Friday, November 21, 2014


-34 pounds. 40 inches.
- You call our yard our "front back yard" every time.
- You are so aware of feelings. If we gasp, say 'o, no!', or express emotion in any way you always quickly ask..."Why you say, o, no?" You still consistently ask us how we are feeling. And you are just generally very aware of our moods and feelings. Always trying to figure out the situation.
- Bedtime is still slightly a nightmare. You don't stay in your bed and the majority of the nights you end up falling asleep at the end of the hallway. Then you always come into our room around midnight and sleep on the floor next to our bed with your little pillow and quilt that have found a permanent home next to dad's side of the bed. You tell us every night "It hurts my body to sleep".
- Favorite shows/movies: Justin Time, Wild Kratts, and Frozen
- You love all kinds of book but the consistent favorite book over the past few months has been your Disney Storybook. Dad refuses to read the Lilo and Stitch story to you because it is weird. But other than that we have read every single story in there multiple times.
- You eat so well and really don't refuse to eat anything. Daniel Tiger and his little jingle "You gotta try new foods. They might taste good" might be the main contributing factor to this. Your very favorites are the universal kids favorites: mac and cheese, hamburgers with cheese and pickles, chocolate milk and lemonade, any kind of fruit, and 'mazert' (dessert).
- You mimic us all.the.time. At it makes us laugh constantly. Like yesterday we were walking into lunch and Jack was screaming and you looked at him and said "Jackie boy. What is your story?".
- Your singing voice has become so sweet. It is still pretty monotone but it is just the best. You love to sing the Veggie Tales theme song, Jingle Bells, ABC's, and my favorite is this little jingle from your Daniel Tiger goes to bed book.
- Your favorite toys are still diggers and dozers and car and trains. And anything that goes.
- You are a great brother and you continue to call Jack, 'Jackie boy' on a regular basis. You love him, but you also already love to drive him crazy. You do this most easily by putting a blanket on his head and/or shutting the door in his face. Both bring Jack to tears.
- You like things done a certain way and get rather upset if they do not go the way you want it to. Example: you were so frustrated because you really wanted your little figurine to sit in your digger and drive. It could not bend at the knees so it could not sit on the seat and this drove you mad. It was suppose to sit down and it wouldn't. So, we searched and found a little guy that bends at the knees and got it for you for your birthday. It might be your favorite gift this year. All is right in the world of digger driving.
- I would say that you have come out of your shell over the past few months. Several of our friends and family members have made that same comment to me. You are much more outgoing and willing to talk to just about anyone. Especially when encouraged to do so. You like to perform and make people laugh.
-You are also figuring out humor and what is funny. If we are laughing you like to know what is funny and why we are laughing. You also like to do something or say something and watch our reactions to see if we think it is funny.

I could go on and on and on about you. But I will stop with those. Just know that we love you and your mind and your little heart! You bring us so much joy and we count you as one of our greatest blessings. We pray that you grow in grace and truth this year! You are so loved!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

In Henry's Words:

"Wild Toddler Noises"
Mom: Henry, bring it down a couple notches.
Henry: NACHOS?!? Hahahhaha

H: Are you coming home from work soon?
Doug: Yes, in just a little while.
H: Can we hang out?
Doug: Yes, of course
H: and can Mom go somewhere?

On our way to dinner at a restaurant. From the backseat
H: Don't talk loud. Don't say silly words. Stay calm.
Doug: Are you giving yourself a pep talk?
H: Yes

H: Hey, Erin
Danae: Why did you call me Erin?
H: Because I did.

H: Mom, it is so windy outside.
[huge smile on his face]
I just said Wendy's.

H: Welcome to Johnny Farms. We have 3 roosters. One is named cucumber. One is named tomato. One is named cranberry. One is named pie.

Danae: You need to put this game away first before you get another one out.
H: Okay, Miss. Bossy Pants

H: Mom, can you close the curtains so the thunder can't hear us?

I ran into Wendy's to use the bathroom on a road trip.
H: We can leave mom here. She can make food here.

