the stories of our lives. Pictures have always been special to me and even more now that I have a family of my own. However, I am finding it harder and harder to make time to keep up with this blog.  I’m not quitting, and will try to keep this up for as long as I can.  And I am hoping that someday I can make some kind books out of this to give to my boys when they are older.  Someday, in my spare time…and right now is one of those rare moments when I have a some time to myself.  Because, I’m almost to scared to say it out loud in fear that the magical moment will end, but…BOTH of my boys are currently napping!  Jake stopped napping a long time ago, but he woke up really early today and has a birthday party to go to later this afternoon.  When we came home from school, I told him that if he wanted to go to the party he needed to lie down and just rest, after much debating and arguing I finally got him to lie down, and it worked, he was asleep in about 5 minutes!  So I found myself wondering what to do, and instead of doing the usual picking up, cleaning the house or laundry, I decided to make another cup of coffee and sit down with my computer and tackle the Christmas photos. So lets see how far I can get before someone wakes up…

Last year, Papa J gave the boys a train to put around the Christmas tree.  It is a very popular thing in our house.  They kept asking and asking daddy to set it up, so one night, while I was giving them a bath, daddy set up the train.  After they dried off and got their pajamas on, we played with the train for a while before going to bed.

At first they sat and watched it go around a few times while Dylan kept saying “Choo Choo” and doing the signs.

Then they started getting squirmy and had to get closer and follow it around the tree

And this is what happens when I try to get them both to look at the camera and smile.

It didn’t take long before Jake had to take control as the train conductor and make it go himself.

And Dylan was happy just chasing it around the tree.

A few days later, while Dylan was napping, Jacob was playing with his Legos.  I suggested that he build a bridge over the train tracks or buildings that the trains can drive by.  He thought it would be better to do with his BIG legos, so he got those out and got to work.

I just love his imagination and watching him play.

Then Dylan woke up…please excuse the post nap hairdo and the travel hairdryer (I was in the middle of unpacking from being out of town and he was “helping”)

I just can’t resist this smile.

Then Jake thought it would be fun to put the legos on my toes

And that tickles, so I was giggling and it made him laugh.

And this is an angel that Jake made for me at school from his footprint and hand prints. I love it and plan to display it during all the Christmases to come.

The “Choo Choo” train is such a fun part of our Christmas and it warms my heart to see how excited the boys get when playing with it. One of these years I want to take them on the Polar Express, they would LOVE it!

And wow!  I actually got a whole post done and they are STILL sleeping…lets see how much more I can get done, there are plenty more Christmas pictures to tackle.  Stay tuned!

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