Tuesday, December 14, 2010

my girl's giggles

allow me to take a moment to delight in my daughter.

for she is precious, adorable, and worthy of celebration.

i am so blessed to be the mama to this sweet little baby girl. ayla jo is four months old, and her whole family is absolutely in love with her. we think her smiles beyond cute, her coos darling, and her newly found giggles so sweet! thought it still takes some effort to get those little baby laughs out, they are well worth it! the boys are enjoying interacting with their baby sis a little more. she is reaching for toys and rewarding the boys for their attention with responses that they run and tell me about. brad is so enjoying being a daddy to a lovely little girl, already she has captivated her dad and he is determined to be her protector.

i do feel a little badly for innocent passers by who so much as take a second glance over at my little ayla jo, for i assault them with information about the little bundle i carry in my sling hither and yon. "this is ayla jo. she has two older brothers and wow am i loving all this pink! see this cute little shirt? well my dear friend is letting me borrow this. and this hat, i know, functional and adorable! she loves shopping with her mama...." typically at this point, the stranger starts inching away and i tear myself away from the conversation to continue with my task at hand. i realize the awkward positions i put people in, but i just cannot help myself. my love for ayla overwhelms me and has to escape somehow!

dressing her this holiday season is pure enjoyment. there are dresses with frills, headbands, and shoes, oh my! though she rarely is seen in public out of one of her pink little snowsuits, i know that she is rockin a baby girl dress and that is all that matters. at church on sunday i about pulled a muscle trying to wrench ayla free of her cute coat in order to show off her darling dress. as the ridge pointer had already moved on, i just showed brad again. he responded equally kindly the third time i showed him her outfit.

i cherish my morning time alone with ayla and the lord. every morning i pray that god equips me to demonstrate to all my children what it is to know him. these babes of mine are such beautiful gifts, i want to do all in my power to give them right back to Him.

Friday, December 10, 2010

god is good, god is great

this proclamation begins our every mealtime and bedtimes. simple enough for the boys to remember, yet profound enough to remind all who hear just how awesome our god is.

god is good.
his love endures forever.
he sent his only son to die for me.
he is with us, in sorrow and in joy.
he is merciful and gracious far beyond what we deserve.

god is great.
he is mighty to save.
he is our creator, and our deliverer.
victorious over the powers of darkness.
in his hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind.

i love praying with my family, for these truths are worthy of speaking aloud time and again throughout our days. these words are just beginning to take on the gravity of their meaning in the lives of my children, but we have long ways to go. after maxer and bear begin their prayers, they then start praising jesus for his blessings by thanking him for all he has given.

in order to keep the boys focused on the task at hand, brad devised a little method of grabbing their attention. when brad mentions the child's name for which he is praising god, he would jostle his hand, startling him into paying attention. this became a game, the boys anticipating daddy thanking jesus for him by name and reacting boisterously when brad did just that. the boys soon incorporated this ritual during their prayers. brad and i responded with delighted cheers when bear or max would thank jesus for us. this has become a cherished time together.

when we happen to have others join us for a meal, the prayers are much the same much to the surprise of our guests. when max or wes says thank you jesus for GRANDMA and jerks her arm her frightened and confused response is genuine and the whole table attempts to withhold their laughter at the cuteness.

last evening, bear seemed to run out of things for which to be thankful. he began having long pauses and umm's between his utterances. finally, he would squint, sneaking a peek around the table looking for suggestions. the result was a lengthy prayer thanking jesus for butter, sticky, pop, hot, and all gone.

our laughter and adoration was surely echoed in heaven after that sweet prayer. thank you jesus for the beauty of children.

Monday, December 6, 2010

adventures in mommyhood

there is never a dull moment in this household. and at times, we bring the party to the public. this morning, the endeavor entailed bundling three of the cutest little babes up, loading up the veen with said children and library books/dvds, and hitting the snow covered roads to bombard herrick public library with meistes.

we have a routine at the library. it involves shoving the books through the return slots, running upstairs to visit with the fish and turtles, selecting books/dvds, riding the elevator back downstairs, rocking on the gaming chairs while i desperately snatch a few books of my own, and checking out items out.

the final step, without fail, is usually a bathroom break or diaper change depending on the child. today maxer had to go pee. not a problem, herrick is well equipped for this sort of emergency. we shuffled into the restroom, me carrying all our books/movies, coats, hats, and ayla. max went right to work, much to the dismay of a fellow patron.

she yelled "close the door little man". i, being 1/2 a second behind him, assured the woman i would shield her from witnessing my small son standing at the potty. this woman unknowingly caused more drama as she used the blow dryer for her hands. i am very glad she washed her hands, and drying them is a part of the process, but the loud dryers freak my boys out. max turned in the stall, while still peeing i am afraid, and tried in vain to open the door i was holding shut for his privacy. while i was trying to get him to either stop peeing on the floor, bear ran out of the bathroom, away from the hand drier.


i ran after bear, went back to check on maxer who was having additional hysterics because of the automatic toilet flushing. bear began screaming "to loud, to loud!", ayla startled repeatedly, and max told me how he did not like that and next time he wants to pee outside on a tree. finally the lady left the bathroom with a disgusted look on her face and i was able to calm my children down and started stuffing their arms into their coats. i do not wear a coat, though it is 23 degrees out, as i have learned these sorts of occurrences are bound to happen and my body's response is to generate heat. snow all around me melted into puddles as we trudged back to the veen, the beacon of silver in that parking lot.

this story has a happy ending. we made it home safely, i utilized the commute to talk with my dear friend on the phone with children restrained in their seats, undies remained dry for the remainder of the outing, and now the house is still with little boys reading books and deciding between a dvd about tractors or loaders.

i think we will be staying home tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


oh the hubs. he had a tooth pulled yesterday, and the thought of such an occurrence literally makes me cringe. the problem started in april when he cracked a molar and he has been dealing with the troubled area with toothpicks and careful chewing for 6 months. the time had come for dental intervention. benjamin wickstra did his job well and brad spent the evening hungry, but with relatively little pain for an extraction. the pulled tooth did shape the evening slightly by necessitating activities that did not raise the patients blood pressure. so instead of chase and ramming, we played DOMINOES.

