Wednesday, December 31, 2008

All About the Tongue

We think Amaya is working on some teeth - however, we've thought that she's been teething for the last few months, so maybe this is all just our imagination. She's been chewing on her thumb and toys and she's been sticking out her tongue a lot more. Hopefully, she will have a few new teeth before her birthday.

This is another one of my favorite pictures of Amaya. I just couldn't resist adding this one.


I love to explore and crawl over EVERYTHING! Sometimes I get stuck and can't get out! HELP ME MOMMY! I'm STUCK!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My First Christmas Stocking

Christmas Day morning, Mommy and Daddy brought me into bed with them, and Daddy had three big socks in hand. One of the socks was for me and when I looked inside I had a new doll, a book, Strawberry Puffs, AND MIXED BERRY YOGURT MELTS!! Have I mentioned before how much I LOVE YOGURT MELTS?!? I LOVE CHRISTMAS!

Christmas Anticipation

Amaya had done really well at leaving our Christmas tree alone, but this past week has been especially frustrating for me as well as her. As I've put out more presents, her curiosity has been heightened. She likes the little Swedish doll ornaments and frequently pulls them off - along with some needles.

We'll probably take down our tree next weekend and pack away all of the Christmas decorations. I'll be glad to get our house back to normal and remove temptation away from Amaya. There's always a little bit of disappointment that follows as Christmas decorations are put away, goodies disappear, and family returns home. But the memories and laughter make me look forward to next year!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Amaya taken on Christmas Eve at our house.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Friend Cooper

Cooper's parents invited the three of us over to their house for dinner a week or so ago. It was so much fun seeing Cooper and playing with all of his toys. I tried to be nice and share, but it was SO HARD!! His Exersaucer is so much cooler than mine! His actually comes apart and you can stand by it and play with all the toys.

Cooper's trying to help me figure out how to push the right buttons to make music.

Cooper's daddy didn't want us coming in the kitchen, but we tried pretty hard to figure out how to get past the gate.

Cooper and I exchanged Christmas presents. I love the lift-the-flap, peek-a-boo books, so that's what I got him, AND THAT'S WHAT HE GOT ME!! Great minds think alike!

We can't wait to play together again. We have our first birthdays coming up soon and my mommy and Cooper's mommy might try to plan a big party with all the other babies in our pre-natal class! I love any reason to celebrate!


Decorating Christmas Cookies

This was my first experience decorating Christmas Cookies and eating them too! However, I had more fun smearing the frosting all over my face and the highchair.

These are two of my cousins - Annika and Lydia. They made really pretty cookies!

This is a picture of my cousin Ben, Grandma Gustafson, cousin Miles, and Grandpa Gustafson.

The finished result!

And just an FYI: the red food coloring stains, so Grandma isn't going to do red anymore. I think the white ones are even prettier than the others.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Santa or No Santa?

I had an interesting conversation today with a co-worker about whether or not Christians should teach their children about Santa. Already, so many believe that CHRIST is already being taken out of Christmas as the holiday becomes more and more commercialized.

Steve and I haven't had to address this issue yet with Amaya, but it will come up at some point, just like the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, etc. My concern is the danger when encouraging children to believe that Santa Claus is real, is that you are asking them to build their trust in something you know they will find out at a later time isn't true. If you tell them a lie about this, you may wonder why they start doubting other things you teach them - especially about God. The child thinks, “They told me Santa was real and that's not true; maybe what they told me about God isn't true either.”

I grew up with Santa as a very small part of the Christmas celebration. Santa - aka my mom - would leave us a stocking full of goodies and on Christmas morning there would be a few presents from Santa. I was never told that Santa was real and I don't remember if I ever believed that he was real. Besides, how can my mom and Santa's handwriting be EXACTLY the same? Sure, we had our pictures taken with Santa, but now I'm starting to wonder if that's even a good thing anymore. We teach our children to be wary of strangers, yet we want to take a picture of them on a stranger's lap?!? Does that make sense?

