Happy New Year

There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.
-C.S. Lewis

That's Our Bill.

Click here for a sweet article in the Star Tribune about Bill Carlson.


Happy Belated Christmas!

Sorry it has taken so long to post our Christmas photos! We had a beautiful holiday and I hope you did, as well.
Our celebrations began the Friday before Christmas, when we headed out to JP's dad's house for our annual weekend-before-Christmas-sleep-over. This year was especially blessed because JP's grandparents came back from their winter home in Arizona to be with us. That also meant the house was especially packed...Israel was sleeping in the laundry room and JP and I were on separate couches! :)
On Friday night we went to Macy's 8th floor to see the Nutcracker display. This is only the second time I have ever been to the 8th floor, and I think it is a fun tradition. We then had dinner at Cafe DiNapoli (which used to be a nicer sit-down restaurant, but now is a skyway cafe), a tradition passed down from JP's grandparents. Saturday we did gifts and hung out. On Sunday we went to church, then went to JP's Aunt's house for the Charlebois' extended family Christmas celebration.
Rae & Ava open a gift from Great-grandma.

Rae & Grampies
Perhaps one of the most exciting moments of the weekend was when JP's sister, Lisa, & her husband Scott announced they are pregnant again...with TWINS! We are so excited!
Israel had SOOOOO many Christmas outfits to wear, only one of which I bought. The rest were all gifts! Here are two, from Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday, Christmas Eve, we went to JP's Mom & step-dad's house for a DELICIOUS brunch (Oooooo...Larry Potatoes....Yuuuummmmmmm) and wonderful time spent with family. Rae was lavished with beautiful gifts, but two were extra special. First, Gail took two old rocking chairs and refinished them, then painted them purple and gave them to Ava & Rae. As if that wasn't special enough, she also took an old pillow of JP's from when he was a baby, cleaned it up, and re-stuffed it. It was a pillow JP loved growing up - what a precious heirloom to hand down!
JP & Rae with the pillow:

Ava & Rae open gifts; notice the matching dresses!

Israel is very interested in Ava's new book:

Later that night, we headed over to my parent's house for our annual Christmas Eve BBQ dinner. We have friends in Memphis who send REAL BBQ up to us each year (THANKS BILL, JEANNE & THE GANG!). We spent the night there that night, dogs and all. We woke up Christmas morning to Swedish potato sausage and lefse, another family tradition.
On Christmas Day we went to the Bowar family Christmas extravaganza at la casa de Uncle Carl. We hadn't seen that side of the family in a long while, so it was great to see them. Both of Rae's great-grandmas on that side of the family were there, too, which was a very special treat.
After that we headed back to my parents house for the rest of the celebration over there. Picture it: 10 adults, 5 kids under the age of 2, and two dogs in one small rambler in Brooklyn Center. Here is what the aftermath looked like:

My brother, Joseph, made the kids a snow fort in the back yard. It was an igloo with a sledding hill on the top. Malachi and Rae were the only ones who really got to appreciate it this weekend, but there is a lot more winter ahead of us!

Rae got her first baby doll:

My dad and my brother Nathan, sporting the gag gifts dad won in a game:

It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but it was full of wonderful family time...and I wouldn't have had it any other way. Unfortunately, Rae picked up a bug of some sort that she gave to me. I, in turn, gave it to JP...so we've spent the last few days recovering from that. But otherwise, we have nothing to complain about!
I hope your Christmas was as merry and bright as ours. Never forget the reason for the season.


Rae & Mama Play with Rollers

And here I thought those curls of hers were natural....

First Step!

Last night, my baby girl took her first step! The sad thing is...I WASN'T THERE TO SEE IT! I had run out for literally ten minutes to get a movie down the street when JP called with the good news. He said she was standing at the piano bench and let go and took a step to where he was. My initial reaction was excitement, then disappointment that I missed it, then joy that JP had gotten to see it. He misses so many of her "firsts" and felt very blessed to have been there for this big "step."
My baby girl is growing up! I can't believe that soon she'll walk everywhere and never crawl. She'll be 2 1/2 feet off the ground instead of 1 foot! That is strange to imagine.
The old cliche is true: it goes by SO fast.
Once she starts doing it more I'll try to get it on video for you all to see!


