Sunday, December 11, 2011

Merry Christmas!

If anyone is still checking and reading this blog- we wish you a Merry Christmas!  Life feels extra chaotic this winter, but our year was filled with so many blessings and changes (I feel like I say that every year).  I hope to get it all recored soon, but for now- this is all we have! (created on
MERRY CHRISTMAS! With love from the Balvins!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I can't call myself a blogger!

I really can't believe I haven't blogged in so long!  I have months of pictures to post, cute videos, life changes, and birthday updates.  I want to keep it going, I truly believe it will be so precious to have all these memories of the little times in our life as well as big recorded and documented, I just wish I had more alone time!  :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Better late than never...right?

A couple weeks ago it was Father's day!  I planned on posting something that day or just after, but before I knew it, almost 2 weeks had passed.  So, I decided to post it today before any more time passed.  
My children are the luckiest children ever because of their dad, Brenton.  Jacob, Isabelle and Andrew are everything to him.  I know most dad's feel the same way, but Brenton's dedication, love, playfulness and sacrifice for them alone is honorable.  I only know of a few dad's that are not afraid of being alone for extended periods of time on multiple occasions with all of their children at the same time, however, Brenton loves it and the kids love it!  He loves snuggling with them when their scared at night, singing funny songs, wrestling, playing catch, cleaning with, teaching, painting finger/ toe nails, reading books, taking to the library, and coming soon- building a tree house!    He has said on multiple occasions that he just wants to hang out with them all the time (I, their mother, can't even say that! :)).  He spends a lot of time reading books about the value of a dad as a parent, leading them as a godly father, and teaching children about the love of Jesus.  I am so fortunate and appreciative of Brenton as a husband, and especially a father.  
Sorry this is so late Brenton, but HAPPY FATHER's DAD!!!!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Teacher's matter, especially this one...

I can hardly catch my breath when I think about how fast the school year has gone, and that Jacob will finish 1st grade tomorrow.  He's had the best year!!  Much of that joy can be attributed to this woman, Mrs. Perkins, his 1st grade teacher!  Mrs. Perkin's will retire this year after 32 years of teaching!!  The school is really losing a gem of a teacher and woman.  I was able to teach next door to Mrs. Perkins for one year, and one of many things I learned from her is to love people.  Her joy and smile are so contagious and it's always genuine.  When I think of all the years she has taught; plus all the lives she has impacted, I am so thankful that my child, Jacob, was able to be one of those lives.  

THANK YOU Mrs. Perkins for a great year and for all 31 before!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Phonics cheerleader!

Izzy's cheer today while playing with her friends-

"Give me a H!...Give me an O!...Give me an E!...Give me a S!...  What's that spell?!= HOUSE!...Yay!"


School is not out for another 3 weeks, yet it feels like summer break starts tomorrow.  This is our schedule so far for June, and it still doesn't have any of Izzy's soccer practice or games on it, piano lessons, things for Brenton or I, trips to the cabin & Michigan, and days to go to the pool or bowling on it.  SERIOUSLY!  July and August look much the same.  For a person like me (ESFP), keeping an organized calendar is a daunting task.
I'm looking forward to summer break, but looking at our schedule, I don't see much "break" happening.

Melted my heart

My blood pressure was rising as I couldn't find Jacob yesterday while he was playing outside.  I've told him 100+ times that he must tell me where he is, or I start to get nervous.  Finally, I gave up looking and decided I was going to punish him with really unpleasant consequences for the rest of the evening (no more playing outside or no tv- things he hates to lose).  
I heard him coming in the garage door, and I was ready to unload the same lecture about telling me where he was.  He was so joyful when he came in the house, this steamed me even more- thinking he didn't even care that he broke the rules.  I had my "mean mom" face on when he walked into the kitchen.  I didn't say anything.  Then I noticed he was holding something behind his back.  He had a huge, very proud, smile on his face.  Then I said, "Where were you?"  He slowly pulled these 2 beautiful flowers from behind his back, and held them out to me.  In that moment, my anger melted away and I knew I could not yell at him for secretly getting me two of my favorite flowers.  I gave him a huge hug, thanked him, AND then reminded him gently (again) about telling me where he was going. (No worries, the neighbor cut them for him and gave him permission to give them to me).  I love that kid!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lice Lessons

