Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Our New Year's Tradition

If you know me well, you know I am NOT a night person. Either is my husband. I am rarely up past 10pm. And past midnight? Outside of being forced to when traveling, I'm pretty sure I haven't been up past midnight by choice in yearsssss.

But my kids want to "celebrate" New Years. So we decided a few years back to buy some sparkling grape juice and watch the "ball drop" in Dubai and London. This happens hours before the midnight deadline here in the USA which is much more reasonable for an old fogie like me to watch.

Now it's 8pm on December 31. And I'm off to sleep. It's "New Years Day" somewhere -- which is good enough for me.

Tuesday Truth

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Random Pics from our Week with the Kitsteiners

Abigail and cousin Peyton
A very fun game cousin Rob introduced us to! Click here to purchase it and help us earn money for Because of Isaac. 

We had a bonfire. This is Grace and cousin Ethan.

Aunt Danielle snuggling with Aunt Danielle
With both girls

Katie bought all of us an ugly sweater. We took a picture with everyone! Ray's was my favorite.

John and I. John's tie plays a song.

Two of my favorite girls

Two more of my favorite girls

Daddy and daughter

Aunt Danielle with Grace and her own two daughters: Peyton and Cami

It's 74 degrees here. Normally I'd be sad it was that warm in December but with all these people here, being able to be outside has been a GODSEND! I love this picture of Abigail moving the sheep.

Cousin Nate with Ritter

With both dogs

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Playing some hymns

The church that John’s parents attend is right around the corner from our house. It is very small — just a few dozen older folks that have grown up and raised their children there ... children who have now moved away. 

The piano player has to rotate between two churches so she is only there half the month. They asked Isaac if he would work on some hymns so he could play weeks when the piano player isn’t there. They gave him a hymn book, and he’s been working with his piano teacher. 

Seeing this brings me such joy. I pray the Lord uses this boy’s innate musical talents for HIS glory. Isaac has musicians on his birth father’s side of the family and his birth mother Bri is a great lover of music as well. You can tell this is something he was born with, and I pray it blesses others!!

GLOW KIDS Recommendation

I have heard some GREAT things about this book and am planning to buy it for my family. If ya'll want to purchase it, please use the link below and our adoption organization will get 3-5% of your purchase price!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Merry Christmas from the Kitsteiner Cousins

The first time that all ten Kitsteiner cousins have EVER been together in one place at one time. 

Font row from left: Ethan (6), Nate (14), Abigail (8), Cami (20 month), Sidge (almost 11), Grace (17), Peyton (3)
Back row: Isaac (11), Ethan (6), Hannah (6)

Elizabeth (Oldest sister) has the twins: Ethan and Eli
John (2nd oldest) has our four
Ray (3rd oldest) has Grace and Nate
Matt (5th oldest) has the two little girls in matching pajamas
A silly picture
A fun picture this morning of Abigail and little Peyton

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Wee-Wind Wednesday

She's two and a half. Oh man. I love how happy she is. And her face. And her chubbiness. Man. I'm so glad I can look back and see this again.

Christmases (way back)

Christmas 2002
Our last Christmas in Kentucky. I wasn't blogging then but found some pictures in my scrapbook and have scanned them. Here they are. Our niece Grace was just three months old this Christmas. 

Christmas 2003

This was in pre-blog days. This would have also been the first year we lived in Rochester, Minnesota. I think I wrote our first family Christmas card that year, but I can't find it anywhere. Here is a picture of us though in the snow of Minnesota that year.

Christmas 2004

We still lived in Minnesota this year, but like every year that we had been married, we made it home to South Florida for Christmas. Here is my Christmas letter from that year. (I think you'll be able to click on it to make it better and read it?)

Christmas 2005

We continued to spend each and every Christmas in South Florida with both of our families. 

And here is my Christmas letter from that year:

And here is the photo I included with our Christmas letter:

Christmas 2006

Here are some pictures of another Christmas spent in South Florida. Once again, we managed to get away from the snow for Christmas and a WEDDING! The biggest news of that holiday season was my brother's wedding. He and the awesome AD wed just a few days after Christmas! Here is a picture of AD and I at her bachelorette party:

Pretty sure I did a Christmas letter that year, but I can't find it!

Christmas 2007

Christmas of 2007, we were anxiously awaiting Isaac's birth the following year. We spent the holiday in South Florida with both of our families. Here are some pictures of the Kitsteiner extravaganza. Here I am with a half-way-through-her-pregnancy Bri. 

