"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."

Friday, January 30, 2015


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2015"

Jaden: We celebrated his 7th birthday this week with a big family bowling night and pizza, cake and presents, per his request. I'm not sure he's had a birthday in the last several years that didn't include pizza. It's the way to his heart.

Brandon: Such a poser, this one. We've had some funny conversations this week. Last night on the way home from daycare he randomly told me, "Mommy, college is a choice. You don't have to go. So I'm not going to." I of course went into my mommy speech of why it's important to go to college, geared it to a four year olds mind as best I could, and I think I got through to him. Somewhat. "Fine. I'll go. But I'm NOT going to like it." He later told Cody at supper that he's only going to college "for the parties." He might be a little heartbroken when he discovers that 20 year olds don't party at Chuck E. Cheese. ;) His daycare class has also spent the entire month of January learning the Ten Commandments. He told me last night that he's "never going to be naughty again, will always respect me, will love me forever but will love God more than anyone." I love our daycare and I love him. :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Happy Birthday Jaden

I can't believe it's been seven years since we welcomed this boy into our lives, into our family, into our hearts. I can't believe it's been seven years since this boy and I stayed up all night with each other on his very first night, just staring at one another. Born at 7:14 in the evening, my adrenaline was still pumping by the time our family visitors had left for the night and it was time to try and get some sleep. That first night in the hospital, Cody fell asleep on the couch, waking up every time Jaden fussed to help change diapers or help me get situated comfortably to feed him. But in between those awake moments, it was just me and Jaden, a dark hospital room, a snoring daddy and our eyes locked on one another. I had heard all the advice of trying to sleep as much as possible, to not feel guilty sending your baby to the nursery for the nurses to care for in the middle of the night so that your body could recover and rest. But on that first night of motherhood, I wouldn't have dreamed of letting go so quickly. Jaden was wide awake, probably hungry most of the time as this baby boy of ours could eat every hour and a half for the first month of his life, but when he wasn't trying to eat, he was just staring at me. And that is what I remember most of my first night as a mom. My first night when my lifelong dreams had been realized. My eyes locked on his, his on mine. While the rest of the world slept. A vivid memory that will last me forever.

And now he's seven. He's in first grade. He can spell and write and read and do math and quarterback a flag football team and shoot hoops with the best of them. He doesn't like it when I call him cute anymore, but prefers the word handsome. He often wipes my kisses off his cheek. He showers himself, gets the mail for us and helps kids on the playground when they get sick or hurt and are too shy to tell the recess teacher. But he still calls me "Mommy." He still sighs at the end of a long and tiring day when he wraps his arms around me for a bedtime hug. He still LOVES to be tickled. He's still sweet Jaden. The same Jaden that I fell head over heels in love with as a newborn. He's just growing up.

He's still off the charts in height, still skinny as can be even though he shovels in more food in a day than his daddy can. He's still wild and energetic and loves to party and can make friends wherever he goes. He's our gift, entrusted to us. I've been a mom for seven years now, and I still have to catch my breath sometimes when thinking of the true weight of that. God loves this boy of ours more than we could ever fathom, and yet He placed him in our hands. Wow. We must have done something right.

Happy birthday Jaden. You were a dream come true seven years ago. You're still a dream come true today. Love you to pieces...