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Prancer. "Jessica, the daughter of an impoverished apple farmer, still believes in Santa Claus. So when she comes across a reindeer with an injured leg, it makes perfect sense to her to assume that it is Prancer, who had fallen from a Christmas display in town. She hides the reindeer in her barn and feeds it cookies, until she can return it to Santa." (excerpt taken from IMBD). This young girl has this wide-eyed wonderment of Christmas: preparing Christmas cookies, decorating her room, singing Christmas Carols. This is what I want for Amaya. I want her to eagerly anticipate Christmas. I want her to have that same excitement and wonderment. The only difference is that I want her to have the excitement of celebrating Christ's birth, not Santa's arrival.

I guess what it all comes down to is if the traditions in our household can't teach about Jesus Christ, we need to rethink our traditions. Thoughts?

Pictures and Updates Coming Soon

Whew! The past few days have been so jammed packed full of activities and celebrations, that I'm actually relieved that I'm scheduled to work today. It gives me a chance to get caught up on e-mails and blog in between my patients. Plus, I've found an option where I can create a new entry and have it posted at a later date! This will work out so much better for us! On any given day, my time is very limited on the computer and there are so many other things that I'd like to do, that it makes it a little challenging to keep up our blog up-to-date. But now that I can write entries ahead of time and post it later, we can stay more current!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My First Christmas Eve

Today is such an exciting day! It's my very first Christmas Eve! Mommy and Daddy have been very busy this month buying presents and wrapping them, making yummy desserts, decorating the tree, playing Christmas music, etc. No wonder it's a big deal. Today Mommy is teaching me about Baby Jesus, because without him, none of this fun and excitement would be possible.

Tonight Daddy is going to come home from work a little early so we can go to the Christmas Eve service at my church. Afterwards, we're heading to Grandma and Grandpa Horning's house for dinner. My Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa will be there too. Mommy says that we're going to open Christmas presents! I think that means that I can FINALLY rip off the bows and take all the paper off the presents! Mommy and Daddy have been telling me "NO" all week!

Tomorrow, Grandma and Grandpa Horning are coming over in the morning to have Mommy's homemade waffles, eggs, and bacon. We're also going to open what's in our stockings. I saw Mommy put Yogurt Melts in the grocery cart last night, so I hope I get some of them put in my stocking. Do you think she found any front teeth for me at the grocery store?

My Auntie Carol and Uncle Dan are coming from Nebraska tomorrow. I'm SO EXCITED to see them and my cousins, Joshua, Jordan, and Hannah! Mommy points out their pictures to me on the fridge all the time and I'm not sure I remember them very well, but they look like lots of fun to play with! Grandma Gustafson is having a big HAM DINNER (love-love-love Ham!) for all of us including my Auntie Arwen and Uncle Mike and cousins, Ben, Annika, Lydia, and Miles. We'll open more presents and probably play some games. Miles and I will probably play with the refrigerator magnets or Grandma's play cell phone. Those are our favorite toys at Grandma's house.

Mommy says to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! We hope everyone has a wonderful time celebrating Baby Jesus' birth!


Steve's Favorite Christmas Goodies

Jan listed her favorites, so I thought I should list mine:

10. Peanut Butter Balls and Cheesecake
9. Caramel Brownies
8. Caramel Brownies
7. Caramel Brownies
6. Caramel Brownies
5. Caramel Brownies
4. Caramel Brownies
3. Caramel Brownies
2. Caramel Brownies
1. Caramel Brownies!!!

Christmas Eve Reflections

I'm looking forward to making new memories of Christmas Eve this year to replace the memories of last Christmas Eve. I work every other holiday, and last year Christmas was my holiday to work. Normally, at work it is relatively quiet around the holidays, but last year it was busy. We would typically close the unit when the Clinic closed (3pm), but we were too busy, so I had to work until 5pm. Working that late meant that we weren't able to attend our church's Christmas Eve service and I wasn't thrilled about staying up late to go to a candlelight service when I had to work at 6am the next day. To complicate matters, I was having quite a bit of swelling in my legs, feet, and hands due to pregnancy, that made me more tired and just plain uncomfortable. After work, I was very emotional and indecisive and wasn't sure what we should do for dinner. I certainly didn't want to go home and cook and most restaurants were closed. I still can't remember what we ended up doing, but I'm guessing it was along the lines of fast food. I think I cried all the way home because all I wanted to do was spend time with family, but knew that what was best for me was to just go to bed. Later that evening, I developed a severe headache and sleep just wasn't going to happen. After several hours, Steve finally convinced me to call the OB nurses to see if I needed to come in and be evaluated because it was the worst headache I've ever had. The OB nurse reassured me that my blood pressure had been fine at previous appointments (100/60s) and that I should take more Tylenol and try to rest. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the complications during my pregnancy. A few days later at my next appointment, my blood pressure was elevated 120s/80s (normal for pregnancy, but higher than normal for me), and there was a concern about my headache and excessive swelling and the possibility of these symptoms being related to preeclampsia. Eventually, my symptoms led to mild preeclampsia and Amaya was induced two weeks early to prevent further complications.

