Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Graydon!

Dear Graydon,

I saw your sweet face for the first time two years ago today.  When I close my eyes, I can still see you.  Brand new.  All wrapped up.  Here.  In my arms.  One of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.  Our early days were a little rough.  You cried.  A LOT!  But I couldn't help but love you so much.  You taught me such a great lesson in unconditional love. 

As the months went on, things got easier.  You smiled more.  Laughed more.  Learned more.  Soon you were scooting around and exploring things on your own.  That's when things really started to get fun for you.  Before we knew it, your first birthday was here.  You took your first steps and you've been on the go ever since.

Over this past year, you have really transformed from a baby to a little boy.  You became a big brother!  Your vocabulary is growing everyday.  You are playing (and fighting) with your sister.  You have the best laugh (and loudest scream) that I have ever heard!  When it's time for nap or bed, you won't let us put you down without reading some of your favorite books (The Foot Book, Off to the Park, The Lullabible).  You like to watch Baby Einstein and Praise Baby videos.  Some of your favorite foods are cheese, goldfish crackers, apples, and chocolate milk.  You love to play with cars, balls, blocks, and puzzles and (often at the same time, creating quite the mess).

Some of my favorite times with you are still snuggling just before putting you to bed.  You often fall asleep in my arms while I sing to you.  I don't know how long this will last, but I will savor it while it does.

You are two today!  Hip hip hooray!  You are growing into such a sweet little boy.  I pray that you catch even a glimpse of how loved you are by so many.

Happy Birthday Graydon!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010

Bella was the first to wake up in our house on Christmas morning.  She must have snuck downstairs to peek at the tree because she woke us up with, "Come look at the tree!  There are so many presents!"

We got the boys up and headed downstairs.  Before opening up the presents, we lit our Jesus candle on our Advent wreath and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. 

Then it was time for presents.

And somebody celebrated his first Christmas this year.

These were his gifts. 

We loaded up the van and headed out to Wisconsin the next day.  Time for some family fun!

Friday, December 24, 2010

From our family to yours. . .

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior,
who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Christmas stuff going on here. . .

Bella and I spent the better part of Graydon's Friday afternoon nap baking and decorating Christmas cookies.  This may just be one of Bella's favorite activities EVER.

She took great delight in her "rainbow tree" creation.
 Here's the plate of Kilps Christmas Cookies 2010
Bella wanted to hold Curtis in her lap.
He's getting pretty big, so that doesn't work too well anymore.
She basically has to settle with him sitting next to her now.

(For the record, I tried to get Graydon in this photo.
He just shook his head at me.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sunday morning. . .

. . . was our church Christmas program.

Bella looks pretty Christmasy!
Her line this year:  "We'd like to welcome everyone here.  We hope our program will bring you Christmas cheer."  This group can sure belt out a tune!
In the actual Christmas story (which the kids did later in the service) Bella was a cow.
Later in the evening Curtis and I got some quality snuggle time on the couch. 
A couple of days later, he woke up coughing and sneezing. 
Poor baby has his first cold (and yet he's still smiling)
And this I must share. . . This afternoon I had plans to fold some laundry.  I just opened the dryer door when Curtis started crying.  I left to tend to him and came back to find this. . .
Bella folded all of my laundry!  She even did a pretty good job with the sorting!

She's definitely a keeper.

I didn't seem to get many photos of Graydon this week, so I'll share a video from last month.  He's getting so smart.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

We'll miss you Grandpa Jim

My Grandpa went home to heaven this morning.  We're feeling sad today.  The photo above was from his 80th birthday celebration a few months ago. 

Grandpa's health hasn't been the greatest these past few years.  He had a heart attack almost eight years ago and that just seemed to be the beginning of his heart and other health problems.  Today was the day when his body just got too tired.

One significant memory that I have of my grandpa was on my 14th birthday.  That day also happened to be my Grandma and his 40th wedding anniversary.  We had a party over at their house that day and my fourteen-year-old self was sulking over the fact that my birthday was kind of being overlooked.  When we got to their house, the first thing he said to me was "Happy Birthday Karen!"  It was simple, but it meant a lot to me. 

Grandpa Jim was my mom's dad.  This is one of my favorite photos of the two of them.

And here is one from the summer of 2006 of Great-Grandpa Jim (G-Pa) with baby Bella.
Grandpa used to smoke cigars.  I love the smell of cigars because of him.  It always reminded me of good times at my grandparent's house.  He hasn't smoked one in a long time, but whenever I smell a cigar, I always think of Grandpa Jim.  

***Edited to add Grandpa's Obituary.  I thought this was nicely written and wanted to include it here.

James P. Brockhaus, age 80, of Kenosha died on Thursday, December 9, 2010 at Brookside Care Center.