It happened!  The thing most moms hope never does- my child came home from school with lice!  I wanted to cry!  I wanted to burn everything Izzy had laid on, touched, or could have touched in that last week.  I felt like those little pests were crawling all over me.  I felt like everything was dirty and that there was an infestation in our house.  I was embarrassed.  I was angry at the child (or at least the mother of the child) in her class for using homeopathic treatments that didn't kill them all the first time.  I was frustrated that I had to go through this extensive cleaning process and bag everything for a month.  I was worried that Izzy had spread it to her  friends over the past couple days that she had spent so much time with over break  I was sad to have to shave my boy's heads, something I swore I would never do.  But then I started to see how my immature attitude and feelings were affecting my daughter.  She started to feel embarrassed, ashamed, dirty and worried.  Those were not traits I wanted to pass on to her when something challenging arises in her life.  I had to change my attitude, my words, and my outlook on this situation.  
Once everything was bagged, vacuumed, shampooed, and once I changed my attitude, things became less stressful, and ironically fun.  I enjoyed the one-on-one, uninterrupted time I got with Izzy twice a day to go through her hair section by section (30-40min).  I was able to focus just on her and talk about life. school, friendships, and anything else on her mind.  It became fun looking for anything that might not belong in her hair- it was like popping pimples and picking scabs- weird, I know!
It's been almost 2 weeks since we have been lice free!  Life seems to have fallen back into it's normal chaotic way, and in some twisted weird way, I miss the lice (but I don't want them back)!
If you find that your child has lice, please call me- I know what you are feeling.  I've done so much research on the topic and spoken with many other victims that I would love to help talk you off the cliff!  :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My 6 year old's questions about GOD!

I realize I have fallen off the blog-o-sphere. My excuse is, now that I am working all day, and the kids are at school, that's 6 less hours a day that I get to witness and blog the normal and not so normal parts of our life. 

However, tonight I was blown away with the depth of Izzy's questions about God. It all started with her throwing a fit about the aliens with 18 eyes that come out of her walls at night and that she is too scared to sleep in her room, blah, blah, blah. We (Brenton and I) followed this drama by telling her she needed to get some sleep and there were no aliens. She then yelled and cried, "You guys just don't understand me!"

Now, I've read enough parenting articles and books to know that when comments like that are spoken within her type of dramatic mood, that there is usually a deeper issue happening within her, that she doesn't know how to communicate at 6 years old. 

So, I entered her room, ready to perform an "alien attack". I was ready to kill all the aliens when she pointed them out to me (some gimmick I read somewhere), but I was shot down when she explained to me that the aliens only come out when parents are not around. So, I changed my game plan. In the background, she had her "Kids' Worship" CD playing and the song was, Awesome God. We sang it together, prayed about the 'aliens' and then talked about fear.

As I was getting up, her sweet little hand grabbed my arm, and she looked up at me with those beautiful brown eyes and said, "Mommy, why can't I see the Holy Spirit?" 
I gave her an explanation I thought a 6 year old could understand, and then asked if there was anything else she wanted to ask.  I was blown away by the questions and thoughts that came over the next 20 minutes-
Why can't I see God?
Can Satan go into any animal or just a snake?
Who is Satan?
Why doesn't Satan want to be an angel anymore?
What is Hell like? Because I know that Heaven is gold.
What happens when God comes back?
Will the people in hell right now go to heaven when God comes back to get us?
Where are you going when you die?  How do you know?
Why is church called God's house?  Why can't school be His house? 
How do you know which way God wants you to go? 

I answered these questions the best that I could, but I ended by telling her I was so impressed with all her questions.  I asked her if she was feeling frustrated because she had been thinking about all of that, but didn't have the answers?  She so sweetly said yes, then gave me a big hug, laid down, and fell asleep.  She amazes me sometimes for being only 6. 

I pray that God will reveal himself in REAL ways to her and touch her heart.  I know she will build knowledge about Him, but I am most concerned about the knowledge reaching her heart, because that's the part God looks at!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Where's the love?

