Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Bump!

I've been meaning to post this "baby bump" photo for awhile was taken Dec. 8th, so its not really recent anymore, but its pretty much the only one I've taken so far! I was just short of 21 weeks at the time and I'm now 23 1/2 weeks (a bit over 5 months along). This little boy is just a-growing and I'm feeling a lot more nudges and kicks now! Except for a bladder that's a bit cramped, I'm feeling great and full of energy, and am really loving the second trimester right now. It really does seem that this pregnancy is passing by quickly. For that reason I am already dreading the last couple of months, probably because this time I know what to expect! I'm really hoping my poor feet don't swell up into giant sausages this time around!

Monday, December 15, 2008

2,557 Days

That's 7 years of marriage! One week ago, on December 8th, Ryan and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. It really is amazing to me how that much time has one way, it seems there's no way its been that long already and that the time has just flown, but in another way, it feels like its been much longer than that! It blows me away to think that in just a few short years we will have been married for a decade!

Our anniversary was on a Monday, but Ryan took a half day off of work and my mom stayed with Thomas so Ryan and I could go on a much-needed date! Amazingly enough, we spent some of our time going shopping...quite unusual for Ryan, as he usually avoids shopping like the plague! But we both had a good time...first we went to a discount art gallery where we bought a beautiful painting for our great room, then we went to Michael's to get some Christmas decor. Amazing as it is that my husband was willing to go to a craft store, we've both just been really excited about decorating for this first Christmas in our new home!

After shopping we went to dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, the Macaroni Grill. It was a real treat to go to that specific restaurant, because we never do feels a little more fancy to me than a lot of other restaurants, and I can't ever bring myself to take Thomas there. Even though we sometimes do go to sit-down restaurants with him along, he's not exactly a little gentleman while we're there, as I'm sure you other toddler mom's can relate! So it was wonderful to go to one of our favorite places and enjoy the food and atmosphere, just the two of us.

After thoroughly stuffing ourselves we went to see the movie "Australia," and we both absolutely loved it. Its a fabulous, sweeping epic, and I thought it was the perfect date has both action and romance, and the historical elements of the movie were extremely interesting. I highly recommend it!

It was a wonderful day spent celebrating and remembering the day our life together started. Thank you Ryan, for loving me and putting up with me all these years! Here's to 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 (and so on...) more! I love you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Pink or Blue Bundle of Joy?

The verdict is in, its a BABY BOY!!!

Little Mister was not shy at all during his ultrasound yesterday! The technician was only a minute or so into the ultrasound...I don't think she was even looking for the gender yet...and she suddenly said "Oh - did you see that?" And immediately I knew she meant it was a boy! Ryan and I both kinda thought deep-down it was going to be a boy, and we are very excited! Everything else on the ultrasound looked good too, which is wonderful to know.

We are so excited to be the parents of two little boys! We have absolutely loved having a boy the first time around, and having two will be wonderful and lots of fun (though I'm sure, exhausting at times!)! I'm so excited about Tommy having a little brother to pal around with, and I love thinking about Ryan with his two little guys...rough-housing, doing all the boy stuff, riding dirtbikes together in the far-off future, stuff like that. Even though I said I was hoping for a girl, I'm very happy I get to be the mommy of another sweet little boy! Awhile back, shortly after Thomas was born, I used to say I wanted to have two boys in a row first (that's how it is in both my family and Ryan's). It will be great having two big brothers in the family to take care of all their siblings, like scaring off their future sister's boyfriends...haha! =)

My mom watched Thomas during the appointment, and when we saw him afterward and told him he was going to have a baby brother, his first response was a loud "NO!" which made us laugh. But, I still don't know if he completely grasps the concept. Even though I'm sure it will take some adjusting on his part, I think Thomas will be a great big brother!

After the appointment we went out to eat to celebrate. I wanted to go to Los Hermanos, a Mexican restaurant whose food I love and have craved like crazy during my pregnancy, and bless his heart, Ryan humored me and we went there, even though he doesn't particularly love it. Thank you honey!

So now I'm going to get out all of Thomas' baby clothes and have fun getting everything ready! I never really took much time to organize Thomas' old clothes and store them in tubs or anything...I actually have piles and piles of the clothes and shoes he's grown out of filling the shelves in his closet! Now I don't feel guilty at all for not having taken the time to store them away! And, I may just spoil myself a little and buy a few new things, just for fun. =)

On to the naming game! I have some names left over from when we were pregnant with Thomas, but I get a little stressed about choosing a name and need some more ideas. I'm one of those people who has to wait to see the baby before I can possibly decide on a name. I always fear that once I see the baby, none of the names I've thought of will fit, and we'll be sitting in the hospital, needing to leave, trying to decide on a name! Thankfully that didn't happen with Thomas...he was named almost immediately after his birth and Ryan and I both knew that he was definitely a Thomas! I hope it happens as easily this time around. =)

Also, I am exactly 20 weeks along today...halfway! This pregnancy seems to be going really quickly to me so far. I hope it continues to go quickly once I hit the third trimester! I'm excited to feel the baby kicking now, even though its just here and there and not consistent at all yet. Every time I stop and hold still to feel it, he stops of course! Feeling those little movements is probably my favorite part of being pregnant.

Though I'm nervous about the challenges of becoming a parent of two, I'm excited for the day when we'll have a new little son in our home!


We spent Thanksgiving with my parents here in Utah County this year. One of the biggest things that I was grateful for was that every single one of my brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews were there! That doesn't happen much anymore and it was great to have all of us together (even if my Mom & Dad's house was a bit crazy and noisy!).

