Christmas Letter 2011

Merry Christmas! What a year, as always! We are so incredibly blessed and pray for each of you to feel the same! That brings to mind my favorite scripture right now, "Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my family, that you have brought us this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight… Now may it please You to bless the house of Your servant." This was a prayer of King David in 2 Samuel 7, where he cried out to God because he realized how God had been so faithful to him all his life, bringing him up as a young boy to fight against a giant, to now being king, giving him wisdom and strength, delivering him from enemies in battle after battle. What may seem to us like huge trials and adversities or even the biggest blessings, are so small compared to the power of the Lord. My challenge has been not taking my blessings for granted and seeking His guidance so that it pleases Him to bless me. My blessings aren't just for my pleasure, they're for His glory.
Now for an update on our 4 little blessings! We just celebrated Kate's 3rd birthday on the 19th. She is so much fun! She talks all the time and just has such a cute personality. She loves playing with the older kids and does such a good job learning games and songs and any other activity she thinks she should be able to do too. She is very particular about her clothes and shoes. That girl knows no relation between weather and wardrobe. I get some looks for letting her go with no jacket or in flip flops, but there are some battles not worth fighting every day- and that battle is a big one with her! She is always busy around here, so I know if I don't hear her, she is most likely digging in my purse for lips (chapstick) or gum.
Joel is the loviest little guy. He's the little body in the middle of our bed many mornings, and the little legs running off the soccer field mid-play for a hug, kiss, and a five… just because he "wuvs" us. He smiles non-stop and is always happy to do whatever it is we're doing! He's in pre-school this year on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. That's going well, but I sure am going to miss him when he goes to Kindergarten next year. I get all my love from him during the day, then when Derek gets home from work, it's his turn. Joel is Daddy's shadow when he's home.
Tyler is such a good kid. He is kind and smart, and loves to learn and help. He is very active. He goes outside when he gets home every day to play kickball, soccer, basketball, ride his bike, or jump on the trampoline. He is one of those kids who is naturally good at everything he does, but doesn't even realize it. Derek got all fired up this year watching him play soccer and is ready to coach his team next year! Tyler is so good about doing what I ask, loves doing chores for money (which I love!) and loves the extra attention when I sit and play a game, build legos, or read with him.
Jaden is quite the character! She definitely keeps us on our toes with her unique personality and creativity. She is always crafting something elaborate from random things she finds around the house, or writing stories, or making up a scenario for all the kids to act out, or choreographing dances and cheers, or practicing songs from kids' choir. Like any artist, she leaves a trail of messes in her wake, but they are worth seeing her finished work! Derek and I are so amazed, especially since neither of us are very creative. She has such a sweet, kind heart and is adored by all the little girls at church. As well as a certain little girl in this house. Kate thinks Jaden hung the moon and is always ready to be her little student. Jaden is the best big sister and is a huge help with Kate and Joel. It is so heartwarming to see my kids love each other.
We had a summer packed with fun this year. We vacationed with Derek's parents at Hilton Head for 2 weeks in June, it was probably our best vacation yet! We were home for a few days before we headed to Kansas City for my cousin Jake's wedding. Jaden was thrilled to be their flower girl and all the kids just danced and danced at the reception. We came back to a week of VBS at Grandma Seeley's church, then a weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks with my family, Joel's birthday, and VBS at our church. Then we had 2-1/2 weeks to check off the kids' summer to-do list of going to the zoo, city pool, bowling, picnics, sleepovers, Botanical Gardens. It was so busy, but we enjoyed every minute!
Derek and I are busy with life of course, but have had a little more time for hobbies this year. Derek has spent quite a bit of time recently at the farm bottoms across the road duck hunting. This is a passion of his and he loves being able to do it so close to home. He's still a CNC programmer at GH Tool and Mold. Business has been good this year and we are so thankful that he has a stable job that allows me to stay home.
I have really enjoyed building some new friendships this year, starting a new women's bible study, sewing/crafting a little more and training for some fitness goals. I started running in the summer of last year and completed my first 5K last fall. This spring I ran a 10K, then did a triathlon in September. It feels amazing to have conditioned myself to be able to accomplish that! It was so fun to train for too, I have always loved to swim and biking was fun to do with the kids in addition to the running I was doing. Biking hilly roads, pulling two kids in a trailer was great training! Derek and I went to Mexico just last month to celebrate our 10th anniversary coming up. We had a great time; and while it was nice to just relax together, we realized how much we enjoy our kids! Our kids have some pretty awesome grandparents who jumped right into our crazy house and took care of them while we were gone. We are so grateful to be close and have such good relationships with all of our family.
We hope you all have a truly wonderful Christmas and great blessings in 2012!
Much Love,
the Eckelkamp's

P.S. I can finally finish and print this letter since my photos arrived 3 weeks late! Happy New Year!