i felt very laura ingalls wilder as we sat by the fire with the dominoes strewn about and the tv off. it was a very good feeling. now, do not get impressed that the boys were playing such an adultish game. for they were not. instead, we set up huge (more than 10) runs of dominoes that the boys would knock over and create the chain reaction of tipping over the dominoes. not normally a difficult feat, the presence of little boys made any attempts at more elaborate systems impossible. maxer and bear would shake the table, "accidentally" bump a dominoe, or set some of their own dominoes too close to one our trains and the whole thing would start crashing. oh they would laugh.

max exemplified what would happen if you gave your child drugs by running wild through the whole house when the dominoes would fall. wes would look at brad and imitate exactly the noise and motions that brad did. we moved on to building domino towers. brad turned the activity into a lesson about stability and taught both max and i some tips on tower building. weston insisted on sitting right on my lap and carefully place dominoes on top of mine. so cute.

being in one another's company with christmas music blaring in the background, the night was sweetly enjoyable. the beauty of each family member's presence was exemplified by the lack of other distractions; a rare treat we typically opt out of for the sake of watching a little mike rowe on dirty jobs.

thank you christ jesus for the gift of family. you have blessed us so much with each member, thank you for the opportunity to appreciate the uniqueness of gifts and characteristics you have bestowed upon each member of our fam.

Monday, November 29, 2010

celebrations continue

the turkey is almost gone, but that does not mean the fun and festivities are over! another day of celebrating dawned on sunday.

we took the whole fam to 10am church and sat in the centre, the old auditorium of ridge that is now equipped with play structures and tables galore to encourage families to experience church together. this scenario works well for us as our children are phobic about nursery, and i am phobic about the germs in nursery (we had the flu 4 times last winter, i have cause for concern). the ready availability of cheerios and cinnamon toast crunch just solidifies this venue as the best choice for the meistes. well, the good times got better when my bro, sissies and almost bro in law rounded out our table. in the midst of worshipping and learning more ways to be jesus to people, one adorable boy playing near my more adorable boys stood on a block and roared obnoxiously. as that boys parents were gesturing to one another to tend to the situation and get that lion under control, bear bolts up, charges over to the lion and stands mere inches from the kid, right up in his face. bear did not utter a word, just stood there and glared menacingly into the childs face. lionboy stopped immediately, stepped down and went to play with some girls.

i almost peed my pants. that bear, he has got it under control!!

anywho, we churched, we returned home, we loaded up maxer and weston in brads parents vehicle and ventured forth to megan's vogelzang bridal shower. entertaining. such a cacophony of STRONG personalities. meggles was sure showered with something...

when we finally came home for the afternoon, we marinaded in the christmas spirit present in our home through the tree (my one and only decoration), and christmas music. so far only 5 ornaments have been broken. the tree has been up for 1 day. max and wes really especially enjoy a little stroller ornament that i received as a newborn. the stroller contains a teeny tiny ornament baby and the boys are constantly checking on that baby. i keep moving the ornament higher and higher up the tree which results only in the dragging of stools over to the tree and boys climbing up said stools and tumbling into said tree. i have a feeling that ornament may be the sixth to be broken.

we headed over to the lampens (brads parents) for pizza in the evening. delish for sure. my fave is just the 20 minutes it takes to get all children locked and loaded into the veen. hilarious. the whole time both bear and max start hollering for daddy to drive, not mommy. so, without fail, brad of course pretends he is going to drive and the boys panic and yell and beg and scream for him to drive. do you think this says anything about my driving skills? let's be honest, good driver or not i will be behind the wheel of that fine looking piece of vehicular machinery come rain or shine. watch out other drivers!

rest assured, ayla is doing well. i bought her stocking today while at meijer. it is hot pink with faux fur and glitter. yes, i love having a girl!! check her out in her cute christmas dress!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


happy birthday maxwell alan!

you are four, four years old max! you my son are worthy of celebration!

i praise jesus for blessing me with you as my son.

i rejoice in the lord for the gift you are to my life max. i cannot get enough of your presence. when you nap to long or are gone from me for even a short time i anxiously await getting one of your huge hugs and tight squeezes.

you are an awesome big brother. jesus gave you a caring spirit, a nature that tends towards encouragement, support, and helpfulness. both your brother and your sister adore you, and you delight in making ayla smile and teaching weston all you know. your best buddy, bear, is the recipient of such good times and great gifts. on your birthday, you would let bear have parts of your presentsi n order to ensure bear feels included and gets to have a part in the playtime.

max, you are growing and developing so quickly. it is a joy to witness you begin to recognize some letters, count in sequence, and figure out how things work. we occasionally get the opportunity to work on these things, just you and me, when the younger two are napping. i love having that special time with you.

maxer, you behave so well. you listen and obey most all the time. last week, we had to give you a little bit of vinegar in your mouth when you talked back to daddy. you were broken about that discipline. it tasted yucky, but your heart was absolutely hurt. you whimpered and trembled the rest of the evening. now when we mention that possibility you immediately apologize and change your behaviour.

daddy and i love you more than we can even comprehend. you are an absolute joy and every day with you is a true gift. it is our desire maxwell, that you will come to know that "this god is our god for ever and ever he will be our god even onto death" and begin your eternal relationship with jesus christ, following the example daddy and i strive to set before you. psalm 48:14

jesus, may we be worthy of the calling you have set before us in raising this beautiful boy to know you and make you known.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

good night

guess how long it takes me to put these precious boys to bed at night.
(this pic looked nice and warm and the boys so sweetly determined. but nothing to do with bedtime, i know)

here is a hint: when brad is around it takes between 10-15 minutes to brush teeth, jammy, and tuck in.

well things sure change when he leaves! the last couple of evenings have required HOURS of love and preparation to get maxer and bear to sleep. here is the biggest surprise:

i have loved every minute!

okay, not every one. the minutes that bear cries uncontrollable screaming words i cannot understand due to over tiredness are not the minutes i am referring to. (for future reference: he would like both his teddy bears in bed with him. so if he does that pointing at the door things while screeching and pumping his legs, try looking for said stuffed animals.)

but after each boy was tucked in with various comfort items all around them, pure bliss ensued.

they asked me to sing a couple lullabies for them. clearly very happy to oblige them that request.

we prayed lots for daddy, the black kikiki, and lots of thank yous for items i may have left out had it not been for their reminders. we had candy, warm snuggly nests, new toys, max's bday, and grandma with all the cars, and grandma with the boat all prayed over last night at the boy's direction.

