Andy, Kelly, Carter & Charlie


This is becoming our extended-family tradition!  Last year, Kelsey and the boys and Carter and I stayed over night at the Wasserbahn to play.  We had such a great time, that this year, we brought little Nora, and the Anderson’s!

We met up and got settled in our room (#106), only to be moved upstairs to the opposite side of the hotel (rooms #215 and #217).  Boo moving 3 adults, 5 kids and Baby Nora!  But we did, and got settled again.  We threw on swimmies and hit the pool.  Carter Kay was, again, hesitant of the big “dumpy bucket,” but she kept less of an eye on it this year.  After about an hour, I finally conned her into going up onto the platform to play with hoses, right where the slide is.  I couldn’t hear the dump bucket bell, and it spilled over while we were playing.  Luckily, we were protected on the platform by the roof (score!).  Madi tried to get Carter to go down the slide, but she wasn’t having it.  So after numerous requests from Madi, I finally just tossed her down.  She was all legs, trying to get ahold of something to keep her from going down (Whatever!  It was a tiny little yellow slide!  Wussy!), but when she got down, she giggled and immediately came running back up for turn after turn!  Aversion therapy, works every time!  We all also took turns in the big pool, jumping lilly pads.  That was my favorite part last year, and it was a blast again.  Carter and I giggled and jumped and splashed in the water.  It was great!

We had pizza, Cheeto’s and applesauce for dinner.  And we finished up with rice krispy bars.

Then we went to play games in the game room.  Grant continues to be a big ol’ skee ball cheater, which makes me laugh!  We took our winning tickets and everyone got a tasty treat.

After games, we headed back to our rooms to share gifts.  What a great group of pals we have!  The kids received some wonderful gifts – apparently Mom-Santa’s didn’t get the memo that not everyone was good this year :) 

Sleeping arrangements were agreed upon: Carter Kay wanted to sleep with Madi (who she adores!), which left Carter J with Janine in one room (a room full of crazies!).  Collin ran the risk of rolling out of bed, so he slept with Kelsey.  That left Grant asking to sleep with me.  I think everyone was finally asleep, after Grant’s “spoonEEEEE” giggles and a fit of laughter between Madi and Carter Kay, around 10:45pm.  At 3:37am, Grant sat straight up next to me, hit me with his arm and said, “That was FUN!”  He giggled, plopped back down and fell fast asleep!  I can only imagine what part of the day he was dreaming about!

Wonderful extended-family tradition!  We’re looking forward to next year’s initiation of Charlie to the pool, and Nora and Charlie to the overnight!  Love you guys!!!

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Me and my home-girl, waiting on “the friends” to arrive

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That’s our sugar-and-sweet, rag-tag crew!
Collin, Grant (both 3 1/2) and Nora (4 months) Bumsted
Carter Kay (4)
Madi (7) and Carter Jay (4) Anderson

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Our feeble attempt at a “piggy pile”!

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Carter J … getting a drink?!!

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Grant: “I’m an alligator!”

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Carter Kay, Carter J and Grant, undoubtedly up to no good!

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Madi, Carter Kay and Carter J on the water park playground thingy

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Madi and Carter J, the goofiest and sweetest of the goofy-sweets!

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A very brave Collin decided to take to the lilly pads.  What made him decided to get on these, with my supervise (which is sometimes known to be suspect!), I’ll never know.  I guess he’s got a spidey-sense about me!

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Trouble x3: Grant, Carter Kay and Madi, waiting for lilly pads

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Grant, being a skee ball cheater

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The crew opening gifts

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Carter x2 helping Madi open her friendship bracelet kit
FYI: I better be getting a bracelet!

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At 9:45pm, while getting ready for bed, Carter J decides he needs a slice of pepperoni pizza with mushrooms and helps himself!

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Besties: Madi and Carter
Carter adores this girl!!!

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Me and my “spoonEEEEEEEE” Grant, who I was sure didn’t have sleeping in his plans for the night!

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Collin and Kelsey, snuggling up for bed

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Carter’s vacation “break-fist” of champions: fruit, orange juice and bacon!