Christmas holds an entirely different spectrum of emotions for me this year. Instead of focusing on the anticipation and worries of a new baby, I can focus on the anticipation of celebrating Christ's birth. This Christmas season we are fortunate to be able to celebrate with our families and we are looking forward to the traditions of the past and creating our own traditions and memories with Amaya. It's amazing how much things can change in a year. Who knows what the next year will bring?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Top Ten Favorite Christmas Goodies

Growing up in the Gustafson household means LOTS of goodies around the holidays. My mom recently told me a story about how she would begin baking for Christmas at the beginning of December. While making the goodies, we would beg for samples and before Mom realized it, they were gone. So, she'd bake some more and we'd eat more. My mom said that she would basically bake for the entire month of December. Not much has changed over the years - we still raid the freezer whenever we come over!

Here's a list of my Top Ten Favorite Christmas Goodies:

10. Puppy Chow (rice chex cereal with chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar)
9. Chex Mix
8. Pecan Tassies (sp?)
7. Caramel Brownies
6. Peanut Butter Balls
5. Spritz Cookies
4. Sugar Cookies
3. Raspberry Bars (these are a new favorite as of last year)
2. Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

- Jan

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Growing Again

Too short, way too long, ugh.... Amaya is once again at that awkward stage where her current clothes are too short in the sleeves and legs and the next size up we're rolling up the sleeves and legs. It doesn't seem to bother her too much, except when she trying to walk along the furniture and trips on her pant legs. Yesterday morning I only had to put three different outfits on before I realized that I need to go through her clothes (AGAIN!) and start putting some things away. It's a little frustrating because some of the outfits she's only worn a few times and they are just too cute to put away already. Oh, well...

Friday, December 19, 2008


Over the past couple of weeks, we've been "tagged" in the blog world. We've been asked by other blog readers to post a few oldie but goodie pictures from our picture file folder. We were supposed to post the 4th picture from the 4th folder and also the 5th picture from our 5th folder. I didn't like either picture considering that there were NO PEOPLE in the pictures, so I chose to post two of my favorites instead. After posting the pictures, I'm supposed to "tag" several more people, but this sort of reminds me of chain letters, so I'm stopping it here. I guess I'm just no fun! Anyway, enjoy the blast from the past!

This is taken Christmas 2006. Steve and his mom were comparing double chins!

Classic picture of our nieces and nephews. Top left to right: Jordan, Ben, Joshua. Bottom left to right: Hannah, Lydia, and Annika. This picture was also taken Christmas 2006.


On Tuesday, Mommy and I went to Grandma and Grandpa Gustafson's house to make lefse and decorate more sugar cookies. My Grandma and Mommy make lefse every year around Christmas-time. Grandma does most of the work beforehand because she has to boil the potatoes and then put them in a ricer to get all the lumps out and then add cream and butter and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Grandma rolled out the lefse with a bumpy rolling pin with a funny looking sock over it and Mommy put it on a gridle and flipped it with a pretty red handled stick. Grandpa and I watched them make it and waited and WAITED for a sample. The lefse was SO YUMMY!! Mommy says that I'm a true Scandinavian - I don't know what that means, but it must be a good thing! I hope that I can roll out the lefse or flip it when I get older. For now, I'll just enjoy eating it!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

1/6 Of The Way Done!

As mentioned in the last post, last Tuesday night was the final day of class for the semester. We get 3 weeks off for Christmas and New Year's, then it is really busy in January with class two nights a week for (what is commonly called) "J-term". In February, the schedule normalizes with class again only once a week.