then came the back scratches. first bear for like 3.2 seconds until he fell asleep. then maxer's turn.

but first a pee break for max.

then he was to tired to climb the stairs.

so i carried him. he is heavy. but he wrapped those adorable big boy arms around my neck and gave me an appreciative squeeze when i dropped him off at his bunk. oh that boy. so grown up. so generous with me, allowing his younger sibs to hang on me and be held while he goes without. but in those tired moments before he falls asleep, he cherishes being held, and getting his back scratched, and being so loved and adored by his mama that sleep engulfs his tired body and peace fills his tired mind. as i gazed at that big boy all snuggled up tight, my heart was overwhelmed with gratitude that jesus gave me that precious boy. yes he can be naughty and whiny and even a little exhausting, but he has filled every day of the last four years with a joy like no other and love overflowing.

i hope tonight brings more quiet time of adoring reflection of one mama and her two sons.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

fun at the fairfield

in order to help with the coping of missing bradley while he is hunting, the children and i took holland's fairfield inn by storm. we were not alone on this adventure. the adorable habers, nyhof, and kamphuis families joined the overnight fun fest. we pulled front and center into the parking lot promptly at check in with a whole entire van full of kids, supplies, and food. the process of unloading is much compounded when you are outnumbered three babies to one mama. i tried locking them in the room, but alas, they escaped. well, not ayla, she was an awesome listener the whole time.

other than the fab fams, the main draw to the hotel was the pool. swimming in november, fun for all ages! even the large troupe of 9 eight year olds celebrating a birthday. whoa. they were loud, the pool area was tiny and oh so humid, they had rhythm and chantings, and they were super intimidating to my easily overwhelmed swimmers and ears. after a fair amount of pool time, we headed to our room to destroy, i mean to play and prepare for a delish supper of little ceasars.

when our delivery girl, steph, arrived with food in hand, we all stormed the breakfast area and enjoyed the meal. translation: the adults quickly wolfed food down while taking turns trying to round the littles up and keep said children from running wild in the hotel and turning the lights on and off. good times were had by all.

eventually we could no longer keep the children from the pool and headed back into that hot arena. we had some time there without the birthday girls which really increased the fun level. fave activities included playing with the shower head meant to clean one's feet, kicking a large ball into the pool and nearly beheading the swimmers, running and slipping hard on the tile. ayla's fave was looking stinkin adorable

bathtime followed pool time, and sanck/movie time followed bath time. all the swimming and ramming made for some tired boys, so they were mellow as i prepped the babe and got cleaned of the pee/chlorine combo that made up that pool. brad called to report all was well at deer camp and gave me a beautiful pep talk. a good night's sleep ensued, during which both boys ended up with their feet on the pillows and baby ayla giggled in her sleep. so presh. the heat/ air conditioner presented me with a constant struggle to maintain the right temp so all peoples were comfy, but all in all morning found us raring to go.

6:30 am, ayla and i started coffee. i sipped while she smiled. bliss

7:00 boys awake and hungry. with ayla in the stroller, i wheeled back and forth to the the breakfast area bringing loads of cereals, fruit, bagels, and orange juice to my waiting boys. we consumed some food and spilled some food. sorry fairfield cleaning peeps.

another round of swimming with the preteens kept us busy until we cleaned up and checked out. reflecting on our mini vacay, i am so grateful for great friends, cute kids, and a delightful husband who suggested such an endeavour.

Friday, November 12, 2010


the love of my life turns 33 tomorrow. my desire to celebrate the whole day through directly contrasts with his desire to go to deer camp tomorrow. well, the bday boy wins. as much as the circumstances create a bipolar response from me: overwhelming love and appreciation in celebration of my man's birth, juxtaposed with frustration and sadness at my man's departure; i am rather grateful the two events are on the same day. it makes me try harder to be nice and send him off with a kiss and fond memories instead of guilt :) i just really depend on the man.

so this happy birthday, i will fondly relate the blessings brad brings into my life and focus on those instead of the sadness of not having the fam complete without him.

- the daddy playtime. oh these boys need to play like boys: wrestling, throwing/catching balls, running wild, riding on people: all things dad does better or instead of mom.

- my morning kiss. though i can barely remember brads departure in the morning as i am desperately trying to squeeze in the last minutes of available sleep, i always recall the sweet kiss and proclamation of love every am.

- his appreciation of my cooking. when it is just me and the boys and baby ayla, i am really the only one willing to branch out of the usual mac and cheese or hotdog options for mealtime. with brad home, he always bravely tries new recipes, and assures me my hard work in the kitchen is well worth the effort.

- the sense of security that bradley brings. he sleeps on the side of our bed closest to the door in order to be in better position to protect me if we had an intruder. ADORABLE

- the team. brad and i make such an incredible team. we balance one another's concerns, hold one another's hands through good times and bad, tag team with disciplinarian issues, willingly hear one another's troubles and tribulations, and build one another up when needed. i am way better at teamwork than independent parenting.

- attitude. never have i interacted with someone as jokey, funny, and consistently upbeat as my hubby. though it can grate on one's nerves if not feeling the same temperament at the time, spending some quality time with brad will ensure your spirits are lifted.

until my many man returns with a buck in the back of the truck (or corey's deer as the case was last time :)), i will do my best to enjoy the time with my kiddos all to myself and not shave, cook, or really wear anything but comfy clothes. books will be read, mcdonalds will be eaten, and brad will be missed!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010


i recall a date with brad before marriage in which we ate at johnny carinos in an intimate booth, focused primarily at the love shining from one another's eyes.


five years later, i now have a new johnny carinos image seared into my memory. we had some family errands to run last night, so we decided to eat out as we were already "in town" already. earlier in the day, i had sneaked to mcdonalds for lunch so i was attempting to nonchalantly steer us away from a burger joint. as brad drove into culvers, i commented on how empty johnny's parking lot appeared. so we gave it a go

we sat in a similar booth as our date night, only this time all three kids were crammed in there with us. max is to big for a high chair, so weston thinks he is as well. the boys sat next to brad, and i had ayla in the sling as well as all the jackets next to me. it was snug. it also seemed the table was shoved way close to me and ayla. which might have been a result of the fidgeting and ramming coming from the boys' side.

