Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cleared for Takeoff

Simon says check out our new blog.

Come on over and stay a while. We can't wait for your visit.

Hugs from the Friesens.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Coming Soon....

New blog for a new year.

It won't be long now.

Check back here for directions there.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blog of an Ordinary Life

We had a really nice Christmas at home this year. Bauer slept until 7:45am on Christmas Day, and then Cash went down for a long morning nap from 8-10:30am, so we had a good chunk of time just enjoying Bauer opening his gifts. I made our usual sour cream coffee cake that we always have on Christmas morning. It's a recipe that my great-aunt received from a neighbor many years ago, and then it got passed to my grandmother and to my mom and then to me. I also got out our coffee maker on Christmas morning and made some Starbucks coffee that TJ's friend Keith gave us. That was the once-a-year coffee-making I do (I usually drink tea).

Here is a picture of Bauer with his assortment of gifts.

Santa gave him the red GeoTrax train and a pack of track pieces (plus a stocking with a few smaller things inside),

while TJ and I were responsible for the small Mac auto-transporter truck, the Lands' End monogrammed backpack, and the Nerf basketball hoop (from Cash). His favorite, of course, was the GeoTrax stuff, and thankfully some other family members helped out in that area. Bauer also received a bunch of books, which I am very happy about. We've had fun reading his new books, although Bauer is sort of stuck on the three Little Whistle books by Cynthia Rylant that we checked out from the library on Saturday.

Cash had a smaller Christmas, but he still got plenty.

Our three gifts to him were the doctor's office bead/wire toy thingy from IKEA (does anyone know what this toy is actually called?), the "Baby's 1st Christmas" Hallmark ornament with a frame for his picture, and the 2 Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers. We decided we'd like to try out the Fuzzi Bunz before making the full-on investment, so we just ordered 2 of them to start with. So far, I'm not totally into it, but I am going to give it a little more time to see if I can adjust to the changes. I do think the diapers look a lot more comfortable for Cash, and in the long run, I know it will be a way to save money and the environment.

After presents, we just hung around the house and TJ helped Bauer with all-things GeoTrax while I made our Christmas dinner. I had planned to just make a bunch of side dishes (no meat), but TJ was really wanting to make The Cape Codder sandwich, which is from one of our favorite sandwich shops in Clemson (Pot Belly Deli - no relation to the Pot Belly Sandwich Works around here). The Cape Codder is turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce on a bun, so that means we needed turkey. We decided to get some thick-sliced oven-roasted turkey breast from the Whole Foods deli so I wouldn't have to worry with cooking a turkey.

On Christmas Day we had a variety of sides: homemade mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, and roasted carrots with honey, plus TJ had The Cape Codder.

What was the most fun to me was getting to make additional sides over the next few days to fill in the gaps when we ate up the first ones. I made butternut squash risotto, roasted acorn squash, peas, and another batch of stuffing, and TJ kept having The Cape Codder to go with everything. It was fun while it lasted. Bauer especially enjoyed the turkey, butternut squash risotto, and peas.

That book Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, which Bauer got for Christmas, is so clever. Bauer also got AKR's books Cookies and Christmas Cookies, which I think are probably my two favorite children's books ever, and I just discovered them through my mom when she was here in early December. I am so glad AKR is on my radar now. She's definitely a new favorite.

And then on top of that, I was happily surprised with a Christmas gift from my mom that is a book for grown-ups by the same Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a book I didn't even know existed (not that I had looked since I was thinking she just wrote for children). It's called Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and it is on my top 5 list. In reading it, I feel like I wrote it, which is to say, how could someone know exactly how I feel about things?!! To give you a taste, following are a couple quotes from the book that are some of my favorites so far.

From the entry Completion, AKR writes, "I find deleting e-mails or messages on my answering machine quite gratifying...I'm thrilled when leftovers finally become stale so I can throw them out...Magazines full of too many good articles make me frantic...I enjoy cooking because recipes offer a very manageable list of instructions to continuously complete, not to mention the joy I get from using up the ingredients."

From the entry Doing Something, she writes, "Even the smallest task, like filling out a Scholastic Books order form or putting away the butter, requires time, focus, and follow-through...Yet. Still. Somehow. I am encouraged to see that despite the colossal effort, despite the odds against one, despite the mere constraints of time and schedules and sore throats, houses do get built, pottery gets glazed, e-mails get sent, trees get planted, shoes get reheeled, manifestos get Xeroxed, films get shot, highways get repaved, cakes get frosted, stories get told."


That was because the strongest emotion expresses itself in silence.

I also love the entries for Connected, Dessert, Dishwasher, Entrance Sign, and Euphoric (I'm only through the E's).