My brother Travis got home from his 4-month trip to Brazil the Friday before Thanksgiving, which was especially nice because he had originally planned to stay until right before Christmas. He served as a missionary in Brazil and returned home in March 2007, so it was interesting to welcome him back a second time! He came home with some crazy long, curly hair that I thought was pretty cool, but he's chopped it all off already.

Ryan, Thomas and I mostly spent the whole week at my parents house in Spanish Fork since everyone else was staying there, but a couple days before Thanksgiving we had everyone over for a barbecue at our house, since some of my siblings hadn't seen our new home yet. The boys got all geared up and went four-wheeling in the hills across the street from our house, and Thomas had a great time playing with his cousins.

Its always so fun watching Thomas buddy around with all his cousins (Anika-7, Aiden-4, Ciara-4, Zander-2, Dalin-1). He was in heaven with so many kids to play with every day, and even though there was a bit of bickering that went on at times, the kids were all so cute together. Ryan is so cute with his nieces and nephews too! For some reason, he's the uncle the kids like to climb all over. I love the photo of him holding four of them all at once!

On Thanksgiving Day we had a fabulous feast of turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, rolls, frog eye salad and snickers salad, and then later we of course followed all that up with pumpkin, cherry and apple pie! We had a fabulous time stuffing ourselves and then sitting around talking, watching the kids play and just being with family. My Grandma & Grandpa Kotter were able to come down from Logan to join us on Thanksgiving Day and it was wonderful to see them...though they only live two hours from me, I don't see them nearly as often as I should! They are sweet, wonderful people and I love spending time with them. I kept trying to teach Thomas to say "Great-Grandpa" or "Great-Grandma" but he mostly just stuck with calling them "Grandpa" or "Grandma." It was still cute!

My Mom & Dad's 33rd wedding anniversary was several days before Thanksgiving, and for a gift all of us siblings and siblings-in-law wrote some memories and letters that we compiled into a book to give to my parents. We had fun reading out loud from the book after Thanksgiving dinner and remembering lots of funny and touching stories from the years of our childhood, and also from the years since our spouses have joined the Kotter family. It was a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving and I am so grateful for my parents and all my family!

It was also my brother Jared's 13th birthday on Thanksgiving Day this year. Its so crazy that he is a teenager now...I was 13 when he was born! We had a birthday cake for him on top of all the pie, and he got his first Ipod, which he was pretty stoked about.

It was a great week! The only sad thing was the way it ended...Thomas ended up getting a 24-hour stomach flu the last day everyone was here, which was eventually passed on to me, and has now been passed on to Ryan! So that hasn't been fun. But I'm just grateful the sickness missed us during Thanksgiving, and that we were able to have an enjoyable, memorable time together with all of our family!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I've been in such huge anticipation of the Twilight movie for so long, and when it opened last Friday night my waiting finally came to an end! I went with my sisters-in-law Sara, Hayley and Fabiana and we had an awesome girls' night out. We ate at the Olive Garden beforehand, went to see the movie (where we were joined by my brother-in-law Jon....YAY for open-minded men!) and then we went to Village Inn to get dessert and gab about the movie afterward. It was a fabulous night!

After seeing the movie, it felt a little bit like Christmas was over! I had been looking forward to it so long, I didn't really know what to do with myself. My answer? See the movie again! On the following Monday I went with my mom and brother Zane (yay for men again!) and his wife Amber, none of whom had seen it yet. I enjoyed it just as much if not more the second time, because I could really pay attention to the little details.

All around, I can definitely say I loved the movie! I went into it basically having made the decision to try and look at it as just a movie, and not judge it too harshly in comparison to the book. I knew it would be hard not to knitpick, and I forced myself to accept beforehand that the movie would probably differ greatly from the book in many ways.

However...even though I've been trying not to knitpick, that doesn't mean that I don't! I definitely have my qualms about some things in the movie. There were lots of important little details or lines from the book that I wish they would have included in the movie somehow...many I think would have been rather easy to include. The more I think about the missing elements, the more I come up with, and the more unhappy I get. So, I'm trying not to dwell on them. I still loved the movie, as a movie. It stayed true to the most essential elements of the story, and I really enjoyed myself while watching it, and that's what counts!

Now I'm looking forward impatiently to the time they will release the DVD! I hope it has lots of extras and any scenes they cut out (I personally thought the movie was a tad short and that they could have gotten away with making it a bit longer). And I'm very excited about the next movie, New Moon. That was my least favorite book of the four, but I am actually really looking forward to seeing how they spin it into a movie. I didn't get into the Twilight books until just this last summer, right before the last book came out, so I really kind of missed all the hype and frenzy surrounding the release of the all the books. So, I guess I'm compensating by obsessing over the movies now! If you know me, I've always been obsessed with movies anyway. =)

And I might not be able to wait for the DVD...I may just have to go see Twilight one more time before it goes out of theaters!

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Thomas, What Are You Gonna Be?"


Yep, its true! This is a game we play around our house a lot lately, as we are expecting Baby #2! Our families have known for quite some time and we have leaked the news to a few of our friends, but I am finally getting around to making the "public announcement." We are very excited about becoming a family of four! Baby Laidlaw is set to make his or her debut on or around April 22, 2009. I turned 16 weeks this past week, which puts me right around 4 months along. I am very happy to be past the first trimester and done with feeling nauseous and tired a lot of the time...although, I can't complain too much, as it wasn't too terribly bad and could definitely have been a lot worse! My pregnancy thus far has been very similar to my pregnancy with Thomas...the sickness was about the same, and my cravings have been very similar too...I'm all about hearty, meaty foods and cheese! (Statement from my last entry: "Chili is one of my big things right now." Same thing with Thomas!) I have lots of fun theorizing on what gender we will be having, but its a little torturous as well, because I have no intuitive feelings about it at all! With Thomas I was absolutely sure he was a boy from the very start...I always thought my first child would be a son. This time I'm on the complete flip-side...I am clueless! But my anticipation will soon come to an end, as our ultrasound is scheduled for December 2nd. I can hardly wait! I will admit that I'm hoping for a girl...whenever I go to any store and stray toward the baby section I drool over all things pink and girly! It would be great to even up the teams in our house. =) But, I will be 100% thrilled and happy if its another boy...I would love Thomas to have a little brother for a buddy, and I have certainly loved having a boy the first time around! And, like every mother says, really all I want is a healthy baby. Either way, I am just incredibly impatient to know for sure! Let's just hope this little one is not shy during the ultrasound. =)