the service was fast, tho lacking in the friendly. when we speedily received our food, the waiter, alvin, literally shoved brads arm out of the way with his bowl of chicken gorgonzola. the boys ordered pizza but quickly had their eyes on the prize sitting in front of me: spaghetti. while i did try to direct their attention back to their own meal, the shrieking coming from our youngest son made me much more willing to share.

i planted my plate of spaghetti in front of bear, and he and max quickly began forking noodles into their mouth. by into, i mean all over themselves with one or two noodles reaching the desired destination. thinking quickly, brad zipped up bear's coat so most stray sauce and noodles landed there. in a matter of minutes, bear was covered head to toe. as i was starving, and nursing at the time, i reached gracefully over the table to get my own forkfuls of which landed equally gracefully all over ayla and me. brad inhaled his meal. i asked for more bread to mop up and fill the hole of hunger remaining in my belly after the majority of my meal was consumed by my sons. we were out of there in about 20 minutes all together. i was laughing the entire meal, brad was sweating, ayla was nursing, max and wes were spilling.

oh what a night

though there were plenty of differences from that first romantic rendezvous at carinos, the love between brad and i was magnified. there he was, my handsome hubby, choking down his supper and doing heroic damage control for the spillage dripping off our sweet and adorable boys. our eyes met across the table and there was no mistaking the love, adoration, and joy of having entertaining and exciting date nights now that we have three little blessings.

how romantic!

Monday, November 1, 2010

trick or treat

oh halloween. a weekend full of delish candy delights and the most adorable max puppy, bear lion, and ayla ducky around. our festivities began on thurs evening with a JCI office trick or treat route. my dad invited us to visit his work and participate in this event and we happily obliged. my sis kels was there to assist in the visual contact of the oh so excited boys. the boys quickly picked up on the benefits of halloween, and raced from one office to another saying please and thank you instead of trick or treat. oh well. i was shouting from the back on their behalf. and sometimes on my own behalf, there was really good candy at stake. we followed the arrows to office after office, except the two times i got us lost in the southview jci plant due to my overeager arrow misreading. though we found no candy in those areas, we did meet some nice folks.

my dad dressed as a cowboy/howard stern man. he is clever that one. last year he was a disturbed veteran complete with bloodied army fatigues. he turned off the lights in his office and laid on his desk with a bowl of candy resting in his outstretched arm. when a child would approach, he scared them, bad. some children have not recovered. after we made our rounds, we hit the cafeteria for donut holes and cider. yum. then we went on to supper at russ. my dad wore his wig inside the most conservative restaurant around. good times.

on saturday we joined some friends to participate in the treats and trails event at the outdoor discovery center. outstanding program. as we toured the trails, the kids got candy, lessons on owls, a hayride, some up close and personal time with snakes, and smores. such fun. ayla got hungry during this activity, so at one point i nursed her in the sling while walking the trails. no one could even tell. well, some people could but i was still discreet :)

we had so many treats this weekend, brad thought it time for a trick. yesterday i asked him to listen for ayla so i could quick take a shower. while i was still in the bathroom, i could hear her screaming so i was frustrated with my man and hurrying to tend to her needs. i rushed into the room after glaring at brad and could not find her on the bed where i had put her for her nap. i panicked and searched the surrounding floor. sure enough, she was laying next to the bed crying hard. at this point, brad remembers me waving my arms, taking a step forward and back, screaming "brad, the boys tried to pick ayla up and dropped her on the floor", and finally surging forward to rescue the little angel. brad could no longer contain himself and burst into laughter. he assured me ayla was not harmed in the making of this dramatic joke, he just gently laid her on the floor knowing i would reach a stage 4 spaz attack. never a dull moment. i have eaten approximately 14 pounds of candy to soothe myself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

we're going to the zoo zoo zoo

(title comes from a raffi song i fondly recall from my childhood. for those of you who do not know, raffi is a somewhat creepy man with a full beard and guitar who sang rather catchy songs for kids. on a sidenote, raffi is also the reason brad crossed out the name rafferty from my baby boy name list during my pregnancy with ayla.)

that is right, yesterday, we headed to the zoo! after catching the early service at ridge during which my children behaved much like zoo animals, we came home for some brunch, then headed out to the john ball park zoo. while walking into the zoo, brad and i took note of our clothing and felt a little out of place. brad sported a lovely fall coat from a SLAUGHTER house, and baby ayla was looking pretty in her pink FAUX FUR jacket. peta loves us. not really. but that is just fine because we feel the same way about them.

we rode/ran through that zoo taking in all the animals with much curiosity and excitement. we saw the bears, monkeys, lions, and four other animals still outside in the fall season. then we ventured indoors to the stinky aquarium, creepy reptile room, and the fascinating froggy homes. of all the animals we observed, brad was my fave.

while spectating the lions, brad worked extremely hard to apply as much pressure on this strength measuring apparatus as he possibly could. for some reason, he felt it needed to be done in a very quick motion, like the the lion snapping shut its jaws and the resulting attempts were hilarious. alas, the lion's jaws still hold their place in being the strongest, brad was a close second tho! max was stronger than me at this, so that was embarrassing.

the boys' fave exhibit was the parrot. at the time, brad was carrying bear on his shoulders. the parrot would bob its head, or swing it from side to side and brad would promptly mimic the motions- much to the delight of the boys. both maxer and bear were convinced brad was making the bird move for their enjoyment and were so eager to accept this entertaining gift. the giggles were beyond precious. the public stopped to watch the adorable boys giggling with their daddy more than to look at the parrot. cuteness!

so thankful for that beautiful time together at that stinky zoo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

here comes the bride

in just about two short months, my little sis is getting married! i am super excited for her to enter into a marriage with her fiance austin because i know how incredible marriage can be. the love, the stability, the fun, and the joy of living with your bestest friend are my own marital experiences and ones that i prayerfully anticipate she will receive as well. with the date so quickly approaching, we took some time yesterday while she was home on break to take care of some wedding business: the boys' tuxes.

what an honor it is to have my sons a part of the blessed event. truly, so touching. and a little frightening as their obedience skills leave much to be desired. however, beans (my sis) is willing to take that risk for the presence of her nephews parading down the aisle in their cute little tuxes.

we loaded the veen with children, donuts, suckers, and juiceboxes and hit the open road for grandville where we located the mens warehouse. after explaining to the boys what was going to happen in there, getting dressed for beans' wedding, we entered the store and the boys ran to the few grody/dirty toys for our convenience. ayla utilized this moment of distance from the boys to begin her screech cry.

