"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."

Thursday, April 28, 2011


We had a very good Easter this year. Our boys are at great ages to really be able to enjoy holidays... and it keeps getting better. To kick off the weekend, I tackled some Easter cupcakes... It's hard to have the patience to individually decorate 24 cupcakes when you have two boys pulling at your legs the whole time... but they tasted really good.
The Easter Bunny came to our house on Saturday night and left a wonderful little spread for the boys to wake up to Easter morning...

You can't beat new Panther gear, new books, new movies, bubbles, treats, sandbox toys for our new sandbox... and he even brought our very first board game. He also knew what Easter baskets would match the boys' rooms very well. What a smart little bunny...
They had quite a bit of fun waking up to all of this! Even Daddy enjoyed one of their new books. (As seen here in the background of the picture below).
 After we enjoyed the morning at our house, we went to church. Papa and Nana Justis joined us. It was a great church morning -- Orchard Hill was packed. And Brandon didn't even cry when we dropped him off in the "sleeper creeper" room. This is only the second time in months that he hasn't cried when we've had to drop him off in the nursery room. In fact... the volunteers told me he had a lot of fun playing when we picked him up after the service. From church we went on to my parents' house for lunch, play and naps. I already posted this video once...but since it happened during lunch on Easter... I'll post it again. It's too cute.

Brandon Laughing on Easter

After the boys got their naps in we traveled to Cody's grandparents' house out in the country. The weather was pretty nice so we got to spend a couple of hours outside... which was definitely needed.

The boys had a blast... especially Brandon. He is our little daredevil. Cody's grandparents have a little electric car and a golf cart to ride around in on their property. Ella had a lot of fun driving that little "viper" around. Jaden refused to get in it with her... but Brandon LOVED it. He is our little daredevil. He will try anything willingly. Jaden prefers to sit back and skeptically watch others do it. ;)

Brandon also enjoyed having Daddy drive him around in the golf cart. I didn't get a picture of this though... I was too busy comforting Jaden who was actually crying tears by this point screaming for his Daddy to come back. This was after we attempted to get Jaden to ride on the golf cart himself. He was terrified to the point of not even wanting Daddy to be riding in it. What a funny little boy. Then it was time for the Easter egg hunt...
Is there an egg in there...?
There sure is!

Even Brandon got into the hunt...

By the time we got home that night we were all pretty tired. I realized I hadn't even gotten pictures of the boys in their matching Easter vests. This was the best I could do...
Jaden goes in for a kiss...
Jaden really is becoming a great big brother. It is so awesome watching his love for Brandon grow. Just this morning when he woke up Jaden said, "I love you SOOO much Brandon!" When Brandon cries, Jaden makes silly faces at him to get him to laugh. They are fun. :)

This was one of Brandon's favorite Easter presents from Papa and Nana Justis. This duck is too funny... he sings, flaps his wings and even laughs when you tickle his tummy!
Now that Easter is over... bring on 4th of July!! My goal is to keep both boys up long enough to see some real fireworks.

Here's a few pictures of what else we've been up to lately. A couple of weeks ago Cody left us for the whole weekend to go turkey hunting with his dad. The weather was cruddy which meant that I had to get creative and come up with some different things for the boys and I to do inside. I didn't feel like tackling Jaden's swimming lessons that Saturday morning by myself so instead we visited the Cedar Falls library for the very first time. It was so funny because we ended up seeing quite a few other people that we know there. Including one of the girls in Jaden's swimming class -- they hadn't felt like getting into the pool on that cold morning either! The kids played with some of the toys at the library. Jaden even sat down with the whole group for the "story time" -- but we had to leave early because Brandon kept wanting to go to the front of the room where the lady was reading the book... and he was kind of a distraction to the other somewhat older kids. ;) But... I did find out that they do story time at 10:30 every Saturday morning... so I think that's an activity we're going to start going to more and more especially next fall and winter.
On Saturday evening, Cody's mom took us to the McDonald's indoor playground in Waverly. Again... I think this is something we will probably do quite a bit next winter. The kids had fun, but Jaden would have had more fun if a buddy would have been there with him I think. He was a little nervous to go through the big play equipment and climb to the top of the big slide all by himself. Brandon wanted to be able to climb all the way to the top by himself but he was too young and little -- so he kept getting frustrated. Again... he's our little daredevil. It's so funny how different they are in some ways.

They both enjoyed this slide though...
Last weekend we picked out some new flowers to plant by our deck. Cody won a large UNI Panthers stone to go in our yard so I wanted some purple and yellow flowers to go around it. Jaden took an extra long nap that afternoon, but Brandon wanted to be outside to help Cody plant. He didn't help a whole lot though... he wouldn't hand over the shovel. He wanted to do all the digging by himself!

This weekend Jaden has his last swimming class of the year... and then we're hoping to get some sand for our new sandbox so we can finally play with our new sand toys the Easter Bunny was so nice to bring us. We need these temperatures to keep warming up!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brandon Laughing Video

In case you didn't see it on Facebook, here is our latest video of Brandon -- laughing on Easter. :)

Brandon Laughing

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What I'm Needing...

