Saturday, December 31, 2011

Z Branch.

We got to spend a little time with my mom's sister's family when we were in Wisconsin Dells. Here's some pics from our time with the Zander side of the family tree.

We went bowling, in honor of Grandpa Ray.

My Dad looks like quite the bowling shark here. I broke 100 so I felt pretty darn awesome.

Carson is quite the character. He kept saying "Come here baby!" and giving big hugs. 

Buffalo Phil's... Greg feels like Phil is the reason he got sick. Will not recommend. 

Just a few presents ended up looking like this!

Ava is satisfied with box. 

The cousin cousins. Again, Carson is all about the hugging. 

And Eli had enough. 

The "girl" cousins! 

Good times with the fam-damily!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You Guys.

We are in "you guys" territory. How are you guys doing? You guys have a nice stay? What do you guys want to do?

It doesn't flow as nicely as ya'll, does it?

But it's homey to me nonetheless. Today I heard the best Norwegian accents coming from the two older ladies in the booth next to us. "Well, we better go." (and you know that "o" lasted a good bit). I just miss overhearing this familiarity when out and about.

And yes, all you mid-westerners just read out and about exactly like I meant it there.

Ya, u betcha.

Anywho, we had a great flight to MN. I heart direct flights. We had a great Christmas. I love our family. We had a fun time at the water park capital of the world. Well, Greg didn't so much love the end of the trip. He's sickish now. Darn this Lippert flu.


Okay, you wanted photos, eh? Here you go. 

The three cousins:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry First Christmas.

Merry Christmas from Greg, Heather and Eli.

Here area few of the shots that made our Christmas card this year...

And if you want to see a few more, go to our friend Michelle's site here. These were taken when Eli was exactly seven months old. You'll notice the "M" ornament, that's for Maelee since she isn't here to take photos with us.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Enjoy These Photos.

I wanted to post a few great photos from our time with Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Amy and Uncle Andrew. We did have great fun in our few days together!

 Carbles (you've never heard of it, it's a MN thing). Ladies vs Men. Played 6 times, we lost every game. Ugh.


Three Generations!

 Finally got to wear the sweater made by Gwen. 

 Bears photo!

A Christmas Tree footprint craft! So fun!

We are on our way to Charlotte to fly up to MN! I'm so excited about our direct flight! Hopefully we won't have any issues. 

I wore sandals and a t-shirt out to CVS this morning. I know there's not much snow in MN but I'm hoping for a little cool weather at least!

Happy Travels!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chloe and Mercy!

Eli's friends are here!

Jonathan and Rachel, our dear friends, have been on this adoption road for awhile now. After three failed adoptions this past year, it's been a heart wrenching process. We've grieved and hoped and prayed with them.

And we are so excited to share that the Lord has graciously given them two adorable daughters. Chloe Justice and Mercy Dawn were born on Monday, December 19th and J & R brought them home yesterday! Chloe was 6 pounds, 13.7 ounces and 19 inches. Mercy was 6 pounds, 8 ounces and 18.5 inches. Two really healthy girls! What a great Christmas gift!

When asked what we should tell folks about them, they said "the cutest twins ever born and they have sweet curly hair!" We went to meet them last night...


Eli wore his Twins shirt to meet his new friends!

Unca Jonathan is one of Eli's favs. 

And my heart is so joyful when I look at these two photos... they are precious! 

We didn't get to hold them (yet) because these girls really need to bond with their mommy and daddy for these first few hours. But soon we will be loving on these two!

I'm coordinating meals for them so let me know if you'd like to help. And if you happen to have a lot of diapers or formula or twin things laying around you want to give to them, Chloe and Mercy could put it to good use! We'll have a shower for them on Sunday, January 8th as well.

Congratulations friends!


Micah 6:8 "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness [mercy], and to walk humbly with your God..."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I got a new camera for Christmas. From Greg. Excessive. Awesome.

You thought there was a lot of photos of Eli before. But just you wait.


This morning I sent our family off in two rental vehicles, one to Florida and one to North Carolina. Sigh. It's always such a bummer to say good-bye, don't you think? But I am thankful that is the case. Being bummed they are leaving means we actually like our family. You can't beat good family time.