Monday, January 26, 2015


"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." (C.S. Lewis)
This was the reading in our bulletin at church on Sunday September 21st, 2014. That bulletin, with this reading circled, has been sitting in my desk drawer at my left-hand side since that morning. It was all-too fitting for me that day and in that season, and it was one of those powerful moments in life when I felt God so strongly that He might as well have been sitting beside me reading it to me Himself.
I debated sharing any of our news on this blog until everything was signed, sealed and delivered. Until we had our future wrapped up in a perfectly prepared package, all neat and tidy. Until we knew exactly what the package contained inside of it. But I'm learning so much right now about the need to let go of control, to let things rest in God's hands. And that life itself is not neat and tidy and predictable and if I'm going to keep a blog that is honest and true, I might as well start here. With this chapter we are in. This wild ride we've been on the last month and how it's really been a long time coming but becoming very real faster than we even thought it would.
This C.S. Lewis reading came to me in a time when I knew things were about to change. We have been preparing for a long time in many ways for this moment. But every time before when we thought we were close to making this move, it didn't feel quite right. I think we were listening too much to what we wanted, what others wanted and expected for us, and not what God wanted. And though it's far from easy, deep down in my heart I trust His timing more than I trust anything else in this world. And this past fall, as we were entering a very busy time in our lives with flag football commitments and several work trips and the holiday seasons approaching, I felt a shift in my heart. I could feel the tides changing, I could feel the pressure building and I could sense that things were about to happen. If I could describe it at all, I would say it might be what it feels like to be under the pressure of a tornado building around you. When the atmosphere changes and you aren't exactly sure what's coming and there's all this heavy weight surrounding the peace that still appears to exist but isn't lasting.
So I'm sharing here that as of this morning, there is a For Sale sign in our front yard. This afternoon, there are two showings lined up already for strangers to come walk through the walls of our home that we have built our earliest foundation on as a family. I am a mess of emotions - excited, thankful, nervous, scared and anxious. We got pre-approved for our new home the day before New Year's. We took our Christmas tree down knowing it was the last time we'd see it up in the house that Brandon and Jaden have grown up in. I sat there and cried as Brandon packaged up the ornaments, so excited to think about what our next Christmas would look like, but also sad that these earliest years as a young family have come and gone. By then, we had shared the news with the boys, and Brandon - being the sweet and sensitive Mommy's boy that he is - saw my quiet tears, stopped putting ornaments away - and came over to hold his mommy in his little arms for a good five minutes. This month of January has kind of shaken our world up, as we've prepared our home to be listed and also started shopping for our next home. A house is so much more than a house to us. It is a dwelling place that will hold memories for us forever and ever. It is where we will carry out traditions, build new ones, and grow as a family. For us, it is such an important piece of our family puzzle.
So this is where we sit now. I will share more when I feel comfortable doing so. Wish us luck as we try and sell our home. We're either in for a short but thrilling ride or a long and bumpy one. Either way, it's bound to be the ride of a lifetime. One we won't soon forget. Jesus... take the wheel.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

7 Years of Jaden

We are exactly one week away from Jaden's 7th birthday and I've been spending some time this week thinking back on that January of 2008 and have really enjoyed looking back at some of these pictures that I haven't viewed in a really long time! A little trip down memory lane...


Brand New.
I've always thought this picture makes him look like a little porcelain doll...

1 month.
He slept like this quite often, and absolutely loved this bouncy seat for its vibrations and calming musical tones.

2 months.
Taken right before his first UNI football spring game...

3 months.
Today, this picture melts me. Look at that follow through with the tongue sticking out! To this day,  he sticks his tongue out when playing basketball!

4 months.
His very first taste of cereal and attempt at spoon feeding. He looks like his world was just blown a little bit, doesn't he? The kid is a food lover. :)

5 months.
Snuggles in our very old recliner in our very old apartment.

6 months.
To this day, one of my very favorite pictures, of all time.

7 months.
Very obviously getting plenty of food. I think that shirt's getting a bit too small, bud. ;)

8 months.
This picture still gets displayed in our living room every Fall.

9 months.
I remember this photo shoot well. He was just barely learning to stand up with support, and the photographer really wanted a shot of him standing. We were able to get a couple of really good smiling ones in between Jaden toppling over after every shot. But he stayed happy!

10 months.
The Christmas bear given to me in the hospital when I was born, Jaden holding his first Christmas ornament, and our first Christmas tree as newlyweds. We've come a very long way since then. This picture holds so much meaning.

11 months.
This $1 ball from CVS and Nana Deanne was his absolute favorite toy for about a year. Not at all an exaggeration.

1 year!
That spikey hair that will never be forgotten.

