Thursday, December 31, 2009

it's a boy!

We've been looking forward to our 19 1/2 week sonogram for a long time now. Finally, we would find out (as long as the baby cooperated) whether we're expecting a little boy or a little girl.

When Dan and I first talked about having a family, we both expressed a desire to have a son first. We both love the idea of a big brother to look out for future little sisters in the family. But with me coming from a family of two girls and Dan from a family of five boys, we had no idea what God would provide. Either way, we knew we were going to love the stuffing out of this kid!

Now, Dan has insisted from the very beginning that our baby is indeed a boy. I hoped, but had no hint of certainty or gut feeling one way or another. Finally I was up on the table with jelly on my belly and we were seeing OUR BABY for the first time in over 13 weeks! Baby had gone from tiny blob that was indistinguishable on the screen to fully formed child! The technician skillfully worked to measure each bone and body part of our child and it was the most incredible thing in the world to see our baby's moving jaw and each perfectly spaced vertebrae as the tech worked his way down from head to toe. We watched up on the screen as the tech measured the tiny heart beating and each arm and leg. It was during the leg measuring part that Dan excitedly exclaimed, "So I guess it's a boy, huh?" and the tech quickly affirmed what was blatantly obvious on the screen.

It was about then that the tears started flowing down my cheeks. I was completely overwhelmed seeing our baby's beautiful form and watching him move his hands to his face and open and close his mouth. His perfect little nose was so clearly visible and I instantly fell in love with his tiny face. I looked at Dan and saw the pride that was oozing from his very being as he looked up at his son and I was completely moved by God's great blessing in granting us the desires of our heart by giving us a son.

Our son. It feels so good to say he and him now instead of "its" or "the baby." I can't stop thanking God for this little boy that is growing inside of me and for the daddy that I see that Dan is going to be to him.

2010 is going to be an incredible year for The Blankenships.
Judging by this photo, it looks like he's a thumb sucker. Better start saving for braces now!
His profile is definitely the cutest baby profile ever. Just look at that nose!
No question about him being a boy, that's for sure.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Well, the wedded bliss that began last November has continued on in true fairy tale fashion throughout all of 2009. We’ve had quite an eventful year here in the Blankenship family household. God has been so good and so very faithful throughout the year and we wanted to share some of the highlights of the year with you.

We rang in the New Year with friends from Mars Hill Church, a church which blesses us continually with the Truth of God’s Word preached faithfully each Sunday by our Pastor Mark Driscoll. Our home group from church meets each Monday and they are an incredible blessing through their friendship, support, and unconditional love as we study the Bible together and do life together. January brought the answer to much prayer with the end of a five-month-long job search for Jill. After sending out hundreds of fruitless resumes, a friend recommended Jill to The Sports Medicine Clinic where she now works as a receptionist. Her office is in Ballard (north Seattle area) so her commute is less than thirty minutes and she loves her co-workers which is another blessing!

In February, we celebrated Valentine’s Day early with a weekend getaway to the charming, Bavarian village of Leavenworth, WA. Nestled amid snow-capped mountains, the tiny alpine town has all the charm of Germany complete with giant pretzels, polka music, and lederhosen-clad men blowing the shofar at the start of the day. We enjoyed sweet treats from the appropriately named Gingerbread Factory and frosty brews from the local pub, but our favorite find in Leavenworth was the Abendblume bed & breakfast. The beautiful, snow-covered lodge with its driveway lined by birch trees lit with Italian lights, plush king-sized bed, roaring fireplace, gourmet meals, genuine hospitality, and steaming hot tub seated under a blanket of stars created an experience that we hope will be an annual tradition for us.

On March 3rd we celebrated Jill’s 28th birthday and a few days later Dan took her to Forks, WA for her inaugural fly fishing expedition. With friends Dustin & Lisa, we waded waist-deep in the frigid waters of the Queets River in search of steelhead as rain, snow, and hail fell on our heads. We emerged from the river ten hours later half-frozen and without a single fish but it was an adventure to remember! Later that month, after several rounds of lay-offs at PSI, Dan was also laid off. God has been faithful to provide for us through unemployment and a few paint jobs and mortgages that Dan has done on the side. We are so grateful for God's provision!

In April as the flowers began to bloom, our string of visitors began. Our friend Charity came from FL and we gave her the grand tour of the Pacific Northwest complete with a day trip to Canada for some sushi in Vancouver, a day spent skiing on the slopes of Crystal Mountain, and an overnight adventure with local friends Ben & Becky to the Pacific Coast for razor clam digging and an ensuing clam bake!

