Housewarming Party

Story told by: Lainey

After being in our house for 2 1/2 months, we decided it was time for a housewarming party! We sent out an all-call to our friends because the more the merrier!

The party was mid morning, so we had a mimosa bar.

We also had lots of yummy breakfast foods.

I made signs for everyone so they would know what to do upon arriving.

We had a craft station for all of the kids.

Let the party begin!

Kids alternated between crafts and movies.

Our 2020 crowns!

One of our favorite parts of the party was this challenge we gave to our guests. They had to take a silly picture somewhere in the house. Not everyone participated, but we had a good amount of people join in on the fun. Here come the silly pictures…

Liz is disgusted with the boxes still holding our still-to-be-hung items.

Checking out our newly painted bathroom!

The Lenssens chose to take a picture with Lainey’s shower that opens to the deck.

Mommy’s book club friends doing what they do best.

Mommy’s friend, Katie, took it one step further and photoshopped the creepiest doll onto the bed.

But the winners of this challenge were Ashley and Elias. They took Mommy’s old Instagram photos, and then recreated them in the house.

Thank you to everyone who participated! These were so much fun to look through when the party was over!

Such a great party! Our house is officially warmed and our hearts are full!

Christmas 2019

Story told by: Lainey

We had a fantastic few days of Christmas!

We started by making cookies on Monday morning. We started with an egg-free batch dyed red so Henry knows they’re safe for him.

Brody didn’t even make it to this first tray coming out of the oven. And we immediately abandoned Mommy and Daddy as soon as this tray was done.

So Mommy and Daddy had a quiet morning of baking by themselves.

But I did come back to help out towards the end of the second batch.

Shortly after cookies were done, Na Na and Ba Ba arrived! We headed down to Lewiston for our annual Christmas light trip!

We were fortunate to get a break in the rain for our time at the park.

The next day was Christmas Eve. Henry told Mommy that we just might not need to get out a plate for Santa, and then he told her that she had to open his present from school a day early. It is perfect!!

Then we decorated our cookies!


We each picked our favorite cookie to go on the plate for Santa.

Aunt Tiffany, Uncle Jaron, and our cousins arrived before dinner. We ate quickly, and then got ready to head to Christmas Eve church service.

I got to have a reading part at church! Our church also did a choir. Mommy was the pianist while Daddy sang in the choir. It was fun to participate!

Brody wasn’t quite sure what to make of the open flame.

When we came home from church, we found our present that Santa had left for us! (And it wouldn’t be a true video without Brody crying in it.)

Our matching jammies from Santa! I can’t believe he also gave me one for my American Girl doll!

We ended the night by reading our new book with Daddy. And then we rushed off to bed because we knew Santa was coming!! (Henry was so excited that he couldn’t fall asleep until 11 p.m.)

The adults finished this puzzle after we went to bed.

After everyone was in bed, Mommy and Daddy sat on the couch for awhile soaking in this view. Perfection.

Mommy, Daddy, Na Na, Ba Ba, and I beat everyone to wake up on Christmas morning. But I know I can’t come out of my room until the boys are with me, so we had to wait until 6:15 to wake them up.

Santa always leaves our “big” gift unwrapped. Here is the Polaroid camera I requested.

Henry’s Beyblade Battle Arena.

And the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head that Brody requested (plus some fun extra friends from “Toy Story 4”).

The big reveal!

I was SO excited for this camera!

My first picture.

As we were finishing stockings, Matthew, Vern, and Dora came upstairs to join in on the fun.

Dora’s first Christmas!

And then the present-opening started!

We could barely tear Henry away from his Beyblades in order to get him to open any other presents.

My school present (a coaster) that I made for Na Na.

Henry picked out special Cougar socks for me. So warm and fuzzy!

Brody sure loves his new games.

Grandma made us new piggy banks.

I got a picture of me and Vern.

New Cougar sunglasses from Grandma and Grandpa!

The theme of presents for Mommy was coffee, candles, and books. She is 100% okay with that!!

My coffee present for Mommy.

Aunt Tiffany sewed clothes for my American Girl dolls. I love them!

New game from Uncle Juncle.

Brody’s adorable preschool present he made for Mommy.

The whole crew after present-opening was finished!

The rest of the day involved playing and relaxing!

Beyblade Battle with Ba Ba.

Mommy made a yummy Charcuterie Board to snack on for a light lunch.

We all headed outside while Mommy made Christmas dinner.

Brody loved the ham. He said, “This is 100% delicious!”

