Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Congratulations graduate Aimee

After 5 1/2 years Aimee graduated from Marian University with a degree in general education.  These are a few pictures of the event. 

Aimee and her college friends
Aimee and Ethan

Aimee coming back after receiving her diploma

Aimee's class

The very proud graduate

The family

Mark, Aimee and me

Emily, Aimee and Angie...LOL

Monday, December 27, 2010

My "Tac" stocking

     My Aunt Evie has always blessed us with a new stocking with the arrival of a new child.  It all started when Mark and I got married, Mr. & Mrs. Claus.  Even when Jason and Katie got engaged I had my Aunt make Katie a stocking.  These have become treasures in our house every Christmas. 

     This past New Years, my resolution was to re-teach myself to knit.  I hadn't knitted in years and just admire everyone that does.  I searched the internet to find a stocking pattern...I found one!!!  It looked like something I could handle.  I gathered my yarn and needles and proceeded.  Following the pattern, I started at the top.  Got the ribbing to look great and then on to the name.  I studied it out carefully before proceeding.  Before even starting I had to think about "who" to make the stocking for.  Jacque's cats came to my mind.  I didn't want to put a "name" in there so I thought "Cat"'s nice and short and should be easy.  Onward I the name done and was so proud of myself.  "I did it!!!", I exclaimed to the family.  Turned it around to show them and it said "TAC"!!!  Good grief...knowing Jacque's sense of humor, I kept it that way.  It's my first stocking and now it's hers and there is definitely a story to go with it.  Merry Christmas Jacque!!! 
     Some notes about the pattern and the yarn...I used Vanna yarn from Wal-Mart.  Wonderful soft yarn and easy to work with.  I bought a skein of each color and had plenty left over to make hats for the younger kids.  The pattern was very easy to follow, even though I did a couple boo-boos.  Besides it saying "TAC" you'd never know it unless you are an experienced knitter.  :)  Those I'll keep to myself.  ;)  I hope you enjoy this story and have a Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Grahn Christmas Newsletter part 4 of 4 - The Final Chapter

Mark and I
     This brings us to Mark and I.  Two days ago we celebrated 27 years of marriage, hard to believe.  Seems like a blink of an eye and we are at this point in our lives.  We would have never of gotten to this point if we didn't start things off making our vows in church in front of God.  We've allowed him into our hearts and our lives from day one.  Only he knows our future and the direction he'll take us.  There have been many times we've been tested and question "what's going on?"  But later see the "why" we were lead down that road.  It only makes us stronger as individuals and a couple.  Before we even met our families paths crossed in so many ways.  It was at the right time that Mark and I met that's when we realized how much our families knew each other.  Our relationship was meant to be.  No matter how hard people tried to stop it, God had much bigger plans for us and we had to place our trust in him. 
     When our twins were born that's when we realized that we weren't in control.  We planned on one but were blessed with 2.  It was at that point when we did lots of reading and learning how to allow God to plan our family too.  There are no side effects and it was one less decision for us to make.  Mark's mom often told us "God doesn't give you anything you can't handle"...there is so much wisdom in that very powerful phrase. 
     Mark has been milking cows for over 30 years now and can't see himself quitting anytime soon.  This is his life and enjoys the ups and downs that come with it.  Since we no longer sell produce he's putting more time and energy back into the herd.  This past fall we added 10 more cows with more coming after the new year.  None of us realized how much the herd suffered during the produce until we didn't have it anymore. 
     We are very thankful that the produce is behind us but also saddened that it is gone.  Very quickly we realized that there are things we want to do!  We took the kids to Devil's Lake 4 times this past year, 2 times hiking and 2 times swimming or as the kids referred to it as "thrashing around in the water".  2011 will bring a much needed vacation as it will be 4 years.  The plan is to head east...a Civil war trip.  No dates have been set yet.

     This past year was full of events for us a bridal shower, a first communion, a high school graduation, a wedding, a family reunion...we aren't done yet...a college graduation.  That doesn't include the things outside our family that we were able to go to.  We are excited to get into 2011 as of right now...looking much slower.    
Mark and his inferno, I mean cake
me and my inferno
     You may have noticed the strange birthday cakes we get.  The way we look at it much easier to find a cake that doesn't work than one that does.  Since we celebrate the birthdays for the month.  They are all ice cream cakes...we go for the flavor.
      Jason and Katie announced this past fall that they were selling "the wedding tractor".  They needed the money  to help pay off debt.  This news crushed me.  I know it's just a thing but it was now part of the family and you don't know when we'll need it again.  Jason had listed it on Ebay and after some talking I started bidding and won by $70...whew, that was close.  He restored a 4020 and sold it...that was fine, the 50 was a different story.  As part of the deal, we gave Jason the Super M and he restored that and sold it. 