If you found yourself with your mouth gaping open as you read those quotes, just as my mouth was gaping open as I sat there on Christmas morning and held this book in my hand when I first opened it and looked at it and realized what it was (thanks Mama!), then this is your permission slip to go to right now, without any further ado, and buy it for yourself.

My other favorite gift was a small Tupperware veggie tray that TJ found for me on eBay. It's the vintage-looking kind, light blue base, cloudy white lid, with 4 spots for veggies (my 4 veggies of choice are cucumbers, carrots, celery, and little tomatoes in case you were wondering) and a round center slot which mostly stays empty. I love it. It was just what I was hoping for and it fits perfectly in our fridge for everyday use. I also love my I HEART THE LIBRARY shirt TJ had made for me. He took one of my super-soft gray t-shirts from Urban Outfitters and had it screen-printed at the mall. It has a red heart, not the word heart. I really do have a lot of happy feelings in my heart about the library.

I will leave you with a few more snapshots from recent days.

TJ took this shot one day recently when he and Bauer went to the Arboretum. What a great picture by my talented husband. And Bauer is actually doing a relatively non-squinty-eyed smile, imagine that.

This is Cash's 4 month picture. Did I already tell you that I'm taking a picture of him each month on the 28th in his car seat so we can see how big he is growing?

Here we are in downtown Chicago in front of the big Christmas tree at Daley Plaza. We had originally planned to go downtown on our anniversary (the 22nd), but we ended up having to reschedule the trip two times due to bad weather, so we finally got to go this past Sunday night. We ate dinner at our favorite restaurant, Bandera, and then spent the night at the Marriott on Michigan Avenue. It ended up being perfect weather, 40 degrees in fact, for walking around downtown with the kids in the Bob stroller (still lovin' that purchase, even in the winter!!).

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Heart TJ

If you read this post yesterday (Monday), you'll have to read it again. I made a few changes, mainly because I had time to think while lying in bed this morning and I wanted to add or update a few more things.

8 years old.

That's how old mine and TJ's marriage is, as of today. I am happy to have TJ for my husband. He is a good husband, a very good husband. My heart is so full of gratitude.

Here's us as we would appear in People if we were celebrities celebrating our anniversary. Minus the name tags, of course, because everyone would know who we were. Oh yeah, and switch out TJ's Coke for a beer or mixed drink.

We got married in Clemson, SC, on December 22, 2000. It was a cold day and I remember us taking some pictures outside with the wedding party and all of us were shivering so badly, the girls especially. I bet if we had weather like that here, today, we would think it was quite balmy and we'd be happy for it. Today the high was maybe 11 degrees, which was an improvement over the 6 degree high they were predicting a few days ago. Yesterday the temperature didn't even make it to 6. In fact, our van registered -5 on our way to church yesterday morning, but we still got out there and made it happen (TJ did all the bad parts like buckling the kids in and parking the car).

We also went to a Christmas party at our friends the Meyers' home yesterday evening. There were 8 families there: 16 adults and 12 kids. The food was delicious and abundant: Honey-baked ham, crock pot mac & cheese, stuffing, oven-roasted vegetables, 2 green bean casseroles, corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, rolls, salad, apple pie, sugar cream pie, and a birthday cake for Jesus. Bauer blew out the candle.

But really, Cash stole the show. Don't all babies usually do that by doing not a lot of anything?


Speaking of Cash, check out his style. This would be the video of a baby wearing Ugg boots that you'd see on My friend Brandy has been so generous to pass on a bunch of her son Zander's baby clothes, including these cool little Uggs. TJ used his new video camera (thanks, Vitality!) to capture this footage.

[Random Fact: Mine and TJ's rings are engraved with the date of our wedding and "Long Live TJ" on mine and "Long Live Ginger" on his.]

Sunday, December 14, 2008

TJ and Ginger and All Things Christmas

Bauer has gotten in the funny habit of calling me and TJ by our first names. It started as an every once in a while thing, but now it's probably at least half the time that he calls us TJ and Ginger and the other half we are Mom and Dad. The way he says Ginger just about makes me give into every request, it's so adorable. There's no rhyme or reason as to when he chooses which name to call us. Even in the same sentence he may call me Ginger and TJ Dad. Tonight for instance, here's who Bauer prayed for when he said his prayers before bed, in this order:

Gigi, Granddaddy, Mom, Dad, Bauer, Cash, (then a pause,) then Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, then Ginger, Tucker, and that's all.

