Saturday, December 27, 2008

** CHRISTMAS 2008 **

What a MAGICAL Christmas we had! I hope it was as enjoyable for all of you. Thank you for all of your Christmas cards. I LOVE this time of year! 

We missed all of our extended family... terribly... but, I have to admit it was so nice to have relaxed Christmas as our own little family! Here is a little recap...

Christmas Eve we had a fun evening with our friends, the Bells. They had both sets of grandparents in town, and my boys quickly adopted them. :) We had a yummy ham dinner and played a white elephant game that the boys had a lot of fun with. We opened our PJ's. I wanted to have the boys all match, but Cooper insisted on getting footed jammies (he's been sad since he's outgrown all of his)... and, of course (despite a hint of naughtiness), his wish was granted.

This is our adopted Grandma, Conni Burke, Jaime Bell's mom. She has been living with the Bells since we moved here, to help with Emberlyn (their special needs daughter), and Jaime's pregnancy. She is SO sweet to the boys, and they LOVE the attention. It will be so hard when she moves back home to Arizona this summer! Here are some pics of her playing with Beckett and Emberlyn.

Our friends the Bells: Clifton, Jaime, Zander & Emberlyn. Jaime is due April 1 with another baby girl!

After a fun evening at the Bells, we headed home to put out cookies for Santa, deliver our last "secret elves" gift, and have a little Christmas devotional. We had to get to bed so Santa could get to work! I have to say that being parents on Christmas is the BEST! We were so excited, ourselves, to see what Santa brought for our boys! Here are all the boys' stockings and Santa gifts. 

Christmas morning, Andrew was the first to wake up... and then wake me up... waiting for the boys. Just after 7, we heard Cooper snooping around. He came into our room and said, "Guys, come check this out!"

Here is Beckett with his new "airport". The older boys were sure to show him how to use it! Other presents for Beck included a wooden truck, Peter Pan, a shape sorter, balls/hammer ramp, rock n' roll ball, and drum. He must have been the "nicest", cause he was the most spoiled! :) It was so fun to have a "baby's first Christmas" at a fun age like this! From his brothers, he got a new baseball tee (we now have 3 different infant versions). His FAVORITE was his play MIRROR. He is fascinated with himself!

Cooper and Gunner were SO EXCITED that Santa brought them their BATCAVE! (with a letter reminding them to share!). :) They played with it for HOURS! And Beckett has even taking a liking to it! He is getting quick at crawling, and they have to move away with their toys so they don't get spit on them. Each got a board-game, puzzle, craft, preschool workbook, books, and nerf guns too. We let the boys shop for each other, and mom and dad, and it was so fun to see them get excited about giving their presents (Gunner gave Cooper power ranger transformers, and Cooper gave Gunner some super hero "guys"). They know each other the best! 

I got a super fun outdoor, above-ground fire pit that we've already tried out! My boys were all very thoughtful, and it was super fun for them to all go shopping together for me. They are very good at keeping secrets!

Mom and Dad stayed in our jammies ALL DAY, and the boys loved their new sweatsuits. We had sticky buns for breakfast, and white lightening chicken chili for dinner. It was a relaxing, perfect day... making our way from one new toy to another.

Here is Andrew and Coop rockin' out to Guitar Hero World Tour (Andrew's present). We also got Outdoor Challenge for the Wii from Uncle AJ. Our parents were, as always, WAY too generous, and we LOVED our handmade advent calendar and plate kit from the Waites. My Grandpa Lee and Grandma Helen even mailed us our candy bars, gum and money, which made me miss home a tiny bit less. 

Another great Christmas gift was that it was the first day of a FREE WEEK OFF WORK for Andrew!!!! He didn't have to take any "leave" days, and was off from Dec. 24-Jan. 2! We had so much fun hanging out with Dad!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmases Past

I have a friend, Cyndee, who decorates her mantel each year with Santa pictures throughout the years... just in those L-shaped plastic stand-up frames (her reason was how the nestled together for easy storage!). She did this because her mom did this too (and even made you "sit" on Santa's lap no matter your age, so she could see the family dynamics change). She said her mom's eventually filled the mantel and extended across the window sills in the living room. I'd really like to do this! Then, this year, I saw my friend Kendra post pictures from past Christmases. I love the idea of capturing your family each year and making the comparisons. I decided to do this post on Christmases past (more because then my blog book will have a few shots from the "pre-blogging" Christmases. So here they are:

  • 2003 (no need to start pre-kids, right? Actually, just too lazy to scan them in.) Cooper was 5 weeks old. We traveled from Cleveland, where Andrew was in his first year of dental school, to visit our families in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene. We attended the Gatten Family Reunion in Hope, ID, and also had Cooper's baby blessing. He was the best present either of us had ever received! 

