Monday, December 31, 2012

Holy Rusted Metal Batman! I did it!

Yup, post number 110 for the year 2012.

Remember, way back in January, I set a goal to post 110 times on the Lenssen Acres Almanac in the year 2012. That meant an average of 9-10 posts per month. In theory, it shouldn't have been too hard, but theory and application are two very different things. Some months were low (July and September, I'm looking at you) and had I continued in that vein, I wouldn't have even cracked 100. Sometimes I didn't think I had anything interesting to write about, and well, I just wrote anyway.

Looking at the hit counter for this blog, I know I don't get a lot of hits. If you stop here, chances are you know me/us in non-blog life and just want a quick update on the goings-on of our family. That's cool, actually, that's why I originally started this blog over 5 years ago. But since then, it's taken on a bigger role. It's my place to document our family. It's where I record the big things as well as the little things. It's where I write down what I don't want to forget, or don't want to be lost. In one of the later Little House books, Almonzo Wilder gives his new bride, Laura, a small writing desk. She dabbles in poetry, but her husband knows she's got a storyteller's heart and encourages her to use the desk and her talent for a "setting down of things." I guess this blog is the place where I set down things.

Here are some favorites from 2012:
That's Awesome!
Being a Mom
To Lana Jean on her 3rd Birthday
We're NOT a Hiking Family
Just Buy the Pinata
Heartbreak, Cougs, and Fatherly Advice

I plan on blogging through 2013 and beyond. It's been fun and challenging to write so consistently in 2012 and I know it's been good for me too. I've got a few ideas for some changes and ways to mix it up a bit more, but I'll still be here, and I hope you will too!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our Christmas Week: In Pictures

When we left last Monday for our week of out-of-town Christmas festivities, this is what we woke to:
Six new inches of unruly snow made for some tricky roads.

This little nugget didn't care though, she was just happy to be going on an adventure.

Our first stop was to help a college student who got his car stuck in the snow.
Another man stopped to help, and he and Dan did all the work to free the shorts-and-tennis-shoes clad lad. (That's Dan lining out the tow cable and the other helpful man digging. Yeah, I didn't even bother to roll down the window to take the picture.)

We did finally get to my parent's house in Oregon. Lana just loves her Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Bear (her unique name for him).

There were stockings to open.

And wrapping paper that needed torn off.

We stayed with my parents for a couple of days, enjoying the quiet and each others' company, then we headed north to visit Dan's family in Lynden, Washington.

There, we did lots and lots of this:
Yup, I think it's required we eat waaaay too much whenever we visit Dan's family.

Lana also got to play with her super fun cousins.

Tickles and zerburts for all!

And coloring "cupcakes" with cousin Presley.
Lynden, as always, was fabulous. We also visited with quite a few friends, got in a movie date, and continued to eat too much.

And, of course, we returned home to the same snow we left behind. (Just in the dark, so it didn't photograph as well.)

I hope your Christmas week was merry and bright!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Fave: Lynden Top 5

Since it's Christmas time, you can bet our family spent some time in Dan's hometown of Lynden, WA. I'll have pictures to post later, but for now here's a quick top five favorites from this great town.

5. Great Coffee. There are several amazing coffee stands and shoppes in this town, including my favorite of all-time, Cruisin' Coffee. They're open 24/7, the baristas are super nice, and the drinks are phenomenal.

4. Fabulous food. We eat so much while we're here. Dan's mom fills her kitchen with everything imaginable and sometimes I feel like all we do is eat, eat, and then eat some more, but dang, it is all so good.

3. Hearing Dan's stories. No matter where else he lives, this will always be Dan's hometown, where his history began. And even though he probably feels like he's told me all his good childhood tales already, whenever we're here, a new gem will be revealed and I'll get to explore a bit more of his past.

2. Friends. Because Dan grew up here, the bulk of his friends still reside here. We always have a great time visiting people, seeing their new babies, and catching up while the kiddos get into mischief.

1. Family. So many of Dan's family live in this area and spending time with them is always the highlight of any trip. Lana absolutely adores her cousins and seeing them all play together, despite their age differences, is so wonderful.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

In search of the perfect photo

This morning before church I thought Lana looked so stinkin' cute in her (too small) Christmas dress and felt the need to take pictures ASAP. I thought it would be easy. Cute girl + cute dress + snowy background = great photograph, right?

Uuuuh, not so fast.

First off, we had the "silly ham" Lana.

Then we had the "can't stand still" Lana.

I grabbed an old Christmas card, thinking if she had something in her hands, she might cooperate better.

Instead I got "eyes almost closed" Lana.

And then she was still and showed the card, but looks way too serious and sad.

Then, finally, finally, finally, the stars aligned, she held still, eyes open and a sweet smile!
And that apparently is what it takes to get the perfect photo.