Born in Kenosha on October 13, 1930, he was the son of the late Elmer and Madeline (Wallig) Brockhaus. Jim was a lifelong resident of Kenosha and attended local schools.

Jim served our country for three years in the US Army with the military police during the Korean War and was honorably discharged in 1953.

Helen Kisielweski became his bride when they married at St Casimir's Catholic Church in Kenosha on August 21, 1954. They were blessed with 56 years together and four wonderful children.

Jim was on the Kenosha Fire Department for five years and then became manager at Kelsey Welding which later was named AGA Gas, retiring after 35 years at the welding supply company.

He was a member at St. Mary's Catholic Church and was active in various Catholic organizations. Jim loved a good cigar and it became his trademark. He enjoyed sports, playing golf, rooting for the Packers and Cubs and working crossword puzzles in his spare time.

Left to comfort one another with loving memories of Jim are his wife, Helen; his children, Debbie (Mike) Benetti of Kenosha, Jake (Sharrie) Brockhaus of Norwalk, WI; Cindy (David) Bundy of Bristol, WI and Maria Brockhaus of Winston-Salem, NC; his 10 grandchildren, Jeff (Stephanie) Benetti, Mary Benetti, Karen (Andy) Kilps, Scott Benetti, Kristen Benetti, Jodi (Aaron) Kreuser, Lori Benetti, Bridget Brockhaus, Matt Brockhaus and Melania Bundy along with 6 great grandchildren. He is further survived by his brother-in-law, Bob Kisielewski of AZ, his brother, Jerry (Diane) Brockhaus of FL and his faithful canine companions, Emma and Louis.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother Frederick in infancy.

Memorial remembrances to Fellow Mortal-Wildlife Rehabilitation, W4632 Palmer Road, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin 53147, or St. Mary's Catholic Church would be appreciated by the family.

Monday, December 06, 2010


We've never been to Connecticut before.  This made choosing a location for our mini family vacation pretty easy.

We left on Tuesday morning, Bella's birthday.  It just worked out that our trip could fall on that day.  One our way, we stopped in Hoboken. NJ.  This was planned.  We wanted to surprise Bella with a cupcake from Carlo's Bakery on her birthday.  If you are awake of Cake Boss, on TLC, then this bakery will be familiar to you.  This is the one show that Bella and I can actually watch together.  She loves to see what creations they come up with. 

We got a great parking spot on the road right in front of the bakery.  Bella jumped out of the van as fast as she could and then just stood in front of the bakery.  She seemed in awe.  Then she said with such enthusiasm, "It's just like on TV!"     
We waited in line for about a half hour.  This apparently wasn't even a crowded day.  Usually the line is out the door.  Bella chose a rose cupcake. 
While waiting in line, we saw Mauro (the bigger, bald guy) and the younger delivery guy.  All in all, a pretty cool experience. 

Except for the $30 parking tip we ended up getting.  Apparently that 2-hour parking wasn't free.

After leaving Hoboken, we officially headed to Connecticut.  The trip was about 2 hrs. total.  It was after lunchtime by the time we got there, so we headed to a diner on the main street in Stamford.  It was a tiny little place located on a river.  The huge windows overlooked the beautiful scenery.  I didn't get any photos of it because I was consumed by this view right here:
Can you blame me?

Next stop:  our hotel!  Next activity:  Swimming!  This is always a highlight of our mini trips. 

This was Curtis's first time in a pool. His reaction was very neutral - the same way that Bella and Graydon were.

After we all dried off, it was time for Bella's birthday dinner.  We went to Friendly's.

Bella was serenaded by the wait staff.  So were two other boys. 
And here is the birthday girl standing our our hotel lobby at 6:52 pm. 
Exactly five years after she was born.
We brought some of her birthday gifts to open.  She sure loved being the birthday girl!
The following day was spent swimming again and then on to the Discovery Museum. 

We even got to see a show in the planetarium.

Summary:  I loved this little getaway.  I have so many happy memories.  Snuggling up in our king bed and watching the new TinkerBell movie.  A super huge Kit-Kat bar.  Free doughnuts from the diner.  Bella officially turning five.  Kids taking a bath in their swimsuits.

Family time is so precious to me.

This next photo isn't from our trip, but I like it.     

Now it's back to the real world.  We got a big dose of reality last night.  Graydon woke up around 10pm crying intensely and struggling to catch his breath.  It was a no-brainer.  Off to the ER we went.  As we loaded Graydon into the car, I felt very grateful that we have health insurance and access to good health care.  We didn't have to think twice about taking him to the ER out of fear that we couldn't afford it.  We are very fortunate as this is not the case for everyone.  

