Tuesday, March 29, 2011


thursday morning dawned brightly and beautifully; the roads were being plowed, breakfast was being served complete with danishes, biscuits and gravy, and fresh fruit, and the air freshners were being hocked from the public restrooms located in the days inn. (brad ensured we got our money's worth in stolen goods). after another dip in the pool, we loaded the veen and started towards traverse city. as we were ahead of schedule for the first time ever in our lives, we stopped for some lunch at... MCDONALDS! oh, angus burger bliss. then we also stopped at kohls to meet some basic needs:

brad lost weight enough to own only one pair of jeans that currently fit. he has worn said jeans to every single chiropractor appointment and was starting to feel embarrassed. so we bought some on sale at kohls. he looks amazing.

because baby ayla is the most adorable, beautiful, and best baby ever, i did not notice she had leaked through her diaper until i had her in the sling at kohls. so i was soaked in cute baby ayla pee, but pee nonetheless. so i quick found a TIGHT black hoodie, and hello kitty tshirt. i am not a good shoppper. especially under pressure, but hey, i was not covered in pee.

and then, we entered the final destination of waterpark adventure 2011, great wolf lodge.

bradley worked his magic yet again, and we were granted our room 3 hours early. we quickly donned our suits and headed for the fun. maxer proceeded to run from ride to ride, braving the scariest slides and independently exploring every nook and cranny of that place.

bear, with lots of encouragement, went down the mini slides time after time.

aylaroo sat sweetly in her stroller, or strapped to my side in the sling with narry a fuss.

when the habers arrived, the fun only intensified.

we breaked for pizza, then slid and splashed some more. eventually, the kids tired and we could pack our room full of sleeping beauties once again only to play hard again in the morning.

what a blessing it was to have this opportunity to bond as a family. i fell in love with my delightful husband and excellent children even more, and i loved them about as much as is possible before this trip. every morning since our return, the boys ask if we can go bye bye to the waterpark again. someday kids!

Monday, March 28, 2011

the journey

how many times have you heard the cliche "life is the journey, not the destination"? at times that statements brings great sentiment, other times, it describes our trip to great wolf lodge last week. for so long, we had been anticipating this one night adventure in traverse city. family time, uninterrupted by work and other commitments, is so precious. in addition, our amazing friends the habers were joining us to compound the good times and add some more girls to the mix. brad arranged for an added bonus, a night at the wenke's cabin in cadillac. perfect. break up the trip, an additional evening of fun, and memories galore to be made at the cabin. the plan was to depart wed afternoon, immediately following brad's chiro appt. wed brought tons of winter weather to the north, so we played it safe and checked several avenues to ensure the veen would arrive safely in Cadillac. i even called the sands resort in cadillac and asked the front desk lady's opinion on a road trip. all responses were very encouraging. so i kicked out my dear friend melissa who was visiting from nashville and we loaded up the veen and hit the road. by the time we reached the south side of holland, i already had to make a walgreens run for an important item i had forgotten: diapers. duh. three kids unbuckled, herded into the store, two pees, and one pack of diapers later, i reloaded the children and picked brad up from his appointment. here we go. the roads were smooth and clear. until about ten miles south of cadillac. then things got tricky. snow blanketed the grass surrounding the highway and was coming down hard and fast. the road had some accumulation and super slick spots. once we finally rolled into cadillac, we arrived to a snow hurricane. blizzard conditions. we traveled as far as henderson way, the street the wenke's cabin is situated on at the very end. here our journey ended. a car was stuck, and abandoned, directly in the middle of this road. the snow was continuing to fall fast and furiously. the children were restless. the mama was starving. the dad was perplexed. brad surveyed the situation, walking in probably 10 inches of snow all the way around the car and to neighbors homes to try to find the owner of the abandoned blockade of a car. no luck. there was nowhere to ditch the veen and walk as the main road was getting treacherous and no driveways were plowed. we were faced with one option: go to culvers. we drove by the meiste's cottage, conveniently located nearby, only to find the snow 3 feet deep all around it and on the deck. impossible. after a hearty meal of butter burgers and fries, brother brian provided us with hotel info and we made it to cadillac's pride of a hotel, days inn. brad sauntered into that place determined to get a steal of a deal. he did talk them down $20 and we made sure to eat our money's worth at breakfast. what a man! a fighter, a provider, and as was obvious at the pool later that night, damn sexy. thats right. days inn has a pool! as soon as our stuff was loaded into the room, the fam was off to the pool where we were sure we would be alone as no one else should be out of their homes in such awful conditions. wrong again. another family was there, one i can only assume were a brother and sister who had kids. i dont mean to judge, but really. i tried hard not to stare as ayla and i watched the boys frolic in the water, jumping into brads arms. but it was impossible to avert my eyes from the family of four totalling three teeth among them all and weighing between 300-400 each. also, no one was wearing a bathing suit. only shorts and shirts with holes all over. even the front desk lady, who was gracious enough to repeatedly give me extra towels, told me her grandkids called her grandma toad. and i could see why. i know this seems judgemental, but really, i have to share this experience with someone. after a swim, a long tub, and some tv, the kids fell asleep and i savored the wall to wall family with which i have been so blessed. morning arrived, with a continental breakfast and another visit to the pool. from there, the journey continued....

