Saturday, January 28, 2012


I thought January was supposed to be quiet and dull...things much needed after the busy holiday time. 
Our month has been anything but boring!
Here's a quick look at what we've been up to:

Without intentionally trying, we've been getting rooms and closets organized.  With so many new toys, it was necessary to go through closets and toy bins and donate things that the kids had outgrown.  Carter cleaned his room and was so proud.  He asked to take a picture with the new camera and I thought he did a very good job.  His room has stayed tidy thanks to many Rubbermaid bins for Lego and Nerf gun storage.  I should have taken a few pictures of the closets that we cleaned - it's amazing how much more space we have!  It feels great to purge (we had documents that dated back to 2000!) and organize.  And Mom, you'll be happy to know that our bedroom is completely clutter free, as well.  I'm a terrible pack rat, and unfortunately the mess usually accumulates on our dresser tops!  After several days of cleaning, our room looks wonderful and it's going to stay that way!
Besides cleaning, we've been busy this month with birthday parties, a sleepover with Papa & Grandma, play dates and skiing.
Kennedy has been letting me experiment with her these little knots on the side of her head. 
She's such a ham for the camera.
Isn't she getting so big?

Since this blog is sort of a living history of our family, I thought it would be nice to write a little each of the littles.

But don't let that sweet smile fool you, Kennedy is one tough cookie.  She is passionate and stubborn, strong willed and determined.  She likes things on her terms.  Always.  She can be equally as sweet as she can be ornery, though.  Often saying, out of now where, "Mama, I love you.  I love you to the moon and back." and then there are the times that she's yelling "I don't love you!  Any of you!"  She's also used the word stupid on more than one occasion recently, which won her a mouth full of soap.  She didn't seem fazed.  Ah, what will we do with this one?
She is a girly girl - loving jewelry and pretty shoes.  She loves pink and almost always chooses to wear a dress (secretly, this thrills me!)
She counts Lauren as her best friend, has fun playing with Lyla at school and enjoys making new friends, too. 
She's not shy...unless it serves her purpose.  She doesn't take compliments well, usually burying her head into my leg, but we're working on that.
She loves playing in her kitchen or with her new doll house.  She's independent and can usually occupy herself for long stretches of time.
Coloring and crafting are her newest passions.  It amazes me how much she enjoys it and how well she can stay in the lines.  Yet another difference between boys and girls.
Kennedy has been enjoying gymnastics and swimming - doing great in both.  She's been asking to take dance, as well, but I think we'll wait a few more months before starting anything new.  She loves school and adores her teacher.  She's spelling her name and recognizing K's in other words.  Besides K and Y, she doesn't know her letters or numbers, but we're working on it.  She just doesn't seem at all interested at this point.
Her laugh is contagious.
It can often be a roller coaster with Kennedy, but she adds spice and love to our family. 
We love her dearly and thank God for blessing us.

A sweet smile
Carter is growing and changing so fast.  He has taken off on his bike and rides every chance he gets.  He's getting faster, stronger and more fearless as he gets more comfortable.  I think this new skill has opened up a whole new world of freedom and adventure for him.
He's smart and loves to learn.  We recently recorded a 60 Minutes broadcast about the great Masai Mara migration, elephants in Kenya and Jane Goodall's study of chimps.  He loved it!
He can't get enough of books, either.  We are currently reading the 48th book in the Magic Tree House series.  They are great stories and he's really taken to them.  We're hoping to start the Narnia series next.
School seems to be going better, as well.  His favorite part of the day is always recess and he loves PE, but I also think he's doing well academically and making good friends.  He seems well liked by his peers and likes his teacher, too.
He loves church and his friends there.
His current passions are:  Lego's, Kung Fu Panda, skiing and bike riding.
He is doing wonderfully in swimming, as well, and recently passed the level that he had taken three times.  He was very proud.
He is anxious to start baseball in a couple of months, but is a little sad that Daddy's won't be his coach.
Carter is a lover, doesn't like to be alone, can be wild and crazy with friends or sit for hours listening to a book.  He's emotional and easily frustrated and we're working on controlling that a bit.  He likes to get his way and definitely likes things just so.  He has a hard time hearing the word "no."  He's not a big fan of change, but I've seen improvements there, as well.
We are trying hard to instill in him a caring heart for others.
He's becoming quite helpful around the house and swells with pride when he knows he's been especially helpful. 
I love my first born, love his spunk and curiosity.  Love his smile and hugs.  This kid is going places and I can't wait to see what God has planned for his life.

