December 2008

New Year's Eve
Our good friends John, Dawn, Peter, Jenny — and all their kids — came over to our house on New Year's Eve. We had an awesome time!

Jenna shows off her "two tickets to the gunshow... bam... bam." :-)

Hattie helps Max open gifts

Emma loved her new High School Musical fleece!

Jenna opening her gifts

The kids playing their New Year's horns. As Jenny said, it sounded like a bunch of dying geese... Very LOUD dying geese. :-)

Hattie works on opening her popper

Max and Jenny

Emma toots her own horn ;-)

Jenna in all her New Year's gear

The kids did slow down long enough to eat a little dinner

The boys. ...You can't take John anywhere, I guess. ;-P

The girls


Jenna was serious about partying

Us girls again

Troy and Peter come dangerously close to holding hands, while Troy shows him the Wii ;-)

Tanner and Peter play Wii boxing

The Ruhlands watch the boxing action

Then Charlie and his dad boxed a match

Peter and John have a Wii boxing championship

For some reason, Troy decided to change into his hockey gear. ...I'm sure it had nothing to do with the beverages he was drinking. ;-)

Our cutest Wii boxers — Max and Hattie — give it a try

Troy and Emma have a boxing match, Wii style

Emma and Tanner give Wii bowling a try

Hattie and Emma relax

Two tired girls

Jenna and Hattie

Joe was excited to join the party... and have someone play ball with him!

Girls' Day Out
The girls and I had a fun day on Dec. 30. We went to a special program at the Botanical Center, visited the State Historical Society of Iowa and did a little shopping.

Jenna and Emma at the Botanical Center

Part of the program at the Botanical Center sent kids on an "Artcic Animal Scavenger Hunt." We had to search through the whole center to find pictures of animals that live in the Arctic. The girls LOVED it!

Emma took a photo of Jenna and me

Jenna took this photo of Emma and me. (So much for a "point and shoot" camera. Ha!)

The Botanical Center had a ton of beautiful holiday displays, like these poinsettias

A banana tree in Iowa in the winter? ...A very welcome site. :-)

The girls explore these moth orchids

The three of us at the Botanical Center

There were a ton of other activities the girls got to do, too... including making edible snowmen from marshmallows, frosting, pretzels and candy corn. Yum!

Emma's snowman

The girls also made three-dimensional snowflake ornaments

Jenna playing the "Polar Bear/Pengin Walk" game

Jen shows off the cool tattoo she won playing the game

Jenna built this "igloo" out of boxes

Emma made this penguin

Emma shows off the penguin tattoo she won

The girls made this snowman, too

And they worked together to build this igloo

After going to the Botanical Center, we visited the State Historical Society of Iowa. The first display we saw? ...One on Shawn Johnson, of course!

The girls thought this replica of 801 Grand, made completely out of Legos, was really cool

They also liked seeing the mammoth skeleton... until Emma started having nightmares about dinosaurs breaking into her room a few nights later. Ugh!

The girls in the American Gothic cut-out

The girls, with their best dour American Gothic faces

The pottery display had a section on pottery made in Mason City (my hometown)

Troy took the girls to Longview Golf Centre, to hit a few balls, on Dec. 28.

Our little lefty, trying to learn to golf right-handed

Apparently sticking your tongue out helps your drive ;-)

Jenna tees up, with the same tongue-out focus as her big sister. ;-)

Jenna gets a little help from Troy

Ice Skating
We took the girls ice skating at Brenton Skating Plaza on Dec. 27. Unfortunately, it was after a bad ice storm, so the ice was a little bumpy and it was bitterly cold, but it was still a good experience.

Our ice princesses, in their new skates, before heading out to the rink

Can you tell Jenna is a little nervous about heading out on the ice? ;-)

Troy and Emma hit the ice

Emma did awesome! By the end of the night, she was skating by herself — without even holding onto the bar — and loving it!

This is how Jenna skated most of the night... and is also why Troy was sore the next day. ;-)

Troy finally gets some solo ice time

Troy shows off, skating backwards

Emma and me, and a still freaked-out Jenna, take a little rest


Troy and Jenna have one last time around the rink

Emma and me

The Girls and Their Mini-Mes
The girls showed off their new dolls on Dec. 26.

Emma and her American Girl, Mia, matched

Jenna and her Baby Alive

Christmas Eve
We had a fabulous Christmas Eve. It was busy, but wonderful.

The girls and I, before heading to the Christmas Eve service at church

Can you tell Jenna wasn't very interested in having her picture taken?

Three silly-faced reindeer

Troy and the girls

Troy and Jenna at the candlelight service

Emma with her candle

The church was beautiful, bathed in candlelight

More of the candlelight service

A painting that an artist painted DURING the service. He is truly amazing!

