Friday, December 19, 2008

Mason's Snow Day

I don't mind snow (for awhile), but I'm bummed about our most recent storm. We were supposed to head to Algona tonight or tomorrow morning to be with Brent's extended family for Christmas, and instead we're staying home with nothing to do. It's a weird year because now we have no Christmas celebrations at all until the day after Christmas! But since I no longer have to pack to be gone for the weekend, today I decided we'd make the best of it and go outside to try Mason's new sled. He was less than excited about the seemingly endless process of getting ready to go outside--from diaper change to snow pants to boots to coat, hat and mittens--but once we got out there, it was all worth it! We took many laps around the yard, barked back at the neighbor dog and attempted to walk around on the crunchy ice/snow. Not only did Mason enjoy it, but it was quite a workout for me! We were out there for about 45 minutes. It was really fun! It had been a long time since this girl had played in the snow! And anything is more fun when I know my son is loving it too.

Bundled up and ready to play!All strapped in to his new sled.

Barking like the neighbor dog, who got excited when he saw our sled whizzing by!

Wishing he could get back in and ride just a little bit longer. Another day, Buddy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's Official...

Mason William is ONE! Though the day was pretty normal with a mess of toys, reading a million books, enforcing naptime and filling sippy cups, I found myself treasuring the moments a bit more today. Sounds so cheesy, but I really did! It's hard for me to believe that Mason is already a year old and that he has grown and changed so much so quickly. And the amazing thing is that every stage has been so incredible--when I stop to think about it, I'm struck by the honor it is to get to watch Mason develop, grow and change. I'll stop gushing about it now, but I wish I could somehow express the joy it brings me! It's impossible...

To celebrate our big boy's special day we went to McDonald's for supper where he enjoyed a cheeseburger and a yummy fruit and yogurt parfait that he got to eat with his very own spoon. That alone made his birthday as he is currently in love with utensils. Then we came home and let him open his gift from us, which was a Tonka dump truck and front loader hand-picked by Daddy. He fulfilled all our hopes by his "oohs" and "ahs" and the way he stepped back from them as if he were so in awe he couldn't take it all in. (Christmas will be fun!) As the grand finale, Mason got to see Aunt Sarah tonight. She stopped to give him his gift, which was a great little wooden wagon full of wooden blocks. Again, he cooed and oohed as he carefuly unwrapped it.

He was having such a good time...until he tripped on some wooden blocks and hit his chin on the back of his new dump truck! Poor guy was injured by his own birthday gifts. I'm telling you there is not enough room in our home for all these toys!

We love you and celebrate your life, Mason!

Some pictures of our day...

Enjoying his time with the parfait and the spoon.

This birthday gets a thumbs up! (Still enjoying the spoon.)

When we asked Mason how old he was, this is what we got...we're working on it. :)
Considering his beverage options...

and the Happy Meal toy selection. Ooh, tough choices.
What's in there? Peeking in as he opens his new Tonka machines.

Riding in the back of his new dump truck (before the injury).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Party Time!

Mason's first birthday is on Tuesday, so we celebrated with family and friends on Saturday night with a "Things That Go" party. Mason had no idea that we were all there for him (though when you're one, you think pretty much everything is just for you!), but he had so much fun along with all the other kids. My two goals for the party were to 1) celebrate Mason and 2) provide a place for kids to have fun. I'm thankful to say that both were achieved!

Mason had his very own train cake, and he was not at all shy about digging in (see video). In fact, he either ate or destroyed every last bit of it. He also got many great gifts, including a big red wagon, a winter sled, lawn mowers, race cars, a truck, a tractor, a laughing/tickle-me Elmo and books. He loves them all! Now they are covering our living room, and we've got to do some toy sorting, especially with Christmas coming right up!

I want to say a HUGE thank-you to everyone who came and to all our family who helped immensely by bringing food and helping with clean-up and set-up. We felt blessed by having so many there who love our son and who are willing to help and support us. THANK YOU!

We also used the special occasion of Mason's first birthday for his dedication. It was a special time for us to dedicate Mason back to the Lord, ask for the help of our community and our Lord in raising him, and pray for Mason as he grows both physically and spiritually. It was really significant for us, so I'll write more about it in a separate post.

Enjoy these pictures of our party!
Click to play Mason's Birthday Party!
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1-Year Photos

Mason got his 1-year pictures taken on Friday, and he had a great time. We got photos that truly capture Mason in his essence! He really liked the photographer and thought she had tons of fun stuff to play with. I wasn't sure how it would go with him constantly "on the move," but he did great and we got lots of fun and natural Mason shots. To see them all, click the link below and use "mason" as the password.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Anniversary Back!

Thanks for your sweet note, Brent! I'm thankful for our four years together--in some ways I can't believe it has already been 4 years and in others I feel like we've always been together. Good stuff.