H: I don't like your hair like that. I like it up. Will you put it up please?
A few minutes pass where I don't put my hair up.
H: Will you please put it up now?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Our Week of Meals:

This past week was my favorite week of every year here at camp...our first full week with no meals in the dining hall! Having dinner around our table is one of my very favorite things and this week we ate five dinners in a row in our home.

We ate:
Ginger Lime Stir-Fry - Two past summer staffers joined us for dinner this night. It was a random dinner invitation so we laughed about how all I had to offer them was literally in the one pan in front of them. They obviously did not mind but it did look a little meager to just have one pan of food on the table with no sides.
Maple Mustard Chicken and Rice
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taco's - I have made this recipe a million times but this was the first time I made the guacamole. And it was a game changer and now I don't think I will ever be able to make them again without the guacamole. Also, have you all tired the heat and serve tortillas that are in the refrigerator section? They are also a game changer. So much better than the ones on the shelf and so much less work than homemade.
Sloppy Joe's - made on these hamburger buns. Something therapeutic about making homemade bread. It really is not that hard and they really do taste so much better.

We also enjoyed ice-cream nearly every night this week. Oops.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


- We get more glimpses of kid Henry..and teenage Henry. Like this picture shows. I really think I could take a picture like this in several years. Kicked back, watching t.v., eating popcorn. Oh my.

- Cream finds it's way into my coffee most mornings. I drink it black most of the time, but for some reason it just feels right with a splash of cream this time of year.

- And it is also the time of year of reheating a cup of coffee in the afternoon or making tea to help get me through the last few hours before Doug gets home from work.

- I listen to Steffany Gretzinger's album every single day. From start to finish. Sometimes multiple times in one day. Check it out. It is so good for my heart and mind. And since this is a family blog I will also include Doug's current music obsession...Listener. If you like talking in songs more than singing this might be right up your ally. And I recognize the polar opposite musical suggestions. Let's just say our kids will be very well rounded when it comes to music.

- I am slowly (and this will kill several of you) working through Harry Potter book 6. Only about a book and a half left and about a month and a half left of the year. Hopefully I can complete this goal.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Family Nature Walk:

Each season of our family we are learning new things. This season we are learning that if we are all in the house together for too many hours together we will drive each other crazy! Henry and his toddler energy is reaching new levels. The climbing, jumping, yelling, and just overall roudy-ness is reaching new heights. And then there is Jack who is fast and gets into anything and everything he can get his hands on. And when boredom sets in Henry takes it out on Jack by just following him and being a bother. Que..Jack screams because he is literally being held down by Henry's body...All that to say. We have to get out. For everyone's sanity.

So we poured a cup of coffee, grabbed a paper bag for treasures, and headed out on a family nature hike. Nothing profound, or super special. But we were all outside. And generally much happier. We found big and colorful leaves. Watched the sunset in the pasture. Ran to each hay bale. Climbed. Ran some more. And then slowly made our way back home. We stopped and looked at animal tracks and then hit the jack pot and spotted some deer in the field next to us.

We ended the night with left over chili for dinner and then we made a nature mobile out of the leaves and sticks and pine cones we found on our hike. Henry had his first taste of apple cider and decided he did not like it (is he really our kid?!?).

Thankful for the beauty all around and the ability to get outside.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jack Eats Cheerios:

We have a really hard time keeping up with this guy and his appetite. At least he is so cute when he eats. Especially his morning cheerios.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Visit to Grandma Keena:

Last week we took a little trip over to see my Grandma Keena with my Dad. We had not been to Poplar Bluff for several years. She had met Henry was a wee baby but needed to meet the newest Castle baby and see just how much one little baby can change in a very short amount of time.

We had literally the perfect fall weather for the trip. We went to the Mingo Swamp National Park. We had the park to ourselves and enjoyed a mile long board walk through a surprisingly beautiful swamp. Henry kept looking at this map (which he would call his nap) and say "It says we are in the woods. And we might see some animals" then once he looked at it and said "It says we are in North America"...How does he know this stuff??

