Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Stephen and I are engaged!!!

I get to marry this amazing man... 
The most patient, selfless, and loving man I know. 
I am one lucky girl

I know, I've been holding out on you guys... 
I'm sorry!
He proposed on a trail while we were in Gatlinburg. 
I had no idea... my Daddy was the only person who knew.
He totally kept it from my mom, too! 
She was as surprised as me!
(and as always, she was the picture taker:)

 It was so beautiful.  
And there were butterflies... EVERYWHERE.  
We literally had to avoid stepping on them while we were on the trail. 
It was the most beautiful and perfect place. 

I've posted this picture below on Facebook, and I've had some people ask me if it was photoshopped. 
It's NOT photoshopped.  
Stephen stuck his hand out and one little butterfly crawled right up onto his hand :) 
And then it let me stick my hand in, and stayed long enough for my mom to snap some pictures! 
There was nothing more comforting.
Just more proof that my little man approves. 

Stephen was there for me through the worst possible time of my life. 
He took care of Tripp and me in a way I never thought would be possible. 
And he's still taking care of me.  

I'm marrying into an amazing family that I've known my entire life. 
God knew the people that I needed in my life at the right time. 
I'm counting my blessings for sure.  
Every milestone for me will be bittersweet, of course... because I can't share it with Tripp. 
But I know my baby boy is looking down and is proud of his Mommy. 
And I think he knows that I am being taken care of in the best possible way.  
Just as he was... 

Thank you all for your continued prayers, love and support.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Kids

I remember how weird it felt the first time I referred to my children as "the kids." Now, I'm ALMOST used to the plural form. And I'm PRETTY used to framing the two boys in my camera lens. I've KINDA gotten used to doing twice as much laundry. But the way they interact with each other, gets me every time.

Today after church, some women came over to coo at Ryan. Jacob, being the natural chatterbox that he is, started jabbering away about his favorite toys, his favorite TV shows, his upcoming birthday party, and what he had for breakfast. One of the women said to me, "It's so sweet how Jacob rubs his brother's leg as he talks." I thought that was a perfect example as to how Jacob has naturally taken to brotherhood. His affection for Ryan is so genuine that he shows it absentmindedly.

In the mornings, I groggily and regretfully drag Ryan and myself out of bed and walk into the living room where Jacob has already claimed his spot on the couch for morning cartoons. When Jacob sees us, his eyes light up. He bounces off the couch, charges straight for us, and exclaims in a high pitched voice, "HI RYAN! YOU'RE AWAKE. YOU'RE SO CUTE!" Forget me. I'm practically mince meat.

Jacob loves to kiss Ryan with sticky, slobbery smooches. He loves to rub his head and tickle his feet, sometimes a little too enthusiatically. He also loves to narrate everything that is happening. "Hi Ryan," he says in a sing-songy voice, "Mommy's changing your diaper. Do you like that? She wiping you with a baby wipe."

Today, when I fed Ryan bananas for the first time (which he LOVED- he fussed when I took too long between spoonfulls), Jacob insisted on helping. Ryan did so well with the spoon. Even when Jacob was practically shoving it down his throat.

(Hurry up! Give me more!)

Ryan is super tolerant and doesn't seem to mind the rough affection from Jacob. In fact, Ryan is becoming increasingly more interested in his big brother. When Jacob talks to Ryan while I'm feeding him, Ryan will turn his head away from the bottle in search of his big brother. He loves to sit, and from across the room, watch everything Jacob does. He barely bats an eyelash when Jacob sings too loudly in his ear, dangles a toy a hair's width in front of his face, or grabs his hands to play patty-cake.

(My big boy has been grabbing his toys for weeks)

Ryan already hates to miss out on everything his brother is doing. While Ryan will tolerate being on the floor for playtime, he prefers to be vertical so that he can see what Jacob is doing. Much of the day, we let him hang out in his walker (his feet don't touch so Jacob takes him for "rides"- Ryan has always had an incredibly strong neck) or in his Bumbo. The baby playmat doesn't get a ton of use anymore.

Ryan has definitelty started to recognize his name. I love how he breaks out into a wide grin when Jacob calls him and they catch each other's gaze.

Back to Jacob....I wish he would hurry up and turn 4 already. Whenever he tells people he is 3, they always look on in disbelief and I have to explain that he is ALMOST 4. Jacob's vocabulary is so impressive. The other day he asked me for a treat at the store. When I said "no," he replied, "Uhhh, I'm SO disappointed. That same day, he correctly used the following words: ridiculous, embarrassed, and frustrating. Whenever he hears a new word, he always asks me what it means. And he REMEMBERS. If anyone has any tips on explaining "shame" and "interesting" to an almost 4 year old, I'd love to hear them. Cause this is all I got:

Jacob: "Mommy, what does 'shame' mean?"
Me: "Shame is when you see someone leaving a dorm room early in the morning wearing the same clothes as the night before."

