A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Wrap-Up

Christmas Eve morning, with stockings laid out
Seems like I shouldn't leave the last Christmas memories 'til 2014. I want a clean slate tomorrow = ) Sort of. Not being much a resolution person, I'm working on that one still tonight!

Hey, excuse the early morning faces!
Anyway, we had Christmas at home with the boys on Christmas Eve morning. Simple and fun. We do stockings, and a few presents for the boys (Um, I sewed Matthias' stocking the night before! Nothing like waiting 'til the last minute!) We have big families, so we don't spend a lot on the boys. They will get other presents, AND they don't need super expensive toys. We watch for clearance deals, and bought the boys' their presents in September, when Eli found some great Lego and Nerf clearance at the small Wal-mart here in town.

We woke up and enjoyed our morning, reveling in fun toys and gifts (and a couple surprise gifts between Mommy and Daddy - he got me this year!), and then spent most of the day at home before the Christmas Eve service at church that night. Opa came over to help build Legos and I worked a bit at the gym for those women wanting ONE LAST WORKOUT before Christmas goodies!

Christmas morning we always head to Eli's parents' house. It is super fun! His immediate family loves loves gift giving. You can just see that they really put thought into it, and we have just a great time watching what everyone gets. We're increasing in number by the year, so this year Jonah and Reuben got a bit bored of gift opening (seriously? right?), because we don't rush it ... I'm not sure if next year we'll have to do some version of name-drawing because it's getting a bit crazy!

Ezra and Grandma
Mommy's cinnamon rolls!
Cheesy face!
Beautiful sisters by birth!
Sisters by marriage!

Home for naptime before my extended family Christmas at my aunt and uncle's house. Again, controlled (maybe) chaos, but still a good time to reconnect with some we don't get to see very often.

And now? Today we ended up taking down our Christmas decorations because all of our New Year's Eve plans had to be canceled because of a sick boy. But, trust me, we made do and have ended up with a pretty fun evening that included costumes, games, toasts, and a movie. We wanted the evening to still give the boys some little memories to tuck away.

I won't be up 'til midnight = ) but you know me, and that is quite alright.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Everyday Occurrences ...

I most often just leave the bathroom door open while I shower in the morning. The boys are home with me, and invariably, if I close the door, Matthias stands outside it THE ENTIRE TIME, knocking and crying "Mama Mama" over and over again.

However, if I leave the door open, he trots in and out, sometimes peeks around the shower curtain to make sure I'm in there, and is generally happy.

I prefer this.

A couple weeks ago, he must have decided that Mommy's showers were boring. Because suddenly a rubber ducky was tossed in the side of the curtain. And then a floating chipmunk. And a little cup. Oh, and a rubber bath ball. All the while, a very pleased one year old, grinned at me each time, saying "Thank You" as little bath toys are tossed around my feet.

But really? This is still much better than a screaming child outside the door, so what do you do?

But last time this was going on ... a toy comes in. "Thank you, Matthias", I dutifully responded while washing my hair. A few more follow in its wake. A happy little boy "helping" Mommy. And then? THEN?

A plunger.

Yup, toys just weren't enough. Over the side of the tub he hauls over the toilet plunger.

People! Not in my shower!

After yelping at him that "No No! That is NOT for the bath!" I finished up as fast as I could to put it back somewhere in which his little hands could not grab = )

These truly are the strange occurrences in my house - e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Willems-y Christmas

Jonah, Ben, and Reuben
Because of some of the family having to work yesterday and today, and because my parents are amazingly awesome about being flexible for when we celebrate Christmas, we celebrated with my parents, siblings, kids, etc., on Sunday afternoon.

My dad and the littliest, Ellia
It was great! We woke up that morning to some amazing snow that fell all night, dug ourselves out to go to church (well, Eli dug us out), after church, Matthias got a good nap, Eli and I finished wrapping some presents, and once everyone had some down time at home, we headed over to my parents' house!

Mataya in her new hat
Isaac with Selah
We operate in the same style as I remember from being little: one person opens at a time (theoretically), from youngest to oldest, and we repeat, opening one present at a time until we're done. Seems like that could take all day with such a big family, but it really doesn't. Starts out very fairly organized, and gets a little chaotic by the end, but we're all having a good time! And really, considering the amount of children until the age of 2, very few meltdowns.

