Monday, December 26, 2016


If you all know anything about me, you know that I love winter and I love to go sledding.  I have fond memories growing up of sledding and I want to pass that love along to my own kiddos.

When we celebrated Christmas with my side of the family, we were very excited that they had snow in Cherokee and we could go sledding!  An added bonus is that Jess and Mitch's house is on top of a hill, so we could sled literally in their front yard. 

We went Friday when it was snowing and Saturday when it was considerably colder and we could only stay outside for about 30 minutes.  Sunday was the day that it was -22 below and the feels like was -39.  Yikes.

Anyway, sledding...  So much family fun!
 The worst part is always the hike back up the hill, am I right?!
 Maddox is fearless, as always.
 Everybody decided to have a race down the hill.  On your mark, get set,  GO....!
 My favorite part of this photo are everybody's expressions AND the fact that Blake willingly jumped on Uncle Justin's back. 
 Jenna's ride down the hill didn't go so hot....

 The uncles, Justin and Mitch, got the kids involved in a competition to see who could stay upright the entire way down the hill. 
 Guess what?  Justin was the winner!
 Jess and Mitch had to race. 
 Jess didn't win...
 Blake's attempt at going down upright.
 My bearded brother.  He was all frozen and I asked him to take his picture.  I LOVE IT!
 Bowen's attempt at staying upright.  He did pretty well and made it halfway down the hill before...
.... he wiped out.
 McCoy.  Seriously.  The cuteness.

The view from their house.  So pretty, especially while the snow fell. Our snow is all melted here at home, so we're hoping for some snow soon so we can go out and go sledding again!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Burdorfs!

We want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  I'm putting our Christmas letter on the blog because it didn't make it in the mail.  You know, Anyway,  we hope it finds you well and enjoy your family in the days to come!

Seasons Greetings from the Burdorf Family!
We hope this letter finds you all enjoying the Christmas season and all it has to offer. As our kids get older, it seems we just keep getting busier! Here is a short glimpse at what we have all been up to in 2016....

Aaron continues to be the 7/8th grade social studies teacher at West Marshall. He also refs volleyball, basketball and umpires baseball and softball and, because he wasn't busy enough, is coaching the high school boys golf team. In addition, he coached Brody's spring baseball team and his basketball team. In what has been a long process, the end is in sight for Aaron's Master's Degree to be a principal! He hasn't taken the most direct route to that degree as family comes first, but he will be back looking for an administration job during the new year. We still have our part-time photography business that keeps us both busy and really enjoy doing photography for the school and families. In his spare time, Aaron enjoys golfing and watching college sports, although the highlight of 2016 had to be the Cubs winning the World Series! Go Cubs Go!

