Quotes from Rae

We haven't had one of these posts in a while, but they are the best! Rae is still full of such funny sayings!

Rae (licking brownie batter from a spoon): "Chocolate is the best."
Me: "If you had Jesus and chocolate and your family, what else could you possibly need?"
Rae: "Nothing. Unless your house was made of chocolate and you divided Jesus into twelve parts and got a bunch more kids for your family, that would be better. Oh! And crab legs for dinner every night."


Rae: "When you were little, you had to ride in carriages, right?"
Me: "I'm not THAT old!"


Rae: "Wouldn't it be something if it turned out french fries were good for you?"


Rae (highly frustrated): "Sometimes getting along with Ruby is like surviving in a hurricane!!!!"


JP to Rae: "Isn't Mommy beautiful? Like, 'holy cow' kind of beautiful?"
Rae: "Yeah, like, 'Twinkle, twinkle' kind of beautiful."


Me (heading into a gas station): "Rae, leave the (plastic) sword in the car."
Rae: "Why?"
Me: "Just because. We wouldn't want people thinking it's real."
Rae (giggling): "Mom, there's no such thing as real swords! They're only in fairy tales!"

Becky's Baby Shower

Every baby is a blessing, and anticipating the arrival of any baby is exciting in it's own way. But let's be honest: once you get to babies #4, #5, etc., it turns into more of an, "Oh, that's nice, how fun!" sort of sentiment, rather than the "Ohmygodohmygodohmygod I'm so freaking EXCITED!!!" feeling you may have had with your first child.

Back in 2006-2007, we had a lot of those "Ohmygodohmygodohmygod" moments when Amber, Micah and I all had our first babies.

Now, I feel like we're reliving that same level of excitement as we wait not so patiently for the arrival of my brother Joe & his wife Becky's first baby next month! Little Isaac is due on 8/13/12.

My mom, sister and I hosted a baby shower for Becky on the 15th. It was so fun to get to put together a baby shower again! Isaac's nursery has a giraffe theme, so we tried to echo that in our party planning. Everything turned out great, and I think Becky was blessed by the outpouring of love and gifts for her sweet baby boy. Thanks to all who came and shared in the fun!

My gorgeous mom put a lot of time and energy into creating this adorable melon ball bassinet! 

We commissioned some friends of our to make this uh-MAY-zing cake. The gals who made this are just out of high school and incredibly talented. 
Welcome, baby Isaac!

Food table

Becky, you are so BEAUTIFUL!

900 wipes! Yes! (j/k...it wasn't really wipes)

All of the Harpel girls who were present at the shower. 
(Left to right: Naomi, Amber, Becky, Mom, Ruby, me, and Rae)

Micah & Missy's Visit

A couple days before we left for our trip to visit Micah and Missy in Kentucky, we found out that Micah was getting a number of days off of work around the 4th of July and they would be coming up to MN! Getting to see my brother's family twice a year is a treat these days, but twice in one summer...?! What a blessing.

We got together for a number of play dates with all 11 cousins, including a very fun and special day at my sister's house. There was lots of swimming, plenty of watermelon, and so much cuteness my heart could burst. We seized the opportunity to get another photo of all of the cousins/grandkids together.

Left to right - Rae (5), Zachary (5), Malachi (6.5), Elijah (5.5), Ruby (3.5), Rosie (1.5), Ruthie (3), Naomi (4.5), Jeremiah (1.5), Anna (3.5), and Chloe (2).

Here is that same group of kids one year ago. It's amazing how much they change so quickly!

Of course, both of those pictures will be outdated in a month when my brother Joe & Becky have their first baby! Then Amber is due in September, I'm due in October, and SURPRISE! Micah and Missy just announced they are due in March! That will be 15 grandkids under the age of 7 in the Harpel family. Amazing. 