After we got back from church, we made cookies

The girls were all smiles making cookies

While the cookies were cooling, Troy and the girls decorated a gingerbread house

Emma was very "precise" in her decorating

Jenna, decorating her side of the house

You can't tell he's her dad, can you? ...Just look at their focused expressions. ;-)

Almost done!

The girls with the finished house

After the gingerbread house was done, the girls frosted and decorated the cookies

Sticking your tongue out helps you focus, don't you know? ;-)

The girls and their cookies

Jenna, being silly

Jenna and her cookies

After dinner, it was time to open presents

Joe was more impatient than the girls; he REALLY wanted to open his presents!

Jenna and her presents

Emma and her presents

Jenna got a baking gear set from Emma. She was SO excited, because she really wanted an apron and chef's hat!

Emma opens the doll bathtub that Jenna got her

Jenna and her new robe

Emma and the new doll-sized leotard... just like hers and Jenna's!

Two happy sisters

Emma and her new slippers

It was FINALLY Joe's turn to open a present

Joe opens his present

Joe LOVED his new ball

Emma was so excited about her new robe! She really wanted one for Christmas.

Emma made all of us several presents for Christmas, which was very sweet. One of the presents she gave Jenna was this picture of Dora she'd printed. :-)

Jenna and her new slippers

Emma and her new jeans

Jenna and Emma got matching pajamas

Joe opens his next present

Emma's new shirt

Jenna's new shirt

And Jenna's new jeans

Emma's new pajamas

Jenna and her new Cabbage Patch Kid. When she "eats" the ice cream cone she came with, sprinkles appear on her face.

Troy got a new 22" monitor

Emma made Troy and I a mug for Christmas

The bag Emma decorated and wrapped our mug in

Jenna got Troy new slippers

The girls got me a digital picture frame

Emma got Troy new warm-up pants

This was one of my presents from Emma, and the wrapping paper she made

Emma gave me this for Christmas. What more could a mom ask for? ...So sweet!

Emma also made this scarf for me

Troy also got a robe

Troy surprised me with a new Wii

Jenna and her new baby, Ella

The girls in their new matching pajamas, and robes and slippers

Jenna with her new cooking gear

Our little chef is all smiles

Jenna brushes her dolls' teeth. You have to get the sugar bugs off... even on Christmas Eve! :-)

Before going to bed, the girls made some reindeer food out of oatmeal and colored sugar for Santa's reindeer

Emma making reindeer food

The girls put the food out on the front yard

The girls left cookies and coffee for Santa. Emma came up with the idea of putting the cookies in a baggie, "In case he's tired of cookies and wants to take one back to Mrs. Claus." She also wanted to show him the ornament she'd made.

Christmas Day

Santa drank all his coffee, and even left the girls a note

Jenna's stocking items from Santa

Emma's stocking items from Santa

Santa brought Joe something, too

The girls with their presents from Santa

Jenna got Baby Alive, which was the one thing she REALLY wanted

What, Jenna? Did you just realize that Baby Alive actually potties in her diaper? ;-)

Emma was SO excited to get her first American Girl doll, Mia! ...She was even more excited, because Mia (who was 2008 Girl of the Year) sold out two weeks before Christmas. That Santa is awfully magic!

Joe loved his new toy SO much, that he'd torn out its squeaker and half its stuffing within two hours

Emma and Mia

Jenna and one of the Baby Alive outfits she got

Another Baby Alive outfit!

Emma got several outfits for Mia, too

Jenna's new purse. (You might think at 4 1/2 she'd be a little old for this, but she told Santa she REALLY wanted a My First Purse.)

Emma and some of her new outfits for Mia

New diapers for Baby Alive, too

The shirt Emma got for Mia

And one more Baby Alive outfit for Jenna

Smily sisters

Jenna took this photo of her presents

Emma took this photo of some of her presents

And Emma took this photo of Mia... who happens to look an awful lot like Emma, we realized

Emma and her new "mini-me"

Troy set up the Wii Christmas morning, too. We quickly found out that Emma was great at bowling, and Jenna was awesome at boxing.

Emma cheers Jenna on at Wii boxing

Emma gives boxing a try

Troy's turn

Later, we decided to go sledding.

Troy gives the girls a push down the hill

Troy's turn to head down the hill

Jenna runs out to see Troy

Emma, Jenna and I get ready to head down the hill

...And the three of us head back up the hill

Troy and the girls, at the top of the hill

Our two little snow bunnies

All smiles

Troy got some serious distance on his sled

The girls head back up the hill

Emma loved sledding, can you tell?

Jenna had fun, too

Yummy Hot Chocolate
The girls made their "Webkinz Winter Soup" (hot chocolate) on Dec. 20. They made the mix at their playdate the day before.

More of Jenna's candy cane ended up on her face than in her tummy :-)

Webkinz Winter Party
The girls had some of their friends over for a playdate on Dec. 19. We started this tradition a few years ago — of the girls inviting some friends over to play before the holidays. They always have a blast. This year's activities centered around Webkinz (surprise, surprise). We had pizza, played games, made crafts, had cookies (thanks, Sullivans!), and just generally played. A few of the photos are here, but all the photos from the night are on our online photo site.

