Margaret (Curtis) McDaniel + Curtis McDaniel = Curtis.Squared

January 18, 2018

Papa, Chicago, Florida! Oh My!

We had a very busy December (and early January) and I will try to document my favorite times through this post.
Papa came to Indiana to spend special moments together and celebrate Christmas.  He and Anna decorated yummy sugar cookies together!

We took him to the giant gingerbread house at Purdue...

...and the HUGE Christmas tree too!

Papa gave the girls a "Frozen Christmas," where most of his items were from the Disney movie.  Here he is reading one of their new Frozen books before bedtime together.

Next up, we went on a candy cane tour at a local candy shop in Lafayette - McCord's. We each made our own candy cane! I don't know why we didn't do this for the last 4 Christmases in Lafayette, it was so fun!

A couple of days later, we went on a short trip to Chicago.  We had originally planned it in October, but it was rescheduled to mid-December when Curtis's mom passed away.  Anna and Kate were reunited with their pal, Penny.  We also got to meet her precious lil sis, Amelie (not pictured).  It was so kind of the Fields to squeeze in some time with us before they left for Christmas!

Thanks to Aunt Megan, we went to 2 museums.  Curtis and Anna posed with Sue, the T-Rex at the Field Museum!

This perspective was incredible - you can see how big Sue is compared to Anna and Kate.

We went to the Adler Planetarium, where Anna and Kate loved to play on the machines where they could prepare for blasting off.

They had such a great time that they didn't want to leave!

We rarely get pictures of ourselves, so we took a selfie in front of the Chicago skyline.

We hadn't seen the Ortlunds since seminary graduation in 2009, back before any of us had children!  It was neat to see our kids interacting and playing together. The Ortlunds were nice enough to come downtown and brave the cold with us!

People kept commenting on how we had our hands full! ;)

Fast forward a couple of days and we traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to see my side of the family! I especially enjoyed getting to see my dad in action as he directed the music at Pinewood's Christmas Eve service.

On Christmas Day, we visited with several family members, including 2 uncles (not pictured), my grandfather (not pictured), and my grandmother (my namesake).

I struggled to determine which of these pictures I liked more with Anna and Grandmom!

The following day, we spent some quality time with some other special grandparent figures in my life, Grandpa and Sheila. 

We went to their favorite restaurant and we got this cute picture with Grandma.

The day after that, we saw my dad's 2 brothers and their family. We met in Port Orange to make the drive easier on all parties.  (It was a good halfway point.)  I rarely get to see them and it was really nice to catch up and spend some time with them!

Anna and Kate LOVED spending time with their cousin (which is actually my cousin), Elle.

We spent the next several days hanging out with Grandma, Grandad and Uncle Benny!  Kate and Anna would take turns riding this beloved horse at my parents' house.  

Kate was quite good at pouring sprinkles and icing on the gingerbread cookies!

I thought this was a cute pose that Anna did at my favorite childhood park!

We enjoyed spending time outside since it's not very often we can in Indiana at this time of year!

We welcomed a new year - 2018!

Anna and Kate are still loving these little animals that Grandma and Grandad gave them!

One special memory of this trip was when Uncle Benny read his self-published children's book to Anna and Kate!

While we were in Florida, it actually got pretty cold so we just stopped at Vilano Beach quickly on one of our dates to say that we saw the ocean! My parents gave us 2 dates while we were there.  Anna and Kate loved it because they had "grandparent dates" whenever we had a date.  If only we could do that more frequently!!

Lastly, I had a play date with a good friend from high school, Ashlee. Our kids are around the same age and we try to get together whenever we're in Florida.

The kids had a great time! (You can't go wrong with Chick-Fil-A!)

Anna, Kate, and Grandad's favorite time of day was when they would watch Olaf's Frozen Adventure  together.  I thought this candid shot was sweet.

So, that was our crazy but fun Christmas break (if you made it this far)!! I cut out A LOT just trying to make this one blog post rather than breaking it up into lots of little posts.  We're happy to be back home, not living out of a suitcase, and getting back into our routine!

December 13, 2017

It's A...

On December 9, we had planned to have our annual RUF Christmas party and it coincidentally worked out that we found out the gender of our newest addition around the same time.  We already had a lot of activities on the agenda: eating delicious food (of course), white elephant gift exchange, ugly sweater competition, carols and lessons.  So, we decided we better keep it short and sweet with the gender reveal.  We asked the students to sign their name and vote for what "team" they were on...

