Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Holidays

In an attempt to appease my guilt for being an awful blogger these last months (and the majority of the year, really), I'm making a last-ditch effort to (quickly!) recap The Holidays...which I have officially decided includes Halloween too (I love things that come in threes anyway!).

Christmas was busy, busy, busy! Man, did I start late this year. In September I kept talking about how I was going to get started early, I wasn't going to wait too long and then get stressed this year, and then WHAM! it was after Thanksgiving and I hadn't done hardly a thing. And going out shopping with two little guys is tough for me when its not Christmas! saved my bacon!

When we took the boys to see Santa a few days before Christmas I totally thought Tommy would love it (cause he always has!) and Jacob would cry. Thomas was so excited, but he had a last minute case of the nerves when it came his turn and absolutely refused to sit on Santa's lap. He was worried that he wouldn't get the toys he wanted without telling Santa, so he begged me to tell Santa his wish list for him. Jacob was completely fascinated with the white-bearded man and made nary a peep of nervousness! And we coaxed Tommy into sitting next to Santa on a rocking horse, so we still got a cute photo!

We celebrated Christmas at my parent's house this year, just down the road 45 minutes from us. It was particularly wonderful because all of my brothers and their families were there. It was definitely a crazy household with eight kids aged eight and under running around, but I love my family and it was so fabulous to have us all happens very rarely these days. One of my favorite things was seeing how my older brothers and I are now the ones playing Santa and making Christmas magic for our kids...nothing is more fun then seeing how excited your own child is for Christmas! On the big morning my parents' living room was a lovely explosion of boxes and wrapping paper! Though I always think its a little sad when that glorious, gorgeous pile of gifts under the tree is gone...

Jacob was super cuuuute on his first Christmas. And Tommy was psyched to get his remote control dinosaur "Spike"...He'd been talking about him for months!

We spent Thanksgiving with Ryan's family in Wyoming. I love my "second family," and every single one of his siblings was able to come this year, which is rare for his family too.

It was great to be back to visit his childhood had been a while since we'd headed up to good ole Wyoming, and I really enjoy spending time up there. Probably my favorite part of Thanksgiving with the Laidlaws is their tradition of going up into the mountains to cut down Christmas trees. We always make a fire, have hot dogs and hot chocolate, and take turns riding the four-wheelers around...Tommy loved it and Jacob looked so dang cute all bundled up! We found ourselves a nice tall tree for our vaulted living room, and we got it for only $10! Woohoo! (Well, on second thought, it was free, because Ryan's dad bought all the tree tags...Thanks Glenn!!!)

Its also fun seeing how the Laidlaw clan is growing. For quite awhile the only two grandkids were our Tommy and his cousin Julia, daughter of Ryan's older brother Nathan and his wife Fabiana. This Thanksgiving there were two new babies, our Jacob and Julia's baby brother Misael, and now Ryan's brother Eric and his wife Hayley are expecting their first in February (a girl!), and Ryan's sister Melissa and her husband Seth are expecting their first in May (a boy!)! So it will be cool seeing the Laidlaw grandkid quotient triple in just over a year! Holidays at Grandma and Grandpa Laidlaw's house are going to start getting a lot noisier! ;)

On to Halloween...I love Halloween more every year! Last year I converted Ryan to the fun of wearing a costume (he made a fabulous Captain Hook) and he went all out this year as another dashing pirate...Jack Sparrow! Seriously, I was a little jealous of his costume's awesomeness. I was a glam Ladybug, and decided that wigs = fun! Tommy was an adorable Buzz Lightyear, and Jacob was a little Sheriff Woody to match.

We went to our ward's Trunk 'R' Treat the night before Halloween, where everyone said they hardly recognized Ryan and I, and I tried not to whap everybody accidentally with my wings! (Wings = also fun!) On the "Big Night" we had all our fam over for a little shindig at our house. We ate chili, decorated cookies, watched "Casper", and Tommy made his first ever trick-or-treating expedition to actual houses...three houses, to be exact! (We don't have many neighbors in our part of the subdivision yet. For that same reason we didn't get many trick-or-treaters either, which had me a little bummed. "C'mon kids!!!" I wanted to run outside and yell down the hill. "I buy the good candy!!!")

That was our trifecta of holiday fabulousness! =)


Sunday, October 25, 2009

To Sweet Baby Jake

Oh my beautiful little baby boy. You have quickly, ever too quickly reached 6 months old. Halfway to your first birthday, scares me. The time has evaporated, moved forward with a pace so unforgivingly fast its baffling. So many, many small and precious moments and milestones have gone by and I haven't been as diligent as I wish I would have at writing about them all. I love you with all my heart and all I can say is that though reflecting on my life with you is important, living it with you is the most important, and I am trying so hard to be good at that part at least!

So much seems to have changed with you in the last month or so. I remember when you turned 2 months, you were so different all of a sudden. The newborn disappeared, you smiled, you cooed, and I fell hard in love (even moreso than I already was). Now its happening again. You're so expressive...always smiling, always giggling, always curious and watching and babbling. You're an ambitious little explorer, so eager to move around and to grasp at everything around you. That immobile baby is gone forever!

You're rolling all over the place and scooting now too, and between the two you get around pretty well...I don't put you down on the carpet for long before you're across the room and bumping into furniture. Whenever you see something interesting to you, you work ever so hard to get to it, like your big brothers' blocks...we have to be extra careful you don't get his smaller toys into your mouth. For this reason you are put down a lot less lately! I haven't seen you work on getting that little bum up in the air really yet, but I'm sure it won't be long before you're crawling and cruising all over the place! Oy. Time for Daddy and I to babyproof and get a gate for the stairs.