  • 2004 Cooper was 13 months old. This picture was actually taken at the TV station, where Dad was signing his papers to join the Air Force. He received a scholarship to pay for his last 2 years of dental school. We once again traveled to visit our families this Christmas. I love the 4-generation picture with Nana and Great-Grandpa Lee. Also pictured, your Grandpa and Grandma Larson. Christmas morning at the Larsons. Your favorite present, your slinky. 

  • 2005 Cooper was 2, and I was bursting at the belly with Gunner, who was born 12/29/05. We stayed in Cleveland, missing out on the Gatten Family Reunion, but loved having Christmas at our own home, and starting some of our own traditions. We bought our tree at a garage sale. Loved going to Lake Farmpark and building a toy in Santa's workshop. Had Christmas Eve dinner at the Bentley's, and had them over on Christmas Day. Cooper's favorite presents were his train set, and his life-sized Elmo. 

  • 2006 Visited Lake Farmpark again with our dental school friends in Cleveland. We sure love these guys (Bentleys, Lees, Munds). Cooper was 3, Gunner almost 1. We did make it to visit our families in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, enjoying Christmas Eve at the Gattens, and Christmas Day at the Larsons. 

  • 2007 We were living in St. Louis, where dad was in his AEGD residency at Scott Air Force Base. We sat on Santa's lap at the USO Christmas Party, and the Breakfast with Santa at the farm. Cooper was 4, Gunner almost 2. Visited family in Spokane/Coeur d'Alene. Attended the Gatten Family Reunion in Hope, ID, where Cooper skied for the first time. Had Christmas Eve/Morning in the condo. Favorite presents: light sabers! 

  • 2008 Living at Whiteman Air Force Base near Kansas City. Stayed here for Christmas. Missed our families, but loved having our own traditions and staying in our pajamas all day! Sat on Santa's lap LOTS of places. Favorite present: Batcave from Santa. Beckett's first Christmas at 7 months old. He LOVED the wrapping paper! Cooper 5, Gunner almost 3.  

Thursday, December 25, 2008


had baby #3 •
3K, 5K, training together for •
a half marathon in march 
dark hair & twilight •
dental wives conference •
gatten girls week • 
& rachel in las vegas 
primary secretary… now • 
course 14 sunday school
photography & blogging •
kept boys busy in bathroom • 
during tornado warnings
goodbye president hinckley •

base volleyball & softball •
advanced education in • 
general dentistry residency 
scott air force base (st. louis)
now general dentist •
whiteman afb (kansas city)
hinman meeting atlanta • 
(during tornado)
lonestar for 8th anniversary •
neil diamond for birthday •
watched gas prices fall •
byu football & sports center •
wrestling boys & running •
treasure hunts, batting • 
practice, football, wii &
obstacle courses with boys

5 years old •
birthday @ great wolf •
lodge indoor waterpark
loves preschool •
wii (lego games favorite) •
beat guitar hero on “easy” •
monopoly junior & blink •
nintendo ds and leapster •
skiing for first time with •
cousins, made it all day
shirts with “something •
cool” on front
everything is “interesting” •
rollercoaster lover •
outgoing & talkative •
batting cages •
no more training wheels! •
learning to read •
superheros & “real” movies •
wrestling dad and brothers •
takes care of Beckett •
eggs, broccoli, sonic •
green & “now brown too” •
loved st. louis arch •
november “cute kid of the •
month” in base magazine
basketball on teams •
fishing •
makes friends easily •
learned to swim! •
ran an entire 2-mile run •

