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Merry Christmas!

We knew that 2010 & 2011 were going to be “full” but little did we know how many changes & transitions our family would go through!  After nearly 2 years of waiting and asking God for “next steps” for our family, we really felt that He led us to move to Colorado to join up with a sister church out here.  It took us nearly a year to figure out job details for Jason. Through the entire process, even the hard times, it seemed like God answered every prayer & blessed each & every step of faith.  We miss dear friends back in IA & often find ourselves saying, “Back in Iowa…” – but we have joined heart & soul with our brothers & sisters here.  We are excited about how God is moving in our church & looking forward to continue to share Jesus’ love with others.

It is hard to believe that our little baby, Kade is nearly 1 year old!  Leah was especially excited he decided to arrive earlier than his December 24th due date last year.  After a “nearly drive through” labor at the hospital, he arrived about 18 minutes after we pulled in!  He, by far, has been our most mellow, laid back & happy little guy.  He is just getting the hang of taking small steps, he loves playing with his siblings, waving bye-bye, and eating us out of house & home of our banana stash.  His little smile & happy personality has been such a joy & blessing this last year.

Johnny (John Boy) turned 3 this year & wow, is he all boy!  Anything to do with building, digging, running, jumping & sound effects, is exactly where you will find him.  This kid is a ball of energy the moment he walks out of his room at 7 am each morning.  He loves to wrestle daddy & is trying his hand at wrestling Kade when mom isn’t looking.  He & his big sister are never far apart.  Also, his biggest feat this fall was that he learned to ride his 2 wheel bike with no training wheels.  Already, he is attempting to ride standing up & with only 1 hand.  Mom is especially thankful for bike helmets these days.  When Belle is doing her kindergarten homeschool work, Johnny is usually working on puzzles, coloring & designing duplo creations.  His favorite way to count is separate out his tools or duplos into piles & count them with mom.

We are so thankful for Belle who turned 6 on Thanksgiving Day this year!  She is quite the big sister to those two little balls of energy, but keeps up with them for sure.  When she is not singing, reading books to herself our out loud to her brothers (she learned how to read this summer!), the girl is coloring/drawing & creating cards for anyone she can think of.  She was blessed with a desk for her birthday from her grandparents- we are convinced it is going to be her command central for all her little projects.  We are also in the process of putting both boys in a room together, which means Belle will have her own room- she is quite excited about hot pink everywhere (except the walls!).

Leah really doesn’t have much to do these days.  Her exact words: “It’s pretty slow around here.” HA! Just kidding.  Between moving our house 3 times in 13 months (we lived with Pat & Cindy for a few months in the interim) and unpacking (not all of it) each time… wow, we have a lot of stuff!  Thankfully it all fit in 1 moving truck.  She keeps the household running, kids dressed & tries to keep the wrestling, yelling & running to a minimum. 🙂  Homeschooling is in full swing this year with the two older kids.  In her free minutes, she enjoys working out, tweeting & trying new recipes.  Also, our new home has a large garden area & we purchased some fruit trees this fall, so she is very excited to try her hand at gardening in the spring.

And last but not least, Jason has greatly enjoyed working remotely for Beisser Lumber (his company he worked for in IA).  What a blessing to be at home & have his hot oatmeal delivered to his desk each morning!  When he is not estimating for Beisser, he is attempting to start a coworking community  here in CO..  The idea is that creatives, independents, entrepreneurs, & people who work remote can share an office and work together at different points each week. His hope is to eventually get a permanent office space, but at this point they are just meeting in a coffee shop here in town.  His other business idea is to build a website to sell house plans online. He has been involved in a few networking events here in town & is hoping to see both of these businesses get off the ground in the very near future!

Though several times in the last 2 years we felt somewhat like nomads, it was a good reminder that the time we are blessed with here on this earth is fleeting & that this world is not our home!  We are grateful for the reminder that our eternal home is in heaven & that God sent his precious newborn baby so that can be our reality.  What a wonderful gift He gave us all!

Much love,
The Rohlfs

Today is “one of those days”.  Rough go all around.  Both boys have the flu & our weekend plans are now toast.  I’m having a hard time keeping a cheerful & grateful heart.  Thankfully, when I went to read my email today, I got to see this idea that a friend is doing with her kids in the near future.  Check it.

Thanks & Giving Trees

What an awesome and amazing idea!  Currently, I’m sitting her at my printer getting things printed out.  I love the idea, but want to take it a step further as well and have trees for Jason & I too.  Thankfully I saw this today and have time before Nov 1st to get them all cut out. 😉

AND my friend Kristin also sent out this idea in her email as well that I absolutely LOVE!