Jacob:  "Mommy, what does interesting mean?"
Me: "Interesting is what happens when Mommy takes a Vicodin with her Big Girl drink."

Today, we were in the car running errands and I was listening to news radio. Jacob was listening too, as he usually does, and asking me questions about everything he heard. "Mommy, what does 'dim' mean? Mommy, did an asteroid kill the dinosaurs, just like that guy on the radio said? Mommy, the guy said asteroids hit the earth everyday and they just burn up before they hurt people." Then we had an intelligent conversation about asteroids and planets and the dinosaurs. My mind was blown.

(My Spiderman)

Today, Jacob was really frustrating. He had so much little-boy energy to burn off and I had no energy to take him to the park. We were butting heads all day. He kept repeating all the words I said. He was doing the opposite of what I told him to do. He was hanging on me and getting underfoot and making messes everywhere he went. It wasn't until the end of the day, after I put Ryan down for bed and we sat together playing games, that it hit me. In his own little way, he was just begging for some attention, some friendship. His little devil-self instantly transformed into an angel the second I sat down to give him one-on-one time.  I immediately felt bad for all the times I told him or showed him that he was in the way.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that our kids are people, just like us. They need the same things we need: love, attention, interaction, socialization. They just don't always know how to ask for it. When I feel like I'm having a "rough" day with Jacob, I need to take a breather and focus on changing myself. Usually, he's just reacting to my attitude and lack of attention.

Weekend Whoas & Randoms...

1) We spent the weekend at home getting ready for our vacation!!  I feel like a little kid, I am so excited to see the Van Bakels.  
2)     This morning, Keeler & Tyler went to the farm to complete chores so I got to spend one-on-one time with baby Kal.  After we got ready for church, I spent some time taking pictures of this sweet baby.  Seriously, how is it possible that he just keeps getting cuter!

3) I think we managed to eat corn with every meal this weekend...no complaints :)

3)     It finally feels like summer because Big Brother is back.   Thanks to DVR & sleeping cowboys I was able to catch up on past episodes & I think I have my favorites picked: Shane, Ian and Danielle.  I also love that Brittany is back coaching.  Who are you rooting for?

4)     Keeler had a blast playing with his new bubble machine from his grandparents.  Pardon his goofy clothing but after church he wanted his "comfy pants."

5)     On Tuesday, Tyler & I will celebrate our 8th anniversary.  I love my cowboy more today than I even thought possible.  I love where life has taken us and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead. 

6)     At work we are hosting a co-worker’s 50th anniversary party on Wednesday.  Can you imagine working for the same company for 50 years?!  
He's a rock star in my book!

Have a great week!


The Very Hungry Caterpillar {Tot School}

A couple of weeks ago, Piper attended a summer camp at a local church.
That meant that for 5 mornings in a row I was down to 2 kids!
Considering that the babe naps for much of the morning, it ended up being quite the break everyday!
It's too strange not having all my kiddies with me every day but I took advantage of the alone time with Taitum and planned a whole week of activities surrounding The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Here is what we did!

First, she created the leaf with the egg on it by do-a-dotting a leaf green and adding a marshmallow as the egg.

I put this little counting activity on the fridge for her.
Each leaf had a number and she had to put the correct number of eggs (pom pom magnets) on each one.

Another day she made the classic egg carton caterpillar by painting the egg carton strip and adding anntenae and eyes.

She then helped me prepare a game to go along with her caterpillar by cutting out the pictures of food I had printed.

For the game, she would find and count the right food that the caterpillar ate as I came to it in the story.
It was pretty simple but she loved it especially since I added eating noises as she fed the caterpillar!
(Find the food printable here!)

Next, we went to work on a chrysalis.
I thought Tait would love paper mache since she adores sensory play but she ended up being totally grossed out by the feel of the water and flour mixture and I ended up doing the grand majority of it!
Piper helped her paint it after it had dried.
It's hanging on the wall in the kitchen right now and I plan to fill it with butterfly treats to surprise them some day soon! 
Likely after my next trip to Bulk Barn!

We added a little adventure to our learning by travelling out to a local fruit stand.
Taitum was in charge of finding the fruit that the very hungry caterpillar ate and counting out the right number of each.
She was thrilled to get to push the cart around and do her very own grocery shopping!

She couldn't wait to show Piper when she got home and both girls become very hungry caterpillars and gobbled it all up!

Piper joined us in our butterfly project.
The plan was to do a crayon resist painting.
Tait opted out of the crayon part and simply painted her butterfly while Piper did the crayon resist.

So there you have it!
The life cycle of a butterfly on our kitchen wall!
Now we are keeping our eyes open for butterflies and caterpillars when we're playing outside.
We did find some eggs on a leaf a few days ago!