thankfully, the mens warehouse man was totally understanding. maxer was up first. oh was he brave, following directions so well: airplane, soldier, standing tall. then he donned the jacket, adorable. i melted with delight at the glance of my grown up son so handsome.

bear was up next. things did not go as smoothly. initially, he flung himself on the floor in a collapse of boy. next i attempted to put him on the table for his measure and he clung to me for dear life screaming "mommy, where are you?". he could not get closer to me if he tried unless he was under my skin. sweet, but embarrassing. we finally managed to get a jacket on him which he wore oh so well. mission accomplished, sort of.

since all children began a melt down, we departed fast and furiously to the veen. once veggie tales was plugged in, hooked ayla up to the goods, and doled out snacks, i was feeling good about my cute sons' presence in the upcoming nuptials. while megan took care of the finances (seriously, $ 110 to rent max's tux and 65 to purchase bears. ouch, thank you beans for your generosity with the gift cards!!), max took a potty break in the trees three feet away from the van. do not worry, i made sure he went quite far into the tree so no drivers by would see the precious little boy with his pants down :)

with this detail taken care of, we are one step closer to welcoming austin into the fam!! woo hoo

Friday, October 8, 2010


new babies are miracles manifested before our very eyes. ayla has filled our life with wonder and joy and faith renewed as we watch her grow and develop. god's design for family, and specifically motherhood, continues to amaze me. the whole nursing experience is just beyond me: so so strange, but so so beautiful at the same time. currently, nursing is the only down time i have during which i am not asleep. my appetite definetel exemplifies my need to continue eating for two. the other day i had a $5 footlong from subway at 4 and still consumed a very hefty portion of porkchop and potatoes at 7.

i do take a little pride in seeing my angel ayla go from this teeny tiny babe

to this slightly less tiny of a babe

relying on my milk as her sole source of nourishment. now that is progress. wild.

having a little daughter overwhelms me with gratitude. i love the pink (reminder: pink is my fave color followed closely by the color sparkle). however, the differences in raising my girl and my boys extend far beyond clothing and diaper changes.

most prominent in my own mind right now is the gift that god gave me to redeem mother/daughter relations in my life. with ayla i get the opportunity to have a healthy mother/daughter relationship full of all the blessings god intended for this unique bond that i did not get to experience fully with my own mother. though this lack of example certainly intimidates me, i am confident jesus will provide me the love and instinct necessary to fully enjoy this special gift of being a mommy to a daughter.

also, my prayers for baby ayla are distinctly different. for her i pray she finds an example in me of a proverbs 31 (ish) woman. i pray that she recognizes how she already completely captivates her daddy. i pray that she finds in my relationship with brad an example of marraige she will strive to find in her own life.

i also frequently pray for patience, but that is for me and involveds my feelings about all my children ;)

may i be your intstrument jesus in raising these cherished gifts of children.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

i'm lovin it

my husband rocks. seriously, he is my fave. i celebrate this fact, acknowledge this info,and hopefully let brad know this feeling even when he is oft absent from family life and present in the field instead. mondays are difficult days of adjustment after we just got to spend the whole day together. the boys frequently melt down and whine for daddy, especially when i am mean by making them take a nap, or clean up, or eat or something.

so, yesterday we were struggling through the day while knowing that the night would be long without brad. i attempted to break things up by taking the kids to timber town where all the other moms had really cute outfits on that fit well and matched appropriately. they also had super nice hair, styled, curled, and staying right where they wanted it. then there was me. my hair was wet and pulled back in a big snarl. my outfit consisted of a sweatshirt my darling sis gave me because it did not fit well. i mention this only because much of my day was consumed thinking of how i really should put forth more effort in my appearance so that brad continues to find me a hot mama. and this thought pattern made my day seem even longer.

kids played, kids napped, and kids woke up with some whines. i distributed snacks continually until suppertime arrived. and then, i fell in love all over again.

brad called to say he had 1/2 hour available for dinner, would i like to meet him at mcdonalds?

let me just say that mcdonalds has a special place in my heart. a place of love and adoration. it is a restaurant i could dine in three times a day every day without getting sick of it. i love the variety, i love the cute ads, i love the fries, i love big macs, i love that my boys usually eat something when we are there, and i love fountain coke. so my answer to brad's question was;

h to the yeah.

i threw all babies into the veen and careened to m40 where i saw the golden arches beckoning me like a beacon in the darkness. within the restaurant itself sat my man, who after working all day, has made ME dinner. i fell in love all over again over my big mac and the boys' nuggets. i literally giggled as i gazed into the eyes of my beloved (brad, not the big mac)

oh what a night.

Monday, October 4, 2010


welcome to the season full of beautiful colored leaves, delicious crisp apples, and yummy desserts of pumpkin and pecans. though fall brings cooler temps, we are choosing not to grieve over the loss of hot summer days spent entirely outside and the onset of nonstop illness (i have already had the flu once. boo), but celebrating the blessings of fall instead!

fieldwork: yes, it surely separates the fam as brad spends his days and nights in a tractor or combine, but nothing compares to the excitement in my boys as they run out to ride with their daddy. so precious.

the corn stove: brad purchased our pellet stove soon after we were married and we have enjoyed it ever since. the cozy temps and delightful smell just makes our family time in the living room even more comfy. we started it up for the first time yesterday and found evidence of the boys' play- a large hunk of crust wedged into the fan and a matchbox car shoved into the air vent. thankfully, brad removed both without irreversible damage.

kitty: no, the cat is not allowed inside. however, it hangs around outside the front door scavenging for food and the boys climb up on strategically arranged stools and talk to the kikiki from the window. this is hilarious and entertaining for me to witness as they attempt to scare the kitty away.

creativity: the children must get creative with their inside confinement. yesterday maxer gave himself a sharpie tattoo right on his forehead. lovely.

reading time: maxer and bear are more apt to snuggle with mom and read some stories if the option to go outside is not so available. we have been reading lots of bible stories this morning. in fact maxer believes he has a good command of the stories and is currently reading them to bear. "this man has an owie toe and god healed him. these kids are sad but god made them happy. this is a horsey that god made" oh boy, now he has integrated me and brad into the stories: "here is mommy with a tiger", a typical day for mom obviously.