And another lost tooth.
#2 fell out and his permanent tooth is already coming in
This is how I often find Carter in the mornings.  He's good about staying in his room until 6:00 and with all of his new Lego's, he's been staying even later.  He loves having a completed project!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snow Day

We woke up to snow on Wednesday morning and with no school to rush off to, we were able to head out and enjoy it after breakfast.  Unfortunately, by 7:00, it had already warmed up considerably and was raining.  The kids didn't seem to mind and had a blast.  I wish it would have stayed white and stuck around a bit longer.
 Carter and Kennedy made a little snow seat.  I think it was supposed to be the bottom of a snowman, but this is as far as they got!

 Can you tell how wet it was already?  There was more slush than snow.

Jake got in on the action and was running up and down the street, flinging snow with his nose. 

 Clearly we need to get Kennedy some new mittens...kind of hard to build snow balls when  your gloves are dangling of your hands!

 My little snow bunny

Soaking wet but loving every minute of it! 

Special Day

Last weekend, Kennedy was treated to a special day at Build a Bear with Auntie Val.  For Christmas, she was given a gift certificate and had been asking about it ever since.  I finally had to hide the little card, hoping for  "out of sight, out of mind" to kick it.  It worked...a little, but she was still so excited for this special day.  We had never been to Build a Bear before, and she had a wonderful time!  Although, now both kids want to go back.  And soon.  Maybe for a birthday treat.
 With her prized "stuffie" - she was so excited to show us what she had created!

 Helping "stuff" her (bright pink!) kitty cat

 A little TLC at the grooming station
I guess choosing Kitty's outfit took a lot of thought.  They had to lay all four choices out and then make a decision.  A pink ballet satin outfit was the winner :)  With a pink headband.  And pink sparkly purse.

 Sharing a chocolate milkshake with Kitty
She takes this cat with her everywhere she goes...what a fun and special day, thank you Auntie!
And while Kennedy and Auntie were out enjoying the afternoon, we got to spend time with this sweet little boy.  Brady is such a good baby - he was entertained by Carter, was cruising all around and was fascinated by what I was doing in the kitchen.  It was such a fun day for all of us!

Friday, January 20, 2012

2 wheel ridin'

My boy's a bike rider!
2012 is off to an exciting start for Carter.  He seems to be tackling new things with gusto...gone is any fear and in it's place is a sure footed confidence and adventurous streak. 
We have been encouraging a bike ride sans training wheels for quite some time.  Kyle had even taken them off a few times over the summer, but Carter would literally be paralyzed with fear and wouldn't even attempt to ride.  It made me sad.  It's hard to see such a real fear in your child's eyes.  But, just like everything else, when it was on his terms, he took off and conquered his fear.  This little one is full of surprises recently.
I am so proud of him!
Can you see the look of concentration on his face?  He was so excited to have me outside watching him and taking pictures, but he didn't want to loose focus.
Again...concentrating hard!
There's a little smile...
His pride is almost tangible through this picture.

So proud of my little man!
It's been two weeks since he mastered his bike and each day he's gone out on a quick ride or two down the street.  He's thrilled by the prospect of going on bike rides and can hardly wait for the weather to improve.  It's amazing how quickly he's become proficient, as well.  The first several days he could only go down the slight hill of our street, no turning, etc.  He's now riding up, down and all around.
Way to go, Carter!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy (half) Birthday!