(Professional photographers please note: if all amatures are as amature-ish as I am, you have absolutely nothing to worry about and will stay in business for a long, long time.)
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Christmas with a three-year old

I think last year I wrote about how fun Christmas with a two-year old was. At that time, I didn't think the season could get any better. Then this year came along and Lana was another year older was capable of a lot more excitement.
It isn't even Christmas yet and I can't get over how awesome it is to see her get so into everything to do with Christmas. So far she's helped decorate the tree, danced in front of the tree, delighted in the sights and sounds of our local lighted Christmas Parade, and had a blast in the Christmas Tree "jungle." Our kids Christmas cd is on heavy rotation in the car, with Joy to the World being Lana's clear favorite. We've made batches and batches of treats together and hosted a craft party for a houseful of little girls.

We didn't specifically set out to make a bunch of great memories this December, but I'm so glad we did!

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Fave: Good Hair Days

Usually when we happen to have extra time in the mornings, I ask Lana how she'd like her hair done. Sometimes she wants a small clip or bow, other times one big ponytail, or occasionally she asks for puppy ears or pigtails. But lately, she's had some more outlandish requests, and I've had to get creative (or search Pinterest) to make her hair dreams come true.

For example, on this day Lana asked for "hair like butterfly wings."
I'm not sure it was a complete success, but it was pretty cute anyway.

Here's another, "criss-cross ponies."

And because it's nearing Christmas, here's our version of "reindeer ears."

But this one is by far the most extravagant. On this particular morning, Lana asked for her hair to "be like the sunshine."
Well, I don't know if the hair is sunshiny, but the sweet girl sure is!
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Craft Party

Last year Lana and I started a tradition of hosting a Mommy-Daughter Christmas Craft Party, and this year we decided to make it an annual event. Twelve (yes 12!) girls and their moms spent a couple of hours at our house making ornaments, nativities, hot cocoa gifts, photo holders, custom cookie plates, and birdfeeders, as well as decorating cookies. It was a whirlwind of glitter, glue, birdseed and sprinkles. But it was a fun and exciting whirlwind.
I had a great time, and I know Lana did as well. Some of the little girls at church this morning told me again about all the fun they had. I'm already looking forward to the 3rd Annual Mother-Daughter Christmas Craft Party next year. (I might have all of this year's birdseed and m&ms cleaned up by then :)
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Fave: Christmas Memories

Last week a sweet friend/co-worker invited me to attend her church's Christmas Ladies Luncheon. It was a truly beautiful event. The theme was "Christmas Memories" and the accompanying Bible verse was I thank my God every time I remember you. - Phil. 1:3. Table hostesses decorated their tables using items they remembered from Christmases past. One lady created a beautiful centerpiece using vintage blown-glass ornaments. Another's table was adorned with a rustic log cabin, and another was filled with department-store teddy bears. Our hostess shared with us some special candies that her mother only purchased for the family at Christmas time.

We all enjoyed the lunch, had fun swapping Christmas stories with others, were inspired by the lovely music, and appreciated the speaker sharing her stories of what she remembers from Christmases in her life. I couldn't help but think back fondly on the many, many, many happy memories of Christmas I have as well. A couple of years ago I highlighted a few. They're certainly fun to go back and read again. (Santa Claus, Excited Kids, Christmas Bears, World Championship) I also think about the Christmas breaks from school that were snow-filled and my brother and sister and I would build sledding trails on the hill across from our house. I think about how the three of us would secretly plan out a perfect gift for our parents. I remember being a little kid and opening presents with my cousins at my Grandma's house and the living room being so covered in wrapping paper that the littlest cousins were actually buried in discarded paper. Of course, Christmas memories aren't reserved exclusively for childhood; since Dan and I have been married, we've made several great Christmas memories together too. I'll never forget four years ago when we surprised both families with the news we were expecting a baby. Or our first year with Lana, and every Christmas since.

All of these memories are a sweet gift, and I know there will be many more in our future.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Fave: Building Projects

Lana's latest project is building baby Jesus a house.
She doesn't think it's very good for Him to be out in the barn.
And frankly, she's more than a little perplexed as to why us grown ups of the world haven't done this sooner.

Yup, leave it to the three-year old to set everything straight.
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Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Fave: Ducks

While our figurative ducks are rarely in a row, sometimes our literal ones actually are.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Days 23-29

November has been a great month, hasn't it? I've really enjoyed reading all the thankful posts written by friends and family.

November 23:
Yesterday my dad and I ran in the Walla Walla Turkey Trot and today, my mom, Lana, and I went for a long walk. I am thankful my parents are healthy and active.

November 24:
I'm thankful for day 2 of Thanksgiving food leftovers.

November 25:
I'm thankful for lazy Sunday afternoons that give Lana and I a chance to sharpen our mad turkey-craft skills.