thank you jesus for the change of seasons! let us enjoy the unique time of fall, looking for you in the beauty outside our homes and the love inside.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

tricky with three

adjusting to three children brings joy, frustration, contentment and sweat. now, the children outnumber the parents. though only by one, it can seem like it is by 1,000 when they all have different wants and needs and expect them to be met immediately. brad and i are a stellar team (mostly), and i depend upon his fathering skills to be the best at mothering as i can. therefore, when brad is absent, oh do i feel that absence.

recently, he has ventured on a golf trip and is currently in the throes of harvest season. truly, we are fine and totally surviving. things are just a little different without brad around. there is a learning curve involved and the main lesson for me is to pick my battles. i cannot possibley be privy to all the boys are doing while i am tending to ayla. this realization is something the boys have certainly picked up on and are doing all they can to take advantage. i am so thankful that ayla is such a determined and persistent nurser, for frequently battles are raged while i am attempting to feed her. here are some of the fights i have had with the boys today while nursing:

getting popsicles out of the freezer and consuming them at 8:52 in the morning while completely ignoring their breakfasts. this one i let go- at least they will be well hydrated and sugared

"rocking" the pack n play to the point where it tips over and bear cries oh no broken! as ayla was not in the portable crib at the time, i let this fly as well. do not fear, she is never out of sight as this sort of "gentle" attention is the only kind the boys possess. even when i take a shower i lock her in the bathroom with me

checking on the kitty. outside. alone. fight, i won by dragging each boy in and keeping them in time out, all while nursing. the girl can suck.

throwing clothes down the stairs. clean and folded and put away clothes. battle. i have enough to do without doing it twice boys.

ps- it is only one o'clock. about time for a nap i would say!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


good friends are blessings in so many ways.

like when they give you a cat. the nyhofs thoughtfully bestowed upon us this fine specimen of feline:

as you can see, the boys cannot stand the thing. just kidding, they adore little inky. every morning they awake thinking of her and really do not tire of playing with her at every opportunity they get.we save our leftovers and bring them out for the "kiki" as bear calls her. this cat is so very tolerant. boys do not play gently with kittens apparently. maxer and bear often throw the kitty, grab it by its tail, and force its little face into a dish of milk or water or whatever food i happen upon to donate to inky's cause.
after several attempts to allow inky freedom, she just keeps coming back.
trust me, meiste boys can be extremely charming!

Monday, September 20, 2010

complete chaos aka ayla's baptism

baptism is a sacred affair, one we took very seriously. ayla is god's first and we are committed to raising her to know and love him. before launching into the story of ayla's special evening, i wanted to make sure to clarify that we do take baptism seriously...

it is just our boys who do not.

perhaps that is a bit unfair. maybe they just do not know how to appropriately express their excitement at being honored as brothers of sweet baby ayla, the one we are so lovingly bringing before the lord and our friends and fams to announce the desire of our hearts: to give her all the opportunity to establish her own faith.

yes, the latter is definitely what adorable maxer and bear were struggling with that night.

it is no secret that brad was not exactly looking forward to standing in front of the community of believers making up the audience on baptism night, but i do believe he scarcely had time to think of that fact. all children were behaving moderately well while waiting for ayla's turn. by the time we got on stage, brad held weston in his arms and maxer's hand while i was cradling ayla. all was peaceful until maxer began crawling under the curtain on the stage, much to the baptism coordinator's dismay. she conveyed with her eyes to brad that something had to be done immediately to stop max from peeking under that curtain. brad gently set weston down to drag max back to his spot between parents when weston bolted. he ran full tilt down the ramp from the stage to the green room.

bopa (my dad) hurtled onto the stage and began racing after him leaving the public to wonder just what danger weston was headed toward. about this time, ayla began her screech cry, piercing the reverent silence with a high pitched squeel. pastor jim miraculously continued to bless us with beautiful words of inspiration and dedication thru it all.

upon his amen, we turned to leave the stage and make room for the next fam when


maxer tripped over his own feet and smacked down hard on the stage. before even the steps. i smiled at the crowd while brad gracefully hefted max into his arms and proceeded down the steps to our table.

i escorted max and ayla out to the lobby so ayla could nurse and max could run wild with his buddies. twenty minutes of loud screams of delight, games of chase, sweat from the mothers' brows while trying to contain said children and the night ended with cookies and coffee.

we ran for the van, and further broke the door making it impossible to load ayla's carseat in place.

by the time we got home, our darling daughter was baptized, our boys traumatized, our van in disrepair, and brad and i were exhausted.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

happy birthday weston bear

my baby boy, my second son

being your mommy is so much fun!

as we celebrate you turning two

we recognize what makes you you!

your climbing ability rivals a monkey's skill

of playing outside, you never get your fill

you got your handsome looks from dad

that makes daddy proud and the girls all glad

you mimic your big brother's words and deeds

max is your best bud who happily leads

happiest when covered in dirt and grime and mud

you are such an active boy, no day is a dud

now that you are ayla's big bro

there's even more about you we are getting to know

for example, you are protective and sweet

not so gentle, but your kisses cannot be beat

you are a perfect fit in our family of five

such a joy to celebrate your being alive

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

adventures in cadillac

we took to the road on saturday and headed up to cadillac, joining brad's family for some celebrations. it was quite a momentous weekend what with baby bear is turning 2 this week, auntie debbie turning 40 next week, grandpa lampen's 70th birthday, and Carlos' Gotcha Day. Needless to say, spirits were high as we departed saturday afternoon. much to my delight, ayla slept the entire two hours, bear took a mini nap, and maxer remained quite entertained with jimmy neutron the movie, asking if we were there yet only every couple of minutes.

when we did finally get there, we unloaded the entire back of our van into our camper which is conveniently parked at the wenke's cabin. our stay was just one evening, but the amount of stuff i packed would provide comfort aplenty for a family of 17 for an entire month. whoa. after the rest of the clan returned from an outing, the boys promptly began shooting at clay pigeons.
my sons were thrilled with this activity, bear dressed the part of a navy seal in training:

while maxer dutifully yelled for everyone to cover their ears when the clay pigeons were released.

that evening, we feasted on pulled pork bbq's and sue's cake (the meiste family recipe that no celebration is complete without).

everyone slept great in the camper despite the frigid temperatures in the am, rendering us ready for the day ahead. while most daddy's golfed in the morning, we played hard outside and in. ayla slept hard in the arms of people who adored her. ps- how presh is the headband from auntie amber?!

what a fun weekend spent bonding with our incredible family and counting our blessings for all the reasons we had to celebrate this weekend.

