Tag Archives: 2012

My Life: A Photo Abecedarius

Wendy and Regina

R is for Regina (a.k.a. Reggie). We are one of those quirky families who anthropomorphize our vehicles by giving each their own name. When Wendy and I purchased our 2012 Nissan Murano I had been driving a Lexus 350 RX for work. The RX was dubbed “Rex” which is Latin for “King.” So, Wendy’s Murano naturally became “Regina” which is Latin for “Queen.”

Do you name your vehicles? Feel free to share in a comment!

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Christmas & New Year’s Recap 2012

It’s hard to believe the holidays have come and gone. It was an enjoyable time for Wendy and me. In fact, Wendy commented the other day that these were the most enjoyable holidays for her in many years. For the archives, here’s a run down of what we did this year.

On Sunday the 23rd, Wendy and I hosted the Vander Hart clan (that’s Wendy’s mother’s family) at our house in the afternoon. Eighteen people are a lot to squeeze into Vander Well Manor, but it’s a loving bunch so everyone rubbed elbows and enjoyed appetizers and goodies while we chatted the afternoon away. I enjoyed hanging out with a bunch of the other kids (I’m still a kid, aren’t I?) and catching up on where they are and what they’re doing.

Christmas Eve Day was quiet for Wendy and me. There was nothing on the calendar except for helping video tape the Christmas Eve service at church in the afternoon. Wendy was in the Director’s chair while I helped on camera. We spent the rest of the day cleaning up the house, preparing the Christmas meal ahead of time and wrapping a lot of gifts we’d left until the last minute. We were nestled all snug in our bed when  Taylor and Clayton arrived in the wee hours. Taylor worked until late and they drove down to be at our house on Christmas morning.

With children coming and going, we haven’t had the chance to make really firm Christmas traditions, but Christmas breakfast is the closest we’ve come to it. This year, Wendy made homemade cinnamon rolls and breakfast casserole. We enjoyed having Clayton and Taylor with us. After breakfast Madison joined us on FaceTime. We’d sent her gifts back to Colorado with her and we all opened gifts together.

Taylor and Clayton headed to Clayton’s mother’s house while Wendy and I cleaned up and headed to Des Moines. We’d made crock pot French Dip and took that with us to the Vander Wells. We had lunch at my folks and then opened gifts in the afternoon before Wendy and I headed back home.

On the 26th, we picked up Wendy’s sister, Becky and her husband, Court, and headed north to the Hall family gathering at Mom & Dad Hall’s place in Boone. It was small gathering as most of the seven siblings and their families were unable to attend. Lucas’ girlfriend Polley joined us from Tennesse, however and maybe it was a good thing that she didn’t get overwhelmed with the entire crew all at once! We had a wonderful Iowa meal of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, stuffing and homemade bread. I piled everything together on my plate swirled it together and dug in! Mmmmmmm.

On Friday night, Dec 28th we went to Des Moines for the afternoon to peruse the after Christmas sales. We then met our friends Kevin and Becky at Chuck’s restaurant where we enjoyed celebrating our anniversary and hearing our friend Heather singing. I was also surprised to find that the piano player was a guy I went to high school with and we enjoyed a nice conversation. It was one of those evenings of sitting down at the table a little after six then enjoying a drawn out meal and entertainment. We didn’t get up from the table until 10:30.

The weekend was fairly quiet. On Saturday Becky & Court drove to Pella and we dined at the Windmill Cafe with Grandma VH, Uncle Mel and Aunt Linda. Becky and Court stuck around and chatted the afternoon away. On Sunday, Wendy and I sat on the couch and cheered the Vikings into the playoffs with a victory over the Packers!

On New Year’s we headed to Chad and Shays for appetizers and wine along with friends Matthew and Sarah. Dinner at Kaldera and then back to our house for Wendy’s cheesecake. Then, it was back to Chad and Shay’s to relieve the babysitter. Chad, Shay, Wendy and I popped the cork on the bubbly and the four of us quietly rang in the new year.

New Year’s Day was when the decorations came down and we worked to clean up the house. Things are back to normal and the routine has already begun to set back in, but it was a restful and loving time with family and friends this year.

Looking forward to many good things in 2013!

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

A Family Weekend Starts the Holidays

2012 12 19 VW Gathering1 2012 12 15 Hot Moms Weekend 2 2012 12 15 Hot Moms Weekend 1The holidays are full of extra special celebrations for our family. Wendy celebrates her birthday today (Happy Birthday, baby!), followed by Christmas, followed by our 7th wedding anniversary on New Year’s Eve, and then the New Year. This year is extra, extra special because Wendy hits a mile-stone.

Let the celebrations begin! And begin they did, in a big way, last weekend.