It has been a busy and fun few weeks. For Thanksgiving, we rented an RV along with some good friends and drove 15 hours to Virginia to visit some other good friends. We didn't exactly know it was going to be 15 hours, but it's good we didn't know. I might not have been able to psyche myself up for that. I really enjoyed the time spent with my friend Lisa during the ride there and back, and TJ and Lisa's husband Billy navigated so well. Bauer and his little friend Brooke did amazingly well given the length of the trip and the close quarters (even an RV is close quarters for two 3-year olds). And Cash was just a doll. He had just started sleeping through the night good right before our trip and he kept it up! And has continued! Yay for more sleep. Cash has started going to bed around 8pm now and even though I still wake him for that "dream feed" around 10:30, he is getting a longer night sleep now and I'm enjoying some extra time in the evenings, hence this blog.

TJ took Bauer to the Santa House in downtown Naperville this weekend to see Santa and even though I couldn't go due to needing to stay home and take care of Cash (as we had already been out for a few hours earlier that morning), I got to see it on video. The first thing Santa said to Bauer was "oh, good, you brought Tucker along." Bauer went right up and got on Santa's lap and sat there so nicely, but didn't say a word. Santa asked Bauer what he wants for Christmas and when Bauer still didn't say a word, Santa asked him if he wants the GeoTrax train. That is what Bauer has said over and over that he wants anytime we ask him what he would like from Santa. The red GeoTrax train. But he wouldn't tell Santa that, so it's a good thing the parents got to give Santa little clues before the children went in to see him.


Bauer also wouldn't say (or sing) a word this morning at church when his class went up on stage to sing 2 Christmas songs during the service. He and his buddy Nico stood side by side and both of them did not sing or do any of the motions to the songs. It was funny because they just stood there kind of expressionless, when all morning Bauer had been singing "Jingle Bells" at home before we left for church and ringing his little bell. He even wanted to take his bell to church with him so TJ let him take it to his class. When he got up on stage, we heard Nico say to his parents (who were on the front row; we were on the 3rd) that Bauer has a bell in his pocket. So that's where it was, and where it stayed, the whole time they were on stage. TJ tried to get Bauer to take his bell out, but either he didn't hear, or didn't want to, or maybe his teacher told him to leave it in his pocket. Oh well.

Cash has been teething this last week. Bauer got teeth at 3 months, so I'm expecting something similar from Cash. By the way, Cash is 15 weeks old already! Cash has been chewing on anything he can get into and keep in his mouth (sort of frustrating for a 3 month old who doesn't have very good control over his hands yet), drooling, and coughing - all signs of teething.

I went to my friend Dena's cookie-exchange party one night last week and that was fun. I even drank some hot chocolate and am so happy to report I didn't feel sick. I probably hadn't had hot chocolate in at least 3 years because the last time I had it (we were in Hershey, PA, in fact), I felt really nauseated afterward. But I couldn't resist trying Dena's Williams Sonoma hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows and it was so yummy.

What else festive? We have our little 4-foot tree up and tonight TJ put up a few outside lights and then he and Bauer put up some additional lights inside our house. Bauer is SO excited about Christmas. He's been thoroughly enjoying opening a Christmas book each night and he knows that the books are our countdown to Christmas. Tonight's pick was the Amy Krouse Rosenthal book called Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons, which my mom just bought for Bauer when she visited last week and which has quickly become one of my all-time favorite children's books (that, and the other book by her called Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons).

Bauer is really into arts and crafts now, so I decided we would make a gingerbread house as part of that interest he has now to do things crafty. We saw a kit at Michael's and Bauer practically begged me for it. I wasn't too sure, but decided to get it and give it a try. However, once I took out the instructions and read how to assemble it, I decided it was going to be mostly me doing everything and he'd have to wait too long for everything to dry to enjoy making it very much. I ended up taking that kit back and just buying the ingredients to do a make-your-own gingerbread house that we saw in the National Geographic Little Kids magazine that Bauer gets. It actually turned out really well and I can honestly say that we both enjoyed making it.

One other festive thing we've done is that our small group got together this past Friday night and decorated a Christmas tree as part of the Christmas Gift Mart that our church hosts in a neighboring town. They did a raffle to give the decorated trees away to families in need, so it was a fun way to do something as a small group to help out other people. We took Bauer last weekend to the store to buy our contributions to the tree and also to buy a gift to donate to the Gift Mart (this is where families in need get to come and purchase new, donated toys for very reduced prices and the money raised goes to the elementary school where the Gift Mart is held). We told Bauer we were buying a toy for a child who doesn't have one and that we were buying decorations to decorate a Christmas tree for a family who doesn't have one. Not long after that, when he was doing some arts and crafts stuff at home, he said he was making cards for people who don't have any.

This is turning out to be the best Christmas season yet. Having kids sort of does that to you, I think.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No Time for Words

A great Christmas photo of Gigi and her two grandsons.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Boyz

All I have time for is this....

and this...

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!