You seem to be getting strong little baby abs and can pull yourself about halfway to a sitting position, but you're not super ambitious about sitting up on your own just yet...I think you're more interested in crawling. I sit you up in "tripod" mode sometimes, with your arms in front of you, but you topple over after a few seconds. I got you one of those thingies to help you sit up, a Bumbo, thinking you would love it. Yeah, not so arch your back and cry after a minute or two. You're not a big fan of it just yet. Its ok, you'll be sitting up before long. Mommy's not worried at all. =)

The times you do try hardest to sit up is when we put you in your bouncy chair or swing....those are becoming old hat and you quickly become impatient with them now. Mommy is thinking I'll take the hint and put those away in the next day or two. (Which is ok because between you and your brother our living room is overrun with baby and kid stuff! Although I'm a little sad to part with your used to love it and it was the perfect, safe, cozy spot to put you where I could see you while I did things around the house.)

You looooove to stand up. You've always had these strong little legs and even from very early on you liked to be held in a standing position. You plant those little feet and stand up straight and tall, like you're standing at attention...its cuuuuute. I put you in your big brother's old Exersaucer for the first time a few weeks ago. WHOA, that was a lot of stuff for you to look at, wasn't it? You're really starting to get excited about toys now (*so cute), especially anything that rattles or is crinkly or chewable, but after a short while in the Exersaucer all those noisy gadgets and toys are a little too much for you, aren't they? You're still a little wobbly in it too, so I think that makes you feel insecure. It'll grow on you!

You discovered your toes quite awhile ago now and you're always fiddling with them. I love it, oh I love it! I don't know why simply watching you grab your toes and trying to get them into your mouth is so delightful, but it just is. I can barely get your diapers changed anymore because you're always trying to pull your little legs up and get ahold of those toes!

You have big time food envy, oh my goodness. When you watch me and Daddy and your big brother eat we can see the longing in your eyes....I've started feeling mean eating in front of you. If we hold you while we eat you sometimes lunge for whatever we're stuffing in our mouths, or for those red plastic cups we often drink out think those are way interesting! Earlier today you flailed wildly after Daddy's cup and knocked it right out of his hands, sending red Crystal Light flying everywhere (including all over Daddy and yourself!) Pretty soon Mommy will give you some rice cereal or baby food to try. (Mommy doesn't think that stuff is all that impressive, but who knows, you might love it!)

None of your teeth have made their big appearance yet, but we can kind of see those two little bottom teeth lurking under the surface. There have been days and phases where you've been cranky and gnawing on your hands and drooling like crazy, and an experimental dab of Orajel on your gums would calm you right down. So, I suspect those toofers are coming in...that's no fun, huh bud? One or two nights last week you weren't sleeping so well because I think your gums hurt, and I felt bad for you. (And for me. I was tired.)

Speaking of're not a terrible sleeper, not a great sleeper, but somewhere in between. You had me fooled awhile back when you slept almost clear through the night a few times, except for maybe one feeding around 4 or 5 am...I was hoping that would become habit, but alas, you're still waking up several times in the night these days. Thankfully you fall right back to sleep after a diaper change and a quick feeding. Sometimes I'm so tired and you're so snuggly, I fall asleep with you in the glider for the rest of the night, until you either wake up again or daylight starts to creep through your windows! I think I need a less comfortable glider. (Or, you could start sleeping through the night! Please oh please?!)

You are such a sweet baby. Really, so sweet...everyone thinks so! You're generally happy except when you have good reason not to be: when you're hungry or possibly teething or tired or in need of a diaper change. Its a very rare thing for you to be fussy without a good explanation. You're easy, just like your big brother was. Boy, am I lucky to have such sweet, well-tempered babies! Or, as I remind myself, not just lucky, blessed.

You're so handsome these days (you always were, but moreso than ever!). We're pretty sure your eyes will be brown like your big brother, though sometimes we detect a hint of green. Your hair is turning blonder and getting longer. But don't worry, I won't be cutting off any of your sweet baby locks anytime soon. You don't have those funny long wispies that your brother did. Yet. Your bald spot on the back of your head (which was never really that bald) is growing in again and you have a long fringe of dark hair at the nape of your neck, just like your big brother did. You look more and more like him all the time...when I look at photos of you lately they look like they could be of your big brother!

You're a big each of your doctor's appointments you've usually measured somewhere in either the 80th or 90th percentiles for height and weight. Your 6-month appointment is in a couple of days and I'm very excited to see how much you've grown! ***Post Edit: You were 17 lbs 13 oz (57th percentile) and 27.5 in long (84th percentile). The doctor said you are "tall and husky" and that your growth is "phenomenal." Yay for a big healthy boy!

Boy are you a talker. You have definitely discovered how entertaining your voice can be! Sometimes you make low growling noises, sometimes you blow raspberries when you're bored or impatient or mad, and sometimes you screech for fun. Seriously baby, you can drown out the TV. But I love listening to you experiment with your little voice.

Your big brother is very, very interesting to you. No matter how fussy you may be, if I lay you next to him for story time, you don't make a peep except to giggle. (Those story times with you and Tommy are some of my favorite really watch me and study my face while I read.) I think you really love your big brother. And I know he really loves you. He is so sweet to you and is always delighted in all the cute things you do, just like mommy and daddy. He always says, "Let me see that boy!" and loves to hold you, though he asks me to take you back pretty quickly these days because you are heavy! He loves trying to make you giggle and was pretty pleased when he made you laugh a week or two ago by playing "Peek-a-Boo!" I can't wait to see the good friends and playmates you two will become.

