Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pondering Things in My Heart

There are a few things I've been pondering lately as we celebrate Christmas...

I've thought a lot about what it would have been like to raise Jesus. A literally perfect child. If you were his parent, would you feel unnecessary? Was he a perfect baby? Is "Away in a Manger" right when it says, "No crying he makes?" Did he learn everything easily and early? I would assume he never whined or fought with his siblings, right? Did he seem odd to his parents? Did they wonder what to do with him? They knew he was Jesus--angels told them at conception, then announced his birth to shepherds, then a star led wise men to find their Baby King. Did they know what that meant? Did they doubt its truth on those days when Jesus was just acting like a regular kid? Did they have a clue what pain awaited them--and him? He sounds like both the easiest and most difficult child to parent to me. I wish I could have known him and seen what it was really like.

I loved Third's Christmas Eve service and the reminder it offered that Christmas is only the beginning of an amazing, sacrificial chain of events that led to our ultimate redemption through one perfect God-man, our Savior Jesus Christ. It's unfathomable that this tiny baby born in a stinky stable to a 12- or 13-year-old girl would be God's entrance into our world. Christmas is so much more than one day or a short season in our year. It's part of The Story. A Story we all get to be part of thanks to Jesus arriving as a baby in a humble stable.

And I've just been feeling pretty grateful. Our last year hasn't been without its pain--whose has? But we are blessed. Our whole family has kept their jobs all year--my mom even found a new one and my sister has been able to keep working some, even though she lost her job last year. I have a husband I truly love being with and sharing life with, and I love him. The awesome thing: he loves me too, unconditionally--boy, am I thankful for that! I have a son who delights me. He's healthy, energetic, full of life, funny, smart, sometimes naughty, and being his mom is the favorite role of my life. We have a warm home, small but cozy, and best of all, it feels like home. I have a baby growing inside me, a healthy pregnancy, and the excitement of adding to our family. I have friends that stick by me, even when distance or busyness separates, friends who encourage my faith, laugh with me, cry with me and love me when it is undeserved. I have a job where I feel valued, I enjoy what I do and I am not only encouraged but challenged in my faith. I don't mean to get sappy. Sometimes I just need to say it outloud, you know. Gratitude is a powerful thing.

That's all for now. I'll keep pondering...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Funny Mason-isms

Here are a few funny things Mason has said over the past week:
  • For Christmas last weekend he got a new "remote patrol car."
  • His Thomas trains connect to each other with "magmets."
  • We watched a Christmas movie on Sunday night--the "Polar Getspress."
  • Santa lives at the "North Cold."
  • We sat down for lunch yesterday. Mason looked at Brent and said, "So, how was your work?" Wonder where he's heard that before?!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bye-Bye, Bah!

Today is the day. It's the day that Mason's "bah" is gone forever. His beloved pacifier that got us through those baby days, was always enjoyed upside down, and has continued to accompany Mason faithfully at naptime and bedtime for 3 years must go. We've been prepping him for this day when he would be three, a "big boy," and wouldn't need it anymore. And thankfully so far our big boy is handling it all like a big boy!

This morning I got out the envelope and wrote the address for the Pacifier Repair Shop on it. Mason excitedly told me that he would go get his "bah" out of his bed. He did. Then we wrote a short letter to the repairman, asking him to make the pacifier new for our new baby and to get it back to us by June so our baby could use it. We also were sure to note what a good big brother Mason was being by taking good care of the baby in this way.

Mason stuck his "bah" in the envelope, retrieving it just once to put it in his mouth one last time. Then he dropped it back in, said "Bye-bye, bah!", helped me seal the envelope and promptly said to me, "Let's go play in the living room, Mom!"

A little later he did decide it was a good idea to take it to the post office and get it mailed. He was disappointed when we got there and it wasn't the pacifier repair shop, but I told him that the repair shop is too far away, so we'd have to ask the mail lady to deliver it for us. That was okay, though he did mention his desire to visit the repair shop a couple more times. My sneaky post-it note filled the mail lady in on what was going, so she took our package with a smile and promised to deliver it. No comforting needed. We quietly and proudly left the post office.

