Musings on Growing Physically…Emotionally…Spiritually

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Anne and Henry meeting the nicest Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at our historic museum…Peter watched from the sidelines.


making oh so many cookies and crafts with these fantastic helpers as Henry either destroys or eats all the frosting.

IMG_0614enjoying awesome surprise Christmas goodies from Aunt Marisa. The kiddos kept it under the tree and did one project a day because it was like opening a present.


practicing our ballet moves on Anne’s early birthday surprise day where we went to watch the nutcracker…so fun!


snagging a picture of these lovely ladies that I get to plan MOPS with but also count on, mother with, cry with, pray with and feel so blessed to have in my life.


making oh so many snow angels.

celebrating a full day of Christmas Eve activities with Anne’s Birthday, a nativity program at church, special dinner with Grandma Sue and a lot of JOY and EXCITEMENT.


making Christmas morning magic but always always first putting our minds and hearts set on Christ.


spending some time at Grandpa and Grandma Grimmius.

giving a lot of love to this little cutie, Amelia. Henry loves her ever so much. He positioned himself in the above picture…this is right before hugs and kisses took place.


loving every moment of our extra long weekend together as a WILKEN FAMILY–playing so many games, laughing at lip syncs, watching slide shows, eating AMAZING food-thank you mom and Chris–talking, crying, and just feeling the love of family!


These December days were also full of sickness…so much sickness of every kind that hit every person in our house. These days are full of sick, health, joy, melancholy but there is a whole lot of love in each day that comes from our Savior and for that I’m ever so grateful for each day.



Today, after much waiting, you are FIVE! Five! Oh my, your momma is having a hard time saying that because it just seems so very big and well it is very big my sweet girl.

Some Very Exciting Achievements This Past Year Include:

*Clearing Dishes/Making Bed and other Acts of Service for our family

*Pumping on the Swing

*Getting the Hang of the Balance Bike

*Mastery of the alphabet uppercase and lowercase and knowing the majority of the sounds

*People and Animal and scene drawings

*Writing and Illustrating your Very FIRST Books that you thought up completely on your own

*Helping make lunches

*Creative play that you come up with and tell your brothers how to play


Some Lovely Things I want to Remember about you Right Now:

*Your ever so helpful nature with the little brothers. I would be at a lost without my second in command.

*Your absolute love of reading. Often sitting on the little Mickey Couch and reading all the books to either yourself, Henry, Peter, or a doll.

*Your Silliness and the jokes you make

*Your curiosity about everything around you.


Oh we love you ever so much sweet Anne Girl and our so grateful for each year of life we have had the opportunity to be your parents. Praying for the year ahead for more growth in all areas of life!


watching an ever so awesome production of Little Mermaid. This was Peter’s first musical: he did awesome!


hosting the Maloney family (minus Chris) at our house for about 32 hours. We had seven cousins  dressing up, reading, acting, dancing, tumbling, racing cars, eating, crying, sleeping, and hard core playing. We even got our November tea party in there too. We barely saw Leeland and Peter and they only surfaced to just quickly wolf something down so they could go back to playing. Oh love cousin time…it was crazy but the best kind of crazy!

disguising our turkeys so they don’t get eaten for Thanksgiving! Both Anne and Peter come up with their own ideas and I help execute. Aunt Marisa started us on this very fun tradition.



Embracing these warmer end of November days…even got a Thanksgiving walk and formerly Grandma’s Vogel land where I remember many a Thanksgiving walks there.


celebrating Thanksgiving at Grandma Sue’s house with these little turkeys.

decorating for CHRISTMAS!!! This mama decided to change a few things up to our normal decorating traditions…mainly for sanity reasons. First, Ryan and I got the tree up and lights on while the kids were napping…HUGE HELP to the stress and craziness of decorating since they can’t help with this part. Second, I got rid of doing appetizers and frappe(even though I love this drink…not many of the others do) and we did pizza and another special Christmas dessert I remember from my childhood that I could make and put in the freezer several days ahead…so much better. This was a solid lesson in saying, “It is okay to change up traditions!”