     This past year also had us saying good bye to a couple of long time pets.  You read about Livi's bunny and then there was Rocky our dog and Smudge one of our house cats. 

Well, this brings me to the end of our updates for 2010.  I don't need to bore you with my soap business because through all 4 parts of this newsletter it's been scrolling along the left.  :)  As we prepare for the upcoming holiday season Mark and I wish the best to you.  May your lives be full of joy and happiness.  We're excited to see where 2011 takes us and excited to share with you through this blog.  Please take this time to bookmark this site and check back often, we'd love to hear from you. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oh, Christmas Tree

Our 10' tree!!
On our way to the tree farm.
 This year we did something different.  For the past 20 years we would pack up the kids and go up north to get our tree.  This year Jason and Katie told us of a different place, so I invited ourselves to go along.  :)  I'm so glad we did.  This was the most awesome placed we'd ever gone to.  Located between Rio and Columbus was this tree farm...not just any ordinary tree farm but complete with a horse drawn wagon ride, gift shop, hot cider and Santa.
We followed Jason and Katie
 The fresh fallen snow from the night before could have added to our day but I think even without it we would have felt the same cozy feeling we received today.  The trip down was snow covered but we took it slow to enjoy the country side.  We pulled into the driveway of Miller's Christmas Trees we immediately fell in love.  The smell of the pine wood lots, wood burning in the barn keeping guests and Santa warm, natural wreaths hung and the sounds of the horses getting hooked up to the wagons. There parking lot was snow covered and our van gets stuck on spit...we weren't going to worry about that now...this was family day!!!
Preston, he's always bored in the van.

Ethan and Santa
Mark, Preston and Santa
Katie and Jason didn't want to sit on Santa's lap
Work gloves drying by the wood stove in the barn.
Karlie, Santa and Livi
Jason cutting down their first Christmas tree
Katie and Jason and their first Christmas tree
The tree we picked
 As we approached the barn we were greeted by an employee that gave us a quick run down of how things worked and what was available.  We decided to visit Santa first since we were told he was the real deal and the fake was at the mall today...Ethan was impressed.  We wandered through an old barn heated by wood stoves and there the jolly man himself was seated next to his own personal wood stove.  Ethan was speechless...incredible, I know.  Of course Ethan was first followed by Mark and Preston and finally Karlie and Livi.  Emily, Angie, Jason and Katie didn't want any part of we'll see what's in their stockings Christmas day.  After we peeled Ethan off of Santa we headed out into the pine filled fields.  This was probably the easiest of all tree findings we've done.  Every tree was wonderfully pruned...just right in our opinion.  They were a manageable width and height.  Seriously, the tree we got is only 5' wide at the bottom easily placed in the family room.  In years past some of them were 8-10' wide, that isn't easy to deal me.  This farm also offers rides out to the field on the horse drawn wagons to pick your tree but they were still hitching up the teams.  So we walked out to the fields.

Bringing it back
Mark doing the honors
Our tree next to Jason and Katie's

Measuring the tree

Shaking the tree

baling the tree
map of the tree farm
It's gotta go in!
From the inside

 Trust me...this isn't easy but this is how we bring our tree home...through the back of the van.  It does fit!!!

getting close

An added drawn wagon rides
 On to the highlight for everyone else...the horse drawn wagon ride!!!  This was such a treat!!! The sounds of the harnesses was the neatest thing.  It sounds like jingle bells on a sleigh.  They had 2 teams that would take guests out to the fields to drop them off and pick them back up with their tree.  We went just for the ride.  Karlie and Livi smiled from ear to ear with excitement through the 20 minute ride around the farm.  Our drivers name was Kristie and did a great job answering our at times dumb questions.  We were just so fascinated by the whole idea and venture she took us on.  I'm trying to upload a short video that I took that captured the whole experience.  What for it down at the bottom. 
Dick, Doc and Duke

 Back to the van...remember the van gets stuck on spit.  The people parked next to us got stuck with front wheel drive, so Mark and the kids pushed them out.  This however didn't give us much hope for the "Grahn Tour Bus".  The plan was me driving, little ones inside the van and Mark and the older ones pushing.  I like to think that my many years of driving a 15 passenger van helped drive it out of that snow with no problems.  Mark seems to have a different opinion.  :)
This family will be making a repeat visit to this farm next year.  Hopefully Aimee, Jacque, Heather and Hannah will be able to join us.   We love making memories for the kids by keeping this family tradition going.