We went to the bakery for a treat after that, which Mason actually wasn't interested in eating...still no comfort needed, I guess. We also went to a few stores, and that's when Mason found his desired replacement for "bah." We had mentioned to Mason that maybe he could pick something new to sleep with when it was time to get rid of his "bah," but he really hadn't been too interested in the concept. However, when he saw Waddles the Penguin at Hallmark, he changed his mind. "Mom, maybe this could be what I sleep with now," he said. For $7, I eagerly agreed that it was a great idea. We have been playing with Waddles pretty much since the moment of purchase. He apparently really enjoys being thrown.
So, all has gone amazingly so far. Not a tear shed, not a fit thrown. But, let's be honest, the real test is whether he will sleep without his "bah." But naptime went seamlessly. He jabbered and played for awhile, which is normal, and now all is quiet. I'm in shock about the ease of all this!
I'm so grateful that Mason has seen this as an exciting milestone rather than a terrible punishment! I thought it might be a major punishment for me, too! He has made me proud with the way he has handled it all. My big boy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Couch Treasures?

Today I went searching for my lost credit card. It has been lost for awhile, but I kept thinking it would turn up. Well, Brent leaves for Haiti in 4 days with our only credit card, so I decided it was time to get serious. I really couldn't think of where else to look--I'd checked all my jackets, pants, bags, piles, drawers. I had just looked under the couch without success, and I casually prayed, "Lord, I'm out of places, so really if you could just help me out, it would be awesome." I discovered it and several other things in the next place I looked.
I thought Brent had just vacuumed under the couch cushions, but I wasn't sure how thoroughly so I decided to give it a try. Both to my dismay and to my great pleasure, I discovered my credit card there! Why dismay, you ask? Because digging in the depths of my couch was both disturbing and disgusting. This was not just under my cushions. It was the crevices on the sides and back of the couch that swallow all those nasty little things you rarely miss (unless one of them is your credit card, perhaps). Mammoth dust bunnies accompanied with several pieces of dry cereal, a partially eaten strand of licorice, two cars, two pencils, a drumstick (that I forgot we even had), two pens, a raisin, 18 cents, a hair tie and a bobby pin, a candy wrapper, some stickers, lots of crumbs AND my credit card...and whatever made my hands smell after I was done digging.
Now I have my credit card and my couch is clean. I know you're glad I shared.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crafty Girls

A few weeks ago my niece and I had a fun crafty afternoon. I've been meaning to post our craftiness, so here it is! It's fun to have nieces that like crafts!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


We're excited to share that another Baby Gaulke is on the way! I'm due on June 10, and we're so excited to welcome a new baby into our family! I had about 3 weeks of constant nausea, but in the last week it has really improved, and I'm so grateful. I wish I had been more sympathetic to sick pregnant women in the past!

Of course Mason doesn't totally get it, but he is already giving the baby hugs and is excited about being a Big Brother. We're excited too!
(Above is the cookie Brent brought to announce the news at work. We decided to change up the Pella chocolate chip cookie tradition a bit by going with one big chocolate chip cookie!)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

We love fall!!

Our fall festivities over the past few weeks have included the Free Fall Fun Fest at the Van Roekel Farm, Carroll's Pumpkin Farm, a Pumpkin Carving Party and raking leaves at Grandpa & Grandma G's. The gorgeous weather has cooperated for every event. We love it!

Fall Fun Fest!

He looked so little on top of that big horse! He liked it though!

Carroll's Pumpkin Farm
with Grandma N. and Tori

Corn Angel

My little guy, lovin' life. I love this picture!

Tori is flying! I love this one too...
Punts' Pumpkin Carving Party
with our small group
Some nice pumpkin entries again this year.
Kyle's free-hand truck appropriately won top prize!

I, on the other hand, rely on stencils for anything I carve!
Here's this year's spider, selected by Mason.

Raking leaves with Grandpa & Daddy

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Summer in Review: Part 3

And our final installment brings us to August & September...

