Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas...

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's me...Tolin!

Colin has a hard time pronouncing C's and K's.

He usually replaces his C's with a T. 

Cookies turn into Tooties.

Captain America becomes Tata Amerita.

Sometimes he just skips the whole sound altogether. Jack turns into Jaaa.

But my favorite is when he introduces himself. "I'm Tolin!" he will announce.

One of his favorite things to do is to dress up as random superheros. We have various masks and Colin will put on one, run out to me, strike a pose and wait. I must talk to the superhero by name. "Hello, Spiderman. How are you today?"  Colin will than rip the mask off, laugh and say "It's me...Tolin!" It is a fun game. The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor and Iron Man usually show up, but before I am too confused, Colin let's me know all is well...it is just him, Tolin.

  I am not sure how long his little lisp will last, but I love every minute of it. There is something about the sound of little voices figuring out their thoughts and turning them into words that I adore.

I am just happy to know that I am well protected, whether it is by Thor or by "Tolin".

Monday, December 17, 2012

In Memory...

Today my husband is going to an elementary school. He is going to walk into the doors, say hello to the security guard, get his badge at the office and walk to the lunch room. He will sit down with a class of first graders. He is there for Jaqwan. A 6 year old, first grade boy. Ryan is his mentor.
Those first graders love when Ryan comes in and eats lunch with them. While he only works with Jaqwan, Ryan makes sure to talk with all the little guys around him. They are a lively group. Because that is what first graders are full of. Life.

Newtown, Connecticut had that life horrifically crushed out. Evil beyond comprehension. Pure, absolute evil. The loss of life is tragic any time. The loss of a child's life is unthinkable, unimaginable and so deeply wrong.

It renders me speechless.

I mourn for those that lost loved ones on Friday. I mourn for the loss of innocence that the children in that school had robbed from them. I mourn for the brokenhearted. I mourn for the parents who's baby did not come home.

I mourn and I pray.

I pray for peace. I pray for comfort. I pray for loving arms to hold them tight. I pray for gentle words to soothe aching souls. I pray for supernatural peace and comfort that man can not give.

Today, I pray.

Psalms 147:3 ~ " He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."

So instead of posting pictures and stories of my boys like I had planned today, I am going to just ask you to pray.

When I was in college, the male R.A of my brother floor lost all three of his sisters one day before his wedding. They were bridesmaids, on their way to a shower. They were all killed in a car accident.  It was unthinkable. They were all in high school, vibrant and oh, so beautiful.

I was reading my bible, struggling to understand and grieving for the entire family, when I stumbled across this passage. It became my prayer that day and now, it is my prayer today. While looking up Ephesian 3:14-19 in the NIV, I paralleled it with the Message translations. I like the ease of modern language of The Message.

So, here is my prayer.

Ephesian 3:14-21 ( The Message translation)

14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brotherly Love

Brothers. The fighting. The playing. The punching. The hugging. It's a whole new world for me. I have one brother and one sister. The dynamic is so different. Two brothers, two years apart. They are constantly together, with tears and laughter flowing. My Husband has a brother that is two years older than him. He gets the dynamics between these two. He is wise and tells me to just let them be, fight it out and move on. Normally, they do. Sometimes, I intervene when the playing gets too rough and the little one can't keep up. Sometimes the smaller one takes out the bigger one.  Laughter.Tears. Hugs. Time outs. They all seem to follow one another.

But sometimes, I catch them being so perfectly loving. Imaginary play that makes me smile. The older one helping the younger one understand a certain concept. Random hugs and tickles.

This time I caught them and got my camera in time. Colin had been sick earlier in the week. He was not up to running full steam and Jack was getting cabin fever. I was busy running around, getting ready to leave and walked in to this little scene. Little brother Colin resting his tired head on his brother's back, arm around his waist. Jack did not push him off or get annoyed that he was being laid on. They laid like this for awhile, watching PBS kids and just being next to each other.

I am so happy that they will always have each other. They will always be brothers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Thankful Heart: Smorgasbord

I realize that I missed the traditional Thanksgiving post and even slacked on a post-Thanksgiving post. I was busy spending time with dear friends and my little family, so it was time well spent.
 I am eternally grateful for all of my many blessings in life, so I wanted to a smorgasbord of sorts of the things I am thankful for.

In no particular order or importance...