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The girls chanting: “I see London, I see France …”

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Flying Carter, mid bed-jumping!

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Collin, Grant, Carter J, Carter Kay and Madi, gearing up for MORE bed-jumping

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(you know, it’s really amazing she doesn’t bite her tongue more often!)

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Boys will be boys!

Andy, Kelly, Carter & Charlie


We finally got home for Christmas.  The weather, however, got the last laugh along highway 218, about 2 miles away from the farm.  The roads were fine the entire drive, but we hit an icy patch going about 65mph and spun out.  We started in the left lane, fishtailed into the right, spun, hit the median ditch and spun in the ditch.  When we stopped, I looked back to see Charlie contently eyeing me, and Carter said, “Wow!  That spooked me out!”  Out of nowhere, a state trooper came to help us out and the kind woman who watched it all from behind us also stopped.  It’s nice to see that some people still stop and take care!  The truck is fine, we’re all fine … and it makes for one heck of a story!

We spent Saturday with the Chalupa’s.  Holy gifts!  We decided to only give gifts to the kids (Carter and Courtney are 4, Marissa 8 months, Charlie is 2 1/2 months, and Baby Chalupa will debut in a couple weeks … or so we thought!), so you’d think there would have been less goodies.  Wrong!  The girls and I brought gifts in from under the tree in the kitchen, and they kept coming and coming, until the living room was either packed with a Chalupa or something with a bow!  The girls had a wonderful time sharing gifts and doling out presents to one another.  With Baby Chalupa coming soon, and Charlie here, we also took the infamous “Who Loves Baby?” pictures for their books. 

We had big family dinner.  Charlie was upset; I think he was overwhelmed by the number of Chalupa’s (or Chalupa relatives) in one house!  He cried himself to sleep for the night, but not after snuggling with his aunts.  Carter and Courtney were two wound up little goofballs.  I think my favorite quote of the night was Aunt Monika to Carter:  “Carter, let’s go have a talk.”  They went back into the laundry room away from everyone, and I overheard, “Now, Carter … we do not talk about butt cracks at the table.”  Classic Carter!

Sunday we headed to Brighton for Christmas with Grandma and Poppy, who, in true Grandma and Poppy-style, spoiled the kiddos!  Carter loves her little spinner tops (so does the cat!).  We didn’t get to stay as long as we’d wanted (again, thanks weather!), but that just means we get to come home again in a couple weeks for the weekend 🙂

The big Christmas present of the weekend was the surprise we all got Sunday morning.  Andy had gotten up to go to the bathroom and check on Charlie and Duane and Linda’s, at 3:45am.  He said he heard Corey and Amber talking downstairs, but couldn’t make out what they were saying, then he saw them leave.  Amber was really excited about Sunday breakfast at the Casino, so the only reason they’d be leaving that early was baby-related.  She texted me about bringing something they forgot.  When I questioned why they left so early, she only replied with “No time,” and we didn’t hear anything else. 

Apparently, Amber’s water broke in the early morning.  They headed to the hospital in Iowa City.  They examined her, and said her water had broken, but she wasn’t dilated to the point of admitting her, so they headed to Des Moines to their hospital.  We got messages later Sunday saying that Owen Ross Chalupa had made his Christmas debut at 1:13pm.  He weighed in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces, 19.25 inches long.  We haven’t gotten to officially meet him yet, but his pictures are adorable!  Owen and Amber are both doing well.  Welcome, Little Owen!  We can’t wait to meet you! 

Merry Christmas!  So very much to be thankful for and to enjoy! 

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Our beautiful, clean, smelling-good, and dressed-up holiday kiddos. 

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That’s us!

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Santa’s little helpers
(can you believe that these two are only a month apart in age?!  Courtney’s extra short and Carter’s extra tall, but both are super-sweet!)

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Filled to the brim with Chalupa’s and bows!

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Carter, part monkey.  Only Carter  could monkey her toes into gifts!  Cheeser!

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What’s in the bag, Charlie?  Uncle Kevin holds the bag while Courtney and Carter help (or get in Charlie’s space!)

