Saturday, August 29, 2009

Those are my kids!

Things seem to just be getting better and better the older the kids get. Evan is oh so close to crawling, and Alyssa is quite the cheerleader. We're trying to key her in to the fact that as soon as he's mobile, she will have to share her toys. So far so good, but time will tell. They really do love each other. Alyssa can do anything...literally anything, bop him in the nose, lay on top of him, try to scare him, and he bursts into laughter, which causes her to laugh, which causes him to laugh more! They spend a lot of time on the floor "playing together." I caught some of the love shared between them earlier this week.

I am so blessed. This is my family!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


This is my Dad.

He died one week to the day after Alyssa was born. He had been sick with dementia and was obviously older, so his death was imminent. The timing of his death however was a shock. The day I went into the hospital to have Alyssa is the same day Dad was sent home from the hospital with Hospice care to die. The nurses at the hospital were questioning my blood was high...ya think?

That was three years ago. I thought I was over it. I'm not.

My Dad was creamated and requested that his ashes be put into the Ohio River where he had spent lots of time in his younger years. His best friend Stu had a barge that my Dad worked on in his spare time.

Dad and Stu on the barge.

This past weekend our family made the trip to Ohio and completed his request.

My Dad and I were really close when I was young. He could do no wrong. He was home with me after school and during the summers and I loved working along side of him on projects around the house. During Jr. High I began realizing that my dad was different, and by High School I was flat out ashamed of that fact. Not only was my dad older than everyone elses he was also much more conservative. During college, I got over the superficialness of my high school years and began appreciating him as my dad again, regardless.

Then he got sick. He was no longer someone I could go to for help or conversation, but a "child" who needed watched and helped. He was confused and frustrated and sometimes mean. Calls home were no longer to chat, but to check in. Weekends home were no longer to visit, but to support. In many ways, I lost my dad years before I lost my dad.

When he died, I knew it was significant, but I had already lost the relationship, so I didn't grieve the physical loss at that time. I couldn't...I had just become a mom! So life kept going and going and going and suddenly, I was angry. I wasn't angry at God, no, I still believe God's plan is perfect, I was angry at Dad. For everything he had ever done that wasn't perfect. That's fair right? I have sat in that angry place now for almost a year. I went to the river this weekend in that angry place. I think I would have been content to be in that angry place for a long time. But when I got home, someone said something, and I really wish I could remember the exact words, but the gist was... it's time to get over it. And I think he was right.

I've learned since coming home, that getting over it probably means I'm going to be sad. Because even though we're three years out, there's a lot of stuff I still have to reconcile. It's so much easier to not miss him or wish I still had a dad here with me if I can convince myself that he sucked anyway. But he didn't.

So for now I work through the truth...I'm too young to not have a dad. I want my kids to know my dad. I want my mom to have her husband so that I don't feel guilty having mine. Most of all, I think I want my dad back.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Trying to find the words...

I am working on a post. The words are not coming easy. So I leave you waiting with these...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Date Night

Chris and I are not nearly as good as we should be at setting time aside to go out without the kiddos. Everytime we finally do go out alone, we always say "we really should do this more often." Tuesday night was no different. Yes, that's right Tuesday night. When Grandma's available and Uncle Andrew and Kate are in town why not Tuesday night?
Andrew was home on a break from his internship in Virginia and Kate just got back from 6 weeks in South Africa, so we really enjoyed the time to catch up with them. We headed downtown and had dessert at a local hot spot. It was a gorgeous night so we ate outside.

Very nice!

The happy couples.

I love this girl... so does Andrew! YAY!

After we parted ways, Chris and I walked around downtown for a little bit. I so enjoy him. It's fun to be back living in the same place we dated. There's nothing like a little reminiscing to bring back all those puppy love feelings. Downtown was a big part of early us. It's where we were first asked if we were dating..before we had talked about it officially. I believe the awkward answer was "we're hanging out." It's where we first held hands... I don't think I will ever forget the butterflies that caused. It's also where he first held me from behind. I was smitten. The picture below was taken outside of the hotel where we spent our wedding night.