How about some photos of our Kasowski Pre-Christmas? These are before aforementioned new camera.

I love that they are WAY more excited than Eli!


He looks excited about the gift, but he just wanted to eat the paper.

Greg got a sweet jersey just like Amy has. It's their dad's number from his days with the Bears. 

You will see many photos of Eli in this sweet Bears-colors, Back-to-the-Future like vest. It's so awesome. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa K for all the awesome gifts!

And of course I was thrilled to give Eli his new elephant toy. He, however, was not. He just wanted to go to bed.

So grateful for this time with these four family members and for getting to celebrate Christmas with them, too. What fun was had! More photos to follow...

And now to the mountains of laundry...


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


We have had much fun! Today is the last day with Grandma and Grandpa K and Auntie Amy and Uncle Andrew. Eli has been spoiled. Many great photos to follow...


Friday, December 16, 2011

One Suprise-Filled Graduation Day.

The secret is out!

Greg's sister, Amy, and her husband Andrew decided to come surprise Greg for graduation! Isn't that awesome? And what's crazy is I didn't spill the beans even though I knew for a few weeks! Whew!

Greg's parents got here yesterday (finally) after an unplanned stay in Chicago. Amy and Andrew got here RIGHT before graduation today, after an unplanned stay in Charlotte last night. They were supposed to fly into Columbia but couldn't get here before graduation so we had them fly into Charlotte and our great friend Jonathan went and picked them up this morning. As Greg lined up to the stage, he looked over and saw his sister peeking out of the crowd! He had no idea!

It was a special day and in a few minutes our friends will show up to celebrate Greg by eating some cookies. Nom. Nom.

Amy and Andrew didn't have their suitcases in case you were wondering about the jeans. It makes it THAT much more awesome that they made it right when graduation started!

Sidenote: the smarter you get (degree-wise) the funnier you look. Greg has a hood now.

Oh and we gave Eli and honorary degree of "cutest baby ever", hence he got a hat.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Smart Cookie.

This is Greg's graduation party invitation. We are having a cookie party with many different kinds of cookies and milk. It's going to be yummy. And fun. Greg doesn't like a bunch of hoopla about him but this degree has been more work and time than his high school or undergraduate degrees so I feel like this needs to be celebrated. He IS a smart cookie. Very, very schmart. And who doesn't like cookies?

If you are around Columbia and want to stop by, please do!

And if you are thinking this degree from CIU has been a cake walk for Greg. It hasn't. It's a big deal. Greg has been working on these 90 credits for five years (graduate programs are often 60 credits or less). From an accredited university. The same accreditation agency that accredits the University of South Carolina. Plus another one that accredits only biblical higher education institutions so you know they aren't wacked theologically. As a higher education field wannabe (oh how I miss working with students!), I want you to know the importance of accreditation. It's a big deal, k? Off my soapbox.

Greg has taken a ton of great courses on a wide range of subject matter. Some of the most beneficial, from what I can tell, have been Greek and Hebrew. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek. So he is working on being able to read the Bible in the original text. Or at least knowing the basics.

Sidenote: There's a professor at CIU that is so stinkin' smart that when he reads the NT to his class, he reads it from the original text, translates it in his head and speaks it in English out loud. You wouldn't even know he was doing it unless you happened to look at his Bible and be able to say "it's all Greek to me." I actually had a class from this prof and would sometimes catch my jaw dropped at his intelligence. And the sweetest thing about him? He's so humble you'd never know he is one of the best greek scholars in the world. There are some really amazing faculty at CIU.

Anywho, I'm proud of Greg.

I need to bake some cookies. Today was supposed to be "peaceful cookie making while Greg's parents watched Eli". Greg's parents were supposed to fly in last night. But thanks to blasted Chicago, their first flight was delayed two hours, missed their connection so they stayed at a hotel last night there and were re-routed to DC this morning and into Columbia this afternoon.

