Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.

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Christmas Recap 2012 (in which I challenge the limits of my marriage by insisting on photo evidence)

Every year, I say that this is the “best Christmas ever.” And every year, it’s true. Including and especially this year.

We began our celebration on Christmas Eve at my parents’ house. It was a little different to drive a half an hour to get to my stocking, rather than just running down the stairs, but it was still wonderful. This year, my stocking had 2 of everything in it! Unfortunately, it was not all for me; I had to share with my husband.

2012 stockings

We then devoured the traditional “monkey bread” breakfast, and when the barn chores were finished (not by me :)), we sat down to the business of opening gifts.

Here’s this year’s tree, complete with “knitted sock garland” from my dad’s antique sock knitting machine (he makes these socks out of wool from our sheep).

I was thrilled to receive a ton of tools, the Young House Love book, earrings, a scarf, a hat, and much much more. It was awesome.

2012 Bronkema Christmas Tree

The rest of the day was filled with game playing and food. My new favorite game? Set. It’s incredibly hard and I’m horrible at it but I love it. The only problem was that it wasn’t gifted to me personally, so I had to leave it behind at the end of the day…but it’ll go on next year’s Christmas list.

We left around 8 and headed to our apartment, and both Kenny and I came to the conclusion that we’d rather open our gifts to each other then and be able to sleep in on Christmas day…since we were going to hit up the 11pm candlelight service at our church.

It was the right decision.

My gift highlights: a new sleeping bag, camping cookware, watercolor paints, and a gorgeous blazer. Ken has good taste.

Annie's loot

I insisted on photos. Ken begrudgingly complied. It was a good thing I buttered him up first with all those gifts.

Kenny's haul

This year, I wrapped a bunch of our gifts in plain brown kraft paper, partly because it was very cheap, partly because we ran out of wrapping paper, and partly because it’s the trendy thing to do. I also took the initiative to sharpie on some bows and tags, and was SO EXCITED when Kenny wrapped a gift for me in a similar manner. This guy knows the way to my heart.

Kenny drew me wrapping paper!

After sleeping in on Christmas day (the candlelight service wore us out!), we headed to his parents’ house for gifts with his immediate family and then extended family.

If this picture could be animated, you could see our feet practically wriggling with excitement.

Christmas day at the in-laws

My gift highlights: giving away photo books of our wedding and receiving a rain coat, new purse, and additional dishes (yay!). Kenny basically got an entire new wardrobe of Ralph Lauren clothes and Sperry’s shoes. He was pleased.

Merry Christmas!

In summary: it was pretty wonderful. And I’ll say this for the gajillionth time too: we are so blessed.


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The True Meaning of Christmas (in which I quote Luke the Theologian via Charles Schultz)

Linus has it right.


Charlie Brown: “Isn’t there anyone, who knows what Christmas is all about?!”

Linus: “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights please?

And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men.

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”


Christmas Break Bucket List (in which I create an elaborate plan for having fun)

This Christmas, both Kenny and I have breaks–him from law school between semesters, and me from work, using up vacation days that would otherwise disappear.

We’re pretty thrilled about the thought of days spent doing nothing.

However, we both hate looking back at times like these and realizing we didn’t do things we’d planned on doing.

Enter: our Christmas Break Bucket List.

Christmas List 2

Allow me to elaborate.

1. Drink hot chocolate: I mentioned to Kenny last night that I wanted to have hot chocolate over break. I was thinking more along the lines of Swiss Miss, but he immediately remembered seeing some awesome recipe for homemade hot chocolate. From scratch. Like the type where you have to shave the chocolate and use a stove. We’ll see what route we choose to go.

2. Go Skiing: I’ve got to admit, I am terrified. The last time I went downhill skiing, I was three, and all I can remember is this intense anger at not being given poles (apparently it’s better to learn without them). I’ve been snowboarding twice since Kenny and I began dating, and…let’s just say–it’s lucky we’re married now. Our marriage wasn’t always a sure thing.

3. Make Granola: We were brainstorming last night what to eat for Christmas breakfast. This is our first Christmas together, but we’ll still be celebrating with our families on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and eating obscene amounts of food. The only time we have together is Christmas morning, and we want to make it special yet not too filling. So we settled on making granola. Hey, it’s special to us. 🙂

4. Join a gym: It is going to happen. We really have NO excuse–we get a free membership through our apartment complex that is RIGHT around the corner from us. Gulp.

5. Attend a Candlelight Service: Our church has a candlelight service every Christmas Eve at 11pm, which is way past my bedtime. However, I will resist the natural urge to sleep and keep my body out of bed for just such an occasion as this.

6. Bake Christmas Cookies: When asked, Kenny insisted that cookie making and decorating be put on the list. He just wants to use his Star Wars cookie cutters. But I’m on board too–I got a whole tub of new cookie cutters that need to be broken in.

7. Head Home: We’re headed to my parents’ home on Christmas Eve! And we’re going to Kenny’s parents’ house on Christmas day! We’re pretty excited about both.

8. Host a Game Night: Neither Kenny nor I are extroverted individuals. We have to make concerted efforts to socialize with the outside world. Thus, we need to plan game night. Also, playing games with each other can only entertain for so long–I know Kenny’s strategies for just about any game we play and vice versa. We need to break out of our shells.

9. Classy New Year’s: We  were quite tickled to be invited to a classy New Year’s Eve party! Now we just have to determine if this is actual classy or ironic classy or somewhere in between.