Click to play Happy 4th Anniversary!
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Today marks 4 years of marriage for Beth and I. I wanted to write and tell Beth how much I love her and how much she means to me. Beth you are the person that I want to share life with and grow old together. You are a great mom and a great wife. I LOVE YOU!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Turkey Time!

And no, I don't mean Thanksgiving! I mean Mason, our little turkey. While he is a pretty good little boy, he is getting a little too sassy for his own good at times--and not even one year old yet! For example, he likes to laugh when we tell him no, look right at me and start doing what I just told him not to do, and take partially chewed food and throw it on the floor when he's full. I have to admit that sometimes I have to fight off laughter (or hide it) because it's sometimes amusing to see his little methods of pushing mommy's buttons. However, mostly it fills me with fear because it means I must start learning how to discipline! But like everything else we've learned in the past year, I know it will come one day at a time through prayer and wise counsel of those who have gone before us. Boy am I thankful for that this Thanksgiving...and I'm so thankful for my little turkey too!

There's not a lot new with the Gaulkes the last couple weeks, and Mason mostly moves too quickly these days to catch anything on camera. But I did manage to catch a few glimpses of his daily activities, including a video of him saying one of his favorite words.

The car seat is fun as long as we don't try to strap him in it!
He loves Mommy's brush. Unfortunately today it got stuck in his hair when he was trying to brush it--must have had some jelly in it from breakfast!

Some dirty clothes and a there more to life?


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wheaton Weekend

Last weekend we got to go see my awesome friend Lisa at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. Unfortunately, it was at the end of a long week of Mason being sick and me being sleep deprived, but fortunately we still had a good time. (Thankfully Lisa is also a very gracious friend!) Mason finally acted like himself again Saturday afternoon, which was so great to see and made the last half of the weekend even more fun than the first! Thanks for your hospitality and a great weekend, Lis!

We went to Cosley Zoo, a free rehabilitation zoo in Wheaton. Mason liked seeing the animals and even quacked at the ducks. (Quack is currently his favorite word.) He also enjoyed things like rope fences, the large wheels on a cart and being allowed to run free--I guess the animals were just an added bonus to him! :) It was great just to spend time with Lisa. The slide show highlights the gorgeous fall scenery in Wheaton, the zoo and the fun we had together. Enjoy!

Click to play Wheaton in the Fall

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pain & Privilege

Mason has been sick this week. His first ear infection--and really his first sickness beyond a few sniffles. The poor guy has fallen asleep on my lap more times in the last couple days than in the last six months combined! (Although I hate that he's sick, I am thoroughly enjoying the cuddling.) I'm thankful that this afternoon he has taken a huge turn for the better, and he's toddling around again.

Over the last couple days while Mason hasn't been well, I've been noticing something about being a mom. There have been several times that I have cleared my throat or coughed, hoping that it would clear Mason's throat. Or I've found myself taking a deep breath, hoping it will help him catch his breath after a bout of coughing. As moms, I think it's just innate that we want to fix things for our kids. And it's painful not to be able to do that, even when he just has a minor ear infection. I think of other parents I know or have read about and wonder how they can even handle the ongoing illness or the loss of a child. So I've been thinking about the pain of being a mom, a pain that will never go away as long as the world isn't perfect for our kids.

On the other hand, I've been noticing something else too. As Mason has needed his mommy to cuddle him, I've loved to be the one to comfort him. And I've thought of the privilege it is to be the one (along with Brent) to be chosen to love Mason. As his mom, I get the gift of knowing him better than anyone else. I wouldn't be anywhere else!

So that's my musing for the day, the pain and privilege of being a mom. I guess that's what happens when you love someone so deeply. (I know other moms--and dads--can relate!) I'm so thankful for the gift of Mason and the role of being a mommy to our boy. It's a high calling and a great honor!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Making Tracks

I decided it was about time that I gave you a glimpse of our little go-getter walking up a storm. It is by far his favorite thing to do! I told Brent the other night that Mason has to be exhausted because all he does all day is walks. In fact, he walks around and around the house carrying his favorite random object of the moment--anything from a large plastic bracket that is almost as tall as he is to a plastic bowl or utensil (as you'll see in the clip below). Yesterday he was even walking back and forth in his crib (not holding on) when I went to get him up from his nap. We love our crazy little guy...and laugh at him a lot!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Today is Beth's Birthday!
Join with me in wishing her a Happy Birthday.
Love you Bethy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ode to My Hardworking Husband

Last night found my hubby working outside in the dark, feverishly trying to finish our awesome patio. He did it! It really is awesome, and he has put in many, many hours--often after already working his "real job" all day. So for that he deserves an ode, don't you think?

Ode to My Hardworking Man

How I love thee, my strong man,
for always working hard
Just to make our home a place
to rest and play in the yard!