This has happened too many times. Eli and I were stuck this summer, Greg was delayed a day once, Amy missed Maelee's funeral... grrrrrr. It's a neccesary evil: the only common denominator/airport for Columbia and ND is Chicago. If we want only two flights we have to go through Chicago with United. I suppose this is what we get for having two small airports as our destinations. Sigh. At least they will (hopefully) get here today and not miss the graduation.

Eli woke up three times last night. He peed through a diaper and I think he was just upset that the promised Gma and Gpa K were not here. I'm sure that's what it was... and not at all the two mountains trying to escape from his gums. I'm hoping for a nice morning nap so I can work on these cookies. It's not a cookie party without Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies (oh how I wish the China crew could be here to eat them with us!).

Fun family photos to come!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Stop. Be Thankful.

I have a bagazillion things to be doing right now but I am struck with the importance of being thankful for the big and the small in my life. Aaaand Eli is napping and all the things on my list are loud. So let's just be thankful for a few minutes.

  1. My schmart and amazing hubby. Gosh I love him. Mushy, mushy goodness.
  2. Eli, Eli, Eli, Eli, Eli, Eli, Eli, Eli, Eli... yep, I think we have established we are grateful for our redemption baby.
  3. Long, hot showers. Oh how grateful I am for this indulgence living in America. Clean water out of every spout... it's truly one of the best gifts. 
  4. Welch's sparkling red grape juice. I have always loved this stuff. It's so sparkly good. If real wine were as good to my juvenile taste buds, we'd be in trouble. 
  5. Friends, family, people to share life with. Yes, it's just so much better with others. 
  6. Getting the Christmas cards and letters (mostly) done and out. Big feeling of accomplishment. Pat on back.
  7. Christmastime food. Certain foods just say "Christmas" to me. Aunt Bonnie's Christmas punch, chex mix, cookies. When I eat these, I can officially break out the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas album and really start the season. 
  8. Our niece, Ava, had a little ear surgery this morning and everything went well. We hope this will help her perpetual ear infections to be a thing of the past. I heard her say "no" and "uh oh" over the phone today. So cute. So grateful for her.
  9. Receiving Christmas cards in the mail. It just makes getting the mail each day that much better. Agreed?
  10. Getting to wrap presents in wrapping paper that matches my tree (I am my mother's daughter) AND having people coming here to open them!
  11. The fact my almost-graduated husband is such a studious person and not a last-minute procrastinator when it comes to studies (like, um, his wife).  He did everything on time or ahead of time. Meaning this week is way less stressful than it could be if he wasn't so awesome. 
  12. Having four muslin blankets for Eli. He loves, loves to chew on one during nap time. I love that I have four and don't have to do laundry every day. 
  13. Hulu. We can watch TV online without having to buy cable. Such a great down-time activity for us. Loving the British show "Spy"... the British just seem so edgy and cool. 
  14. I got a Fiskar paper cutter thingy from J & R. I can now cut paper like nobody's business. 
  15. All the FedEx, UPS and US postal workers. They are so, so busy right now. I have (mostly) stopped ordering stuff online so their trips to our house should lessen. I'm so grateful for their hard work.
Speaking of... you should do this. Buy candy or snacks or any type of treat and put it in a bag... or just tie a ribbon and thank you message on a candy bar... leave them by your door. When someone comes to deliver a package, give it to them and say "I know it's a busy season. Thanks!". I always give JT a Christmas present of snacks but this year I decided our UPS guy should get a bag of snacks, since we know him pretty well now, too. Then I decided I should just have extras out since we have had FedEx and other UPS dudes coming. I even got some 100 Grands so they know they are worth at least that much;) Simple. Easy. Nice.

Perfect timing. I hear a boy crying from his crib. 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pearly Whites.

I think it's time for some Eli information out there on the good 'ol world wide web.

At our shot appointment last week, Eli weighed about 20.5 pounds and was over 28 inches long. That puts him in the 70ish percentile for weight and 90ish for height, I think. I have the chart thing but it's small so I may be off ten percent or more. But you get the idea. Eli is a bit large for his age.