The kiddos were so good and decorating this year. Ryan and I barely put any on. The picture of Peter is a great example of how he likes to hang ornaments: all on one branch. Henry is oh Henry. He actually was super good during the actual process and then of course attacked and threw ornaments the days after. He has since slowed down on this as mom is slowing moving all ornaments upwards 🙂

It is A LOT of work to be the magic maker…aka a mom at Christmas…but it is worth it and that is also why you throw in there desserts that you especially enjoy eating!IMG_0588

“Mom show me how to take a selfie with your phone” …things you thought you would never hear from your lips as a child 🙂

November slowed down a lot, and it was great to have less commitments. We are full and ready to take on December this household! There is much joy as we celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus…plus the added excitement of a certain girl is turning five. Ready for the Joy of this season!


Every year my heart burst with the opportunity that is Operation Christmas Child.


As always, we do a shoebox that correlates to the ages of our kiddos plus we do some extra boxes for boys age 10-14 because I once heard it is the least picked age group and gender.


As always we shop together, pack together, and  pray over them together. As always it awesomeness mixed with real life chaos and craziness.


You always picture it being this calm and caring moment where you speak lessons of the importance of loving your neighbor. However, reality is you have your oldest girl trying to cut all the tags herself whilst reminding me she would really love a doll like this herself; your three year old running the toy truck you bought back and forth, back and forth while turning on all the flashlights; and dear Henry unpacking every single item you place in a box plus throwing and hiding said items while you are not looking while also trying to stab himself with said scissors your four year old has.

This is reality.

However, it doesn’t matter because in the midst of what is life is the rooted lesson that as a family we make time to give together. We value the importance of honoring what God calls us to do: love your neighbor.

So if you haven’t done Operation Christmas Child, you still have time to join in on this opportunity to pack some joy for our neighbors of the world.

An awesomebook that I highly recommend reading with this season of giving coming up is Boxes for Katje by Cadence Fleming. It is a beautiful story based on the author’s mother’s life about boxes that were sent from America to the children of Holland after WWII.



Visited our favorite pumpkin patch, my friend’s parents grow tremendous amount of pumpkins. Then they have fun pumpkin picking party where you come home with a trunk full of pumpkins and squash. Plus, I got an awesome family picture and some individuals shots too: Win Win Win!

Firefighter Open House Day. We had a special in with a certain firefighter in training that made the kiddos feel so comfortable and tried everything. Henry did not want to leave these big steering wheels!

Attending and loving every single story time. Ms. Patty and the Albert Lea Library are just plain AMAZING.

Meeting JJ and her family at the Riverside Nature Center in Faribault on one of the last beautiful fall days. The phrase, “walking on streets of gold” kept floating through my head as we adventured in the woods.


Enjoying one last campfire. I think we had around thirty this spring, summer, and fall. It made our evenings extra special and cozy.

Our annual walk out at Arrowhead County Park. Henry loves his up high view.

Painting and carving our awesome pumpkins. Anne wanted a kitty and so momma stretched beyond her classic jack-lantern face and made one. Peter wanted an owl and my husband is clearly awesome and artistic and carved the above Owl. Anne FINALLY helped scoop out the guts and seed from the inside! Hurray…it wasn’t too gross this year.


Sipped tea, ate cookies, listened to classical music, and read poetry at our October tea party. We are trying to have one once a month. So far we are two for two! They are work but so worth it. Even though they mainly just enjoy the cookies and tea…they are also getting exposure to poetry which makes this English teacher happy. If you ever want to join us…just let me know. We love tea party guests.


Had Henry dedicated this past Sunday. Grandparents were there and loved having this moment to publicly declare that Henry is a gift from God and we give his life to you Lord God. Loved that Pastor Dave knelt and prayed for Henry.



Eagerly awaiting Trick or Treating ALL OCTOBER Long. We had a “What do you want to be when you Grow up?” theme going on: A ballerina and two firefighters. We went to our local nursing home and enjoyed gathering candy in the warm cozy hallways. We stopped at a few neighbors houses too. They mostly enjoyed handing out the candy to the ones that stopped at our house. Anne was dutiful in her role of holding the bowl.

October was FULL . It was also filled with Sing n Sprout class happening in our basement, continuing school almost everyday and planning for homeschool. It was full but we also had oh so many days to stop and watch sunsets, see leaves changing, and embrace the beauty and amazement that is fall in my mind. This fall for some reason solidified that it is my favorite season. These days are God Given and for that I’m thankful!

Faired it up again way back in middle of August at my hometown fair. Two days with 7 little ones and one day there was several down pours. There was rides, corn, sharks, food, and SO MUCH fun had between all the cousins at the best county fair there around!