Other random tidbits...I would say you're a binky baby, but not quite so much so as your brother was. You always fiddle with your binkie, popping it in and out all the time. I think its sooooooo cute. You are incredibly curious about remote controls and calculators right now. What is it about boys and buttons? And this last month you took your first trip to the Zoo and came on your first sight-seeing trip up the Alpine Loop with us....we go every year in late September or early October. I was so excited to put you in the adorable "Gnome Sweater" that I got as a gift for your brother. Beyond cute.

I love you little baby, more than anything and everything! You are my beautiful, beloved boy and are nothing less than an angel sent to bless my life. You make me want to be stronger, work harder, and see life in a sweeter light. Just like the song says, I will always, always love you.

A Beautiful Song for a Beautiful Boy

"In My Arms"
by Plumb

Your baby blues
so full of wonder
Your curly cues
your contagious smile
And as i watch
you start to grow up
All i can do is hold you tight

clouds will rage and
storms will race in
but you will be safe
in my arms
Rains will pour down
waves will crash all around
but you will be safe
in my arms

Story books are full of fairy tales
of kings and queens
and the bluest skies
My heart is torn
just in knowing
you'll someday see
the truth from lies

When the
clouds will rage and
storms will race in
but you will be safe
in my arms
Rains will pour down
waves will crash all around
but you will be safe
in my arms

Castles they might crumble
dreams may not come true
but you are never all alone
because I will always
always love you

When the
clouds will rage and
storms will race in
but you will be safe
in my arms
Rains will pour down
waves will crash all around
But you will be safe
in my arms

in my arms

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A TidBit from Tommy

One day last week I chose to make a very rare excursion away from the house with both children, by myself.

A very big deal. I avoid going out while outnumbered as much as possible.

But I just had to get out of the house. I'm practically a hermit anymore, but I had hit my limit. It was one of those days that I didn't care how difficult it would be with both kids.

I just had to get out.

Getting ready took forever, like it always does for such trips. I hadn't even left yet and was getting a little exasperated and impatient with all the tasks still at hand. Thomas sensed my frustration and said "Mommy, you gotta go insane now!" (Or something of the like).

My child knows me all too well. I apparently use that phrase a lot.

So, "Yes!" I said, "I'm going insane!"

And my three-year-old asked, hopefully and sincerely, with a face full of innocence...

"Can I come?"


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2 Years and Counting...

...that I have been blogging.

Woohoo, happy birthday blog!
(well, happy belated birthday...October 2nd was the big day.)

Wow, 2 years go by fast.

I was looking back through many of my old posts and thinking,

1. How adorable my little Tommy is, and how much he has changed in these couple dozen months.

2. How absolutely rotten I have been at blogging during 2009.

I keep trying to talk myself into giving myself a break about #2, because I was busy being pregnant (and crazy about nesting) and then had my 2nd baby in April, which has obviously made life much more busy.

But that makes me all the more much has happened, and I've been awful about recording it all. I've written so little about sweet baby Jacob on here in his first 5 months. I keep thinking I can catch up somehow, but time is scarce these days, especially uninterrupted time to get to the computer and write. (And downloading/going through my kajillion photos is a whole 'nother story.)

Ah, well. That's one thing I am consistently trying to teach myself these days...that sometimes (or most times, rather), it can't all be done.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

An Anniversary

We had planned on taking a drive up Provo Canyon that Saturday, to see glorious Autumn and the changes it was bringing to the trees on the mountain. That mountain had become a special place for us, already full of memories.

I suspected the possibility, but not too seriously.

We followed the winding road up toward the top, talking and admiring the beauty all around us. We stopped at one of the turnouts, and after a bit of kissing in the car, we got out for a little hike.

The trail wasn't the easiest, but I happily followed him, taking careful steps down a steep incline until we ended up in a clearing of tall grass.

He stopped to hug me. It seemed strangely deliberate, but I obliged of course.

And then, as we embraced I looked over his shoulder, and there it was...

A red rose, lying in the tall grass.

My first thought? "Oh no. We've happened upon someone else's romantic gesture."

And then it dawned on me.

He was smiling. I picked up the rose. A long, thin piece of paper was curled and tucked carefully into the bloom. Written on it was one of our special memories together.

He led me along a trail through the tall grass, and I kept finding them, red rose after red rose, all with a note, a memory.

I was beginning to cry.

After passing through a gathering of trees there was another clearing, looking out over the hills and valleys. It was dusk. It was beautiful.

There stood a table with a white cloth and a vase full of more roses. Red, and one white rose in the center.

That rose held my last note...a wish that today would be one of the most beloved memories of our lives.

And then Ryan dropped to one knee, held out a ring and asked me the question that changed my life forever. I cried, dropped to my knees too, and said yes without a single doubt in my mind.

8 years ago today.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lovable, Imaginary Blokes

The other day I stayed up late into the evening to watch the lovely and gloriously long film featuring the gentleman above. And then today I watched it again, but fast-forwarded through to my favorite parts.

It was a joyous thing.

Oh, Mr. Darcy.