After dinner we snuggled with Dora.

The LEGOs came out.

Brody asked Mommy to do a puzzle. You can see he was very involved with it.

So we got out one of Brody’s new games instead.

Before everyone left the next morning, Na Na helped me finish my LEGO set!

Henry also finished his skateboard park.

I started my second set…

…and finished it (mostly) all by myself.

Henry has been so excited to have this Beyblade set. On Christmas morning he said, “I thought I was going to get coal because I hit my brother. Wow. Turns out Santa doesn’t actually know if you’re naughty or nice!”

I got a makeup kit for Christmas (it’s just for use at home). You can see that I’ve mastered the art of subtlety.

And as soon as our company left, the painting started! Our entire interior eventually needs to be painted, but for now, Mommy and Daddy have a six-week goal to get the entire basement done (which involves removing wallpaper in one bedroom), as well as a bathroom and the main living area on the main floor. They’re not sure if they’ll get it done, but they’re sure going to try. Here’s to a great Christmas and now lots of painting!

December Fun

Story told by: Brody

We’ve had a busy, but fun month of December!

Mommy and some of the women from church had a fun craft night to make festive string art.

Matching trees!

As is our tradition, we went to the WSU Santa/Santa Butch night. We first told Santa what we’d like: Lainey – a Polaroid camera, Henry – a Beyblade Battle Set, and me – lots and lots of toys, but I told him I would settle for Mr. and Mrs Potato Head.

Next up was Santa Butch!

They always have fun crafts and snacks at this event as well.

Lainey is still part of her regular dance class, but her teacher felt like she was ready to be pushed a little harder, so she also gets to be part of a group of four girls that meet once a month. Their dance incorporates some harder dance moves. Lainey is loving it!

We went to the drive-thru nativity that we look forward to every year! Hot chocolate, traveling to Bethlehem, and candy canes!

The Cougar Women’s Soccer Team made it to the final four (The College Cup). Lainey’s class spent a whole week learning about it, and then wrote reports about it.

One night we had a babysitter while Mommy and Daddy attended a Red, Silver, and Green party. Mommy and Daddy together made a Christmas tree!

They had so much fun!

The next day Mommy and I got to bake together. I love baking so much!

One Sunday I picked out my very best outfit for church.

Our church had our annual Christmas dinner with delicious food and caroling.

Mrs. O’Loughlin thought of some great crafts for all of the kids!

Lainey helped Mommy with kitchen cleanup afterwards.

We found out Ferdinand’s had candy cane ice cream, so we grabbed Ava and headed over right after school.

Ava and Lainey have really enjoyed wearing matching outfits to school. It’s been happening several times per month.

The Pullman Santa route goes right past our house! It was fun to see him!

Right after Santa Claus left, Allison arrived to babysit me and Henry while Lainey went to her piano recital. Allison brought us yummy snowman treats!

Mommy and Daddy were very proud of how she did!

There were delicious treats after the recital. These are the “cinnamon candy is really spicy” faces of Ani and Lainey.

Since Mommy has a long-term sub job for two months, Daddy has been walking us to school each morning. Lainey and Henry love it. Me, not so much. Walking requires so much effort.

We’ve been learning about Christmas around the world in preschool. We’re getting different treats and traditions from different countries.

We had our Candy Cane Hunt at church. Here I am with my preschool buddies, Shay and Orrin.

Off to hunt!

There were crafts and games, but I only had eyes for this cupcake.

And because this church is amazing, it’s rare to go to an event where there’s not an egg-free option made for Henry. They’re amazing!

More baking with Mommy! Henry helped unwrap. I helped eat.

Mommy and Daddy went on a fun date night last weekend. They went into Goodwill with $20 each to buy each other the craziest outfit they could find. They were laughing so hard they were crying. This is what they came up with.

Then they had to go out to dinner and not tell anyone about their outfits…they had to pretend it was completely normal. They had so many people staring at them, but not one person asked. They had such a fun night laughing together!

On Sunday morning, our church had the children’s program, The Nativity Express.

Kids got to wear pajamas!

Mommy and Daddy were asked to be Mary and Joseph!

My true creativity and expressiveness came out during my singing.

This one had Mommy and Daddy laughing pretty hard.

After the Christmas program, we went sledding to enjoy our first big snow of the year!

There’s a park that’s two blocks from our new house with great sledding hills. And some kids had already built a ramp that we loved!

I needed a nap after we got home from sledding.

