Friday, April 30, 2010

Ice Cream

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Last week Dairy Queen had a special if you buy one blizzard, you could get a second for only $0.25. We bought larges, and had kids share with each other by dividing each into a separate, empty cup.  I figure that made it cost right around $1 per child--cheap!! This was still an excessive amount of ice cream, so we stuffed it in the freezer and made it last for 2 servings. :)  What a nice treat!  My favorite is Resee's.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mixing Up Names

If you have a child, or especially more than one child, you may have called your child by the wrong name before.  Oh it's classic!  My poor kids get it all the time.  But today was really funny.  Mitch had Zeke and Josh believing that he couldn't remember their names.  At supper Mitch said, "One day I'll be able to remember all your names."  And Zeke replied, "You should just practice them every day."  LOL  As if he doesn't!!  I assured Zeke that we know all of their names. 

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But they may not know all of our names. Earlier today Josh came out on the deck and yelled down to Mitch, "Daddy, what is your name again?" And Mitch replied, "Mitch." Josh said, "Oh yeah, Mitch Theis, right?" "Yes." "What letters is in that, Dad?"

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He's a little infatuated with drawing and writing letters. He often brings his "words" to me and asks me to read them.

When we want to get a child's attention (especially when they are in trouble), we often call them by their first and middle name. It is evident that a child learns his own middle name before he learns those of his siblings. We often overhear them trying to mimic us by combining their sibling's first name with their own middle name or in a completely mixed-up order:

Malachi yells, "Tirzah Jude"
Joshua yells, "Malachi Eleazar"
Zeke yells, "Joshua Paul"
And so on... "Ezekiel James", "Caleb Andrew", etc...
But Tirzah Jude has to be our favorite. :)

For the record, here are the correct names: Micah Andrew, Eden Rebekah, Caleb James, Ezekiel Paul, Joshua Eleazar, Malachi Jude, and Tirzah Joy. Next time we do a video I want to try to get everyone saying their own names so that our German "family" can hear how we pronounce it. :)

Patrick doesn't have an official middle name. So one day we were talking and I said the name "Wolfgang" so wrong that Patrick was rolling laughing at me. Therefore his new name is Patrick Wolfgang (and I'm sure to say it wrong again). :) Does it stand to mention that we say the name "Patrick" wrong as well?

Busy Week

Wow, I can't believe it's Thursday already!!  We've had a fairly busy week.  Here are some pics from the week so far:

{Tirzah wants to be a picky eater like some of her older siblings...but we keep trying to get her to eat different foods.}
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{Found this one on my camera card.  Mitch probably took it when he got up one morning.  It is not uncommon to find the couch "full" in the mornings.}
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{Our baby plants on Tuesday evening}
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{A beautiful tree in bloom across the street.  I don't even know what kind of tree it is...I really am bad at this whole plant thing.  I took it from my deck with a 200mm zoom lens that I'm still learning how to use.  Thanks again, Dad!!}
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{The little plants today.  Our cukes (cucumbers) are a little overgrown for the planter.  I think Mitch is going to move them to something bigger, as our straw bales won't be ready to plant in for a few more days yet.  The cherry tomatoes are over-achievers too.  The corn looks nice, but I'm confused about starting the plants indoors...Mitch tells me I really need to relax, LOL.  No sign of the tomatoes and peppers...the tomatoes should be up in a few days and the peppers may take a couple more weeks.  Wow, that seems like a long time to just get a glimpse of them!}
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Green Thumbs

We have been thinking about gardening and talking about gardening probably almost every year since we've owned our own home.  We've tried growing a few plants, but nothing really productive and never an actual garden.  Last year we got semi-serious when we built our raised-bed garden in the fall.  Now this year we are making plans for that space!  Maybe I should make myself clear here--*I* am trying to stay out of it.  Because I'm pretty sure my thumbs are brown.  But Mitch has taken up the reins and is planning some fun stuff.  Last week he started some plants with the kids.  We were totally surprised to see some of them up already this week.  Wow!  That was fast!  (Fine, yes, all you experienced gardeners can go ahead and laugh at me).

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Even more than that, we were surprised to see just how much the little plants grew from this morning to this afternoon! I think we could just sit and watch them grow. :)

This morning:
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This afternoon:
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Patrick thinks we should plant some cake, frosting, ice cream, etc, plants! I agree. ;)

Mitch is also going to expand our "garden" by trying a method called "Straw Bale Gardening." (I recommend looking on youtube for videos or searching google for more information). He bought some straw bales this weekend and today started treating them with ammonium nitrate to help get them ready for plants.

