Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Footprints in the snow

It snowed this morning. Big, huge, enormous, beautiful flakes. It was unbelievable! Good thing it was so pretty, because snow is not at the top of my "things I want to see" list on March 31st, that's for sure. Joey wanted to walk to preschool . . . as he often does. My dad {who is back from his trip to Connecticut} stopped over this morning, so he stayed here with Anna while Joe and I had a little mommy-little guy bonding time on the walk to school.

You can't see your own footprints if you are walking . . . they are behind you. I gave no thought to the fact that we were even making footprints as we walked down the block holding hands and chatting about important things like how it would be better if my coat had a hood {it had stopped snowing and now was dripping huge drops of wetness on my head from the trees above . . . Joe had a hood and was able to stay dry}. We chatted about some other stuff too . . . stuff I don't even remember, but if you know Joe {and me!} there wasn't much silence on the way. We got to school, shed his coat, pinned on his name tag, I asked for a kiss that I didn't get {some days he LOVES kisses, some days he tips his head down and will only let me "kiss the hair" and some days I just get nothin' at all! It all depends on his mood}, said I loved him and I'd see him in a couple hours and headed back down the block to our house.

About halfway down the block where the snow was still in tact and hadn't yet turned to slop you could still see our footprints. Two of his for every one of mine! It made me kind of happy and sad {and other feelings I don't even have words for} all at once to see those footprints. Side by side. I was kind of flooded with thoughts . . . he had to make 2 steps for every 1 I made: did I go slow enough? or was I kind of pulling him along . . . in a hurry to get him to school and then back home again to get some stuff done? How long will he want to walk with me, holding hands? {I'm hoping at least 6 more years, since Jacob still likes it . . . but Joe isn't Jake so you never know!} One day he will out stride me! The "Footprints" poem came to mind too. It was a "moment" for me. I don't know what else to say about it than that. I wish I had had a camera so that I could have snapped a picture of our footprints there together in the snow on Ryan Avenue. But I didn't and now they are all melted. I hope that I will be able to keep the picture of those footprints . . . of that memory . . . in my mind.

Here are his sweet feet
{they weren't bare during our walk though, don't worry!}

I love my little guy so much these days. He is funny, VERY cute, loving, imaginative and says the best things. I'm so glad that I'm his mom! I'm so thankful to the Lord for allowing our footprints to stay there for those extra 10 minutes or so so that I could see them and be reminded how thankful I am {today, anyway} that I get the privilege and honor of parenting this wonderful little man-to-be!

my sweet Joe:

How fun!

Less than a month from now I am going on a weekend women's retreat with some wonderful women . . . I am so excited! April 24-26 (Friday evening until Sunday lunch . . . a heavenly amount of time away!) I'll be joining some fabulous women from our church (and beyond) for a great weekend of fun, fellowship and teaching from Beth Moore. We are doing a retreat curriculum by Beth called "Loving Well". It is about loving people in your life who are hard to love . . . anybody else who could use a little help with that one? Anyway, I just love Beth Moore's teaching and insight so I am excited to "spend" a whole weekend with her . . . there are 4 sessions. There will also be time to be outside (where I am exctied to spend time in the retreat center's labyrinth . . . hopefully the weather will be cooperative), some crafts, food, plenty of good old-fashioned girl time and potentially even a little (uninterrupted) sleep! I just can't wait! If you want to come too, you can. There's still room. I would LOVE to have you. Just let me know and I'll give you "the 411".

Monday, March 30, 2009

12-month check up

Well, Anna had her 12-month check up this afternoon!
She is roughly 20 pounds {19 pounds, 10 ounces in case you care about the specifics} and just about 28 inches tall. Her head is over 18 inches . . . I guess that's big since it's the 75th percentile . . . I don't know what to make of that info!
Her left ear is infected again. . . poor girl!
Plus, she had 2 shots and blood taken . . . those finger pokes are the worst and bleed FOREVER!

The good news (other than the fact that she is a healthy . . . and ADORABLE! . . . 12-month-old) is that I didn't spend one single {non-Amoxicillin} cent while I was at Target waiting for her Rx to get filled . . . and it's not even April yet . . . I was so proud of me!

Birthday Party #2

Well, we had Miss Anna's big 1st birthday bash yesterday and it was so fun.
Here are a few shots of the fun and the birthday girl:

makin' off with the presents . . . the bags are way more fun than the contents, you know!

another very fun bag!

How about some birthday cake?

Sweet girl!

Wow, that's quite a big bite, little one!


"Ok, I think I'm finished here!"

