Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Chef hats for the guys this Christmas

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

All the guys received Chef hats from Grandma and Grandpa Groth ... what does this say about our family? :-)

The photos below show Nessa playing with one of them ... hey, it's a hat so she had to find it eventually!

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's a Marshmallow World

OR, as Shawn says: "Enough looking a lot like Christmas Already"

We arrived home this afternoon. It was a nice sunny drive (meaning Nessa screamed several times about the sun in her eyes), and we had to get quite close to home to see evidence of a snowstorm. We could tell the ridge had certainly had some drifting snow, but from our view off of the Interstate the drifts didn't look that big. The closer we got to WI, the more snow we saw. Then, we crossed the bridge over the river, and it was suddenly obvious that there had been quite a snowstorm!

After using the snow blower so we didn't have to trudge through the 14 inches of snow (higher at the end of the driveway due to both drifting and the plow pack) in order to unload the van, Shawn decided to take a few pictures. We won't be getting in the back gate for awhile (above).

Imagine walking through the driveway before it was plowed. That is what I did while carrying Nessa this afternoon. Luckily I at least had my boots on, but since the snow was up to my knees I had dry feet and wet lower legs. I think Nessa was oblivious as our tired girl just huddled down on my shoulder.

The last picture is our neighbors house. We don't often see the bushes covered up with snow.

Shawn says the biggest problem with a white Christmas is that it sticks around for so long afterwards. I'm feeling a bit more generous this Christmas Eve. We spent a wonderful weekend with family, were lucky enough to have good people tromp through the snow to check on our cats when we were unexpectedly away longer than we had planned, and well, it's Christmas. :-) And we do live in Wisconsin. Last year is wasn't until March that we had this much snow, and I would MUCH rather have it NOW. (OK, now I know there is a good chance we could have it both now and then, but that's only a chance and I'm an optimist.)

I see many snow angels covering that "whip cream" yard by Wednesday. :-)

It's a marshmallow world in the winter,
When the snow comes to cover the ground,

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

And the fire is so ... [abrupt stop] oh, wait, no fire. But that is about all that is missing. And the weather is truly frightful. And we DO have a wonderful Internet connection, cable, movies, and the kids have new toys from presents Saturday. And from time to time we just sit and watch the snow blowing horizontally outside.

We arrived in Northfield safe and sound just before 7 p.m. Friday night with only a little fog to damper the driving. Saturday we had a delightful family gathering with the entire Groth clan. For me, the best part was watching all of the kids play together. Outside Saturday it was cold and white but not too frightful, but we were still glad we had decided to be cautious and drive the night before. (I hope to manage to upload pictures yet today, but it all depends on the kiddos and time to access them.)

Saturday I glimpsed a bit of weather online and saw some reports of the 2 storms converging in the region and the one we had been worried about being delayed a bit more and moving in later than expected ... etc. ... Bottom line ... I wasn't surprised this morning. ;-)

Unlike the song we did have someplace to go ... BUT it was cancelled because nobody was going anywhere... so we continue to have a Merry Christmas weekend while being "snowed in" in Northfield and "snowed out" of La Crosse. And after making sure our neighborhood pet-sitters could check on the cats we relaxed and really settled in. We were told NOT to travel considering it was still snowing after about 10 inches on the ground. Here, there wasn't nearly as much snow but it is VERY windy and pretty much a total white-out outside.

The only thing making this all less than Christmas carol perfect is that many of us are, as they say, under the weather. Yes, once again we celebrate Christmas while sick. :-( Shawn seems to have the worst of it with a really bad cold and at this point he doesn't think he will be able to sing in the choir Christmas Eve (assuming we're back home safe and sound!) I didn't think I was sick but barely minutes before pulling into Northfield Friday my throat started to tickle and then by the next morning it officially a cold. Luckily I had caught it quickly and with the help of rest and preventative herbs, etc. I already seem much better today (Sunday). Meanwhile Nessa was being unusually clingy and while cuddling I noticed she indeed had a low-grade fever ... her fever broke at some point Friday night and since then it has just been the stuffy nose and mild cough that has been bothering her. And then poor Ahnika ended up sick to her stomach early Sunday afternoon. We're still not sure what unintended gifts we gave each other this weekend, but hopefully we're on the mend and Megan will escape illness this Christmas.