Its been fun talking to Thomas about the baby. Whenever we play the "What are you gonna be?" game, he usually throws his arms in the air like he's celebrating a touchdown and shouts his answer! Sometimes he whispers it. Its so cute! We talk to him about a baby being in mommy's tummy, how the baby will come to live with us in the house, etc., but I'm not sure he completely grasps the idea yet. The shirt he's wearing in the pictures was part of the way we broke the news to Ryan. I put the shirt on Thomas and decided to wait however long it took for Ryan to notice what it said when he got home from work that day. I thought Ryan would notice it right away, but 5 minutes went by, he hadn't noticed, and I was so excited I didn't have any patience at all! So I clued him in, saying, "Do you notice anything different about Thomas?" After assessing whether Thomas had a new hair cut, he finally saw the shirt. He was thrilled! (Although, based on circumstances, he kind of already knew and suspected, so it wasn't a giant surprise for him. But it was still fun though!) We are both looking forward to being the mommy and daddy of another sweet little newborn!

I am planning on being better with the whole "baby bump photos" thing this time around, since realizing I have only one or two good photos of me pregnant with Thomas. I didn't think I would want photos of my ballooning self that first time around, but I totally regret it now! As soon as I enlist someone besides me to handle the camera and I get a decent pic, I will post it.

So here's to the countdown! April seems like a long time from now, but I know the months will fly by. Hopefully, if nothing else, those last hard months will! =) I can't wait to meet my new son or daughter!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Our Halloween Hullaballoo

We had a fun, jam-packed week leading up to Halloween this year! (And this is also a long, jam-packed entry!)

On Tuesday night we headed over to the Halloween "Trunk-or-Treat" at our church to collect some candy! It was the first time I suited Tommy up completely in his Peter Pan costume and he looked positively adorable! (Funny side note: When I told my 12-year-old brother Jared that Thomas was going to be Peter Pan for Halloween, he didn't seem to think that was a good idea. He said in protest, "You're going to dress him up as a girl?!" We then argued about how Peter Pan, the character, is very much a boy, who used to be and sometimes still is played by women onstage. Jared finally conceded, but then said, "But are you making him wear tights?" I totally laughed when I realized his true concern. So please note: There were no tights involved!) When Thomas woke up from his nap before the trunk-or-treat, he was actually quite grumpy and threw a little tantrum, refusing to let me put on his costume at first. I didn't want to drag him there if he was screaming and unhappy about it, so I was afraid we were just going to have to nix it. But, after I bribed him with a mini chocolate bar from our Halloween stash and promised him we would be getting more candy and there would be lots of kids there, I managed to get him into his costume and into the car. Once we got there he was totally over the grumpiness...he was so intrigued by all these crazy characters walking around he just stared around in curiosity and amazement! As we went from car to car and each person offered him candy, he was very shy and hesitant about it, almost like he was thinking "Really? You're all really just going to give me candy? Mom hardly ever gives me candy!" It was very cute. A lot of people there thought he was Robin Hood, and it didn't even occur to me that he looked very much like Robin Hood as well as Peter Pan. Either way, he looked so cute! One sad thing was that Ryan had to work late that night and wasn't able to come with us. We missed having you there Daddy!

After we got home, Thomas was all about checking out his loot. I felt so bad when it was time to take his Halloween bucket away and tell him he couldn't have any more candy for now. I'm not a super strict mom when it comes to what Thomas eats, but he has never consumed very much candy at once...I didn't want to wind up with a sick, miserable kid! I also felt guilty because his already-small candy stash was diminished by pretty much half after I went through it and took out all the gumballs, jaw-breakers, and bubblegum that I didn't feel comfortable with him having. Poor guy! He gets all these goodies only to have Mom take 'em away! (Its really okay though...he definitely made up for it in the course of the week. We had TONS of candy at our house! =)

On Wednesday we headed over to a nearby park to play and have an outdoor costume photoshoot that I've made into a little tradition since Thomas was born. I love where we live now, but the one thing I will always miss about where we lived in Provo was the park that was only half a block away. It was right next to the Provo river and was filled with dozens of giant, beautiful old trees that were simply gorgeous in the fall and provided lots of fun leaves for autumn photos. We live close to a park here in Saratoga as well, but our subdivision is much newer and there are only tiny, brand new trees. I wanted to go somewhere with at least some larger trees and leaves to take photos of Thomas and I almost decided to drive into Provo to go to our old park, but Ryan told me about one park in the area that was right next to the lake and had a few enormous old Cottonwood trees. We found it and it was perfect! One of the trees even had a little door leading to Peter Pan's hideout! Some acquaintances from our ward happened to be at the park when we arrived...Fawn and her son Kylin and little girl Darlin. Kylin and Thomas made friends in church one day when they sat behind us...Kylin was so nice and kept offering Thomas his toys! Kylin is 5, three years older than Thomas, but they are so cute together and had a great time running around the playground and in the trees. Thomas kept wanting to climb the trees or have me lift him up to sit in a tree or was so cute, but I kept worrying he would fall! I don't think I could've gotten photos of his tree-climbing without Fawn there! I found out that she used to work as a photographer and she tried to help me with Thomas a bit so I could get some good photos. It was hard chasing him around with the camera, but I managed to get some cute shots of my little Peter Pan. =)

