Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas!

It was a Cousin Christmas. 

For the first time since 2013. My sister generously opened her home to all 22 of us for a long weekend. And despite South Dakota's lack of snow and the temperatures staying well below freezing we all had fun. Just being together is good enough for us! The cousins played...everywhere...the house and the barn. The adults talked and cooked and snuck in a few card games. I'm so grateful for the time we were all together Christmas and I hope it's not another four years before it happens again. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Us. Then & Now.

Joe's first year of residency a medical student and his family stayed with us for two weeks. The medical student was doing a month long rotation here at the hospital and his wife and kids wanted to come down from Iowa...I mean who wouldn't want to come to the beach in the fall? We had never met this family before so it felt somewhat risky inviting them in. And yet by the time they left they felt like old friends. I seriously loved those two weeks having another adult around. It made me think that residency families should be required to live together. Or at the very least very close together...like on a commune or something. Kidding! But really...the built in support was amazing. She made dinner one night and then I cooked the next. The kids played and we moms had adult conversation. Win-win! Oh and we were all happy and pleasant when the guys came home from the hospital. Win-win-win!!!

Ok back to the original point of this story. The wife was not only a lovely person, but a photographer as well. And she offered to take our family pictures for free. Ummm...twist my arm:) So to the beach we went all dressed up...

And I will forever be grateful for these beautiful beach pictures that she captured of our family. They are some of my favorites. These were also some of my favorite ages for my kids as well. Levi was 7 months old, Hannah had just turned 3, Charlotte was 5 and Isaiah was 8. BABIES! All of them.

This being our last fall living here at the beach I decided it was time to go back and re-create those family pictures. To see how we had grown and changed as a family. Now I am obviously not a professional. And my mini tripod and self-timer is a far cry from a professional photo shoot, but I'm thankful to have captured us at this stage as well. Levi is now 2 (almost 3!), Hannah is 5, Charlotte is 7 and Isaiah is 10. And the wind was absolutely out of control that day. Blowing sand in our already blinded-by-the-sun eyes.

We sure are going to miss this beach! We've been spoiled living so close to the ocean.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Charlotte's Wedding

This past summer while the kids and I were in Wisconsin visiting our best friends Charlotte married her friend Max. It was the sweetest little wedding planned completely by the mini bride and groom. 

Not so coincidentally Charlotte's uncle was married in a real and nearly as sweet a ceremony the weekend before....

The real wedding gave Charlotte lots of inspiration for her wedding...

Max and Charlotte spent the morning planning the big event together. They handmade their invites. Sleeping bags were laid down as an aisle. Fake flowers were gathered. Their outfits were chosen with care. And Max's big sister styled Charlotte's hair. They even made a perler bead heart with their initials in it. Hannah was assigned the coveted role of flower girl. And the rest of the siblings and I watched the ceremony. 

Though admittedly for a hot minute I thought the bride was going to call off the wedding when the groom was taking too long to get ready for her liking! But alas the event went off without a hitch:)

The couple's first dance was complete with twirls and dips. The groom even picked up the bride at the end. The two of them couldn't stop smiling and giggling and smooching (on the check only!). It was adorable. 

Afterwards we all celebrated with a mini-donut and root beer reception. Admittedly the bride and groom had planned a pillow fight and board game reception but the mothers stepped in and changed the plans a little. As mothers of the bride and groom tend to do:)

Speaking of mothers, the two of us are trying figure out how to keep this romance alive so there can be a real wedding in 15-20 years....

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Tree Decorating 2015

This long awaited (by me!) video was completed compliments of Joe's "golden weekend". A golden weekend is when the resident has the entire weekend off. Both Saturday and Sunday. This is a rarity in residency. Especially in EM. Before residency began I had heard of these goldens, but I didn't fully grasp how wonderful and truly golden they are until I experienced a handful of them myself. A couple weekends ago Joe had a deluxe golden weekend. He had Friday, Saturday and Sunday off!!! We took full advantage. Or maybe just I took full advantage. Friday I got a pedicure with a friend. That is something I have only done only one other time during residency. It was a real treat! Then that evening we took the kids to see Santa. The next day we set up our tree and just enjoyed a day at home until the evening when Joe and I attended our church Christmas party (without kids!).  Joe having Sunday off was an extra pleasant surprise for me because I had assumed he had to work. Going to church together as family...such a simple thing that I miss and greatly appreciate when it does happen! We were just a regular family doing regular family stuff all weekend. It was delightful! And then Joe put this video together for me. It was like the icing on the cake. And I can't stop watching it because sweet baby Levi crawling around our house is THE BEST. Gosh I miss the baby days.

Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 in 12ish Pictures


My parents were wintering with us in Texas once again. We all went out to the beach to burn the Christmas trees with our residency friends. We LOVE this tradition! At the end of the month Levi turned 2 and we celebrated with a big turtle cake...again with our residency friends:) We survived one weekend of cold winter weather - then went back to warm, sunny "winter". 


With my parents still in Texas, Joe and I were able to sneak away to Mexico for 5 days for his brother's beach wedding. It was AWESOME. Joe was on a month of nights and had his in service exam...so that was less awesome. But having grandparents around always makes it better!


Our BEST friends came for spring break. And it was THE BEST!!!!! We did the beach...a couple times. Played tourists in our town. And just spent quality time together. We were having so much fun we extended our time together by driving a little north with them on their first return travel day.


Joe was back on MICU. Meaning I went a little crazy. I decided to put my craziness to good use and tore out our master shower. It was a homeschool "project" with my girls. (The shower still isn't put back together again. But that's not the main point here.) We also celebrated Easter at home. Just the six of us. Joe was able to join us for the church service. It's the little victories in life:)


By May I was back in survival mode. Joe's schedule just killed me. I was ready for a break. We did manage to make it out in our kayaks as an entire family for the first time ever! And my parents came back for Charlotte's dance recital. At the end of May was our 14th wedding anniversary. No celebration. Maybe be next year:) 


This month marked the end of Joe's second year of residency. 2 done. 1 to go! Also the end of the school year. We survived homeschooling! And our summer kicked off with our annual road trip up to Minnesota to see family and friends!!! This year's drive was much easier as the kids and I knew what to expect. It felt manageable. Even a little enjoyable. And time with family and at camp definitely made the miles on the road worth it!


Joe was able to join us for a quick weekend in Minnesota for his other brother's wedding. This was his first trip back "home" since before residency started. It was lovely:) Lots of time on the lake together! The kids and I made the rounds visiting friends and family. We saw both sets of Great Grandparents for the 4th of July. Spent a week in Wisconsin. And spent a week at my parents' house with my sister and her family. Lots of extended family visits squished in there as well. 


This was a month. A month filled with high highs and low lows and everything in between. We started with time in the mountains of Colorado with good friends. Hannah got to play in the snow for her 5th birthday! Our long trek back to Texas reunited us with Joe after 7 weeks and 5,000 miles on the road! We had a week at home before we hit the road as a family for Joe's job interviews. While we were away we learned of a hurricane brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. The kids and I stayed out of town and Joe returned home to work the duration of the storm. This turned out to be the longest, most emotionally challenging 3 days for me as Harvey intensified to a Category 4 and all I could do was pray and watch from afar. Joe and the hospital were left unscathed and we had the sweetest reunion. Lows and highs. 


It was a weird month. Readjusting to life. Life after Harvey. Even though our town was left pretty much unchanged, everything felt different. Off. Life just felt off. School started eventually. Hannah started kindergarten! (That was hard for both of us!) And Levi and I figured out our routine at home. We all adjusted back to residency life and Joe's ever-changing schedule. My parents and cousin and Aunt & Uncle's visit helped things feel normal this month. I snuck away for a conference in Kansas City for a few days.


We did all the usual fall activities - pumpkin patch, planning and creating costumes, and trick or treating. As well as South Texas fall activities - beach days and time spent outside at parks since it was finally cool enough. Joe and Isaiah were able to go on a father-son camping and kayaking trip for the first time in a long time! (Five years...but who's counting?!). Joe also attended an EM conference in Washington D.C.


Our family got some much needed family time in the form of a morning at King Ranch, a (surprise!) trip to Sea World and camping during the kids' fall break! Getting away together is the best. And just what we needed! We also hosted our third and final Residency Friendsgiving. With nearly 80 people in attendance and WAY too much food - I'd say it was a success!


 This was the year we were finally able to buy plane tickets "home" in order to give our kids a white Christmas. So of course it snowed in South Texas!!! The most snow they have had in 112 years! It was magical. Getting on a plane and being "home" a few short hours later was equally magical for me. And despite my worries about flying solo with my four kids it went perfectly! We've been playing in whatever snow we can find with family and friends ever since our arrival. It's been a great way to end our year. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The day after a Texas snow day...

For those of you that are curious what it looks like a day AFTER it snows in South Texas, here ya go...

Roger might be the last snow left in town. All the rest of it is gone. And it feels like the snow was just this wonderful dream. Like it never really happened. Because looking around town it just doesn't seem possible that it could snow here. As quickly as it came, it left. We sure are thankful that we got to experience it while it lasted though!