November 26:
I recorded several cheesy holiday-themed romantic comedy movies over the weekend. I'm thankful Dan didn't chastise me too badly for my fondness of complete and utter cheese.

November 27:
This week is/has been quite hectic for us, and throwing a pre-made frozen meal in the crock-pot before leaving for the day made it easy to come home to a delicious dinner. I'm thankful for my crock-pot, but more so for the wonderful ladies of the freezer meal swap club. They're just as awesome as the meals they make.

November 28:
Wednesday is Awana day for Lana. I am so thankful she can go to Awana every week and spend time with friends learning about how much God loves her. She loves her class and I can tell she's really learning too.

November 29:
This is definitely our busy season at work. I am thankful to be able to do meaningful work and have great people to work with.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lana Explains it all: Happy Fun Thanksgiving Time!

Hi, I'm Lana and I would like to tell you about the happy fun time we had at Thanksgiving.
Mommy, Daddy and I drove to Oregon to see Grandma Cindy and my Grandpa Bear. 

First, I had to help Mommy with the pies.
I was a very good helper and even got to wear an apron. 

Mommy made all the pies and even made some little cute pies just for me.

My Grandpa Bear carved up our Thanksgiving turkey. 

Later, I got to help out even more by licking the beater after Grandma made whipped cream. 

Grandma Cindy has a really need iPad. She let me play fun games with it. Grandpa Bear told Mommy she should buy one for me. I think Grandpa Bear has a good idea! 

The day after Thanksgiving, we decided to not go into town to visit the crazy stores, and instead we went for a long walk.  

But, I didn't have to walk the entire way. The last 2 miles I got pulled in the wagon. Duncan the little dog even tried to ride with me.

Thanks Grandpa Bear and Grandma Cindy! I had so much fun with you! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Fave: Dress up

Beacause, really, nothing sets off Minnie Mouse ears like Mommy's vest and slippers. Right?
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Days 16-22

November 16:
Lana is growing and learning so much. I am thankful for each and every person who has ever read to her, colored with her, reviewed shapes or numbers or letters with her, and for every one who has simply invested time into this sweet girl. Your investment continues to grow and is more appreciated than you know.

November 17:
I am thankful for date nights with Dan. With all the people I hear saying disparaging things about their spouses, I am truly grateful I am married to a man I genuinely love to spend time with.

November 18:
While volunteering in Lana's children's church class, I am thankful for the opportunity I have to serve these little, wriggly, and infinitely curious 3- and 4-year olds.

November 19:
Lana had dance class today and I am thankful she has the opportunity to spend 45 minutes on Monday afternoons with a group of dancing girls and an infinitely patient teacher.

November 20:
It rained hard all day today, making me very thankful for the good tires, new windshield wipers, and other important safety equipment Dan keeps on the car. I am thankful I have a husband who shows his live by keeping Lana and I safe on the road.

November 21:
Lana threw up at 5:00 this morning, she'll be fine, but couldn't go to daycare. I am thankful I have a job that is flexible and thankful for a boss and co-workers who are understanding and willing to change plans when the unexpected occurs.

November 22:
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Besides a table full of food, I am thankful for the family I get to spend this day with.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Fave: 1st Snow of Winter

When you wake up to this:

You've got to go out and do plenty of this:
(Please note, the plans for this elaborate snow castle are Lana's own. I merely served as the manual labor and did exactly what the pint-sized supervisor directed me to do. I dunno, she might have the makings of an architect? Or at the very least, igloo builder?)
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Days 9-15

I'm continuing the series I started last week.

November 9:
Dealing with a cough, throat tickle, and achy-ness, today I am thankful for Nyquil and cough drops.

November 10:
Driving home from Seattle with a van load of friends and having awesome conversations with each of them, I can't help but be thankful for the gift of good friends, honest talks, hilarious stories, and forgiveness for my horrible singing voice.

November 11:
On this Sunday I am so very thankful for my church and what it means to be a believer within a body of believers. I recently read a blog post that gets right to the heart of the matter, and ties it all back to being thankful.

November 12:
On this Veteran's Day holiday I am thankful for the veterans, past and present, who sacrificed their time, bodies, and lives for our country. Not a single one served in vain and not a single one is unappreciated.

November 13:
Back to work after a long weekend, I am thankful for my job. Thankful I have meaningful, enjoyable employment.

November 14:
While running on the treadmill this afternoon, I realized how thankful I am for good, treadmill-worthy music to get me through an otherwise painful workout. Spinning on the ipod right now is Taylor Swift's newest, Red. Try it out, I think it'll make your treadmill time fly by.

November 15:
Lately I've been thinking a lot about Lana when she was a wee babe. I am thankful we took lots (and lots and lots) of pictures of her and her tiny new-ness. Looking at these hospital pics, I can hardly believe she was ever that small, or that this helpless noodle has become the glowing, growing, sweet girl we have today.