A brownie sundae is not enough
to truly say a thank you
But it gave us something to celebrate--
and a sweet bedtime snack, too!

I'm really so thankful for all that you do
To make our life a joy
I've been given more than I deserve
With you and our little boy!

Here's to you, honey! Thanks for all your hard work! I love the patio...and I know the real reason you made it is to cuddle around the fire with me! :)

(I'll post a picture of the patio soon, too!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Busy Morning

This morning I took on a challenge--caring for 4 children, 3 of them being under 2! My nephew Will was here and the littlest Hopkins tikes came to play, too. I wasn't sure I could do it when I agreed to it, but figuring in Mason's nap and a good-as-gold baby boy (You're a little stud, Trent!), I thought it could work. And thankfully, it did! Of course, Mason decided to take the shortest nap of his life this morning so Trace and Mason got in each other's space a few times, and poor Trent needed protection from my son, who is clearly not ready for another baby in the house yet. :) I don't think he left any permanent marks. However, overall everyone was happy, and we had a good time! I give big credit to moms who have lots of little ones at home. I did it semi-successfully for a couple hours, which seemed like an accomplishment to me! A few pics from our morning...
It wasn't easy to catch them all in the same frame!
See, everybody's happy! :)

Mason & Trace sort of playing together.

Poor Trent just resorted to watching TV when he realized everyone was too busy to play with him!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Walker, Texas Ranger?

So, the other day as Mason was taking a few steps, I randomly called him Walker, Texas Ranger. Who doesn't remember the beloved Chuck Norris and his *amazing* roundhouse kicks, narrow escapes from exploding buildings and his ability to come out on top no matter what? *Wow!* This silly comment brought to mind certain images, as you can see.

Below is an actual video of Mason taking a few steps last Sunday. You wouldn't want to ask him to walk a straight line, but he's getting better--and braver--every day. He has done up to 8 or 9 steps in a row now, so he's getting close to truly being a walker!

(By the way, Walker must be really paranoid about one of two things 1) that his pants are going to fall down or 2) that someone is going to steal his belt. Every picture I found, he's holding on to that thing. Trust us, Walker, we don't want the belt. It's soooo 1990.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Exploring on a Fall Day

Mason loves to be outside, and it's my favorite time of year, too. So, the other day I brought Mason out to the back yard and let him explore. He was captivated by his surroundings (especially sticks!) and barely noticed I was even there. That's my favorite time to watch him--when he is simply being Mason in his own little world. You'll observe a few things as you watch:
1) He tries to eat everything.
2) I constantly tell him to stop eating everything.
3) He picks up one knee when he crawls on surfaces other than carpet.
4) He tries to eat everything...oh, did I already mention that?!

Driving the Foil...and Cars

Mason has always done a good "motor mouth," but he has now actually started applying it to objects as he "drives" them. As you'll see from the videos below, it doesn't necessarily have to be a car, truck or tractor to be driven. I'm telling you these boy things are innate!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A long-time coming...

So, I lied about that whole "creating posts more often" thing. Sorry! I'm really trying, but life takes over. I know most everyone understands that, but for some reason I'm still feeling the need to say it.

Mason was officially nine months old on September 9, so last week Brent and I decided that we would try to capture some 9-month photos without paying the big bucks for a photographer. We discovered that it is not easy to capture our wiggly son (literally or on camera), and we'll just say we ended up with a lot of "candids." :) But they are pictures that I will treasure, and there are many that capture the essence of Mason. I hope everyone enjoys slide shows because they are a great way to display many photos without making a 6-page long blog post!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Will the real Mason Gaulke please stand up?

Who needs toys when you can crawl and pull yourself up on anything and everything? Mason LOVES to stand up, and he uses anything possible to do it. It may only be an inch tall, but he'll pull himself up on it if he can! Everyone keeps telling us that one of these days he's just going to start walking--I hope it's many, many days! I have to admit, though, that it is incredibly fun to watch him learn all these new things. Enjoy the slide show (and the interesting Elton John music video which accompanies it)!

Recycled Roast

Since the weather is feeling like fall, I've got my crock pot out again to make some of those cool weather comfort foods. I made a roast for Sunday--so yummy with carrots and potatoes! And then Monday I recycled our roast, using a delicious method our friend Matt Dunsbergen shared with us last winter. (Thanks, Matt!) It's always so yummy, so I thought I'd share it with the world and not keep its deliciousness all to myself. Here it is...

Shredded or cut up leftover roast
Bag of frozen mixed vegetables
Can of cream of mushroom soup
Tube of refrigerator biscuits

In crock pot stir together roast, veggies and soup. Cook on medium for 3-4 hours. 30-35 minutes before serving put biscuits on top of the meat mixture in the crock pot. For the doubter, the biscuits really will bake in the crock pot. They won't look brown like in the oven, but they bake just great.