We had this adorable cake made for the occasion; I thought they did such a good job!  For those of you that may not know about how the gender reveal cake works -- when you cut into the cake, the icing inside reveals the gender of the baby - either blue for boy or pink for girl. 

Here's the video as we cut into the cake! Anna and Kate didn't know! 

The verdict: IT'S A BOY!! We weren't sure if God would provide another son for us after we lost our Brooks in 2011, but we are SO excited to have another one join our family! 

It was fun to celebrate the growth of our family with the students of RUF. :)  Thank you for rejoicing with us!

December 3, 2017

My Birthday

Curtis surprised me by having the students of RUF at Purdue sing to me the night before my birthday.

I celebrated with my favorite people! The girls even helped blow out my candles and they took me to McAlisters for dinner. It was a fun, low-key birthday!
I'm excited for this next year of my life as we add another child and a new brother-in-law to our family! I'm sure God will surprise me with other things that are unexpected in the next year too. It'll be fun to see it all unfolds! 
(We hope to find out the gender of our child on Saturday, so expect another post soon!)

Celebrating Thanksgiving

We traveled to Pittsburgh to spend time with Curtis's family as we celebrated our first holiday without his mom. It was hard, but it was good for us all to be together. Here's a few snapshots from it:

Aunt Heather painting Anna's nails
Mad faces!
Kate got a Princess Anna dress from Papa. She rarely takes it off!
Anna watching Rudolph with Papa (with her new Sophia doll from Papa)
It was a short trip, but I'm really glad we went!

November 3, 2017

Some Exciting News!

We'll be having a new addition to our family in April!
Here's our first sneak peak at the little one. :)
Anna prayed for a little brother in August, but she's now decided she wants a sister instead.  We will find out the gender in December! Stay tuned...

November 2, 2017

Reflections on Karen

I haven't wanted to post this because it's been such a sad and hard milestone in the life of our family. My mother-in-law had been fighting breast cancer for about 4 years. She had a very rapid decline and God took her home on October 9th. 
This was taken in July 2017; it was the last time
that Anna, Kate and I were able to see her.
I am rejoicing that she is with Jesus, but it is heart-breaking for those who are left behind. Her life was cut short; she was only 60 years old.  I only had the privilege of knowing her for the last 10-11 years of her life, but I learned so much about the character of God through her. 
On our wedding day
I feel like I am inadequate in describing how much she has meant to me. I am grasping at straws so I will just share a few reflections about her.  Curtis and I gave her a new name in February 2013 when Anna came into this world: Grammy.
Grammy holding Anna for one of the first times
Time and time again, when I hear about Karen from others, she is described as selfless. I personally have experienced this in so many ways that I can't even begin to do it justice.  One of the many examples was when she would relieve me in the middle of the night and rock Anna to sleep so that I could get some sleep. She may have traveled all day and been weary herself, but she told me that she remembered those hard early nights rocking my own husband (or his sisters) to bed and was happy to help me.  It deeply grieves me to think that she won't be able to do that for any of her future grandchildren.
Selflessly sharing her ice cream with Anna
Curt and Karen made it a priority to be there for special events in our family.  Although it was never expected, they came to most birthday parties that we have had over the years even though they live 7 hours away.  They came soon after Kate was born and served us through making meals and giving me opportunities to rest.
Easter 2015 
Kate's baptism
 Her last visit to West Lafayette was actually for Anna and Kate's joint birthday party in March of this year.  They decided to stay in a hotel and one of the reasons was so that our girls could swim in the indoor pool.  She found out just days later that the cancer was back.
Swimming with Kate in March 2017
 Over the last 4 years, I have talked to her about her cancer.  She was always quick to share with me that all of our days our numbered and she wanted to live each day to the fullest until God calls her home. I think Karen really did that! When I shared with Anna that Grammy was going to die soon, she said "Oh! Then she will get to meet my big brother, Brooks!" She shared this with Grammy in one of our last FaceTime phone calls with her and Grammy said, "You're right, Anna! And I am so excited to meet him!" She couldn't wait to meet Jesus too. 

Even on her deathbed, she was keenly aware that her daughter's birthday was October 8th and did not want to die that day. That just shows how thoughtful she was, all the way to the end.  Karen didn't pass until the next day and I praise God that it happened that way.

If you would like to read more about her, here is her obituary: Karen McDaniel.
Her husband also wrote a beautiful tribute to her.