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008 was our first Christmas as parents. Isaac was nearing 8 months old, and I was within a month of going into labor with Sidge. Here was our Christmas card from that year:

Because I was so very pregnant, this was the first year, ever, that JB and I did not spend Christmas with our family in South Florida. Instead, my parents joined us up at Eglin AFB. Here are some pictures from our Christmas morning. And here are some pictures of our Christmas evening spent with the Dooley family. 

Christmas 2009

Here was the Christmas letter for 2009 -- Christmas with TWO little boys:

Christmas was spent at our home on Eglin AFB, FL. We were so blessed that year to be joined by Grandparents from Michigan. Unfortunately, the boys were both nursing double ear infections so that part wasn't good. But having them there with us at the holiday was wonderful. Here is a link to some Christmas snaps from that wonderful time with my parents and grandparents. 

Christmas 2010

2010 was our first Christmas out of the USA. We were in Turkey for the holiday. Here was our 2010 Christmas card attempts:

We spent Christmas of 2010 in Istanbul, Turkey with our friends the Yerringtons and Stebbins. Here was a picture we managed to snap of the five children in attendance (Sidge, Isaac, Rowan, William, and Noah):

One of my favorite Christmas moments EVER took place in Istanbul during that trip. We were in a country that did not celebrate Christmas, but we found a Catholic church that we could attend mass at. After we left the church, we found a group of Christian turks playing Christmas music outside and passing out Bibles. Check out the video here.

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 was spent in Turkey again. Christmas Eve we made cookies for Santa and put them out for Santa. It remains one of my funniest motherhood moments ever. You have to watch the video and keep your eye on Sidge during the entire thing:

It was a very bitter sweet year that year. We were spending the holiday far away from family in a country that didn't even celebrate Christmas. In addition, our wonderful Veronica, who had spent 10 months in our home, was preparing to head back to America in just a few days:


We had a wonderful Christmas in Turkey with our friends Dan and Angelica (and her family from Spain who were in visiting) as well as Shane and Linda and Patty & Yamil:

But our Christmas card that year did not go well at all:

Christmas 2012

On Christmas Eve 2012, we were returning from Rochester, Minnesota where I just had a little Hannah transferred to my womb. I was obviously pregnant but had no idea! It was the first Christmas Day that we had spent with our family in South Florida since 2007. What a great time of celebration. We even managed a picture with the entire Huisman side of the family which included five kids under five! No small feat!

Christmas 2013
Azores, Portugal (we lived in the Azores, Portugal)

Christmas 2014
Spring Hill, TN (we lived here for one year)

Christmas 2015
First farm Christmas (Home forever!)

Christmas 2016
Second farm Christmas (Home forever!)

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2018
Last year's Christmas was a hard one. We had had a family member leave and there was lots of grief. But it was beautiful and wonderful to have 8 of the 10 cousins together. 

Christmas 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Say "NO" to elective surgeries

Three years ago, my son, Sidge was riding his scooter, when a freak accident tore the gums off his top teeth and broke numerous teeth. If you are not squeamish, you can watch a video my husband took after it happened to get advice from a friend of his who was an oral surgeon and dentist. I warn you, it is GRAPHIC and hard to watch. 

My husband tried to get another oral surgeon to do the procedure. But it was a Sunday in a small town, and he couldn't find anyone to do it. In the end, he opted to do the procedure himself. We left our other kiddos with friends who were in town, and drove up to the Emergency room with our seven-year-old trying to be calm.

On the way I said to JB, "So you are going to put him under, right?"

The answer was, "Not if I can help it."

I begged him to please put him under. I couldn't bear to watch my little guy have this work done to his mouth while he was awake. But John was determined. "Wendi, anesthesia is no joke. You don't do it if you don't have to."

My wonderful husband then proceeded to put my son's mouth back together while he was awake. 

People. Listen. Surgery is NOT a joke. Things can and WILL go wrong. I have lost two people in my life to death after very routine surgeries. If you can avoid it, avoid it. I have had five stomach surgeries that were unavoidable. However, if something is elective, leave it ELECTIVE and elect out. No plastic surgery is worth death. Breasts are not worth your life!!! In this case, they are blaming the doctors, but the fact is, bad things happen through no one's fault. It's about the fact that surgery is dangerous!!! Some of these parents are actually paying for these elective surgeries designed simply to improve a physical part of your body.

I have had many people I love have cosmetic surgery. Please know I am not judging you. You are totally entitled to make this decision. But please know the risks and understand that having you around is way more important!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Recommendation: GoodNight Moon

One of my very favorite books as a mom! I received this as a gift before Isaac was born and have loved reading it to each of my four kiddos. A fantastic stocking stuffer at only $5 with Amazon Prime delivery! Also Because of Isaac will receive up to 5% of your purchase price if you order it from my link below:

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Smells like a Gym

We don't have a "real" Chik-fil-A in Greeneville, Tennessee.