Monday, August 30, 2010

how great is our god

the last week has left me overwhelemd by the blessing of a sweet baby girl. i truly cannot get enough of the adorable little precious, putting her down to be productive is just about the most difficult thing about my days. (note the usage of just about, my days are oft still full of beautiful baby adoration and two little boys' naughtiness).
here is the story of our little girl's arrival:

once upon a time, friday, aug 20th at 3am, i started having contractions every 10 min. i had many, many braxton hicks with this pregnancy, so i knew there was a difference and the second my mind thought, it could be today that we meet this baby, there was no rest, only adrenaline. so i painted my toes and fingernails, did some laundry, watched some reality tv, and paced until the rest of the fam sensed the excitement and got up for the day.

we were especially thrilled with the possibility that our babe could be born on aug 20th, brad's dad's bday. what a sweet legacy and reminder of austin jay meiste, to have a grandbaby born on his birthday. just in case, our girls' name, ayla jo, utilized the same intials as austin jay, so both would be ajm. special.

so, by noonish, the contractions had intensified and were now every 3-5 minutes. after taking the boys for a hard walk, i called brad and sandy to come on over, thinking i should be at the hospital with plenty of time for the group b strep antibiotic. we arrived at the hospital, next door to our super friends the legwaters who had just had baby elliot, and got checked out. i was dialated to a whopping 2 cm. boo. under the guidance of nurse vicki, my dad's old girlfriend from highschool, and the very same nurse who labored with maxwell, we decided to wait it out and check in an hour or so. during that time, we visited with the legwaters and met baby elliot. so sweet! after two hours, my hard contraction work resulted only in slight progress, vicki assured me i was now measuring 3 cm, but i think she lied in effort to keep me in the hospital.

we made a plan with dr taylor to start the antibiotics, followed by some pitocin, aka go juice. antibiotics in at 4, pitocin began at 8:30. brad and i spent the entire day together chatting, anticipating, reminiscing, and playing card games. it was some nice quality time together just the two of us while awaiting the newest fam member. finally, i asked to be checked at 11 pm, exhausted after laboring all day. bad news, nothing had happened since 4! boo.

dr taylor stopped in and suggested two paths for us to choose from:

1. go home, sleep, and hope labor progresses in a couple days. then come back to the hospital and redo all the antibiotics. umm, no. or

2. take sleeping pill, continue to increase pitocin and hope progress is made during the night.

we went with the second option. after two LARGE sleeping pills, i was a loopy doop. at one point, i asked brad how many tvs were in the room. brad took the liberty to go ahead and insist on an epidural at that time. he was way concerned about the whole passing out due to my proclamations of pain and dying again. i recall getting the epidural, being checked again around 5 (and at a 5 at this point), and then jolting awake at 6 with intense pain. after pushing the epidural juice button several times, connie the nurse assured me she would check me while putting in a catheter. after the check, she calmly dialed dr taylor and demanded he get here immediately. no catheter, baby was ready to be born.

about 10 minutes later, we hear dr taylor running down the hall. he arrived, sat down, gloved up and told me i could push whenever i felt the need. while i needed, after like one push, dr taylor announced it was a girl!

he handed her over,

we fell in love,
dr taylor departed,

and our life was forever changed by the 7 lb 3 ounced, 19 inched bundle of joy: ayla jo

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

jelly man

many summer days are spent playing out on the swingset in our backyard. maxer and bear create mini farms in the sand, swing, slide, hang out in the "fort" and otherwise expend lots of energy and happy hours. during their adventures, i leisurely sit in a lounge chair reading and exclaiming about the boys antics every now and then. oh how i love these days.

the location of above described "park" warrants some occasional visitors of the amphibious variety. frogs. or toads. either way, those little yuck ribbiting squishy things find their way into our sandbox, much to the delight of my boys. there is much ruckus while maxer procures a pail and attempts to catch a frog. the end result is sometimes a captured toad, and sometimes a squashed remnant of frog- the result of a miss with the bucket.

earlier this week, maxer was successful in catching a toad and became very attached to the thing. when i asked max what the toad's name was max responded, "uhh, jelly man". up to this point, maxer typically named stuffed animals, bugs, etc just what they are. so previous frogs had been named frog. to have come up with jelly man is so adorable and a complete breakthrough in the imagination.

jelly man is one lucky toad. max and bear took turns taking it down the slide, pushing him on the swings, and showing him their fave things in the house. at long last, when jelly man was showing signs of fatigue, we released him back to the wild.

love how my kids make my life such an adventure!

Monday, August 9, 2010

we went, we camped, we are happily at home

our last camping trip of the season ended yesterday. how we will miss camp life-where we go outside as soon as we are awake, and camp food-the longest dinner preparations took like 20 minutes and the days are full of grazing on snacks, and camp friends- seriously some of the greatest people i know all gathered together as neighbors. we remain comforted in knowing our summer adventures will continue with the arrival of a baby (someday...), and plenty of good times outside still to come.

this trip was at dutch treat, just in case babe wanted to come early- we were even closer to zeeland hospital than at home. baby decided h to the no, so the proximity to captain sunday was more useful. those dutch treat peeps are not such big fans of the meiste camping group. we were literally yelled at or strongly spoken to every day for breaking rules such as riding bikes on paved roads, digging in the dirt near our camper, and riding bikes in the dirt. thankfully, val and steph graciously dealt with the lady more often than i did, i mostly shouted things back to her when she would whir by on her bike shouting instructions. not my finest moment, but the hormones are raging and she yelled at my kid.

other than that minor downfall, we had a super fun time complete with gorgeous weather and happy healthy children. one memory to be forever cherished is the creative usage of jason kline's remote control truck. i believe there is a more fitting name for his automotive wonder, but it is a big truck that jason can control remotely, so there ya go. after impressing my boys with the maneuvers and noise, jason got the idea to utilize the power of the truck to drive the wagon.

bear started things off, riding bravely in the wagon steered by a large truck. then jason tested the strength by putting older children in the wagon. finally, he himself rode in the wagon pulled by his big truck. it was a sight to behold.