A summer birthday can be both a blessing and a curse...I can say this with some amount of authority, since I, too, have a birthday in July.  Since school won't be in session on July 9th, Kennedy got to celebrate her "half" birthday last Monday.  She picked out special treats to share with her friends (ice cream cups in January, brrr!), wore a pink tutu to school, received a pretty pink crown upon arrival to class, got to do all the classroom jobs and got a sweet little gift from her teacher. 
It was a special day and Kennedy was so excited to be 3 1/2!

Friday, January 13, 2012


I've never been one for starting the new year with lofty resolutions.  It's like setting myself up for failure.  I could never diet, don't enjoy exercising enough and will probably never keep my room as clean as it should, this year I'm going to make a few {goals}, measurable and hopefully obtainable.  And by writing them here for others to see, hopefully I'll feel more accountable, as well.  I read in a magazine once that resolutions should be quantifiable, not general.  Alas, my written goals for 2012 won't include "be more patient," or "be a better mom, wife, friend, etc.", although these are things that I pray for each day.  Instead I've come up with a few things that I really hope to accomplish this year and can report back on when I do.  How's that for positive thinking?

Goal #1 : Save more, spend less.  More specifically, I am going to attempt going on a spending fast...nothing too dramatic, my children do need clothes of course, but I am not going to buy anything new for myself for the next six months.  No shirts, no shoes, no belts or bathing suits.  This is going to hurt.  My finish line will be the sale of all sales, the Nordstrom Anniversary sale in July, just in time for a little birthday shopping spree :)  For those of you who know me at all, you know this is a fairly lofty goal.  I'm not much of a saver and I love to shop.  But there are things we want to do and I know beefing up the savings account will help our family achieve some of these. 

Goal #1 b:  Contribute more to my 401K.  This is one area of savings where I used to excel at...saving the maximum percentage allowed from the time I was 22.  However, once I stopped working this account stopped growing.  So, in 2012 I am going to increase the amount that goes into my retirement fund.  I'd like to enjoy my old age...preferably on a beach somewhere exotic, or at a vineyard in France.  What can I say, I am a dreamer.

Goal #2 : Read a book a month.  Behind shopping, reading is probably my most favorite past time.  I love loosing myself in a good book, exploring a new world and getting to know new characters.  Since having children, my free time has been reduced and reading for pleasure is one of the things that has suffered the most.  I've picked it up again in the last several months and have loved every minute of it.  Hopefully with this goal, I'll be more intentional about my free time.

Goal # 3 : Read the bible.  I've never actually read the bible in its entirety and I'd really like to. 

Goal # 4 : Take the kids to Disneyland.  Is it cheating if this goal is already in the works?  I think I've been planning this trip in my mind since the day Carter was born.  Kyle has made me wait, insisting everyone will have a better time if the kids are a little older.  I know he's right.  But this is the year, and we are all so excited.  Working to make our October trip to the "Happiest Place on Earth" the best it can be is definitely a priority!

Goal #5 :  Bake a cake from scratch.  Frosting too.

Well, I think that should do it.  I may be over reaching a bit, but I'm feeling good about my chances.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy New Year!

Welcoming in's amazing that I can so clearly remember ushering in this new millennium.  I can remember where Kyle and I were (our first New Year's Eve as a couple), who we were celebrating with and even what I was wearing.  Funny.  Funny how we are now welcoming 2012 together and funny how very different our lives are now.  A lot has changed in these 12 years!

We were thankful to be able to keep up our New Year's Eve tradition with the Vanevenhovens.  This was our sixth year, although we've been flexible and twice have had to celebrate after the fact due to sick kids or work schedules.  It's always a fun time - Kirstin and Tim are two of our dearest friends and they know how to have good time!  I wish I could keep up!

As per tradition, we tried out a new restaurant and had a wonderful meal together.  This year was the Woodsman Tavern in SE.  Great food and a wait staff that looked like they starred in the show Portlandia.  Our little waiter made me smile with his cute suspenders and funky shoes.  And readers, you would have been proud of me, I ate and LOVED a dish that was served with the whole fish.  Eyes.  Scales.  Tail.  Yikes.  I knew it going in and was better prepared because of it, but I still was proud that I ate it so easily.  And it was delicious.  I wish so much I would have taken its picture, though.  You would have been even more impressed, I'm sure.

