Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Yup, I'm one of those "crazies" that get up in the middle of the night to shop for amazing deals. Steve and I were up most of the night anyway (another story to be told at another time), so I figured, I might as well shop while I was wide awake.

Steve and I had shopped on Black Friday before and knew what to expect this year. Unfortunately, Steve had to work today and I couldn't get anyone brave (or crazy) enough to go with me, so I trekked out alone. I drove by Target first and of course, the line was incredibly long just to get into the store, so I figured I'd give Wal-Mart a whirl since they were going to be open anyway.

Wal-Mart ended up having the "doorbusters" wrapped in black plastic and when 5am hit, everyone tore into the plastic. I was mainly looking for board games for Amaya and DVDs for Steve and myself. However, who would have thought of putting the movies in the Garden Center? CRAZY! I picked up Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Life and also several 2 dollar DVDs! And just for the record - I was in and out of the store in 21 minutes - not too shabby!

My next stop was Target and since it was almost 5:30am, I wasn't expecting there to be much left that I was interested in. Of course, most of the DVDs we wanted were off the shelves already, so I headed to the toys and didn't find much. I was walking by the women's clothing and saw more movies! Steve and I were wanting all 10 seasons of the TV show "Friends" and the first 4 seasons of "The Office", but the shelves were empty. I ran into one of the employees and asked him how his morning was going. He then asked if I needed help finding anything and he ended up taking two separate trips to the back store room and found exactly what we wanted! Being nice certainly pays off!! I was absolutely thrilled with my finds and so was Steve! I was even more excited when my receipt from Target stated that I had saved almost 300 dollars from the original prices!!

So, call me crazy, but to save 300 dollars on things that we would eventually buy someday down the road, I'm more than willing to get up early and fight the crowds!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick post to wish those that aren't with us a very Happy Thanksgiving! We are spending the day with the Gustafson's today which includes awesome food, football, and games! We have so much to be thankful for this year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Playdates in One Day!?!?

I'm so excited!!! My cousins, Emily and Brian, arrived yesterday all the way from Colorado last evening to celebrate Thanksgiving. Mommy tried explaining that my Grandma and Grandpa Horning are Emily and Brian's Grandparents too. I'm not quite sure I understand, but it was a little difficult sharing Grandma and Grandpa's time last night. I'm used to having them all to myself, but Mommy says I did a good job sharing. Later this morning, Emily and Brian are coming over to play at my house! I'm so excited!! I can't wait to show them my room and all my toys. Mommy told me that I have to share my toys with them because we love them and when you love someone, you're supposed to share.

AND THEN.... Mommy and Daddy are going on a date with Cooper and Tessa's Mommy and Daddy tonight! Cooper and Tessa's Grandma and Grandpa are going play with us at their house. I'm so EXCITED! Cooper has the coolest toys and he even has this really, really huge ball that I like to play with. AND, I get to see that cute baby Tess again! Someday I want my own baby that's cute like her! I'm a little nervous about meeting their Grandparents and hope they like me.

It's a busy day today and I need to get ready for my company! Have a great day! - Amaya

Thursday, November 19, 2009


For Halloween this year, I dressed up as a ballerina. I love twirling in my little tutu! I remembered my pumpkin from last year and was excited to get a lot of candy!

My classic Amaya smile.

Our first stop was my Great-Grandma and Great Grandpa Struckmann's house. They were really surprised to see us and Great-Grandma gave me a Milky Way bar! I wanted to eat it so bad!!

Next, we went to my Grandma and Grandpa Horning's house. They had a REALLY special treat for me - a chocolate chip cookie from Subway! I had to eat it right away and shared a little with Grandma!

Our last stop of the night was my Grandma and Grandpa Gustafson's house. We were especially lucky to meet my cousins there too!

Here are all of us: Lydia was a tiger, Ben was a knight/warrior, Annika was a vet and Miles was a lion.

Even Uncle Mike dressed up for Halloween! He was pretty funny! (Mommy told me to post this picture especially today since it's his birthday!! Happy Birthday!! At least Mommy didn't post it on facebook...)

Happy Halloween! Next year I'm going to be a fairy - Mommy already picked up my costume on clearance. I can't wait to get more candy and go to more houses! -Amaya

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hope's Baptism

Hope was baptized on October 25th in Pender, Nebraska by Reverend Ken Carlson. It was a wonderful service and what was even more special was that we could all be there together as a family. The only person missing from both sides of their family was Dan's brother who happened to be on call.

Here Amaya and Miles are trying to sit very quietly during the service.

Carol and Dan ordered a cake from Hy-Vee and it was absolutely delicious!

Carol, Dan, and little Hope.

Carol, Dan, Hope, and Reverend Carlson.

The Springer family: Hope, Dan, Joshua, Hannah, Jordan, and Carol.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but so much fun being able to see everyone and celebrate this special day with Hope. She's growing up so quickly - just a few days ago, my sister said she was already pulling herself up on furniture! Maybe she'll be walking by Christmas!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Annika's Birthday

Annika's 9th birthday was very special this year, in that all 17 of us celebrated together - IN NEBRASKA! Our niece, Hope was being dedicated on Annika's birthday, so we all trekked down to celebrate two very special events.

Since we have oodles of pictures (thank you Dad!), I'll only post Annika's birthday party pictures today.

Annika's birthday was definitely an American Girl birthday. This is her new American Girl doll, Rebecca.

The Springer's and our family bought Annika this dress for her new doll.

Annika, Hannah, and Lydia with their American Girl dolls.

We had pizza for dinner and A LOT OF BREADSTICKS!!

Even Hope wanted pizza - unfortunately, rice cereal and Gerber's puffs were on her menu.

Along with birthday cake, we had ice cream and every ice cream topping you could imagine!