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Take note: Carter’s got the sweet smile, and Courtney’s got the ornery smile! 

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The girls help Grandma open their gift (I know, we said no gifts!): a family collage, to tide Grandma and Grandpa over until our Stalzer family photos in May

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Aunt Amber (with Owen, who was excited to come into the world the following day!), Charlie and Uncle Corey

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Grandma and Granpa with all the grandbabies: Courtney (4), Charlie (2 1/2 months), Marissa (8 months) and Carter (4)

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Uncle Kevin and Aunt Katie with the crazies

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Uncle Brian and Aunt Anna with the crew

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Carter: “Will work for Blankies” 
Courtney and Anna made the kids fleece blankies for Christmas, and Carter loves hers!  Grandma also got her a pink blankie hugged by a bear.  That thing has been lugged all over the house (and she insisted we pack it for the Wasserbahn this week!)

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CRAZIES!  This was moments before Carter was told no butt crack jokes at the table! 
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Sunday with Grandma and Poppy, Charlie got all festive with Grandma!

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One more for the “Who Loves Baby?” book: Carter and Charlie with Grandma and Poppy

Christmas fun!

Andy, Kelly, Carter & Charlie

Week 10 happenings …

Charlie continues to grow like a weed!  He’s rounder and more adorable than ever!  He enjoys sitting up and watching his surroundings. 

Carter is dying of Christmas anticipation!  She can’t stand the wait (and, honestly, neither can I!).  She’s counted the days to Christmas Eve, and she’s so excited for presents!

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Carter’s “happy” Play Dough guy

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So hungry I could eat my own hand!

Andy, Kelly, Carter & Charlie

Santa DID come!

It was a little up in the air at times, but Santa did stop by our house last night!  He brought two gifts for Carter and Charlie, and a stocking for Oliver.  Carter got a trunk full of new dress up clothes and make-up, and a Cinderalla castle play set.  Charlie got a baby basketball hoop and an animal slide play set.  Oliver got treats and toys. 

And I got the best Christmas morning!

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It’s Christmas morning, Little Bear

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Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz

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A box full of make-up (which I’m sure we’ll grow to resent!)

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Carter, as Optimus Prime, the Transformer

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Smiles on Christmas!

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What’s in THAT box???

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Princess Castle!  YEAH!

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Charlie’s animal slide – he’s totally excited!

Merry Christmas!

Andy, Kelly, Carter & Charlie

Merry Christmas!

Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be spending Christmas day here with just our 4-some branch of the family.  We’re going to try and get home, but the weather does NOT appear to plan to cooperate.  We’ll see.  But know that our hearts are at home with our family

If only in my dreams ….”

In preparation of Santa’s arrival Thursday night, Carter and I baked cookies Tuesday.  They were simple reindeer (simple’s good for us!), but they were tasty and we had fun!  They were much more successful than our ornaments!!

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Super-excited about the mixer!

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Sneaking an M&M

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We made the dough Monday and chilled it over night to handle better.  I rolled the balls out, but not before Carter informed me that we were making “poop cookies.”

The kiddo’s both got to open one special gift early after making cookies.  Their Santa jammies, and Carter was way more excited than I ever thought she’d be!  She loves her new jammies!  Charlie … well … he’s still little and is only really interested in our faces, our voices, and his binky!

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“Mommy’s litte dear”  Awwww!  What a cute boy!

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After she opened Charlie’s gift of jammies for him, Carter really had no idea what her gift was.  But she loves those jammies!

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“Good All Year” … anyone recall the dance recital debacle?!  “Good” is debatable, but I’d say she’s on the “nice” list!

Thursday, throughout the day, I probably shooed Carter away from the tree at least a dozen times!  The anticipation’s finally gotten to her, and she can’t wait much longer!  She’s able to read well enough to know which presents are hers and which are Charlie’s.  She’s having a tough time understanding that she doesn’t get to open “Carter J’s” gift (that one goes to Carter Anderson next week … if Carter Kay hasn’t gotten it open yet!!).  We told her no presents until after our special holiday dinner.  This year: Christmas ham (“Who Ham” like the Who’s in Who-ville will be enjoying!) and crock-pot taters.  THEN on to presents!  That’s held her off for a bit … we’ll see how much longer she can last!

