Less than 3 weeks...

As excited as I am for this next step in our lives, I'm almost reluctant to look at the calendar. Mike leaves for Basic Training in just less than three weeks, so we are really soaking up our daddy time. We will definitely have fun brushing up on our letter-writing skills (something I should have been better at keeping up on anyway). We haven't talked to the kids about his leaving yet. They know "daddy is a soldier" and we've talked about what being a soldier means, but we still think it's too early to tell them that he'll be gone for a while. Brooklyn would most likely have quite a bit of anxiety if we told her too soon.

I'm anxious to have more of our questions answered once he gets there (like if/when/where we will move!). I'll just be gradually packing things up while he's gone and I guess we'll see where we end up :-).


Holiday Letter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

2009 was a wonderfully wild year. Life is an adventure, and we don't intend to miss out. Our journey this year has brought us across the States and further.

Spring -
On March 29th, we said good-bye to our home in Mankato, MN and to many friends and family. Our purpose: to get a Master's degree from Seminary. Our school: Southwestern Baptist Theological in Fort Worth, Texas. I promise you, driving through the night across the States with two toddlers in the car wasn't easy (not to mention wiping away the tears from a dreaded good-bye to some of our very favorite people). Our spring Texas experience was warm - the kids enjoyed playing outside every single day in the beautiful weather, Jill got to go through the morning sickness of this pregnancy without the support of family baby-sitters around, and I landed my first paying church job. Living in campus housing we were only 3 miles from the zoo -- so we became members of the Fort Worth Zoo, where Brooklyn and Jeremiah are able to let their imaginations run wild. Brookie & Miah have become the best of friends, it is so incredible to watch them play and interact together. They are 20 months apart, and they love each other so much. It makes me think about how much I really do love Stephanie and Nathan, and how there is nothing that can compare to the deep relationship of siblings.

Summer -
HOT. Living in a different part of the country is a wonderful learning experience, and I would reccommend to all. As Jill's baby belly grew, so did the daily high temperature. Many back to back days in the triple digits. The summer also provided another move for us. My new job was a Minister Intern at a church in Plano, TX. The hour long commute was helpful to me for learning Greek in the car, but I missed the time with Jill and the kids. So on July 1st, we moved into our current home in Carrollton, TX. We are now able to be only 4 miles from the church and learn what it means to be a Minister's family. The internship at Prestonwood Baptist Church was an incredible experience. The church has a staggering 29,000 members and provided us with daily opportunities for impact and for learning. As I kept busy learning Greek and working, Jill teaches piano lessons out of the home and enjoy's her ever changing days as a stay-at-home mom. Our new home provides a fenced in back yard where Brooklyn loves to utilize the rope swing and the trees for climbing, wereas Jeremiah loves to run and hit home-runs! We also had the priviledge to learn how to exterminate cockroaches - gross, gross, gross.

Autumn -
The weather cooled off, but was just perfect for a Minnesota family to enjoy the outdoors daily. We have gone on many family walks, including the "Graham Family Flashlight Walk" around the neighborhood before bed time, and I have been able to grill out most every single Saturday and Sunday. We have been blessed to enjoy so many family and learning moments this year as we continue to grow and change. Our favorite moment this fall came at 9:28pm on 11/09/09. Savannah Kate Graham joined us at 9 lbs and 12 oz, measuring 21.5 inches long. What a beauty she is. (I even got to snuggle with her for a nap today). Both Brooklyn and Jeremiah adore her, smooch her, and talk about her often. It is so incredible to watch Jill mother Savannah along with Brooklyn and Jeremiah -- it is quite clear how much she loves being a mom. Also, our Thanksgiving was just perfect, my parents visited from Minnesota (for the 2nd time this year) and the kids couldn't stop hugging them and playing with them.

Winter -
Savannah is starting to be awake a little more often and is sharing more smiles with us. Brooklyn and Jeremiah are both quickly expanding their vocabulary and entertaining us with their questions and comments. We are lucky to be getting ready for a few more visitors: Jill's Family, and my siblings Stephanie and Nathan along with his bride Heidi are all coming for a visit in January. We love our experience here in Texas, but we love our family and friends much more. Lastly, we are gearing up for another big change - the Army. I enlisted for active duty for 4 years starting on January 25th, 2010. I know, the adventure continues. Many have asked the obvious - what about school, your family, etc. The short answer is that we are continuing to pursue God's leadership and guidance in our lives. We believe in our God, our country, in all of you, and that this is part of our overall big picture plan. We don't have all the puzzle pieces to the big picture yet, and this next "puzzle piece" may look a little rough around the edges, but it truly does fit. We believe we will learn and experience much - and if we approach it with the correct attitude, we can grow abundantly from this future journey. It will also provide us with the financials for school, as we plan to continue my 3 year Master's degree at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN.

Today - I am relaxing for this last day of my Christmas break and I am going to grill for dinner, Jill is dying diaper covers (she cloth diapers the kids), Brooklyn is playing with her new dollhouse accessories, Jeremiah is analyzing his new train set, and Savannah is sleeping in her swing and keeping warm with a Boston Red Sox blanket (thanks Uncle Nathan and Aunt Heidi).

We wish you a wonderful 2010. We challenge you to make time to read an extra book or two this year. We hope you take life's curveballs as the adventure and opportunity for learning they are. We pray for you to grow closer in your relationship with God. We love you and miss you.