We had our Grinch Night after I woke up from my nap. We had Grinch kabobs, Who Hash, and Roast Beast sandwiches.

And green ice cream with candy cane topping for dessert!

Followed by movie time!

We got to have more snow play time at preschool.

On Tuesday night, the PTA for Lainey and Henry’s school had their Reflections reception. Reflections is a program that promotes the arts. It’s optional to enter a project, but Lainey wanted to write a poem and Henry wanted to submit a drawing. The theme was “Look Within.”

Here are our annual Christmas pajama pictures by the amazing Ileia McCall!

We were all counting down the days for Friday for our last day before winter break! Franklin Elementary School’s spirit day was Crazy Day, so Lainey went all out!

Henry’s class was decorating gingerbread houses and wearing pajamas. Daddy came in to join in on the fun!

I was presenting my own Christmas traditions at school while Addy the Advent Fairy listened (she’s the one who has been telling us about Christmas traditions all over the world).

She makes me laugh!

At the end of the day we celebrated the start of Winter Break by taking Lainey to a sleepover with Nora and Ivy.

Then Taylor arrived to babysit us, and Mommy and Daddy went out to dinner with some of Mommy’s former teaching friends. The perfect way to start Winter Break!

Thanksgiving Week, 2019

Story told by: Lainey

We had a fantastic Thanksgiving Break!

I got to kick it off on Friday night by having Mirabel over for a sleepover. We tried to make bath bombs, but it turned into sludge.

So we took our sludge, some pre-made bath bombs, and chocolate right into the tub. It was perfect!

Early on Saturday morning, Daddy and Henry went up to Spokane for Henry’s last tournament of the season. It was Henry’s biggest tournament yet – the Bigfoot Tournament. They rent out the Spokane Convention center for it. Here are Henry and his buddy, Pierce.

Henry wrestled three times. He pinned his first two guys right away, but the third guy was a real fight. Henry ended up beating him, though, and came away with a gold medal! We’re so proud of him!

Soon after Henry and Daddy got home, the babysitter came over so Mommy and Daddy could go to the football game. They got there early enough to get a Mike Leach talking head.

After quite a game against Oregon State, the Cougs had four seconds to get a touch down to win…and THEY DID IT!! Such a fun ending! Cougs are now bowl eligible!

After church on Sunday, we put up the tree! Lots of Christmas music, yummy food, and children fighting over ornaments.

Our new ornament for the tree.

Mommy came into the room to find that Henry had attached a hook to our Christmas tree timer and had placed it on the tree.

While we worked inside, Daddy got the outside ready! He did a great job!

On Monday we met the Straders at Planet 3. Ava and I had a blast.

After Planet 3, I asked Mommy to take us to Wal-Mart so I could use all of my allowance to buy a tree (and ornaments) for my room. Ava and I had a blast decorating it.

Next up was lunch at McDonald’s!

On Tuesday Mac and Ivy came over to play. We got to make some fun turkey treats for snack.

Later that night Ava’s family picked me up to head to the last home Cougar volleyball game.

We got to go down to the gym floor after the game to meet the players.

We even got matching shirts with one of the players on it!

On Wednesday morning Brody helped Mommy make cranberry sauce. So yummy!

Mommy lost a bet to Daddy, so she owed him coffee at work. We all delivered it!

We met the O’Loughlins and the Kings at the science center on Wednesday morning.

And then met everyone to see “Frozen II” that afternoon.

We all REALLY enjoyed it!

Elf normally comes sometime on Thanksgiving, so I wrapped a present for him and left it out on Wednesday night.

He surprised us by coming right away on Thanksgiving morning. He was wearing the super hero outfit we got for him!

Elf brought us a fun LEGO advent calendar.

This is the first time in many years that Mommy hasn’t had to think about putting in a turkey, so we got to have a lazy morning watching the parade!

Around noon Mommy had to pull it together to make this super tough side for Thanksgiving. (Mommy offered to make baked mac and cheese, but no way! We want Kraft!)

We all headed over to the Knight’s house around 1 to get the festivities going.

Mommy sure has some sweet friends.


Dinner prep.

Dinner time! Since we don’t have family close to us, we are so grateful to friends who have become family!

After a great time at the Knight’s house, we came home to watch “Elf,” and we had to make sure that Elf joined us.

Friday was Apple Cup!! But before Apple Cup, I did some shopping and a coffee (hot chocolate for me) date with Mommy.

Next Brody got to go on a date with Daddy.