On Thursday night we carved pumpkins! I always get excited about pumpkin was a big event for me and my brothers growing up. I tried to get Thomas to help scoop out the "pumpkin guts," but when he looked at what I was pulling out of there he thought it was "gwoss!" He had fun playing with the scoops and tools, though...he's all about tools these days. I showed him some pumpkin face designs I found and asked him which one he wanted to do, and he liked a Mickey Mouse design. I thought it looked easy, but boy, was I wrong! I ended up staying up late after both the boys went to bed just to finish it, and I didn't even carve my own pumpkin til the next day! Tommy's pumpkin turned out very cute, but I was sad because the very next day, Mickey Mouse's face was already starting to shrivel up a bit and I had to try and secure it with toothpicks. No more difficult designs for me! When I finally got around to my own pumpkin, I carved an uber-easy pattern! Guess which one it is? ;)

Friday, Halloween, was party-day! My sisters-in-law Sara and Hayley and I decided we wanted to have a Halloween party with some of our fam, and we had it at my house. We just thought, adults can't trick-or-treat, and none of us ever did something especially fun or eventful on Halloween. So we decided to change that! The whole week before Halloween I was running around like a crazy woman helping get ready for the par-tay! It turned out awesome. 4 of Ryan's 5 siblings and their spouses came (we missed you, Melissa & Seth & Mom & Dad!) and my mom, dad and brother Jared came too. We had a fun time taking photos of everybody, listening to Halloween-y music, eating, watching Thomas and his cousin Julia run around together, and watching Hocus Pocus (love that movie!). The food was excellent...Sara brought home-made chili (mmmmmm...chili is one of my big things right now) and sugar cookies, Hayley & Eric brought pumpkin bread, and I made apple cider for the first time ever! There was also chips n' salsa, apple slices with caramel and candy galore! (Seriously...I went way overboard on the candy. And we only got, maybe, four sets of trick-or-treaters! I need to get rid of the stuff. Any suggestions other than ingestion? Can you give candy to a food bank? =)

When I was shopping for the party I came across a fun, no mess idea for an activity for Thomas and Julia. I found a set of these cute plastic eyes, ears and noses with pegs that were made to stick into a pumpkin to make animal faces with, kind of like Mr. Potato-head. I got four little pumpkins just for Thomas and Julia to make faces on, and they loved it! They had lots of fun making the dog, cat, bear and pig brother Jared joined in too (he's great with kids) and came up with a few crazy weird faces! Thomas is still having fun making "pumpkin faces" several days later...its so nice that I can keep them for future Halloweens!

Okay, I have to devote a paragraph to my hubby. Ryan does not like dressing up for Halloween, and I've never been able to get him to do it in any previous year of our marriage. But somehow, miraculously, this year he agreed to wear a costume without much pushing from me. I was amazed! I had a certain costume suggestion for him and he went with it completely. And I mean, COMPLETELY. This is a miracle people...witness for yourselves! Introducing.......


Does he not look awesome? You can barely recognize him! I can't even tell you gleeful I was when I saw Ryan's finished transformation. I kept having these fits of giggles every time I looked at him! He not only put on the full costume with the hook, but he painted his hair and eyebrows black, wore a long, curly black wig, wore mascara to make his eyelashes black and put on a fake black mustache! And this was all really mostly his idea! When he agreed to the costume I wasn't going to push my luck and ask him to wear a wig too, but a couple days before Halloween he asked, "aren't you going to get me a wig?" I am simply amazed people! Everybody else at the party was stunned that Ryan dressed up so thoroughly, or at all! One of the activities of our party was a costume contest where everybody voted for their favorite costume, and Ryan won by a longshot! The prize was nothing terribly exciting...just a gift card to Walmart. And Ryan, well...he doesn't particularly love Walmart. I probably would have ended up being the one to spend it! So Ryan was nice enough to relinquish his prize to the runner-up, who happened to be Julia, the adorable midnight fairy! Make sure your mom and dad buy you something fun Julia! =)

It was cute when Thomas first saw Ryan. I think he was a little bit worried, even though he knew it was daddy. Ryan said something like "Argh, I've got ye now, Peter Pan!" and even though Ryan was just playing, I think it scared Thomas a tiny bit...Thomas said a little defensively, "No, I'n Peter Pan!" I think Ryan just looked so real as Captain Hook! I was so giddy about Ryan giving in to his childish side for an evening. And I think he really enjoyed dressing up too! He looked so awesome, I have to say I was a little envious! When he got too hot he took off the hat and wig and mustache, but his hair and eyebrows were painted black still, so I got to see a dark-haired version of my hubby a lot of the evening. He looked kinda cute! It was funny, everyone kept saying how weird it was to look at Ryan with dark hair and how they kept thinking he was some stranger! I dressed up too, as Tiger Lily, the indian princess from the Peter Pan story. Kinda funny...Ryan was Cap'n Hook, his wife was Tiger Lily, our son was Peter there's an interesting storyline you never heard before! =)

The party was a great success and I was so glad when all the preparations were done and we all just got to enjoy it and par-tay! I'm a total stress case when involved in planning any kind of gathering. Most of Ryan's siblings stayed way past midnight, and Thomas didn't get put to bed until 2 am!!! Ryan and I didn't wake up til 11 (a record for him, he never sleeps in) and Thomas didn't wake up til 11:30! It was nice to relax on Saturday and recover. Halloween week was so much fun but way more busy and crazy than usual! Now I can't believe that its November. I am very much looking forward to the holidays coming our way! =)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Little Traditions

Somehow over the last few months we've formed a fun, new little tradition...we always have tuna fish sandwiches for lunch after church on Sundays, and Ryan always makes 'em. He makes them way better than I can somehow, and they're quick and easy and we all love 'em! Its a small, simple tradition, but its been a lot of fun. Thomas always loves to stand on a chair at the counter and "help" Daddy, which mostly means begging for as many bites of tuna as he can get while Ryan mixes it up! (I do that too. Ryan has to fend us off so we can still manage to make sandwiches!) We eat them with our favorite "zesty dill" pickle slices and on the side, if we haven't already scarfed them all, we have Crunchy Cheetos (a recent addiction for all three of us!).