Developmentally, he may be behind. He doesn't roll over completely even though he did awhile back a few times. He goes to one side but not the full-on. He moves around a good bit, but no actual crawling is involved. He sits fairly well on his own but he definitely has had some good face plants into the carpet. He likes to stand. He enjoys his exersaucer which we call "the beast." We ought to get him one of those apparatuses that he can lean on and play with. I think he would rock those.

Eli still plays on his trusty play mat but now he actually grabs at the toys. He really is quite content for a good while laying on his back and playing. Pretty much everything goes into his mouth. This has made it a little harder to organize the mail or read the newspaper... he really loves paper. I think we may get him to crawl by putting paper just out of arm's reach.

He loves to voice his opinions and emotions with loud yelps. He loves to giggle and laugh and gratefully, does so often. He will deep belly laugh when either one of us dances around like a crazy person. He is very interactive and sometimes we swear he says "Hi" back. We, of course, think he's a genius. 

But the biggest Eli news of late is TEETH! Last Tuesday I felt a little sharpness protruding out of his lower front gums. His front right tooth has been coming in and now it's peaking out. His front left tooth decided the right couldn't have all the fun so it's decided to come in, too. It's caused a few shrieking cries while feeding and perhaps a few other crabby moments as of late... but well, everyone gets teeth, it's just a part of the game.

Our dear friends Jonathan and Rachel are so good to Eli and they came over to give him his Christmas present tonight (an elephant toy to chew and play on = perfect). Eli loves these guys (we do too). They have been in the adoption process for over a year now and we keep waiting and praying and hoping with them for when they finally get their arms full. You can pray that, too.

It's going to be a BUSY and eventful week! Greg's parents arrive on Wednesday, graduation is Friday. I have much house to clean, presents to wrap, cookies to bake, and family to celebrate! Weeks like this make other boring weeks seem so... so lame. I love the busy and I am so thankful for all the reasons why life is crazy right now.


Still Here.

This was taken by one of the nursery helpers at church this morning. It shows you all something important: the mohawk is still here.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Martha I Am Not.

If you know me at all, you know I love photos. And paper. And Christmas. And the post office. And writing.

So it makes sense that I really love the whole Christmas card and letter thing. I really do. We didn't do one last year. This year I wanted to do one that was so awesome when you opened it, you would see fireworks and hear angels sing.

At least that's how it sort of manifested itself in my head. I wanted to do right by Eli and make everything just so. Our friend started a photography biz and we hired her to take our pic the week after Thanksgiving. And I got a groupon last month to design and print our card (from a company I've never used).

Thankfully, everything went fairly smoothly. Eli was on the verge of a nap before our photo shoot but we got some good smiles (thanks Michelle). She got us the photos quickly and designing the card was fairly painless.

On to the letter. I had a great idea a few months back to "sew" stitches on our letter, for a cool, crafty addition to white paper. I could use regular 'ol paper, which I often get for free because of a sale at office supply stores (which I really like, they remind me of my old jobs and office-y life).

I wrote most of the letter a few days ago and finished it last night. I had Greg get the sewing machine down from the attic, which is no easy task. That thing weighs a ton. And it's up in the attic for a reason: I don't know how to sew. I have sewn in the past, but always with my mother right there (and most often taking over for me because I whined too much).

I don't even know how to thread the darn thing. I had written instructions on a yellow piece of paper that my mom dictated to me  a few years ago. Obviously I stared at that for a good fifteen minutes in wonder. I found some dated YouTube videos and learned enough to wind my bobbin. I accomplished that and felt like a rock star. I called my mom to brag.

I then tried threading the machine. I think I got it. It seemed to work, do what it was supposed to do. I was all full of anticipation and much pride at this point. I wanted to do a cool zig-zag sort of stitch. There are lots, way too many, levers on this old Singer machine. Some of them look like zig-zags so I was pulling levers and turning dials all over the place. My mom (on the phone) said I need to make sure my needle wouldn't break off if my whatchamacalit wasn't the right size. So I texted her a photo to get the okay on that (thanks, technology).

And I was off!

Problem was: it looked terrible. I tried many different types of stitches but none really looked that great. I think if I used card stock it would have been okay. But it looked dumb. And by the end, I think Mr. Singer wasn't too happy. The back of my paper was a red threaded mess! And even the few I thought could work, well, it would take waaay too long to stitch 120 pieces of paper. I don't have that time. Eli's naps are not that long.