For now we're taking turns napping and having our own food network marathon. We plan meet up with Megan's dad as they head off to their festivities late tomorrow morning and then we plan to head home so hopefully the roads are clear and safe by then.

If I have more time to catch up on my online "to do" list, I may even get to all of those other items I want to post ...

either way -- stay safe and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The bottom line: Major winter storm expected this weekend

"This is a very tricky storm to forecast, but the bottom line is that this weekend will be a mess."

Yikes, according to our friendly weathermen this storm has two bottom lines!

The bottom line for us is that if we don't want to be winter driving idiots AND we want to get to Northfield we better leave this evening ... we we'll be spending the weekend away. After getting used to the idea of scurrying to pack everything after work, I'm now looking forward to a "the more the merrier" Christmas weekend.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Nessa enjoying her first hot chocolate

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

Nessa thought hot chocolate with Cool Whip, even mom's good chocolate with rice milk, was very yummy.

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

... and all through the house every creature was stirring ... (rambling update post follows)

Well, OK, one creature is stirring, and I won't be for long, but secretly I actually enjoy staying up late to wrap presents, create cards, write Christmas notes, and now update the blog with bits of news. I love glimpsing the Christmas tree lights as I complete the busy work of Christmas preparations.

Throughout the week though we have all been busy running last errands to get last-minute gifts, additional Christmas cards, and holiday food. We have also had events and meetings this week just to keep us on our toes. But tonight was just a normal night at home. A night to play with Nessa and watch her discover new things. Tonight the discovery was how she could string her beads and then the cats would play with the string with her (these are the large toddler beads used as a toy). It was a wonderfully ordinary night with lots of smiles and giggles and also lots of opportunities for me to practice my Love and Logic skills (parents and teachers check out their great online articles: http://www.loveandlogic.com/articles.html)

I'm excited to tell you that Love and Logic was also able to give me some help for dealing with our recent night time adventures of Nessa wanting us in her room as she goes to sleep: www.loveandlogic.com/pdfs/601bedtimeblues.pdf -- it wasn't a miracle at first try and consistency has been key ... but oh so much better, so much better.

For any of you that have know about Love and Logic you will find it amusing that I disagreed with Nessa the other day and she looked to me sincerely and said: "I love you too much to argue."

Monday Shawn and I attended the Candlelight Memorial Service held by the two infant loss groups in La Crosse. This is always a beautiful service and a touching time as so many families attend and light candles for their babies that are no longer here with us on earth. We remember.

Today (Thursday) nearly everyone had a Christmas party. Nessa had her much anticipated Daycare Christmas party with presents of new toys for the daycare, songs, games and, of course, treats. Megan had her party at school as well, and from what I could gather the main attraction is that they are allowed to bring a bottle of pop to have at the party. Shawn also had a party at work -- free lunch and white elephant gifts. No Holiday fun for me this year (last year we had a pot-luck event) as there is nobody there, and willing, to plan it ... and least we get free lunches now as an ECI2 perk (ECI2 is the company that owns us now ... and you know what they say about free lunches).

This weekend we have not one, but two, Christmas gatherings planned with my (Tami) family. The one Saturday is in Northfield so cross your fingers and say a prayer that the weather will be OK for driving as we're expecting one of those yucky "wintery mix" type storms in the general region.

Prior to church on Christmas Eve we plan on lots of rest and relaxation around here.

Some families will be a little busier this Christmas -- I can't resist an official blog congratulations to Rachel and Jason of http://www.welikedogs.com/ as they welcomed their second son, Samuel James, this afternoon!!! Merry Christmas Sammy and family!

Today was the first day in awhile that we didn't receive a Christmas card in the mail. As Nessa would say, 'that made me sad'. We love receiving and reading all of the Christmas cards and letters -- thank you.