I love traditions, and I love to form new ones as our own little family. Both Ryan's family and mine have lots of traditions involving certain foods on certain holidays and occasions, and those occasions just aren't the same without those traditions! As Thanksgiving and Christmas are quickly approaching I'm getting excited for all the heritage and tradition they bring. There are so many memories Ryan and I have of all our families' traditions growing up and we love that those traditions continue, even though all our lives have changed so much and we don't get to see some of our parents and siblings that often. Even though we're parents ourselves now and on our own, those family traditions anchor us to all the years we spent with our parents and brothers and sisters in our childhood homes. I want to give memories just like those to our kids! I want to have all the old traditions, add some new ones, make them our own and enjoy them together through all the years while our children are growing up. Who knows if the "Tuna Sandwiches on Sunday" tradition will continue to last, but if it did it would be so fun to tell our kids someday, "We've been doing this since your oldest brother was 2!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


After a whole summer of talking about getting a bike trailer for Thomas, we finally got one last weekend! I know its kind of silly to buy one when there are so few weeks left of good biking weather before snow hits, but I have to admit its my fault that we didn't get one sooner. Ryan wanted to go buy one all summer, but I was afraid to get one at Walmart or Target, because I didn't think they had the mechanism that keeps the trailer from tipping over if the bike towing it tips over. I'd heard a few stories about that happening to people, and I was so worried when I thought about Ryan or I biffing it with Thomas in the trailer! So I wanted to look for one that I was sure had that safety feature, but bike trailers everywhere else, like at biking shops, were crazy expensive! When we were looking around I couldn't believe how much some of them cost! $400, $500, $800??? Nuts. No way were we spending that much! So I finally caved and we got one from Target, and it turns out that it does have something that prevents it from tipping over with the bike (even though it didn't mention that on the box or in the info I read online). It also converts into a stroller, which will come in handy! When we took Tommy out for his first ride in his trailer on Saturday evening, he loved it! He was so excited and he kept saying "Faster, Faster Daddy!" Its fun to have a way to go on family bike rides now. I just hope this good weather will keep up for a little while longer! And honey, I will freely admit, I really wish now that we had gotten one sooner. =)

A Lawyer in the Family

Last Thursday (Oct. 23rd) my oldest brother Josh was officially sworn in as an attorney by the Utah State Bar Association! I went up to the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City to see the ceremony with some of my family, and it was pretty exciting for all of us. Josh is what I call "the scholar" of our family...he got his undergrad in Political Science from BYU and then went to Case Western Law School in Cleveland, where he not only got his law degree but an MBA as well. Then of course he had to go on and prepare for the bar exam, which he took in July and passed. Needless to stay, he has spent countless hours of his life studying, studying, and studying some more! My whole family (and most of all Josh's wife, my sister-in-law Jenise!) is heralding the fact that Josh's years of sweat, blood and tears have finally paid off and he's reached this long-awaited goal. He's already got a great job as an administrator at a hospital in Blanding, Utah, but now he will be able to handle their legal work as well. He's also planning on starting his own legal practice there in Blanding. Way to go bro! I'm so happy for you and very proud. Let the lawyer jokes commence! =)

I brought Thomas to the ceremony with me, which was ok because there were a ton of families there with young children, but it was a little crazy! As soon as we arrived and Thomas saw his cousins he got so excited and started shouting...I was having to beg him to be quiet through the whole ceremony! There was plenty of noise from other kids too, but I swear I had the loudest kid in the room! After the ceremony we moved to a large foyer where they had some cookies & punch, and the kids were running all over the place together. It was a little hard to keep them from getting lost in the crowd, but it was fun watching them too...they are so cute together and don't see each other that often.

Afterwards we all headed down to the Cheesecake Factory in Murray for lunch. I've been to this restaurant several times in other states and I am in looooooove with it, but I had never yet gone to the one here in Utah since they've opened it...I keep hearing how ridiculously-crazy-long the waits are! (My Dad was a good guy and got there ahead of us all to wait). It was good eatin', but by the time we were done, Thomas was exhausted and screaming and ready to go! So goes the days when naps are missed. Ryan had wanted to be there for the ceremony and lunch, but was out of town working for the day. I missed him (especially during Thomas' meltdown!), but I'm glad I was able to be there for both of us and support Josh.

