Thursday, December 31, 2009

welcoming a new year

A little bit of our life from the past year, some snapshots, some portraits...but all us and lots and lots of love.

As I reflect back on the past year and was going through pictures to make the brought back many great memories, I saw so much joy and laughter. I'd describe the past year for William as the year(his first full year with us) where he became a happy, and much more settled little boy. He truly knows we are his family and has matured so much emotionally.
Grace, the epitome of femininity is possibly the most thoughtful and sweet child I've ever known and for that I'm always grateful.
Our oldest son Nick is ever stable, hard working, happy, healthy and he has a serious girlfriend. He's a great guy and awesome big brother to Grace and Will.
I can say 2009 was a wonderful year for us....we are looking forward to all that 2010 brings. Happy New Year. We hope it is good to you!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

a wonderful Christmas

Well, we woke up Christmas eve morning to a full blown ice storm, with some snow thrown in for good measure which made for some terrible driving conditions. Our dog Molly doesn't mind that kind of weather but we switched to plan B because Grandma and Grandpa were unable to make the trip because the roads were extremely slippery.
Though we did miss Grandpa and Grandma, our Christmas eve was quiet, very fun and relaxing with the 5 of us together(our oldest son too). We have the tradition of opening a few gifts, and having yummy appetizers to eat.
Here is me with my sweet Gracie girl and Mr. Will sitting back and smiling at me...

The above collage shows a beautiful card Grace made for us, Grace hugging a stuffed doggy Nick had just given her and Will and Dan having some Daddy-son snuggle time.

I took the above one right before we left for church for Christmas eve service, which was wonderful for me because we hadn't attended one on Christmas eve in a couple of years. It was truly lovely.

Christmas day, Will woke up at 6:00am...he did manage to go back to sleep with some coaxing. Then Grace was up at 7:30am and they both raced down the stairs. We did capture them on video when they first saw what Santa left! Will's favorite gifts were Batmobile and Spiderman cars for his little figures, a Leapster, small trampoline, a Lightning McQueen racetrack and tent. Grace loved her art set, an American Girl doll, accessories, and tree house. But her favorite gift she told me was her camera ( think like mommy... like daughter!?)

Today(Saturday) my parents(aka Grandma and Grandpa) and my brother made the trip up from northern Illinois safe and sound. We had another day of great food, family time and more opening gifts.
Hope everyone's Christmas was wonderful!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

From our home to yours...

Wishing you the special gifts of this holiday season...
joy, peace and love.
Gail, Dan, Nick, Grace and William Michael

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas
if you stop opening presents and listen.'
~author unknown

'Christmas, my child is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.'

~ Dale Evans Rogers

'And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.'
~ Dr. Seuss

Monday, December 21, 2009

par-tay & bal-let

The title should have been parties. There were 2 to be exact for our guy. Friday we had a party with our dear friends and neighbors and Will's best friend Miles. Will was elated and loved the attention and his gifts...he got a Lightning McQueen racetrack, and a Batman car for some of his figures to drive around in. He isn't fussy about toys and appreciates anything he's given.
Saturday we drove to the Chicago area to see more friends and Will was surprised(so were we) with another party and celebration. We spent the entire day playing, laughing, eating and catching up. Will had a second birthday cake and more gifts to open.

And Sunday Grace and I had some mommy/daughter time together and attended the Nutcracker in Madison. It's been a wonderful Christmas tradition for me going back to my own childhood and I've seen it everywhere I've lived. When my oldest son was little we would go together, though he wasn't too fond about going when he got to be 10-12 years old(it's probably not cool then). ;) So it's a treat for me to take my little girl now.
Grace knows the story of the Nutcracker and loved the production, she couldn't decide which beautiful dancer's dress was her favorite. I gave her a small sterling ballerina charm for her to wear to remember our day together.

I can't believe we only have a few days left until Christmas...I think I'm almost ready. Have a little more baking to do and still have to get to the grocery store. We are spending Christmas Eve with my parents and brother and Christmas Day, it will be my family home together.

