"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Morning Thankfulness 6/28

This Monday morning I am thankful for:
-Holiday weekends. Both Cody and I get next Monday July 5th off from work to give us a three-day weekend as a family. Not only does that give us a three-day weekend, but it also gives us a shorter work week next week!
-A good night's sleep. Okay I actually haven't had a good night's sleep recently, but Brandon (bless his heart) really tried to give me one on Friday night. Friday was the first night that he slept through the night completely. I fed him at about 9:30 Friday night, and he didn't wake up until 7:00 Saturday morning. Unfortunately I'm so used to having to wake up, that I woke up a couple of times anyway. Oh well!
-Where we live. I'm very thankful that Cody and I agree that we have absolutely no desire to ever move out of the Cedar Valley area. There are so many things I love about living here. I love that I have a lifetime of memories here because this is where I've always called home. I love that when I leave this area to travel for work purposes -- even when it's only for a couple of hours -- as soon as I get back into the Cedar Valley area, I feel a huge sigh of relief -- kind of like when you walk into your house at 5:00 at the end of a hectic work day. "Breathe - you're home." -- That kind of feeling :) I love that it has a lot of advantages of a bigger city -- but isn't actually a bigger city. I love that the seasons change and that my kids will get to experience swimming in the summer and sledding in the winter - flowers blooming in the spring and leaves falling in the fall. I love that we have a successful Division 1 athletics program right here in our own backyard. It keeps us busy and excited through the fall and winter months. I love that both of our families are right here with us and that our kids will get to grow up sharing everything with our families. I love that we have a quality school system and an incredible church to go to every Sunday. I love the traditions - like Sturgis Falls (going to Sturgis Falls this weekend was the inspiration for this post). I love the small town feel at Christmas time when you walk down Main Street Cedar Falls and the Christmas celebration that it holds every year now. I love the Cedar Falls downtown area. I could go on and on. I had to drive to Moline, Illinois for work one day last week and got stuck in stand-still traffic. I texted Cody and said, "I never want to move to a bigger city." -- To which he replied that I never had to worry about him wanting that. I love it here and so does Cody. We're very lucky :)

We had a very busy weekend, but I think I had enough of the sticky/sweatiness because I'm EXHAUSTED today. We enjoyed Sturgis Falls Saturday morning - caught the tail end of the parade and then walked the kids around and let Jaden enjoy some time at the carnival. He played his first game and won a stuffed penguin - which he was really excited about because we had just watched Happy Feet the night before! Saturday he went down for a nap for only about an hour and then spent a lot of time outside playing in his pool and with his new water table. Sunday we went back to Sturgis to enjoy some food at the park. We bought one of the famous Sturgis smoothies and the mini doughnuts - mainly for Jaden - but he didn't like the smoothie and wouldn't try the doughnuts! Then more swimming time yesterday afternoon. Mommy's beat :)

Brandon enjoying the parade :)
Jaden throwing darts at the balloons -- he was so good at this! He got to throw 10 darts, and he hit seven balloons!

Friday, June 25, 2010

He's rollin!

About a week ago we watched Brandon roll from his back to his tummy for the first time. Last night, we watched as he rolled from his back to his tummy and then from his tummy to his back... over and over again. Cody said, "Well, there go the days of him being content to just lay there and look at us." So true -- he's growing up so fast, but it's so exciting and fun! :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pizza! Cookie! French Fries!

Okay so there are a couple of food traditions we have started in the past year or so. One of them being - every Saturday morning Cody takes Jaden for a ride in his truck, and they go to the Casey's near our house and get Jaden a chocolate chip cookie. He gets to eat it while they drive down by the river by our house and look at the ducks, geese, deer - and one time they even saw turtles. This is something that they both look forward to, and Jaden is well aware now that Saturday = cookie day. Another tradition that started over the winter is that every Tuesday night is our family out to eat night. Most of the time we go to Pizza Hut (although sometimes we go for chinese) -- but we like Pizza Hut because of the all you can eat buffet and the fact that kids eat completely free on Tuesday nights. With a family of four - although Brandon's not eating solids yet - this will be a nice family outing for relatively cheap! Jaden loves the pizza and the applesauce, pudding, etc that is included in the buffet. The other relatively new tradition is Happy Meals from McDonalds once a week or every other week. We try to keep it healthy - we always get him the chicken nuggets with the apple dippers for his meal. But Cody always gets a small fry with his meal so that he can split the small fry in half with Jaden. This way Jaden's not getting too many fries -- and neither is Cody for that matter! Jaden loves apples now anyway so he enjoys Happy Meal days -- they usually are on a weekend when we are busy and want to grab something quick for lunch.