3 years old (this month) •
wii sports •
potty trained! •
made it through terrible twos •
at least we hope they ended
coloring & playdough •
library storytime •
light sabers, guns, swords •
misses cooper •
bowling & golf •
all other balls, balls, balls •
indiana jones hat all summer! •
indiana jones for halloween •
chocolate milk & cereal •
plays it safe •
says prayers & loves nursery •
doesn’t like being “sticky” •
but also a nose picker
board games •
“guys” •
(superheros, star wars
& tech deck dudes)
plays air guitar •
misses cousins •
(along with the rest of us!)
scooter & wagon •

7 months old •
born may 13, 2008 •
6 days late! •
8 pounds 20 inches •
loves big brothers •
best baby ever! •
great sleeper •
almost crawling… •
high fives •
indian sound & strums lips •
loves to eat solids •
smiles for the camera •
friendly & flirty •
binky baby & thumb •
a.k.a. Bubzy/Beckers •

our family
visits from bentleys, all •
grandparents, hirschis, griggs,
dan & riley, & tanner
st. louis earthquake •
to boise for brock reunion •
& kloe memorial
larson reunion in mccall •
gatten cousins camp, •
elephant ear booth,
swimming & silverwood, cd’a
LOTS of mlb games •

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

[ C H R I S T M A S T I M E ]

We have thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas season, and hope each of you have as well. 

Our preparations began Sunday after Thanksgiving as we put up our tree. When we were married, Andrew's mom gave us a bucket of his ornaments she had collected for him each year of his life. It is so neat to have them, and it has been fun to add to them each year with different ornaments that mean something to us: one for the family, and one for each boy. The boys love pulling them out and remembering where we got them, or where we were living at the time, or what they mean. My plan is to give them to them when they get married, but I am not sure I will be able to part with some of them! This year the family got one from Nauvoo and Carthage, Gunner got Indiana Jones, Cooper got this cute stocking, and Beckett's will be "baby's first christmas".

  • Long before our kids were old enough to care, I made an advent book with my sister-in-laws. Each day has a scripture, religious Christmas song/hymn, and a story. This year, we have been doing this at our family scripture/prayer time each night, and the boys look forward to it!
  • At this time, they also get their chocolate out of their chocolate advent calendar. These have been a tradition since Cooper was 1. 
  • At preschool Cooper made an advent tree. He puts a "P" each day when he says a prayer for someone else, and an "X" each day when he does an extra service for someone. He just loves these kinds of things, and it is cute to see him coming up with ways to serve.
  • Andrew's amazing sister, Artie, who has hand-made each of the boys' stockings, and our tree skirt, sent us this amazing hand-made advent calendar for Christmas this year. They boys are thrilled to have another way to countdown!

Cooper's preschool did a really cute field trip earlier this month. We started off at the train depot downtown, where they read "Polar Express" and got a bell to wear throughout the rest of the trip. They separated into groups and got clipboards with pictures of different Christmas items they had to find in a scavenger hunt around town. They were SO into this... it was cute. We then walked to an insurance company (looking for signs of Christmas along the way in store windows and such). At the insurance company they read another story and got cookies, juice and a candy cane off their tree. Then they sang them a few songs as we left. We walked to the courthouse, where they made little candy canes out of pipe cleaners and beads and read a book about a candy cane upside down being a "J" for Jesus. They then caroled for the workers there, and we headed to our final stop, Java Junction, where they got hot chocolate and caroled to the patrons. It was a lot of fun.

One nice perk about the Air Force, and living on-base, is all the fun, free, things to do. This was one of them. They had tree-lighting ceremony, and then cookies, cocoa, a live band, bingo for prizes, crafts, and, of course, Santa. But, not just the normal santa trip, they got REAL toys! Cooper came straight from basketball practice.... which he is loving.

The med-group had a nice "santa cafe" breakfast, where the kids got to order. They got chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, juice, and cocoa. Beckett liked the marshmallows. Then they got to sit on Santa and get presents. Cooper opened his wooden puzzle and said, "No! This is not cool mom! Go up there and tell him I want something else!" Needless to say, we had a talk about being thankful for presents, and gracious... but, really, how do you teach that to a 5-year-old?
This was a little stressful, as I got the random assignment to be in charge of a living nativity as people walked it. It turned out surprisingly well, and we had a few families take shifts (Andrew was just thrilled we didn't have to take a shift ourselves). There was music playing, and we got a lot of compliments. It proved to be a challenge also, because we are not allowed to have hay inside a church for fire reasons... 

