Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Life has been so relaxing and comfortable the last week. It has been a blessing to be on vacation and away from our usual troubles. It feels as if we have been gone for years instead of just days.

We enjoyed a few days in IL with my parents and even got to see a cousin and her family from CA and then visited my grandparents too. SO fun! Then the weather changed up our plans a bit--unfortunately! We had planned to spend a few days in our old stomping grounds in WI, but instead had to settle for a few hours so we could beat the bad snow storm coming in. I am so thankful we were able to enjoy even a few hours with old friends as it was SO wonderful to see them! We were able to see many people that we have dearly missed and found it incredibly hard to believe it had been a year and a half since we had last seen them. It truly felt as if we had never moved away and had just seen them the day before. It was so comfortable to be there again. The friendships we have there are true blessings from God!

We left WI around supper time and caravaned with Mike's sis and family on our way to MN. The weather was not too bad until we hit the Twin Cities. It had been snowing for awhile before we got there and the plows had not gone through so it was slow driving the last few hours of our trek, but God got us safely there! We were happy to have made it to Litchfield and now could spend the next few days with Mike's family. The snow continued to fall so church on Christmas Eve and Day was canceled. We had our own service and enjoyed making many memories. The cameras were always out to capture a moment with Mike's dad or between the cousins. Knowing it could possibly be the last Christmas we had with Mike's dad we wanted to remember everything we could. The kids loved playing in the snow and we even ventured out for some bowling! It was four days of being together as a family and was a very special time!

Now we are in MN spending time with my sis and her family. We had a chance to see my brother as well and he always is lots of fun. Today we had back to IL to see my parents for a little bit more before getting on the train back to AZ.

I think this may possibly be the best Christmas break we have ever had. It has been relaxing, refreshing, fun, restful, full of laughter, and meaningful. K got to play with all of cousins and spend time with all of his aunts, uncles and grandparents. I have had a major break from meal planning and preparation. Mike has escaped the stress of work (though he has been doing some school work on vacation) and been able to watch movies and play on the computer for fun. It has been a very good trip at a much needed time in our lives. We are so thankful we came up this way for Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow is pretty, but cold

We made it to Illinois last night! It is SO good to be here!!!!!!

The continuation of our trip...

We had supper from the snack car. Cheeseburger, pizza, hot dog...nothing high quality, but it was edible. :) We sat in the lounge car for awhile after we ate and then got to breath in some fresh air at a stop somewhere very cold. (I can't remember where it was, but a puddle on the ground was frozen.) Then we settled back in our seats and watched Night at the Museum that movie! Bedtime was next and it didn't go exactly great for K, but it's not like it was a normal situation. He finally fell asleep in the seat and then I transferred him to a little "bed" on the floor. I didn't fall asleep until after 1 AM. It was hard to get comfortable and then there was the lady talking loudly on her cell phone at 11:30...seriously, lady! We all eventually got some sleep though.

On Sunday we had breakfast in the dining car just for K. It was yummy! We hung out in the lounge car and then I headed back to my to my seat for a little more sleep. We then found out we'd get rerouted for the last part of our trip because of a derailment the night before. I think that added on a little more to our trip and the last few hours we got a little restless. We finally made it to Union Station and then made it through the crazy, busy station. (I seriously need to rethink how I'll pack for the trip home--one less suitcase would be great!) :) We then boarded the double decker bus and headed to Rockford. My dad picked us up an hour later and our final leg of the trip took us to my parents new home. Hugs from my parents, brother and sis-in-law were a wonderful feeling!!!! (Though I did warn them they should wait until I showered.) :)

So, now we are relaxing on the couch waiting for breakfast. Today we are celebrating Christmas with a yummy meal and presents. Tomorrow we are having a birthday party for our niece who turned 2 last week. We are driving over to my grandparents house to have the birthday celebration with them. IT IS SO GOOD TO BE WITH FAMILY!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Choo choo!

The day has finally arrived! We are on the train heading up to IL/WI/MN for Christmas! We are only a few hours into our trip, but I think this is the way I want to head north from now on!

Checking in took about 5 minutes...we all checked a suitcase and then each had two carry-ons. After we checked our bags we walked out to the train, gave our tickets and went to our assigned seats. SO easy! No taking off our shoes, waiting in line to go through security, sitting around in a terminal...just simple and easy. Our seats are super roomy with a leg rest and reclining capabilites. K and I are seated together and Mike is just across the aisle. We have electrical outlets at our seats so the computers, iPODS and camera can all charge when needed. We are in the very last car of the train and it is so quiet! We spent a little time in the observation car and will eat our supper in there too. There are tables and benches and then seats lining the big windows so you can watch the scenery go by. We have a cooler of drinks and goodies along, but will get supper from the snack car. Probably a hot dog or piece of pizza. The ride hasn't been super bumpy, but actually pretty relaxing. I pray it continues to go well. :)

We are anxious to get home and see all of our families. Mike's dad had a scan on Thursday and they found some cancer in the brain again and swelling of the brain. He's on a another round of chemo the next few days and we are praying that it kills the cancer. It is much easier to deal with this setback knowing that we will be with Dan and the family in just a few short days.