We spent the 4th of July with Micah & Missy and other family members at Missy's parents' home. With temps in the 100's, there was more swimming, red-white-and-blue popsicles, and a giant mud pit to play in. Later that night we watched fireworks in Princeton. 

If you'd like to see more pictures of our play dates, click here


James Update

It's nothing but good news for our friend, James! 

Yesterday we got the amazing news that the tumor in James' brain was benign! This is the greatest answer to prayer we've ever received. Then today, James got to go home a day early! The girls and I were at their house when James arrived home. He looked great, and seemed to be walking even better than I was expecting. He has a cane, but wasn't using it when I saw him, and he even fixed a blown circuit while we were there (always the handyman!). The doctors told him as long as he continues to practice walking and moving his neck around, he probably won't need to do any further physical or occupational therapy (other than what he did in the hospital). That is also wonderful news. 

James is such an overcomer. We are definitely thanking Jesus for making every step of this process go as smoothly as possible. Please continue to keep the Knoblauch family in your prayers as he continues his recovery. 



I still haven't edited the photos from my brother's family's trip up to Minnesota, but I have a pretty good reason. Something happened that stopped our whole world this week; something we never could have expected.

JP's best friend James was diagnosed with a brain tumor late Monday night. You've heard of James and Alyssa many times before, including one of my most recent posts since we just went camping together a few weekends ago. James went to Bible college with JP and was his roommate when JP and I met. James married my roommate, Alyssa, and JP and I were best man and maid of honor in their wedding.  When we got married, they had the same titles.

For a few months now, James had been complaining about dizziness, headaches, and nausea. He went to the Emergency Room once a few months ago and they told him it was just vertigo and that he'd be fine.

Three months later, the symptoms were getting worse. His headaches were crippling, and the dizziness was so intense he couldn't get out of bed in the morning. He started having sharp pains at the top of his neck, too. They decided to go back to the ER on Monday night after James got off of work.

If you know James, you know he is not the type of guy to complain about being sick. He is very tough and works through almost any ailment. For James to be sick enough to go to the emergency room is a big deal. After doing the normal stats and tests, the ER doctor ordered an MRI.

I'll never forget that late-night call: they had found a golf ball sized mass in James' cerebellum, the part of the brain near the base of the scull. Your cerebellum is responsible for balance, coordination and movement. Through hyperventilating tears, Alyssa told me they were transporting James to North Memorial and planned to operate as soon as possible.

Nothing can prepare you for that kind of news. One day you are camping with your friend, the next day he's having neurosurgery. It stops everything.

The good news is that the operation went as well as it could have possibly gone. The surgeon was able to remove the entire tumor with no complications. An MRI the next day showed that there was nothing left behind and that swelling was minimal. James spent one night in the Trauma-Neuro ICU, but he was doing so well that they moved him into a regular room yesterday. Today he began both physical and occupational therapy. Right now he is still a little wobbly and clumsy because of the damage done to his cerebellum. He should be able to regain most if not all of his coordination with time and therapy.

The surgeon said that the tumor was in a very dangerous place. If the tumor had gotten any bigger, it could have caused his spinal fluid to back up and he could have dropped dead with no warning. Obviously it's never good to have a brain tumor, but we are praising God that as far as brain tumors go, James has had a "best case scenario" so far.

There is still one more very big piece of news we are waiting on -- biopsy results. Was the tumor cancerous or not? They may have the results back tomorrow. Our faith is that the tumor was benign and that James will make a full recovery without having to go through any sort of chemo or radiation.

As it is, the Knoblauch family has a long road ahead of them. James may get to go home this weekend, but he won't make a full recovery for about six weeks. Alyssa will have the job of taking care of him and their four young children. They'll have frequent trips to therapy and bills to catch up on once James gets back to work.

I'd encourage anyone who can to help fill in the gaps for James and Alyssa during this challenging time. Right now there is a great need for help with watching the kids (Alyssa's mom is doing this, but is exhausted and could use help). Any amount of time is helpful just to give her a break and relieve some of the burden.

