Wednesday, December 31, 2008

i like this

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin

New year, new look

Changed things up a bit.
Keeping the same address, just going with a new template and header!
Happy New Year!!!!
Be safe!

The back splash

So here it is (minus the light switch covers).
New back splash, countertops, sink and faucet.
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Formula anyone?

This is in my cupboard and I am not going to use it.
If you are LOCAL (or I am going to be seeing you soon), do you want it?
None if it is expired. All good for at least a few more months and some of it for over a year.
I also have a ton of bottles with slow and medium flow nipples that can go with it!

If nobody wants it, I will be donating it to the HOPES program here in town.
So let me know!!
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Do you ever feel like a crazed, decluttering maniac?

That is how I feel today.
I cannot STAND this clutter and mess.
And I'm feeling a bit psychotic about it.
Like if I don't get everything decluttered by the first day of 2009, my car is going to turn back into a pumpkin or something.
Brigg's room is almost complete. And can I just say that is has been SO much easier to do with him hundreds of miles away. And I am totally embarrassed by the amount of STUFF that I pulled from his closet, dresser, desk and under his bed. Truly embarrassed. How does that happen? I feel like I could have another garage sale!! (but that is not going to happen!)
The living room is great because I had to pull everything out to get new carpet and I didn't put any clutter BACK in. So I am creeping my way through the whole house. Although I'm pretty sure it's not possible to finish by the strike of midnight, I'm going to give it a good shot.
Onto the bathroom....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

some cute pics of my girls.

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Before and after

We moved into our house four and a half years ago.
When we moved in, there were two things we were going to do "first thing":
1. Get rid of the blue rooster wallpaper in the kichen.
2. Get rid of the 20 year old, very stained brown carpet in the living room.
It took us 3.5 years to get rid of the blue rooster wallpaper.
And as of yesterday, 4.5 years later, the brown carpet is gone.
It will not be missed.
And really, you cannot tell from these photos how stained it was...

And the new, very neutral carpet.
Which we love...

And now I become carpet nazi...which was the main reason we didn't replace it until now.
No more food. No more drink. Mostly this will be enforced with Paul.
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Just one of those days.

Feeling like it's just one of those tired and crabby kind of days. Everything is kind of irritating me. We have been doing a ton of projects around the house and it's sending us to the poor house. We got new living room carpet, countertops, sink, faucet and back splash. Paul has been touching up paint and sanding stuff and he replaced lani's crown molding in her bedroom. All this has freshened up the house, but it all costs MONEY. Not the best time to be doing this, but we are wanting to get some things done so we can possibly list our house in the future. This is a huge deal. We have loved our house since the day we moved it. Our neighborhood is amazing and we have a ton of space here. We have very few complaints. But over the years, our perspective has slowly changed.
I remember rounding the corner to our house after 9 days on a missions trip to Guatemala, and thinking to myself "Ugh. Look at that house. It's so big and what the heck are we doing putting all this money into it?!?" Our eyes were "hurting" upon our return. We had gotten a glimpse of a people who had nothing,and suddenly what we had seemed a bit ridiculous.
Then a few months ago I read the book "Serve God, Save the Planet", and my wheels really started turning. We had gone through Financial Peace University and sat down and examined our budget in great detail. We had too much money going towards our house. We are living on one income and sacrifices need to be made. But when we looked at our budget, it looked like we were making sacrifices in the wrong areas. Our house had become our priority. I don't know when or how it happened, but it did. And it has been making me sick.
I think back to our first house and how simple it was. And practical. And just fine. It worked just fine. Nothing fancy, not a lot of space, but it was fine. But the way things work is to upgrade over the years. Bigger, better, nicer. So that's what we have done. But in the last couple of years Paul and I have decided it is not what we want to do anymore. Shelter. We need shelter. And not excess. We want to place a stronger emphasis on our family and not our house. And that's not easy with our limited income. So we are going to downsize. Which sounds crazy as our family is GROWING, but I think that's what we are hoping to do.
So we are looking for a new house. Less house, more land to do things like garden. Smaller house payment, smaller impact on the environment. Lots of different stuff. It's going to be a bit of a lifestyle change...not that we live in a luxury home right now, but it is large and not a bit energy efficient!
We are waiting to hear about a house we are VERY interested in, and hope that something comes of it. But if not, we'll keep looking.
All that to say that today I am a bit overwhelmed. Lots of projects, money, time, stress going on around here. Lots of changes. But I feel like this is all going to be for the better. Not easy, but better. Not the most comfortable, but better. Time will tell.