Congrats again, Josh. I hope you have a few more relaxing days ahead of you now!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Saturday before last (Oct. 18th) Ryan and I took Thomas to Cornbelly's, the local corn maze and carnival they have each fall leading up to Halloween. I had been worried we might not have many more warm days in October, but the weather was perfect! We had a jam-packed afternoon chasing Thomas from place to place. He found lots to do and it was fun watching him get so excited about everything. One of his favorite things was the rubber ducky races, where you use old-fashioned water pumps to push duckies down a pipe. He just kept going back to those! (He loved 'em last year too!) He did lots of climbing up ladders and going down slides, tried everything on the playground, played on the wooden tractor and train, dug around in the corn box (sand box with corn kernels instead of sand...I want one! Much less messy!), jumped with Daddy on the giant jumping pillow, and took a ride on the cow-train with me. We tried to take him through the kiddie-sized corn maze, but he lost interest after about 30 seconds. He was too busy to find his way out of a bunch o' corn! We stuffed ourselves too...even though its expensive, I love the food at carnival-type settings. We spoiled ourselves rotten and got a bunch of stuff to share: their big foot-long hot dog, a cheeseburger, chili in a bread bowl (mmm) and a couple giant chocolate chip cookies. After it got dark, we finished the night by taking a hayride. There were a few spooky mechanical creatures that were set up to pop out at you as you went along the hayride route, but thankfully Thomas was facing the other way and didn't really see any of the scary stuff. By the time we left my feet hurt and we were all pooped, but it was a great time spent together as a family and watching our little guy have fun!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lovely Autumn

Two weekends ago (Sat, Oct. 4th) we took our yearly drive up the Alpine Loop to see the fall colors in the mountains. It was very rainy and cold that day, but we decided to go anyway. Alpine Loop is very special to Ryan and I, since we have many special memories there from the time we were dating and engaged. Ryan proposed to me in a little meadow at the end of a trail off the Alpine Loop, on September 29th, 2001. Since then we've made it a tradition to drive up every Autumn, close to the time when we became engaged. In all those years, we have never made the drive while it was raining. It was beautiful! The aspens were the most vivid color of yellow I've ever seen them! We could see the first snow in the mountains and mist was swirling around the peaks. And the rain made everything smell wonderful! At first I had been disappointed that the weather was so bad for our trip, but we ended up being glad we got to experience Alpine Loop in a new way.

We have several spots and trails off the Alpine Loop that are special to us, but there is one where we go on our drive every year that is easy to get to and has a beautiful view of the valley and the mountains. We made sure to bundle up, and when we got out of the car Thomas had a great time running around and playing in the puddles. It was quite cold, but he didn't want to leave!

I love this tradition we've made for ourselves and I look forward to it every year. Its fun revisiting these special places and thinking of all of our memories there...and making new ones! And I simply love fall. I love the smell and the feeling when I step outside on an autumn day. There's something about this season that is so crisp and clean, refreshing and renewing...simply peaceful!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bloggin' For a Year!

Today marks the first birthday/anniversary of my blog! This is the most successful attempt I've made at any form of journaling since I was in elementary school! (One year for Christmas I got a little pink journal as a gift, and it was pre-dated for each day of the year...I did actually write in it each and every night before going to bed! I doubt I'll ever break that record!)

Blogging has been a fun experience and really motivates me to write frequently. I'm so glad that I'll be able to look back in years to come and read about all the things we did as a young family, and about what Thomas was like as a toddler. My only wish is that I had started much earlier!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crippled by the Kangaroo

A week ago yesterday (Sept. 22nd) I met my mom & sister-in-law Jeni at Kangaroo Zoo, where we had decided to take the kids to play. Its one of those fun warehouse-size places full of giant blow-up jumphouses and slides for kids, and I was so excited to take Thomas there and had wanted to for awhile now. I got there a bit later than my Mom & Jeni, and my nieces and nephews were running around having a fabulous time. Thomas was excited watching them, but a little intimidated to actually climb onto everything and play at first. So, I decided to climb up one of the slides and let him see me coming down, while he watched with my mom. I go to climb up this "ladder" and it turned out to be pretty hard! The "rungs" were just little steps that blow up with air along with the slide, and they squish when you step on them, plus we were required to wear socks, so I was slipping as I tried to climb. There were no hand holds to grap, and of course, the steps weren't really made for adult-sized feet anyway. The ladder was at least two or three feet taller than me, and since it was so slick to climb on I was trying to pull myself up the rest of the way with my arms. I realized I wasn't going to make it, so I just let go and slid back down. The fall was a little further than I had expected, and even though the surface below me was soft and bouncy and my fall should have been harmless, I landed, with all my weight, on my left foot. I felt a distinct "crunch" in my foot, and I knew it wasn't good. I pulled myself off the platform and just laid there while my niece went to get my mom.

I've twisted an ankle before, but this hurt more than anything I'd ever done to my foot or ankle, so I was worried. I hobbled over to the sitting area, and that's where I sat for the rest of the time we were there! My foot started swelling like crazy and it continued to hurt really bad, and I was terrified I had broken it. I've never broken a single bone! So I called my doctor's office and he was able to squeeze me in about two hours later. They X-rayed my ankle and thankfully it was only sprained and not broken, but the doctor said I had managed to sprain it pretty badly. He only put me in an ankle brace, thankfully not a boot, but I could not walk on it at all, so I went home with crutches. That was the first time I'd ever needed crutches in my life, and it was not fun! They tired me out so quickly, and I couldn't get anything done while I was on them.

Thankfully after a couple of days I could hobble around without crutches, and now I'm walking around just fine without even the brace. The doctor said it would feel much better after two weeks, but that it would be weak and total recovery would take 4-6 weeks. I have never been injured like this before and I'm not a very patient person when it comes to having health issues of any kind, so I'm pleased that my foot really is doing much better. I was picturing myself unable to go out and do anything that involved much walking for a month or more! I'm glad that I'm able to get around okay already...I went to the grocery store alone with Thomas last night and did just fine (walking slowly and carefully, of course). =) My foot is still quite swollen unless I elevate it, and it has crazy purple bruising everywhere. Ryan said I should post a photo of it on here, but I think I'll spare you all that picture...I'm grossed out enough by my big, fat, purple foot!