All the grandkids! (and American Girl dolls)

The three little ones.

Aren't they cute?

Hugs all around!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tweite's Pumpkin Patch

Mid-October, we were able to make it to the pumpkin patch while the weather cooperated with us. Our dear friends, the Hulls (who we met in our prenatal class) were able to come with us and share in the fun. It was still a little chilly, but that didn't stop our little ones from exploring and having a great time. Jen took some amazing pictures of the kids, so I've combined her pictures and ours.

What's great about Tweite's pumpkin patch is that there are so many things for the kids to do. One of Cooper and Amaya's favorite things was to run through these large tubes and chase each other.

There were several different places were the kids could climb and there were lots of slides!

"Come on, Amaya!"

Amaya wasn't quite sure what to think about the slides, but after a few times, she'd say, "Again?"

A really, really, big slide that Cooper was brave enough to go on.

Tess was quite the trooper at the pumpkin patch.

Even with all the activity, she was able to take a little snooze. Isn't she perfect?!? And she's so cuddly! Love that girl!

And finally, after all that playing, we took a wagon ride to the pumpkin patch to pick out a perfect pumpkin.

This is by far, one of my favorite pictures of Steve and Amaya. Thank you, Jen for taking it and sharing it with us!

"I want this one!"

"This one's better!"

Our friends: Steve, Jen, Cooper, and Tess.

Obviously, very happy with our pumpkin purchase.

Home with our new pumpkin!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Word from Elmo

Hi everyone! It's me, Elmo. I've had a lot of free time on my hands since Amaya's kitty joined the Gatzke household. I'm not sure what happened. She used to take me everywhere and we were inseparable. I comforted her at doctor's appointments, kept her company all the way out to South Dakota and back, and she'd hug me every night in bed. But all of a sudden, I've been replaced by a kitty! She isn't even on TV or have any books written about her! Good grief... I would never have guessed she would have turned her back on me like this. Now all I hear about is, "Kitty this, kitty that." She sobs every time she can't find her beloved kitty. But me? She could really care less about me anymore. Oh, she still likes to watch me on TV and read about me, but kitty gets all the kisses and hugs. I just wish things were the way they used to be - where I was the only one that she cared about. I'm hoping that the kitty thing will just be a fad and she'll come back to loving me as much as she did. Otherwise, I may need to find a new home..!

IKEA/Mall of America Trip

On another adventure this fall, Steve and I took Grandma Horning and Amaya to IKEA and the Mall of America. IKEA is one of my favorite places to get inexpensive decorating ideas. Steve's mom had never been to IKEA, so it was fun showing her everything (and chasing Amaya!) It was a typical Saturday for IKEA so it was crazy busy. I picked up a few things and we waited in line forever. Note to self: Don't go to IKEA on Saturday. However, the chocolate we bought made it worth the wait.

After IKEA we went across the street to the Mall of America to meet my cousin, Jennifer for lunch. Jen would babysit Amaya on occasion and I think Amaya really missed her. Throughout lunch, Amaya parked herself on Jen's lap while we got the scoop on Jen's new apartment in the cities, her job, and her love life!

The next item on our agenda was to visit the Underwater Adventures Aquarium at the mall. We weren't sure how long Amaya was going to last because it was already past her naptime, but the fish kept her interest. These next two pictures were taken at the beginning of the trail leading down to the aquarium. Also, please note, Amaya found a "friend" at IKEA and this kitty goes everywhere Amaya goes ever since this trip.

We couldn't believe the size of the stingrays! There were so many and the way the aquarium is set up, the fish were literally swimming above our heads!

Amaya playing on one of the castles just before crashing for a nap in the car.

Since Steve's Dad was hunting in South Dakota for the weekend, after we got back from the cities, we invited Steve's mom over for dinner and watched a movie the rest of the evening. Another fun weekend full of memories!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Toddler Gym Class

Just as Amaya enjoyed taking her swim class, she loved her Toddler Gym Class on Tuesday nights. Both are done now for the year and we'll plan on signing her up for a couple of classes after the holidays.

Here are a few of the things that Amaya participated in:

This was one of the first skills they worked on: trapping a ball. I would roll the ball and Amaya would have to "trap" the ball in the empty juice container. The first week she didn't really understand how to "trap" the ball, but by the end of the class, she mastered it quite well.

Her teacher set up a ladder with various gift bows in between the rungs. This was supposed to resemble a garden. The kids were instructed to place the bows in the ladder and then they were supposed to walk through the "garden" without stepping on any of the flowers. In the background of the picture, there was play equipment set up that Amaya loved to play on.

Amaya liked all of the activities that involved balls. She was able to make quite a few baskets, but wanted to shoot the ball in the grown-up baskets too! Maybe if she gets Steve's height genes, we may have a basketball player on our hands. Who knows?

Each week, there was a different layout of the gym mats. Here Amaya is supposed to climb up the mats and then jump off the top one. At one point, Amaya wanted Grandma Horning to climb up with her and jump too! It was a special treat anytime her grandparents came to watch her!

Amaya liked hanging off the bar quite a bit too - actually, I don't think there was any activity she didn't like. The kids were supposed to hang from the bar for 5 seconds. The longest Amaya was able to hang was 13 seconds - Gymnast maybe?

Again, more balls. They had to practice throwing the ball up in the air and catching it. Amaya liked giving Grandma Horning all the balls and watch her try to juggle. I tried juggling with three balls, but I'm a little rusty.

It was fun to see what skills Amaya had mastered over the course of 6 weeks and to see what she still needs to work on. Every once and while, she'll walk backwards or sideways like she was taught in class. Overall, it was a great class, and I'm not sure who had more fun - me or Amaya or Grandma!