Monday, December 29, 2008

what to do...what to do...

Up until the past 2 days it has been brutally cold around here.
Going outside to play has not been very desirable.
So we were trying to come up with something fun to do with 13 kids and 4 adults today.
This is what we decided on...

Of course we needed lots of food and the room attached to the pool.

I'm pretty sure it was a hit.
We were able to get rid of some of our cabin fever and all the kids were very entertained.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

While brother is away...

Pictures are still necessary!
I wanted a cute photo of the sisters, but Ayla decided that it was more fun to heat butt Lani repeatedly during our photo shoot.
She is something...

One decent one...
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The playland...

After Target, I took Ayla to the play land at the mall.
She was a little leary...but still cute as ever!

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Ice Skating

We decided since Brigg was gone in sunny Florida, we should do something fun with Lani and Ayla
So we took them ice skating.
Well, PAUL took LANI ice skating.
Ayla and I hit Target and got diapers, wipes, and Tylenol.
And Lani's only request was that when I came back, bring her a vanilla bean Frappuccino from Starbucks.
And as you can see, her wish was my command...

And she quite obviously has Paul right where she wants him!

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

All signs are vanishing...

i love christmas. my kids BEG to get out decorations very early. we have them up for about a month. but towards the end, i get tired of all the "stuff" setting around. so today i am starting to feel like our house will one day be back in order. all the decorations are down and i'm just waiting on paul to take down the 7000 pound christmas tree. then the love seat goes back to the spot where the tree currently is and we are back to normal. whew! i love the feeling of getting it all packed back up!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Letter 2008

I decided to email our Christmas letter this year.
I am behing and this was one way to get it out and document our year before it's too late!
Of course I do not have current email addresses for everyone, so many came back to me.
Just in case some of you read my blog and did not get a letter via email, here it is!
It was 9:30 on Christmas night and the phone rang. I answered to a very excited, very WARM, Brigg, calling from the Sarasota airport. He had made it to Florida with Nana and Papa S. He told me all about the weather and the plans for the upcoming week. And I thought to myself, “Who is this child?” A year ago he would have never left his mommy and daddy for a week-long vacation with his grandparents. He would have teared up at the thought of it. And here he was, calling me from hundreds of miles away, on cloud nine. And I was tearing up at the thought of how big he was getting. Yes, so much changes over a 12 month period!

Brigg (7) has had quite the year. His big brother responsibilities have doubled and he has grown into this position beautifully. His start to 1st grade was a little rough. He was not ready for summer to be over, or for the hours spent outside to come to an end. He is a creature of habit and this completely messed up his routine. But after a few weeks, he informed me that he liked school again. He would just like to be home schooled ONE day a week! J His love of baseball, golf and the outdoors in general is apparent to all who know him. And he counts himself blessed to be traveling this holiday season with my parents to a far away place to watch his beloved Hawkeyes play in a New Year’s Day bowl game. And I won’t lie to you, Paul and I are a tad bit jealous of our 7 year old son!