And finally, if you're wondering about the picture at the top of the post -- Nessa is not sleeping in the lego box. She just loves to climb into things (sometimes I think she enjoys this more than the cats do). I just happened to catch her in the middle of climbing around trying to get comfortable.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Sunday Before Christmas Vacation-- A New Tradition?

The Sunday before Christmas vacation is the the Sunday our Church has the children's Christmas program (post may follow someday or see the flickr stream for uploaded photos). While trying to keep Nessa quietly entertained and take good pictures of Megan AND actually pay attention to the program and participate when the congregation is asked to do so, Shawn and I both realized that NEXT year BOTH Nessa and Megan will be in the program ... Shawn and I will be sitting by ourselves singing along and snapping pictures... it sounds so nice. :-)

Today though Shawn exited several times with our darling 2 year old (I must say that too often around her because now when I ask her why she does something she says: "because I'm two!").

After church Megan played with Nessa while I uploaded photos and cleared my email inbox. Then we went out for brunch. Megan suggested Hackberry's and Shawn decided it was a special day so we went there -- and YUMMY! I Love that place -- so that can be part of the Christmas Program Sunday tradition as far as I'm concerned! :-)

After we returned home Nessa went down for a much needed nap. Shawn started a (also much needed) fire in the great room for me and Megan before heading down to print out Christmas letters (many in the mail Monday).

Then Megan wrapped a few presents before we got to work on the event of the afternoon -- making a gingerbread house!

Do you see Megan's "we need a snowman in the yard" marshmallow sculpture?

We went with the Willy Wonka kit this year because that was really all that was left within reasonable driving distance by the time I realized we still needed to buy a kit (after brunch today).

Here is William (the Orange) looking on and just waiting for us to stop guarding long enough for him to get his paws in the candy garden.

Megan and I decided that next year we'll try to take a professional gingerbread house class. Then on the Sunday of the Children's program at church we'll do another gingerbread kit with Nessa ... we figure at age 3 she'll make a grand mess of it. :-)

Megan couldn't believe we were only having salad for supper -- but oh it was a grand salad even if it was left overs from when Shawn went to the store on Saturday and bought me my dream salad bar to make at home -- from endive lettuce to artichoke hearts! (turkey and lots of normal things for the rest of them ... Nessa mostly ate shredded cheese and craisins) ... now that is love -- Mr. Meat and Potatoes getting not just salad but dream salad for supper -- and not buying anything different for himself! :-)

After the girls were in bed Shawn and I wrote out most of the Christmas cards (most because I had to quick order more -- as hard as we try to cut back the Christmas list keeps growing! -- and online friends that want a PDF version, please let me know!). We also drank a little wine ... and then I decided to write this quick post since the 11 other posts I've written in my head this week have not made it to the "Publish Post" button!

I hope you are all healthy and enjoying the season -- may you be busy finding joy and peace in the season -

And for those of you inpatient for all of those photo posts, I did post a few comments on the December Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brooksgroth/tags/dec07/

and I also started a Christmastime Picasa album:

Christmas 2007

If you look at either the Picasa album or Flickr you will see photos of Rotary Lights, Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa Brooks and much more ...

Now, as I was saying -- Peace and Joy to you this holiday season --

Friday, December 14, 2007

For My Love At Christmastime

Again this year, I want to dedicate "our" Christmas song to my wife and best friend:

Just In Time For Christmas (as sung by Nancy LaMott)

They had decked the malls and trimmed the town with plastic trees
Til the world was just a giant retail maze
Tis the season when you turn your thoughts to people you can’t please
When you measure passing time in shopping days
And the holidays were something to get through
But the thing I hadn’t counted on was you

Just in time for Christmas, you came along
Just in time for Christmas, when everything felt wrong
And I was sure my faith had all run out
Just in time for Christmas, you showed me what Christmas is about

What I needed most could not be bought at any price
I was far too disillusioned then to see
I was going through the motions--made a list and checked it twice
But forgot to write down anything for me
But my long-unspoken wishes had been heard
And an unexpected miracle occurred

Just in time for Christmas, one silent night
Just in time for Christmas, you filled my life with light
And there was joy where there had once been doubt
Just in time for Christmas, you showed me what Christmas is about

And all at once the bells began to ring
And hark, the herald, I heard angels sing
Who am I to resist their call
You brought me the greatest gift of all

And now my spirits sing
Just in time, my heart is caroling
From deep within my soul I want to shout
Just in time for Christmas
Just in time for Christmas
Just in time for Christmas, you showed me what Christmas is about

Tami, thank you for loving me, for marrying me, and for showing me what Christmas is all about.