One semester down - five to go!

New Definition of Insanity

This past Tuesday night I decided to brave the weather and drive up to grad school. It took me an hour to drive from Rochester to downtown St. Paul, driving at normal highway speeds. From St. Paul to Bethel University's campus - a whopping 12 miles - it took me 2 HOURS AND 10 MINUTES. The roads were snow covered, but weren't really that bad. I think what happened was when the snow first started to fall, a few drivers didn't slow down enough and got into accidents, which caused traffic jams everywhere. Just in the stretch from St. Paul to Bethel, I saw 6 multi-car accidents and 3 cars in the ditch. I was listening to the traffic reports on the radio, and the reporters were having a difficult time even knowing where to start when listing all the accidents. One report said that in one particular area, there had been about 15 accidents in 15 minutes.

THEN... when I finally arrived at school (an hour late) I find out that the first class has about 5 minutes left and the second class has been shortened to one hour. In other words, I spent over 3 hours on the road to sit in class for about an hour! I should've suspected that we weren't going to accomplish much in class even if the class times had been their normal lengths since it was the last night of the semester.

Entertaining Today

Today is a very special day because ALL FOUR of my grandparents are coming over for dinner and to play with me! I'm going to be a really good helper for mommy today because she has a lot of work to do. She's making roast with gravy, mashed potatoes (my favorite!), corn, rolls, fruit salad, and "Better than almost anything" Cake. (I wonder if it's better than my Yogurt Melts.) Mommy has to dust and vacuum and do some laundry, too. I'm a little scared of the vacuum, so Daddy may have to do that when he comes home from work so Mommy can hold me. I like all the flashing lights, but I'm a little nervous about the sounds it makes. We're going to get more snow tomorrow, so I hope they don't get snowed in at our house. If they do, I'll share my crib and purple blanket with them.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Baby #2?!?

The FAQ - (frequently asked question) of the week is.... "When are you planning for baby #2?" I don't know exactly what happened, but today two of my co-workers - from different areas - asked me about Baby #2. I work in a fairly small area and there are only 3 of us that are in "baby mode." Amaya was born in January of 2008, my co-worker Kari had her baby in April, and my other co-worker Angela had her baby in November. So, for some reason several people think that naturally, it's my turn!

Sorry to disappoint, but Baby #2 is on the back burner for a few years. We have our hands full with Amaya as it is! (Only joking!) We'd like to wait until Steve has finished graduate school and has a job secured. Ideally, I'd like to be home full time and work supplemental - just enough to keep up my license (about 120 hours a year), before Baby #2 makes its appearance. Of course, if God has bigger and better plans, we're all for it!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thank You

In an attempt to surprise my husband (who is currently on his way back from the cities from grad school), I just got done shoveling our recent snowfall. Whew.. I've forgotten what it's like to have to shovel. There are so many things that Steve does around the house that I often take for granted. I'm really thankful for all the men in my life who go out of their way to take care of me. My dad - thanks for warming up my car and brushing all the snow off my car. My father-in-law - for surprising us last week and snowblowing our driveway. And for Steve - for shoveling our driveway year after year. Thanks a million! You are the greatest!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Cards

Does anyone still send Christmas Cards? Surprisingly, this year we've only received TWO! I'm not sure if everyone else has procrastinated (like we have) and just haven't gotten them out yet (ours are going out in the mail on MONDAY!) - or if people are cutting back on cards this year to save money - or if emails are replacing cards and letters.

I LOVE snail mail. There's nothing like going to the mailbox and finding a HAND-WRITTEN note in the mail. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more infrequent and I'm guilty of this as well. Somehow though, it's just so much easier to send a quick email instead of finding stationery, stamps, etc. Amaya gets excited about junk mail - I get excited about letters. Hope to hear from you soon!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Amaya and Junk Mail

I"m not sure why she is so fascinated by this, but she loves playing with junk mail. She takes each piece out, one at a time, inspects it, bends it, twists it, rips it (if she can) and then discards it on the floor. Maybe there is a job as a Postal Inspector in her future?

Amaya's Cousin, Friend and Playmate...

I'm sure that over the years, there will be a lot of pictures on this blog of these two - Amaya and Miles - who are only 3 months apart in age.