We had a tour of my dad's childhood. Saw some family graves, the house he came home from the hospital (which for the record did not have an indoor bathroom!!) and ate lunch at the only restaurant in town. We all ordered burgers except Grandma got chicken strips. Hamburgers are a pretty safe bet in places like that. They only took cash or check and still had a very large smoking section and the non-smoking (where we sat) section literally looked like the office/storage area. It honestly felt like we were in a different time. So strange.

We also squeezed in a trip to "Penny's" as my Grandma calls J.C Penny's and had several cups of McDonald's coffee. She is living in a different house than the house she lived in when I was growing up. In fact her old house burned down and so her home and all of her furnishings are new but somehow her house still smells exactly the same as the old house. It might just be the smell of the green Palmolive dish soap and a never empty canister of coffee on the counter. Those staples have not changed.

We watched baseball games in the evenings. Henry played on the old play set in her back yard. Henry helped Grandma make scrambled eggs for breakfast. We were constantly hopping up and down moving glass bowls, vases, and all the other fun things a busy 11 month old baby are automatically drawn to. We had dinner at Ryan's one night and Henry was introduced to the wonder of the dessert bar with soft-serve ice-cream and as many sprinkles as you want.

Dad and I drove the boys home together. We stopped off at Alley Springs to do some exploring. Henry was in awe of the water falls, caves, and again we had just the perfect fall crisp air.

We love our time with Papa and it was extra special this time also getting to see Grandma.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween 2014:

Doug was working Halloween so we skipped out on trick-or-treating but the boys and I did end up eating Cherry Berry together because I figured we should do something special together. Jack loved the strawberries and Henry loved the mini m&m's and the Sponge Bob they had playing.

Thankfully we had a fall festival here at camp on Sunday so we were still able to put our children in adorable costumes. One little gorilla and one little monkey. (p.s. borrowing Halloween costumes is the way to go! I am so thankful for the plethora of children we know in our lives). I sure do love my little primates.

Monday, November 3, 2014

11 Months:

Oh Jack, You are just getting better and better. Here are some fun things about month 11.

- You went from zero to five teeth within days. I kid you not. It was a rough lead up to the five poking through but that is a lot at one time so we are not holding it against you.
- You wave all the time and it is absolutely adorable. You are very social and friendly and often try to dive out of my arms to go say hi to people. Even strangers in gas stations. I think you are going to have to learn social boundaries soon, son.
- Sleep is still a little hit or miss.Cutting teeth really makes things difficult. You generally have pretty good nights. And you are a pro-napper. Generally about an hour in the morning and then a two hour nap in the afternoon.
- You eat and eat and eat. Everything still. And you are still screaming very loudly in between bites. You get really excited any time you see a piece of bread and you love crackers. You sign for "more" but it is just a really maybe you are actually just being extra friendly and telling us hi. But we think you are being a genius and signing.
- You and Henry are developing a pretty fun relationship. This month marks your first full out Henry tackle. You just lunged right on top of him and wrestled him to the ground. You both thought it was pretty fun.
- When we ask you to "do your trick" you put your hand in your mouth and make funny noises. Another funny thing you have been doing lately is laying on the ground on your back and kicking your feet up and down.
- You don't like being strapped down in your car seat, sitting still during diaper changes, or staying put in your high chair and grocery cart. So basically, you are right on course for being a super active baby boy.
- And Dad had you laughing really hard the other day because he was getting you dressed and he kept saying "how can you be wearing a 12 month shirt??" and you thought that was funny.
- If you have something in your mouth or hand you know you are not suppose to have and we see you, you crawl off super fast, laughing. Like you know exactly what you are doing.
- You get your feelings hurt pretty easily. Dad told you not to unplug the lamp in a firm voice and you sobbed. For about 10 minutes. How could he...
- This month also marks the first full melt down when Dad has left for work. He was cuddling you and holding you but had to put you down to leave. You just sobbed and crawled after him. One of those strangely sweet milestones. You really are forming a very sweet relationship with Dad.
- You are an absolute joy! We love love love watching you grow.