New Year's Eve. As I reflect on this past year, I realize how blessed we are. The girls are healthy and growing and learning like they should. We are adding a boy to this girly house sometime in March. I know Scott is ecstatic about that! Abby started first grade and has really blossomed, especially in reading. Mckenzie is in her last year of Pre-K where she is surrounded by loving teachers and great friends. I ran my first big race (10 miles) and even though my time wasn't great, I did it! There were so many times during the training that I thought I wouldn't be able to do it and during the run, I wanted to give up so many times, but I didn't. I didn't give up because I am stubborn and Scott was beside me to push me along when that wasn't enough. He's good like that. Always there for me and the girls. A steady force that keeps our family strong. I couldn't have asked for a better partner in life and father for our children. Scott ran his first half marathon and he rocked it! I am so proud of how dedicated he was to training for it and for finishing!

Is our life perfect? Heck no. But it is our life and the good outweighs the bad on just about any given day.  It has been a wonderful year for us and I look forward to the exciting events of 2013.

To celebrate the New Year, we let the girls stay up a little later than normal (no way could Mckenzie make it to midnight) to watch a movie. Scott and I stayed up to watch the ball drop and then called it a night.

012 Abby Mckenzie New Years Eve

014 Mckenzie Abby movie night new years eve



Church and football made for a pretty typical Sunday around here. Scott and I were joking around about naming Baby Boy Riley Adrian Peterson after the Vikings player. He is one of Scott's favorite players and he is really good. We could have a little AP running around our house :) I think we will put that one on the back burner and pull it out just in case we can't agree on anything else.

 007 30 weeks Baby boy



It was cold and wet out today so we spent the day indoors playing games and Legos. Abby is really getting into the Legos and is starting to expand what she builds. She was a little concerned about how to use her Legos when she first opened them because there were no instructions telling her what to build. But slowly, she is getting over that and she even built a giraffe today!

008 legos



Our friends headed out this morning and Scott had to go in to work. The girls came to my OB appointment with me. Everything is looking good. The girls went for a bike ride this afternoon and I walked the dog. I really need to walk her more often. She is a bit chubby. Abby did great riding her bike. She is now able to do it all by herself. I am so proud of her! It is fun to watch her get going. If she is anywhere near a street drain, she won't try starting until she has gone past it. She just walks the bike on her tiptoes until she is a safe distance away. Scott got home a little earlier than normal so after playing Legos for a bit, we headed out to dinner.

The ice that got Abby wet as she made her way down the slide at the park.


Excited to play outside!



We had our 3D/4D ultrasound this afternoon. It was so cool to get to see our sweet baby boy. He wasn't very cooperative and wanted to keep his privates just that, but we finally got to see that he is for sure a boy :) He was pretty sleepy and didn't move around a whole bunch, but we were able to see his sweet little face. Scott and I both think he is going to look like Abby. He definitely has Scott's nose too.

BABY BOY!!!_25

Our friends, the Schmidts, are in the area visiting their family and stopped on over for a visit. It was great to hang out with them and the kids were excited to have friends sleep over. It doesn't matter how much time passes between visits with them, it still feels like we hung out the night before.



We wanted to go to NYC today to see the tree in Rockefeller Center, but the weather had other plans for us. Instead, we took the girls to lunch and we all bowled a couple of games. Abby got very upset that she wasn't bowling well. She really wanted to get a spare so Scott gave her some lessons and wouldn't ya know it, the girl got a spare! She was so excited and proud of herself. Mckenzie couldn't have care less how she bowled. She just grabbed her ball and threw it down the lane. Very hard and very slow. There were many times I wondered if the ball was every going to make it all the way down.

A good day for bowling.A good day for bowling.



Merry Christmas!!! Abby woke up bright and early to see what Santa left her and she patiently waited until her sister woke up to find out. She is such a good girl. I can't imagine how hard it was for her to wait. Santa was awesome and brought both girls Stompeez like they have been asking for ever since they saw the commercial for them. Unfortunately, they weren't as big a hit as they were expected to be. Mckenzie put hers on and tried to get them to "pop to life" as the commercial shows and they barely raised their eyes. She took them off and moved to something else, not giving them a second thought. Same for Abby. She put them on, saw they didn't act like the ones in the commercial and took them off. I'm pretty sure Santa would be let down if he saw how unenthusiastic the girls were. The rest of the day was spent hanging out together. We watched movies and played games. Jenga was a bit hit with the girls. I am so thankful that Scott was home for Christmas. In all the years he has been in the military, he has never missed a Christmas. I don't know how we got to be so blessed, but I am abundantly thankful for it. I am also thankful that next Christmas we *should* be able to spend it with our families. It has been several years since we have done that and I look forward to doing just that. 070079