The post-cake bath:

All full, clean, fresh and ready for bed! Nighty night, big one-year-old!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Anna is 1!!

The birthday girl ...

in her birthday suit.

Happy Birthday sweet Anna Grace!
We love you like crazy and are thrilled you are a part of your family. What a great year it has been with you!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Flashback Friday

One year ago today I was in labor. It started just after lunch and about 12 hours later . . . just after midnight (so, technically one year ago tomorrow) Anna was born!

Here she is all fresh and new . . . with quite a bit of cord still hangin' on there.

What a symetrical girl she is:
Anna (her name is symetrical)
born at 12:21 am (also symetrical)
9 pounds 9 ouces, 21 1/2 inches long (symetrical and . . . symetrical!)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm especially thankful for my 5 crazy, fun, wonderful, exasperating, super cute, funny, witty, charming kiddos. I am so thankful, too, that they are "healthy" kids. Now, don't be confused. We HAVE been sick for pretty much all of March on and off, and it seems that it's still not quite behind us yet. But, as the St. Jude billboards remind me: "Give thanks for the healthy kids in your lives." Amen! I am so thankful for them and am thankful that they are so healthy (under-control food allergies, asthma, ADD, sensory integration issues and seasonal allergies aside). Many, many parents have kids who have WAY tougher struggles to deal with (I know a few of them. They are amazing people with amazing kids) . . . I realize that I can't even begin to imagine what it's like! I've been reminded of that just this week.

So, thanks, Lord, for these 5 sweet, healthy blessings of life in our family!

Jacob, Rebekah, Lydia, Joe and Anna . . . I love you more than I can say!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Birthday Party #1

Well the birthday season is underway around here: 5 kids with birthdays in a 10-week span of time . . . 3 within the same week (2 of those on the same day).
2 birthdays down, 3 to go.
1 party down, 4 to go.

Rebekah wanted to have her party over spring break. The 4 friends she wanted to invite were going to be around, so we pulled it off. Rebekah planned the whole thing herself: she helped me make the invitations (or did I help her?). She wrote out the schedule for the party in detail. We designed and made the (very cute) cupcake magnets that would be prizes. Rebekah (about a week in advance and without going to the store to purchase one single thing) made up all the "treat bags" (which were actually in pails . . . not bags) for her guests. It was a fun day and most importantly I think Rebekah really enjoyed the celebration.

Here are a few photos from the big bash:

The whole crew:

The birthday girl (picture by Joe):
Singing and blowing out the candle:
Enjoying the cake:

Spring Break, Part II

Alrighty, just in case you are sitting on the edge of your seat just waiting to hear what we did with the second half part of our Spring Break, here goes:

  • Lots of fun time relaxing at home: movies, games, computer time, reading, playing outside . . .
  • We adopted 4 Webkinz (Gabs the crocodile -- Lydia's, Midnight the whale -- Rebekah's, Spot the bullfrog and Spike the gecko -- both Jacob's) . . . we had zero up until now. We have finally entered the Webkinz craze (after hearing about it for what seemed like forever) and are pretty much addicted. Thanks Frances for your expertise and technical help . . . you are a Webkinz genius!
  • We went to the Y.
  • Jacob went through orientation at the Y to use the fitness center . . . which you can do once you are 10! (They let him do it a few days early since he was on Spring Break and had time to come).
  • We went swimming at the "water park" at the Andover Y.
  • I ran lots of errands since there were 2 parents home all the time . . . wonderful! (Plus, I had to get all my shopping in quick before I flip the calendar to April and begin my vow to purchase nothing new for a month . . . just kiddin' . . . well, kinda!)
  • Anna became an expert walker.
  • A few trips to the library.
  • The girls had a slumber party with their buds Frances & Evelyn.
  • Jacob & Kirb went to see "Escape to Witch Mountain" and loved it!
  • We ate dinner (with bday coupons for 2 free kids meals) at Red Robin . . . the kid's favorite. Jacob even found something safe on the menu: a turkey burger and side salad.
  • Ing & I took Ev, Fran, Rebekah & Lydia to the Children's Museum.
  • Birthday Party #1 (for Rebekah)
  • A beautiful drive with a fun stop to play at a park overlooking the river in Stillwater.
  • The ever-popular crafts at Lakeshore Learning Store.
A few pictures:

the boys swimming:
Father & daughter walking in the park . . . look how tall she's getting:
A handsome guy at the park . . . looking over at the beauty of the river & hills:
If you crank that thing you can make the "car" move along the bar. Propelling all 4 kids from one side to the other was a nice arm workout for Kirbs . . . one I'm sure I couldn't pull it off (that's roughly 250 pounds if I added correctly . . . and I'm pretty sure I did, you know math being my strong suit and all!) The kids love this "train"!
Anna & her daddy taking a little walk:
My monkey . . . well, one of them anyway:
Joe going for a run (with the very cool Stillwater lift bridge in the background):

It was a great week and good for all of us. It would have been better without the sickness that was still lingering the whole week, but what can you do? I think we all needed the down-time and the time together as a family. Now we are just itchin' for summer break and more of what we just experienced!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Really? . . . a decade?