Monday, March 21, 2011

experiencing spring

with the warm up we experienced this weekend, we made the maiden springtime voyage to the outdoor discovery center. anticipation was at an all time high as we dressed the boys in multiple layers of clothing either slightly big or a bit to small. maxer was proudly sporting his brand new toy story three rain boots we purchased the night before from meijer. these fell decidedly into the slightly large category as meijer provided only 14 pairs of boys boots to choose from versus the 17000 girls boots. maxer did not mind the size discrepancy at all and adored them, chatting about which character he most liked and showing us when mud got on buzz. with enough extra pants, coats, hats, and mittens to provide warmth for every kind of weather pattern that michigan has ever experienced, we were on our way to an adventure!

baby ayla was back in the stroller, her first time since florida where we experienced even colder temps than the springtime warm up on sat. ayla jo found the outdoors quite entertaining, that is until she fell fast asleep 10 minutes into our walk. both boys were absolutely enamoured by their discoveries. maxer pelted us with curious questions regarding that "airplane with the swords sticking out", the wind turbine. bear dutifully picked several dead flowers and presented them wtih great pride to his beaming mama. maxwell and weston found nests, dead fish, and lots of animal tracks.

the way back to the sandbox proved difficult for the explorers. their little legs were lagging. brad swooped (a very careful, gentle, protecting his back kind of swoop) bear onto his shoulders while i attemtped to balance maxer on the stroller handle. bad idea. he crashed down and landed on top of the sleeping beauty. there were tears. from three: mommy, the cutie who was crushed, and the apologetic and tired big brother.

thankfully, all recovered just fine and we finished the walk without further incident. sprintime can be dangerous!!

what a beautiful day with which to welcome the springtime! we are all anticipating many more of similar weather without squashing babies.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


every so often, i am presented with the opportunity to really appreciate.

even more rarely, i seize that chance.

yesterday was another day full. we were busy with our lives of playing and learning and laughing and loving. in the midst of it all, i attempted to organize some baby clothes we have outgrown. what a project it was! literally, i was dizzy from sorting and searching and cramming. yet, each baby outfit was a beautiful memory. baptism, camping trips, pictures taken, birthday parties, gifts given on the day the baby arrived, illnesses overcome, first steps, etc. as i lugged bags and boxes and totes up and down the stairs yesterday, i thanked the lord for the miracle of these precious lives he has given me to mother. each moment with maxwell, weston and ayla is truly miraculous and cherished. i recognize in my children grace, there is nothing i could have done to earn such a gift, no way i could live up to the mommy they deserve. yet they are mine, and i will delight in them while praising my god for their presence in my life.

