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.