In all those personality assessments and evaluations, I rank high in empathy. It's been recorded as one of my top "strengths" too. In friendships, my marriage, as a teacher and coach I can see myself using empathy in multiple circumstances daily. Why then, when it comes to my own children's daily stomach ailments and complaints, that I clench my teeth, roll my eyes and need to count to 10, in order to stay calm and be empathic? Shouldn't my "gift" of empathy and my natural motherly instincts want to help my child work through their discomfort? This baffles me. Maybe it's because, I have offered suggestions to help over the past 5 years, and the children look at me like it was the dumbest suggestion they've ever heard. It's the same list of questions every time- do you need to go #2? Are you hungry? What did you eat today? Are you thirsty? When did it start hurting?...
I can't fix stomach aches, so I don't know how to be kind about stomach aches. Half the time, I think it's an excuse to get out of school, homework, or a reason they hit their brother or sister.
Lately, the questions haven't come, and I have offered no suggestions to making it better, all I say is- "Too bad!" or "You'll be fine!" I feel terrible about disregarding their feelings, even it is just a daily stomach ache.
It's just a daily stomach now. Will it be something bigger later, and I miss it because I've been so annoyed with the present "non-existent" issue? I fear they are losing confidence in me as their mother because of my unwillingness to reach out and help them at this young age. When they need me for something bigger later in life, I fear they will assume I won't be "empathetic" or helpful because of the historical pattern, and it could cause them greater harm. And I will miss out on knowing them and being involved with their lives in the way that I've always hoped.
It's one of my goals for 2011 to be a more empathic, more loving, and louder cheerleader for my children- if I don't, who will?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Christmas letter 2010

Many people have asked me where our annual Christmas letter was this year.  Honestly, I didn't think people actually read it; at times it seemed to be more of a way for me to reflect on the year in an "extroverted way".  I did have this letter typed, but I didn't include it this year with our cards.  Here it is below, for those of you that have asked-

Merry Christmas!  I feel like that’s all I have to say.  Reflecting over the past year seems like am daunting task, with so many events and changes for us, but I will give it a go-
             JACOB- our first-born is 7 and in 1st grade.  We are so proud of him for being a leader at school and friend to all.  He loves math (obviously from his dad), and P.E.  He is learning more words to spell, read and write, which makes ‘code parent spelling’ more difficult since he can understand out conversations.  Over the summer, Jacob played in his first baseball league, coached by Brenton.  He’s a great hitter, but not a fan of playing the field (not enough action), so we are grooming him to be a catcher. J  His swimming skills also boomed- swimming in the deep end of pools (with supervision) with no life jacket is new- I was amazed when he showed me he could do it, but not that surprised since he would swim everyday all day if he had the chance.   Jacob also continued to ride his bike, climb trees in the yard, and perfect his Jedi skills.  He’s growing up so fast!
            ISABELLE- The princess has taken over the kindergarten class!  She is attending St. Dominic School for full-day kindergarten.  She LOVES school (no surprise), and is doing wonderfully.  She will tell you everything you need to know in life, from her 6-year-old perspective, as if she was the first person to know and tell you her information.  A few people have told me that she holds strong convictions about telling people to love Jesus.  She follows those conversations by bluntly telling them they are going to hell if they don’t.  She continues to do well in gymnastic.  She was asked to be a part of an “invite only” level to start preparing her for competitive gymnastics.  Who knows if she will stick with it that far, but it’s fun to see her advancing so well. 
            ANDREW- There is not enough room in this letter to talk about Andrew.  Some might look the picture and think he hasn’t changed, but we celebrate the small height and weight gains for him.  This seems to be his biggest growth year since he was 18 months, so we are all excited for that! Andrew is now 4.  If I had to use 2 words to describe him, I would say he is a drumming- monkey.  His energy level never ceases, and I can usually find him when I listen for where he is drumming on something.  He is so blessed to get the chance to spend 2 days home with dad and 3 days with his Aunt Carrie.  Andrew is full of life, fun, and fears nothing (which I swear will land us in the ER someday). 
            BRENTON- He separated from Target in early December, and is currently knee deep in job applications and searching for the newest adventure in his life.  This task is difficult at times, since we all know he is a man of many passions and interests.  Last June, Brenton ran Grandma’s marathon.  With very little training, he finished at 4 hours, 43 minutes- WOW!  We made a mini vacation out of the marathon, enjoying a water park hotel.  When he does get some free time, he tackles his reading goal- reading 100 books in a year, social networking, golfing, preaching for friends when they’re absent, and coaching Jacob’s sports. 
            STEPHANIE- I returned back to work full-time last March.  I took a Long-term sub position at the Catholic School in Northfield.  Then I was rehired this school year as the 7th and 8th grade teacher- I’m loving it!  I continue to coach at the High School.  Last season the varsity team earned a trip to the State Tournament, so as the assistant, I got to take it all in with the team.  My biggest event of the year, was completing my first triathlon!  I spent most of the summer training in the pool, on my bike, and running early in the morning.  It took a lot more effort than I originally thought it would, but ended up being a lot of fun.  I plan to do more this coming summer- who would’ve ever thought I would do that?!