Living the Khai Life

Right now, my cousin and her husband are in Vietnam picking up their newly adopted 14-month-old son, Khai, and preparing to bring him home! I am so excited for them!
I just found out today that they have a blog, full of adorable pictures and stories!
Click here to meet my new cousin!


Dave Moore is Coming Back

I...as a TV news junkie...think this is really cool.

"Dave Moore is coming back.

When the football season ends, WCCO plans to turn over weekend afternoons to the late broadcaster's satirical 1960s series, "The Bedtime Nooz," which debuted long before the "Saturday Night Live" players were ready for anything but junior high."

Click here to read the whole article.


Harpel Family Photos

The Harpel family photos are now up for viewing!
Click here.
Password: Harpel

All of these family photos were our Christmas gifts to our families last year. It took almost all year, but we finally got them all taken! It's so nice to have these moments in time captured for years to come.


Blue Christmas

Hi everybody,

Some of you may remember baby Paul. He is the sweet baby born to a guy my brother, sister and I went to high school with. He passed away from SIDS a few months ago, and it has been simply devastating to say the least.
With the holidays ahead, this is sure to be a very hard time on Bobby & Sara. They have decided to decorate their Christmas tree in baby blue this year, in remembrance of little Paul.
Bobby's sister has started a thoughtful sort of chain email requesting that anybody who has it in their heart send Bob & Sara a blue ornament to decorate their memorial to baby Paul. What a beautiful way to let them know that so many people are still thinking of and praying for them.

If you would like to do this, please email or comment and I will send you their address.


Recent Pictures

Learning how to eat has been a fun adventure for both of us. This was an especially messy session:

In this picture, she is trying to eat pieces of banana right off of her tray...because they were too slippery to pick up, hard as she tried.

She LOVES Daddy and listening to him play the bass guitar.

Bath time has become a favorite activity.

This is her sleepy face...sucking her thumb and playing with her ear.


Happy Birthday, Bill!

Today is Bill Carlson's birthday.
If you tune in to channel 4 at about 12:20...we are going to talk to him live on the air and hear first-hand how he is doing. Then, log on to WCCO's website and send him a birthday and/or get-well wish!
Happy Birthday, Bill! We love you!


Happy Thanksgiving

Phil 1:3-6
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.


Baby Girl Knoblauch

Congratulations to our friends James & Alyssa! They had their third baby today via C-section. Baby Girl Knoblauch is 6 lbs, 7 oz and 19 inches long. She's very cute - I think she looks like her "bubby," Ezra (He's the one kissing her in the bottom picture).
Alyssa is doing fine - please be praying for her healing.
Congrats guys! We love you!


Hyster Family Photos

Our family pictures from the Hyster side of the family are now available to view online. I love them!
Check them out. Password: Hyster


Listen to The Patriot Today!!!!

My friend Nicole is going to be on The Patriot (AM 1280) today at 3:30pm to talk about her blog, GOP Convention Report.
Tune in or listen to it live on their website!!!


God Understands

Our family recently suffered a loss. Margie's brother Rich passed away very unexpectedly last Thursday. It was a very hard, very tragic loss for all of us, but especially for Margie, Granny, Grampy & Rich's family.
Today my dad emailed me this link. It's audio of a 13-year-old boy in Houston who called into a radio talk show after losing his favorite pet calf. He is heartbroken, but in the midst of his pain and questioning, God gave him a comforting revelation.
Click here to hear what God showed him.


Bill Carlson

I got this note from Nancy Nelson (Bill Carlson's wife) today. He is such a champion. Please keep both of them in your prayers. In fact, please pause and pray for them right now.
Bill, we love you!

Nancy wrote:

Wanted to give you an update on Bill...

As you know, Bill has had an enormous battle since June - and none of it because of the cancer.