I have 2 more posts I'll do before Christmas, one will be our Christmas card.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Guess who's 4!

Our handsome guy's birthday is Christmas day and tonight we'll celebrate a little early with a small party with friends. Last year his birthday got a little lost with the Christmas celebration so I thought he should have his own special day. To say Will is excited is an understatement.

We have a busy weekend ahead with traveling to Chicago to visit friends and miss Grace and I will have some mommy/daughter time together on Sunday when we go to see The Nutcracker. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


'Snowmen fall from heaven...unassembled.' ~ unknown
Being a native Midwesterner, and growing up in Northern Illinois and Indiana I've seen my share of snow. The first big snow is still wonderful to me and magical in a way. Maybe because I feel like a kid when my own kids get bundled up in their snow gear and go outside for some fun. I still remember what it felt like to be cold and a little wet but it didn't matter because I was having too much fun!

Sunday it warmed up a bit into the low 30's and we didn't go far, just to our front yard and Grace and Will did a little sledding and snow angel making. We got some great smiles out of Will with the sledding...he likes to help Daddy shovel too.

Today it's 7 degrees so we won't be outside playing. I believe Santa is all finished shopping for our family now.... have to finish up a little more wrapping but he can see the end in sight! ;) Miss Grace and I will be doing some baking this week.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

collages and we have a WINNER!

These are 2 collages I made recently of some pics I took this week of Grace and Will when we decorated our family room tree. I tried some different ways of processing and I liked the kind of vintage effect. Anyway, lately I've had several emails and comments asking me how I make the story boards or collages for my
blog. BTW I like to use them because I can get more pictures in a post and I guess I just plain like how they look. There are 2 ways that I know how to make them and they're through flickr and Picasa.

I use Picasa 3.6 which is a free editing software program and you can get it here. Once your photos come into it you can start making your collage. You basically click on a picture you want to use and look down at the bottom of the screen and will see several choices. Click on 'collage.' On the Left side of the screen you can pick different settings as far as page format. Then go over to 'clips' and pick 1 or more pictures to add to the collage. You can shuffle or change the arrangement and play around with it and have fun. When you have it the way you want, click on 'create collage.' I save them and upload them into flickr and then into my blog post. And if you have questions please leave me a comment or email me, I'd be happy to help.

And now for the winner of the glass fan ornament. Right after church today Grace drew Brandi's name! Brandi and I were in the same Nov. 06 LID group and she has 3 daughters, her youngest Kalia was adopted from China this year. Congrats on winning, I'm certain the ornament will look beautiful on your tree!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening.
In the lane snow is glistening
A beautiful sight
We're happy tonight.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland.

Well the snow is glistening and beautiful. Don't know if I'm happy because it's minus 2 below zero outside as I write this, but it is a Winter Wonderland. Wednesday it arrived over a 24 hour period with 17 inches of snow brought by a blizzard. We had 1 snow day here, and it was great that Dan got to stay home with us because his business was closed too.
We couldn't have driven anywhere anyway because the roads were full of snow and the plows had problems keeping up with it, the snow was coming down so hard.

After the snow stopped Wed. afternoon Grace went outside and played with Will's friend Miles, they did lots of digging with shovels and sliding down small snow hills. The first big snow is truly beautiful and especially with the Christmas lights lit up at night.

Will is NOT fond of snow and cold so we both stayed inside warm and toasty and made some cupcakes(he was a great helper too). We decorated them with little Christmas stencils I bought at Crate and Barrel. Do you think he was just a little bit happy eating them? He's honestly the most expressive child I've ever seen...and so funny!

Wherever you live, I hope you're enjoying this wonderful season. I have a little bit of Christmas shopping to finish up, and plan on starting some wrapping and my Christmas cards. We'll be outside playing in the snow I'm sure as it's supposed to warm up a little.

And please remember to enter the drawing for the ornament, it's on Sunday!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December giveaway!

