Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Home Sweet Home, Finally!

I'm excited to announce that over Memorial Day weekend we finally moved into our new home! It is wonderful to finally be here and for all the waiting to be over. We have been in the building process for over a year (we got our lot in March of 2007!) and it was starting to feel like we would never be done. Now that we are finally moved in it feels a little surreal...Ryan and I keep looking around and telling each other we can't believe this is actually our house and we live here now! I absolutely love our home...its really a dream come true for both me and Ryan.

I'm so grateful for my wonderful husband. He has worked tirelessly...nights, weekends, every spare second...for a very long time, both in his regular job and as the general contractor for our house, in order to provide such an awesome home for his family. Ryan is the hardest working man I've ever known and I want to thank him for all he does for us...he is the whole reason this dream became a reality. I love you so much Ryan!

We also really love our new town of Saratoga Springs. We are so lucky to have a gorgeous view of Utah Lake, the Wasatch Mountains, and the city lights across the lake. We can even see the Mount Timpanogos temple, where we were married! Every day and night is beautiful here. Ryan had Memorial Day off and we were at home most of the day just unpacking and winding down from the big move. It was raining all day, but we thought it was actually very of those cozy, comforting kind of rainy days. We turned on the fireplace and enjoyed looking out over the valley. In the evening we decided to go out to dinner, and as we drove we saw an awesome double rainbow over the whole was gorgeous and I was so sad that I didn't have my camera!

So, it was a great weekend, and I am so happy to be in my home sweet home!

Some of our family and friends have said they want to see photos of the house, so here's a slideshow of pictures that were taken before we moved in, when the house was clean and there weren't boxes everywhere. I'm so excited to get all unpacked and start decorating! =)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hometown Pride

Best Life Magazine recently published an article where they researched and created a list of "The 100 Best Places to Raise a Family." Guess what city was #3?

My hometown, Billings, Montana!

I always thought Billings was a great place to grow up, but I have to admit, this surprised me! So many people think Montana is full of nothing but small, rural towns with nothing to offer. This article makes me so proud that someone is recognizing Billings for what a great place it is. I always felt it was just a small enough town to feel cozy in, but large enough (the largest city in Montana, actually, at 100,000 people) that there were things to do. Billings also felt very safe and clean to me, and if you love any kind of outdoor sports and activities, its the place to be. I went to a newer high school where I feel I got a great education and where there were good teachers that I remain friends with to this day. The church members there were wonderful, and we were lucky enough to have an LDS temple built in Billings and dedicated when I was a senior. I was also fortunate to live in a beautiful neighborhood on the quieter end of town, one mile outside city limits. People had one-acre yards, there was no traffic, and the sunsets were some of the most beautiful I ever remember seeing. I'll never forget all the evenings I spent sitting on our trampoline watching the sun go down.

This article made me realize what a lucky girl I was to be raised in a good town...though my parents no longer live in Billings, I miss going there and will always have a special affection for the place where I grew up!

If you want to see the rest of the top 100, here's the link to the article.

At the bottom of the article is another link, "Video: Best cities to raise kids," where you can watch Al Roker interviewing one of the editors of Best Life Magazine about the top 7 cities. So crazy that my little hometown in Montana is up there along with places like San Diego, California and Honolulu, Hawaii!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tommy is Twenty-Two!

...Months, that is, as of last Saturday, May 10th. I can't believe it! I know there is no more cliche phrase within the vocabulary of motherhood, but how did my baby grow up so fast? This age freaks me out because it is so close to two! 18, 19, and even 20 months just didn't sound so old! During those ages, when people at the store or out in public would ask me how old Thomas was, I used to say exactly how many months. But now I've just started saying "He'll be two in July." That freaks me out! I am feeling a little frantic that so many months of Thomas' life have slipped through my fingers already, but the one comforting thing is that even though he's quickly moving away from being a baby, I know he will still be "little" for a long time. There will be so many fun phases to experience with him as he turns 2, then 3 and 4 and so on. And, there's always having another baby, right? =)

I started writing an entry about all the things Thomas has been up to for the last while, but it got so incredibly long I thought it would be overwhelming to post here! So, I'm saving that entry elsewhere for my personal journal, and for my blog I thought I'd shorten it into a fun little list. ('Cause I know there are Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles out there who don't mind reading all about Tommy! =)


  • Looks adorable in this photo. It was taken at Christmastime, right before he turned 18 months. He looks so handsome and grown-up!

  • Is talk, talk, talking, all the time. He's such a smartie...He learns new words every day and speaks some short phrases and sentences too. I can tell he is so excited that he is able to communicate with us easier about what he wants and needs, and we're excited too!

  • Is still growing up so big and tall. I love that! His pediatrician always says what a solid, healthy boy he is. That's what a momma wants to hear!