This year was a year of change for me with the twins going to school full-time. I am still the Editor at our local newspaper and work in the office a few times a week, while also attending meetings and games at night as needed. Photography keeps my busy, especially at the beginning of every sports season. This fall I also got to spend many hours in the tractor doing some tillage for a friend of ours. I actually really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the tractor and thankfully didn't run into any fences. Ha! I coached Jenna's softball team for county ball this summer, while also coaching her fall and spring league softball team. I love coaching the game I love to young girls! I enjoy volunteering at church, with Meals on Wheels and mentoring at the library's after school program. In my spare time, I like to read (self-proclaimed book nerd), work out (sort of), cook and bake, be outside with my family and riding my new old-lady bike I got for my birthday.
Jenna is now ten years old and in the fifth grade. She loves her teacher this year and is having a successful school year so far. She played softball in the spring, summer and fall and has really found her niche pitching. Her county ball team won the county championship, so that was a cool moment to share with her! Jenna played volleyball this fall and after a slow start, she really enjoyed it! She is continually setting her volleyball in the house, which drives her parents nuts! Basketball practice has been going on for a couple of months and they will start games in January. Jenna started band this past summer and is playing *drum roll please* the trombone! Woo-hoo, Aaron and I were pretty excited because we can both help her. This girl is ten going on 18 and I hate how fast she is growing up.
Brody is now eight years old and in third grade. Brody is the most curious, inquisitive and argumentative child we have. His mind is always working. He asks so many questions about any subject out there. Brody is kind of like Aaron's mini-me as they can both sit and analyze sports for days. Brody got to play his first season of kid pitch baseball. Aaron coached him in the spring and Brody was like a kid in a candy store because he got to pitch, catch and play the infield. He is also wrapping up his basketball season and played baseball this past summer too. He told me in the van this past weekend, “I just can't wait until after Christmas so I can start practicing baseball again!” There's no doubt what his first love it. Brody is also taking piano lessons, got to be the ball boy for the high school football team this fall and mostly just likes to be outside and wrestle with his brothers all the time. 
Blake is five now and is in kindergarten! I was nervous how the transition would go to the “big school,” but there wasn't a tear shed on the first day of school. The minor setback we encountered was Blake having to get his tonsils and adenoids out during the first week of school. He recovered like an absolute rock star and only missed a day and a half of school. Plus, no more snoring! Blake celebrated his three year kidney-versary in November! I can't believe it's been three years. We are so blessed by the fight and resiliency of this kid and we just love that kidney of his. One of Blake's biggest accomplishments this past year was learning to ride a bike without training wheels and losing his first tooth! Blake and Brody are very similar in their love of sports. Blake also adores baseball. This mom is just stoked she got not only a left-handed thrower, but also hitter! 
Since Blake is five, you know that Bowen is as well! Bowen and Blake are in different kindergarten classes, which is just fine with me. I like that they talk about their own friends each day and still get to see each other at recess. Bowen is, by far, our most stubborn child. He sets his mind to something and you aren't getting that kid to budge. Bowen is Mr. Independent and enjoys school. Bowen is quite meticulous about everything. He has become quite interested in putting product in his hair on a daily basis and it makes me worry about what he will be like as a teenager! Bowen also enjoys riding his bike and is the best little helper when it comes to anything around the house. He also has a huge heart and is our animal lover. 

The past year we were blessed with good health and time together. Those are two things we never take for granted!

From our family to yours, we wish you much JOY, LAUGHTER and GOOD HEALTH in 2017!
Love the Burdorfs --- Aaron, Jamie, Jenna, Brody, Blake and Bowen

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I’ve been lamenting since last week about what I would write about for my column.  If any of you are like me, you’ve been feeling a lot of emotion this past week following the election.  For some of you good emotion and for some of you bad.  So, I decided that I am not going to talk about it.  We’ve all had enough,  haven’t we?  Instead, I’ll fill you in what’s been happening at our house. 
Do you know what we have at the Burdorf house?  Mice.  As in plural, of course.  Aaron had seen one way back over the summer and we set traps, never caught it and we didn’t see it again.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago and Jenna coming out of the bathroom to inform us that a mouse (or rat, in her words) just ran under the dryer.  Awesome.  
Last week Jenna and I had to run to Marshalltown to get some groceries and other stuff.  I had a question about a battery on my list and I called Aaron to ask him.  The conversation went something like this:
Aaron: I’m kind of in the middle of something, can I call you back?
Me: In the middle of what?
Aaron: Well, the boys and I trapped a mouse behind the couch and we are trying to catch it.  
Me:  GET IT!  Yes, bye. 
We got home and learned they didn’t catch it and that it made it down one of the vents in the living room.  Aaron shut the vent and assured me everything was fine.  Later that same evening when all the kids were in bed, we were watching television and the mouse went running behind the t.v.  Aaron had a big plan about us trying to shoo it out the front door or catch it.  He handed me a giant bucket.  That conversation went something like this:
Me (as I’m standing on the couch refusing to put my feet on the carpet): What do you expect me to do with this bowl?
Aaron: Try to catch the mouse.
Me: You try to catch the mouse!  I never said in my marriage vows that I will kill mice!  I kill snakes and spiders and wasps.  NOT MICE.  They are creepishly fast and freak me out!  
What ensued was the mouse running lightening fast into another vent.  *sigh*
Sunday we bought eight sticky traps (God Bless Hometown Foods).  Monday Jenna and I walked in to a mouse fighting for its life in one of them!  We stood on the kitchen chairs until Aaron got home to get it out of the house.  HA!  I can’t help it, I was in fear that it would escape.
My mom used to say mice are like deer, where there’s one there’s about 50.  Well, I have never forgotten that and while I was happy we had gotten that one, I knew there was a possibility of more.
Last Thursday morning, my nightmare came true.  I came into the house early after working out, grabbed my water bottle off the table and went to fill it up in the sink.  As I was about to reach for the faucet there was a mouse bounding across the windsill above my sink, across my counter and who knows where it went because I was screaming at the top of my lungs.  I’m not afraid to admit that I thought I was going to have a heart attack and yes, I did wake up the rest of the house.
We now have 12 sticky traps set and have yet to catch that mouse.  Aaron thinks he figured out where they might have been coming in and put some of that spray foam in the hole.  He did that before I saw the mouse though, so I’m convinced it’s now trapped inside the house, waiting to pounce and scare me to death.  I’m continually on edge.
I know some of you all are probably laughing at me and that’s ok.  I probably would be too.  I am not a farm girl and mice just paralyze me with fear!  I think it’s because they are so, so fast and their tails give me the chills.  Gross. 
I guess this story is to be continued.  If you hear a scream from the southeast part of State Center, there’s a good chance it could be me, but that’s just the way I see it. 
UPDATE: We caught a mouse this morning and I got it out of the house all by myself (with a little help from Brody)!  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Three year kidney-versary!