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Next I'm going to suggest a rain barrel to catch the rain off our roof! 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Lesson in Sharing

Mitch has been coleading a class at our church using the book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp.  It's a great book, and I highly recommend it.  It has been a paradigm shift for us regarding how we correct our children.  One day I was reading in my Bible and came across a passage that fit very nicely in with what we were learning.  I decided to share it with the kids the next day, and repeated it many times to help them memorize it.  The passage is Luke 6:27-31, which is probably a familiar passage from the Sermon on the Mount, but I particularly focused on v. 30: 

"Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back."

Here is the classic scene:  Little Johnny is playing with a cool toy car.  Little Susie decides she wants the car.  She runs over and takes it.  Little Johnny begins to cry/scream/yell/run for mom, or even hit Little Susie.  {Or maybe YOUR Little Johnny is a perfect angel and asks nicely for Susie to give the car back...ahem.}  At any rate, Mom is soon involved and asks the famous question, "Who had it first?"

Pause right there for a moment.  From our "Shepherding a Child's Heart" class we have learned that this really doesn't get at the heart of the issue.  The heart of the issue is that both little children are exposing their selfishness.  Settling the argument will NOT fix the problem.  Want to learn how to fix it?  Read the book.


Ok, you can un-pause now.  Back to the scene, only this time I don't care who had it first.  I pull out my handy-dandy new Bible verse Luke 6:30:  Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods, do not demand them back.  Is that too hard for a child to do?  Maybe.  In fact, I hope so.  But it is God's standard.  By calling them to rise to God's standard, I'm causing them to recognize their inability to do so--and revealing that they need the help of a Savior--enter the Gospel message.  Sweet!  


So after much practice, we are still practicing.  This is not a one-time, easy-fix kind of parenting course.  It's a rescue mission, and it's going to take everything we've got for many years to come.  Today was a prime example.  Joshua was caught in the middle of it, and he quoted the verse for Mitch:


"Give to everyone who bugs you."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I FIXED IT!!!

Oh my, I'm doing a happy dance!

I almost don't want to admit how I fixed it.

I took the "broken" SD card and put it in my back up camera.  (Yes, I am ashamed of myself).  And guess what?  It "broke" that camera's SD slot too.  Ugh.  So for about 5 min I was thinking, "Stupid, Stupid, Stupid."  Then I thought, "Hey, at least it's a cheaper camera, now I can play around with it."  (Yes, that was stupid too, but that's just how I am).

And after playing around for a few minutes, I was able to "reset" the trigger mechanism by pushing the card in much further than normal (think of a retractable ball point pen).  So I grabbed my D80 and fixed it...just like that...no more rigging it up.

And the broken SD card?  It's going in the trash!!  :)

$150 repair...Or not

Ok, so maybe you want to write to me on this one and tell me why it may not be a good idea. 

I got a call from the camera shop with a repair quote.  They recommended I send it to United Camera for repairs.  I asked if they personally recommended this place and they guy said yes, that he had just gotten his personal camera back from being repaired.  The best news?  It would only cost $150 to replace the SD drive, not $230 from Nikon.  Cool!  Only, I would have to come pick up my camera and handle the shipping, etc, myself because they are in the process of moving their shop.  No problem.

I nearly bolted out the door to get my camera in my hands again.  Working or not, I miss it terribly!  Upon arriving home, I *had* to inspect it again.  Surely it couldn't need to go in for repairs.  Could it?  So I came up with an idea to "fix" it myself.  (Don't cringe, it's not that bad).  Ready?  Here ya go:

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See, what is going on is the camera card will not "lock" into position.  You can, however, hold it in position.  Which is awkward, to say the least.  So I thought, how about a place holder?  I folded up a piece of paper, held it over the card, and shut the door down on it.  Now the paper holds the card in place by gentle pressure.  Is this a bad fix?  If so, tell me why, because if I'm going to send it off for a repair I should do it now rather than later.

Yes, this does work.  I have taken pictures with it and they *seem* to record just fine.  Will it work consistently?  That's my #1 concern.  So I guess I'll take as many pictures as possible to try it out for the next couple days.

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{Caleb}

My 8 GB memory card does have a chip, which is what I originally thought went wrong with my card slot (that a chip had gotten down inside somehow).  Mitch did suggest that I discontinue using that card.  *sniff, sniff*  Ok, good point.  Better to replace it!