Since I was there for about an hour and a half before I went to the doctor, Thomas still got to play while my mom and Jeni watched him, but I was sad I couldn't see him running around and having fun after he got over his nervousness. He was having a great time with his cousins, and I tried hobbling after him a couple times with my camera, but it was too painful. I am so sad not to have pictures! I only managed to get this single photo of him coming down a slide. If only I had waited a little longer than 10 minutes to bust my foot!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Beautiful Zion

Last weekend (Sept. 18-21) we took our first trip ever to Zion National Park in southern Utah. Ryan has been wanting to go there for so long, and mentioned we should go sometime in September since the weather wouldn't be miserably hot. We kind of threw our trip together last minute, but it turned out great! We stayed in the town of Springdale, which is basically the southern entrance to the park and the gateway to Zion Canyon, where there are many of the most popular trails and monuments. We drove up on Thursday night and by the time we got there it was too late to do much of anything...we were pretty tired anyway, so we basically just crashed in our room.

On Friday we went to the Narrows. If you haven't heard of it, its basically hiking/wading through a shallow river that runs through a deep canyon. It was gorgeous! Thankfully the trail that took us to the entrance to the Narrows was paved and rather easy...Ryan carried Thomas on his back in a carrier much of the weekend, but it was nice to have a trail flat and easy enough for Thomas to walk on as much as he could. By the time we got to the entrance to the Narrows, Thomas was in the pack and had fallen asleep! It was so cute.

We were both nervous about Ryan hiking in the water with Thomas on his back and the possibility of him tripping on rocks, falling in the water, getting hurt, etc. while carrying Thomas. (Thomas is big and very heavy for his age, and I couldn't really carry him very far, so my big strong husband did all the kid-hauling during our hikes, bless his heart!) So, Ryan and I decided to take turns hiking into the Narrows by ourselves. There were lots of other people around, so if anything happened to us while we hiked we would by no means be alone. I went first, and then came back and stayed with Thomas, sleeping in his pack, while Ryan hiked in. Thomas woke up and played in the water for a little while before we left and he was loving it! He did not want to leave, especially because he found another little boy his age to play with. We loved the Narrows and were wishing we would have had the time and ability to hike further in, but it was still an awesome experience. It was fun having Thomas with us, but I think in the future I would definitely go to the Narrows without a kid in tow.

Going to the Narrows pretty much took up the whole of our day, so afterward we went back to the room and got cleaned up to go eat dinner. We took the shuttle into town and went to this great pizza/pasta place called Zion Pizza & Noodle Co. We had a fantastic pizza called the "Cholesterol Hiker"...attractive name, right? It was soooooo good was piled with different meats and cheeses and was exactly what we were in the mood for. We also had their really good garlic bread with ranch and chocolate cake. Man, did that food taste fabulous after a day of hiking!

I have to say something about the shuttle system they use in Zion. Years ago people used to be able to drive through the park in their personal vehicles, but it ended up being a huge problem because thousands of cars would drive through the park each day, but there were only about 400 parking spots throughout the Canyon that people had to fight for if they wanted to stop and hike the trails. That traffic was also doing nothing for the peace and beauty of the park. So, they implemented a shuttle system that stops at every major trailhead and runs every 7-8 minutes from early morning til late at night, so you can just hop on one without having to plan ahead. Now no one is allowed to drive a personal vehicle into the park, unless they're lucky enough to get lodging at the Zion Lodge (which is right in the middle of Zion Canyon), in which case they can drive to the Lodge. There is also a shuttle that runs from the park entrance into the city of Springdale and back, and it stops every few blocks near all the hotels and restaurants...that was nice because although we could take our own car into town, there's not a ton of parking. I think this was an ingenious system...I can't imagine having driven through the park in a long line of never ending traffic. And Thomas loved taking the shuttles...he was always talking about "getting on the bus!"

On Saturday we took the hike up to the Emerald Pools. There are three different pools...the lower, middle, and upper pools...all on the same trail, and we were told it was a little bit more of a difficult hike to get to the upper pools. We just decided to see how we felt and hike as far as we could. We ended up going all the way up, but the last push to the upper pools was definitely rough! It was basically climbing up rocks the whole way, and I was so impressed with Ryan's ability to do it with Thomas on his was something I definitely don't think Thomas could have handled on his own! I was so glad when we made it to the top, and the upper pool was in this nice, sheltered, quiet cove. We just sat and relaxed and ate and let Thomas play for awhile. Of course the hike down went much quicker, which I was grateful for!

After we finished that hike we probably still would have had time to go on another trail, but were too exhausted to get up the energy. So, we went back to our lodge and took Tommy swimming! We felt so bad because we had actually gotten all ready to go swimming the night before, and Thomas was all excited and pumped up about it, then when we got to the pool we found it had closed already! We really wanted to take him swimming sometime before we left. It was nice to play and relax in the pool and hot-tub, and we met an interesting couple from Australia/New York City. After swimming we got cleaned-up and were starving, so we decided to take our truck into town to find food, but within minutes of being put in his car seat Thomas fell asleep! We felt bad waking him up and didn't want to have to deal with a cranky, tired toddler at a restaurant, so we tried to think of a place we could get take-out. We were surprised to notice that Springdale didn't have a single fast food place of any kind! They were a decent sized little tourist town, but there wasn't one anywhere. We didn't know any of the other restaurants besides the pizza place from the night before, and I knew they did takeout, so we got another pizza and brought it back to our room. I thought Thomas might wake up when we tried to get him into his bed, but he was obviously just completely exhausted, because he was out for the rest of the night! Funny, since his daddy did most of his walking for him that day. =)

Sunday we checked out of our room and decided to go walk through the Zion Museum and take a super-short hike up to a popular viewing point before we left for home. We had thought about driving through some different areas of the park, but by the time we left it was about 4 pm, and we were so tired and just wanted to hurry and get our 4.5 hour drive over with. We arrived home exhausted and hungry, and so glad to be back!