10. Go to a Hockey Game: Finally, we want to go to a hockey game. No NFL for us, though (or anybody). We’re going to cheer on our local Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team. Kenny loves them mostly because he once got Griff (the mascot) to come to his elementary school classroom for show and tell. My husband is a big deal.

Not on the list are less fun things like getting an oil change, searching for real jobs for Kenny, and cleaning the apartment. We don’t have to talk about those things. Let’s just focus on getting the real list done, eh? What’s on your “to-do” list for Christmas?

P. S. No pressure here. I’m guessing we’ll get about 80% finished with listy things.



Christmas Craft Party 2012 (in which I boast a little about my talented friends)

I have some very special friends.

We’re all in very different places in life, but there are a few common denominators that tie us together:

1. I’ll just get this one out of the way first: we are all drop-dead gorgeous (just stating the obvious, here).

2. We are all have impeccable taste and incredible talent, as you will soon come to find out.

3. We all have VERY VERY fond memories of one special place called Camp Geneva. Somehow we don’t really remember the exhaustion, bodily fluids, and homesick campers much any more. Although we do have some pretty great stories on those topics.


We began a tradition a few years ago of having a Christmas craft party, done secret Santa style.

We give ourselves a limit of $10 and craft our hearts out for our assigned person and then bring our wrapped creations to one wonderful get-together.

Sidenote: Do you SEE that hexagon art on the wall in this picture? Yes. My friend Beth made it. Told you I have talented friends.


Before we dive into the crafty goodness, though, there is much catching up and eating to be done.

This year we went “healthy” with a baked-potato bar and salad. Oh, and French bread and chocolate chip cookies and mini caramel/chocolate cheesecakes with pretzel crusts, so I guess we can’t quite get the hang of healthy yet. Nor do we really want to. The craft party is a time for much food, fun, and fellowship.


And crafts, of course.

After about 3 hours of eating and talking, we got down to the business of opening the gifts.

This year we recorded the whole gifting part of the party for our missionary friend Emily. She is one of the moms right now to a whole bunch of abandoned/orphaned babies in South Africa and was very missed. She really loved seeing us do this via video and it is a pretty great memory for the rest of us to have forever.

Here you can see a smidgen of the crafting genius of this group of girls. Please allow me to break it down for you: on the left, there is a super cute last-name sign for hanging on the wall. That’s my wrist in the picture, along with some homemade honeysuckle orange laundry detergent, a knitted (crocheted?) headband (I am ashamed that I cannot tell the difference), and a corner of a photo-transferred canvas (of a picture taken at our wedding, incidentally! Recognize that lighting?).

fruits of our crafty labor

Other gifts included infinity scarves (a popular craft this year!), granola, dryer balls, a candle holder, a wreath, one of those frame earring holder things (I desperately need one), and more that I’m probably forgetting.

I’m intentionally remaining a bit silent on the gift I created, because I may have created its identical twin that still remains to be gifted. More details on that to come, however. Don’t despair.

I know I say this all the time, but I really am so blessed. I could probably not function without this group of girls and would probably decide to never emerge from my bed if they did not exist. Kenny can back me up on this–this group is my therapy for getting through life.


A Typical Bauman Supper (in which I make dinner and my husband makes a rival dinner)

Last night, I made dinner for my husband. It was a delightful little concoction of my own invention, and I had hurried home from work to have this ready by the time he got home. As I spooned it onto our plates, to my surprise, I realized that I had not made enough pasta–a totally opposite problem from the one I normally have. (Am I the only one who has serious issues when it comes to measuring pasta?)

We sat down and ate the meal together nonetheless and discussed the day’s events. I though all was well.

BUT THEN, once we finished, Kenny got up and began making more pasta.

“Since we have extra sauce,” he said, in explanation.

However, NOT ONLY did he put water on to boil, he also hauled out our bag of frozen chicken pieces and began defrosting a breast in the microwave. It was then that I began to feel a wee bit affronted. I remained silent, though, to see what he would come up with.

As his ingredients cooked, we read the Advent devotional we’re working through. Not only a good reminder of the reason for the season, it was also a good reminder to be nice to my husband.


We finished today’s reading, and he finished up cooking the second supper.

Sidenote: we lit the Advent candles at church last Sunday. Kenny read from Luke 2 (and wore a suit!), and I am happy to report that I did not accidentally light the white candle.

Here’s his finished creation. I made him put it on a clean plate solely for the purpose of this picture, so feast your…eyes. Uh, yum? I am aware that my food photography is a bit lackluster. As is all of my photography.


Basically, he just made a more awesome version of my dinner creation (spaghetti, tomato sauce, cream cheese, and spices). His had meat on it, which I always forget to cook/don’t bother with since it’s too much hassle.

Since his version looked so delicious, I politely begged him for a few morsels, and, being an excellent husband, he shared.

While we were munching down our second supper, I noticed a strange mark on Kenny’s forehead.


I mentioned it to him and he ran to the bathroom mirror to check it out. I may have let out a small chuckle at his consternation. He had no idea what the mark was or how it was inflicted, but I have my theories.

I’m pretty sure this is payback for his dissatisfaction with my first dinner.

However, being that it’s Advent and everything, I kept my suspicions to myself.

So, what is the moral of these ramblings, you wonder? Well, sometimes husbands do have good ideas when it comes to cooking.

Also…I still like him a bunch, especially since he shares.