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Impatient Carter, checking out gifts and “accidentally” pulling off bows

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Best gifts ever!

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Mommy’s gift certificate to Salon Aveda – mani and pedi next week!

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Charlie got animal books

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Need a lift? 

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Apparently Oliver wasn’t getting enough attention, because he climbed the tree.  At this point, he was about at my arm’s height!  Naughty list!

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Carter found the clothes bag

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Bear’s First Christmas.  Awww!

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Mommy, Oliver, Charlie and Carter looking into Charlie’s bag

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Christmas angels!

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Happy!  Merry!

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Our reindeer cookies for Santa.  Good night, all!!!

And finally, to wrap up this delightful Christmas Eve here’s a picture of what I asked for this year.  All I wanted is what I have, and I couldn’t be happier if I tried!  Merry Christmas, everyone!  We love you!  Be safe and have a wonderful holiday!  We’ll be home as soon as we safely can!

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Naughty?  Nice?  I don’t know, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world!

Andy, Kelly, Carter & Charlie

Adopted Family thank you's

This year, we adopted a family in need.  The single mom is raising four children on her own, 2 5 year old twins and 2 3 year old twins!  Wow!  My heart broke for them, so I rallied the troops and we bought clothes and toys, and even stocking for them!

This is what was delivered to our door by their case worker: 

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A very heartfelt thank you from Mom

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And cards from all of the kids

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And an angel, thanking us for everything

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That’s our “family,” 4 very ornery looking children that otherwise would not have had a Christmas.  What a wonderful thing for our kids to help with, and what a kind thank you from them!


Jack Bauer Interrogates Santa

We love 24 at our house.  LOVE IT!  And we can’t wait for it to start again in January.

So … to tide you over … and make you giggle a bit … here’s a little seasonal Jack Bauer.  Enjoy!

Andy, Kelly, Carter & Charlie

Charlie's first Science Center adventure

Carter has been asking and asking to go to the Science Center for days now.  So we took Charlie to explore and play!

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Carter, Daddy and Charlie building a tower

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Carter sharing her bubbles with Charlie

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Burying … or building a bridge over Charlie

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Carter’s impression

The Science Center is the BEST!

Andy, Kelly, Carter & Charlie

Week 9 happenings …

: (  Sad face.  Charlie started daycare this week.  I could have stayed home until break, but my days would now be unpaid (which stinks), and my kids are a mess and need some butt-kicking before break.  So he began Monday, and it was much harder on me than him!  He was his content, happy little self much of the day, while I was shoveling piles of crap around at school, just trying to figure out what was what and missing him like crazy!  But we both got through the week, and he’s adjusting nicely.  Both kiddo’s will have three days this week (maybe 4, just so Andy and I can have a morning to ourselves :)  ), then we’re off for the break! 

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All dressed up and ham-some!

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Playing with Oliver in the bouncer!  They’re buddies 🙂

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Secret smirk!  What a sweet little guy!

Say HI Charlie!

Charlie bouncing away!

Andy, Kelly, Carter & Charlie

Christmas program at daycare

This evening was the Christmas program at daycare.  I was excited to see both of our little angels perform, but Charlie got a touch of stage-fright and wouldn’t cooperate.  So Andy, Charlie and I watched Carter (who was also a bit shy – really?!) shine on stage.

As always, it was adorable!  Carter did get a little nervous, but said afterward that she had fun on stage.  I had to giggle over her being nervous on stage for the 4’s part in the program, but she wasn’t too nervous to try and play with the microphone on her way off stage!  Goofball!

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That’s all I want for Christmas, right there under my tree

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Charlie decided to sit this year out, and come snuggle with Mommy
PS: Is that red hair I see???

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Shy Carter!

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Nothing beats the pure look of happiness on a child’s face at Christmas!

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Great night!  Happy Holidays!

Carter’s performance – CUUUUUUUTE!