Anyways... this is all getting pretty engrained in Jaden's head. (He LOVES food). Because now he is able to recognize all of his favorite restaurants. On Father's Day we were driving down University Ave. and within about two minutes time we passed a Pizza Hut, Casey's and a McDonald's. This was Jaden's reaction as we were driving...
"Pizza Hut!!! I want pizza!"... A few moments later... "Casey's! Cookie, Cookie!!"...A few moments later as we pass Mcdonald's.. "French fries! French fries!!!" And this now happens regularly whenever we pass any one of these establishments. I have no idea where he gets his love of food from... certainly NOT his daddy... ;)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Morning Thankfulness 6/21/2010

This Monday morning I am thankful for:
-Cody. We love him. Happy Father's Day :)
-My Scentsy Pot... can't wait to order some new yummy smells ;)
-Jaden and Brandon. This is obviously a given every single day, but I really enjoyed watching them play/grow/talk/laugh/interact this weekend. Brandon rolled over for the first time, and I swear that Jaden is talking better and more every single day. He's growing up so fast.
-Cloudy/stormy work days. This might anger some of you, but there's something comforting about a cloudy/stormy sky when I know I have to be stuck inside at work all day long.
-Sales. Does anyone out there buy kids clothes at regular price? I NEVER do. And the new store - Children's Place - at Crossroads has some amazing deals that I have recently taken full advantage of!
-The new pool my parents bought Jaden and Brandon as an early early early Christmas present. Jaden loves it. And we got him a water play table for him to enjoy outside as well. That kid loves water play.

We had a nice relaxing weekend as a family. Sometimes when we don't have much planned in advance, I get stressed out. "What are we going to do for two whole days to keep Jaden busy??" That kid is so wild and energetic that sometimes we worry about not having enough activity planned to keep him enetertained. But this weekend was pretty laid back, and we all still had an enjoyable time -- and it was nice to not be hurring from here to there all weekend long! Saturday morning I went to a babyshower for an old friend from high school. Her little boy Noah is only about a week older than Brandon. And there was another baby at the shower that was five weeks old. My friend Betsy hosted it and she is due to have her second baby January 1st! It really hit me that - wow - I'm all grown up! When I was pregnant with Jaden I was only 22/23 years old -- I knew I was really young. But now my friends are starting to have babies - and second babies, even - so the fact that I'm not the only one anymore makes me feel really grown up! After two kids, you would have thought I would have felt that way already, but I guess it's just taking a long time for reality to actually set in ;) While I was at the shower, Cody and Jaden did their own thing. Then after nap time on Saturday, Jaden got to try out his new pool! Then we treated him to a Happy Meal at McDonalds. We also took a little walk on Saturday night with the double stroller! Sunday morning we went to church with my parents and then to eat at the O.P. You have NO idea how much Jaden can eat! He ate more than all of us at the table! Then the rest of the day was pretty lazy. We went to Crossroads, and all four of us hung out in the living room Sunday night. A lot of times half of us are outside while the rest of us are inside. But Sunday night Jaden was content to just hang out coloring and wrestling with Daddy while Brandon and I sat there and watched them. Brandon also rolled over for the first time on Saturday because he was trying to get a toy in his mouth. And Jaden decided upon seeing my phone yesterday that he wanted to call Papa. So he grabbed my phone - said, "I wanna call Papa" -- and proceeded to call him - all on his own! It was pretty funny that he actually hit the right button to call my parents' house. And then he had a little conversation with them. It's so fun to watch him grow up more and more every day. Tomorrow night we are celebrating Father's Day with Cody's parents. We didn't see them over the weekend because his dad was on a fishing trip. That's all from us. Happy first day of summer!

Love this picture of those two... like Father, like Son ;)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Morning Thankfulness