*70/80 degrees
*A weekend with a holiday thrown into it (Easter).
*Kabobs on the grill
*A trip to the park
*A picnic
*A church service (I was forced to miss this past weekend)
*A walk with the boys
*New episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice (seriously annoyed at how many re-runs they show).
*Warm enough weather to fill our new sandbox with sand and watch my boys get messier than messy in it.
*A good old fashioned grill-out. The kind with lots of family, lots of food, perfect weather, a glass of wine or a bottle of Corona, Jaden, Brandon and Ella running around everywhere... a grill-out just because.
*To see new flowers growing in my yard. Cody has made promises of pinks and purples and yellows this year.
*A reason to light our tiki-torches on our back deck.
*Shorts weather... to see my boys sport their cute little plaid shorts.
*A trip to "The Falls"... our local "pool."
*A summer holiday... Memorial Day... 4th of July... a reason to light sparklers and hear our neighbors let off fireworks.
*A wedding "date." Cody and I have at least four weddings coming up this summer/early fall. All within about six weeks of each other. I'm very excited to watch two of my closest friends from high school/college get married.
*To turn our heat off and open windows.
*10 new pairs of flip-flops. One in every color and some extras.
*A day so hot that the boys wear nothing but their swim trunks outside and all I can smell is their bodies completely lathered up with sunblock. I want to smell sunblock.
*A reason to wear my sunglasses again.
*A new summer dress... or two... for all those weddings we have to attend.
*A good daytime/early evening thunderstorm. I'm not asking for the wrath of God. Just a thunderstorm like they used to be. Where the sky gets really dark and exciting and 20 minutes later it's over.
*A trip to the petting zoo with Jaden and Brandon.
*A boat ride.
*To eat a Dairy Queen blizzard... not for the purpose of it tasting good... but because it's so hot... that it's the only thing that makes sense to eat. Pack the boys into the car, drive to the DQ, sit on the picnic tables and watch Brandon take his first try at a chocolate sundae.

Come on, April... quit acting like February.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Take the Time

I have been battling a cold for most of the week... I haven't been sleeping very good due to being so congested and getting sinus headaches. The other night as we were putting the boys to bed, I was beyond exhausted. All I wanted was to get them tucked away in their beds so that I could crash into mine. Because of this, I tried to cheat Jaden out of our normal Mommy/Jaden bonding time. Instead of me - Cody helped Jaden brush his teeth and read him a book. After I had put Brandon in his room, I walked into Jaden's and tried to get away with a kiss and a hug instead of the whole routine of talking and praying.

As I turned away from his bed, walked to the doorway and turned off the light, Jaden immediately burst into tears. And I mean... burst into tears. I rushed back to his bed and tried to ask him what was wrong, but he was so upset that he wouldn't talk. I crawled into his, layed down next to him and started rubbing his back. This calmed him down... and slowly the crying stopped. I then asked him again, "What's wrong?" No answer. "What's wrong buddy? Use your words to tell me what's wrong. Are you upset that I didn't lay down with you right away?" All he responded with was a very quiet... "Yes." So I said -- "Do you want Mommy to lay with you for a coulple of minutes?" He responded with... "Yes." So I did - I laid with him quietly for a couple of minutes. And that was all he needed. The next time I went to leave his room, he rolled over into his usual sleeping position and that was that. (Let me just say here -- his sleeping position is the funnist thing. He rolls over with his back to the door, his precious blanket in hand, and tucks himself into the very edge of his bed right up against the wall. Doesn't look very comfy to me -- but it's how he falls asleep every single night. So funny).

I realized that night... as much as those precious moments with my kids mean so much to me... they really do mean so much to them, too. Thanks for reminding me to take the time for the little moments, Jaden!

Playing Picture Catch-Up

*Our new hobby - sweeping and swiffering floors. I actually can't even try to sweep anymore if Brandon is around because he will immediately interrupt me and try to steal the broom from me. He then gets angry if I don't let him!

*Cheeser! ;)

*Cody tried to teach Jaden some Mario Kart. But... Jaden got a little rough with the controller so we are now down to only one. Kind of hard to play a two-person game with only one controller!

*We spent some time at the children's museum in Waterloo one afternoon. Both boys loved the giant fish tank!

*I know I'm his mommy... but gosh he is cuter than cute. :)


*Jaden getting ready to lead them on a little "saffari" ride. ;)

*First day getting to wear shorts! And on a side note... it is so hard to take pictures of him because the minute he sees the camera, he attacks me! ;)

*Love our water play table! Jaden especially loves water play. He got soaked right after I took this picture.

*They don't look very enthused here, but they both really enjoy walks. Whenever Brandon sees the stroller he immediately tries to climb into it by himself.

*A busy day of church and outdoor play makes for two tired little boys. Time for movies, snacks and water glasses.

*A horrible picture (he was ready for bed) -- but I wanted to document his curly hair after bath time.