  • Is entering into the "I wanna do it myself!" stage. His phrase for this right now is "Do it!" usually said loudly several times. He also loves trying to fix things, and I love the way he says "Fick sit!"
  • Is great at helping with little chores. He loves to put things in the trash can, "sweeping," (basically just pushing the broom around), helping put laundry in the washer and dryer and taking it out again, and has been great about learning to help put away his toys and things. Just the other day before I put him down for a nap, he looked around at all his toys and blocks and said "Keen-up?" So cute!

  • Is getting all four of his 2-year molars in at once...not fun. We didn't discover this until he started acting unusually tired for a few days, then came down with a fever. One night Ryan went to brush Thomas' teeth and noticed he had one more molar on one side on the bottom than the other. He had been teething awhile and we didn't even realize! Poor kid.

  • Is defiant and naughty sometimes...of course he is, he's almost two! Our main way of disciplining after any naughty behavior is a calm, serious talk, taking away the toy or item in question if we need to, and then he has to give us a kiss. Its pretty cute, because often he'll do something naughty and then immediately he'll go to give us a kiss before we even say something!

  • Loves to play outside! In the driveway, at the park, on the tramp, with the dog, it doesn't matter, he just wants to be out! I always feel bad when its time to take him inside, he throws a fit and I practically have to wrestle him to keep him from squirming out of my arms!

  • Loves anything he can ride on...scooters, cars, bikes. I want to get him a little bike soon, because he's always trying to climb onto the big ones or onto other kids' bikes!

  • Likes putting on our shoes and walking around in them boots, snow boots, sneakers...he looks like he's got clown shoes on in this photo, with those little legs sticking out! Cutie.

  • Is affectionate and sweet and adorable. I love Thomas with all of my heart and couldn't imagine life without him!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lucky Girl

I'm excited to announce that there is a brand new member of the Kotter Family...Lucky the Puppy!

My 12-year-old brother Jared has been begging my parents for a dog for awhile now, and when my oldest brother Josh called from Blanding saying he knew someone giving away purebred lab puppies for free (!), my parents finally caved and decided to get one. Josh and his family arrived around 9 last Friday night for a weekend visit, and we were all so excited to see the little pup! She is absolutely adorable! Its so fun to play with her and watch her run and jump around in that cute puppy way. Though she definitely does all the normal naughty puppy things, I think Lucky is very sweet and not quite as rambunctious as some other puppies might be. She loves to play tug-of-war, nap in the grass (so cute!), and likes to be held and petted a lot, which I love! It won't be long before she'll be way too big to hold anymore, so we're enjoying her cute puppyness as much as we can while it lasts!

My family has a tradition of always having a black lab for our family dog. We've had quite a few over the years...Sadie was around when I was really little and I don't really have any memory of her. Sailor was the dog I grew up with and absolutely loved...he was actually a black lab, Australian shepherd and blue healer mix (but he just looked like a shorter, fatter black lab.) Then there was Shiloh, who we only had for a short time because he ran away. Then there was our last dog, our beloved Murphy. Murphy was technically my second youngest brother Travis' dog, but we all loved him so much. He was so sweet and mild-mannered. He eventually grew very old and sick, and in August of last year the family all agreed it was time to put him to sleep. It was hard on all of us, but he was suffering so much, we were glad to know that he was ok now. Maybe this is super-corny, but I definitely think we'll see him again someday, and our other dogs too...I totally believe all dogs go to Heaven!

We're so happy to have a family dog again! It will be so fun to watch Lucky grow up with all the grandkids and see the cute memories they'll make together. Though I don't think Ryan and I are ready for a dog of our own right now, I can't wait til we get one someday! I definitely want a lab, but I'm thinking yellow. I have always loved our black labs and they are really just as cute, but I am such a sucker for those little yellow lab puppies!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Kindermusik Fun

Thomas and I went to our last Kindermusik class of the semester last Tuesday...I'm so sad its over! We started the class in January, and it has been such a fun experience! If you haven't heard of Kindermusik, its basically a playgroup-type setting where you get together with other parents and kids of similar ages at a qualified Kindermusik instructor's studio or home and have a fun 45 minutes or so of listening to music while dancing, singing along, playing games with actions or with props (like balls, hula hoops, colored scarves, etc.), or playing simple instruments. We were also given several storybooks that went along with the theme of the class and would have storytime some weeks as well. Every class is different depending on what age group your child is in. Thomas' class was for 18 months - 3 years, and he loved being around all the other kids! He really enjoys playing with other children and I want to be better at setting up playdates and opportunities for him to play and interact with other kids.

Helping Clean Up

How many can I hold?