Anyway, they had different people decorate the tables in different themes... we, of course, had to sit at the "BYU" themed table. :) There were LONG lines, too many people, a nice program, and santa. Is there really a good way to make a party for that many people enjoyable for a family with 3 kids under 5? The kids had fun... I mean for the parents?

The boys had a blast searching for candy canes at the Warrensburg Community Center. What a fun idea. They also did crafts, made reindeer food, and had hot chocolate and cookies.

I continued to be amazed at Cooper's preschool. They put on quite the little party! Each kid went and sat on Santa's lap to tell him what they wanted for Christmas... so cute to hear what each kid said. They also got "prayer pillows" from their teachers, and little stockings.
Earlier this week, Cooper brought home this from "journal time". They take a few kids at a time to the table and have them draw in their journal. Then they write what they say as they are drawing. I just love it, cause you really get to understand what is going through your little one's head. Most of the time they are free drawing; this specific day they had asked them to draw the nativity. Here is what Cooper came up with...

Since we are staying here for Christmas (not traveling to be with family), we decided to do a few more things to make it a "Christ-centered Christmas" for our kids. We bought a present for the angel-tree at church, made cookies and went caroling with our friends, the Bells. But, we also have been doing the 12-days of Christmas for our neighbors. This was a tradition in my (the Gatten) family while I was growing up, and I have such fond memories of coming up with poems, dressing up to be warm and unrecognizable, leaving presents, knocking and running away... we always did it for needy families, and my parents were always so generous with the things they gave. We wanted to do something similar... so we decided we would do it for our neighbors. They are not "poor", but her husband has been gone for months at trainings and such, and they just moved here this summer, and we knew their little girls would get excited about it. Each night, Cooper dresses up in his pull-over snow mask and tiptoes across our driveway to their side door... knocks... runs into our backyard and down our back steps into our basement. Gunner and I look out our dark kitchen window and watch them open the door with excitement and get the surprises. It has been SO fun, and our boys are talking about it all the time. It has been so fun to see them get so excited about GIVING each night. Some of the things we've given... fruit, donuts, ornaments, candy, chocolate dipped pretzel sticks, sprite (may your days be merry and "sprite"), christmas stories, a CD of christmas songs for kids, etc. We attach a little poem each night, which I have if anyone would like a copy.

Mr. Competitive

The Youth Center hosted a free WINTER OLYMPICS the Monday and Tuesday before Christmas, to give the kids something to do during the break. Cooper was ALL OVER IT! He, as many of you know, doesn't take competition lightly. I wish I knew how to teach him to not "rub it in". He is actually doing better, but there is something in his blood... especially when it comes to sports! They had a basketball toss, turtle race (these really cool little machines), over-sized tricycle race, obstacle course, free-throw competition, and shuttle run. They all got medals, and they gave you a print out of your times. Cooper did great for 5, and even beat some of the older kids in a lot of events. Gunner got a medal too, and they let him do the events he could (it was for 5 and older, and he was still 2).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Beckett 7-month Milestones

We just can't get enough of THIS:

This boy brings us so much joy. We get so many comments from others about what a good baby he is, and wondering if he is like this all the time. The answer is: yEs. He is a lovable dream.
  • Started the month celebrating your brother Cooper's 5th birthday at Great Wolf Lodge. You loved the wrapping paper, and did great in the water... as you do with anything.
  • Celebrated Thanksgiving at the Cochran's. We are so THANKFUL for you. 
  • You are content just sitting or scooting around the living room from toy to toy. 
  • Visited Santa a few times. Got "aaawwhhs" out of all the people in line as they watched you grin on his lap. The second time you gave us a super cute look like, "who is this guy?!"
  • Started snacking on cheerios, biter biscuits, veggie puffs, crackers... and take bites of anything we will let you try.
  • You get up on your hands and feet... we call it your "tepee"
  • You still get up on all fours, but if you want to get somewhere, you army crawl... dragging your body behind you. Your brothers cheer you on in this new endeavor, and "can't believe he can do that!"
  • Busy with Christmas activities: tree lighting ceremony, breakfast with Santa, church Christmas party, caroling, candy cane hunt, downtown read-around field trip with Cooper's class
  • You started doing the indian sound, and strumming your lips. We just love hearing your cute noises.
  • You are so great to just "chill" in your carseat wherever we go. I feel bad you are in there so much... but, since you are always so great... there you sit... and smile.
Especially at this special time of year, I can't help be reflect upon the birth of Jesus. I can't help but think of Him as I rock you in my arms. I know he was still getting visits from wise men at your age. I can only imagine how happy Mary was to chew on His cheeks, and how elated Joseph was to get home from work and be able to get Him giggling. These same things which bring us so much joy, they experienced as well with Him. Babies are just so special. I know our Heavenly Father had a plan for Mary's baby, and I know he has a plan for you. I know you are special to Him, and that I have a big responsibility to raise you, and teach you, and make sure you can accomplish all that He has planned for you.