Two and half years ago when we moved here the first thing our neighbors told us Minnesotans was that it snowed here in 2004. A Christmas miracle. They said it could happen again. I thought that it would never happen! I also thought we wouldn't see a hurricane while we lived here. 2017 was the year to prove me wrong.  A hurricane and snow. We've lived to tell the stories.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Magical SNOW day.

Growing up in Minnesota I am well accustomed to snow. I like watching it fall and I enjoy playing in it. Sledding and skiing are two of my favorite activities. But I've never thought of it as magical. Until today. Today it snowed in South Texas! Palm trees and snow mixed. Now that felt magical.

The view down our street this morning.  Keep in mind that just three days ago I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops and complaining about the heat. And likely I will be back in my sandals two day from now as well. Magic I tell you.

But let me back up and tell the story of the snow from the beginning. Tuesday was normal South Texas winter weather...which feels nothing like winter. So when a lady at Bible study mentioned the possibility of snow flurries by the weekend I rolled my eyes and laughed. Then on Wednesday it rained off and on. Thursday it rained all day. A hard, cold rain. But not anywhere near freezing. Thursday afternoon the school district decided to delay schools for the next day because of a "winter weather advisory". Again I rolled my eyes.  Rolled my eyes, built my fire and told my kids to put on their warmest footy pjs just in case it did snow overnight. I promised my kids that I would wake them IF it snowed. I very much doubted it would. So there I sat by my fire working on a few homemade Christmas gifts watching the rain fall and my children sleep under the tree. It wasn't an unpleasant way to spend an evening but I felt like maybe, just maybe I was wasting my time. 

Then at 12:04 am just as I was getting ready to call it a night I received a text from Joe. It simply read "snowing". He was working overnight at the hospital. Looking out our window there was still only rain, but I was hopeful that the rain would turn to snow. I immediately put apple cider on the stove to warm and pulled out cookies for the kids. And then it happened. A few heavy flakes came fluttering down amongst the rain drops. So I woke the children. Or tried to. At first only Isaiah and Charlotte woke up. The other two were too sleepy.

Isaiah insisted Hannah had to see the snow. So he got her up - which is no easy task! But worth it. Because she LOVED it!

Charlotte then woke Levi. Apparently she had promised him she would show him the snow. I was a little leery of waking a two year old at 1 am. But again...magic.

Levi preferred to watch the magic from inside the house. He wasn't the biggest fan of the cold. But he sure loved the cookies! Its hard to see but this next picture is of all four of my kids looking out the windows watching the snow fall. It was nearly 2am at this point and time for them to get tucked back into their sleeping bags around the tree.

After the kids fell to sleep I had a hard time falling back asleep. I was sure that the snow would all be gone by morning and I just didn't want to miss any of it. Finally around 3am I fell asleep. My kids woke me around 7am. They wanted to show me the snow man they had built with their dad. (He had gotten off work around 6am). In all honesty I was expecting miniature snowman and I was shocked to see this guy outside our house...

Meet Roger. Because Minnesotans know how to build a snowman:)

Levi was impressed. He liked playing in the snow during the day a lot more than watching snow fall during the night.

Much to Charlotte's delight (and her siblings dismay) school was not cancelled. Meaning she was able to get dressed up in her fanciest (warm!) clothes and attend The Nutcracker Ballet with her class on a field trip as scheduled. Which meant I was able to host my Christmas Brunch that I had scheduled for that morning with the residency ladies. My house was a little messier and wetter than I had anticipated. And I was a lot sleepier than I would have liked to have been. But overall it was delightful. Good food and good company. The fire was toasty and the winter scene out the window was just perfect!

After school we snuck in a little more time playing in the melting snow before going to Joe's residency Christmas party. We also had a fun little photo shoot with Frankie the tortoise. Due to the rain (and snow!) Frankiehad been inside for 3 days and was beginning to try to claw his way out of his inside home (ie a plastic tub). Because it was above 50 degrees and the sun was shining I decided to give him some outside time roaming the grass. But before he was free to roam I thought he might need some holiday pictures with his first snow. Please note: he never touched the snow. I'm not cruel. Just crazy. I've totally turned into the crazy tortoise lady. These pictures make that crystal clear.

Joe was working and unable to attend the residency party. But that didn't stop us from getting all dressed up and having a good time:)

The kids danced the night away. Literally. They were on the dance floor from the moment we arrived until we left. Barely stopping to eat. Hannah's dance partner proposed to her halfway through the evening. She said no. (She already knows who she wants to marry. That's another story for another day)  But that didn't deter him from continuing to dance with her all night:)

And then if that is not enough magic for one day, something even more wonderful happened...

My favorite Texan had her baby boy!!!! My kids and I are all completely smitten with him.

December 8, 2017. Definitely a day for the record book.