May brought Dad & Mom Tyckoson out for their first visit to the Northwest. We loved introducing them to our hometown and, naturally, they fell in love with WA. The long weekend included the traditional visit to Pike Place Market to watch the fish being tossed through the air, a trip to the Skagit Valley to see the vibrant colors of the tulips in bloom, and a tour of the Northwest Trek Wildlife Park to meet the native moose, elk, eagles & the like.

June was bright with sunny days spent making homemade frozen custard and hiking to Tunnel Falls in Oregon or eating elk burgers in Portland with friends Victor & Evonne. Weekends were perfect for perusing the farmer’s market in downtown Edmonds and strawberry picking in the country. Our friends Ashley and Michael came to visit and together we took a ferry boat ride to Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands. Their visit wouldn’t have been complete without a drive up to Paradise on Mt. Rainier in search of cascading waterfalls and summer snow.

Our first adventure of July was a hike up to the snow-capped summit of Mt. Pilchuk on the 4th of July for an incredible 360-degree view. Next stop was a trip to FL for the wedding of our friends, Ked & Christie Pomeroy. With Jill as a bridesmaid, we were busy with wedding festivities but still found time to spend a couple of days at Siesta Key Beach with Jill’s parents and sister Julie. Warm gulf water, fresh seafood, and white sand were on the agenda and we came home with golden tans that made all of WA envious. A highlight of the month was our strenuous climb to Camp Muir, the base camp for Mt. Rainier summit expeditions. The hike was barely over 9 miles roundtrip but with a 4,800 elevation gain it was as arduous as it was beautiful. Wild flowers, waterfalls cascading from the glacier, and gorgeous views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams were just a few of the perks on our way up. The descent had its own perk which we discovered sliding speedily down the snow-covered, slippery slope…on our rears!

In August, we took a drive out to the desert for a weekend at Sun Lakes Resort in eastern WA. There we spent the weekend with Dan’s childhood friends swimming, boating, cliff jumping, and biking through the desert canyon. The sunny weather continued throughout the month and made way for an overnight sailing expedition, a hike up steep Mt. Si, a day at Seattle’s annual SeaFair to watch the Blue Angels soar overhead, and a visit to the beautiful vineyards of eastern WA.

September began with a weekend trip to Pullman, WA where we visited our friend Megan and made new friends with fellow Huskies fans there in Cougar country. On our way back home, we stopped at The Gorge, WA’s own breathtaking outdoor amphitheater, to see one of Dan’s favorites, the Dave Matthews Band. A friend had blessed us with backstage VIP tickets and we got to meet Dave before the show. It was definitely a performance to remember! In September we also welcomed the newest member of the family. Our adorable great-nephew Ryan Shane Ziemer was born on the 6th. The baby news didn’t end there though. It took 5 positive pregnancy tests for Jill to be convinced that celebration was in order but the doctor soon confirmed that Baby Blankenship is due to arrive on May 25, 2010. We were thrilled to announce our news in person not only to the Blankenships but also to Mom Tyckoson when she came for her second visit to WA. A scavenger hunt throughout our apartment led her to our oven where she found a baby bib boasting “Grandma Makes Me Smile” in bold, bright letters. Her reaction was priceless!

Fall came in all of its glory in October and Jill’s morning sickness did too. The twenty-four-hour-a-day nausea didn’t stop us from enjoying the beauty of the season with Sunday afternoon drives in search of vibrant, Fall foliage and other Harvest activities like winding through a corn maze and carving pumpkins with friends. Jill also made a trip to Florida for her ten-year high school reunion and to see her family and friends.

November was a month of celebration! On the 8th, we celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary with a romantic, weekend getaway to Victoria, BC where we stayed 2 nights in a beautifully charming bed & breakfast. We enjoyed a walking tour of the historic city, high tea at a British tea room, a tour of a local castle, and a walk through the beautifully manicured Butchart Gardens. A few days later we began celebration of Dan’s 34th birthday on the 12th which sparked a week’s worth of parties and events. Next was a beautiful Thanksgiving day. The morning was spent with friends from church delivering meals to families in need and the rest of the day was spent with the Blankenship family eating enough turkey and fixings for an army! We took advantage of the long weekend and went along with Dan’s brothers, Joel and Rob, and sister-in-law Beth for an overnight trip to the mountains. By day we hiked in 3-4 foot deep snow and by night we kept close to the fire for warmth. The next day friends met up with us and we began our hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. With help from our friend Glory, we did indeed find the perfect Christmas tree whose trunk quickly met with the blades of the chainsaw and was accordingly tied to the roof of our SUV and taken home to be mounted and adorned with all of the classic Christmas accoutrements. (Our tree this year is much improved over last year’s Charlie Brown Christmas tree.)

