Sinterklaas Day 2017

Because of our Dutch heritage, my family celebrated Sinterklaas Day during my growing up years. Each year on the evening of December 4th, we put out our shoes. When we awoke on December 5th, our shoes were filled with goodies from Sinterklaas.

John and I are continuing this tradition with our family. This year, Sinterklaas came to our house and David was given the book “Elmo’s Countdown to Christmas,” which we have read many times since, and an electronic copy of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Christmas Program with Sesame Street. He’s a little too young to enjoy these items, but we’re hoping they’ll bring Christmas cheer in coming years.

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You’re supposed to put your shoes by the fireplace, but we don’t have a fireplace. So, under the Christmas tree they went!

Another tradition associated with Sinterklaas Day in our family is a gathering with extended family members in the area. We have a dinner and then each person opens a small gift from Sinterklaas. These gifts come with a poem related to the gift. You’re supposed to read the poem and then open the gift. It’s fun to hear the different poems that “Sinterklaas” comes up with.

This year, we got together the Sunday prior to Sinterklaas Day at our house in West Virginia. This was the first time some of our extended family met the new baby. It was a fun and happy night.

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A group selfie of those in attendance.
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Wagner cousins and Melissa with the baby.
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They color coordinated 😉
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My dad’s Sinterklaas gift.
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My dad and mom wearing their Sinterklaas gifts proudly.
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Family photo – sure do love these guys 🙂
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John finished decorating his tree in time for the gathering. We opened the presents in the family room in the basement by his tree. I wanted to add this picture to the blog because I think the tree looks great!

Thanksgiving Weekend 2017

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We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family this year and took full advantage of the long weekend. The day prior to Thanksgiving, we went to my parents’ house. I headed there in the afternoon with the baby, and John joined us after he got off work and took his car to the dealer for a tune-up. That night we ordered burgers from The Breeze and watched State of Play with my parents.

I was in charge of making a roasted kale and yam salad, bacon mac n’ cheese, and a pecan pie for our Thanksgiving dinner. While I made items for the dinner, John and his Uncle David hung Christmas lights on the outside of our house. And let me say, I think they did a mighty fine job! We headed to my parents’ house around 3 p.m. and had a fun time visiting and eating. My brother Blake was back home from BYU, and this was his first time meeting the baby. The food was delicious and the company even better.

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Group selfie.
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John snapped this picture, and I think it’s adorable.

On Friday, John and I set up our Christmas trees and began putting up Christmas decorations inside the house. My Christmas tree is on our main level, and his is in the family room in the basement. I prefer white lights on a Christmas tree, and John prefers colored lights. So, it works out great to have two trees that are each reflective of our own style. I just finished decorating my Christmas tree yesterday. We still need to hang ornaments on John’s tree. (We also watched the final Iowa game of the regular season on Friday. Go Hawks!)

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On Saturday, we hiked Murphy’s Farm in Harpers Ferry, WV with my family and our friend Keri. The weather was beautiful, as was the scenery on the hike. From different points on the hike, you could see the Shenandoah River. After the hike, we picked up Mexican food from a delicious, authentic Mexican restaurant in the town where we live. We ordered the food to-go so we could get back home and watch the Alabama vs. Auburn football game. John was pleased with the outcome of the game; my dad on the other hand was not.

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On Sunday, John and I went and visited a couple members of our church congregation and geared up for a new week. Baby David and I loved having John home with us for a couple extra days during this holiday weekend!

 

 

Motherhood Begins: October 18, 2017

On October 18, 2017 my life changed forever. At 8:45 p.m. our sweet baby boy was born. My water broke at 1:20 p.m. that day, I started feeling contractions around 2:15 p.m., and by 7:00 p.m. it was time to deliver our sweet baby boy. After an hour and a half of pushing, he made his grand entrance.

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I had to be on oxygen from about 3:30 p.m. until the time he was born due to a decrease in his heart rate. During that time, I felt a great sense of love for this little baby and offered many, many prayers on his behalf. All in all the labor and delivery went smoothly.

The last two weeks have been full of unconditional love, nursing challenges and triumphs, tears (both mine and his), lots of sleeping (more so him than me), gratitude, and more love.

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Since bringing him home, it’s felt like a piece of heaven came home with us. That sounds kind of like a sappy thing to say, but I 100% mean it. I have felt a closeness with heaven over these last two weeks in a way I didn’t anticipate. It’s amazing to think about how this little baby’s spirit is so fresh from heaven.

We came home from the hospital on October 20. My mom came and stayed with us for a week. Having her here was amazing!!! Grandmas really are the best.

Cuddles with Grandma Kathy.

After my mom left, John’s parents came and visited for a long weekend. Surprisingly, I don’t have a picture of them with the baby but below is a picture I took of them and John.