The ER was not busy and we were seen right away.  The nurse and doctor easily identified Graydon's problem:  Croup.  His airways were inflammed which made breathing difficult which freaked him out which made him cry which made it even harder to breathe.  They treated him with a steroid and kept us there for three hours for observation.  By 2:30 am, we were given a prescription for Prednisone and free to leave.  He is on the mend, but we're definitely taking it easy.     

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Bella!

I'm feeling pretty sentimental about Bella turning five.  It seems like such a big age.  My mind keeps jumping back to five years ago at this time as we prepared to welcome our first baby into the world.  There was so much excitement and anxiety and love and fear and awe at the wonder of this new life.  And here she is, turning five. 

I feel like this past year has been a preparation in letting go.  It seems so silly to think this way as she is still so young.  But really, from the moment babies are born, their lives seem to be a series of letting go.  The first one is just cutting the cord.  But it moves on from there to crawling and then walking.  Going to preschool.  Going to the the movies with another family - without us!  All of these are little things, and yet big at the same time.  Bella will be starting kindergarten next fall.  That's a huge step in my mind.  I feel like time is really gonna start to fly once it is measured in school years.

So I'm a little emotional today.  Sometimes I wish I could make time stand still.  But the fact that it doesn't is probably what makes this time in life so special.  Bella is healthy and happy and growing up into such a sweet girl.  Everything is as it should be and I am so thankful for it.

Bella is so excited about turning five and I am excited for her!  We have a fun birthday planned complete with a little family getaway to Connecticut.  It's time to celebrate!

Monday, November 29, 2010

As of yesterday. . .

. . . this little guy is FIVE months old!
We had him in for a check-up a couple of weeks ago and at that point he was:
height:  27 inches (95th percentile)
weight:  15 pounds, 5 ounces (50th percentile)
head circumference: 17.25 inches (75th percentile)

He's all over the board as far as proportions go.  His weight percentile dropped in these past couple of months.  It's probably due to the fact that he spits up A LOT!  All of my kids were spitters, but I think he may take the lead.  I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that he spits up about half of what he takes in.  Good thing I'm nursing. . . or we'd be wasting a lot of formula (and money).  All of this spitting up has earned Curtis the nickname "Ralphie".  (As in, Curtis 'ralphs' a lot).  We  can thank Andy for that one.  Our pediatrician says that, as long as he is gaining weight and seems happy, we don't have much to worry about.  Curtis will also be starting cereal soon, so that should help.

On a happy note, Curtis is sleeping through the night!  I'd say he's become more consistent with it in the past few weeks.  He sometimes takes a little while to actually fall asleep, but once he's down (usually around 8ish) he'll be asleep until somewhere between 5:30/6:30am.  After I feed him, he'll continue to sleep until 8ish.   

He rolls over both ways, though seems to roll to his tummy more often (and then gets stuck because he forgets that he can roll back).  He continues to be a happy, smiley little guy and so laidback.  He loves sitting in the exersaucer and sometimes in the Bumbo. 

Now if I could just figure out how to get time to move a little more slowly, we'd be set.

After I took Curtis's teddy bear picture, I thought we'd try to get a good picture of the brothers.  I don't really have one.    
And I still don't. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmastime is here!

Our halls are decked!

Here's my stud stringing the lights.  (So glad that he does this each year!)

We were strategic this time around.  The tree and lights went up when the kids were in bed.  We just saved all of the ornaments for the kids to hang the next morning.  

Christmas music filled the room and Bella and Graydon played together so nicely while waiting to tear into those ornaments.  Such a nice morning!

Bella picked the first ornament to hang.  She said very excitedly, "I'm going to hang this one of Curtis!"

Um Bella. . . that's you. 

Graydon's favorite ornaments were any with bells.  But ever the mischief-maker, we caught him behind the couch shattering a glass bulb into tiny pieces.  Thankfully he didn't hurt himself.   

He continues to prove over and over that our eyes must be on him at all times. 

Curtis's job was to sit there looking cute. 

No problem there.

This tree is looking pretty festive now.

And it already has a gift underneath!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Photo from Bella's Thanksgiving Feast at preschool)

Curtis waits patiently in the pack n' play while the meal is prepared. 

Graydon decides what to eat.  He rejected the meat and potatoes, but had multiple helpings of fruit.

The bird that gave its life for us so that we could have a Thanksgiving feast. 

We had a quiet Thanksgiving at home, just the five of us.  We enjoyed our meal of chicken (because a turkey is just too much meat for our little family), stuffing, potatoes, carrot casserole, rolls, and fruit salad.  The fruit salad was Bella's idea.  She found the recipe on  She helped me pick out the ingredients and make the salad.  But when it came down to actually eating, she opted out.  Graydon more than ate her share though.  He loved it.  I did too!

Our festivities also included a game of Charades and Operation and a movie at the end of the night.  A perfect family day at home.

And tonight:  The Christmas decorating begins!!!   

I love this time of the year!