2 years.
His birthday party and a surprise visit from T.C. He absolutely loved T.C. back then, and I just love this look of adoration on his face.

3 years.
Again, that hair...

4 years.
Our first Chuck E. Cheese birthday. Bubble Guppy themed.

5 years. His first real basketball and Pizza Hut. His two favorite things.

6 years.
A kindergarten snow day... home with Mommy. And shoveling snow for Daddy.

(Almost) 7 years.
I see a growing trend here. There's a lot of basketballs in these pictures...

One week until 7. Wow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2015"

Jaden: He started Saturday basketball this past weekend and it was kind of funny to watch him practice. He has been telling us since November that he wants to grow up to be like Michael Jordan. (Yes, even a kid born in 2008 wants to be like Mike). The funny thing is that he naturally sticks his tongue out every time he takes a shot... just like MJ!

Brandon: We're on week two of consistently wearing this costume around the house. I'm not sure why he's loving it so much right now, but we're going along with it. It's winter, it's dark at 5:00 and if a costume keeps him from getting cabin fever, then so be it. And it doesn't hurt that he looks so stinkin' cute in it!

Friday, January 16, 2015


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2015"

Jaden: Every day when he gets home, this is the outfit he changes into. Although usually it includes his knee-high purple and yellow striped socks that were actually in the laundry at the time this picture was taken. Our Panthers being ranked in the top-25 for most of this basketball season has our hoops fever, especially Jaden's, at an all-time high. The other night the team had a road game that wasn't televised and for the first time, Jaden followed the play-by-play stats from our ipad while sitting on the couch during the entire first half. It's pretty cool when your kids start growing up and your own interests start becoming their interests as well. There we sat, discussing team fouls and time outs left and shooting percentages. Just my boy and me.

Brandon: Don't let that sweet face fool you. He has been a handful this week. I don't know if it's cabin fever or mid-January blahs or a combination of both, but he has definitely had a "witching hour" every night this week - and one so bad that it resulted in an early bedtime. And yet he's still as loving and affectionate and cute as ever. He, too, has been changing into costume every night when he gets home. Walking around our house as Superman - cape and everything. We eat at the table with Superman. Read stories to Superman. Play games with Superman. But my favorite thing about him right now are his "Christmas hugs." A phrase my dad coined on Christmas day when Brandon was giving everyone extra tight squeezes, he has since learned that it's the way to our hearts and has promised to give us at least one Christmas hug every day since then. They are the absolute best and so needed this month.


Sorry for the radio silence over here. I am hoping to have lots to share eventually, but lately my camera has been collecting dust and we've been stuck in the weeds of life. Looking forward to this weekend and to coming up out of the hole we've been buried in for the last couple of weeks. Jaden starts basketball, Cody and I get a night out for his company's Christmas party, we'll be in attendance of UNI's ESPNU game on Sunday - and hopefully we'll find some time to play out in the snow. If it stops melting. It's amazing how 35 degrees can feel like a heat wave. Happy Friday!

Friday, January 9, 2015


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2015"

Jaden: He has yet to have a normal school day since resuming from Christmas break. Monday he was off for an in-service day, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday all had two hour delays and Wednesday school was cancelled altogether. Cody has literally been working day and night since Sunday which means all of our schedules have been completely turned around and tossed upside down. I've been scheduling conference calls around school delays, battling homework hour, mornings routines and bedtimes completely by myself and am more than ready for some feeling of stability again. (I have a feeling this is a pre-cursor and that I'm supposed to be learning something from all of this, but that's another story). But Jaden? This one has loved it. Lots of Ninja Turtle watching and video game play and many, many board games on our living room floor. And of course, shorter school days. He absolutely loves the NFL Rush Zone board game we got him for Christmas, and is learning how to operate the TV and DVD players all by himself.