~ Thanksgiving spent with international friends. It always adds so much more to the table and to the conversation.*

~ My KitchenAid stand mixer. That lovely's muscles were put to work for Thanksgiving food prep.

~ People serving ham AND turkey for Thanksgiving...cause really, who likes turkey?!?!

~ Chubby toddler hands that wrap around your neck.

~ Davyn McClain coming home for the hospital on Thanksgiving day...after spending two weeks in the NICU.

~Sunshine and crisp breezes.

~ Fleece-lined leggings, the ultimate stretchy pant.

~Cookies and coffee...together.

~ Sugar-free Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer...in the extra large bottle.

~Black Friday deals that were online the day BEFORE Thanksgiving...and have already shipped and arrived at my door.

~ Bathroom doors with locks.

~ Getting the boys their most wanted gift.

~ Naps.

~ "Hold me, Momma" on repeat.

~ Josh Groban singing Christmas music.

~ Husband had the Friday after Thanksgiving off for the first time in 7 years. Jubilee!

Really. I have SO much to be thankful for. I have a warm home, more than enough clothes, a stocked kitchen, happy boys and a loving husband. I feel blessed beyond measure. Not just during this holiday season, but every day of the week. Even on this overcast Tuesday morning when I have completely run out of any forms of juice (absolute horrors for toddlers) I am thankful that I can get in my car and go buy some.

What are you thankful for?

* Pretend there is a really great Thanksgiving table of friends picture. I have filled my limit of images on Blogger and am in the middle of trying to figure out how to fix it. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Thankful Heart: Colin

Oh, Colin. What did we ever do without you? How dull our days must have been without your furious ball of emotions. The laughing. The crying. The dancing. The screaming. The drama. The joy.

Colin feels every emotion to the fullest extent, and he will let you know exactly what that feeling is. A guessing game is never in effect when it comes to my Colin.

His latest thing is to ask about the sights and sounds around him. "Momma! What's that noise?" "Momma! What's that sound?" and on and on. Taking him into any type of store is like a visual feast for him. He has to know what every sight, smell and sound is. I am not talking ordinary stuff, he wants to know the sound of a cart wheel that ticks. He wants to know the smell of the freshly ground coffee beans as we walk by a Starbucks. Getting out of the car, he needs to know what the sound is of a semi-trucking rumbling down the road, half-mile away. If I am not sure what sound he is talking about, he will mimic it perfectly. Who knows, maybe this one will do something with music or sound design.

Colin is also quick with a joke. He knows exactly what buttons to push with his brother, and does so hilariously. If you make a joke with Colin, he will remember it a week later and repeat it back to you with perfect comic timing.

There is never a dull moment with my sweet boy and I am thankful for every one of those moments. Dramatically happy, dramatically mad, dramatically hilarious. This little boy makes my heart just sing with the joy that he brings. Colin makes my heart oh, so thankful.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Thankful Heart: Jack

My Jack. First born. Inquisitive. Caring. Silly. Smart. Verbal. Imaginative. Perfectionist.

I am so thankful for my first baby boy. Jack really is SO smart. It kind of overwhelms me how much he absorbs and processes in a day. I take no credit for his brains.

He prefers books to toys any day. When given a choice to get a new toy or a new book, he will always choose a book. Usually that book is some sort of a fact book. We have a few animal fact books and a dinosaur fact book. We have been told that he needs the space fact book and a body fact book for Christmas. ( They are a really great brand of books that teaches the kids information in smaller bites, with size illustrations and so forth) That is really all he wants. He caries his books with him to bed, to the bathroom, to the car and would take them out to the park or store if I would let him.

He likes stories and imagining scenarios with his very willing little brother. Most mornings are spent in the his room pretending to be animals, transformers and superheros. Sometimes all three at once. The stories usually progress to full-body wrestling and someone ends up crying, but that is expected with two little guys.

He is so loving. Throughout the day I am kissed and hugged and cuddled with. He will ask for hugs and kisses and loves out of the blue. Definitely my most snugly child, he wants to be right next to me or his dad at all times. He willingly tells me he loves me, and often. I love that.

I am so thankful for this happy, brilliant little creature that I get to call my own. It doesn't seem possible that he could be this old. Words can not express my love for this boy and he makes my heart beat with joy. And for that, I am so thankful.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Thankful Heart: My Husband

 A willing participant at the Go,Dog, Go! Party

With Thanksgiving just a few more days away, I wanted to share a few things that make my heart thankful. I think we should move forward in life with a continual thankful heart, but since this season is for taking special notice of those around us, I wanted some things I am thankful for.