We had lots of good food to snack on, and it was nice to spend a few hours with just our family, holed up together in a warm house. We re-lived a few funny family memories, and created some new ones.

The most beloved Elmo
I enjoy spreading Christmas out. If every single family event was crammed into one single day, not only would it be exhausting, but it wouldn't nearly be so enjoyable as Christmas is for us! One Christmas on Sunday, one today, and two tomorrow. I think it works out just perfectly.

Eli and I, my brother J.J. and his girlfriend, Olivia
Grace, Selah, Adrienne, Dad, and Hannah

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Unexpected Gift

This is one Eli said, "We have to write down to remember" ...

Friday morning the boys and I got home from the gym. The boys had gone up to FitKids that morning, and come back down sweaty and exhilarated from games and work and all kinds of fun. And kept telling me how they had taken their shoes off and were "sliding all over the floor!" Didn't think much of it ... and didn't make any connection as the day wore on, and Reuben complained several times of one of his legs aching and hurting.

I assumed 4 year old growth pains - or imagined pains. Either one quite possible, right? I asked him where it hurt, and he pointed towards his hip joint, and down the front of his leg (I'll refrain from getting super technical with muscle names here!).  I told him to relax and it would feel better. And, sadly to say, I kind of put it out of my mind. We were headed to a Christmas party, I had an hour at work before heading straight to that party, and we were getting things ready all afternoon.

Saturday morning, though, Eli lifted him out of bed, and we were greeted with cries of pain and immediate tears streaming down that little boy's face. "My leg! my leg!" It was a total shocker. We literally had 20 minutes before I had to load the boys up in the van to head to the gym, and he was obviously in real pain. Again, pointing to those same areas when asked where it hurt. We had to dress him, because he wasn't wanting to walk on it. Finally, I think something of the tightness began to wear off, and he was limping along. My best guess was a pulled muscle from sliding all over a floor, having too much fun.

Limped alongside of me as I carried Matthias from the van to the gym front door. A member, whose face I recognized, but I didn't know her name, came up beside me and looked at him. "I think he might have pulled a muscle" I offered. She looked right at me and said, "Well, I'm a pediatric physical therapist; would you like me to take a look at him after class?"

HECK, YES!!!! Pediatric Physical Therapist? I didn't even know there were people like that in Lawrence! I taught class: she took it, and afterwards, she went into the kids' center with me and looked him over. Worked with him. And bless that woman's heart. It was the Saturday before Christmas! Eli and I would have spend the weekend worrying what to do and what might be wrong!

Ends up her best diagnosis was either something overstretched or slightly torn in the hip. A ligament or tendon. That's where the pain originated when we moved his leg at all. But, she offered advice and methods to help over the weekend, and if the pain was still there Tuesday, to call the doctor then.

I can't call this a coincidence as some might. I truly believe that it was just a heaven-sent gift to Eli, Reuben, and I to have this wonderful woman, Karen, walk up beside me at 8am Saturday morning, so that our weekend would be worry-free.

Amazingly, today he woke up and it is almost completely pain-free ... another miracle. And he enjoyed playing in the snow, Christmas with family, and church - running around just like a 4 year old should.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ganache Brownies

A week ago, we had the baby shower for my sweet nephew, Azariah. Can't believe that he is already almost four weeks old! I got to snuggle him today while my sister-in-law and I baked a few Christmas cookies together. I think we're going on almost nine years on our tradition of taking a morning (it used to be almost a day!) together at my mother-in-law's house, and working on some goodies to give to families and friends. Our list of "to be made" has gotten smaller, as we have both added kiddos to the mix! But, it's always a good morning.

For the shower, we most definitely did not want cake, but some yummy brownie bites, veggies, and nuts. It was in the middle of the afternoon, so most ladies had eaten lunch not that long ago, so we didn't want to overdo the food portion. I totally brought my camera to the shower, and never took any pictures! Major fail. Ah well, I did get a picture of the brownies BEFORE I left for the shower that day.

Yum yum yum. They were so.good. And I got lots of rave reviews on them. This will definitely be a recipe that I repeat. Simple in that the directions were clear, and I followed them! The only thing I might do next time is put a little less coffee in them. It was very distinct. I doubled this recipe and baked mine in a 9x13, but then cut them into almost 1x1 inch bites, because they are obviously a rich little treat!