perhaps because i was focused on the boys' clothes, the lord gave me ample time last night to experience and appreciate sweet baby ayla. we spent some time together in the middle of the night. quite time where i just held her close and watched her sleep soundly (well, not that soundly, there was a reason we were up in the middle of the night :)) in my arms. every breath a gift, every cuddle a blessing.

unfortunately, mystery diagnosis was on the oprah winfrey network, so our time together was elongated so i could watch the end of the show and see that baby julie did in fact survive her auto immune disease the dr's were baffled about. life tip, just turn the channel if you are nursing your babe in the middle of the night and happen to see this show. because falling back to sleep is not so easy once you consider all the crazy things that can happen to a seemingly healthy child. anywho, that is part of the gift. tomorrow is promised to no man, yet it came to us again this morning. may i live this day and this life with full appreciation of that fact.

parenting is made all the more wondrous when i hold fiercely to this promise in jude 24 "unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy". i am not in this alone. he will be my guide, my salvation. he will redeem my mistakes in motherhood and life.


Friday, March 18, 2011

the luck of the irish

well, i do not really believe in luck. i do however believe in the irish, and am especially fond of their shamrock shakes. yesterday was st patricks day, that is really the only reason behind that title. and what a day it was!!

my dear friend jessica invited us to go feed the duckies yesterday morn. let me tell you, i despise any winged creature, but my children adore them. or the act of throwing things at them, even if it is in the guise of food. so i put my fears to the wayside and bundled up the kids in spring outerwear, savoring the few extra minutes saved by weather so beautiful it did not require finding matching mittens or stuffing maxer into his way to small snowpants.

the whole way to timber town, maxer clutched an old bun to offer the ducks and weston shouted "we going bye bye!!" excitement was at an all time high. while i was pulling in, jessica and emma was pulling out, describing the utter lack of ducks due to the frozen state of the pond. she found two ducks. despite the small numbers of quackers, the kids whipped bread in their direction with zeal. the ducks mostly stood on the ice, suspicious of the racket we made and of the flying food.

also, i have to mention, there was a dead pigeon floating in the water. my mind made me believe it was only ice until jessica pointed out the head at which point my knees gave out and i had to check on ayla in the van to stop myself from gagging and or fainting dead away. thankfully, the children did not notice that part of the pond, though maxer asked what was wrong with my knees.

so, ducks fed, we went to play. the boys raced around that park like wild animals unleashed. until they had to pee. we trekked all the way to the bathrooms, only to find them locked for the season. so we did the next best thing, find a tree. the boys were in their glory, watching eachother pee and soaking that poor tree. fear not, we were quite far from the public at this point so no one else learned our inappropriate behaviour.

after working up quite the appetite, we all ventured to burger king. we invaded the restaurant and devoured mostly ketchup, with some fries, nuggets, and burgers thrown in. as i left, i noticed my hair was a rats nest of frizz, my boobs were leaking milk soaking my shirt, and my clothes were covered in ketchup. so thankful was i that i had some times to gather myself before work.

at work, i was rewarded with a shamrock shake. oh heavenly. i clutched that thing like my life depended on it, carrying it back and forth to the copier and my desk.

overall, the day was one to remember for our feeble attempts at duck feeding, and the deliciousness of minty shakes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

the stow co

i am hired!

the stow company, formerly windquest, is now my employer. when first married, i worked as the administrative assistant at windquest and adored my time there. when the opportunity to come back as a scanning specialist (well, this is the title i gave myself) came late last week, i eagerly explored the possibilities. my experience as an employee the first time was incredible. i so enjoyed my job, and seriously loved my coworkers. much to my delight, many of my coworkers have remained at the stow company and we were reunited last night.

previously, i worked closest with barb and kristi. spending all day beside two of my fave people was such a blessing. to get to come back, in a much different and tinier role, is just so cool. to be honest, i was nervous yesterday afternoon as i marched right into the lobby. my life has changed dramatically since my last visit. now i am a mother of three, not a cute little sparkly newlywed. despite my misgivings, people seemed to relate to me like old times and i easily fell back into my working girl comfort zone.