Kate's "Tangowd Birfday"

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Happy Birthday Kate!

I love how her cake turned out! I had looked on Pinterest and googled cake ideas, but nothing that was simple enough for me to do looked very cute. I ended up winging it 2 hours before the party and was so happy with the result! I had planned to wrap the candlestick just with paper and make it look like the tower and put little tissue paper flowers on... but ran out of time. We loved it anyway!


I am so thankful this guy stood in line outside Target on Black Friday to get this doll/costume set. Though I'm pretty sure he'd have paid full price for it. He's kinda sweet on her :)

This may just be one of the sweetest pictures of her, ever.

Poor baby wasn't feeling too well. This was right before we sang to her, which made her burst into tears. :(

We lit floating lanterns and released them into the night sky to celebrate our sweet Kate! It was awesome!

Crafty Christmas

Ok, so obviously I'm not a blogger, but I had to share my recent projects!! I love making fun things, but am not creative, so thank you, Pinterest for inspiration!
First up: Stockings!
Ok, so these were in the making before Pinterest, but I just finished them and LOOOOVE them! I used a microsuede/sherpa throw I got at ALDI (of all places?!) for $11.99. I was able to cut out all 6 from one. Then a year later, my friend Hope let me come hang out with her while she embroidered our names on them. Took me just a few minutes to sew them all together and... voila! They are the most perfect stockings for us!

Next on the list: Tree Skirt
I have shopped for a tree skirt for the last 10 years and either didn't like any, or they were way too expensive... 10 years I've used a plain red dollar store one, just "temporarily." Finally, Pinterest came along and I saw a few different versions of this and had enough inspiration to make mine. This is the closest and best tutorial, I wanted more rows of narrower layers so mine are cut 3-4" wide instead of 6" and ended up being 9 layers. It's almost as perfect as the stockings!

And these babies: Thumbprint Reindeer Family Cards
Picture coming soon, I'm not quite done yet. I initially wanted to make cards to save on buying some, and I did, but not a whole lot. But I love that the kids could work on them and they're personalized :) These were also a Pinterest inspired project!

For the Record...

Ok, so I know it's been a while, for anyone out there who hasn't given up on this, or who has, but google told you something new was here. But this post isn't for you anyway- I just don't have anywhere else to write this down at the moment and want some record of it.

Kate, you say "goop" for book, and you will ONLY look at Dora goops. So today we happen to be stayng at home for the morning and I thought I'd see if Dora was on TV, thinking you'd be excited to see Dora animated. And you didn't care, you looked at the TV, then down at the book, then back at the TV, watched for a minute, then walked away. But that's ok, Dora is pretty annoying.
As you were on my lap though, you just laid back with one bink in your mouth, one in each hand, and another between your toes! That Segelhorst spread comes in "handy"! (No pun intended, but that is kinda funny!) You love those darned binkies! I had all the other kids give up binkies around 1 1/2, but am letting my baby hang on to them, probably more for my sake than yours! You're obsessed though! You always have to have as many as possible and when you're tired, you hold one squished up in your eye. I've taken some pictures, it's just so sweet, but the camera cord is MIA so none to post here.
You cock your head and babble in this little high-pitched voice when you're asking for something, even though I have no idea what you're saying.
You LOVE shoes, and think everyone should be wearing them at all times, changing them at your frequent request. You were going in Grandma's closet finding a matching pair amidst her sea of black, navy, and brown before you could even walk!
You LOVE Daddy!
I'm sure there's more...

Joel, you are Daddy's shadow, seriously. When he is home, you are never more than 10 feet away.
You love things with wheels that hook together. You sleep with the mini tractor trailer/car hauler that you got for going poop on the potty. And you tell everyone that's how you got that truck.
You don't say the "s" sound at the beginning of a word if it's followed by a consonant. You "coop" dirt with your tractor. Kate' diaper "fmells tinky". And you sit on the "top tep" to put on your boots.
"Allison is my best friend and she's a gil and I'm a boy"

Tyler, you are loving school, but testing at home. You are a sweet boy who loves to snuggle, but you've been acting out or being obnoxiously silly to get some attention when my time is taken up by caring for the little ones and homework time with Jaden. I feel terrible that some days go by without you having any special one on one time. You are making some friends at school- for the longest time you have been content with only having Lucas as a friend. You are playing soccer and are pretty good! You scored your first goal (which I never did in 6+ yrs of soccer) and didn't think it was anything special- you're just out there to play!