There is also a meal train where you can sign up to bring them a meal, gift card, or groceries: Click here for that.

They could use men who are able and willing to come mow their lawn once a week or so (Alyssa's 85-year-old dad was doing it today). They have an unfinished deck that James was building, and now the wood is just sitting out in the elements, subject to warping. Getting a guy or two out there to help cover those would be great.

Please keep the whole family in your prayers, especially as they await the biopsy results! Thank you Jesus for being gracious to our friend in what could have been a much, much worse situation.


Summer Happenings

The last few weeks have been packed full of summer happenings, with lots of time spent having fun and very little time spent at home. Here are some highlights.

We went camping the weekend before my birthday with our friends, the Knoblauchs. We camped at a little private campground near Duluth that we stumbled upon, and it was great. Each campsite was like a group site at a state park campground. I didn't get many pictures because when you camp with seven kids and three dogs, there are lots of photo opportunities, but not many opportunities to grab your camera!
Ruby, Shiloh & Isaac eating s'mores.

Poor Rosie...can you see that her right eye is swollen almost all the way shut in this picture? She got some sort of a bug bite on her eye that caused the whole thing to swell up horribly. She was as happy as can be, just looked terrible. Every time I looked at her, all I could think of was Sloth from the "The Goonies" -- HEY YOU GUYS!!!

Two days after my birthday, my friend Erin came out to our home for a visit. It's always nice when people are willing to make the long trip out to our place, because I love hosting. We spent the afternoon eating, talking and doing a whole lot of nothing. It was wonderful. :)

On Friday night, JP's parents took all three kids overnight so he and I could go out to celebrate my birthday. Unfortunately, JP wasn't feeling well, so instead of dinner out, I picked up Noodles & Co. on the way home from dropping the kids off, then later when he was feeling better we went to a movie. I got to sleep in the next morning (heaven!), then meet my friend Bethany at Caribou for breakfast. Bethany is in town from TX with her new baby girl, Emma, and it was so exciting to get to meet her!

This photo makes me laugh because I think we both look so "30-year-old-momish" in it. :) 

On Monday, another dear friend named Kathy came out to my house to help me re-upholster our kitchen table chairs. Our tables was given to us after JP's grandma passed away (Larry's mother), so it is sentimental to us both. However, the fabric on the seats was terribly stained and very much NOT kid friendly. It soaked in every chocolate milk spill and dropped paint brush like a sponge. I knew for this chapter of life I needed something easy to wipe down, so I chose a very plain, dark blue vinyl off of clearance rack (I got all I needed for $12). It doesn't fit with the style of the table/chairs, but it's what we need at this stage of life. In ten years, I'll purchase a nice, high-quality, appropriate fabric; but for now, this is perfect. :) 
Before & After

On Thursday, the girls had their first swimming lesson. JP's step-mom, Margie, has a student who is also a swim instructor. They are paying her to come to their new home (with a pool) and do private lessons with the kids. They did great. Rae is coming along very well in her aqua-confidence. Ruby is still a lot more hesitant, but willing to try. Rosie is completely fearless in the water. It's scary. She has to have a life jacket on at all times because you never know when she'll just jump right in. Here is a video of Rosie going down a little slide into the water. If I tried to hold out my hands to catch her, she would say, "No, I SELF!"

She pops back up out of the water happy and laughing. This child is going to give my gray hairs before my time! 

[Side note: if you are wondering who "Pee Pee" is, that's JP. :) When Ava was little, she pronounced his name "PP," and it stuck...so now all of the cousins on that side of the family call him Uncle PP.]

Amid all of these happenings, my brother Micah and his family came into town for a visit! I have plenty of cute pictures and stories to share from their time here, but that is for another post after I'm done editing the photos. :) 

Coming up this month: a baby shower for my brother's wife, Becky (yay!) and hopefully some kids room remodeling. Bring it on, summer!