My dear friend, Kirstin.  Isn't she beautiful?  Just a few of the many things that I love about this girl: she is always so fashionable and trendy (she had on the most beautiful coat I had ever seen or felt!), knows all the best places to go for food, drink and fun, has great taste in music and knows every lyric to every song (or so it seems), can function beautifully on no sleep (and I know how hard this can be), follows her dreams and makes them happen, never wants to miss out on a good time, and best of all she is a loyal and loving friend.
Tim, Kirstin, me and Kyle
Cheers to a great night and even better friends!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hittin' the slopes

On New Year's Eve day we headed up to Mt. Hood to introduce Carter to the world of skiing.  And he loved it!  I couldn't be more proud of him or happier that he enjoyed his first time on skis.  We signed him up for a half day lesson and he was with an instructor, Sabina, and only one other child, also a first timer.  They have a great learning center at Meadows, so I felt very confident dropping him off.  This also allowed Kyle and I a chance to get in several runs (we hadn't been skiing since before Carter was born, and it was wonderful to be back at it!)
It was so fun getting to watch Carter in his lesson.  We dropped by, took a ton of pictures and then were off again.  We didn't want to be a distraction and we also wanted to enjoy the amazing snow.  It had snowed all week and the mountain had about 10 inches of new snow over night.  The sun was shining and the runs were awesome!

They start them out on one ski, gliding down a gentle slope.  They try each leg and then were off! 

Looking good, Carter Man!
He did so great!
They stayed on the Magic Carpet area (such an improvement from the rope tow that I learned on when I was Carter's age) and it was perfect for beginners.

It's like he knows just what he's doing...I think the hardest part for Carter was getting up once he'd fallen down.  He didn't mind falling, wasn't scared and had a great attitude.
I had to chuckle...he skis just like I do - heads straight down and loves to go fast.  I can vividly remember my dad trying to get me to make big, wide turns as I'd barrel down the slopes, calling from atop the chair lift "LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT" and I'd just zoom straight down.  Carter did exactly the same thing!  Since we were on a smaller slope, he wasn't able to pick up a ton of speed, but I'd try to get him to turn through the cones and he'd say "but I love going fast!"  Really?  He's never short on surprises!

Once we picked him up from his lesson and ate a quick lunch, we headed back out to the beginners area.  He was bummed that he couldn't go straight to the chair lift and really wanted to go up the "big" mountain.  He didn't believe us when we told him he was actually on the mountain...he wanted to go to the top!  Although after skiing with him for a couple of hours, I was even more thankful for his lesson.  I've been skiing for most of my life, but trying to teach a little guy how to do something that seems so instinctual was hard.  At least for the next several times we go up, we'll get him into lessons.

Daddy joined us for a bit, too.  By this point (I'd been up all night working), I was pretty beat, so Kyle continued to ski while I stayed on the bunny slopes with Carter.  Worked out great for everyone!

Our little skier

Kennedy and Nana came up with us and enjoyed lots of time in the snow and a little time in the lodge too.  My mom was such a trooper...we knew she was cold and probably would not have chosen to spend her day on a mountain, but she made it so much fun for Kennedy.  Pulling her on the sled, making snow angles and just keeping her entertained.  It was such a blessing to have her with us, and I honestly think Kennedy had as much fun as Carter.  We'll get her on skis next year, so watch out!
Thankfully it was a beautiful day on the mountain - Kennedy had a blast in the snow!

Snack time

We got stuck in horrible traffic on the way home and ended up turning around and driving around to Hood River.  It still took us 3+ hours, but we got home with enough time to get ready for our NYE plans with friends.  Not the best way to end a great day, but we managed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

an adventure of sorts

We had originally planned to head up to Mt. Hood the day after Christmas and take Carter skiing for the first time.  But after thinking more about it and realizing that everyone was overly tired from a fun, but very busy, weekend of celebration, we decided to have some fun a little closer to home.