Do you ever feel sad that fictional characters are...fictional? Its easy to convince myself the man might have actually existed when his story is set 200 years ago and half a world away. But the sad truth is that a Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley never wooed a Miss Elizabeth Bennet. He is the captivating figment of a brilliant woman's imagination, and nothing more.

Fiction breaks our hearts. Why do we like fiction? Its lies, all lies I say! =)

Nonetheless, I'm becoming more and more impatient for a new film featuring a fictional literary heartthrob from our generation, represented by the gentleman below. Mock me if you will, but I cannot wait!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Always Remember

Today is a busy day like any other day. I had the luck of getting both of my boys napping at the same time and I have a million things I could be doing, but there's a part of me that feels it would be wrong not to acknowledge the significance of this day.

I still find it surreal that such a horrifying and atrocious act of terrorism happened 8 years ago today. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard of the events of that morning. I was in college and not yet married, and I was driving in my car. I flipped on the radio for some music and every station was people talking animatedly. When I began to gather what they were talking about, I couldn't believe was like "War of the Worlds." It didn't seem like it could be real. As soon as I arrived home at my apartment, I ran inside and turned the TV on, yelling for my roommates to come and watch. I was incredulous. I didn't know anybody in New York, but one of my roommates did, and we were terrified for her...she spent the day frantically trying to reach family members and friends while the rest of us were glued to the TV. The rest of the day is a blur to me, but I'm sure I cried.

It baffles me how anyone could commit such an awful crime against humanity. As I sat watching a documentary about 9/11 two days ago, the same feelings of incredulity washed through me as the footage flashed before my eyes again. I cried again. I cried, thinking about how people in those towers phoned their spouses and families to say goodbye, knowing they would die. Thinking about the people who discovered their loved ones were on one of the highjacked planes, and finding out they had died from a newscast. Thinking about the heroic firefighters and so many others who rushed into those buildings to save people, not knowing they were doomed to collapse, and lost their own lives. Thinking about the hundreds and hundreds of missing people flyers, whose families could only hope and pray for the unlikely chance that they were alive. So much loss, so much grief. I give my love and condolences to all those who suffered the loss of friends and loved ones that day.

But even after such a deep blow to our nation, it brought me new pride and confidence in my country as I watched the people of New York City working to help one another, and as I watched our nation band together in strength and pride. We would not let this horrible act of terrorism suppress our American spirit...rather, it reignited it.

I realize our nation is not perfect. There is a recession, there is dissatisfaction with our government in many ways. But despite its flaws, I believe this is a blessed nation, and a promised land. I love my country, and I am proud and grateful to be an American. May all those who seek to harm our country and its people be brought to justice. And may God bless the USA, now and forever.

And I will never forget.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jacob's Blessing

* Begun 7/30/09*

We blessed our little Jacob on July 12th, when he was right around 2 1/2 months old. It was a wonderful day! We were happy that so many of our family members were able to make it for our special day. Both my parents and Ryan's came, and almost all of our brothers and sisters and their spouses except for a few (we missed you Zane, Amber, Melissa and Seth!). Jacob was blessed the day after Thomas' 3rd birthday party, which was a lot to pack into one weekend, but Sunday was still a great day of getting to spend time with our families celebrating an important day for our sweet baby Jacob.

We have 9 am church and it has been a real challenge for us to get to church on time since Jacob was born. I was so nervous we would accidentally sleep in and miss getting to bless Jacob altogether! Thankfully that didn't happen, even though I was up quite late cleaning up after the birthday festivities the night before. I think I set 2 or 3 different alarms to make sure I got up as early as I needed to! I really wanted the morning to start out on a peaceful note and I tried very hard to make it so that we weren't too rushed Sunday morning. Thankfully the morning worked out so that the house was quiet for awhile (only possible 'cause Tommy slept in!) and Ryan was able to get some time to himself, to reflect and prepare and hold his little infant son while he thought about the blessing he would be giving. He did this with Thomas on the morning of his blessing day as well, and I remember thinking how sweet and special it was. And though we were in a tad of a rush right before getting out the door, we made it to church early! A miracle!!!

Ryan gave Jacob a wonderful blessing. Even though he has told me he's been nervous when giving our babies blessings, he sounds so calm to me, like it comes very easy to him. I won't write the blessing here, but I'm thankful to have the words recorded so we can be able to read it to Jacob someday. Jacob was lucky to have so many priesthood holders from our family helping to bless him--there was Ryan, his dad, his brothers Nathan and Eric, our brother-in-law Jon, my Dad, and my brothers Josh and Travis. And oh 13-year-old brother Jared was able to participate in his own way too. He was too young to actually help bless Jacob, but he asked to hold the microphone for Ryan, and I was really glad he got to be a part of it all. =) I was also really grateful that my mom let Thomas sit by her during the blessing, so I didn't have to wrangle him and could really concentrate and listen to the blessing. Jacob was great during the blessing and didn't cry or fuss at all.

After sacrament we took a few pictures outside and then everyone headed over to our house for an early lunch. Since I'd just thrown Tommy's party the night before, I made it easy on myself for Sunday and just bought some sandwich platters and cookies from Costco, and we also had lots of chips and pop left over from Tommy's party. It was an enjoyable afternoon spent eating and talking with everyone, and it was extremely nice for me to have all the stressful parts of the weekend past me!

Though I was worried about the pressure of having both events on the same weekend, I was really glad that our families were able to come and be a part of our special days for both Thomas and Jacob. Ryan and I are so lucky to have not only our own little family with our two sweet boys, but our wonderful parents and siblings and their spouses too. We can honestly say they are our favorite people to spend time with, hands down!