Jaden, you are growing up so fast! Your biggest beef with second grade was that you no longer have center time, which was always your favorite. It was a rough start, but you are doing really well and (I think) enjoying school more. You are THE BEST big sister! You are always eager and willing to take care of the little ones and are so sweet with them. You will be an excellent mother some day! You are such a creative artist- very different from your momma, so it is really neat to watch your talent develop!

Moms out there, VIDEO VIDEO VIDEO! You WILL forget the sweet sound of their voice and the way they spoke. You WILL forget their facial expressions and mannerisms. :( Sad, but true! Journals and pictures are great, but it is so awesome to go through my video clips and relive the moment! I just use my camera's low quality video for 30 second-5 minute clips here and there, but they are such treasures to me! Hug your babies all you can!


Ok, I am so terribly behind on here. I have tons of pictures of all the fun things we've been doing, but that would all take too long... I'll just post some good ones and we'll see how close that gets us to now!

Tyler's Preschool Program
It's funny to think it was at Jaden's spring program last year when I realized I was pregnant with Kate. They always do refreshments afterwards and I got heartburn immediately after eating a chocolate chip cookie. Chocolate always gives me heartburn when I'm pregnant, so I just knew.

Mother's Day at my sister's

Happy girl!

I love how she's looking at herself in the mirror!

Jaden with her teacher, Mrs. Koelling, at Kindergarten graduation.

This was too cute, he's just tall enouh to see himself in the mirror.

Joel watching the Memorial Day parade. Funny story: When Derek was a kid, there were always a bunch of kids who decorated and rode their bikes in the parade, so he wanted to do it with the kids this year. We decided to go at the last minute so we rushed downtown and I just dropped them off at the start of the parade and took Joel and Kate further down the route to watch. We had fun watching all the floats waiting for the kids on bikes... waiting... waiting. Finally when it looked like the end of the parade, we stepped off the curb to see if anything else was coming and there they were! Jaden and Tyler and Derek bringing up the rear! It was too funny! I guess I was laughing too hard to get a picture, and you probably had to see it to think it's as funny as I do, but I still had to tell the story! :)

Tiny fingers and sweet soft cheeks! I looooove babies...

Family movie night

Joel wants in on the lovin'

Family Camp! We were too busy having fun to take pictures, but the kids really enjoyed singing songs after mealtime!

The first time at the beach the kids went right into the waves with Daddy and didn't come back on shore for 2 hours, seriously!!!

Some pretty awesome trees down there.

Kate was there too!

Playing with Tyson. It was so great to visit with our friends!!!

Tyler swimming with no floaties!

Jaden got this sand dollar all on her own!

Could it get any better?

Jaden's Birthday: Jaden's birthday snuck up fast after being on vacation, but we spent the morning at McDonald's with her cousins and the evening at Daddy's softball game. They love going to his games- he plays in our church league, so there are lots of the kids' friends there. Jaden helped make 2 batches of cupcakes to take to the game and share! After the game she had her first sleepover with her friend Kaylie, which was very exciting! Then we had the family party Sunday afternoon at Grandma Seeley's. Jaden designed her chocolate 3-tiered ladybug cake- it tasted much better than it looked, but she was happy!

This picture is nearly inpossible to make out, but it was too sweet not to post. (The lens fogged up going from the house to outside.) It's on the deck at my mom's house. My grandparents are sitting in chairs and Jaden has her arm around Grandpa's neck and was stretching to hold Grandma's hand to get her picture with both of them.

an attempt at sweet potatoes!

Coppertone Babies!

We went to the Zoo for my birthday. It was a beautiful day and we got going early enough to make it to the Children's Zoo while it was free and had a great time!

Watching fireworks from the boat in the driveway!

On the 4th of July we went to Columbia for Derek's cousin Alisha's wedding. We took the girls and Jaden definitely had a good time!

She's got some moves!!!

Jaden wanted to camp out on the floor in her tent!

Up waaaayy past bedtime! She went to bed a bit early that night and then woke up wanting to play just when we were ready for bed.



I was afraid this might be the last time I rock my baby to sleep, so I needed a picture.

Joel's Birthday!! Joel is getting so big, and talking more every day! We had a fun family party on Friday night before his birthday on Saturday. For his birthday we had donuts for breakfast before heading to the park with his new bike! We played outside most of the day and had icecream sundaes. We try to sing and do candles as many times as possible on birthdays, so Joel did pretty good by the end of the day!

Jaden, our master artist, made these block letters and cut them out for decoration!

VBS: Kids singing and dancing in the morning, Joel in the marketplace of Rome, and Kate along for the ride!

Ahhhhh, finally! Now to just stay up-to-date!