Merry Christmas Eve! We spent the day together as a family, playing games and hanging out with one another. I asked the girls if I could get some Christmas pictures this afternoon and they both agreed, as long as I curled their hair first :) They love getting their hair done. We ate our Christmas dinner and took some family pictures before heading to church. The kids did well at church (I was a little nervous as it was an evening service and Mckenzie still goes to bed around 7:30). I'm pretty sure it helped that one of the ladies was passing out candy canes, blue ones at that (that God we had already taken our photos and neither of the kids spilled on their dresses), to all the children. When we got home, we opened our gifts. Abby was super animated this year and screamed with delight over just about every gift. I think her favorites all had to do with her American girl doll. She was so excited to get glasses for Criscilla as well as a wheelchair and a horse and some clothes Grandma Hietala made. Junie B. Jones books were a hit too. Mckenzie was pretty calm while she opened her gifts. I think she was looking at every present to see what it really was. She has been really interested in Princess and the Popstar so she was very excited to get that movie as well as a Popstar guitar and Barbie doll. Her absolute favorite though, was the horse and trailer that Grandma and Grandpa Hietala sent. That was the one gift she asked to open and she really enjoyed playing with it.

227 Mckenzie Abby Christmas 2012220 Mckenzie Abby Christmas 2012 angry faces212 Mckenzie Abby Christmas 2012205 mckenzie Christmas 2012180 Abby203 mckenzie177 Abby

031 waiting to open presents035037038048009 Family Christmas photo 2012



171 29 weeks

29 weeks pregnant today. There is so much to do to get ready for our sweet little boy! We need to pick out a name and find a place for him to sleep and some clothes to wear. If you ask the girls what we are naming him, they have each chosen a name. Abby wants to name him Conner and Mckenzie likes Hunter. I think Scott and I have agreed to a name, but nothing is final yet. Baby boy is growing and moving around a lot. I'm still getting heartburn like crazy and eat Tums all the time.

Fantasy Football came to an end today. Scott was in the finals in both leagues he played in. He ended up winning one (insert the song "We are the Champions" here at Scott's request) and taking second place in the other. He was pretty excited to win!

This evening we put on our jammies, brewed some hot chocolate, grabbed some cookies and headed out on the town to look at Christmas lights. There were some really neat lights this year. One entire street decorates their entire street with white lights. It was so beautiful to see all the trees and houses lit up. The best lights we saw were set to a local radio station. The girls were mesmerized, watching the lights dance to the music.



We took the girls to lunch (Pei Wei, a family favorite) and then to the Funplex. Every time we drive past it, the girls beg us to take them there. We finally did it today and they had a blast! Mckenzie had a hard time driving the bumper cars and wouldn't drive them again, but other than that, they had fun. They played laser tag with Scott and rode in race cars. It was a very enjoyable afternoon for them. When we got home, we popped some popcorn and watched a Christmas movie, Santa Paws. Cute show and the girls enjoyed it.

151 mckenzie



We took the girls to Philadelphia this afternoon to visit the Macy's department store. The store is humongous and they have a Christmas lights display set to music as well as a Dickens's Village that you walk through ending with a visit with Santa. One of the roads we normally take into Philly was closed and our lovely GPS took us on a scenic tour through Camden, NJ (if you are unaware of Camden, count yourself lucky. It has one of the highest crime rates in the country). Needless to say, both Scott and I were nervous wrecks as we made our way through the run down streets. Abby kept asking why the houses and buildings were all falling down. I don't think she was too excited to be riding through the area either. I'm just glad we did it during daylight hours. We didn't tell the girls why we were going to Philly and Abby was very disappointed when we told her we were going into Macy's. Luckily, that was short lived when she realized that she was going to visit Santa and see some Christmas lights and that there would be no shopping. I think she dislikes shopping as much as her father :) Both girls told Santa they wanted Stompeez for Christmas. If you don't know what they are, Stompeez are slippers with animal heads that pop up whenever your foot lands on the ground. Let's hope Santa doesn't disappoint the girls! The girls both enjoyed sitting with Santa. I think that is a first as last year, Mckenzie was still pretty hesitant about him. The light show was set to music and it was fun to listen to Abby sing along. We walked through the Reading Terminal Market and grabbed some dinner and chocolate. It was such a nice, relaxing way to spend the afternoon with the girls.

Enjoying a Philly tradition at Macy's.



Abby had her holiday party at school today. It was a lot of fun, but I was a little sad when it was over as it is the last party I get to participate in for her in NJ. All the kids dressed up in PJ's and we did a couple of crafts and games and ate some goodies. And, of course, the kids played freeze dance. It wouldn't be a school party if we didn't. One of the first questions I heard when I walked into the classroom was "are we going to play freeze dance?"
Bedtime story.



006 Christmas cookies A sample of the cookies we made for Christmas. 008 Dakota Dakota was drooling over the cookies as I was taking a photo of them.



It was winter visitation at Abby's ballet class. She is always so eager to demonstrate her skills for her teacher or to answer questions.