November 5, 2013...


Saturday, November 5th, we celebrated Blake’s three year kidney-versary!  It’s strange to think that it has already been three years.  On the one hand, it seems like yesterday and on the other, it seems like this is how it’s always been.
As you can see, the little turkey is doing well (knock on wood).  He is ornery and full of energy!  
The things you don’t realize until you have crappy kidneys is that they help with your growth.  Blake used to be, in his dialysis days, below the tenth percentile for length and weight.  Right now, he’s up and over the 80th percentiles for both of those.  I
Not only has his kidney been a rock star, but he still (knock on wood) continues to pee on his own.  
There are so many miracles in this story we call life.  The miracle that he even survived birth when he had a 90% chance that he wouldn’t. The miracle that he did so well on dialysis and really took to it.  The miracle of his donor, a complete stranger, that just wanted to help someone.  The miracle of minutes on the scariest day ever, when those doctors did everything they could with the clock ticking and saved his life.  The miracle that he is not only here, but thriving.
My prayer for my sweet boy is that he keeps beating the odds, never stops fighting and does it all with that same smile on his face, but that’s just the way I see it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016

Halloween 2016 is in the books!  What a beautiful night for trick-or-treating.  I was telling the kids about the big snow storm in 1991 where we got 15 inches of snow.  LUCKILY, that wasn't the case. :)

I really, really wanted the kids to be the Ghostbusters because I think this might be Jenna's last year trick-or-treating.  They didn't buy it though and each chose their own thing.  If you all know me, you know I am not a big store bought costume person.  I like to try to make costumes out of stuff we have if possible.  That worked to my advantage this year.

First up, Mr. Bowen.  He wanted to be a baseball player and wore Brody's jersey so that was easy. 
Blake had this Iowa Hawkeye football uniform, so that was another easy-peasy pick.  Blake and Bowen just had to have eye black because that's what "those guys" wear.  That was definitely their favorite part.
 We headed to the store thinking Jenna was going to be Where's Waldo, but we couldn't find the right shirt.  I had screenshot some costume ideas and she decided on a pirate.  She found this shirt and the rest we just threw together.  The funny thing is, I have three boys, but have never had a pirate before. 
 And last but not least...Brody.  Brody and Aaron came up with the idea for him to be long-time Cubs announcer Harry Caray.  I'm in love with how it turned out.  I mean, HOLY COW!! We found the coat at Goodwill, the glasses were sunglasses that we popped the lenses out, Aaron made a press pass for him and I made the microphone.