FYI:  I used my old (now back-up) camera, a Canon PowerShot A630, to take the picture of my "fix" above.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Sad Day

Yesterday I was transferring pictures from my memory card to my computer.  I was all finished, and went to place the card back in my camera (the D80).  It wouldn't stay in--it would go in, but wouldn't "lock" into position.  I ran it to our local Nikon dealer, who took a look at it and figured out what was going on.  He said it would have to be sent in for a repair, and the body would have to come apart, which would mean a minimum $200.  He said most likely that the card slot would be replaced, which is $230.  Ugh.  They are going to call me back with a quote today.  Leaving my camera there was almost like handing over one of my children, LOL.  I have no idea how long it will take to get it back.  I was so sad that I nearly cried.  I know, that's a little goofy. :)

I have no idea how it happened.  It was working perfectly on Tirzah's birthday, and I had the card in and out several times (as evidenced by the photos on the blog).  The camera was in my sewing room all night and all morning while I transferred pictures, and no one else was nearby at all to mess with it.  So there really is no explanation.  I dreamed last night that it was miraculously fixed without sending it in for the expensive repair...but alas, it was only a dream! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One more birthday post

Ok, Tirzah really got spoiled with all the posts on my blog, yes.  But here is one more, nonetheless.  Tonight we had Paul & Marilyn, Holly & Kyle (and kids), and Hope & Selena (and a couple friends) over to celebrate.

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And here is a quick/short slideshow I put together that chronicles her growth over the past year.

365 Days with You

365 days with Tirzah Joy in my arms.  Amazing!

Tirzah, at 12 months, you
~walk very well
~try to run
~move up and down the stairs with ease
~try to walk down the stairs and fall
~climb on the bathroom stool, but not on the chairs or couch
~love the ride-on toys that you can push with your feet
~love anything that plays music

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You also
~usually cry yourself to sleep in just a few minutes after I put you down
~nurse about every four hours during the day, usually when tired
~sometimes want to nurse all.night.long, but other times only get up once
~sleep in the room where Eden sleeps, but won't sleep with Eden...yet

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You 
~have all 8 front teeth (incisors) in and 2 molars on top, with the next 2 on bottom soon to come
~put everything in your mouth
~do not talk
~sign "all done" and wave "bye-bye"
~refuse to sign "milk"
~made up your own sign for "more", but don't use it correctly
~have long fingernails because you don't let me clip them

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You 
~already tried cake and love it
~like a food one day, then spit it out the next
~love to drink water from a water bottle
~tried cow's milk for the first time a week ago...and you will drink some, but don't care for it


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Your hair
~is still thin, but you have more coming in
~is curly when wet
~is uncut and not as "wild"

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You
~weigh about 19 lbs
~you can still wear size small cloth diapers, because your thighs are so skinny
~wear size medium diapers when you can--I'm still making some for you
~wear mostly 12-month clothing, as you are so tall
~rarely wear socks
~never wear shoes (I don't know if I even have any for you!)
~have really dirty toenails

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You
~think you're the boss
~totally ignore me when I tell you "no"
~throw a fit when you don't get what you want
~know how to "work" your older brothers and sister so they will give you what you want

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You
~love to give hugs
~love to give kisses
~have a wonderful smile and laugh
~love your brothers and sister so much and miss them when they're not around

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What a blessing it has been to have you in our arms! We are grateful that God has given you to us to care for.  We can't wait to see what He has planned for your life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A special diaper (yes, cloth diapers can be special)

Bonnie embroidered this special diaper for Tirzah's birthday:

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{Tirzah realized she could see Eden in the window high above...she thought that was a neat trick.}
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{Love the sweet look...not so much the crusty nose...}
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I have a few more special diapers for sale over in my store!

Zeke

Zeke is almost ready to graduate from Kindergarten.  In four more weeks he will have completed all his lessons.  Here is an example of a story that he can read from one of his A Beka readers:
Eat the big pie, Joe.
Smack! Smack! Smack!
Scat, cat.  Do not sniff the pie!
Scat!  Scat!  Scat!
Joe, do not spill the pie.
The bad cat did not eat the pie.
Joe ate it.
Today Mitch was doing Arithmetic with him.  Mitch said, "A bus stops and picks up one student, then stops and picks up two more students, then stops and lets one student off. How many are left on the bus?"  Zeke said "3."  Mitch explained the problem more, trying to help Zeke understand (1+2-1 = 2).  Finally, Zeke said, "But doesn't the driver count?"