            As a family, we have had a blessed year.  We’ve been able to travel together to Duluth, Brainerd, The Cabin, and Michigan.  The kids are at fun ages, where everything we do is exciting, and we can still do things relatively cheap.  Brenton decided that 2010 was going to be about making memories for our family, and I believe we have accomplished that.  The biggest memory we created for the children this year was adding to our family, by getting a puppy!  In June, we drove to a farm near St. Cloud, and picked up our black ½ Pug, ½ Boston Terrier puppy that we named Manny.  He’s added a lot of fun to our family.  He loves to play with and chase the kids around, and he loves to snuggle up and cuddle close too.  The kids adore him, probably more than he would like sometimes. J
            I am sure much more has happened this year that I am leaving out, but these are the highlights.  Brenton and I hope, that during the craziness of the season, you get to enjoy the true Christmas message; Jesus Christ came to the world (as a baby) for each of us, not to be served- but TO serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.
 Merry Christmas and Happy 2011!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Naughty list=

According to Izzy-
"People that get clothes for Christmas, are on the 'Naughty List'!" 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We had a heated discussion about this tonight at our house!  Whether you believe it or not, Christmas began as a CHRISTIAN holiday...

Twas the month before ChristmasWhen all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
*Nor taking a stand.*
See, the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men
And Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a ' Holiday '.
Yet the shoppers were ready
With cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod,
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa,
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas -
*Was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penney's and Sears,
You won't hear the word Christmas;
It won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden,
Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas
Was exchanged and discarded
The Reason for the Season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break'
Under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say.
not Happy Holiday !

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Happy Birthday Isabelle!

Favorite color: Red
Favorite food: Mac & Cheese
Favorite sport: Swimming lessons
Favorite thing at school: Play at free choice
Favorite movie: Barbie and the Diamond Castle
Favorite thing to do with Mom: Go to the Burnsville Mall
Favorite thing to do with Dad: Wrestle
Favorite memory from being 5: Going to Grammy's in Michigan and swimming everyday
Favorite dessert: chocolate & strawberry ice cream
What are you most looking forward to as a 6 year old? Going on bike rides alone (never will happen)
What do you want to be when you grow up? A teacher

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Izzy's makeover

About a month ago, I took Jacob in for his monthly haircut.  Izzy came with, and for the first time, she asked if she could get a hair cut.  I was shocked, last thing I had heard was that she wanted to grow it out like Rapunzel.  Izzy has the weirdest hair.  It breaks so easily, and is usually some hot mess on her head, unless I get a clip, pony, or head band in it (which never lasts long).  So when she asked to get it cut, I was 100% in agreement with her. 
Here she is before......
 Here is after... WOW- so different!  She loves it, I love it- we are all good!

Catching up!

The pace of life in the Balvin house has increased greatly lately.  Mostly because of the basketball season, but also because the kids are busier with school functions and the evenings.  So, below is me, trying to catch up on numerous past events that were blog worthy, this is a true cliff's notes version!