I think this one will definitely go down as one of my favorite Burdorf Family costumes ever!  Perfect year for it, wouldn't you say?!  Go Cubs Go!
The kids and I (Aaron had to ref a volleyball game) stayed busy for almost the entire two hours and we got way too much candy!!!! 
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Buh-bye September; Hello October!

I feel like I blinked and September was gone!  As I said in my previous post, we've been keeping busy at the Burdorf household.  If you follow me on Instagram, I apologize that you've already seen these photos.  Here are just a few from our month.  

Brody, he loves his Hawkeyes.  On this day he had both his football AND basketball jersey on.  Crazy kid!
 Is it terrible I can't even remember when the UNI vs. ISU game was?!  I think it was in September.  Anyway, we found some cheap tickets and had a date nite. 
Aaron talked to the high school football coach about Brody and his friend, Connor, being the ball boys during the varsity games this year.  He agreed and these two are having a blast!  It rained the night I took this photo, so they were extra busy.  Brody is a sponge and can't stop talking about practices, players, specific plays, etc.   
 Jenna is once again playing fall softball and I am, once again, coaching.  We moved up to 12U from 10U.  It is quite the switch!  Technically, we could have probably played 10U again, but we weren't getting anything out it and it wasn't really challenging the girls.  We're making progress every week and hanging in there the best we can.  I'm focusing on the mini victories!
 On the weekend of our nephew, Carson's, birthday in Cherokee, we had to put Bailey down.  Jenna called her our, "Joint Custody Dog," since she was ours and then we had to give her to my dad because we had too many kids and not enough time for her.  It was the perfect solution because we still got to see her regularly.

Bailey was 13.5 years old and she went downhill pretty quickly.  She started having seizures Friday night and by Saturday afternoon it was just bad.  We called the vet and had her put down.  It's always sad to lose a member of your family and Bailey was just the best.  We will miss her.
 Blurry cousin pic.  SO. MANY.  BOYS. 
 Despite poor Bailey, we did have fun.  I love my family.
 Don't you think coffee just tastes better when you drink it with your mom?  Yes, so do I!
 We did a 4K for the kids to support dance marathon.  Blake didn't want anything to do with it, so Aaron stayed with him.  Brody and Bowen are little running rock stars and Jenna is pretty much her mother's daughter. Ha!  Running's not our thing...
 Anyway, it was a beautiful Sunday morning for it and we got free pancakes afterwards!  Good motivation for sure.
 Sunsets are my love language.  I will chase them down to take pictures of them at any time.  My family knows this.  I took this one on the way to a volleyball game.  I stopped right in the middle of the road and I didn't really care.  Just breathtaking....
 Don't you love fall?  More crockpot recipes in my life.  This was a no boil mac and cheese recipe that was a huge hit with the family.
 In addition to Jenna and Brody taking piano lessons, Jenna is in full swing with her first year of band.  She's playing the trombone and the nice thing about that is Aaron and I can help her.  I have no idea what I'd do if she played the clarinet or French horn.  She seems to like it so far!
 This weather is something I'm not taking for granted!  Absolutely beautiful.  We're still wearing shorts in September and October.  Say whaaaat?!  Bowen tried to get across all three of the monkey bar stations at the playground and came up short every time. 
 Technically, this photo happened in October.  Yesterday our elementary participated in the Live Healthy Iowa walk and I went to take photos for the paper.  Always a job perk is getting to see my kiddos! 

They crack me up.  Jenna comes up and gives me a hug.  Brody's friends usually have to point me out to him.  Bowen ignored me.  Blake smiled, but wouldn't come talk to me.  Thank you children for your love - haha. 
 Here's to October, my favorite month of the year.  All things apple and pumpkin.  More coffee and tea.  A chill in the air.  Sweatshirts.  Cozy socks.  Watching football.  Can't wait!