I feel a little sad this morning. Well, maybe sad isn't exactly right, maybe just melancholy . . . something along those lines . . . and if I'm being really honest it's more than just a little! My "babies" turn 10 and 8 today! I couldn't sleep much last night, thinking about them and how quickly the time has gone. I finally just got up, started some laundry and wrote them each long letters . . . something that I try to do each year on {or around} their birthday. Then I made the mistake decision to read the old ones . . . the memories of things I had forgotten came flooding back. Funny things they said and did at certain ages. Rebekah used to always say to my dad: "BopBop, you are my granddaughter!" . . . I had forgotten that, or how Jacob called hot beverages "josh" when he was about 2. He would refer to Kirbs' coffee as "Daddy josh" and my tea as "Mama josh", we never did figure out where it came from and he used to say it in this weird, deep voice that he never used except when he was talking about "josh". Oh, the things you forget. I'm sure they are TONS that I never wrote down and won't ever remember, but I am thankful for the ones that were documented and the emotions they evoke with the remembering!

Hopefully it will be a fun day for both of them. I am so thankful for them. What great kids. What amazing blessings! To think that the Lord trusts me {us!} to raise them is amazing to me. I am so thankful they are "ours" {for now} and I pray we do a good job!

Happy, happy birthday Jacob!
Happy birthday, sweet Rebekah!
I love you both SO much!!!

Jacob Mason Stoll
Tuesday, 3.23.1999
1:25 pm
8 pounds 4 ounces
20.5 inches tall

{that's 10, for 10-years-old . . . not "I'm gonna get you!" or anything like that!}

Rebekah Rae Stoll
Friday 3.23.2001
2:40 pm
10 pounds 2 ounces
22 inches tall

Happy birthday to 2 of my favorite people . . . look at that love . . . right from the start:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 16

Anna is sick again . . . or maybe it should be still. I've lost track. I counted and at least one of the kiddos has been sick everyday for the past 16 days. The last time we were all healthy was the first week of March. Maybe tomorrow the kids will go back to school, Kirb will return to work and our health will come back . . . and things will become somewhat normal again. I sure hope so. Poor Anna! I took her to urgent care today thinking maybe she had another ear infection (she had been pulling on her ears) but . . . nope. Her ears look good . . . today, anyway! Just a random fever, puking and generally not being herself. It makes me sad, although she was really cuddly and sat on my lap and snuggled for about 45 minutes this afternoon, which is not at all like her!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's official

Anna is officially a walker . . . no turning back. She doesn't crawl anywhere anymore; she's always on her feet. It makes her more tired too, so I'm hoping maybe she'll start sleeping all night sometime in 2009 . . . at least once!

Here she is sportin' her walking feet at the zoo the other day:

Flashback Friday . . . a story, not a picture

The year is 2001. It is late fall. {I imagine most of you can remember the fall of 2001 and picture the goings on in your life at that time . . . travel back there with me, will you?} I have found myself (quite surprisingly) pregnant again . . .

'Really? Because I already have a baby right now and don't really need another one quite yet', I think to myself as I look at a positive pregnancy test while cuddling with my 7-month-old daughter.

Jacob is 2 and a half at this time. The whole time I was pregnant Jacob was hoping and praying for a boy . . . and completely believing their was actually a boy baby in there (he already had a sister, you see!). He called this baby I was carrying "Simon" . . . "Simon Ray", if you want to get specific. He walked around for months (he decided to name him that just a couple weeks after we told him we were having a baby, and he stuck with it throughout THE WHOLE pregnancy, which I find kind of amazing considering he was 2!) telling people that soon he would have a brother, "Simon Ray Stoll". Everyone knew Simon, Jacob talked about him BY NAME all the time . . . and even though Simon was not a name we had considered before that and I don't think it was even a name Jacob had ever heard (we didn't know anyone -- and still don't -- named Simon) apart from stories about Simon Peter in the Bible. But Simon it was! He was insistent! Throughout my pregnancy the name grew on me and I started thinking of our baby as Simon Ray Stoll too (Jacob always said the full name when talking about the baby). Since I was also completely convinced the baby was a boy, the little one in my belly became Simon to me! . . . Although we were actually planning to name a boy Jonah Carl.