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

A New Set of Wheels

About 2.5 years ago, when Malachi was just a baby, we totaled our van when a driver pulled out in front of Mitch.  At that time, we didn't all fit in our van anyway.  Mitch and some of the kids were in the van and I was in the car with the rest following them home from church.  Thankfully, everyone was ok (with the exception of some neck/back pain for Mitch).  At that time when we began searching for a vehicle to replace our van, God provided the Suburban.  We guessed (hoped) it wouldn't fit all of us forever.  Sure enough, along came little Tirzah Joy on April 21st, 2009, and we have never all ridden together in the same vehicle since.

We had certainly dreamed of owning a larger vehicle, especially once we added Patrick to our family in August.  But I always knew that God would provide the right van at the right time.  Once we knew we were getting a "good" tax refund this spring, we began actively looking for vans.  There was no pressure--we had been driving two vehicles for the past year and would continue to do so if that was what God had planned.  But full-size passenger vans can be hard to come by.  I started out looking for 12-passenger vans, and after we did some counting (um, there are 10 of us) and realized what a "tight" fit that would be (especially if our family is blessed with another little one sometime in the future), we focused on 15-passenger.  We searched for a couple months.  When a "good" van came up, it was usually gone before we could call.  We had some limited criteria:  had to be in good condition (clean, decent seats), hopefully less than 150K miles, working rear a/c, under $9,000--ideally under $6,000.

One thing that was hard for us looking was to remember all the different models of vans there were out there.  Here are the ones we commonly looked for:  Chevy Express, GMC Savana, Ford Econoline (E-350), Dodge Ram Van.  The Dodge Sprinter did not make our list because the prices, even used, are way out of our price range.  The Ford is bottom on our "like" list, but is the most common to find.  The Express quickly jumped to the top of our "like" list, but were generally more expensive and harder to find (Savana seemed IMPOSSIBLE to find).

It was well worth the wait.  On Thursday I spotted a Chevy Express on Craig's List.  I asked Mitch to email, but I figured it was already gone.  It wasn't, and we drove down close to the Cities on Thursday night to see it.  It was so cool.  We knew it was the right van.  But even more, the family was so INCREDIBLE.  Really, for meeting someone randomly off Craig's List??  They were Christians, and it was evident from the beginning even though they didn't express their faith to us in so many words.  They homeschooled.  They had a little boy whom they adopted internationally.  They had some chickens...and sent us home with 1 dozen fresh eggs--YUM.  The mom of this family wore grace like a fine garment.  I was amazed at the meeting of "strangers."  It was definitely something that God had planned for our family.

Ok, enough chatting and on to pictures of our new ride.

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2001 Chevy Express, 15-Passenger, extended wheel base, 125,000 miles, power windows, locks, rear heat & a/c, no frills, good tires, dent on the right rear quarter, $4,900.  And it is no longer available for sale--whoohoo!!

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When Mitch and I went down to see it, we took only Caleb with us.  So all the kids were super excited to see the van.  The family drove it up to St. Cloud on Friday where we completed the sale (and they even dropped it off with a full tank of gas--SO kind!!!).  The kids barreled out of the house and overtook the van.  Josh said, "It's so LONG!"  Yeah, we were all excited.

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Tirzah is figuring out how to adjust everything.

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This picture is terrible, sorry.  Today we rode to church for the FIRST time--all of us together in one vehicle.  The ride there and back was way too short.  :)  Micah and Patrick did buckle up after I took the picture, I promise.  We are still deciding on the best carseat arrangement, and I still need to get Tirzah a new carseat.  What I love about this van, compared to the older model Ford and Dodge, is that the bench seats have a higher back.  Newer versions of Ford have a much higher back, which is a plus, but "newer" means out of our price range.  If you have the option, go with higher seats since they are safer.