May God bless you and keep you,
The Graham Family - Savannah, Jeremiah, Brooklyn, Jill, and Michael


Christmas Eve

We went to the Chistmas Eve service at church last night, and can you believe it was snowing! It had been snowing all day and actually accumulated on the ground (very much news-worthy for Texans). There wasn't nearly as large of a turn-out at church because of the weather, but our family sure soaked up as much as possible. It felt like a 'true' Christmas and the weather made us feel quite at home.

Brooklyn had been asking (for weeks) if it would snow soon, why there wasn't already snow, and if it would even snow at all in Texas, so she was thrilled to be making snow balls last night. Jeremiah, on the other hand, wasn't sure whether or not he really enjoyed having them thrown at him, but he did have fun (until his fingers touched it, to which he said, "Mama, teen my hands peez").
Savannah decided not to run around in the snow last night. She was much more content sucking on her fist (which, as of lately, has been much preferred over her paci).


Miss Independant

Brooklyn continues to become more and more independant by the day. She's even begun to think that she knows best. Lately, this is how some of our conversations pan out:

"Time for dinner, sweetie"
"Well mom, I'm reading a story"

"Brooklyn, let's pick up your barbies now that we're done playing with them"
"Mommy, you can do it. I'm playing with my doll house"

"Brookie, two more times on the rope swing, but then it's time to go inside"
"Mommy, it's okay with me that I swing four more times because I'm fours years old"

What a hoot. Her most obvious act of independance is clearly her outfits. I want her to be able to pick her own clothes out. The only times I step in to intervene is when she's not dressed appropriately for the weather. I really do find it amusing to see what she has picked out for the day (though it's typically about four times a day that she changes outfits, haha). This is what she picked out to wear for our walk yesterday. For the love :-).


Home Run!

Brooklyn, Jeremiah, and I had a lot of fun playing in the back yard this morning. They never grow tired of the rope swing, climbing that tree, or playing on the slide. It's so fun to see them running around back there, often in their own worlds. We played some fun games of chase this morning, and even hit a few good home runs! I'm officially not jealous of Minnesota weather :-)

Savannah was also giving some really big smiles while Brooklyn and Jeremiah were resting. She held them back while the camera was out, but she sure is starting to acquire some conversational skills. What a beauty.

"Teento Yiddo Staw"

This was taken on November 1st, but I just figured out how to upload videos. Jeremiah was so cute that night. He was all snuggly in his jammies, singing so many songs to himself. He was a little apprehensive about singing more songs once I grabbed the camera, but I was able to capture his sweet little voice :-). It's a little dark because only his lamp was on (he was just climbing into bed for the night).


"It Was Really Silly"

Brooklyn had her 4 year well child check up today. I was impressed with how thorough her pediatrician and the nurses were. After what I would think is the routine part of the exam, they had her look at a chart from down the hall to test her eye sight(though we obviously prefer Uncle Nathan ;-) ), they tested her hearing, and even had her give a urine sample. Brooklyn had to call Daddy after that appointment to say (through her giggles), "Daddy, I go'ed potty in a cup! It was really silly".

She's getting so tall (I'm curious to see how her height compares to her cousin, Hadley). She's 38.5", which puts her in the 25th percentile (yep, not much like her sister) and 33lbs, putting her at around the 30th percentile. She'll often tell us out of the blue, "I have a little Steck in me". She's right. She hasn't made it above the 25th percentile yet. I don't think she'll be a tall girl.

We're so proud of the beautiful little girl she has become. She's such a blessing to everyone!

I looked back at my baby book and had Carolyn looked at Mikes. We didn't have records of us at age 4, but these are our closest comparisons:

Mike (age 3)- 36" tall, 29lbs
(age 5.5)- 41.75" tall, 38lbs

Me (age 2.5)- 36.75" tall, 36lbs (Holy cow!!)


One Month

I find it hard to believe that Savannah is already one month old. She has been giving us lots of smiles during the day, and keeping mama well-entertained at night :-). We very rarely hear cries from her. She typically 'grunts' when she's hungry. It's so cute, I wish I could imitate it to tell others, but my noises tend to come out a little less cute. I was able to get a few pictures of her with her eyes open, but she spent the better part of the day sleeping.

Brooklyn, Jeremiah, and I took advantage of that time and played outside in what the weather man described as "the lowest temperatures of the year!" (it was about 32 degrees at the time, ha!). We bundled in hats and mittens, but probably would have been scolded by the 'locals' for being under-dressed.


A Perfect Afternoon

It was beautiful out today (I think the high was 61 degrees)! To be honest, the kids and I really haven't been out of the house all that often since Savannah was born. It's either been rainy, chilly (Texas chilly ;-) ), or I've just been too exausted to do much (mostly the latter). So today, after a nice nap and a delicious cup of coffee, we took a walk! I wore Savannah and Brookie and Miah were in the double jogger. "Mommy, it's so beautiful!" Brookie said as we passed by this 'creek' in the picture. She's right. It really was a perfect day to finally get out of the house!

During our walk, a nice elderly passer-by expressed her concern for the kids' health in this "cold weather" (even though they had long sleeves and were covered in blankets). I assured her that us migrators from Minnesota felt very comfortable in this weather ;-). The funny thing is that right before she said anything, I had just been thinking, "I wonder if Savannah is too warm". Hehe.