I hate Mondays - so from now on I'm going to try every Monday morning to list all of the things I'm thankful for -- so that hopefully I can help improve my mood a bit ;)
This Monday I am thankful for:
-100 calorie snack packs
-Dairy Queen blizzards with Cody every Sunday night
-Orchard Hill Church and its youth program. This is definitely becoming a big positive for our family. Cody and I are really enjoying its teachings, and Jaden is loving the time he spends there in the nursery/Sunday school rooms. Cody and I talked yesterday that as the kids grow, we can't wait to get more active in the church as a family. Orchard Hill has SO much to offer outside of Sunday morning worship. It's true that it takes a whole village to raise a child - and Orchard Hill is a fabulous "village" for us to be a part of!
-Jami - our daycare provider. It's so hard for me to be away from my boys, and Monday morning drop-off is never fun for me. But this morning, she came out of her house as I pulled into her driveway and greeted Jaden and Brandon with enthusiasm and love. I know they're in good hands even when they aren't with me.
-Karen Kingsbury books
-My Daily Message Bible that my friend Becky Bartlett gave to me in college. It's formatted to help you read the whole Bible in a year if you read a little bit every day. I'm really using it now - reading a little bit in bed every night - because as a mom it has become very important to me to actually learn and know the teachings in the Bible so that I can pass them on to my kids.
-Online printable coupons. I saved $10.00 at the grocery store yesterday!
-The Betty Crocker website and its "recipe box" and weekly emails. I'm finding some really fun recipes!
-High school friends. I get to go to a babyshower this Saturday and see some girls that I haven't seen in a long time -- but we're all becoming mommies, and I believe this is the start of a new friendship between all of us. I can't wait to catch up and stay in touch with them through their mommy journeys!

Lifetime friends

Many of you know about our good family friends - the Noonans. Their son Casey is my age and we grew up across the street from each other for the first 15 years of our life. His dad Terry was the athletic trainer at UNI and worked closely with my mom - and traveled with her - when she worked in the athletic department. Jeri was like a second mom to me and took me and Casey to all the UNI football games and men's basketball games when we were little since my parents had to work at all of them. As Casey and I were starting our 9th grade year, Terry got a position at Oklahoma State, and they moved 10 hours away. I still remember standing in their driveway saying goodbye, never knowing when I would see them again. Casey was (and thankfully still is) like a brother to me - the closest thing to a sibling that I've ever had. He is probably the funniest person I know, and we have always shared a lot of the same values - and have had a lot in common. We're both only children, and I think we both have always been a little more mature than our age due to the fact that we both spent a lot of time around adults. Casey is one of the "good guys." When we would play at his house, I spent a lot of time playing with his cars, his marbels, and watching him shoot hoops with a nurf basketball in his basement. When we were at my house, we swam in our backyard pool and played Barbies. Yes - he was more than willing to play Barbies as long as he got be Ken and drive Barbie's boat. As we got older we spent countless hours riding our bikes up and down the neighborhood street with our other neighbor friends and playing HORSE with the basketball hoop in my driveway. I LOVED my childhood, and my memories of growing up on Maryhill Drive are memories that I cherish -- and I owe that in large part to the friendship we had with the Noonans. I could write a book of all the memories and traditions we have had with them over the years. The fantastic New Years Eve nights, the competitions to see who could put their Christmas tree up first, the nights that Jeri would sit down with me and Casey and read us the Christmas story as we took turns putting out each piece of her big nativity scene at the start of Decemer every year. The sleepovers and going to the training room after every game, where Terry would give us bubble gum and leftover sandwiches and oranges that they had reserved for the athletes. I could go on and on. I am more than grateful that even though they moved so far away for so many years, our relationship with them has not changed. A couple of times we made the drive down to Stillwater, OK to spend a long weekend with them. When they would return to Iowa to see their family in Dubuque, Casey and I always found a way to meet up and see each other -- even if it was only for a few hours. One time in college, he stayed the night at my apartment and we stayed up late watching a movie and making waffles in my waffle maker! There was never anything between us but a strong friendship that withstood the test of time. I am so honored that Casey also stood up for me as a groomsman in my wedding - and Jeri served as a personal attendant.

A couple of years ago, Terry and Jeri moved back to CF because Terry got another position here. I remember when Casey called to tell me that his parents were moving back, I let out the loudest shriek of excitement. Terry now just got another new position at the U of I heading up the athletic training dept. there -- so once again they will be moving away. Luckily, it's only an hour and 20 minutes away this time! Casey still lives in Oklahoma, but having his parents closer makes it a lot easier to see him once or twice a year. When we talk to Jaden about Casey, we always call him "Uncle Casey." For Jaden's first birthday, Casey sent him his first pair of Jordans. For his second birthday, he sent him another new pair of Jordans. I so wish that Casey lived closer because he is so good with kids, and I know Jaden and Brandon would have a blast with him. Especially since Casey is so athletic, and Jaden LOVES to play with footballs, basketballs, etc.