Brandon: Though Jaden long ago graduated to showers instead of baths, this one remains terrified of the shower head. And even though there are nights when throwing him in for a quick shower would be so much easier on mommy, a bigger part of me is thankful he still likes a tub filled with bubbles. His imaginative play in the tub always amazes me and our bath routine might be one of my favorite parts of our day. This night in particular, he was mixing up a bath cake for me. The bubbles were the "snow frosting" and he absolutely refused to wrap up in his towel, even with all the water drained, until I sat by the tub and pretended to eat it for him. Shivering with goose bumps and all, he wanted Mommy to eat his pretend bath water bubble cake. And my most favorite part of all is when I can hear him singing to himself in the bathroom while I'm out getting his pajamas and storybooks ready. (And how he still has that chubby-cheeked baby look with his hair all slicked back? Yeah, I adore that, too). He turns five all too soon. This last month and a half as a four year old will be so precious to me.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Our 2014 Photo Book

Stopping in to share our 2013-2014 photo book. 90 pages of wonderful memories. These books are always a labor of love for me, given as gifts at Christmastime. However this year's was the longest one yet, and I had to force myself to stop adding more pages! The more pictures I take, the harder it gets to leave any out!

I usually order them in December and include a month-by-month account of our life from the past year, beginning with the December from the year before - and ending with November of the current year. I like to stay on top of it, designing and completing each month's pages at the end of that month. But this past year I ended up getting really behind in the Fall when our lives got super busy, and I ended up having to play serious catch up to get it completed on time! I spent almost six hours straight one night in a hotel room in Houston during the first week of December just trying to finish it in order to get the books delivered in time to wrap and put under the tree. It's always worth it though...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

pictures from break

We had almost two full weeks together over the holidays. The boys were home from daycare and school, I was off work, and except for those couple special days celebrating Christmas and New Year's, we really had nothing on our schedule.

We filled our time with all of our new toys (I can't tell you how many Lego sets I put together), played a lot of board games, took a day trip to an indoor play palace, saw a movie in the theater one afternoon, went to some basketball games and stayed in our pajamas until Noon on most days.

Now that we're officially back in the swing of things, I feel good. We all seemed to be getting burnt out before our little vacation and I think we needed that time. But routine and structure works best for our family, and both boys went back to daycare and school without much fuss. It's just too bad we had to start setting the alarm clock again!

Some images of our relaxed time at home...

We kept Jaden active in his 1st grade work book to keep his thinking skills strong and exercised, we made sure Brandon was able to keep his creative juices flowing, and we watched a lot of movies.

We spent an afternoon at the library where Jaden navigated immediately to the sports section before settling in with computer games and Brandon was bold with the librarian, wanting her to get out all the pieces of a Christmas craft they'd presented two weeks earlier. She even had to track down the bulletin board that had the step-by-step instructions for a "wrapping paper tree." I love watching their minds at work and at play, so unique in their differences and passions. And I love the way Brandon's sweet little voice says, "Play with me, Mommy" whenever he wants some special one-on-one attention.

We shared some treats at Scratch, where Brandon informed me, "Mommy, this cupcake makes me feel like I love you 100 times big." I know the way to my boys' hearts...

We spent New Year's Eve finally celebrating Christmas with Cody's side. We ate, we drank a lot of wine, we opened presents, looked at yearly photo books and calendars and laughed quite a bit. And our new little niece is starting to smile at us all. I keep telling her she has no idea what she's in for with this group. ;)

When Daddy had to go back to work, I took the boys on a little road trip to one of my favorite places as a kid. We were needing something different, a day away from home and a chance to burn some energy. (Okay, truth be told... I could have been perfectly content to stay in my pj's again all day, but these boys of mine definitely needed to run and sweat a bit). ;)

Looking back at how crazy the final few months of 2014 were makes me tired. From nightly reading homework for Jaden to flag football to three unexpected work trips for Mommy to an always busy holiday season. We made it. The chalkboard in our kitchen right now reminds us that winter is a time for home. I'm hoping to take full advantage of that, to appreciate it without longing too much for spring and to try and feel as relaxed and normal as possible throughout this month of January. Because I'm not quite sure what normal is going to be looking like for us in 2015. But I'm ready to buckle up and enjoy the ride.