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I am so grateful for this new journey of motherhood that began just over two weeks ago. I always wanted to be a mom, and I am grateful this little boy is mine. The last two weeks have been harder in some ways than I expected as my body recovers from giving birth, experiences shifting hormones as it rebalances from pregnancy, and learns to provide sustenance for the baby. Despite these minor challenges, I am grateful for this opportunity and for this sweet baby. I am especially grateful to know that because John and I were sealed (married) in the Temple by the priesthood power of God, our family will be a family forever.

In the hospital getting ready to go home.
Snuggle time with dad.

A “Happy Due Date” (October 24) Selfie.
Watching the Iowa Hawkeyes beat Minnesota (October 28).
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My little buddy who loves to eat his hand.
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Family of three 🙂

Spring Has Sprung

Spring is in full bloom, and I love it! The warmer weather has allowed for evening walks that seem to soothe my soul and make me feel so good on the inside. I’m loving our new neighborhood. It’s quiet and full of beautiful scenery.

I am sitting on my front porch as I write this. All I can hear are birds, tree frogs, and one neighbor’s very loud air conditioning unit (haha). The “Easter Bunny” brought me flowers for the front porch, and I love them. I wasn’t going to buy flowers this year for the front porch because I feel like we’ve spent a lot of money on our yard being first-time homeowners who never had a yard to mow or take care of. But I am grateful the Easter Bunny knew I wanted flowers and picked them up.

One of the highlights of this spring so far was a girls day with my mom and sister to celebrate my mom’s birthday. We went to the Temple, went out to lunch, and then got our nails done. That night John cooked brats and hot dogs for my parents and I.

We took a selfie outside the Temple. The trees were in full bloom, and it was beautiful.

Part of the reason I haven’t blogged as much these past few months is because I’ve been a lot less active and we’ve gone on a lot fewer outings. This is because I haven’t felt quite like my normal, upbeat self. John and I learned back in February that we are going to become parents! The first trimester brought headaches, tiredness, and overall sense of nauseousness. However, I have heard other people experience much worse, so I am very grateful! Our baby is due in October. The actual due date is our wedding anniversary. Last weekend, it seemed to really sink in that things will change in our lives come this fall. I am grateful and excited 🙂

Blake is Home

One week and one day ago, we welcomed home Elder Morgan (Blake) from his mission! He served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Arizona Scottsdale Mission.

Dulles Airport, where we met him upon his arrival, has lots of doors where passengers can exit. We hoped we were at the “right” door, but we weren’t. John started wandering the airport to see if Blake came out a different door. And sure enough, John found him.

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Family photo at the airport.

 

A Weekend Getaway to the Swiss Alps

About a month ago, John asked if I’d be interested in a quick trip to Switzerland. You see, he’s been away on work travel a lot lately, and he was scheduled to go on a ten-day work trip to Europe. He has cousins in Switzerland and planned on seeing them while in Europe. Because of all his work travel, he had racked up airline miles we could use to cover my flight. It sounded like a neat opportunity to me, so I welcomed the chance to see Switzerland, spend time with John, and meet some of his extended family whom I haven’t met.

I am sitting in the Zurich airport waiting to fly home (my flight was delayed four hours) and figured this was a good time to write about my experience.

It’s Monday afternoon here in Zurich. I arrived Friday afternoon around 3 p.m. John was coming in from London that day but his flight didn’t arrive until 7:45 p.m. So I bought a train ticket and rode the Bahn train 10 minutes to the Main Station stop and then walked around the area and grabbed some dinner before heading back to the airport to meet John.

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The scenery as I approached Zurich.
Main Station in Zurich.

That night we boarded a train to Visp, which is about two hours by train from Zurich. John’s aunt, uncle, and cousin Debbie picked us up. We then drove 30 minutes to Eischoll, where John’s aunt and uncle have a cabin in the Alps.

The drive was beautiful. It was a very clear night, and the stars were also beautiful. When we arrived at the cabin, we ate some delicious soup, chatted, laughed, and then headed to bed at about 1:30 a.m.

The next two days it snowed. We began our first full day in Switzerland with a European breakfast of bread with cheese and jams. We had a fun time chatting, went on a walk up the mountain, attended a Catholic Mass in a beautiful old church, and had a delicious, cheesy dinner with John’s aunt, uncle, cousin Christian, and Christan’s girlfriend Bettina. The meal was called Racklet, and it’s basically a dinner of melted cheese that you scoop up with pieces of potatoes. It was very yummy! Afterwards, we played a card game called Ligretto. I was not very good 🙂

We had two hours of clear skies while we were here. This is the view from our room in Eischoll.
Our winter walk.
The second half of the walk John’s uncle and I did by ourselves because John didn’t have the best shoes for it. We came upon this cabin, and you can see the snow is much deeper. It was a slick adventure getting back home, and I slid and fell a few times haha.
A picture after Mass. I wish you could see the town better in the picture.
After games with Christian and Bettina.