My husband has been my closest friend since we were in high school. Hours upon hours have been spent on the phone, talking and learning about each other. Years of knowing the ins and outs of life, sharing in the ups and downs, laughing, crying and living together.

While I am obviously very biased, my husband is the best sort of man. He works very hard at a job that is not his favorite. He provides for his family. He does the bedtimes and the baths with the boys. Always. He reads. He engages with people around him. He cares about his co-workers. He researches how to help people and than how to put that into action. He runs. He leads a life group in our church. He tutors. He loves his boys. He loves me. But most of all, he loves his Lord and that reflects in everything that he does.

Instead of continuing to gush on and on about my great man, I wanted to let you read a bit about his thoughts. Here are two posts that Ryan wrote on giving and thankfulness.

Give Thanks and Give a Goat

Thanks is a Verb

See? He is a good catch, that husband of mine.

He makes my heart thankful.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Meet Miss Audrey Bird

Well, her name is not really Audrey Bird. I just like to call her that. Officially she is Audrey Hazel Johnson and I am her aunt.

She is my first niece by blood. (I married into aunthood with 4 nephews and 2 nieces)

 So I flew to Michigan last weekend to meet her and to help out when I could.

My help included: making chocolate chip cookies from scratch, holding baby, snuggling baby, taking pictures of baby and installing a winter covering for the car seat. All serious business.

Her parents like to call her "bean" or "sugarbean".

 But I think she is more of a sweet little bird, an Audrey Bird.

So while my poor, poor husband toughed it out with two wild boys, a leaking ceiling and an extremely tardy plumber, I snuggled with this little bug.

Not a bad way to spend a weekend, wouldn't you say?

There is one problem though. Babies. They always seem to get bigger, regardless of what you tell them. So hopefully this little lady will stay little enough for her Uncle Ryan to get lots of cuddle time, but big enough to handle her cousins' "love", cause they sure want to love on her.

Monday, October 22, 2012


We have been doing some fun fall activities of late. It has finally cooled down enough to be outside most of the day and be comfortable. The boys have been loving it.

We spent the day in Williamsburg last weekend, shoe shopping for the boys and just enjoying the area. We let the boys loose in Colonial Williamsburg and they tore all over the place, free from the constraints of a stroller and an outlet mall.

We did our yearly trek to the local pumpkin farm to let the boys play in the hay and visit the  petting zoo. Colin just wanted to jump off the hay bales head first.

The best picture of the bunch. We only got smiles after Colin insisted on holding ALL the pumpkins on his lap, and than Jack had to have the BIGGEST pumpkin next to him...and they are not even looking at me. Real life, right there.

I was able to sneak in a picture with my littlest man. The real pumpkin was the obvious star of this show.

Those are the painfully close faces of two people that have been married 6 years and spent their anniversary at a pumpkin patch with their little boys. Fun, but not the most romantic. Maybe next year, the boys will be old enough to hold the camera for us :)

I also turned 31 this week. Celebrated with a little cake at home with my three favorite men.

What are you doing on these fall days?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Step Up!

A couple of weekends ago, my little family had the privilege to be a part of the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads Step Up for Down Syndrome walk. That good looking group up there? We were the Reese's Pieces team!

And THIS is my sweet Reese, the reason we all went on this walk. Isn't she the sweetest? She is a feisty little fighter, this one. One of my favorite things about Reese is when she is really tired, or getting sick or just wants to snuggle, she will ask to be picked up. She will snuggle in, suck her thumb and hold on to your earlobe. It is her little comfort thing. Her thumb, your earlobe and snuggles.

I have known Reese's mommy for the last 5-6 years. We worked together and had our first babies together. Lots of nursing and napping play dates for us. Soon after that, there was Reese. A few months later, we had Colin and now their little lady #3 will be coming soon! So excited for a new girl to snuggle. We make the boys, they make the girls, we keep this earth evenly populated. :)

They had lots of fun things for the kids to do before the walk. Bounce houses, live music and even face painting. Jack got his face painted for the first time! He is not too sure about it, but he ended up loving his spider.

We had lots of fun on the walk, especially Reese. Don't you just love a laughing, running child? So much energy and joy.