While they were gone, we got started on our Christmas puzzle.

300 pieces! Done!

And finally it was Apple Cup time! Sadly, though, the Cougs lost. For the seventh year in a row. The boys have yet to see a Cougar Apple Cup win in their lifetime. Hopefully we’ll get ’em next year!

On Saturday morning we woke up to this message from Elf. It’s our night for “Polar Express!”

Henry ran some errands with Mommy, and then it was time for his date. He requested picking out a new LEGO set and then building it with Mommy over lunch at Southfork.

That night we started getting things ready for Polar Express. Brody helped to make the train track.

Henry helped to put wheels on the train, and I helped to add snow to the scene.

After a yummy dinner, we had our tickets punched by Conductor Daddy.

Then when the snacks came out on the train, we ran upstairs to get our own treats.

A normal moment of annoyance between these two.

We took our treats and hot chocolate back downstairs to enjoy the rest of the movie. We love our Polar Express night!

We ended the fun-filled week with a fun Advent Craft Night at church!

The snow globes were our favorite crafts.

Sean helped me for quite awhile on making a pillow.

And LeeAnn helped Henry.

It was a great night! We had such a fantastic week off from school. We can’t wait for more time together in just a few weeks!

My First Lost Tooth

Story told by: Henry

I’ve had two wiggly teeth for awhile now, and I just lost the first one a few days ago!

Here’s Daddy helping me get it out. You can see by my reaction that I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it.

Once Mommy washed the tooth off, I was happier to hold it.

I put my tooth in my pillow for the Tooth Fairy.

And to make things easier for the Tooth Fairy, we hung the pillow on the door.

Right before getting into bed I realized that I needed to write a note to the Tooth Fairy, so I ran back upstairs and wrote this message.

And I woke up EXTRA early the next morning because I was so excited to see if the Tooth Fairy came. And she did! She brought me two gold coins and a note in teeny, tiny handwriting.

I love my gold coins! Can’t wait to have her visit again for my next tooth!

Halloween, 2019

Story told by: Brody

We had a great Halloween week! We started with our church trunk or treat on Sunday.

All of us came up with the theme of “Toy Story,” so we decorated the back of our car like the claw and the aliens from the movie.

We had a table by our car where kids could make a Forky craft.

And I was dressed up as the real life Forky!

Our whole family!

Mommy and Daddy stayed up waaaaay too late making these, but they couldn’t let us down!

The claw in action!

Lainey got vampire teeth during the trunk or treat.

Going through our trunk or treat loot.

There were crafts afterwards.

And a short movie.

Followed by a yummy dinner! Such a fun event!

On Monday my preschool had our pumpkin party. Here is my class and our wonderful costumes.

Silly faces. (My face oddly stayed the same.)

Mommy was able to come be part of the party.

Sprinkles with a side of cupcake.

On Wednesday we had Nocturnal Day. We got to dress up in our PJs and bring a stuffed animal. I chose the tiniest stuffed animal, and Mommy warned me it could be lost easily in the dark, but I insisted on it.

And here’s the video my teacher sent to Mommy. What are we doing you ask? We’re searching for my stuffed animal that Mommy warned me wasn’t a great idea! Thank goodness my friend, Orrin, found it.

On the same day as my Nocturnal Day, Lainey and Henry had their big costume parade at school. Mommy couldn’t attend, but one of Mommy’s friends managed to catch a picture of Lainey!

Lainey had a half day on Wednesday due to parent-teacher conferences (and no school on Halloween and Friday for the same reason), so we came home to have a very spooky lunch.

Ava came home with us after school on Wednesday and played at our house all day. She got to come to our church event that night. We painted pumpkins!

And played fun games!

On Halloween morning I had an asthma check-up with Dr. Mike, so we thought dressing up in costumes would be fun!

After my appointment we went to Papa Murphy’s because they were giving away free personal size pizzas to kids in costume. Win!

We also got a pumpkin pizza for dinner!

And after waiting all day long, it was FINALLY time for trick or treating!

We kept our coats off as long as we could possibly stand the 30-degree weather.

Lainey was pumped that not only did she get to trick or treat at her teacher’s house, but that he was also handing out full-size candy bars!

We met up with the Knights and the O’Loughlins for more trick or treating!

The whole crew of freezing adults!

Henry and I were ready to go home way before Lainey, so Mommy and Daddy brought us home while Lainey kept trick or treating with our friends. We turned on our lights and got to help hand out candy. Trick or treaters were greeted by this sign that Lainey made on our door.