One thing that surprised me while taking the class was how much Thomas just wanted to watch what was going on! At home he loves to dance and move to music, and I was totally expecting him to be that way when we started the class, but I found he was usually more interested in watching and observing the other kids a lot of the time. I guess its not that surprising because he's always been very curious and observant, especially when he's put into a new situation. One thing I really appreciate is that Kindermusik teaches that all children have different learning styles, and that even if your child is not as involved in certain activities in the ways you expect them to be, or in the ways the other kids are, there's nothing wrong with that...they are still learning just as much, just in their own way.

The class we were in this semester had a theme of "Away We Go!" and focused a lot on songs and games involved with planes, trains, and automobiles. Thomas really enjoyed the class and loved going each week! We were given a kit at the beginning of the semester (in the cutest train-shaped box!) with materials including all the music from the class, and we would listen to the songs all during the week. Then every Monday night and Tuesday morning I would get Thomas pumped up by asking him "Are you excited to go to Kindermusik? Do you want to go dance and sing and see the other kids and Miss Julee?" and he would get so excited, it was so cute! We absolutely loved our teacher, Miss Julee...she was so sweet with all the kids and knew everyone's names by the end of the very first class. Although most of the activities are done with the parent and child together, Julee often found chances to interact with each of the kids one-on-one, and Thomas really liked her. For the last class Julee set up a cute little obstacle course for the kids, and then we did some of the usual songs and games and had treats at the end. We were also invited to bring along a guest, so my mom came with us...she had come with us once before too, and has so much fun watching Thomas playing and dancing and running around.

I'm very sad because we probably won't be going back to Julee's studio...its in Provo, and since we are moving to Saratoga Springs within the next week or two (YAY!) I don't really want to have to commute in. When I signed up for the class in January it was right before we sold our Provo house, and when we closed on the sale and moved to my parents' in Spanish Fork I had to start driving into class for the majority of the semester. It was a little hard, and we were always late! I've found a couple of Kindermusik instructors in Lehi and we will probably sign up for a summer class with one of them...its much closer and I definitely want to continue with Kindermusik!

Music is so important to me, and I really want my children to have an appreciation for, knowledge of and love for music. I think these classes are the perfect way to introduce children to learning about music in a fun, no-pressure way. There are classes for children clear up to 7 years old, which I think is a great alternative to starting children playing an instrument when they are really young. I've even thought I might like to qualify to become a Kindermusik instructor someday...I love music so much and think it would be a wonderful opportunity to teach children, while doing something totally flexible where I'd be able to make my own schedule and teach as much or as little as I wanted. If you want to find out more about Kindermusik, click here to go to their website. If you are in the Provo area and want to know more about Julee's studio, her website is

Thomas with Miss Julee
So, it was a fun semester and I look forward to starting a new class! I love doing these kinds of activities with Thomas. I am so excited for all the things we are planning to do this summer! We're going to take a parent-child swim class (which we did last year and loved!) and we'll definitely be taking some trips to the Zoo, to Farm Country and the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point, and as much fun stuff as we can squeeze in! I love my little guy and all the fun he brings into my life...with him I can be the kid I really am at heart! =)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Laidlaw Family Weekend

Last weekend we were excited to see Ryan's dad and mom, Glenn and Kathy, who came down to Salt Lake City from Wyoming for a nursing conference Kathy was teaching at. Ryan and three of his four siblings live in the Utah County area, so when his parents come into town we always take the chance to get all of us together. On Saturday night some of us met up at the Macaroni Grill, a family favorite, and had a fabulous Italian dinner. This was a real treat because Ryan and I rarely go out to eat anymore with such a rambunctious toddler...Thomas doesn't usually have the patience to last through a whole meal at a sit-down restaurant, but when we have lots of other company with us to distract him he is so much calmer and happier! Sunday night we all met up again at Sara & Jon's house in American Fork, and just hung out and ate pizza from Costco. Then Monday night we got together at Nathan & Fabi's in Payson, where Fabi made a yummy meal of bratwurst sausages, empanadas, potatoes and salad.

It was so fun to watch Thomas with his one Laidlaw cousin so far, Nathan & Fabi's daughter Julia, who is 3. Thomas & Julia are so cute together and really enjoy seeing each other and playing together. When we drove up in front of Nate & Fabi's house Monday night, Julia was so excited and impatient to see him she ran out the door calling "Tomas! Tomas!" Fabi is originally from Argentina & Nate served a Spanish-speaking mission to the Dominican Republic, so they have taught Julia both Spanish and English...they all call Thomas "Toh-MAHS," the Spanish version of his name, and I think its so cute! One funny thing is, Thomas is a year and a half younger than Julia, but he is only a couple of inches shorter than her, and we're pretty sure he weighs more than she does! He's such a big, tall boy, I love it. =)

So, three good meals and three great nights of hanging out with family! I love all my in-laws and I am always reminding myself how blessed and lucky I was to marry into such a wonderful family!