A photo a day

My plan is to post my pictures here on my blog each day in the month of November of what I’m grateful for.  However, I just know that I’m not going to be able to write about each and every picture.  So this is your fair warning, if you visit my blog and happen to see a picture of our toilet (indoor plumbing… that is HUGE!), no, I have not lost my marbles.  🙂 Just trying to share with ya’ll a little bit of what I’ve been blessed with.  So here’s to a fun, creative & grateful month of November!

What are you thankful for today?

Recently, I had the privilege of helping to take a friend’s senior pictures.  We met out at a sculpture park that I had never heard of and I absolutely had a blast!  I LOVE photography and I’m constantly snapping pics of the kids, or sunsets, or whatever.  But I decided it was high time to take some “official school pics” of my kids.  The last time I officially dressed Belle up, did her hair and got some keeper photos was when she was 18 months old.  Wow.

We scheduled it for a Saturday night at dusk.  Jason ended up not being able to come, but I plowed ahead anyway since I really wanted to get this done.  Plus, Kodak was running a special for 200 prints for $1.99 shipped to my door! What a perfect time to order 170 prints (yes, I ordered that many from just this photo shoot!) for the kids to hand out to all their friends & to give to all the relatives!  With my husband’s approval, I told the kids if they could smile and obey momma for a while so I could take their pictures, well, we might just find our way to the Starbucks drive through for a kid’s hot chocolate.   Wowza- did that do the trick!  We got to the sculpture park and Johnny ran over into the grass, sat down and folded his hands and gave me the biggest and cheesiest smile ever!  Good start to the night. 🙂

Here are a few of our outtakes for your enjoyment!

He made it about 4 photos into our shoot before the goofiness starting eeking outa him!

I think her face started to hurt from smiling, but she really wanted this pose with the flower since it was

one that I tried with Sam (who’s senior pics I took).

“Hold on mom, I have something in my toe.”

“Why are we all laying in the grass???”

“And then I went to the store and bough a LION!”

Is it just me or does my son look like a baby Yoda? 🙂

“I like to smile without my teeth.”

“Can we have some hot chocolate yet?”

And yes, I will post our keepers soon!

Never done it.

But I would imagine it would be a similar experience to getting everyone to stand still and take our  Sokoll family picture.  We aim to do this annually, however, it is getting more difficult as we are spread out over 4 states and growing bigger every year!

Somehow between getting out of church, after we wolf down some lunch, but before the babies started melting down for naps… we managed to all get out of there alive and barely still be on speaking terms.

First, there is always the one question we ask every year “Who will take this picture?”  Well, this year our timer on our camera with a chair on top of the kitchen table did quite an exceptional job.

Next question, where will we all stand?

Yep, this is in the “Where will we all stand?” phase.

Thank you to Uncle Ooohnny (John) for providing some much needed comic relief. 🙂

We are getting so… close!!!  Are we done yet???? 😉

472 pictures later… we have a winner!  That is a fine looking family if I do say so myself!

And what would a Sokoll family picture be without some rims? 😉

Photo Credit

The kids and I pulled into Walgreens yesterday and as we were exiting the van we could hear the little bell ringing.  Belle remembered from last year that we put coins in the bucket to help people and John Boy was just mesmerized. 🙂  I quickly found some change in the van and gave them each a little something to drop in the bucket.

Our church has helped out with many service projects over the past 7.5 years since we moved here.  This one particularly has a soft spot in my heart though, because I have spent several hrs in previous years ringing that same bell outisde of many stores.  And while I know there are many great opportunities to give around the holidays, I make it my goal to drop even one coin in the bucket on my way in or out of every store during the holiday season.  I realize it is for a great cause but I also know what it is like to stand out there in the cold for a L-O-N-G time only to have a majority of the people walk past and completely ignore you.  It is amazing with a little smile, a quarter and a “Merry Christmas” can do to someone’s countenance.

It got me thinking.  And I think I came up with a brilliant plan for the next month or so.  Lets just say I would give $5 one time to the Salvation Army on my way out of a store.  Awesome.  Great.  Thank you!  However, seeing as how my goal is to make each one of those bell ringer’s smile and teach my kids about giving, I have a much better idea.  I plan to head to the bank later this week and exchange one of my $5 bills for $5 in change and put that in a cup in the van.  Better yet, I might ask the kids to pick out some of their change from their penny jar to add to the $5 to make it a family venture… yes I’m liking this!  That way, in event that I’m unorganized and somehow leave the house without a few quarters in my pocket for the kids to put in the bucket… we will have the cup full of money in the van ready to give when we hear that ringing!  Added bonus?  Teaching the kids about greeting people with a smile when they cheefully put their quarter in the bucket.  Who knew one could teach/learn so many things from those bright red buckets! 🙂

And coming from personal experience, go ahead and smile and make eye contact with the person ringing those bells, even if you don’t have any change to put in the kettle.  I bet you will get a smile in return!