Just keep RUNNING, just keep running, running, running...

Andrew had signed him and me up for a "fun run" to raise money for a family who's child has leukemia. It was a 2-mile run. We have a double trailer/stroller that we figured we could put the two younger boys in, but weren't sure what to do with Cooper. He recently took off his training wheels, and is doing great! But, we weren't sure he'd keep up for the whole 2 miles. I suggested we see if he could run it. Andrew agreed, saying that if he couldn't finish, we'd just walk with him. 

Well, he RAN THE WHOLE THING WITHOUT STOPPING! We were amazed... and so were all the walkers he passed! He complained once, at the beginning, about his throat hurting, but I just grabbed his hand and told him to slow down and just keep going slow. 

At the end, he kept speeding up to make sure he beat Dad! These pictures were taken at the finish line.

The next morning, when he woke up, he said, "Dad, my legs are a little sore." I bet they were!

We were so proud of our little runner!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Picture taken at this year's "Turkey Bowl"

I love that I can change the date on posts, so it looks like I wasn't so late posting this... 

Our amazing hunny and daddy turned 31 December 1st. The boys had fun helping me plan a secret, "treasure hunt". They are obsessed with these lately (andrew will make maps throughout the house for them to find their treasure). 

His gift... a car GPS. His TREASURE HUNT below:

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Here’s our version of a treasure hunt
For our one and only dad

Hopefully by the end of it,
It’ll be the best you’ve ever had

First lets go to the place below
And get some yummy food.

Put in the address and lets see
If we can find something really good!

455 NE Coronado Dr.
Blue Springs, MO 64014
(Texas Roadhouse for dinner)

Hope you enjoyed your dinner
Tonight is all about you.

Now lets head to the next address
And have some yummy dessert too!

20140 E. Jackson Dr.
Independence, MO 64057
(Cold Stone Creamery for free birthday creation)

For the next fun adventure
You’ll have to wait a little while

But when December 15th comes
You’ll have a really big smile

As your and your wife
will have an amazing date

To the address below
To see something GREAT!

1100 Walnut St. #2900
Kansas City, MO 64106
(The Sprint Center where we went on a date to NEIL DIAMOND. Yes, Andrew is a huge Neil fan... me, not so much. But, he did put on a great show! I was pleasently surprised... and even more happy that my hubby talked about it for days!)

Friday, November 28, 2008


We had a fun trip to the firestation with Cooper's class. Gunner is so cute to just tag along with the other kids too. They sang cute songs, had "911" graham crackers, toured the firehouse, and trucks, and had a lot of fun.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gratitude Attitude


An excerpt from my letter this week to my brother, Spike, who is serving a mission in Brazil

"Sitting here so thankful for you.... thankful that my boys have an amazing uncle to look up to. Thankful for your choice to serve a mission so that we all can be blessed and receive the fruits of your labors. Thankful for the gospel in my life... and that you are trying to share the "good news" with everyone around you. Thankful for the opportunity I had to grow up at 1632 E. Canfield Ave., with 8 siblings and great parents. Thankful for every opportunity I had to tell each of those 10 people how much I love them, and even more thankful for each time they told me the same. Thankful for our free country... and all my friends who are single moms while their husbands are overseas defending that freedom. Thankful for the beautiful earth we have to live on, and for a dad who made sure we knew all about it. Thankful that that same dad worked to make sure we always had everything we needed (and more), and a mom who made sure that happened.