That may seem like a strange way to start a post about gymnasiums and their smells, but stay with me.

As I was saying, we don't have a "real" Chik-fil-A in Greeneville. We've been promised one, but so far, the only one we have is a walk-in restaurant on the campus of Tusculum University -- the oldest college in Tennessee located in, well, Tusculum, which is a tiny town nestled in the middle of Greeneville. 

Okay. Now to the gym part.

This Chik-Fil-A is inside a building that hosts the student gymnasium. So if you go to use the bathroom while eating your chicken, you basically walk into the lobby of the gym. 

I don't spend time in gyms at all anymore. My kids are into ballet and piano, and we do tennis and karate too. All things that aren't ever inside a gymnasium. 

But from 1977-2005, I lived in a gymnasium.

Not really of course, but I would not be exaggerating to say that I had my foot in a gymnasium nearly every single day of the first twenty-seven years of my life. 

First I was the daughter of a coach/athletic director. I was constantly in the gym with my dad. I actually once got locked inside a locker while playing while my dad taught one of his teams. If I wasn't shagging balls, I was keeping the clock or a book or taking tickets at the door. Or maybe eating dinner in a classroom at halftime so we could be together as a family.

Then I started playing basketball and volleyball. I played one of those nearly every single day of my life. Between AAU and travel ball and my school teams, it was non-stop. Back then, kids didn't play travel ball like they do today. It was rare. But I did it. Year round.

After that I went to college and played basketball. I don't even think I need to explain how much time that required of me to be in a gymnasium. In fact, that picture at the top of this post is of Diddle Arena -- the arena I spent my four college years playing in.

And then I coached for seven years. First in Kentucky. Then in Minnesota.

So the gym.

While it's now been over a decade since my life revolved around a gymnasium, every time I walk into that gymnasium lobby when we are at Chik-fil-A, I find myself ... nostalgic.

And I realize ...

There is a smell to a gymnasium. And I don't mean a bad smell necessarily. It's just a smell that is always present. I liken it to a mixture of sweat and rubber balls and tennis shoes and practice jerseys. I can't put it into words, but my nose knows it when I smell it.

There is a color to the lights. Doesn't matter the gym. While the lights may change, the base is still the same. It's a yellowing that I would know anywhere.

There are certain sounds in a gym. Like tennis shoes on the floor. To this day, that sound brings me ... joy. It is memorable to me. I honestly think if they had a noise-maker with tennis shoes hitting the floor, I could fall asleep to it.

There are buzzers. And whistles. And commands being barked. And fans cheering. John said that this is why noise doesn't bother me as a mom. Don't give me disorganization or talking back. But one kid can be playing piano, one yelling, one singing, and one reciting a school assignment, and I won't be phased in the slightest. 

It's because noise is very relative.

And it feels like ... home

It's funny to say that because my life now is so far removed from the gymnasium. Most of my college teammates still occupy a spot in a gymnasium regularly. Many are coaches. Most have children following in their footsteps. 

I don't. 

I am pretty sure that none of my children will ever spend significant time in a gymnasium. And I recognize that their own "familiar" places will be different.

It will be the farm.

Or the ballet studio.

Or piano keys.

Or the karate studio.

And I'm okay with that ... of course.

But for me, I believe that on my death bed, if you wheeled me into a gymnasium, it would be a comfortable place for me to be. 

It would feel familiar. 

Like home. 

It would smell like a gym.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Great family game!!

We love this game! A fantastic Christmas present for the young kiddos in your life! Click on the link below and Because of Isaac receives a percentage of your purchase price!

We Bought a Farm: A Team

It was a cold at the farm today. While Monday we were outside in our t-shirts and celebrating 68 degrees with a picnic in the grass in our bare feet, today was in the 40's. And tonight it will drop to 19. While Minnesota-Wendi would have loved that temperature, Tennessee Wendi would prefer it was warmer.

Jacob picked up a load of sawdust for the garden today so despite the coldness, we needed to get the truck unloaded. All four kids helped. They worked to load up the wheelbarrows and then the grown-ups took the sawdust down into the garden for the dump.

I've learned ... doing work with people always makes it better. It doesn't even matter if you are talking. Working by yourself has its own beauty and serenity. But every activity is better with people. 

By the end, Abigail and Hannah were up on the top of the pile in their stocking feet playing and rolling around. 

And yes, what I am wearing is silly. I want to be comfortable and warm. 

And so I was,