So far, K is doing alright on the train. He did not get enough sleep last night AND does not do well with any type of change so he has been a little cranky at times. In fact, when we were boarding the train he was crabby at me when I asked him to stop for a picture. The lady taking our tickets told K that no one is allowed to talk like that on the train or they'd make him get off the train!!! Well, he got very serious after that and was very careful to listen to what I said. :) We, of course, told him he would not really be kicked off the train, but he should change his attitude. :) (We asked the lady if she could sit by us on the train!) :) K is going to sleep on the floor in front of our seats tonight. I brought a flannel sheet, pillow and comfy fleece blanket for him so he should be comfy. We'll see how it goes...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reduced Sugar Cereal

MyBlogSpark and General Mills are working together to bring all of us a $1 off Kellogg's cereal good on certain Kellogg's cereals.

General Mills is further reducing the amount of sugar in popular kids cereals. This is great news for our home that already attempts to limit K's sugar intake as much as possible. He does not react well to high sugar products so we either go for the low sugar products or keep the sugary items out of the house all together!

**General Mills through MyBlogSpark provided the above information regarding reduced sugar cereals and also is sending me free cereal coupons!**

Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting ready

I've been busy checking things off my to-do list! The presents are all bought, presents made for grandparents, the mail is on hold, Mocha has a home for two weeks and the laundry is being washed. Soon we'll be on our way up north! I can hardly believe it's finally time to go. I haven't seen my parents since May so I'm especially looking forward to hugging them!!! :)

This past weekend I hosted a cookie exchange at my house. It was so much fun! I had seven ladies attend and share lots of yummy cookies and bars. We all got to know each other a little better and enjoyed lots of laughs. I'm hoping to make this an annual event!

I recently found out that a good friend from college will be moving to Tucson this summer! She and her family will be joining our church and living nearby. I am so thankful the Lord is providing for me as I have been feeling lonely lately. It will be a huge blessing to have a dear friend who has known me for so long living in the same town.

I'm able to take my boss's laptop on vacation so I can continue to work while I'm gone. It has broadband internet so I'm hoping I will internet access on the train. If I do, I'll try to update as we go along on our adventure! :)

Here are a few pictures from the past month or so...

K and Kasha shortly before we had to say goodbye to her

At the zoo to see the lights

K's very own Christmas tree

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How hard is it?

Why is it so hard for me to keep up with my blog?? I have friends that blog faithfully each day and share tidbits, big news, advice, etc... without fail. I guess I can never remember to take vitamins every day either. :) I'll just keep trying to do better with blogging.

Anyway, it's almost Christmas and that means lots of fun around here. Busy, yes, but fun too! In fact, we are celebrating Christmas in our home tonight!! We want to do our usual family traditions, but won't be home on Christmas this year, so tonight is the only free night we have. That means eating some Papa Murphy's pizza and watching Elf. We will also exchange gifts. I enjoy celebrating Christmas with my guys and am happy we are able to do it before heading out on vacation!

Speaking of vacation...we are officially taking the Amtrak up to the midwest for Christmas break! We'll head out of Albuquerque and spend 25 hours on board until we get to Chicago. We are all very excited to ride the train! I have slowly been gathering new books, activity books, games, and movies to keep K occupied on our long journey. We each have a new fleece blanket that will keep us warm as we sleep in our train seats. I plan to take a cooler with snacks and water so we don't have to buy food on the train. We'll probably have breakfast in the food car to experience that part of train travel as well. Once we get to Chicago our whirlwind vacation begins...visit my parents (one brother and family will be there too), head up to my best friend's house, then a few days in Neenah, over to Mike's parents/grandparents (both siblings will be there as well), over to visit my sis and other brother, and then back down to my parents. Somehow we want to see my cousins and grandparents too. It's going to be crazy, but so good to see so many loved ones!

Things haven't been great around troubles at school/church, we had to say goodbye to our mini schnauzer, Mike and K were sick, I had some type of stomach bug and Mike's dad continues to battle brain cancer. I've been down and really questioning why we have to live so far from all our family and friends. But the last few days I've been doing better and focusing on putting all my worries and troubles on God. I have never stopped praying or believing that God is in control and has a plan for everything, but I'm still a sinner and I've had doubts and worries I shouldn't have had. I'm so thankful for faithful family and friends who have reminded me of God's promises and told me they are praying for me and my family. I'm also trying to keep my eyes on the good and fun in my life right now...Christmas parties, traveling "home" for Christmas, Christmas music and decorations...all those things remind me of how good God has been to me and how he is always with me. Plus, K never fails to put a smile on my face! He says the wackiest things and is not stingy with his "I love you, Mom" many times each day!

K is loving school and doing so well! He is growing up to be a very happy, thoughtful and helpful boy. He is rarely without a smile and never stops asking questions. He loves to spell things and tries to read too. He loves to build things, crash things and knock things over. :) Oh, there are those days when I cannot wait until his bedtime and he is sassy and pushes all my buttons at once, but thankfully those days are rare and just remind me to appreciate the days when he is his sweet, lovable self. I am very proud of my Guatetot! :)