The next day we headed to a ski resort town, where John’s cousin Katrin was staying with her in-laws. We visited with Katrin and her cute 9-month-old Lukas while the others skied. We ate another delicious meal, prepared by Katrin’s mother-in-law, and then headed back to Visp, where John and I caught the train bright and early this morning. He headed to Germany, while I headed to the airport in Zurich.

Before leaving Eischoll, we took pictures in front of the mountains. It’s been a warm winter, which is why the mountains weren’t as snow covered as usual.

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Katrin and baby Lukas.
On top of one of the mountains.

One of my favorite experiences of the weekend was a gondola ride we took in the Alps. Below is a video.


Overall, it was a great trip! Jet lag was more tough than I expected. I adjusted way more quickly and easily when we went to Taiwan last fall. Consequently, I thought it would be no problem. I was wrong 😉 But even with the jet lag, it was a great experience I will remember for a long time. A big thank you to the Schinders for being such great hosts!

Grandpa Louie

At the end of last week, I headed to Iowa for John’s Grandpa’s funeral. As it turns out, I ended up missing almost the entire funeral due to flight problems. I pulled up to the graveside service right as the “Taps” was being played (it was a military funeral). I didn’t know John’s grandpa well, but I could tell he was very loved by his children and grandchildren.

Grandpa Louie had dementia and consequently I don’t think he had any clue who I am. Over Christmas, he was talking to me about his grandson John (aka my husband) and how John just got married. I told him that I was actually John’s wife. He just looked at me and laughed 🙂

There are a lot of people who I don’t know very well who have shaped my husband’s life, and for them I am truly grateful.

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This picture was taken in December with Grandpa Louie and Grandma June at our wedding Open House in Iowa.
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Grandpa Louie’s descendants at the funeral luncheon.
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John and I stopped by Grandpa Louie’s farm on the way back from the funeral luncheon. I LOVE this picture – the lush corn, the thick clouds, and one handsome man!

 

 

May 2016 Moments

May seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. To be honest, it was a harder month for me. John was out of town for work every week. He would leave on Sundays right after our church ended at 4 p.m. and then would get home around 10 p.m. on Fridays. I was super surprised how hard being alone would be. I didn’t think it would be that hard at all. We’ve only been married seven months and before getting married we didn’t live together, so I was used to coming home and him not being there. But marriage has changed me in ways that I didn’t anticipate. I didn’t realize how even in a few short months after becoming one in the eyes of God, you really feel like that person is “your other half.” The other day the thought occurred to me that each of our lives is like a string of thread that weaves together the pieces of our lives. When we get married, suddenly there are now two threads weaving together the pieces of our lives. The more stitches those threads make together, the stronger the threads become as one unit inseparable from one another without tearing apart the pieces they’ve woven together. While this month was hard, it made me more grateful for John in ways that I didn’t expect.

At the beginning of the month, my brother Trevor came home to visit from BYU. It was fun to have him in town for a few days. We went to the movies as a family, had a bonfire, and also FaceTimed with Blake (our brother on a mission for the LDS Church in Arizona). As a missionary, Blake focuses on serving God and the people of Arizona. To help missionaries stay focused, they only FaceTime with their families on Mother’s Day and Christmas, so it was a big deal to have all of us there to FaceTime with him on Mother’s Day.

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At the movies to see the latest Captain America movie.
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Blake!
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The family gathered around the kitchen table to FaceTime with Blake.

At the end of the month, we headed to Iowa to visit John’s family. We spent time visiting each of his grandparents, but sadly didn’t get any pictures with any of them 😦 We also made two stops at Whitey’s (my favorite ice cream shop), and we stopped by The American Pickers store in Le Claire, Iowa. We drove 14 hours there and 14 hours back. Because John had been gone so much this month, being in a car with him for 14 hours was something I actually really looked forward to all month haha 🙂

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It’s so delicious that we made two stops in three days.
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Outside the American Pickers shop.

Day 36: 100 Moments of Joy (Iowa Muffins)

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My mom made the above muffins to celebrate Iowa’s win yesterday. Seeing the muffins not only made me smile, but made me grateful for my mom and her ability to make others feel special. She brings so much joy to my life and is an example to me of the kind of service-oriented and thoughtful woman I want to be.

Grateful, Quiet Moments

I’ve done a poor job at keeping this blog up to date. I hope to write a more in-depth post this weekend. Life has been busy. From stuffing wedding invitations to taste tests (my most favorite part of wedding planning!) to moving, I feel like life has been a whirlwind. But in the midst of feeling frazzled by everything that needs to get done, there are quiet moments when I feel so grateful for the person I am marrying and the place where I get to marry him. I love this picture below of John because I “sneakily” (or really not so sneakily) took it at a high school cheerleading competition. We went to support my sister, who coaches cheerleading at a local high school. I love this picture because never once on this night did he ever complain about going to the competition, even though I am 99 percent sure that wasn’t his idea of a good time 😉

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I hope that wasn’t too mushy. I really don’t want to be mushy. I just want to remember these quiet moments of gratitude. Hopefully I’ll write a longer update this weekend…