A couple other pictures thrown in for fun here:

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{Mitch and ALL the kids hanging out on the bed.  Patrick almost jumped in there too, but I think he was afraid he would squish Tirzah.  LOL}

{Below:  Today is Patrick's Dad's birthday.  We made him a cake, skyped with him in Germany, and sang "Happy Birthday" to him.  I love skype.  Too bad he couldn't taste the cake, though!}
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P.S. We have a 1999 Chevy Suburban for sale, and it is a fantastic vehicle. We will be sad to see it go, but we can't keep it. If you know someone who is interested, pass on the word! :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pneumonia

Mitch has a confirmed case of pneumonia.  He has been coughing for a long time (2 months maybe??).  Two weeks ago he woke up with a fever (could have been a virus), and I sent him to the express care doctor.  He did 5 days of Zithromax.  He wasn't feeling better at the end of 5 days (fever was gone, cough was the same), so I sent him to see his regular doctor (1 week ago).  We also did some good research on chronic coughing.  At the doctor he was given an x-ray and a breathing test. The doctor determined that he was having an asthmatic sort of effect and prescribed Adavair.  Today the doctor's office called back to confirm his x-ray showed pneumonia.  His cough has seemed better since being on the Adavair.  He has to go back in next week for a follow-up x-ray to make sure the pneumonia is clearing.   Because I had my spleen removed I am at a higher risk of contracting pneumonia.  I am glad that I have not caught it, even though I've been exposed to the same germs that Mitch has.  I had a slew of vaccines, so maybe that helped some.  We seem to be tag-teaming on the illness thing (his broken leg--my spleen--his pneumonia).  We joked about our marriage vows being "in sickness and in health."  Yes, we are committed through both!  But I hope that he is feeling better soon and then we ALL stay well for a long time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Made New

You may remember this cool bunkbed that Mitch built for the kids last year:

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Well, for a while now we had a different idea we wanted to try. Mitch finally got a chance to work on it (the weather has been very cooperative). I'm excited about it! The colorful bunk bed below was given to us by the Emerson's. It has a twin over a full. Micah and Malachi had been sleeping on the bottom on a mattress just on the floor for a long time. It worked, but we wanted to explore different sleeping arrangements. We gave the mattress away, moved Eden out of the boys' room and temporarily into the baby room (in the cool car bed), and moved Micah into a twin size bunk bed. Malachi, surprisingly enough, is actually sleeping in his own bed--yay!! Micah is a *little* sad, if you can believe that, and is asking for another baby brother to sleep with. Good grief! :)

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I think converting a twin over full bunk bed like this is a helpful idea for other families with many small children (and maybe not so much space).  Josh will eventually grow too big for this bed (we can only hope) and graduate to a larger bed, but it will work for another year probably. 

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I think Mitch did a great job.

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For the record, *I* don't plan on painting the wood to match the rest of the bunk. No thank you. It sleeps the same whether painted or unpainted!

I don't think any of our sleeping arrangements around here are ever meant to last very long.  :)  Mitch and I have had our bedroom in every room of this house except the sewing room (that would be 5 bedrooms, the office, and both living rooms--although one was only briefly).  That is to say, we switch rooms around often.  Patrick is lucky he hasn't had his bed switched on him mid-year!  LOL.

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Sometimes you've got to sleep wherever you can find a place.  This one is awfully popular for sure!

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Road Trip

My best friend, Kristin, and I loaded up our babies and traveled to Southern Minnesota to visit our friend Courtney.  How did we meet Courtney?  I couldn't tell you.  I've been reading her blog for a long time.  You might remember that Courtney and her hubby Chris came up to visit us last August.  This trip was planned in December, but then I got sick. 

Our weather turned out to be perfect.  It really couldn't have been a better day!  Their home was a nice 3.5 hour drive from us, so Kristin and I got in lots of fun girl gab time there and back (though I'm sure I did more than my fair share of talking!).  It was MUCH needed.

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{Tirzah and Jericho}

Rather than take the interstate, we opted to drive the highway and enjoyed the scenery as we passed through many small towns that I had heard about but never visited before. That was really fun for me! There were so many things that I wanted to see, remember, take pictures of, but we also wanted to just get there. But as we were nearing our destination, I slammed on the brakes and turned around...I HAD to have a picture of this sign:

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Courtney made us a delicious lunch (homemade pizza).  Then we just had FUN and TALKED and LAUGHED and played with our adorable babies. 

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{Elle}

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{Don't you love their dresses?  Tirzah and Elle}

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{Jericho and Elle}

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{Tirzah}


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Kristin made all the girls' dresses!!  Aren't they adorable?

Jericho's birthday is January 13, Elle's is February 14, and Tirzah's is April 21.  So we have a bunch of peanuts on our hands.  Tirzah obviously kept up nicely with the girls (actually she was quite the bully).

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{Courtney and Elle}

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{Kristin and Jericho}

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{Me and Tirzah}