Love, always and forever,

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Overheard: "I don't want to sleep alone"

Yes, after MUCH APPRECIATED nighttime toddler bliss our sweet girl is throwing us for a new loop and ever since Saturday Nessa has sweetly informed us each night as we tuck her in: "I don't want to sleep alone."

We were so spoiled we found ourselves quite unequipped to deal with this gracefully ... so far we have all been able to get the most rest if I lay down with her for awhile and then sleepily go to my own bed after she is asleep. However, this morning she woke up about an hour before the alarm would have sounded because she woke up and she wanted me ... hmmm. So, long term that may not be the best solution but she has been a little stressed lately it seems as she has been "regressing" (baby talk, etc.) so I didn't want to add any more stress as we figure out how to gently deal with this and get everyone to sleep.

In the meantime I'm not really tired (hey, I'm going to bed earlier!) but I am missing my dear husband as that hour or two between Nessa's bedtime and my bedtime were pretty darn precious to us ... and I'm not getting anything done at night this week ... add to that the extra hours I'm working on my deadline project at work and all of the holiday activities ... it all adds up to not having enough time and of course being WAY behind on blog posts -- especially photos.

Sigh ... this too shall pass...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cesarean Rate Hits a New High

It's time for a "Because it matters" post ...

The CDC just released preliminary birth statistics for 2006. We should be outraged at this data -- the United States has a record high rate of cesarean section births while the maternal death rate also continues to rise (and is higher than 40 other countries).

This is NOT okay. Continue to read and then visit: http://www.ican-online.net/ to read about how the International Cesarean Awareness Network is making a difference (we need your support!).

Below are highlights from ICAN's press release and links to read more.


Cesarean Rate Hits a New High

Recent Studies Show Cesareans Can Pose Dangers to Mothers and Babies

Release Highlights:

  • Cesarean rate at record high in the U.S.
  • Cesarean rise coincides with CDC report that maternal death rate rising for the
    first time in decades.
  • World Health Organization data shows that mothers die at a higher rate in the
    U.S. than 40 other countries.
  • Consumer Reports includes cesarean on “10 overused tests and treatments”

Redondo Beach, CA, December 5, 2007 – The National Center for Health Statistics has reported that the cesarean rate has hit an all-time high of 31.1 percent.

CDC's Peliminary Data for 2006

“There’s no doubt that cesarean surgery is being overused,” said Pam Udy, president of the International Cesarean Awareness Network. “Unfortunately, despite its reputation as a harmless surgery, many women and babies are paying the high price of complications from this surgery.”


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Family Photo Shoot

Remember that photo shoot I mentioned WAY back in October? Well, we still haven't ordered our actual prints yet (it's going to be hard to decide what goes on the wall and in hypothetical scrapbooks), but I'm finally getting the digitals organized -- here are a few favorites and the brave can go through all or at least more of them at either flickr or Picasa (links below).

Thank you again Tiffany for such great photos .... and some day when we once again get great smiling photos of Nessa it will be just that much sweeter.

Photos taken by Tiffany: www.tiffanybrubaker.com/

Picture album link below goes to my Picasa Web Photo Album (w/ more comments/descriptions):


On Flickr (sans comments/descriptions): http://www.flickr.com/photos/brooksgroth/sets/72157603377186546/

The pictures of Shawn and I are some of my favorites! It's easy to smile with Shawn holding me...

Trying to convince Nessa this will be fun

We sneak a kiss as the girls pose in the yard

Grandpa and Grandma Brooks with the girls and then all of us together...

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