December has already been a bustle of Christmas activity. Our home group bundled up to brave the below freezing temperatures and meet on the pier at the Edmonds waterfront to watch the Christmas ships sail by and hear the Christmas choir’s carols being piped from aboard ship. Christmas cookie exchanges, ugly Christmas sweater parties, and a trip to the local nursing home to sing Christmas carols with our home group are all upcoming events on our calendar. We plan to spend Christmas Eve here in WA with Dan’s family and then take the red eye to North Carolina to spend Christmas Day with Jill’s family.

In this very busy time of year we are constantly reminded of the true reason for this wonderful season. We are so grateful that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to come to earth as a baby, grow up enduring the trials of humanity, and die a brutal death on the cross so that we might be redeemed and live a life of eternity with Him in heaven! Our prayer for you this Christmas is that you find time to be still and remember the true reason for celebration and that your eyes would be wide open to see the many blessings that God has poured out on you and your family in 2009. We are praising God for your presence in our lives and will be praying for you in 2010. Please keep us in your prayers as Dan continues to search for a job and as God prepares us to be parents.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year with love and prayers from Dan, Jill, & Baby.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Reveal.

We wanted to announce our exciting baby news in a fun way to my Mom since she was arriving within days of receiving confirmation of the fact that we were indeed expecting our first baby. What to do, what to do you tell your mom she's about to be a grandmother for the first time?

I thought of making T-shirts. I had searched for a "Grandma" item to buy and give her as a gift. Multiple ideas were considered and quickly discarded for one reason or another.

We decided on a scavenger hunt through our apartment.

I bought a bib that said "Grandma makes me smile" and placed it in a gift bag. This would be her "treasure" at the end of the hunt. I came home from work that day to the challenge of hiding the various clues throughout our home...with Mom right there with me the entire time. Needless to say, it took some patience, opportune moments, and quick fingers to get each of the clues nestled into their hiding spots without Mom spying me as I tucked them away. Finally, each clue was in place and we were ready to roll. Dan had the camera in his pocket, ready to film her as she opened "the grand prize" at the end of the hunt.

The first clue came inside of a greeting card we gave her. The card was incomplete - I had cut off the bottom of it entirely. She would have to go on a hunt for the missing piece so that she could read the remainder of her message.

Clue #1 read:
"Snips and snails and puppy dog tails
That's what little boys are made of
But girls - they're made of all things nice
Sweeter than sugar and full of spice!"

Inside of our spice rack, Mom found clue #2 which read:
"Lullaby and goodnight
In the sky stars are bright
Round your head, flowers gay
Set your slumbers till day
-Brahams Lullaby
(Take a peek where you'll set your slumbers this day.)"

Under her pillow, Mom found clue #3 which read:
"Comfy and cozy, great for an afternoon snooze
For many men, here their coins they will lose
The perfect place to cheer for Sunday's football
To find this next clue, you might have to crawl."

Under our couch, Mom found clue #4 which read:
"Hues of white, yellow, red & green
They'll help keep your figure nice & lean
Some li'l ones keep your vision crystal clear
Others cause breath no one wants to be near."

In the vegetable drawer of our refrigerator, Mom found clue #5 which read:
"Family trees abound in blooms of love
A heavenly gift from the Lord above
A special bond joins son and father
But none compaires to mother & daughter."

Behind a framed photo of Mom & I, Mom found clue #6 which read:
"Memories of shaving cream & color-me crayons
Tiffany Thompson and I were very big fans
Many days spent having good ol' clean fun
It's true...rubber ducky, you're the one!"

In the soap dish on the bathtub, Mom found clue #7 which read:
"With knobs that range from low to high
This magical box produces cake, cookies, and pie
Inside is where they say you'll find the bun
Just don't remove the turkey before it's done!"

In our oven, Mom found the gift you'll have to watch the video to see her reaction.