We also watched this video which I found simply amazing!
The whole metamorphosis of a butterfly is so amazing!
I even learned some new things from the facts included in the video!

This week made me really miss our school time.
We really do have so much fun together!
I'm trying my best to chill out and enjoy these warm summer days but truth be told - I'm quite anxious for school to begin again!
I never thought I'd say such a thing!
But I've been working hard on the coming years lesson plans and getting so excited for what is in store for me and my little gals this year!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Who Needs A Roomba?

Who needs a Roomba when a baby is much cuter? And doesn't even take batteries!

(I call it the BROOMBA)
His feet don't quite reach yet.

So he needs a little help from big brother.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting on the couch, catching up on celebrity gossip.


Yesterday, I returned to the road for my first run since throwing out my back last month. When running feels so good, who needs therapy? I felt nothing short of amazing during my run:

As I run, my shadow follows behind me, cast to the ground where it passes quickly over dry grass, flowers, and road ditches. Nothing but my own body, my own muscles, my own sweat, propelling me forward. I'm aware only of the regular panting of my breath, the rhythm of my Nike Pegasus shoes hitting the pavement. Wind whips around my ears, muting all external sounds so that the pounding of my heart reverbrates loudly. My legs and lungs are burning, endorphines pulsing warmly through my body.

I'm alone with my thoughts, which wander freely, grazing on memories, future dinner menus, weekend plans, and ambitions. For 3 miles, I am just me. Not a mom, not an attorney, not a wife. Just me. I am suddenly calm, relaxed, at peace. My life is in perspective. I feel balanced. Worries roll out like a tide. In their place, the simple sensation of feeling alive and aware of every muscle in my body. That feeling, as warm as a sun-beaten tide pool. Everything is fine.

My legs keep a steady pace as they take on the incline of the bridge. I'm running, suspended high above the inlet, above city level. The smell of saltwater becons memories of carefree childhood beach days. The crisp peaks of the mountain ranges to my left and my right, a mix of inspiration and intimidation, goad me forward.

I arrive one block from my house. My spirit wants to go on, but I'm anchored by my body, tired and sore. I'm tethered home by the stitch forming at my side. Wistfully, I jaunt up the front steps. My body a little more worn down, my mind a little clearer. I pause my conversation with myself and brace for the return of life and responsibility. As I unlace my shoes, I silently vow to return to the road, and to myself, tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Party like a 4-year-old!

We celebrated Keeler’s 4thbirthday this past weekend.  I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that my baby is 4-years-old.  My mom, sister, her family and my cousin Ashley with her baby all came up on Thursday to go to the fair.  This schedule has become somewhat of a tradition.  Keeler was born several weeks early but it’s worked out great since his birthday week is such a fun week in our little town...just meant to be :).  On Friday, we ventured to the local water park where we met up with Mimi, aunt Tiffany and cousin Bryon.  Granny also came and brought Shalie, Larissa and Nichelly.  
My sweet friend Anne made Keeler’s cake.  She is so talented and it was so yummy --- check out her treats at The Pink Momma.  All our guests were highly impressed!  
Since the party was at the water-park and since we had several people staying out our house over the weekend I opted to decorate the house.  Keeler wanted a Caillou party.  Once I started telling people the theme I discovered that Caillou is not that well know.  If you have never heard of him, it’s a darling little PBS show about a 4-year-old boy and his family.  Keeler just loves him.
Before we headed to the water-park we all ate at Pizza Hut and had cake.
Keeler always has great parties!  
1 year: John Deere Tractor Theme
2 years:  Curious George Theme
3 years:  Backyardigans Swim Party
Someday I'll have to do a post on each one.  
Oh, how I wish I would have started blogging sooner!
Our party babies with Jarret & Samantha
Grandma got Keeler just what he wanted, a whoopee cushion.  
True Story. :)
 Uncle Troy & Ronda gave Keeler a miniature roping dummy.  Keeler LOVES it!  They always think of the best gifts for my little cowboys.
 I didn't take my camera into the water-park for obvious reasons but my sister got this photo.  These kids had a blast! 
We loved having everyone for the celebrations.  
Kallahan and Brynlee were so darn cute together!  
Even it they both get a little rough at times! :)
Keeler, "You've got mail!"
Keeler's birthday has spilled over into the week.  He has two play-dates and then last night when we got home a package had arrived.  It was from his Grandma Shirley & Grandpa Kaku.  They sent him a bubble machine and Slip & Slide.  He had to test it out so when daddy got home Keeler & him went out to play.  Kallahan was having fun in the boxes until he spotted what was going on outside so we all ended up wet.  I just love my little cowboys.  Thanks everyone that helped make Keeler's 4th birthday the best yet!