Mouw sisters, Hallie and Courtney, play Legos with Emma and Jenna before the other kids arrived

The kids played our version of Gem Hunt, from They took turns "mining" these "rocks" for "gems" (pictures that told them if they's hit "slag" — and got to go again — or which Webkinz they'd won).

Molly H. and Claire play Gem Hunt

The stars of the night — everyone won a Webkinz

The kids also played our version of Wacky's Bingo, another game, with sleeping bags and pillows for their new Webkinz as prizes

Everyone playing bingo

Emma, Clara and Kara playing bingo

The Webkinz sleeping bags and pillows

The kids also played a Webkinz Relay game; they had to do "walks" like some of the Webkinz at the party — bear walk (which Emma, Clara and Courtney are doing in this picture), frog hop, and horse gallop

Emma LOVED singing karaoke

Emma getting in even more karaoke time

Courtney golfs, and Jenna is silly

BFF's do EVERYTHING together — even lifting weights ;-)

All the kids and their Webkinz

Silly kids!

The kids also made "Webkinz Winter Soup" mix — better known by some as hot chocolate — to take home

The kids work on a craft — making jingle bell collars for their new Webkinz

Emma, with her new Webkinz (Kung Fu), wearing the collar Emma made

Molly D, Claire, Molly H., Jenna and Hattie play dress-up

Claire, Hattie, Max, Hallie and Jenna watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Emma, Clara and Kara hang out in the office, after going to, of course

Hattie, Max and Jenna watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Hattie, Max, Jenna and Molly H. finish watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Jenna's Santa Visit at School
Santa and Mrs. Claus visited Jenna's school on Dec. 17. Jenna told him (again) that she wanted a Baby Alive and a My First Purse.

Our Cuties
Jenna's school has an annual "Parents' Night Out," where the kids (and their siblings) get to come back after school, to make crafts, have snacks, and watch a movie. The girls always love to go. Here they are before heading to the event, on Dec. 16.

The Girls' Christmas Program
The girls did such a great job in their Christmas program at church on Dec. 13... even though they were singing in front of around 2,000 people! :-) Jenna was in the "Jump for Joy" part of the program, and Emma was in "What a Dude," which told the Christmas story through Abba music (a la "Mama Mia"). A great job by all!

The girls at church, before their program

Jenna and her friend, Mollly. Molly's dad played guitar for part of the service, and Molly and Jenna LOVED seeing him up on the big screens while they were waiting for their turn to sing!

Jenna, with Molly to her left, singing "Jump for Joy" during their program

Jenna and Molly singing

Emma, as part of "What a Dude!" — which told the Christmas story through Abba songs... and was VERY cute!

Emma, behind Joseph

Our Holiday Girls
The girls LOVE Christmas. Here they are by the tree the morning of Dec. 12.

Silly Jenna
This is the outfit Jenna concocted on Dec. 12 for dress-up.

Most people wouldn't have the — um — courage to pair a seed corn cap with a dress, knee-highs, and two different shoes, but Jenna owned it! :-)

Our silly girl!

Jenna's Holiday Program
Jenna's school had its annual holiday program on Dec. 11. Jenna did a fabulous job during the program — which is no big surprise, coming from our little ham! It was a little bittersweet, though; after having both girls go to the school, this was our last holiday program there.

Jenna with some of her friends, in their "fancy" clothes — Max, Hattie, Kaylie, Claire, Joey, Jenna, Alex and Kate

Hattie and Jenna. (They were posing SO cutely, but the other kids — who were beyond amped for the program — kept getting in the way of the photo, so this was the best shot we got of the two of them.)

Hattie posing for the camera

Claire, Hattie, Max and Jenna

Jenna's class — the Hot Rods — sang "Frosty the Snowman," "Deck the Halls," "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "Feliz Navidad," and then came back out to sing the "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" finale

The stage was decorated with artwork the kids made. Here is Jenna's stocking creation.

Jenna's class lining up on the stage

Jenna LOVED performing

Singing her little heart out!

Jenna and Max (who was standing next to her in the back row) got so excited singing "Feliz Navidad" that they decided to start jumping up and down. ...Which they also both did two years ago during the holiday program. :-)

Nada Silent Night
We went to Nada Silent Night on Dec. 5 with our friends, Pete and Jenny. What a great show!

They did some awesome stuff with lighting and the set, none of which the lame pictures I took with my cell phone give justice to. There is a great recap of the night and some utterly awesome photos on this blog.

Getting Ready for Christmas
I'm not sure what the girls were more excited about when they started using their Christmas countdown calendars on Dec. 1 — the fact that it meant Christmas was getting closer, or the fact that they get candy every day! :-)

Back to 2008

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