Colin did almost the whole mile and a half walk all by himself!

It was such a fun morning and for such a good cause. We were so proud to be on Reese's team and look forward to doing it again next year.

To find out more about the  DSAH, click here.
To read about Reese and her wonderful family, click here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Today I celebrate being married to the love of my life for six years.

On one hand, it seems impossible that it has ONLY been six years, as we dated for much longer and I don't really think of life without him in it.

On the other hand, it seems like just yesterday that we walked down the aisle to say "I do."

Six years seems legit, though. Like we are a real married couple, with a few years under our belt.

Either way, I look forward to many, many, many more married years with my man.

He is my love, my best friend, my confidant, my heart and the father to my babies.

I am excited to see what adventures lies before us.

Highs and lows, good and bad, if Ryan is by my side, I know I can go through it.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

Friday, October 5, 2012


We really want to start potty training Colin. He is over 2 now and we are done with diapers. Colin also gets horrific diaper rashes from certain foods and diaper changes are painful for him. Most of those issues would be alleviated once potty trained.

Colin show some signs of being ready, but mostly just tell us NO! when we ask if he wants to go potty like a big boy.

So today I bought some M&Ms, his very favorite candy, as incentive to have him start to THINK about going on the potty.

Here is a snippet of our conversation today.

Colin: "I want an M&M"
Me: "You have to go potty on the potty first."
Colin: "I don't want to go potty. You go potty. I want an M&M."


We have a long road before us...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Matchbox cars on my window stile.

Or transforming Autobots ready to defend Earth from the Decepticons.

Just depends on how you look at it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

We went for a nice little hike recently. There were paths to run, sticks to throw and children to carry. Note to self: make sure you double check how long your walking trail is. It got too long for the boys, so we had some unplanned stops, some adjusted attitudes and some carried children. It also makes for a much better workout, so you always get some good thrown in there. I am just happy it has cooled down enough to venture into the woods with out fear of overheated children.

Bring on fall!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

On Love and Loss

It has been relatively quiet over on this ol' blog here. A few random posts here and there, but nothing coherent or indicative of the life being lead this summer.

It is not like I did not have things to blog about. I did. I had posts lined up in my head, some funny, some serious, some frivolous. But I was waiting. Waiting for the right timing. Waiting for another week to tick by.

You see, I was pregnant this summer.

The end of July brought a pleasant (yet planned) surprise.

Baby number 3 was on the way!

I was sick. And tired. And nauseous. And tired, really tired. It was hard to blog about anything besides how tired or how nauseous I was. I could not blog about falling asleep during Elmo's World every. single. day...because people would guess my precious little secret.

We went on vacation. I ate loads of carbs. I took naps every afternoon. Jack and I would talk about the baby. He was insistent that the baby was a girl. He did NOT want another brother. His logic was simple. Why would he want another brother? He already had one. So, now he needed a sister.

My 8 week appointment went great. I had an ultrasound and was able to see the little one and even hear the heartbeat. Everything was great.

Week 8 and 9 I was nauseous from waking till sleeping with no break in between.

Than right before 10 weeks, it all stopped. No more nausea. I thought I had passed that milestone.

Than half way through week 10, I started spotting.

It was nothing, really. Very, very light. It was weird, but I didn't get too worked up.

Than I started cramping. Nothing dramatic, just like I was beginning my monthly cycle.

The very light spotting and the cramping continued through the long, holiday weekend.

I called my OB on Tuesday the 4th and they wanted to see me, just because of the light cramping.

We went into the OB appointment the next day. I was 11 weeks and 3 days.

Ryan came with me to the appointment. I was super nervous, just ready to see the baby. I had never spotted with my two pregnancies with the boys.

We went right into the ultrasound room. I was probably more nervous than I had ever been before.  We saw the baby right away. And I saw right away it was not moving. They moved the wand around a bit, but no movement. There was no heartbeat. Nothing.

Our worst fears were confirmed. We lost the baby. Our sweet little one measured around 9 1/2 weeks, meaning the baby had passed away around that time. About a week or so after I saw and heard that little heart beating, it stopped.

We have no idea why. There were no signs or reasons. It just happened. I did not know this till now, but 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. Most of the times it happens so early that the mother will not even realize it. There was nothing we could have done.

I was scheduled for an early morning D&C that next day. I chose the in- office surgical procedure instead of the hospital route where I would be put under anesthesia. I was awake for the entire procedure.