So...we went ice skating!
Kennedy definitely looked the part, although I wasn't as prepared as I should have been.  Just a word of advice for anyone taking their children ice skating -  hats and gloves would definitely be a good idea! 

Ready to give it a try...
To be honest, neither Kyle nor I had huge hopes for how the morning would go.  I figured we'd get out on the ice for 10 or 15 minutes, the kids would fall a few times and be done with the whole thing.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  They loved it!  Especially Carter.  He did such a good job and was skating independently and didn't want to leave.  He skated the full two hours and probably would have gone even longer.

Balance on ice is a bit tricky but with help from Mom and Dad, it sure is fun! 

Two hands are better than one 

After a few trips around the rink and sore backs for Kyle and I, we discovered these little plastic chairs that the kids could use to help with balance.  They were great! 

Carter took off!  He'd fall, laugh and get right back up.  I was so proud of him, his effort and attitude. 

Way to go!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Day 2011

The stockings were hung, presents placed and our little ones tucked into bed.  We were all anxious for Christmas morning...

I tried desperately to capture their reactions as they walked downstairs...can't you almost feel the excitement and anticipation?

Stockings were first
Usually my very favorite in the way of gifts.  I love little things and think it's so much fun to challenge myself to find meaningful gifts that will fit in a stocking.  Of course, there's the usual socks and underwear but more often than not there are a few very special items, as well. 

Kennedy got a cute new bunny hat - although it's on backwards here :)
A quick picture before we dig into the gifts under the tree. 
Mommy and Daddy needed a quick cup of coffee!
Santa granted her request and brought the green princess, Tiana.  She loved it!
Merry Christmas, sweet Kennedy!
Who would have known?  The most excited Carter got was for his new Oregon boots and duck pillow pet.  Funny stuff.
After opening presents from Santa and Mom & Dad, we had our traditional delicious breakfast of cinnamon rolls and fruit.  So good!  Then we freshened up and headed off to Christmas morning service at church.  I loved the opportunity to attend church on Christmas morning.  In between the craziness of material presents, it was a blessing to be reminded of the true gift of sing carols and pray and give thanks for God's greatest gift - His son, Jesus Christ.  Since Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, our church had one, casual service where the kids were able to participate.  They all arrived in pajamas and were able to sit up at the front of the sanctuary for the majority of the service.  Carter and Kennedy loved it and I couldn't believe how much Kennedy talked - we could hear her all the way towards the back.  She even sang "Away in a Manger", by herself, without any prompting...and not at the most appropriate time.  It was hilarious!  We received comments from a few folks after church that it was the most they'd ever heard her talk...must have been the excitement of Christmas!
Nana and Pops arrived around lunch time and the kids were so excited to see them. 
Another round of presents followed...
Carter got a Razor and it was a big deal!
It was Christmas, after all, a few laps around the house on his new gift seemed appropriate.
Some new shades
Ah the pillow pets - who knew these would be such a big hit?  Kennedy cried when Carter opened his, because she was so devastated not to have one too.  It took a minute for her to open her last gift...
And then all was right in the world again!
We hosted dinner on Christmas and it went so well.  I loved having a home full of family, love, laughter and crazy kiddos.  It's exactly as Christmas should be, at least in my mind.  I feel so blessed to have a large family on Kyle's side - holidays are always more fun and lively with lots of family to share with.
Nana and Pops with Kennedy and Carer
The girls
Kennedy and Sloane
The boys
Bennett, Carter and Brady
Papa and Grandma and the "five" - it was impossible to get a picture where everyone was looking.  This was the best we could do!

Enjoying Kennedy's new ladybug umbrella with Papa and B
Another attempt at a pj picture with all five cousins.
Afraid it just wasn't meant to be this year!
Four out of five isn't so bad, right?
And the night ended with a little Kung Fu...
~Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night ~