most entertaining was experiencing what people most remembered about me. my knack for writing emails, enthusiasm for heating our home with a pellet stove, and over the top exuberance were brought to the forefront of my existence again. fun.

also fun, doing a job that
1. offers monetary payment, a vivid contrast to my usual cooking cleaning and caretaking for the reward of a happy and grateful family.
2. remains done, also, distinctly different from the vacuuming i do daily only to put the vacuum away while watching the boys chomp chips without the use of their lips.
3. requires real clothes. i dressed with no thought to ease of nursing access. not one part of my ensemble yesterday contained elastic.
4. involves adult interaction. with great adults.

my 5 hours a week is sufficient for now, giving me a super opportunity for professionalism and returning me back home without much time away from my babes and hubs.

my homecoming was def the best part of all. baby ayla still loves mommy best. the boys appreciated my presence more, and brad was beyond proud and excited about my reentry into the workforce.

my fave job of alltime is still motherhood. for example, nothing can compete with our cherished teeth brushing session upon my return. bear spilled toothpaste on his leg and stopped me when i tried to wipe it up saying "thats for the teeth on my leg". clever and strange child

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

grandma time

the last week, sandy has been home from florida for a grandbaby fix. distance is hard on everyone. we miss having our grandmas around. the boys have all sorts of tricks to demonstrate again and again and there is nothing like grandma's patience and attention. ayla is rapidly growing and developing, and it breaks my heart that no grandmas are here to witness. i miss the support of a grandma unique to a grandma, a woman who thinks your kids are exceptionally advanced and adorable. so a brief visit from grandma lampen was welcomed by all.

the majority of her interactions with maxer and bear involved putting them in jail. this is a game of chase in which grandma attempts to trap and drag children to the couch and keep them there. though i am slightly concerned with the fervency in which my kids desire and request to be in jail, i adored seeing the joy and hearing the giggles. unfortunately, grandma lampen's back was giving her some trouble, so this particular favored activity was hard on her!

yesterday, maxer got to spend some sacred one on one time with grandma while i took the littles to the dr. oh, he was cherished by grandma lampen! she braved the michigan weather to take him on a walk around her condo. they colored, conversed, and considered their time together something very special.

while maxer was getting some special attention from grandma lampen, bear and baby ayla were getting some special attention from dr lund and nurse chris. somehow, i scheduled an afternoon appointment and that was a mistake as the wait was incredibley lengthy and my kids incredibley crabby/tired. upon arrival, bear immediately began insisting on a sticker. he asked this of everyone, nurses, patients, check in peeps. then he shoved the stickers he located on his own into the face of any and all passers by. the most fun was getting to utilize girl stickers! i recieved a hello kitty sticky, ayla sported a my little pony sticker. even girly stickers are cute cute cute. after five minutes of down time in the patient room, bear began plotting and attempting escape. he managed once, but i quickly deterred him to the bathroom and then bathed him in purel. i mostly entertained him by taking pics of him on my new phone.

at long last, dr lund determined bear's ears appeared much the same as they did the last two times i shelled out cash for a dr's visit; fluid filled and pinkish- but not treatment worthy. ayla received a delightful report; dr lund even referred to ayla as a pretty little rosebud. that she is!! bear watched intently and with relief as ayla's chubby little legs were poked and his were spared.

my heart is light with the knowledge that my baby girl is developing and growing so well. 17 lbs, 6 oz, 26 1/4 inches of pure baby perfection. thank you jesus!

ayla is still working through the vomiting after eating rice and gagging during her oatmeal meals. fruits and veggies are allright, so we are focusing on those and she continues to nurse like a champ. clearly her weight is not suffering, she has rolls to prove it!

let me conclude this post with a bedtime story stoy. while reading to maxer last night, i pointed to a glass of what i assumed was pop in the story we were reading. it was brownish in color and had ice cubes in it. while i regret ever giving maxer his first taste of soda, he is a big fan. therefore, i drew his attention to that particular aspect in the picture, hoping to ellicit a smile of shared appreciation of coke. instead, his response to my question "what does that look like" was "uuuh, poop juice?"