Happy little girl...

Like I mentioned in the last post, here is Amaya most of the time: curious and happy!

Poor little girl...

We hear from a lot of people (family, friends and even strangers) that Amaya is such a happy baby. Which is true - most of the time! However, sometimes when Amaya doesn't get what she wants she gets so frustrated and mad.

Here is a picture of her, very obviously unhappy!

I'm probably a horrible parent to even say this, but this picture kind of makes me laugh. She is expressing such utter futility, such hopelessness, that I can't help but laugh. I know, I'm a bad parent!

~~ Steve

Cutest baby ever? says Proud Daddy

I know I'm terribly biased. I can't help it! I love these pictures of the cutest baby I have ever seen! She just learned how to give her baby kisses!

Decorating for Christmas!

LOVE-LOVE-LOVE this tree! Perfectly symmetrical, really full, and fragrant.

Family room - Amaya's stocking is the one in the middle. She's hoping we'll fill it with Gerber Yogurt Melts and Banana Puffs.

The picture of our tree all decorated was too fuzzy, so you'll just have to use your imagination as to what the rest of the tree looks like. Notice Amaya's new Christmas dress!

Checking out the tree... being a "good girl"and not touching!

Amaya's first Christmas ornament.

Dining room.

Banister railing.

We can't have Christmas without snow!

Our Christmas tree all year long!

Wrapping Presents

Amaya and I were able to get all of the Christmas presents wrapped. Amaya's job was to put the bows on. I think she did an awesome job. Unfortunately, there were a few presents that she took a bite out of the wrapping paper. Oops...

Oh! And just an FYI - IKEA has the best wrapping paper! It's double sided, good quality, really pretty, and relatively inexpensive.


Amaya comes from a long line of snoopers. Grandma Gustafson, Aunt Carol, and me. So it shouldn't have surprised me when Amaya decided to do some snooping of her own.

She's soooo busted...

Monday, December 8, 2008

O Christmas Tree...

With Amaya being sick on Saturday, I sent my dear husband to pick out our Christmas tree. I think from now on, I'll always send Steve out by himself to pick it out. He brought home the most beautiful 8 foot Premium Frasier Fir Tree!! We probably won't buy anything other than a Frasier Fir and I place most of the blame for this on my mom. She has expensive taste when it comes to Christmas trees... actually, she has expensive taste when it comes to most everything and great taste she has!

Last year at this time, I was very pregnant and Steve volunteered to string the lights on the tree so I wouldn't have to bend, twist, and reach. I guess Steve didn't like putting the lights on the tree, because this year I'm back to the task! We usually have 1200-1400 lights on our tree and this is my sister, Carol's fault. Several years ago - pre-Steve, while I was visiting Dan and Carol in Nebraska, I helped decorate their church. Carol taught me how to put lights on the tree. You shove the lights WAAAY back to the trunk and then wrap each branch with lights and repeat. It's A LOT of work, but the end result is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

We weren't sure how Amaya would do around the tree. Would she pull the ornaments off? Would she try to eat the branches? Would she knock the tree over? So far, so good, she's hasn't gone near the tree. She was fascinated with the lights and liked to play with the ornaments while they were in the box. I thought maybe we'd have to only decorate the tree half-way up, but I put more "baby-friendly" ornaments on the bottom, so if she does decide to explore we'll be okay.

I'm relieved that we've gotten the house and tree decorated, however my "to do list" still feels like a mile long. We have two more Christmas presents to buy for, wrapping, baking, and our Christmas cards left. Manageable, right?

We're about to receive anywhere from 6-10 inches of snow in the next 24 hours. I'm anxiously looking out my window at work waiting for that first snowflake. Bring on the snow!

Finally a Healthy Household

We've been horrible at blogging since Thanksgiving simply because it's been crazy busy and 2 out of 3 of us have been sick at some point. Amaya had a fever right before Thanksgiving that lasted 5-6 days and a few days later, Steve got a fever and chills. Then on Saturday, Amaya threw up once in her crib, (that went unnoticed until that morning) and then again two more times covering both me and Steve. Ugh... We're finally on the upswing and all feeling healthy -- for now (fingers crossed).