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.