This past Saturday, Cody, Jaden, Brandon, myself and my parents went to Terry and Jeri's house in CF for some pizza and dessert. (Jeri LOVES desert). She had made brownies and we had cookies and cream ice cream. She also set out some chocolate stars -- which is what she always brought along to the Dome for me and Casey on game nights when we were little. She even dug out Casey's old marbels so that Jaden could play with them -- wow, did seeing those marbels again bring about memories! We always have an awesome time when we all get together. The older I get the more I realize that relationships of all kinds come and go. Which is okay - because I believe a lot of times God puts people in our lives for a particular season - to teach us something in that time - but they're not necessarily meant to be in our lives forever. However, if you're lucky you have a few relationships and bonds that stand the test of time and change and distance. I am more comfortable around Terry and Jeri and Casey (even though we hardly ever see each other) than I am around a lot of people I see all the time. I know that no matter how long we go without talking or seeing each other, we will always be able to pick up right where we left off - as if we'd just seen each other yesterday.
These are the shoes Casey bought Jaden for his first birthday! He was so awesome to get him ones with Panther purple!
Uncle Casey and Jaden :) This picture warms my heart!
Casey and I as kids hanging out at my house in our jammies :)
"Friendships that have not only stood the test of time but also the test of change are surely best." :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

My favorite Brandon expression

I had to share this photo again. I've edited it a little bit, and I have to say it is one of my favorite pictures of Brandon -- because it conveys one of his expressions perfectly. No - he's not smiling in this picture. But I love it. Because this is the exact look that is on his face so often. This is the face we sometimes get when we're talking to him - like he's really trying to figure out what we're telling him. This is the face Jaden sometimes gets when Brandon is watching him run around the room doing whatever crazy thing Jaden is doing at that time - like Brandon is trying to figure out if he will ever be able to play like that one day. This is the face he gives the TV sometimes when he notices it - a look of facination and deep thinking. This is the face he often wears when we are sitting outside on a nice evening - like he's contemplating all the new colors around him and what they are. There is so much that his little mind is trying to figure out - so much for him to soak in every day. I love this face because it shows his innocense. So no, he's not smiling - but my heart melts every time I look at it. My hope is that as my little boys grow, they always keep that same sense of wonder that they have right now- that same bit of curiosity and joyfulness at the simplest things. As a mom, I hope that I can always teach them to value the little things that we tend to take for granted as we grow up.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Weekend

Hope everyone had an enjoyable Memorial weekend. It was nice to have a three day weekend at home with the family... and it was relaxing for the most part! Unfortunately Jaden and Brandon both came down with colds last week. Brandon's didn't seem to be too bad, but Jaden had it absolutely awful for a few days. It's crazy though... when I have a cold, I usually want the world to leave me alone so that I can do nothing but sleep for three days straight. Even though we could tell Jaden felt awful, he was still full of energy and life! He wanted to be outside all weekend and was constantly asking to go swimming. And even though Brandon hasn't felt well, he still is full of smiles --they just melt my heart! Even though we didn't do anything too exciting over the mini vacation, we did get a lot done around the house. And Cody got our yard landscaped even more! Yay! The backyard is almost completely done -- next step will be to work on the front yard. He also made a little fire pit over the weekend.

A couple of weeks ago, I started asking Jaden every night before bed who he wanted to pray for that night. Most nights it's the same list of people with variations every once in a while. It's usually Coco (Tim and Deanne's dog), Papa's, Nana's, Dada, (sometimes Mommy and Baby), --- and the last few nights he's asked me to pray for the "quack quacks" (we have ducks that swim in the creek behind our house -- and he loves them!). However, many of you know the story of little Ben Ricketts that sadly passed away last week. Leading up to this, I had explained on several occassions that there was a little Ben who had an ouchy and that we needed to pray for God to heal his ouchy. Well that story has stuck in little Jaden's head, because he still asks me to pray for Ben's ouchy every night. In fact, that's always the first person he asks me to pray for. I've explained to him that God did answer our prayers, and that Ben is feeling all better now - and that he is happy and playing with God in Heaven. But Jaden has not forgotten about little Ben :)

We have a busy week this week - my aunt Sally comes to visit from Florida. She hasn't seen Jaden since last summer and has not met Brandon at all yet. Brandon gets baptized this Sunday -- so excited! And we are having the family over to our hosue afterwards. I leave you now with just some of the pictures we had taken of Brandon over the weekend -- he is going to be three months old tomorrow! So hard to believe. Cody is constantly saying, "we could not ask for an easier baby." And it's so true -- for now anyways! He is so content, a huge cuddler and gives the best little smiles. To see him become more aware of the people around him is so fun. He's really recognizing Mommy, Daddy and Jaden's faces now -- and when one of us walks away from him, he is following us around the room to see where we're going. We just love him to pieces and feel very blessed that not only did God gift us with wonderful and healthy Jaden -- but that he did it again with little Brandon!