I wanted to print the letter so I can try get them in the mail today or tomorrow. I didn't have any cool Christmas paper on hand, my stamp pads were dry, and we don't have a color printer. I had to improvise and quickly create a graphic matching our card. It looks grayishly alright but nothing, oh nothing, like the beautiful dream I had for my letter, all stitched and crafty and genius.

I say all that to say: often Christmas cards and letters just show the pretty outside of our lives. They most likely don't show what's really going on in our daily lives, in our hearts. That's the messy, the sinful, the stuff we are so desperately in need of God's grace for. A lesson for me, for us. Don't spend all your time trying to make your outsides flawless and perfect. You won't succeed. We are imperfect people, completely dependent on some amazing grace.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and plate, that the outside also may be clean." Matthew 23:25-26


Oh, and if you want a card and I don't have your address, get that to me please! I promise no fireworks.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Extra Special Salt Dough Ornaments.

Twenty months without Maelee today. Twenty. In honor of her...

On Sunday I invited fellow "baby loss" moms to come to our house and make ornaments honoring our babies in heaven. Christmas is a rough time for us mommas that don't have our child(ren) here for holidays and milestones. Last year was hard. And sad. And empty.

Ornaments have a special place in my heart because growing up, we got an ornament every year. It was tradition. And last year I broke down so upset that I couldn't buy Maelee's "Baby's First Christmas" ornament. And yes, Eli has had his for over a month already, I was so ready to get to buy one this year. It's hung right next to two other very precious ornaments.

I had a plethora of options and ideas for the baby loss ornament making this year (thanks Pinterest). But I decided to try my hand at making salt dough ornaments because I wanted to have the babies' names be stamped/engraved into the ornament. Here's my tutorial. You can make these whatever shape and write whatever you want on them... but they did work well for what I had intended: to honor our sweet children in heaven.

Apologies for the lame photos and the sweatshirt from 1994. Just ignore that.


1/2 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup water

Mix the salt and flour together really well and slowly add the water...

The dough should start to ball together:

Make your dough into a nice ball. Also, do not lick your hands. Do not rub your eyes. Bad things will happen. 

Roll it out (like pie crust). I used a wax paper sheet to prevent it from sticking to my rolling pin. But the next batch I didn't do this and was fine... depends on how you roll (literally). You want to make sure you get an even amount of dough or some (or part) of your ornaments will be too thick/too thin. Uneven dough will bake uneven and not work out well. Shoot for 1/4 inch thick.

Then cut out your shapes using a cookie cutter (I used a dove):

I used a straw to poke a hole for hanging. It worked really well and gave a good size for the string to go through. Just don't forget to poke that hole or you'll have a trinket and not an ornament.
I then used regular stamps (not pictured) and stamped our babies' names on the doves. This can be a bit tricky... do a test on some leftover dough to get the hang of it! I also tried using the end of a small paintbrush and "dotted" the names... it worked okay so if you don't have alphabet stamps, you could try that route.

Then bake them in the oven at 250 degrees for around two hours (if you have thicker ornaments, this will take much longer). Or you can leave them out overnight. They should be cookie hard. 

But not too cookie-hard! You don't want to "burn" them like cookies. So check often. This can also happen if you have uneven dough, like one of my batches. You don't want any discoloration like this. This is bad:

After they cool, paint the ornaments however you'd like. I used white pearl and silver regular craft acrylic paints. The key, I learned, is to NOT paint inside the letters you stamped. Don't do it. It's better. Promise. Then spray the thing with this "finishing spray". Verdict is still out on whether or not this is needed. It made my ornament softer. Not sure if it's vital... but I didn't want the ornament to "rot" so I thought it was pretty important to do it based on what other people have done. This stuff smells. Do this outside.

Best part: If you don't paint the letters front or back, the light from your Christmas lights will shine through. And then your heart will be a little less heavy because you smile when you see it on your tree:

Love it.

I'll post the other ornament ideas I did later!