Funny note: I was so worried that Jacob would go #2 and have a blow-out in his white blessing outfit during the short amount of time between when I put him in it (right before we left the house) and less than an hour later when he was blessed. I just sensed somehow that this was going to happen. Well, only moments before it was time for the blessing, Ryan was holding Jacob, and he turns to me and tells me that he felt Jacob just take a great big poo! Jacob was kind of wrapped in a blanket, so I peeked at his outfit, and sure enough, he had leaked. I had brought a second (though not as special) outfit just in case, but it was too close to the blessing to have time to change him, and it thankfully wasn't too big of a leak...not technically a blow-out like I had feared. So for the blessing Ryan just made sure he was semi-wrapped in the blanket so his poo-stain wasn't visible, and I took Jacob out to change him right after the blessing. I just knew it was gonna happen! (Though I ended up leaving him in the outfit until we got home, so he would have it on in our photos after church. The leak really wasn't too bad and I was sort of able to clean it up.)

Another thing was, in all of my work to make the morning go smoothly before we left for church that day, the one thing I didn't manage to do was find time to get a picture of Jacob in his blessing outfit. Then, of course, he soiled it at church, and I took it off the moment we got home. So, when I finally got around to it about a week and a half later, I put Jacob in his (washed) blessing outfit again and took some photos. Better late than never, right? Jacob's blessing outfit was the same one Thomas was blessed in, and they were also both blessed with the same blanket, which was made by my Grandma Kotter. Though the blessing outfit is really simple and not as fancy as some of those little white tuxes or suits, I really love it. I lucked out that it even fit Jacob (which it barely did), because Thomas was blessed at a little bit younger age than Jacob, and the size of the outfit was Newborn. I think it would be fun to have all our sons blessed in the same outfit and then frame it for a keepsake someday!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tommy's Big #3

(Started writing this one July 20th. *sigh*...I am forever and always playing catch up! And I gave up on narrowing down the pictures, I took waaaaay too many. Thus I resort to a slideshow. =)

My first baby turned 3 on July 10th...that is so amazing to me! These months and years have flown since he was that tiny baby placed in my arms. He's hardly a baby at all any he's our tall, talkative, funny little boy, and he surprises us every day with something new he's learned to do or say. He and I watched some home videos of him when he was younger the other day (he LOVES watching himself!), and it hurt a little bit when I realized I'd already forgotten so much about how he looked and what he was like when he was littler. Its amazing how the slow passing of time can disguise how much our little ones change!!! Even though its a little sad for me to see him growing up so quickly, its fun anticipating all the new phases that are coming our way. I can't believe that in just 2 short years I will have a child old enough to go to elementary school!

Tommy's actual birthday was on Friday this year, but we decided to postpone his birthday party until Saturday evening so some of our family coming into town for Jacob's blessing the next day could make it to the party. ( was a very busy weekend!) So on Tommy's actual birthday, I told him we could do anything he wanted. One of the first things he wanted was to eat chips for breakfast! Later I made him chocolate cupcakes and he had a lot of fun helping me frost them. We had a little mini-party, just the four of us. Ryan and I sang happy birthday to him, after which he blew out his 3 candles and we chowed down on the cupcakes. We saved his "big" gift for his birthday party the next day, but he still got a nice little stack of gifts on his actual birthday! We gave him a couple new books, a DVD about tractors, a toy tractor and trailer (see a theme here?), a bunch of water toys and a blow-up swimming pool, which was really something I had been meaning to get anyway, not just for his birthday. He got to skip his nap and we spent the rest of the afternoon playing in his pool. We let him play and swim until he was dog-tired and then put him to bed. I think he had a pretty good birthday!

The next day we kept pretty busy getting ready for Tommy's party that night. I decided to throw him a John Deere tractor-themed party, and it was so fun to decorate for! I love the green and yellow John Deere colors and I found so many cute things to and yellow M&M's (I love getting custom colored M&M at Zurchers) and I even discovered there are John Deere fruit snacks! We had lots of balloons (love balloons) in green and yellow and I also found some really cute white ones with little tractors all over them. I wish I had better photos of the camera was not cooperating and most of the pictures kept turning out dark). Probably my favorite things of all were the favor boxes and the cute tire-shaped cups I got for Tommy and all the kids! I had fun designing the party invitations too...I used a photo I took myself of a John Deere tractor out in a field on my Mom's cousin's farm, where we had a family reunion last summer.

For Tommy's party we had a BBQ with just family...there were more than 20 of us, which is pretty big for a family party! Tommy was lucky to have both sets of Grandparents there, lots of his aunts and uncles and a bunch of his cousins. Thomas absolutely loved spending time with his cousins Julia, Anika, Aiden & Zander, and they had a ball with all the new toys he got! He got lots of fun new stuff from everyone...his first remote control car, a truck, a tractor, a helicopter, some cool new blocks, a toy hockey set, a Transformer (which he LOVES), and probably more stuff that I can't remember!

After he opened everyone's gifts we brought in his gift from Mommy & Daddy...the "Mighty Trike!" When I found this trike I thought it was the coolest one I'd ever seen...I love the huge wheels and the fact that its a John Deere (fit right in with the theme, which I couldn't help loving!). Its super sturdy and I'm hoping it will be around for a long time. With big gifts I really like trying to find things that are more classic and can be heirloom toys.