Wasn't it a gorgeous night?

One of the big things that keeps us from going out sometimes is that we really don't want to drop $50 to go out to eat or see a movie. But that night cost $15 and was every bit as great...perhaps better than if we had gone out to dinner. I think our last excuse for not going out has been blown to pieces. Maybe now we'll get serious about this date night thing! I know I that!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thomas the Tank Engine!

Alyssa is not really the girly girl type. Hmm...wonder where she got that? Hints of her inner girl have begun emerging as of late. She has taken a keen interest in princesses, hence the princess birthday and has been playing dress up more frequently. She has always had a motherly side to her, but even gives her baby dolls boy names. We have Colin the American Girl Bitty Baby wearing HIS pink pajamas at our house! Anywho, I say all of this to preface the big announcement that we rode Thomas the Train this weekend! Alyssa loves all things Thomas the train. We got her a Thomas train table for Christmas and since she has accumulated quite the collection of trains. She has spent soooo many hours playing with this train table, watching the movies and reading the books. If there is one thing we know at our house, it is Thomas.

The little engineer at work.

For those people reading who aren't as familiar with Thomas, he tours the country during the summer months stopping at railroads all over the US. We were fortunate to have one of the stops an hour from our house.

Do you think she was excited?

Here comes Thomas!

She was so quiet from this point on just taking it all in. I kept asking her if she was having fun because she was so reserved. I think she was just a bit star struck. Since Saturday, I can't tell you the number of times she has talked about "Thomas pulling us."

Aboard Thomas. "Mommy, we're passengers!"

Another passenger. Thomas lulled him to sleep. This poor little guy had an ear infection. Chris rushed him to urgent care that morning before we had to leave. He was a trooper!

Her big moment with Thomas himself.

What a great day. I'm so thankful we can share these experiences together as a family.
Thanks Thomas!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friends reunited

I didn't fully appreciate how hard it can be to find another stay at home mom that you love to be with, whose children you also love your children to be with, until the VanNoords moved away. Turns out it's quite the treasure. It was always so easy to just be with them, and then they moved. I'm still sad...but...we got to see them this week!

I am struggling to put into words how great it was to be with them again. They moved away in May, and there is definitly a hole that still remains in our life. They lived in our neighborhood, so we would frequently go for walks or to the park or just hang out at each other's houses. We walked through our pregnancies of Evan and Charlie together but most of all, we watched our children form an unbelievable, undeniable bond. As you will see from the following collection of pictures, Edan and Alyssa have something special. From the minute they laid eyes on each other again, to the sad good-bye as they left, they spent every possible moment together.

I only have eyes for you...

A little jumping before bed.

Story time with Chris.
We thought perhaps they could actually sleep in the same room together, but they couldn't stop chatting. It was a sad break-up.

Hiding in their fort from the "dragon!"

Time to settle down and watch a show.

Alyssa must have really missed "Miss Laura" because she kept running up and hugging her the entire visit. I know the feeling...

I have no words...I love them.

Evan and Charlie getting to know each other.

The whole crew.

My dear, dear friend. I miss you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A change of plans.

The summer after Chris and I got married, Chris took an internship with a company in New Jersey. I had no idea how much of a Midwestern I was until I tried living in the East. Those three months spent in Jersey were the most miserable months of my life. I don't write that dramatically, I write that as a true statement. Never was I more happy to be back in Michigan than the day we moved home. Until, maybe now.

10 months ago Chris came home from work with news of a great opportunity on the horizon. I have always said that I would support and follow him wherever we needed to go. Well, this great opportunity involved moving to Texas. Texas? Texas. It was so easy to say "I'll go wherever we need to" before we needed to. Especially since the wherever now had a name and it was Texas.

