Monday, November 30, 2009

Video from Dance Performance Friday Night in Iowa

Madison and Alinia came up with a dance routine to perform Friday night while we were in Iowa. The kids, especially Amara, loved to participate as well!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009- a Whirlwind!

Wednesday evening we headed to Galesburg. The kids love all the one on one attention they get from Nana and Grandpa!

Thursday morning we headed to Iowa City to be with my family!
Brady, Taylor, and Matthew use thier family time to catch up on video games together!
Grammy and Mara share a moment.
Woody and Brad do their jobs as "sons" and carve the turkey!
Another AMAZING meal, Auntie Doris!
After lunch, a quick football game started with some of the boys!It's amazing what can happen when you let the TV turn on...look at the crowd!As always, the kitchen became the gathering and grazing location for everyone.Mara realized just how sticky rice crispy treats can be!
Thursday night a game of Trivial Pursuit began- old farts over 40 against younguns under 40. It was close but the old farts won!
The kids get so creative....some mini blind holders used as ramp, dozens of matchbox cars and some toddlers to lay on the stairs so the cars had something to jump over- so fun!
My cousins, Woody and Mindy, take in foster kids. Their newest family addition is a sweet little girl names Kirah. She's blind, has significant brain damage, and lots of medical needs and disabilities. Still, she fit in great with the family and was a big deal to the other little girls ( Veronica and Mara) who were no longer the littlest kids around!
During a TV marathon moment, Mara went right over to Taylor and just sat down in his lap. It was so sweet and unlike Mara since she barely let anyone hold her except me and Bri all weekend.Alaric, Amara, and Veronica got to have their dessert on the kitchen floor- ICE CREAM BARS!!!
Cousin Maddie had so much fun entertaining them!
Kirah, Amara, and me take a snuggle break! Mara was very jealous when I held the baby so she is definately trying to snuggle close.
Every Friday after Thankgiving, The Bechtel/Houser Family travels to the Amana Colonies for some shopping and lunch. Atleast 5 years ago now, the men discovered that Amana has it's own Brewery. Every year, my parents, us, and my brother and sis in law head to the brewery to sample beer and stock up. The weather was so nice this past weekend, we could drink our beer outside and let the kids run!
The boys and their babes as they walk from the Brewery to the restaurant
Look at my Movie Star!!!!

Bri and the kids wait outside to get into THe Brickhouse Restaurant in Amana Colonies- a Bechtel Family tradition for 30 years.

Uncle Dan and Mara
Alaric and Brad
Alinia and Benjamin
Mara and V want to do everything like the big girls, even sticking their feet in the air and kicking
Maddie and Alinia did an amazing dance routine for us all Friday night. The kids participated too. I have great video to post but I'm having technical difficulty. I'll try later. Here is the cutest pic of the kids bowing.
The kids take over Nana and Grandpa's basement as soon as we got back to Galesburg Saturday morning.
Aunt Anita and Alaric get a few minutes to play together before Nita had to head back to Chicago.
Grandpa and Nana show us the exciting construction on the huge house being built next door!
Grandpa and Mara walk back to the house hand in hand!
Uncle Jeff and Alaric take in some Bob the Builder!
Aunt Tammie loves to have quality time with Mara!
What a wonderful weekend with family!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So much to be Thankful for!

We have so much to be thankful for this year....good health, great friends and family, jobs, income, the ability to help others, our church, organizations we believe in...

Alaric and Amara's first Thanksgiving Turkey was a big hit this year. As you can see, they found lots of "feathers" to put on their turkey. They, like us, are realizing more and more how important it is to count and acknowledge our blessings.

I ran into one of my dearest friends from High School yesterday while shopping at Meijer. She's 31 years old, mother of two sons 6yrs and 2 yrs, a wife, a teacher, and an amazing friend. She found out yesterday that TODAY will be her last Radiation Treatment for the Breast Cancer she's been battling and beating for months! I was so elated to hear the news and so humbled to see her again- just like always- a big warm smile and hug to greet me, good news to share! She showed me in just a quick moment how really thankful I should be and am. I'm so happy for her to have this wonderful time with her precious family and to be a witness to all of us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

3rd Annual Thanksgiving Dinner with friends

Today was our 3rd annual Thanksgiving Dinner for our group of friends that mostly live in Champaign. There were 23 people- only one family couldn't come as they now live in Iowa City!

Brian and I like to put everyone at the same table for Thanksgiving so we move all the furniture out of the living room and set up big long tables. Here's what it looked like before everyone arrived.

Once everyone arrived, it was pretty standard what happened next. The women and the babies gathered in one area....
The kids went straight to the toys....
And the men found the most convienent place to drink! This time it just happened to be in the basement where the kids were so the women were happy!
As we gathered to pray before eating. With 6 families, 5 of whom have 2 kids- it was kinda rotating meal- just the kids fed first then mom and dad take turns eating and monitoring the kids.
Amara loved her potatoes!
Alaric was excited to drink his lemonade from an open cup!
Mommy and Mara snuggle after dinner!Mara found baby Zachary's carseat and tried it out- of course she still fits pretty well!
The Johnsons
The Fultons
The Dills
The Ryles
The Shaws
The Jacksons
The kids
The group- we missed you Eckhardts!
After dessert, everyone just hung out. Brian and I had some of the guys help us tear down the tables and chairs which saved us so much time. Mara went right to Cynthia and even let her snuggle her for awhile- it was unheard of and so sweet!While other moms and dads got thier little ones into jammies before the car ride home, all I needed to do was say "Mara, run around naked!!!" It's her favorite thing to do. She can't get the clothes off fast enough and then she just runs and laughs and is in heaven!
What a wonderful night together with friends! We don't get to see each other that often but when we do we have so much fun. We are so blessed to have such great friends and a constant support system who get what you are going through, don't judge you, and just love you and your kids so much! Thank everyone- Happy Thanksgiving!