After we showed Thomas the trike he of course wanted to take it for a spin! So we all headed outside and Tommy hopped on. He's never had his own trike or bike before, but he pedaled like a pro! Julia hopped on the back right away and he drove her around. We spent the next little while outside, letting Tommy and the kids ride the trike and Tommy's toy 4-wheelers. It was a beautiful night, which I was happy about because the weather earlier in the day had been cloudy and ominous, making me think it was going to rain.

After we came back in we busted out Tommy's birthday cake, which was so cute and which I very much did NOT make. Walmart made it in fact, and it was good! I wish I was one of those talented, cake-decorating mothers, but I'm just not! I absolutely loved the cake, which looked like a plowed field with some little John Deere tractor toys on it. I saw a picture of it a long time ago and have been excited to get it forever. I actually almost did the John Deere theme for Tommy's 2nd birthday, but then ended up doing a "Radio Flyer" theme instead because he was getting a wagon. I was so in love with the cute John Deere theme though, so I decided to save it for this year, and I was so excited to finally throw Tommy his "tractor party!" (I know, I'm a nerd...but I love themes, they're fun!) I actually showed Tommy a picture of the "tractor cake" I was going to get him a couple of months before his party, and he was very excited about it....He even started telling some people about his "tractor cake" when his birthday was still weeks away!

When Tommy finally saw his birthday cake, he thought it was pretty cool! We all sang and he got to blow out his 3 candles a second time, then we chowed down. I really was surprised how good that cake was! We had lots left over that I thought would never get eaten, but I ended up polishing most of the rest off myself over the next few days! In fact, I could go for more of that cake right now...=)

Thomas still talks about his birthday party once in awhile, and how he "had a good party" or "I wish I could have another party!" That makes me so happy! I stress myself out a little each year getting ready for his birthday, but I still have lots of fun planning it...I like doing something special to make my little boy excited and happy!

P.S. I have now reached...


Monday, August 17, 2009

4th of July at Yuba Lake

(Written...or, began anyway...July 23rd.)

For the last several years on the 4th of July we've gone down to Payson Lakes to have a picnic with my family, but every year we've rains on us!!! So this year we decided to switch it up and do something different. My Aunt Teresa (my Mom' s sis) and Uncle Randy invited my parents to come spend the day at Yuba Lake (about an hour and a half South of us) where they were camping for the weekend, and we decided to tag along too. It was fun to be with a big group to celebrate the day, and my brother Zane and his family were there for the weekend too, which was great because they live in Montana and we hardly ever see them.

I had never even heard of Yuba Lake before, even though its less than 2 hours South of us. We loved it! The place was obviously popular because it was totally packed. The day was hot hot hot! Randy and Teresa have a camper and waverunners, and their good friends who were also there had a boat that they let us take rides in. We had a BBQ lunch and some of us lounged around in the shade of the camper while others swam or tanned or took turns on the waverunners. The beach and the water was perfect and Tommy loved it! He had a blast with Daddy taking (gentle) rides on the waverunner (and of course, Thomas had a lifejacket on the whole time).

I was a little too overwhelmed at the idea of getting into a swimsuit for the day, so I didn't, but later I regretted it. Who cares, right? I just had a baby! Jacob was definitely kept in the shade as much as possible and thankfully I had lots of hands to help me out with him so I could play a little bit too.

Yuba Lake had almost no sources of shade whatsoever, so it was so great of Teresa and Randy to let us crash their camper (with A/C) when it got too hot...I could nurse Jacob inside and they let me put him to sleep on their bed (even though he'd never stay asleep for more than a few minutes!). A few times Thomas was tired of being in the water or on the beach and just wanted to go inside and watch cartoons on their little TV. It was so nice. I totally want a camp trailer someday!

Even though I was fully dressed I still played in the water a bit anyway, in my capris...I took a couple rides on the waverunners with Ryan and then Randy took Ryan, Thomas and I for a spin on his friends' boat while baby Jacob hung out on shore with grandma. During our boat ride Thomas fell asleep on Ryan's lap, even with how fast and bumpy it was and with the wind in our faces! Its so crazy -- both times Thomas has ever been on a boat, he has fallen asleep...he did it last year on a boat-ride at our family reunion too. Huh.

Ryan also rode the innertube behind the boat a few times. He had Randy tie it up high so he'd be able to catch more air, and Randy gave him a few pretty challenging rides! Ryan did a seriously good job hanging looked difficult too, because he was kneeling, not sitting. It was absolutely hilarious watching him...I could not stop laughing at the look on his face as he clung on as hard as he could, it was so funny! Tommy was worried when he saw Daddy biff it and get thrown into the water the first time, but I assured him Daddy was fine and was having fun. But man, even if I had had a swimsuit on, there would be no way I would've ridden that tube...biffing it looked a little scary to me too!

Later in the afternoon we and my parents packed up and headed back to their house, where we ate dinner and just hung out in the backyard talking, letting the kids play and just enjoying the evening. We ended up being too tired and lazy to set off any of our own fireworks (I'd forgotten to bring mine anyway), but the neighbors had some pretty good ones! It was a beautiful evening and I really enjoyed just sitting around talking with my family.

It was a great day and a great way to celebrate the freedom and prosperity we have been blessed with in this country. Even during a time that is considered a recession here, when jobs may be shaky or scarce, money may be tight, and luxuries may have to fall by the wayside, I believe we are all still incredibly blessed. I am so grateful to live in this great nation. God bless America, land that I love!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Briggs Reunion

(I started writing this June 30th and then added a bit here and there over the weeks, but never finished it til now. So goes my blogging career...I start, procrastinate, then eventually finish. If only I wasn't so obsessed with recording all the details, maybe I could finish an entry in a single sitting for once!)