Well, come June of 2002 I went to the hospital to deliver and finally meet my little "Simon" and lo and behold something was wrong with him . . . no penis! Go figure. We named our little girl Lydia Joy instead and she is great! It took Jacob a little while to get used to the idea that Simon Ray Stoll was not, in fact, a boy and that he should call her Lydia.

Flashback Friday

Here are some pictures from when my grandparent's came for a visit {from Connecticut} in the fall of 2005.
Papa died 2 years ago yesterday at the age of 95
{Clarence Carlson 9.4.11 to 3.19.07}
We miss him.

Jacob, Papa, Lydia, Grandma with baby Joey & Rebekah:
The whole 2005 Stoll crew with Grandma & Papa

Papa & Joe. My grandpa volunteered for years and years at "Mom's morning out" at his church. He loved little kids! I'm grateful that at least some of our kiddos got to meet him.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today (and ALWAYS, but today especially) I am so thankful for my wonderful husband!! I've always know he was WELL above average! He is a wonderful, thoughtful, caring husband and best friend and I have loved seeing what a great dad he has become (and was right from the beginning) over the past 10 years of this parenting journey we're on. I always knew he would rock his role as Dad, but he has far exceeded my lofty expectations!

Kirb took this week off and we've been having some fun family time together. He has taken each of the 3 big kids out on a special early-morning date this week. He wakes them up early (6:30ish) and takes them to Caribou (Jacob even went in his pajama pants and t-shirt that he had slept in the night before) for a fun "Daddy 'n me" date. He gets them a drink, does devotions with them, prays with them and plays on the internet with them . . . they've mostly been playing with google earth, Kirb will look up whatever they want, they love it! He took Jacob Tuesday, Rebekah yesterday and Lydia today. They get home as the rest of us are just coming alive. What a fun memory that will be for them from this years Spring Break.

If you know Kirb well (or even if you know him just a little even) you know what a caring, funny, committed, hard-working, cute, talented, godly man he is. I couldn't ask for a better partner in our journey through this life! He is wonderful and I love him more than I can say! I thank the Lord for him and the blessing he is in the life of our family! Also, I love having him home all the time this week . . . it's gonna be a sad day on Monday when he heads back to work and our life returns to "normal".

Our "Dad of the Year Century":

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I like green

I know St. Patrick's Day was yesterday . . . that's not the green I'm talking about:

I had the chance to spend a little time with a wonderful woman over coffee & tea (and some wonderful conversation) this morning. She took a vow to buy nothing new in 2008 . . . and she did it! I found this idea interesting and quite fascinating. She went a whole year without buying anything new. Her year was up a few months ago and she couldn't really think of anything she'd bought new since then either. I asked her if it was more work for her to not buy new and she said it took a little getting used to, but that once she was in the "groove" and was used to doing it, it wasn't hard. If she needed a pair of jeans she went to a thrift or consignment shop and got a perfectly wonderful non-new pair . . . she said she loved using sites like craigslist and ebay too. She said the only part that got a little tricky was when she needed a gift for someone . . . you know now everyone appreciates a nice "used" birthday present. But she stuck with it and made something or gave gifts of time/activity rather than "goods". Obviously she bought food and she said that there were exceptions for things that were not readily available in non-new form (you know, like undies . . . you don't really want those used!!).

I'm thinking about doing this. I know that shopping is a little form of therapy and relaxation for me, but so are a bunch of other things . . . cheaper things . . . things that are better for me! Like reading or making cards or exercising or just being outside or playing with my kiddos or a conversation with a friend or a walk! Plus we really do have more than we need already. I was thinking I might start small . . . I'm thinking, maybe, the month of April.

I think it might get a little tricky when it comes to the kids (my friend who did this doesn't have kids . . . although she does have a very active and cute little puppy that she "parents"). If one of the kids really "needs", say, a new Easter dress I can't really go to 8 different thrift/consignment shops looking for one that would be good and would fit and all that . . . I don't have the luxury of that kind of free time, nor do I have the patience to be running all over town trying to find one particular thing in a particular size for a certain particular almost-8-year-old!

Or, for example, just today I bought Anna a new carseat. She has outgrown her "bucket" (as we call the infant car seat that people cart their kids around in) and needed a big girl seat. We got her "bucket" from a friend (so it wasn't new) and I checked to see if anyone had a rear-facing convertible carseat that they weren't using right now that we could have/borrow but didn't find much success. Places can't sell used carseats, (which I totally understand, there's no way to prove that it hasn't been in a car accident or something in which case it's safety would be compromised) so there really isn't another avenue to get something like that in non-new form . . . so I guess, maybe, that would be something that could be considered an exception . . . but, since it's still March and I'm thinking about trying this in April, I'm safe anyway!