Almost exactly a year ago I won a giveaway from Deb(who happens to be in China right now getting her 2nd daughter). I won a beautiful red and green glass Chinese pagoda ornament. We have collected glass ornaments over the years and I thought it would be fun to giveaway the above brand new white glass fan ornament...if you'd like to enter please leave a comment and if it's not linked to your blog, please leave your email address so I can contact you. Grace will draw the winner on SUNDAY...I'll get it right to you so you can hang it on your tree!
The fan measures about 3.5 inches across...good luck!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

O Tannenbaum

'This little green one here seems to need a home.' Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas(1965)

There is nothing like the fragrant scent of fresh pine that triggers my own memories of Christmas. I've experienced a fresh cut Christmas tree growing up in my parent's home and always as an wouldn't be Christmas to me without one. We've cut down Christmas trees in the mountains near Santa Cruz when we lived in California, bought them off a lot in the Chicago area and now have the tradition of going to this precious tree farm near our home here in Wisconsin.

This is our 4th time here and Will's second time, last year Dan carried him because it was bitter cold and snowy. This year our little guy walked all the way up to the trees by himself (it's a pretty long hike especially for a 3 year old). I was so proud of him!

As we searched for the perfect tree, Will found the 'perfect stick.' Gotta love a stick when you're a little boy. William carried that stick around all morning and he made that stick do pretty much anything that a stick could do.

Both kids loved feeding apples to the reindeer and especially liked eating their first candy cane of the season. :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Are we there yet?

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year. ~ Charles Dickens
The true spirit of Christmas is love. ~ Linda Willis

As Christmas comes inside our home, the questions are coming now fast and furious from my 3(almost 4) year old son. Every day Will asks me at least 3 times a day, "Is it Christmas yet Mom?" The questions started when the first decorations were put out. It's so hard to understand the concept of time and to we show him the calendar and count the number of days. And explain that it's 20-some days away. And the next morning the question is still the same, "Is it Christmas yet?" It's difficult for little ones to comprehend and we hope they appreciate and love this magical season and holy day that is arriving soon.
*And I forgot to add when I wrote my original post that Christmas isn't just Christmas for Will, it's also his 4th birthday. There's a lot to celebrate!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

wordless Wednesday

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Everywhere you go;
Take a look in the five and ten glistening once again,
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Toys in every store
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door.

(I used to love to listen to this song sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks as a little girl).

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone. We had a very nice one and traveled about an hour away to my parents, my 3 siblings and their families managed to make it. It's always fun to catch up and my mom always pulls off this huge event so well. You know I brought my camera and didn't take 1 picture!

Christmas has changed a fair amount from when I was growing up in the 1960's and 70's. I'm kind of old school about it all and don't start decorating for this holiday until after Thanksgiving....

So decorate we did this weekend! My assistant Grace helped me bring out the bling to welcome our favorite holiday.

Being married for 20 years now, we've got quite the collection of Christmas decorations...some old, and some new. My kids have their own trees in their rooms and I let them pick out what they'd like. Will has a Lightning McQueen tree and Grace's ornaments are mostly pink and purplicious in color and very girly girl...we give them both a new ornament for their trees each year. We still have to put up our live tree and most likely that will happen next weekend.

And it's not only our house that looks festive, so does my blog. A huge thank you to Lisa for helping me with the new design!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

counting my blessings

Gratitude consists of being more aware of what you have, than what you don't. ~ unknown

Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel. ~ unknown

In this season of gratitude, and before I get so busy getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday with my own family I wanted to write about what I'm thankful for. It's easy to get caught up with tasks and lists of things to do at this time, and I think it's important to give thanks for the many blessings in my life. Friends and family come to my mind first, the people who support you, think you're the best thing in the whole wide world and are there for you in hard times and good times...always. I'm blessed to have dear friends and family who love me unconditionally. But what I'm most thankful for is my husband and children. I'm not a perfect person, just someone who keeps learning and growing everyday and trying my best. The greatest gift I've been given is being a mother to 3 children and I thank God for that opportunity everyday. I hope I can help the 3 of them to have a love of learning, to laugh, and to find beauty and joy in all things. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. :)

© Aging with Grace and strong Will
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