2 years ago we had the amazing God led opportunity to move back to our hometown. This was especially exciting for me. My Dad had died one year earlier, and I hated that my Mom was here alone. The thought of being close to her again was such a comfort to both her and me. An added bonus was that Chris' parents also live here and so Alyssa would be growing up with all of her Grandparents 7 minutes away. I wish I could say that I once I was here I was all smiles, no regrets, but that simply wasn't true. I ached for our old house, our old friends, our old neighbors, our old church, our old restaurants and our old shopping. Suddenly the life I had in Ohio looked so much better than life I had in Michigan. I struggled with being content here in our house, at our church and with our restaurants and shopping or lack thereof for over a year. I think that most of those months if I could have had an undo button, I would have pushed it. So while the thought of moving to Texas was terrifying , I was going to be near a big city. I could have my shopping, and restaurants, and big church and new house.

Since that October day, unbeknowst to me, God has been working in my heart. At some point during the last 10 months my perspective began to change. I started falling in love with our house. I stopped wrestling with every little thing about our church I didn't like, and began enjoying the things I really do like. I have watched Alyssa bond so deeply with Grandma and Nana and Papa and wait expectantly for the same thing to happen with Evan. I've come to realize how much I love that we can see Chris in the middle of the day for lunch. And the list goes on and on. Suddenly the things that I would gain by moving to Texas did not even come close to the things that I was going to lose. But, that was neither here nor there, Chris was already in his new role and we were Texas bound.

One night at our Oasis Group (small group), our Pastor, and friend admitted that he was praying that we would stay. I heard him say it, but didn't really think too much of it. That is until, night after night Chris would come home with news of the project that no longer sounded so favorable. We both recalled what Mike had said, and I began to see that God is so much bigger than all of this.

The chances of us actually moving to Texas today are extremely small. I can't say impossible because well, there's that whole God thing, but it's not looking likely. But I am so thankful for the "scare." I am the most content that I can ever remember being. I guess sometimes it really is about the journey, not the destination.

Home sweet home to stay, I hope!

Monday, August 10, 2009

(in)courage me

I entered into the blogging world simply to keep up with one friend. I was skeptical at best, but I really wanted to know what was going on in her life and so I read...and I read...and I read... Pretty soon I was hooked and began clicking the links to other people's blog and reading...and reading...and reading. I quickly learned that blogging was more than just a way to let people know what's new in your life. To some people, blogging is a way to remember, a digital scrapbook of sorts. To some, it is a way to heal. Families of children who are sick, or spouses who are sick, or people struggling with their own health concerns all find comfort and support through blogging. To some it's inspiring. I can't tell you the number of awesome blogs people have created to share their craftiness or thriftiness or baking ideas. AMAZING! I fit into the last category. I am truly inspired by some of the blogs, but more importantly women I have "met" through this blogging community.

So why am I writing this? A new website launched today.

This website has so much promise. It's a place for women to gather and just be. A group of 20 amazing and talented women are behind this website and I can't wait to read and "be" right along with them. Over the next few weeks these women will be sharing what courage looks like in their lives. So what encourages me? Little things. A note from Chris, a comment on my blog, an organized room, a great bargain, fitting into a pair of pre-kids pants, a series of events that you know only could have happened because of God.

What encourages you? Are you (in)?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Alyssa!

My baby girl is 3! I'm so excited for her. She has been waiting for this day and seriously enjoyed it! I asked her if she liked her birthday and she said "yes, I just don't like it when it's over." I can totally understand why...she had a fabulous day!

This morning I went out and got her a special breakfast and some flowers to make sure the day got started on the right foot.

I'd say it worked!

I then went to work on her birthday cake...again. Yes again. For weeks, Alyssa has been requesting a Thomas the Train chocolate cake. I was all set with my plan on how to execute this. Last weekend, she changed her mind and wanted a chocolate princess cake instead. So I priority shipped some cake toppers and thought all was under control. Last night after she went to bed, I began the cake. They came out of the oven looking great, but then I tried to get them out of the pan and they stuck. I should have quit then, but I continued...until 11:30 at which point I had one mess of a cake on my hands. So, I baked two more cakes this morning, this time using parchment paper (my new best friend.) They released perfectly and I was on my way.

Cake #1 on the right, Cake #2 on the left. Umm yeah, huge difference.

and...the final result...

I was quite pleased!