 I was given a drug cocktail that would help keep me calm and to help with the pain. It made me extremely sleepy.

The procedure was very painful. Luckily, I only had the concentration powers to get through the pain and not to think about what was actually happening.

I was sent home and promptly slept for 6 straight hours.

And now the real journey has begun.

The deep sense of loss. The little things that trigger memories, sweet and sad. The little faces of my boys, looking up at me, living proof of what a healthy pregnancy brings forth. Little onesies that come in the mail, also proof of a little life that never will be.

My emotions have also swept a wide gamut. Sad, so sad. Confused. Frustrated. Peaceful. I have not been mad, though. Frustrated at the not knowing the whys and the hows, but not angry. But most overwhelming is the sense of sadness and loss. While only a mere 9 1/2 weeks into creation, our little babe made a deep impact.

The one thing that I realized throughout this whole order is that life is precious. Life is SO precious.

Whether someone lives to be 98 years old and has a full and complete life, or whether you only live 9 1/2 weeks in utero.  Each of those lives are precious.

Life is to be protected and cherish.

When I first started spotting, I had swirling thoughts going through my head. Is this normal, is something wrong? Should I freak our or remain calm? Am I over reacting? Than all of a sudden a scripture verse came into my head.

It was Jeremiah 29:11. " For I know the plans I have for you," said the Lord, " Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future."

I have known this verse for a long time. You hear it a lot around graduation times. It is a good verse.

But when that verse came into my head, it was not just a cliche verse said to graduating seniors. It was life to me. MY Lord has no plans to hurt me. MY Lord has given me a hope and a future.

So, while we go though this grieving period, I know that my hope and my future belong to the Lord and that gives me all the peace in the world. It doesn't take away the loss. It doesn't take away the sadness or the what could have been, but I feel at peace and I am not angry.  I can't explain why I am not angry, but I am not. It has been because of the prayers of people around me.

Life will go on, and things will return back to it's semi-normal state. Time will help ease the sadness.

But we will always remember this precious little life, that I was lucky enough to have, even for a few short weeks.

My babes.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Favorites: MN State Fair Food

 You guys. I want to be in Minnesota this week. SO bad. I mean, I always want to be in Minneapolis, but this week...it is worse. The Minnesota State Fair is happening. And it is an event. I have been to the Virginia State fair and it was like a small-town carnival compared to the MN State Fair. It is huge and fun with a million things to do, but the most important thing is the food. OH, the food. Minnesota fairs are famous for putting things on a stick. Seriously, you can get anything on a stick there. My favorite being a foot-long corn dog, the most exotic that I have had was alligator on a stick.

But since I am NOT there and I am NOT having fair food, here are some of my all time favorites.

 Cheese curds. Fried cheese curds to be exact. They take some good 'ol Wisconsin cheese curds, batter, fry and serve them up. It takes melted cheese to a new level. Pretty much perfection.

 Other top favorite are the keg-style root beer stands, Holy Land Deli gyros, frozen custard and all your other greasy, delicious foods. Want more proof? Just take a gander and drool over this list of food venders.

But my all-time, absolute, I once had a friend ship me a package, favorite thing to eat at the fair is Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies. They are THE best. You can buy them in a cup or in a bucket (Obviously, the bucket is the best choice) and they are literally hot from the oven.

The stands have the ovens in them, so they bake them and sell them at record speed. The best way to enjoy your warm, chewy cookies is to head over to the all-you-can- drink milk tent and get your cup of ice cold milk, sit down with your bucket of Sweet Martha's and gorge yourself. There really is NO other way.

So, that my friends, is my Friday Favorite. If you are close to the fair and have never gone, GO. If you do go, send me some cookies. I will love you forever and a chocolate chip cookie day.

Have a fun long weekend!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


 Colin's idea of re-organizing my cupboards

I have been short on patience this week.

Real short.

I have been over tired for most the week, and there is a direct correlation between my tiredness and my patience level. Higher energy, higher patience, lower energy, lower patience.

I wish it was not the case.

I wish that I would not get frustrated so easily.

When the boys are extra "busy" and active, I need to be calm and firm with them, not annoyed and firm.  It is not the best combination.

Anyone else struggle with keeping it all together, when running on empty?

Any advice on how to combat this?

I should probably just sing the " Have Patience" song to myself...