Monday, December 16, 2013


It doesn't seem like it was already weeks ago that we were doing this:

Putting up the tree.

And now? Now it is less than one week until we celebrate Christmas with my immediate family, and only days after that it will be Christmas DAY. Yup. We're there. Totally there!

The boys are counting down ... Reuben tells me everyday "You're going to love my present, Mom". = ) He can hardly keep the secret - but so far, no details have emerged. Jonah looks at his calendar each day: "Mom, it's only ___ more days until Christmas at Opa and Oma's house!" And Matthias, well, he is just quite thrilled with himself that he can say "cold", "snow", "Mama Bye-bye", "Dada Bye-bye" and a few other new words that have popped out of his mouth. And of course, "TREE!!!!" with excitement, nearly every morning, when he comes out of his room and sees the tree lit in the morning dark.

I'm working on projects and the very last few presents - thank goodness there aren't that many of them! I will be baking some at my mother-in-law's house tomorrow morning, and today I made these snowballs for my clients at the gym. A little healthier treat. Although I love to make over-the-top treats as well, handing them out to clients who are putting in their hours to stay in shape right now doesn't work! But, these are pretty tasty! (I do have one such indulgence to share tomorrow as a post)

We have had a Christmas program, decorated Christmas cookies with the boys' little buddy, and taken care of a sick Matthias. He had a hand/foot/mouth mimicking virus last week, and decided that he wasn't going to sleep on top of being miserable. So, the nap times that normally give me time to clean, organize and homeschool were woefully short, and both Eli and I had four nights of minimal sleep being up with him. Thank goodness it wasn't long-lived, and my ornery little boy is back in action.

I hope the next few days are filled with just as much crafting, caroling, baking, and Christmas-y things!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Candy Cane Face

As part of our countdown to Christmas, Eli has a little advent calendar that he bought me years ago. It has little doors for each day, and he writes a clue that leads to a "treasure" for each day. The boys go CRAZY over this tradition in our home, and each day has its moments of "Is the treasure hunt ready????" It is usually a little candy - something small, but something they don't normally get. A treat. And helps them understand the countdown until Christmas day.

Last week, I walked in the door from work, and was greeted with this gorgeous face:

I know! The treasure of the day was a candy cane - Life Saver flavored, of course. Eli said he gave Matthias his in his booster seat at the table, turned to wash a couple dishes, and that was literally a minute before I walked in the door. And the candy cane was GONE.

Seriously. That kid can put away his food. I would have been nervous to give him a candy cane in the first place (choking!), but he proved that his little chompers were up for the challenge. At first glance, I thought it was markers on his face, and I thought Eli had lost his brains.

Nope, just an innocent little candy cane.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Playing with Oma's necklaces ...
Our Thanksgiving this year was full full full, but good! I know, belated memories being written here, but at least I'm getting them down for us to have! = ) This week itself has been very full, and I have a list of projects to finish today still. Eli has been prepping for a big Holiday Shop which several churches collaborate on, and running it today, so his schedule has been slightly all over the map. I've had a crisis with a teen that I was handling, plus prepping for my sister-in-law's baby shower tomorrow afternoon ... AND normal busy schedule of work, homeschool, keepthehouseclean, etc.

Aunt Didi and Mataya!
Littliest Ellia and I
But, we were so blessed to have my grandma, and my mom's two brothers and their families come here for Thanksgiving! I think it might have been three years???? since I have seen my cousins and my aunts, so the reunion was long overdue. Two of my cousins are teenage boys - and Jonah and Reuben have been long awaiting time with Pierce and Paxton, because this meant help with DS games. They trailed those two big boys around for three days - and when we weren't over at my parents' house, they were talking about those two big cousins. Thankfully, Pierce and Paxton are AMAZING teenage boys, and were so so sweet to Jonah and Reuben.

Paxton surrounded by all the kiddos
Reuben keeps asking me when we can "invite them over to play" ... and no matter how hard I try to convey that it would be a 9 hour drive for them to get here, he still asks nearly every day since then! "I know Mom, but can't you just call them? Please???" Poor little boy - he had the best time with them!

Uncle Micah and Jonah
So blessed by cousins!
All of us did. I am so thankful for family and for the opportunity to see my grandma and have her see the little ones in our family (because there are a lot of them!). I think she had six great-grandchildren there, and one other one who was traveling with my brother. So special.