Nalani (5) has easily taken on her role of big sister this year. She takes it very seriously. And sometimes I think her maternal instincts are a little too much for Ayla. I am beginning to think that Ayla will never have a reason to speak with Lani around. She just has to grunt until Lani figures out what it is that she wants. Lani is in her last year of preschool and loves it. Her teachers describe her as “quietly exploring, and following the rules. A sweet girl.” We’re hoping that sticks through the teenage years! She loves nature and animals, especially horses and cats. She still enjoys playing Barbies and princesses, but often does so with dirt under her fingernails. She has this biggest heart and wears it on her sleeve. She would love to spend all her days in her pajamas and robe, playing games and snuggling. I love this age.

Ayla (1) is definitely our little spitfire. We had no idea what a huge part of our family was missing until she arrived. She is completely different than Brigg and Nalani ever were. She is aggressive and determined. She doesn’t take “no” for an answer. She is walking and climbing and has taken to hitting when she gets overly tired. I suppose she does what she has to to make sure her “voice” is heard in this bunch. We continue to work on “gentle touches” with her, but so far have been fairly unsuccessful. And although she can be quite forceful herself, she cries hard if she thinks someone else is getting hurt. She is very protective of her siblings and if she catches Paul tickling them or wrestling them, she runs over to him crying and pushes him away. We are so anxious to see her personality develop in the years to come.

Paul started a new job this fall! He is now employed by Muscatine Power and Water as an Energy Services Specialist as well as doing home and radon inspections on the side and he loves it. For the first time in his life, he is truly working 40 hours a week instead of 50+. He is much more relaxed and able to enjoy so much more time with us at home. Not to mention he no longer has the half hour commute to and from Davenport each day. We have quickly adjusted to this way of life!

I continue to stay home with the kids and run them around to different activities. During this season of our lives I could not ask for a better “profession”. I wear the title of wife and mother very proudly and wouldn’t change it for the world!

As we approach the New Year, our hearts are filled with anticipation of what’s to come. This holiday season has brought with it new eyes for our family. Our part in the Water for Christmas campaign has changed us. We have spent the past few months working hard to fundraise to build fresh water wells for villages in Liberia. And giving away a small part of our Christmas to something greater than ourselves has proven to be the biggest blessing of all. We have focused on something so much bigger than what happens in our little part of the world and we have found new parts of our hearts ignited. We pray that these passions creep into our daily lives in the year ahead. It feels like our family is figuring out who we want to be and what we want to stand for. It has been exciting to see what we believe turn into action this holiday season. And what greater way to show our thankfulness to the father who sent his child during this season 2000 years ago than to be love and light to someone or something outside of ourselves?

May your holiday be filled with joy and thankfulness,
Cassie for all the Burback Family
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Why does she always look so guilty??

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christams to all, and to all a good night...

So this is it.
In a few hours it will all be over.
(and really, the kids are in bed or on airplanes, so it's already over!)
It has been quite the holiday season. New eyes this year. So thankful for that.

By making the decision to give a portion of our Christmas away for something greater, we gained so very much. This was not like any other Christmas we have ever had. There were much fewer gifts. A greater focus on the bigger picture. More talk about the true meaning of Christmas. And I would have to say it was an amazing Christmas.

This will forever be the year that our Christmas experienced a flood.
Of water.
Of joy.
Of giving.
The floodgates opened along with our eyes and hearts.
And Christmas will never be the same.

So as we bring in the new year, I pray that it's not only Christmas that will never be the same.
I pray that with our new eyes, we let the joy of giving enter into our everyday life on a new level.
By giving, our blessings have been mulitiplied so many times over.
Last night we sang "O Holy Night" at church. It has always been one of my favorite Christmas carols, but this year it took on a whole new meaning. It touched a part of my heart that it never had before. Proof that I am changed. Thank God for that.
So I leave you with that verse that brought tears to my eyes last night. May this penetrate my heart every day from here on out...
“Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!”
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Really, she didn't need any gifts at all.
All she wanted to do was climb on things...

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And what Christmas would be complete without weapons?!?!

Truly, this family believes in peace on earth.

But the 2 Tommy 20's received by Brigg and Lani were a huge hit.

And why wouldn't they be?

But Lani found that protective eyewear was necessary.
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