Over the weekend of June 19, 20th and 21st was the annual Briggs family reunion. Briggs is my mom's maiden name, and the reunion is in honor of her father's parents, Eli and Mary Briggs. Every year my grandpa and his siblings take turn hosting the reunion. This year it was my grandpa's turn, which made it particularly special for me because it was held at his ranch in Whitehall, Montana, where I haven't been for a couple of years, and where the reunion hasn't been for 6 or so years. I love Montana and miss it so much...I was looking forward to going to the reunion for months! It was our first time traveling out of town since Jacob was born...traveling almost 7 hours with two kids was a little bit stressful, but thankfully little baby Jacob did pretty well on the way there (the way home was another story!).

My extended family is absolutely huge, and at these reunions every year I have a difficult time remembering names and how I'm related to everybody. There's many people I don't know or recognize at all! I think somebody told me the count for the reunion this year was 104 people! I was especially excited because every single one of my aunts and uncles was there this year. My mom is the oldest of 9 children, so I got a lotta aunts and uncles, and I haven't seen many of them for years and years. I love them all and it was so great to see them, and of course my wonderful grandparents too. And my They're all grown-up! Since my mom is the oldest in her family, me and my brothers were always the older cousins. I remember growing up, it seemed all my cousins were just babies and toddlers running around our feet. Now they're all graduating high school and college and some of them are getting married! Aaaah!!! I'm getting old!

The weekend consisted of lots of visiting, eating (gooooood food on the ranch, I tell you), and trying to keep dry! Unfortunately it rained and rained most of the weekend, so the weather wasn't ideal for a lot of the activities that had been planned, but the little kids LOVED it! They were having a ball playing in the rain and especially in the mud that was everywhere! We parents didn't love that so much. I tried to keep Thomas out of the mud and rain the best I could, but it was no use...eventually I just gave in. At one point he and his little cousins ended up ankle deep in a big ole mud puddle over by the barn that probably also contained horse poo....ugh! To look at them, soaking wet out in the rain and the cold, you'd think they'd be miserable, but they were having a grand time! I worried a lot because I failed to really prepare for the possibility of cold weather. I brought lots of changes of clothing because I knew Thomas would probably get filthy running around the ranch, but most of them weren't nearly warm enough for the weekend! I only brought one light coat, and before the trip he didn't even have any shoes besides sandals that fit him. Luckily I did go buy him a new pair of sneakers to wear. Thomas of course ended up getting himself, his clothes, his coat and shoes repeatedly soaked and filthy, so we did a lot of bathing and washing clothes and borrowing clothes from cousins!

Tommy had a fun milestone over the course of the weekend...he took his first ever ride on a horse! A few of the little kids were begging to take horse rides, so my grandpa got one of his horses saddled up and led each kid around the corral on a slow, easy ride. It really brought back memories of visiting the ranch growing up...I was always so excited when I got to ride the horses and I loved watching the rodeos my family would put on. My grandpa has his own rodeo arena, and in fact, my lovely mother used to be a Rodeo Queen. =) Thomas was so impatient for his turn on the horse...he kept freaking out and yelling over and over, desperately, that it was his turn! He could hardly stand the anticipation!

Even though we had to stay holed up in the barn or the houses or camp trailers most of the weekend because of the rain, we were still able to par-tay! One night we did Karaoke, which I absolutely love! I sang a couple of songs, and Thomas got really interested and said he wanted to sing. They got Twinkle Twinkle Little Star going for him, but he chickened out and I ended up having to go solo. (I think he really, really just wanted to play with the microphone!) They also had a live band and dancing another night, during which Tommy demonstrated his moves...he loves to dance! At one point one cute little girl (yes, we're related to her but I don't even remember how or what her name was) partnered up with him, and the two of them were pretty enthusiastic and adorable little dancers!

One tradition I love is the family auction we have at the reunion every year. Everybody is asked to bring some unwanted (but nice) things or to make something to bring (like a quilt) to be auctioned off to pay for the reunion the following year. Its a great way to pay for the reunions and I always look forward to it! Last year I ended up buying one of the quilts at the auction for quite a pretty penny (but it was worth it, I love that thing!), so this year Ryan forbade me to buy any of the more expensive items! But we did get a couple smaller things to help contribute to the fund. Its always fun to see what people bring and watch the battles that ensue when people are trying to out-bid each other.

On the Sunday morning of the reunion, usually everyone just has breakfast and then packs up and heads home. But this year, Sunday was a special day because my niece Anika, the daughter of my oldest brother Josh, had just turned 8 about a month before the reunion, and decided to be baptized that weekend during the reunion, since all the family would be together. We had a nice little service on Sunday in the yard of my Uncle Jeff, who lives right next to my grandparents. My two brothers Zane and Travis gave short talks, then we headed over to the pond for the baptism. Anika was the first of Josh's children to be baptized and he got kind of emotional during the baptism, which I thought was very sweet. It was cool being at a baptism in the great outdoors...I don't think I've ever experienced that before. Afterward we all headed over to the barn for Anika's confirmation and then had lunch one last time before Ryan and I headed home. Our trip home wasn't exactly pleasant, as Jacob was very unhappy in his carseat the majority of the way, and we ended up getting home very late because of frequent stops, but...we survived!