Traveled to a “cabin” aka house on Green Lake for a Wilken Family Vacation. Not all Wilkens could make it…but all the little cousins were there the whole week and there was so much good cousin time. Even though the weather stayed a bit chilled for August the kiddos persevered and played in the sand and water…sometimes with jackets…regardless. It was the clearest lake I’ve ever discovered in Minnesota. It was our first attempt at a house on the lake since dad died and there were more emotions than I thought I would have…mainly anxiety/fear of something bad happening; however, we had many people praying for us and it was a lovely week. I only ever want to vacation where there are cousins to play with!


Started preschool for Anne and Peter. I’m homeschooling the kiddos…for now..and it has been a great start to the year. Anne loves school and Peter is so eager to jump in…so we have a fairly solid yet loose go with the flow plan each morning which includes circle time, calendar, songs, letters, writing, art, math and lots and lots and lots of reading out loud. I have a multitude of reasons for why we are homeschooling…which you are more than welcome to ask personally any time…but I still always doubt myself too. Thankfully, there have been lots of small wonderful moments through these first few weeks where I look around and I think, “yes, this is right. This is what is right for our family.”


First official hair cut for Anne Girl..age 4 1/2. She was so pumped and her hair looks so healthy and lovely now!


Firefighter training for this handsome, hard working hubby. He is fulfilling a dream and is part of the on-call firefighters for A.L. This entails a class twice a week through Decemberish and lots of reading from an enormous textbook. He is still bussing plus being a great daddy to his kiddos always making time for “play tag just a little bit” as Peter would say.


Embracing lots of evening walks with this crew while daddy is at said firefighter classes.


Visiting friends and always creating the most unique ways to play that mommy would never think about.

Eating and crafting all the apples.


this kid is keeping me on my toes, teaching me what patience means again, clinging to me for dear life still, learning to go upstairs, trying to stand on his own, letting me get really good at cleaning multiple times a day, working my upper arm muscles, getting into constant mischief, and making me say…oh dear I’m concerned for what maybe up ahead. But man is he cute and though life is loud and SO MESSY, I can’t imagine life with out our Henry.

These last summer days have been full of such good things. But it has also been a season of great change and waiting for us and those are hard seasons to be in…but always I’m grateful for this life that I’m beyond blessed to have.



Visiting grandparents. Anne and Peter even got a special overnight of just them at Grandma Sue’s house…while Henry enjoyed being the only child with mom and dad. Summer makes for such easy traveling to see those you love.


Enjoying our last ice cream treat through our AWESOME library program. Even Henry got to be included which momma and daddy appreciated as he seemed to have the same ice cream likes as us!


Saying goodbye to daddy’s beard!


Being SO ONE. So Big. So Messy. So Curious. So Standing Up. So knows what he wants. So trying to keep up with the siblings.

Biking up a storm. Peter really got the concept of pedaling about two weeks ago and he has been going strong every sense. His cousin Leeland definitely helped push him towards this achievement…these boys oh they are funny.


Burning through pants and shorts (I think we have killed off 8!) with our butt scooting routine over here.


PUMPING!!!!! Anne is PUMPING. It happened on July 24…I was inside switching laundry when my named was being yelled out repeatedly by Peter. MOM..ANNE UMPING…Oh I said, I’ll come see…thinking she was just kind of kicking her feet as we have been WORKING ON THIS A LOT THIS SUMMER TO NO AVAIL and often ending in tears. Well indeed I go out and she is PUMPING!!!! It just clicked. Oh I could write a whole post about letting well enough alone because sometimes honestly parents it just has to click. We are so pumped (hahaha) as now there are only two we have to push at parks:) and Anne is so happy because she can go so high and touch the trees and sky.

Sibling play is the just best. Yes clearly we still have fights and issues…but something again just clicked and Anne and Peter have been two peas in a pod playing house, forts, reading, cars…you name it. The other day they were playing Prince and Princess and Henry was the wizard…way to include him in your play kiddos.

Checking off going to Sibley park in Mankato and Oxbow park in Bryon MN. We went o our first hiking adventure about a mile or so distance with some altitude at Oxbow and the older kiddos did so awesome. No whining or needing help once. Peter kept saying this is Unn..aka FUN! Longs Peak here we come.

IMG_1419Celebrating 7 years on the 7th! Yea. We celebrated by playing scrabble, drinking coffee and eating an early lunch…yes a we are parents and are tired so lets have a morning kind of date. Love this man and marriage. Anything worth having is hard work but it is worth it.


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