* Broke his tail bone
* They overdosed him on oxycodone
* Got shingles
* They overdosed him so severely on prednisone that he became nearly unable to walk
* Because of this problem, fell, hit his head, had convulsions (in AZ - a week in the Mayo hospital there)
* Broke his ribs in the fall
* Got a clot in his lung
* Blood cells dropped requiring blood transfusions
* As they weaned him off prednisone (it took six weeks) lots of physical therapy to walk easily again

(In August when Bill was hopeful he would get back to work, we were confused that he kept getting weaker and weaker - then learned it was from the prednisone. You saw him briefly when he made it out to the state fair - in pretty fragile shape. It got much worse from there - but now, everyday is better.)

GREAT NEWS FOR US - the trials in which Billy has participated, have required that he be in Arizona. A new trial begins this week, and it can be monitored primarily from the cancer clinic at the U of M. This means we will only travel to AZ occasionally. We are very happy about that. The new drug is already approved for other forms of cancer and has shown some considerable results, with generally minor side effects.

Billy, as always, is spirited and positive and talking with the doctor about how much longer to build back from the prednisone so that he can get back to work. That remains his focus and goal. He misses his job and all of you more than you can possibly imagine.

Attaching a picture taken the end of October. You can see all of his hair is back - he has lost all of the prednisone weight.... Isn't he gorgeous.....and in September in a normal position with two of the four dogs (Billy and Daisy) sitting on him!!!



9 months

Israel had her 9-month check-up today, and she is still a healthy, happy girl! She is now 26 inches long (75th percentile) and 17.4 lbs (20th percentile). She keeps thinning out! My tall, slender baby!
She did get her finger poked today for the first time (blood lead and hemoglobin tests) and got one shot, but she was a trooper and only cried for about 30 seconds.


Fall Weekend

We had a beautiful fall weekend with JP's family, celebrating his step-mom's birthday. Here are some pictures of the festivities.
The first picture is of a pumpkin Rae's great-grandpa made for her.


Disco Fever

Blockbuster Coupon...is a hoax

Sorry, everybody - I just found out the coupon is a hoax. My bad.

Posted earlier:
"I have a blockbuster coupon for two free movies, free popcorn and a drink, but I am not sure how to post it on the blog. So if you want one, send me an email (link on the right) or post a comment with your email address and I will send it to you."


Baby Blog

We had Israel's 9 month pictures taken today, and one of them made it onto Spirit Grove Art Photography's baby blog again.
Click here to see it!
And leave a comment - the more comments there are, the longer the picture will stay posted!

Lamentations 3:37-40

Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins?
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.


The Golden Compass

There is a new movie coming out on Dec 7th called "The Golden Compass" and starring Nicole Kidman. It is based on the first of a trilogy of children's books by English author Philip Pullman called "His Dark Materials." Pullman is a proud atheist and secular humanist who despises C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia." This trilogy is supposedly "anti-Narnia." In a 2003 interview, Pullman said "My books are about killing God."
If you go to the movie's website, it tells you that every person has their own person "daemon" that follows them around wherever they go. It's like an outside expression of their soul. On the website, you can enter your name and answer a series of questions to find out what your "daemon" is. Creepy.
Also in the books, the "church" is kidnapping children and "castrating" them - cutting off their "daemon." It is intended to prevent the onset of “upsetting emotions” and allow children to grow up without ever feeling passion.
A conservative English columnist has described Pullman as the author "atheists would have been praying for, if atheists prayed." I have even heard (not researched yet, though) that the children in the books eventually kill God, who is sometimes referred to as YAHWEH.
The idea is...unsuspecting parents take their kids to see the movie. Kids like the movie & ask for the profoundly anti-Christian books for Christmas. The movie is a watered-down version of the least-offensive of the three books, so parents may not pick up on the disturbing undertones. Thanks to Harry Potter, kids are already into these kinds of witches and demons types of books and movies. (By the way, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling recently announced that "Hogwarts" headmaster Dumbledore is gay.)
The Catholic League has boycotted the movie. They have put together a pamphlet called "The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked" that you can order on their website. They have also posted a video of President Bill Donahue talking about the issue.
Parents, please be vigilant about what you let enter into the eyes, hearts, and minds of your little ones. You are held accountable for guarding their souls.
And please, everyone - get the word out about the anti-Christian, anti-God message of this movie and these books. Please don't be naive.