I just love this holiday. I am sure your list of "thanks" has grown immensely over the last 12 months... and here you are already HALF WAY THROUGH! On the home stretch! Make it worth every minute. May we all not only be thankful for all of our blessings this Thanksgiving, but
show gratitude for them by BEing the people that Heavenly Father wants us to be.

Love you tons Spike! You and me both will spend Thanksgiving and Christmas away from the fam... but, our hearts are knit together.... forever."

Family Home Evening with the Bells. Talked about the things we are thankful for, and how to show gratitude for those things... with Tom the Thankful Turkey. Then made these cute turkeys (thanks for the idea Kendra). The boys actually stayed focused and on-track for this activity... definitely not the norm... a great treat!

"Tasting Party" at  preschool. Got to try different parts of a Thanksgiving meal. We were assigned a food "unique to our family". We brought rainbow jello, and it was a HUGE hit. Andrew has had it ever year for "as long as I can remember". Got to hear them sing a few cute songs, read a few books, and ride the Mayflower. Very fun. Once again, Gunner was so excited to join Cooper at his preschool. 

To add to my letter to my brother... I am also so thankful for a loving husband. So grateful he works so hard for us. So grateful he is such an amazing daddy. So grateful for the Spirit in our home. Grateful for 3 wild, crazy, cute, cuddly, inspiring, exhausting, adorable, special, energetic, irresistible boys. They are my life, and I love my life. So grateful for each of YOU, and how you have touched me. It is because of those interactions with each of you that I am who I am.

Enjoy your day! 

Friday, November 21, 2008

BECKETT [Half a Year Old]

Beckett Leo Larson
6 months old
16 lbs. 10 oz. (40th percentile)
26 5/8 inches (75th percentile)

Over the last month...
  • Started sitting up.
  • Eating more solids (at least once a day). Love pears and rice cereal best.
  • Started using a sippy cup at meal time... and even manage to get some apple juice out of it. Once you tasted it, you were hooked, but still haven't mastered it.
  • Peek-a-boo gets you giggling like crazy.
  • Roll all over the living room. Prefer to be on your tummy with a toy. You do the excited "beached whale", where you get something you want, then lay on your tummy and kick super fast out of excitement. Recently started getting up on all fours and diving to toys. You definitely find a way to get what you want, and it is only a matter of time and you'll be crawling.

  • Started chewing on your feet.
  • You rarely cry, but when you do, you do a cute coughing sound.
  • Still love your thumb.
  • You sleep between 10-12 hours at night. In the morning, you love to lay in bed with mom and just talk and sing and play. 
  • You started loving books this month. You will talk and giggle and get so excited when we read to you.
  • Your new trick is slapping our hands when we say, "Gimmie five!
  • You settle down when I whisper in your ear. 
  • You shared  your half birthday with Cooper's 5th birthday.
  • Love swimming, and did a great job in the water at the indoor waterpark.
  • You were a skunk for Halloween... although you are the furthest thing from a stinker! This past month was full of Halloween festivities, pumpkin patches and parties.
  • Got your first haircut. Not sure I would call it that... maybe just a "back buzz"? We just got rid of your little mullet in back.
  • You are always so content to just hang out in  your car-seat. I feel bad I don't take you out more, but you are always just happy in there.
  • Went to the UCM homecoming parade. Loved the beads, and had your first sucker.
  • Cooper and Gunner love to make you laugh. Cooper loves to have you hit him, and then he pretends to be really hurt. They love to squeeze your arms, pinch your cheeks, squish your belly, and shake your feet... pretty much anything that I think you'll hate... BUT, you are always smiling! They also make a big deal out of you doing "pukers" on the living room floor. That and poopy diapers seem to make them silly. 
  • Loving going to the park. Love watching the other kids play, and going on the swings. Made your first trip down the slide.
  • Had your first trip to the Fire Station with Cooper's preschool class.
  • Ate your first waffle fry and the TREX cafe.
  • You make friends with everyone you meet, because you are so smiley and social. 
The other day Cooper kept yelling, "Mom! You gotta come see this!" I went into the living room, and Cooper said, "Look! It's a SUPERBABY!" I totally agree! We all do. Beckett, you are just the most super baby ever, and we love having you around!