124 Abby ballet

113 Abby

I just love how her little tongue sticks out as she dances :)



Today was Mckenzie's holiday party at preschool. Santa stopped by for a visit and Mckenzie willingly sat on his lap :)


065 Mckenzie Ava Mckenzie and her friend.



Today was a wonderful day around here. After the girls got up, they dressed themselves, made their beds, had breakfast and then they brought me breakfast in bed. Abby brought up the waffle (which is seriously freezer burnt) and Mckenzie came with a bottle of water. It was the sweetest thing ever. They did it all on their own and they were so proud of themselves. I am so proud of them for being so kind and caring. We went to church and Sunday school and Mckenzie even sang with the choir today! Afterwards, we went to lunch and finished picking out Scott's Christmas presents. When we got home, we worked on our sugar cookies. It feels good to be done with the Christmas baking. Now I just need to address those darn Christmas cards! 001 mckenzie



Today was filled with another Christmas tradition I love. Baking goodies. I love making them and having the girls help me. I just wish a little fairy would come along to clean up afterwards. We have a few more to make tomorrow and we are done. Then it is just to finish Christmas shopping and getting our cards in the mail. I have had them sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be addressed since the beginning of the month. Maybe tomorrow will be the day I actually get it done! The girls were so good today. Abby wrapped "presents" for all of us that we got to open today. She wrapped books and photographs. It was really sweet to see her being so generous. (reminds me that I need to get some tape after all she used today!) It was one of those rare days that they played by themselves nicely, no fighting, no backtalk. Nothing. Just well behaved. I love days like today. So peaceful! Much needed on a day filled with such tragedy.



We took the girls to see some Christmas lights tonight. When we lived in Florida, we always visited Bellingrath Gardens during the Christmas season to see the lights. It was a beautiful display that took a long time to walk through and we loved going. I haven't found anything similar to is here, but I am assuming that is because it is much colder & snowier around here. This year I found a place called Shady Brook Farm that has a light display that you tour by car. It was a nice tour, nothing like Bellingrath, but it was fun nonetheless. We arrived a little early, so we let the kids play on the playground until it got dark. I love Christmas traditions and seeing lights displays is one of the traditions I hope we continue until the kids are all grown.

003 Abby and Mckenzie

008 Scott and Mckenzie

She wasn't too happy that we asked her to leave the playground to join us at the fire for some hot chocolate.
009 Abby

The girls were super excited to see SpongeBob made the light display :)
010 Christmas lights

What is Christmas without Baby Jesus?
012 Christmas lights



I had an OB appointment today. All is good with Baby Boy. Mckenzie went with me and got to help the doctor use the dopplar to hear the baby's heartbeat. She had such a big smile on her face while she was helping.

Buddy built himself a place to call his own. Looks like a lot of hard work went into this thing!
Buddy built himself a place to hang out.

Buddy built himself a place to hang out.

Abby got a huge blister on her thumb today. I think it was from playing her guitar this afternoon. She was making us songs to sing and play guitar too. I love that she is into music.
Now that's a blister!



Mckenzie was excited to have a friend over to the house to play today. They pulled toys out in every room and dug out the play doh too. Even though it was a huge mess to clean up, they had a blast and that is what matters. (At least that is what I am telling myself after having to clean it up!)

Mckenzie made this at school. She is so generous :)



We didn't do much today other than dance. Mckenzie was happy to be back since she missed last week. Abby was upset she had to go because it was ballet and not hip hop. At least she finally explained to me that she doesn't like it because of all the stretching they have to do. She likes the dancing part, just not the stretching. So, we are going to try to do the stretches every day. Yes, I say we. I can't imagine how I'm going to get down on the floor to do them, but I am going to try. At least she will get a good laugh out of it every day!



Abby had hip hop tonight and the parents were allowed to observe the class. I now understand why she is so tired when she is done. They work out really hard! It was fun to see Abby enjoying herself. 005 Abby Hip hop008 Abby Hip hop



Scott took the girls ice skating for the first time today. Abby reported that she only fell once. Mckenzie said she fell five times. They each said they had a lot of fun and couldn't wait to go again. Maybe next time I will go along to snap some photos. Scott got this one on his phone.
Scott took the girls ice skating for the first time. Scott's work Christmas party was tonight. It was a nice evening and fun to get dressed up and hang out with grown-ups for a little while. Untitled



Mckenzie is feeling much better and was able to go to school today! Yay! When I picked her up from class, she told me that she missed school and was happy to see her teachers and friends. A friend dropped off some baby stuff she didn't need anymore. Seeing baby stuff in the house again makes it feel more real and I realize how quickly the last trimester is going to fly by! Abby was so excited to see all the baby stuff. She started playing with it immediately, putting her doll in the seats and turning on the music for her baby. She also let Mckenzie be the baby and made her sit in the Bumbo chair! I think they are both going to be a great help with this little man makes his appearance :)
Looks like I'm going to have lots of help when the baby comes :-)Looks like I'm going to have lots of help when the baby comes :-) Scott showed the girls a SNL skit awhile ago about fevers and cowbells. This is Mckenzie's interpretation of Christopher Walken in that skit. She makes me laugh!