And there you have a yummy, hearty casserole! Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Moments with Daddy

My apologies to those who are faithful followers of the Gaulke blog. I haven't been giving you much new material lately! Life has been crazy, but is hopefully slowing down now. A busy August is now over, and I'm ready to "get my feet under me" again, which hopefully means more frequent blog posts as well!

Mason loves his daddy, of course, so I thought it was time to get some good Daddy moments on the blog. I know Mason loves me, but it's just true that what daddy and son have is different in a special way. Brent already wrestles and tickles and tumbles around with Mason (in ways that I most often prefer not to watch as the cautious mother), and Mason loves it. He giggles and can't get enough. When Daddy's truck drives in the driveway, he knows and starts "talking" and getting excited. He knows his daddy loves him too. So, in honor of the special father/son bond, a few pics of Brent & Mason...

Being silly and "so big" at the same time!

See, Daddy, I'm this big!

Beeping Daddy's nose

Their favorite summer activity--bike rides! There's just one scary dog on the route, and after a couple times of dropping the paci on the pavement, Brent now remembers to clip the paci on! :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Uh-Oh, Mommy Caught Me!

Gate the steps, lock the cupboards and remove all potentially dangerous articles from anywhere that is between the floor and 3-feet high! Mason has begun to pull himself up on things, and he thinks it's pretty cool. Of course, the let-downs are not as smooth...I guess that's why God gave us all that padding on our behinds!

"I love pasta with sauce so much, I wanted to become one with it!"

I'm sure every mom feels it, but I continue to be amazed at how quickly Mason learns new things. Personally I'd like him to slow down a little bit! His latest tricks include So Big, lots and lots of clapping, eating more table foods, getting more curious about everything, and getting very close to moving from scooting to truly crawling. If you see him, he would love nothing more than to tell you how big he is, and, in fact, he may tell you even without being asked. We think it's pretty sweet and give him a round of applause every time (I wonder why he claps so much???).

I just love our little guy more than I can say! What a sweat pea. Thanks for loving him with us!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just put your lips together and blow!

A couple weeks ago Mason developed a new skill and has since been honing that skill, though he has lost some of his initial gusto. It is the skill of blowing. It cracks us up, so we thought we'd share it. I'm not sure what purpose it serves in his little world, but I'm guessing it's just the thrill of discovering something new he can do...or maybe simply to entertain his parents! If you listen closely at the beginning of the video, you can actually hear a quiet whistle. And we feel he is especially talented because he can blow and jump at the same time. There are big things in his future! :) Toward the end of the clip you'll see another of his favorite pasttimes--making noise! Enjoy our blowing boy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Celebrating Cement!

Yes, it's true, we are celebrating cement as we admire our newly poured garage floor and driveway. The garage floor was done earlier in the summer, and the driveway was just completed on Saturday. We are thrilled not to have a mud driveway, and I think Brent may even be a little excited to scoop snow now that he's not scooping mud and gravel with it.

This is a shout out to our faithful cement crew, including all the men of the Nikkel family and Brent's dad. The Nikkel Crew has been on tour this summer, doing multiple family cement jobs in Sully, Killduff and Pella. We are thankful they hadn't run out of steam yet! And the price is right, too. They'll do a lot if you give them lunch and cookies. :) Thanks so much, guys!

The Cement Crew

Mason with Grandpa & Cousin Will on the Skid Steer
Already very much a little boy, he loved to watch the action!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Weekend Adventures!

Swedesburg or Bust!
This weekend's first adventure was our Southeast Iowa Tour. It was our annual Swedesburg gathering of the Swenson clan, which is Brent's mom's side of the family. It's always great to see everyone...and snack constantly from all the yummy treats people bring right up until the time we gather for a huge supper. (Thankfully we also got TONS of exercise because we played tennis on the Wii and did a little DDR as well, so I'm sure it all evened out!) It was a fun day and thankfully not as hot as we thought it might be!

Mason's second cousin Ava, who is 2, loves babies, so she was quite taken with Mason for awhile. It was very cute. "He wants me," she would say. I had to include a picture of them together.
Boating with Buddies
Our second adventure was on Lake Red Rock Sunday afternoon with the Punts & the Dunsbergens. With three children under 18 months on the boat, it went surprisingly well! Mason hates wearing his life vest because it basically swallows him whole, so hopefully next year when he's a little bigger he will be a bit more comfortable. He did enjoy the water with Daddy for a little while, though, before the scream fest began. (I think I could actually hear him saying, "Get this thing off me!" I can't be sure, but...) In the end, Mason fell asleep, which I could not believe, especially because the water was somewhat rough as we were cruising back to the boat ramp.

Floating with Daddy

Some quality time on the boat with Mommy after I could no longer stand my life jacket (we won't pay attention to whatever Mommy's hair is doing!)

Daddy & Mason have some serious "boat hair"