Celebrating Hope & Beauty
I planted zinnias along our fence this year, having no clue whether or not they would grow. I don't really know how to grow things! But they did grow with gusto and with them came an amazing blessing--butterflies everywhere! I spent a lot of time watching butterflies this summer and loving how they represent hope, life and beauty.
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Swedesburg 2010
Our annual first weekend of August trip to Swedesburg brought a great time to connect with the Swenson clan and Brent's Swedish roots. Somebody even caught a shot of just Brent and me, which is rare these days!

Girls' Day!
Before Jared, Stacey, Will & Natalie returned to Haiti, we decided we needed a girls shopping day. We had fun shopping together, and I got to be Natalie's fill-in mom since Stacey ended up having to miss it. It's fun to shop for girls! These are my cute little ladies sporting some great looks at Claire's.

Iowa State Fair
Big machinery, a big slide, junk food, Clifford and fun, fun, fun! Mason really liked the Little Hands on the Farm site this year, and he LOVED the big slide. His giggles echoed all around as he and Daddy flew down the slide. Unfortunately, the giggles quickly turned to tears when he realized he only got to go down once!

A Hard Goodbye
Mid-August meant saying goodbye to Aunt Sarah as she packed up and headed to Southern California. Mason loves hanging out with Aunt Sarah & Miss Ashley, so he's ready to hop on a plane anytime to see them again. We are thankful that Sarah's move went well, and she seems to be settling in and really liking it there. But we're sad that she's far away! We did capture some really fun pictures on moving day!

Iowa Children's Museum
Brent's friend Scott offered us a free pass to the children's museum in Coralville, and it was a great gift! Mason loved shopping in the grocery store, flying the airplanes, learning to play parachute, driving the ambulance, farming and especially playing with the trains. A great place!

Blank Park Zoo with Tori
Once the "big kids" went back to school, my sister had the great idea to take our little people to the zoo in early September. Since everything is more fun with Tori, it was a great day. It was nice to be able to take our time and see whatever Mason and Tori liked. You'll see below they had differing opinions on the boa constrictor. These are not contrived expressions. Tori's hands went up to her mouth immediately upon seeing the gigantic slithering beast. Mason thought it was cool and wanted a closer look.

Horsing Around
Of course there's always time for horsing around--and Daddy makes an awfully good horsey. Yee haw!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Our Summer In Review: Part 2

It still feels like summer today, but the gathering of boxelder bugs at our back door tells me it's fall. On this Indian Summer day, here are more highlights of the Gaulke summer...

July 2010

Camping Adventure
Mason had his first outdoor camping adventure in the Punts' back yard, complete with fishing, S'mores and sleeping all night in a tent!

Potty Prizes!
Mason was a potty-training champion in June, and we had a cool chart that culminated in a trip to the zoo. Although he completed it in June, we didn't get our trip to the zoo squeezed in until mid-July. He like the animals, but he was most excited about riding the train--not surprising! His Lightning McQueen "berella" was another favorite potty prize!

4th of July
A hot day for a parade--we even got to ride in the parade this year for the bank!
Lots of candy and fun with sparklers too!

More Adventures at Adventureland
My family's annual "fun-filled day" at Adventureland was a little later this year in order to include Mason's uncle, aunt and cousins from Haiti. Mason loved it again this year. We discovered the water park, which was very fun. I would guess Mason went down this green slide approximately 47 times. I don't think I'm exaggerating! He could have ridden the trucks for several more hours too, I think! By the end of the day, he was exhausted!

We had a few fun boating excursions with the Punts this year. Mason loves riding on the boat and being with his pal Chloe. It's so nice to be past his first years of screaming whenever we put his life jacket on or attempted to put him in the water! He loves it now! He and Daddy are boating buddies--Mommy stays in the boat as much as possible!

Special Drumsticks
A special drum corps was in town to perform at Pella High in July, so one night we rode our bikes to watch them practice. It was really cool--we wish we could have seen the real performance! One of the instructors saw us in the bleachers and brought Mason these cool drumsticks, instructing him to play along. Mason thought that was pretty amazing! We thought it was extremely kind.