now that we are home, i am again so grateful for the time spent with amazing friends and so behind on laundry :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

9 months preggers

wow, 9 months is a long time. almost a year really. so many minutes spent picturing the possibilities of this babe, so many prayers sent pleading for a healthy pregnancy and baby in due time, and so much anticipation for the day of baby's arrival. though the pic does not really do my massive belly justice, brad was not in the mood to photograph, i am huge. at least i feel huge. while at the beach last night i could not stop thinking that the public was laughing at my very impressive impression of a beached whale.
37 weeks is considered full term. i am so there. until i remember the labor part of it, then i can wait another day. until i remember the newborn part and then i am ready to self-induce once more. remember the hormones are really pumping now so it is completely understandable to have this extreme back and forth of feelings ;)
for real, i miss brad and me not pregnant. things are just different when a girl really has a severe lack of control over emotions and is uncomfortable much of the time. brad is super supportive and encouraging, and he is grateful we are nearing the end. i feel less like a teammate to my hubby and more like a slow moving drain.
with all those whinings being written, i must also say that i am completely aware of what a blessing it is to be at this point in my pregnancy with a healthy baby. i so adore feeling babe move. i love that my attention to maxer and bear is only halved and not reduced into thirds yet. shamefully, i admit i love the attention i get while at work or play with this huge belly. having strangers get all caught up in the excitement of a baby reminds me of the gift pregnancy and babies really are.
camping this week will be a beautiful distraction from my intense desire to meet baby #3. the relaxing environment will absorb my lack of motivation and energy, the people will provide plenty of entertainment and support, and my boys will be sure to keep me busy enough for the days to keep right on tickin by.

Friday, July 23, 2010


suppertime at our house is loud. and wild. and chaotic. it is super fun and there is laughter and stories and sometimes tears, but it is definitely always loud. as soon as brad arrives home from work, the boys launch into stage 5 of excitement and anticipation, screeching, running, etc. from that moment on, when brad leaves the house for any reason, including to grill our pork steaks, the boys then plunge into the stages of grief. anger, depression, sobbing, etc. last night, brad and i were optimistic to attempt conversations in the midst of his coming and going to grill, the boys' roller coaster of emotions, and my final preparations involving cheesy potatoes and biscuits. right around this time maxer decided to make us all some kool-aid as a refreshing beverage to go with our supper. so, i am attempting to tell brad about bear's recent potty accomplishments/making biscuits/asking maxer to be patient with the kool-aid, brad is grilling/listening/comforting the crazy boys, maxer is wielding a large scissors/pulling up a stool to the sink/spilling kool-aid powder on the kitchen floor, and weston is crying for the scissors/pulling his own stool/loud. wow

once everything was on the table, things did quiet slightly. mouths were busy chewing and drinking, so we had that working to our advantage. both boys finished their meals in 3.2 seconds and were off to play in the living room. i began clearing the table and brad started up the mower. maxer and weston then fought for the coveted spot on brads lap while i made herculean efforts to intervene in the boy left waiting's sorrow.

the evening ended in a movie night all snuggled together in our bed. we successfully got everyone to sleep despite the raging storm outside and finally settled down to sleep ourselves. unbelievabley loud claps of thunder and cracks of lightening kept us awake talking baby names and tornadoes. suddenly at 12:00 all was silent. though the storm continued, the house was quiet and without power. even with the diminished rain and lightening and thunder, we could not sleep for the overwhelming and deafening SILENCE.

we are surrounded by noise, lots of noise, all day every day and even into the night. silence is uncomfortable and unfamiliar to us, yet this is what god calls us to in order to hear his voice. "Search your hearts and be silent" Psalm 4:4. brad pointed out the sadness of a life so full of noise and distraction we cannot even sleep in the silence. rob bell has an awesome nooma on this very subject, so provocative and challenging to me. what if i gave god the opportunity to really speak into my life instead of drown him out in my complaining about problems, busyness with life, and noise in general.

thank you jesus for the reminder of our desperate need for quiet where your still small voice is heard instead of the noise of our hectic lives.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

kels is home

i am so very proud of my littlest sis kelstastic right now. she made it home yesterday from a super intense spiritual and physically exhausting journey through the mountains in wyoming. though i prayed faithfully for her safe return, seeing her and hugging her were so rewarding. last night we reunited at logan's and she regaled us with stories of heartache, and beauty in the wilderness, and new friends, and spiritual growth. i am so blessed by this sis.

my boys were less content about hearing all about kels' journey. they typically command the center of attention, and being in public does nothing to slow their roll. brad has golf league on monday nights which now includes a few holes before and after league, so he was out. so i loaded up my cute kids and several toys. the entire drive max persistently asked if i would be leaving him at logans. like abandoning him at the restaurant and jetting. after countless reassurances, and loading the veen with pillows, blankies, and puppies to comfort him, i think he started to believe me. nonetheless, once we arrived, both boys were glued to my side. i love my boys and love holding them and being with them, however, i could scarcely move with a child clinging to my either side and one growing in my belly.

our waitress was a sweet friend from school and amidst her comments on how darling my boys and belly were, and her attempts at assisting the crabby and seemingly frightened children, whining and clinging were at an all time high. both boys are intimidated by strangers, and most every person who is not me, so everyone's assistance was causing more drama. enter the drunken dudes at the table nearest us. after asking the boys' names and calling max matt, they hailed the local animal balloon maker to come to the table and entertain the stricken boys. the addition of another stranger, this one yielding balloons and other tools again caused more drama. however, once he began to form maxer's piggy, both boys calmed down and watched attentively. wes was throwing a fit on my diaper bag on the floor, and max was witnessing the event from my lap. meanwhile our waitress jillian stood by either unable to turn away or waiting to take our order, i am really still unsure.

in addition to making balloon animals this talented fellow also performed card tricks. really elaborate count four cards then flip one over, split the deck and turn face up, space out all the aces card tricks. my dad was engaged in these tricks, until he finally thanked the magician several times and told him repeatedly last trick. since i knew what i wanted from the second kels suggested logans, we were able to order real promptly and contain the boys who would not keep their shoes on for several minutes until said food arrived. then we inhaled the delish food, looked at kels' pics, and took turns taking the boys for walks around the restaurant.

i am quite sure it was enough to make kels run for the solitude of wyoming once again.