*Cody's Uncle Randy had car trouble one night and stopped at our house. Cody went outside to talk to him, and both boys stood there patiently waiting for Cody to come back in. Brandon even yelled a couple of times... "Da da! Da da!!" As you can see from the finger prints on the door... Brandon likes to look outside quite a bit. ;)

*Jaden decided he wanted to cuddle with Brandon. He's getting a little more "nurturing" as time goes on. Still doesn't like when they are going after the same toy though. ;)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Funny Things My Kid Says -- Volume 2

Me: "Are you a boy or a girl?"
Jaden: "I'm a boy!"
Me: "Is Mommy a boy or a girl?"
Jaden: "You're a girl."
Me: "What's Daddy?"
Jaden: "Daddy's a stinker-butt!"


Me: "Jaden, can I have a hug bye-bye?"
Jaden: "I don't want to - I'm tired!"
...This is only funny because this is now his excuse for everything. Whenever he doesn't want to do something it's because he's "tired."


Our daycare packed up all of Jaden's diapers they never needed to use and sent them home with us to use for Brandon someday.
Jenn: "You don't need these diapers anymore, Jaden."
Jaden: "Yes we do!"
Jenn: "What do you need them for??"
Jaden: "Daddy can wear them now!"


Cody: "Jaden, do you want to talk to Mommy on the phone?"
Jaden: "No. I just talked to Mama yesterday!"


I recently put nail polish on my toes and caught Jaden studying them later that day. About an hour after I saw him staring at them, he randomly - out of nowhere - says...
"I don't like your toes."
He was so serious. I guess I need to change the color.


Jaden: "Come on, Brandon... we have to go to church buddy! We have to go see the girls!"

I Survived

I survived two nights and two mornings away from my beautiful little boys. Tuesday morning I boarded a plane for Dallas for a team building event with my company. Tuesday and Wednesday were productive days for me work-wise... but also very long -- starting at 7:30 in the morning and not getting back to my hotel room until after 10:00 both nights. Thursday I got on a plane to come home... and home felt very very good.

I am a home-body. Nothing makes me appreciate the Cedar Valley and Iowa more than going to a place like Dallas, Texas. We have such an easy-going slow-paced lifestyle here. When in Dallas, it took us over an hour just to get to where we wanted to eat for supper. And they are use to it down there. No thanks. That driving time is valuable time I'd much rather spend with my kiddos playing outside! Though it may be fun to see new places -- especially places you hear about all the time -- it's not as fun when the people you love aren't there to take it in with you. I liked to travel growing up - I enjoyed our trips to Florida, Lake Michigan... and even Europe. But they were all done with my family and friends. And that's the only way I'd want it to be if I had my choice.

My kids (and Cody) did well without me. Not that I thought they wouldn't. I don't worry about them when I'm gone... I worry about me. ;) Jaden told Cody quite a bit that he missed me. That made me feel really good... how could it not? I called them once each night and both mornings right before I had to leave my hotel room. It was nice just to hear their voices... even though Brandon doesn't talk yet, I always knew when he was holding the phone listening to me as I could hear the constant "beep" of the buttons he was pushing. He is 13 months old, but this is the first time I've really been away from him. Overnights at the grandparents' don't really count.

And nothing could beat the look on Brandon's face when he saw it was me that was picking him up from daycare Thursday afternoon. He cuddled his cute chipmunk cheeks next to mine for about 10 minutes. Preciousness. Jaden didn't give me much of a reaction when he first saw me... until I went to pick him up and put him in the car...when he wrapped his arms around me and laid his head down on my shoulder. He never does that. Preciousness. And I guess Cody missed me, too. When I was driving back into town from the Cedar Rapids airport, he asked me to come see him at his job site instead of waiting until he got off work and was home.

Now we are looking forward to a weekend of swimming lessons, wearing shorts, playing outside, sheltering ourselves from the possible severe weather they are predicting... and even taking in a UNI basketball banquet on Sunday. And I promise to take pictures of the cuties in my life. It's been a while!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Well, it's finally happened. This morning, Mommy and Daddy let Jaden leave the house for a full day wearing...


Congratulations Jaden Timothy. You have graduated into official "big boy" territory. You are all grown up now. (Okay maybe not quite all grown up). But you did it. One small step for a little three year old boy... one giant leap for that three year old's parents.

My bank account thanks you, sweet boy. And my mommy heart beats with pride.

Pre-school... here we come!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chicken-Veggie Stir-Fry

We are on a quest to try a new recipe every weekend. This one was last night's choice. It was yummy. Cody's words were: "This one's a keeper." Even our kids seemed to give it their stamp of approval. (Jaden ate more of the chicken than the veggies, but at least he kept asking for more chicken - "This is good!")

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, cut into wedges (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 oz fresh sugar snap peas (I HATE peas... so Cody replaced the peas with some potatoes... not as healthy, but oh well)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

(It doesn't call for potatoes, but we added some).


1. In medium bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper. Add chicken; toss until evenly coated
2. In 10-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook chicken in oil about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown on outside and no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm.
3. In same skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil until hot. Cook onion, bell pepper and peas (and potatoes) in oil about six minutes, stirring occasionally until crisp-tender. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Return chicken to skillet. Stir in broth, vinegar and lemon pepper seasoning. Cook about 1 minute or until hot. Springle with oregano.