When we weren’t handing out candy, we were eating our own candy.

Lainey went back to the Knight’s house to count her loot.

And eat bags of candy and Cheetos. Perfect way to end the night!

Uncle Jar Jar Gets Married!

Story told by: Lainey

We had a great trip to Illinois to see Uncle Jar Jar and Aunt Ericka get married!

We stayed in a hotel in Spokane because we had a super early flight the next morning.

Layover in Las Vegas where we found a yummy treat.

Arrived in St. Louis!

A yummy dinner at Pasta House with Grandma and Grandpa.

We love that Grandma and Grandpa have pets, so as soon as we woke up, we were playing with the dogs and cats.

This moment captured by Grandpa.

We started with a fun trip to Rader Farms! This place is amazing!

Mommy and Daddy raced. Daddy won…barely!

Then all of us kids. I won!

Since we had moved two days prior to this trip, our lives were a little chaotic. Daddy forgot to bring a sweatshirt or jacket or long sleeves of any kind, so thank goodness Grandma and Grandpa have plenty of warm clothes to share!

Grandma and Grandpa let us each pick out a pumpkin.

And they also bought pumpkin spice donuts. Yummmmm!

Henry helped get the pumpkins to the car.

The next day we drove up to Chicago for the wedding rehearsal. After the rehearsal, we went out for the rehearsal dinner. Here is Mommy with two of her brothers, Jeff (Uncle Juncle) and Jared (Uncle Jar jar).

We started wedding day by going out for breakfast and playing at the park with Mommy’s cousin, Ryan.

We also got to ride in the convertible!

After the park, we went to the hotel pool with Daddy while Mommy and Grandma went to get ready with Aunt Ericka and the bridesmaids.

Time for the wedding!

Mommy and Ryan got to walk down the aisle together.

They’re married!! The rest of the night was a big party.

Mommy with her cousins, Lauren, Ellen, and Jennifer.

Dancing with Aunt Mary Ellen.

Such a fun night! Congratulations to Uncle Jar Jar and Aunt Ericka!


The cousins got a cousin picture early the next morning before we all went our separate ways. Mommy had fun seeing everyone.

We realllly love Uncle Jar Jar because we missed a Cougar home game to be in Illinois for his wedding. But we made sure to wear our Coug gear loud and proud!

A trip the candy store!

We found friends to sit with. Then we went to breakfast with Sue and Greg…but Mommy failed to take a picture. They had sweet gifts for us, and lots of laughs. It was fun to spend time together.

Next up…Brookfield Zoo with Aunt Lori and Ryan.

We happened to be there on Boo! at the Zoo day, so it was fun to trick or treat for candy while walking around the zoo.

My favorite animals to see were the dolphins.

Brody was our tour guide.

The monkeys were pretty neat to see.

But the coolest part was the gorillas during feeding time. This was Henry’s favorite animal to see.

The rhinoceros was Brody’s favorite animal we saw.

When we get tired, we get Mommy and Daddy rides.

A successful day!

Then we rushed home to watch the Cougs have a great game!

The next morning Brody got to help Grandma make pancakes for breakfast.

But I had to do homework. Boo. (But I suppose that’s what happens when you miss school to go on vacation.)

We spent the rest of the day hanging out and enjoying the awesome weather.

Carving pumpkins!

Brody wanted nothing to do with it, so Mommy carved his pumpkin for him.

But I did my pumpkin all on my own, and Henry did a lot of his on his own.

Check out my bunny, Brody’s butterfly, and Henry’s Batman!

We were there for Grandma and Grandpa’s 35th wedding anniversary, so the adults got to have a special night out while we stayed with a babysitter.

They went to a neat Speakeasy. There’s no sign outside the restaurant, you need a password to get in, and the door is hidden.

They did “The Experience,” which is a five-course meal. Delicious!


It was a fun night out!

On our last full day in Illinois, we started with a donut run by Grandpa.

Then the park.

And then the American Ninja Warrior place. This place was incredible!

Henry must have tried this at least 50 times. He finally made it up once with a little of this guy’s help, and a second time all on his own!

The next day we were up early to drive to St. Louis for our flight. The boys were already fighting and whining before we even entered the airport. Oh joy. We are sure going to miss Grandma and Grandpa!

Moving walkways always stop the whining!

After a long flight to San Diego, a long layover in San Diego, a late flight to Spokane, and then the drive home, we got in just a little past midnight. Feels good to be home!