I just think this whole idea makes so much sense! It's just another form of recycling . . . which I am a huge fan of . . . and of trying to become more simplistic in our lives and what we "need" . . . plus it's super "green" and I'm kind of a fan of "green" stuff.

Our sermon last Sunday was wonderful and talked about ENOUGH. We were asked to consider that "enough" is actually the opposite of poverty rather than wealth (which is most likely what most people would think of as the opposite of poverty). Enough is where we all should desire to be on the spectrum of wealth . . . people in poverty should (ideally) move "up" toward enough and people of great wealth should (ideally) move "down" toward enough so that we all land closer to the middle of the spectrum to a place where we are more well balanced. As far as I can tell, we (the Stoll family . . . and most Americans) have way more than enough and I'd like to work to get closer and closer to enough and rid myself of the extra in my life that I don't need . . . which reminds me of a wonderful book called "The Treasure Principle", if you haven't read it, you should! I'll leave it at that!

So, I'm saying officially that April is going to be my trial month for not buying anything new. I imagine it'll be a little tough and take some extra thought and work to get used to, but I'm gonna give it a shot . . . and if I really, really need something, Kirb not vowing to buy nothing new in April (he doesn't shop a whole lot anyway), so maybe he could just swing into Target real quick on his way home from work . . . :)

I don't feel like I buy a whole lot of "stuff", but I guess this'll be the test to see if that's true or not. Plus, it should be good for the family budget!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I spoke too soon!

Well, I guess I spoke too soon. I just cleaned up a pile of yuckiness in the hallway, so I guess we're not 100% healthy yet! Bummer! {Anyone know good ways to get vomit out from in between the floorboards? There just happens to be a gap in the boards right there? Super!}

Also, someone must have somehow spilled some soap on my toothbrush because when I just brushed my teeth it was not such a good experience . . . but, I would imagine they are extra clean and germ free! ISH!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Break . . . ready, set, go!

Well, Spring Break at the Stoll house is well underway. The kid's had Friday off for a teacher workshop and all this week is Spring Break. Kirbs took the week off, too, and we're planning to have a great, relaxing week together (with some time in there with friends too)! I think (hopefully) that all the sickness is behind us now . . . nearly 24-hours fever free as I write this. And no one has puked in, oh, 28 hours or so. The antibiotics are all completed and the weather is nice, so I'm shootin' for good health!

The highlight of Friday was the ice cream cones we had in the middle of the day and the fort that the kids built out of every conceivable blanket, pillow and chair they could get their little hands on . . . so, don't come over right about now, there's no place to sit! It is quite the structure and, turns out it's a great place to read a book!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Today was a glorious 68 degrees with sunshine and a [warm, believe it or not] little breeze! We spent the day at the Minnesota Zoo. I was hopin' to be there the day the new little dolphin they are expecting there was born . . . dolphins are pregnant, basically, forever [ok, 12 months, but if you've ever been pregnant that would seem like FOREVER!] and the estimated due date was late February or early March. Poor Allie, she must be miserable right about now. Luckily, though, she lives in the water so that's gotta help, and her mom, April, is hangin' out with her in a seperate pool from all the guy dolphins, so she's probably doing ok! Anyway, no dolphin calf today. Bummer, since I really do love babies . . . although I've never seen a newborn dolphin, I imagine I would be pretty excited about that brand of newborn too!

Anna loved the fish. She could get right up to the glass, she wasn't too short to see and they swam right in front of her. What a view!

Here's Anna going through the "bamboo wall". She loved it!
Don't worry . . . she might look a little stuck, but she wasn't. Just hangin' out!
Trying on the scuba gear. Nice flipper, Jacob!
Joe, I think that suit might be a tad big for you!
Lydia doing a little rock climbing:
The girls were best friends today. They held hands almost all day and were just so cute together . . . if only they were that way all the time!!

We saw fish, HUGE grizly bears, sea otters, a bald eagle, camels, sharks, wild boars, red pandas, bats, flamingos and all manner of other creatures! It was a fun day and a great adventure for our crew. We bumped into a few people that we knew there. They must have also thought it was the absolute perfect day for a trip to the zoo (it would seem that lots of people thought that, since it was pretty busy for a March Monday!)

On tap for tomorrow: green beer more fun and adventure . . . lots more fun to come in the next 6 days of schoollessness!