Last last summer Madison informed me that she and Taylor would like to surprise Wendy and whisk her away for a girls weekend. So the scheming commenced and plans were laid for the girls to take Wendy to Kansas City for some female fun. On Thanksgiving Day, the girls were together in Colorado so celebrate Madison’s milestone birthday (21) and during our holiday Face Time session the girls told Wendy about the “Hot Moms Turn 40” weekend they had planned for her. Tay and Wendy left Friday afternoon and picked Madison up at the KC airport. They went out to eat, went shopping on the plaza, went to the play Inspecting Carol, and returned to Des Moines on Sunday.


Clayton and I met the ladies at Americana for brunch. The girls and I then went to see War Horse at the Des Moines Civic Center. It’s a play Wendy and I had wanted to see ever since our trip to London a few years ago. It was a great show. We met up with Clayton again and spent a little time with Grandpa and Grandma VW before going to the 6:00 showing of The Hobbit.


IMG_2147We’re at that stage of life when family spreads out and getting together is a rare occurrence. It was so much fun for Wendy and the girls to get three days together and for all five of us to share an entire day. It was certainly a nice kick off to our two weeks of celebrations.

On Wednesday night all of the VWs and Keithleys gathered back and Grandpa and Grandma’s so that the family could see Madison before she flew back to Colorado where she’s scheduled to work over the holidays. Wendy and I brought in some Felix & Oscar’s pizza, Wendy made peanut butter, dark chocolate espresso cupcakes for Madison. Grandma made chocolate cake with fudge frosting for Wendy’s birthday. We ate and laughed and enjoyed the time together before rushing home to avoid the blizzard which was hitting town.

Tonight the festivities continue as we celebrate Wendy’s big day. We’re excited to meet up with our friends Dave and Maria who are in town from Michigan. Then it’s off to one of Wendy’s favorite restaurants with the VLs for a nice dinner.

Thanksgiving 2012

I must say that Thanksgiving 2012 has been one of the more odd holiday weekends for Wendy and me simply because it’s mostly been a quiet weekend just the two of us. The one family gathering we had was on Friday night when we helped host Wendy’s mom’s family at a potluck. We’d managed to rent some space in our church for everyone to gather and kind of took charge of making sure everything went okay for everyone. It did.

My goodness. It’s hard to believe these two bath rats are celebrating Maddy Kate’s 21st birthday this weekend.

The rest of the family spread out this year. Madison is in Colorado Springs and celebrated her 21st birthday on Thanksgiving Day this year (Woohoo! Happy Bday MADDY!). Taylor flew out to Colorado to spend the weekend with her little sister and to have a girls weekend.

Most of the VW clan were in Chicago at Terry & Bonnie’s for the holiday. We were bummed to have missed it, but having to be home on Friday to help with the Roozeboom festivities would have made it a crazy quick trip. My brother Tim also missed the festivities. He’s been working in Texas and stayed down there to celebrate Thanksgiving with Kumi.

Dad Hall & Suzanna are in Germany to see Josh and Kirtana.

Wendy’s family was also spread out. Her dad and sister flew to Germany to see Josh, who’s serving in the military there. They’re also the first to meet the newest member of the Hall clan, Kirtana, whom Josh married in Nepal back in August. With Jesse still in Germany, Heidi & Sophie in Florida, Luke in Tennessee to see his girlfriend, and Nathan and Bonnie in Oklahoma, there were precious few of the Hall clan around with whom to celebrate.

So, Wendy and settled in and decided to try and be productive on our long weekend alone. We did a massive house cleaning on Thursday and then I put a few steaks on the grill that evening, we opened a nice bottle of wine, and we sat down to a candlelit dinner for two followed by a lazy evening finishing up the first season of Downton Abbey on Netflix.

This is what decorations looked like when we got them out yesterday morning. They still look pretty much the same this morning. I think we’re behind on the task list.

Friday was supposed to be decorating for Christmas Day, but our morning errands to Wal-Mart and Hy-Vee got out of hand. Then Wendy had to bake and prepare for our Roozeboom potluck, the USP Box Office phone started to ring (Wendy and I ARE the virtual USP Box Office), and Mom Hall showed up in time to watch the Iowa State game. Needless to say, the living room is still full of decoration boxes and a half-decorated Christmas Tree is sitting in the middle of the room. We scurried off to an enjoyable gathering with the Roozebooms. It was 10:00 when Wendy and I got home and I made the mistake of turning on the television to find that the movie Moneyball had just started on one of the movie channels. Wendy sat on the couch next to me and next thing you know it was Midnight.

Today we finish decorating and continue on a long list of honey-dos. The weekend is scheduled to be a combination of chores and relaxation. We’ll see how it all goes. I can already tell that we’re not going to accomplish anywhere near the number of to-dos we had on the list at the beginning of the weekend. C’est la vie.

I hope that anyone reading this post has enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones wherever find yourself.