“Give THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Being thankful is a big thing around our house.  Very often if Jason or myself is having a rough day, the other one will ask “What are you thankful for?”  We might email or text each other a list or just tell each other at the end of the day.  It does my heart a world of good to remember all the blessings that God has given me and to take my eyes off myself.  Having a grateful heart is one character quality we want to instill in our kids.  Many times this has led to the kids and I being thankful on a van ride across town… just so I can get my heart right.  Well, now they think it is a game.   The ‘fankful’ game as Johnny calls it. 🙂  At least every other day or sometimes every day one of them will pipe up from the back of the van, “Mom, can we play the thankful game?”  So we do.  We take turns going around and say what we are thankful for.  It makes this momma smile. 🙂

A few months ago Jason also started leading the kids at bedtime to say one thing they are thankful for and they ended the day in prayer thanking God for his provision over our family.  A few times Belle requested that I join them and now it has turned into part of our nightly routine that we do as a family.  I love it.

Which brings me to my quote of the day from a little while back.  We were playing the thankful game in the van and after several rounds…. this little conversation was had:

Mom: “I’m thankful for daddy’s job”

Dad: “I’m thankful for  (I can’t remember what he said) “

John Boy: “I’m fankful for MY job!”

Dad: “Your job? You don’t have a job buddy.”

John Boy: “I do! I clean up the duplo blocks!”

Hahaha! 🙂 Awesome.  Yes Johnny, mommy is thankful for your job too! 🙂

I have mentioned before that my husband loves fire.  I do too.  And up till this fall, this has been our thing we do together.  Fires became few and far between once our kids started getting a little older and it was harder for us to sneak away and build a fire outside together.  However, remember the steps my husband built a few months ago?  Well, he did not nearly use the truckload of wood that was delivered to our house.  So between cutting up several of those boards and living in a home with mature trees, we’ve had plenty of firewood to burn around here.  We decided this was an excellent time to include the kids in one of our favorite pastimes and it has become a something that we all look forward to.

After we moved in and we went to have our first fire with  hot apple cider- I realized that we had packed away our cast iron skillet and had no idea where it was.  I was totally bummed out, but then remembered that when I spent hrs cleaning the kitchen the first day that we moved in, I had found a cast iron skillet under the oven! Bonus!  That night (and several times after) we’ve had hot apple cider and occasionally we’ve even toasted up some smores a few times as well.  Other times we just hang outside as a family all surrounding the fire pit.

Here are both kids enjoying the hot warm apple cider.

This particuar night we were all quiet (which never happens with my two little talkers!) just sitting there staring at the fire.  Particularly touched, I decided to ask my daughter what her favorite part of having fires together as a family meant to her.  I imagined her saying “time with mommy and daddy” or “relaxing together.” (ok maybe not what her exact words would be, but I was looking for a concept)  Her response?  “Marshmallows and cider!”  Hmm…  well, one day I hope it will mean more to her than the treats.  For now though, it is fun to say “Hey kids, wanna build a fire tonight?”  And see them dash off to get ready and start collecting sticks and dry leaves to help dad get it started.  Well, that and the question that always immediately follows, “Do we get to eat or drink anything?” 🙂

Photo Credit

While I have been counting down the days till this weekend, this morning was a little harder on me that I had orginally thought.  Jason is driving the kids half way to Grandma and Grandpa’s house (his parents) so kids can spend the weekend with them.   We are staying home…. on our very first staycation.  We have left both of the kids with someone before, but this is the first time I am staying home and they are the ones leaving.  Packing their little bags and getting them ready found me in a pile of tears last night.  Thankfully I held it together this morning as I said goodbye, but if I was the one “officially dropping them off” this morning I’m fairly certain it would have been a different story.  *Sigh*  I am looking forward to some time along with my honey, but I miss them already and it has only been an hr and 15 min since they left.

On the bright side though, once Jason gets back in town, he is headed to the Iowa game this morning with some friends.  Which leaves me with about 8 hrs total of alone time today and I have no idea what to do with myself.  At first I told myself that I would clean the house so that I could rest and relax the rest of the weekend.  Well, come yesterday, I realized the last thing I wanted to do with time “off” was to clean, so I busted it yesterday and got everything done.  Second idea I had was that I was going to help get the kids out the door this morning, eat some breakfast and then go back to bed.  After a fitful night of sleep and 3 bad dreams in a row, the last thing I want to do right now is go back to sleep.  So here I am blogging. 🙂  My husband so graciously gave me money for a pedicure later today, so that is lined up for 1:00pm.  Other than that, I am planning to go Christmas shopping and I am quite excited!!!  However, at the moment I am content to sip my coffee in the quiet, read my bible and blog for a bit longer. 🙂