Here's the birthday girl getting ready for her party

She had been waiting for this moment all day! For the hour before people started arriving she stood in the dining room just looking at the balloons and cake and presents. So sweet!

Opening presents!

Playing in her new sandbox!

I am so thankful for Alyssa and loved making this day special for her!
Happy Birthday Sissy, you're my favorite girl!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Truth...

Multiple sources have led me to the place I sit today. It's an uncomfortable but exciting place to be.

This blog post got me thinking. Specifically this quote :

One way to define emotional maturity is that it is the ability to stay relationally connected with another person while at the same time not having one’s own feelings and behaviors determined by that person. Another way to think about it is that emotional maturity is what is needed in order to consistently live according to one’s own values and beliefs rather than being controlled by anxious feelings with any given person or situation.

Not being able to blog about the truth of this weekend left me frustrated.

This comment made me realize what I was doing.

This blog post was the ultimate breaking point.

This quote was inspiring.

- The truth is, I love our kids, but I am so much more than just them...and this is MY blog.
- The truth is, we have a great life, but it's not always picture perfect. So why not share that too?
- The truth is, I hesitated sharing this blog with our family, even though the original intent was to share what's going on with the kids, because I knew that I would begin to censor what I really wanted to write.
- The truth is, if I don't get real, this blog is on it's way out.

I realize the vaugeness of this post. That's becauseI don't know what all of this means yet. What I do know is, it's about to get real in here...and I love that!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

6 months

We have a 6 month old!

It is soooo good.

I realize that I may not have appreciated where we are now if I hadn't walked where we've been, but oh I am thankful for this 6 month old boy!

He is pure joy these days. Eating like a champ, sleeping through the night and charming beyond belief. He just doesn't seem like the same little guy that used to scream every night from 8-midnight.

Evan, I love you. Happy 6 months buddy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Ok, so who doesn't want to start their day like this:

So sweet! And...I'm not sure they could look more alike!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Even more firsts!

I assumed after the three firsts I last blogged about that we wouldn't have anymore over the weekend. I was wrong!

Alyssa surprised us so much this weekend when she decided that she wanted to go on multiple fair rides. Alyssa to this point has been a very cautious child. I would not label her as a risk taker with people or with experiences. Saturday night however, she was BRAVE!

First she decided that she wanted to ride the trucks. Without batting an eye she walked up, gave the man her tickets and let him put her into the truck. A girl came up and wanted to ride with her, so she moved over and off she went.

I thought that was huge and then she wanted to go on the Dumbo ride. She wasn't tall enough to ride by herself so I got to ride too! I thought for sure when we lifted off into the air that she would begin clammoring to get off...Nope, she loved it.

She then decided she'd like to go on the slide...You know, the one that you have to climb several flights of stairs to slide down. We started heading for the slide and then she saw the ferris wheel. She no longer wanted to go on the slide and instead insisted that she go on the ferris wheel. I am not brave enough for that, so Chris got to go on that one. Again, I thought she would freak out, but she did nothing but smile and laugh.

What a girl!

Chris and I also had a first! We entered the annual Paddlebuoy race. I had two goals. Don't fall off and don't finish last. I'm proud to say I achieved both goals! Chris, I'm proud to say finished second! Me? Second to last...but...not last!

Aww...matching shirts!

Good times...I love that!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


We have been Up North this weekend, and have had a few firsts I thought I'd share with you.

Evan gave swimming a try this weekend and...loved it! This little guy has come so far from his first few very fussy months of life. He so rarely cries now...I give large amounts of credit to big sister Alyssa for being SO entertaining.

...I love that

Alyssa had a cupcake for breakfast this morning. This is certainly not the norm but, the rest of us were having doughnuts. You could argue the cupcake was healthier since it was not fried! Chris didn't feel right saying "eat your doughnut, then you can have a cupcake..."

...I love that

Alyssa was quite dissapointed that Nana didn't have a seat for her on her bicycle. So instead we went for a wagon ride. Evan has not riden in a wagon before, and they both thoroughly enjoyed it.

...I love that