I felt especially bad because it was Father's Day on the day we drove home, and in getting ready for the reunion I didn't find time to get Ryan (or my own Dad even!) a gift in time...I did get them cards, but I didn't end up writing in them or giving them to their recipients! (Please know, both Ryan and Dad and Grandpa too, what wonderful fathers you are and how much I love you. Sorry I dropped the ball on Father's Day this year!) I did, at Ryan's request, drive the whole 7 hours home, which is extremely unusual for me. And I don't especially love driving his giant, lifted pickup truck! Ryan always drives when we are together, I think because we both prefer it. I think my driving makes him nervous, and his being nervous at my driving makes me feel nervous while driving. Therefore, he usually drives!

Even though it was a bit of a crazy weekend, being the first time I'd been away from home with two children, it was a great weekend spent with family and I was so happy to see everyone. I am so lucky to have so many wonderful people to call family and I love them all so much! I loved getting to see everyone I've been missing for so long and spending time at my grandparents ranch where I have so many beloved childhood memories.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Where have you gone? Its your last day already? And are already two-thirds over? Wow. I could say I don't know where the time went, but Ryan pointed out yesterday that it was probably just about the busiest June and July we've ever had. Very true. There's sooooooo much for me to write about, and finding the time is getting harder and harder! But I am still going to try and catch up.....don't know how that's gonna go. I think it will take me half of August to do it! (And I think I'm writing this blog entry to procrastinate!)

When we were talking yesterday about how summer has gone by so quickly, Ryan started panicking a bit about winter coming. Already. I couldn't help but laugh, as winter is nowhere near imminent quite yet, but I can see where he's coming from. The months are flying! I don't much like winter, but take that statement and multiply it by about 10,000 for Ryan. I hear him repeat the sentence "I hate winter" constantly over the course of the cold and snowy months. I can relate to the reasons why he dislikes it so much...he grew up in Wyoming and I grew up in Montana, both places where winters are hard-core freezing and often feel like they last 6 months long. Not fun. Ryan's fondest dream is to move to Hawaii someday. He would move us there tomorrow if he had his way, and if he wasn't worried about a job!

But I'm starting to get excited for probably my favorite times of year...indian summer and fall. I remember indian summers in Montana when I was growing many evenings I would sit out on our trampoline and watch the sun go down, and I would often wonder if I would ever see a sky as beautiful as that one ever again. Thinking about that makes me miss Montana and Billings and my old blue house so much! Curse the people who bought it for painting it mustard yellow...that really bugs me.

And fall. I loooooove fall. I love when it finally starts to cool down and you begin to sense the briskness in the air. I love the colors and the smells and even the fact that school is starting, even though no one in my family is really in school. (But I miss school! I love the beginning of fall semester at BYU.) I love that quote from the movie "You've Got Mail," about how fall "makes me want to go out and buy school supplies!" and make "a bouquet of sharpened pencils." I totally agree! =) And Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I love it, I can't wait! I'm already wondering what the boys and I will dress up as., this was a bit of a random post. Oh well! On to catching up...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thank You, Nie Nie

I feel a little guilty about my previous post. I am such a whiner sometimes, I can be so ungrateful. My life is good. Not perfect, but good, and I should remember that. Sometimes I come to realize that what I focus on so much as problems, really aren't problems at all.

Just now I went to read Nie Nie's blog. I always seem to find myself wandering over to her blog when I am feeling down, or overwhelmed, or sorry for myself in any way. Reading what she writes grounds me immediately, humbles me every time. I always cry when I read her blog.

I don't know Nie Nie at all in real life...I only know of her. Many people already know who she is, but if you haven't heard of Nie Nie (pronounced Nee-Nee), she has a sad but amazing story. Her real name is Stephanie Nielsen, and she and her husband, who are a young couple with four children, were in a terrible private plane crash almost one year ago now. They both miraculously survived, but both suffered terrible burns. Stephanie got the worst of it....burns on 80% of her body. Almost one year later she is still in a very long state of recovery. She suffers from chronic pain, has had to undergo many surgeries, lots of therapy, and has to retrain her body to do simple things we all take for granted. And yet she handles this huge trial with amazing courage, humor, grace and faith. Though she definitely doesn't pretend that she doesn't struggle, she lives her life in an amazing way, to the fullest that she possibly can.

Even from the first time I read her blog, I could tell she is one of those kind, beautiful, passionate people that everyone loves and wishes they could be like. She is an amazing wife and mother. In fact, she's so incredibly talented as a wife and mother that when I first read her blog I couldn't help feeling self-conscious and envious, wishing I were more like her. The way she talks about her children and especially her husband is so sweet, sometimes humorous, always reverent. She has a true artistic flair and is always creating beautiful things, or surrounding herself with them. She began blogging long before the plane crash happened, and as I read her blogs from both before and after the crash, and learned about the creative and passionate person she is, I saw that her accident hasn't changed her in that way at all. She has a real, true challenge, something physical and painful that is a struggle every single day, and yet she lives her life with such beauty and grace and courage, and has such a positive (and funny!) outlook despite all her struggles. On top of all her amazing qualities, she has incredible faith. She never loses sight of what's important, of the eternal things. I'm not even close to being where she is. I think that's why I'm drawn to what she writes when I'm having my own struggles...what she writes puts things into perspective for me, and reminds me of what is truly significant. After reading her blog, all the little things I was so worried about don't feel important at all.

Nie Nie, you are a strong, beautiful woman who inspires me to be better. I want to be like you. Thank you.

If you haven't read her blog yet, go there.