We are having friends Matt and Kristen over for lunch on Sunday afternoon and I must say I am excited to cook and have another couple over to just talk and hang out.  It has been a while.  Usually meals together with others consists of the same amount of kids and adults and the noise and chaos is sometimes unreal!  Even now, I’m realizing how quiet it will be around here without Belle walking around the house singing or Johnny running through the house yelling “fight! fight!” and swinging a stick! 🙂  I hope grandma and grandpa make sure consume their weight in caffiene to keep up with those two! 🙂

Anyhow, besides those few things we don’t have much lined up for the weekend.  We’ve talked about catching a movie or I’m dreaming of going to the apple orchard today as the weather is absolutely perfect!  After months of having morning sickness, packing and moving in 24 days and then traveling nearly every weekend in Aug, I am ready for a quiet and relaxing weekend at home.  Now I just have to stop thinking and missing the kids long enough to do that.

I love you Belle and Johnny, have fun with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Lindsy!

I think pictures can better tell the story of how the weekend went. 🙂  Enjoy.

The kids ran through this windy, vine covered tunnel several times.  It was one of the first things we found at 7:45am- I think they would have stayed there an hour if we had not convinced them there was more to see. 🙂

The cow barn was our first animal stop, and we all enjoyed it.  That is until Johnny turned his head to look at something else and this calf got right in his face and licked his hand.  Yep, that did not go well and he wanted nothing to do with the animals (unless we were holding him) for the rest of the day.  However, he has been talking non stop about “the cows”. 🙂

Yes, I did indeed milk a real cow for those of you who needed proof.  Jason was pretty proud of the fact that he got an action shot with the milk going in the pail.

We stopped for a bit to watch them showing goats.  All I could think about was the Whitneys! 🙂

Snack time!  Yes we brought snacks from home.  The only purchase we made was a turkey burger that we all split to get us all through to our picnic lunch on the way home.  We did NOT eat anything deep fat fried and on a stick.  I couldn’t handle the smell.

This climbing structure was another highlight for the kids.

This is my all time favorite pic of the day- love the socks, tennis shoes and shades.  He was trying to show me the fish in the pond, but I could not take my eyes off of this little guy. 🙂

Mom and Johnny went off to see the butter cow, Belle wanted to stay and play on the playground with dad.

We took the kids to the “Little Hands on the Farm” and it was totally awesome. Both kids were hot and hungry at this point though so they did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped.  Thankfully at the end you got to sell your produce that you planted and harvested at the farmers market at the end and they give you a pretend dollar.  You get to use that “money”to buy a real item to eat in the little store at the end.  Those two cold popsicles came at the perfect time.

Future farmer.

We let Belle pick one ride to go on at the fair and she picked the Farris Wheel.  She loved it!  I was amazed and thought for sure she would change her mind once she was high in the air, but this ride was definitely her favorite part of the day.

And then the ride home wearing their hats from Lilttle Hands on the Farm.  We thought they would both pass out from being so hot and tired (getting up at 5:15am).  But nope, they were both wide awake and happy.  We made it home, took baths and everybody took a good two hr nap that afternoon.  And while we will not be doing this outing every year to a state fair, we had a great time and hope to be able to take the kids back once they are a little older.  Yeah for crossing an item off my Iowa Bucket List!

Today was the official day of dress like a genghis and get free food day! And while I’m not sure I would do this for just ANY restaurant, I knew immediately when I get the email promoting this that I would want to partake.  You see, HuHot is one of my favorite restaurants and since we’ve had kids we just don’t make it there much.  Which is ok, it makes it more special when we do get to go.  I started rounding up outfits/costumes yesterday knowing that I would not do this if I had to buy anything, because that would not make dinner free!  We printed off the  Fu Manchu and goatees they provided and dug through the closets for the rest.  I was not at all phased by walking into the restaurant looking very a little different.  However, my family was a little hesitant.  The best part?  They told us right away we could take off our costumes so we only had to wear them for about 1 min total.  Double bonus.  My favorite part was a little kid about 5 years old who exclaimed when we walked in: “Look dad! More pirates!” 🙂

Here we are in our getup- minus the fu manchu and goatees for most of us.  They were not staying on and Johnny was not a fan of the tape on his skin. 🙂

Belle trying to follow in her daddy’s footsteps and learning how to use chopsticks.  This momma just sticks to a fork. 🙂

And John Boy learning how to twirl his fork to get some pasta.

And this was one of the highlights of the evening for me. 🙂 However, it proved to be the most awkard part as well because our waiter dropped off the ticket and said “You are gonna like this, now… you can just leave me a really big tip”.  A nice thought and all, except that I had not brought cash for a really big tip and he really did not do a good job. I was not about to not leave a tip, but those few seconds seemed like they lasted forever. 🙂

For about 15 min of planning and 1 min of people staring at us we all had free dinner.  And, if you are wondering if I will do it again????  In a heart beat. 🙂  Thank you HuHot!