One thing I have to pay homage to is the place we stayed. We are big fans of what we call "motel camping"...going somewhere where you're out in nature all day, but you can come back, shower, go out to a restaurant to eat, that kind of thing. So, when we decided to plan the trip we started trying to find a motel, cabin or somewhere to stay at, but when we first started looking, absolutely everything was booked. We realized that next time we should probably plan this kind of trip a little more in advance! But, being the tireless internet searcher, I lucked out and found a place that was brand stinking new and had literally just finished being constructed. It didn't really come up on any internet searches or have any advertising anywhere except this one random website I went to for a nearby theater in Springdale, where there was an announcement that it had just opened. It was called Cable Mountain Lodge, and since they weren't well-known yet they had some rooms available, and were also offering a big fat discount for the month of September trying to get people in. And this place was fancy! There was no way we ever would have paid to stay there without the discount. It was more of a condo-style complex with several different buildings. The furniture was all very elegant, we had a full kitchen stocked with dishes, silverware, and pots, a separate bedroom with a king bed, there were flat-screen TVs on the walls in both the living room and bedroom, there was a sleeper-sofa for Thomas, and the bathroom had a combination toilet/bidet! It was crazy! There was even a remote on the wall for it, and the toilet seat was heated! That was a little weird. I was wondering why they would spend so much to put in these weird, fancy toilets, and Ryan said it was probably for the international travelers who use bidets commonly in their home countries. (And there were certainly lots of internationals there...we heard so many people speaking in german, dutch, french, etc.) The location was incredibly convenient as well, because it was right next to the entrance to the park and Visitor Center, the shuttle access going into town, and a small market where we could buy snacks and food to take with us or eat in our room. Then of course there was the pool and hot tub. We'll probably never stay there again since its normally so expensive, but it was fabulous and we completely lucked out! It was so nice to have a spacious, comfy place to crash, clean-up and eat after a long tiring day. It made the weekend for me!

It was a fun trip and I was glad we were able to squeeze in one last excursion before summer was officially over. Summer definitely seemed to fly by quickly again this year! But I am excited for all the things fall brings.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Cold But Fun Labor Day!

For Labor Day we went up to a family get-together/potluck in Logan with my grandparents and relatives on my Dad's side. Most of my Kotter relatives live in Utah, so my Grandma and Grandpa Kotter are great at organizing these "mini-reunions" several times a year, usually around Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Christmas. Its great to see all my aunts, uncles, cousins and their kids. It was fun to watch all the little kids running around and playing together. Its so weird that I and all my cousins are parents now! I still remember being the kids!

We had the luncheon at Willow Park in Logan, a really nice park and playground adjacent to a little zoo. It was a perfect location, especially for the kids to have a place to play, but Labor Day turned out to be unbelievably cold! When Ryan and Thomas and I went to leave for Logan it was very cold, blustery and raining. When we got there it wasn't raining, but it was quite chilly and everyone was huddled up and wearing coats. Thankfully as the afternoon wore on the sun eventually came out and it warmed up a bit. We had a nice afternoon eating, catching up, chasing the kids around the playground and walking through Willow Zoo. It was a small zoo with mostly lots of different kinds of birds, but they did have a few monkeys, some bobcats, coyotes and elk. Thomas enjoyed seeing all the animals and was so cute pal-ing around with his cousin Aiden. Tommy kept insisting that Aiden hold his hand as they walked along through the zoo and it was so cute! I love seeing Thomas make buddies with his cousins.

One silly thing was that Thomas and some of the kids ended up spending a lot of their time playing in the drinking fountain, filling up and dumping out cups of water. Thomas got soaked! It was a good thing I brought extra clothes, thinking he might get wet or dirty playing in the rain or mud!

It turned out to be a lovely afternoon and it was great to see my family. I was pleased at how many people turned up despite the dreary (at first) weather! Here's a photo of my grandparents, Cleon and Joyce Kotter. They are wonderful people and I love them so much!

Back from Hiatus

I haven't really been 'round these parts much for over a month now! I guess I've just been lazy. But I have lots to catch up on from September so I'm getting back to work! Its so much easier just to keep up with stuff, one post at a time, so I'll be trying to get back into the groove. And my blog looks totally boring right now...I need to find a pretty autumn design. I hope you're all enjoying the beginning of this fabulous season! I'm already excited about Halloween!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Love This Place!

Yesterday I went to IKEA for the first time ever! They opened a store in nearby Draper over a year ago. I've heard so much about it and have been wanting to go forever! So I finally made plans and went with my mom, who had been there was nice to have her for a "guide." =)

And I was toddler-free, again! 4 times in a week and a half! It will definitely be hard to go back to the normal way of life...thanks so much to Jared, my little bro, for watching Thomas!

As soon as we walked into IKEA I loved it...the atmosphere is so cool, and it makes you feel hip just being there. =) The first stop we made was at the eatery because we were both starving. The food was really good...I got pasta with their yummy meatballs and a fabulous apple-pie type dessert with vanilla sauce....mmmmm. We got all fueled up to shop! I couldn't wait to go to the children's section, because I'm starting to get really excited about redecorating Tommy's room once he moves into a "big boy" bed sometime in the near future. They have so much cute stuff for kids! I think I could've spent an hour or two in that section alone!

As we looked at everything, there was so much furniture I was wishing I could buy! Its funny, because I'm not that into the modern/contemporary style that makes up most of everything at IKEA... my tastes are generally more traditional ...but I still found lots of stuff that I loved! I ended up getting two really inexpensive, cute black metal tables to use as nightstands, and a couple other cheap little odds and ends. I can't wait to go back again, especially when Tommy's room is ready for a makeover!