 In October (I think) Brenton got a new car!
 Poor Manny got dressed up by Andrew- what a good sport!
 We made several trips to the Pumpkin patch this fall! 
 Halloween- Andrew is a bat, Isabelle is a Notre Dame cheerleader, and Jacob is a hockey goalie
 We love the apple orchard, the kids picked the most delicious apples!
 More pumpkin patch!
I was able to take a special trip to see my dear friend Michelle who is fighting cancer!
Jacob lost both his front teeth- goof ball!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Peace of Mind

When I was in elementary school, I admit, I wasn't the most academic.  It wasn't from a lack of effort or parental involvement.  I remember trying in school and working hard, but I was always frustrated, usually confused and often cried because everyone else seemed to 'get it'.  I learned quickly how to stay under the radar, so no one knew I was clueless.  My poor parents spent money on endless supplemental materials to help, they also got me tutors, and forced me to do curriculum work during the summer.  There came a point in 5th grade when teachers finally tested me for special education classes.  Those tests backfired and baffled everyone, since I was testing 2 grade levels above.  People started to think I was lazy and not working to my potential.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized I have ADHD (without the H).  Back when I was a kid, they didn't talk or test kids for it, so I just went through all my schooling years, frustrated at myself for not doing better in school, and I am sure frustrating my parents.  This diagnoses has been the most significant discovery for me, and has completely changed me inside and out.  But, this post isn't about this, it's about my kids.

Over the past couple of weeks we've had Izzy's and Jacob's school conferences.  Going into the conferences, I knew in my heart they are good kids.  At school they are respectful, good listeners, and good friends to their classmates.  So I wasn't worried about that.  The part I did worry about, as a parent who struggled academically through school,  was their academic performance.  Were there signs yet that they too would struggle as I did?  It's the thing I've worried about since before they were born.  Brenton and I used to joke while pregnant with Jacob- We hoped the kids looked like me, and had Brenton's brain.  We joked about it, but secretly, I really did hope they had their dad's brain.  Brenton was a high achieving student, learning was and is still, easy for him.  I remember in college when we were dating, I would study for hours for a test we had, and he would look over his notes before the test and he would do far better than I would and for sure be the first one finished- it's so not fair!

But at each of the kids' conferences, I found myself holding my breath, and holding back tears when the teachers would praise their academic abilities.  As their mom, inside of me I know they are bright,  I've been working with them since they are 3, but now that they are in the "real world" of school, I wasn't fully confident that they didn't inherit my academic struggles. 
For now, I can breath easy, Jacob is 1 of only 4 kids in a challenge math group and Isabelle is excelling in reading and math for her grade.  All I can say is, thank you Jesus!  I know they are still young, and school will get harder, but the weight that was lifted off my shoulders at conferences to hear they excel academically in areas that I did not was HUGE!!

Part of me wishes I could do school over, even college,  knowing now that I have ADHD, and how it plays a significant role in how I learn.  I think school would be so much easier.  But I realize its more important now that notice the signs and signals in my students I teach and my own kids, so if a day does come that they need further evaluation, I can speak from knowledge and personal experience.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

MOM is the Tooth Fairy too!?

Teeth are falling out like crazy in this house, and when they aren't, the kids are walking around pretending they are.  Recently, Jacob lost his other front tooth, leaving him with a gaping hole in the middle of his adorable smile.  Jacob takes the tooth fairy very seriously.  He put his tooth in a small sealed Tupperware container  and set it next to his pillow, so that, the tooth fairy would know where it was.  As I asked about this strange set-up, it led us into a conversation about the tooth fairy.  Jacob asked if the tooth fairy is real or if it was just mom and dad?

I believe strongly in children keeping their child-like imagination as long as possible, so when he asked, I was sad to think he didn't think it could be possible that a little fairy came to get his tooth.  I had to think fast of something to say- the conversation went a little like this:

"Well Jake, what do you think?"
"I think that you take my tooth and keep it, and you give me the money."
"Ok- but what if I AM the Tooth Fairy?"
(Jake's eyes light up) "But you don't have a tutu like a tooth fairy."
"How do you know?  Maybe I have a  magical tutu."
(Jake smiles) "But you don't have fairy wings like the Tooth Fairy."
"How do you know I don't have magicial wings?"
(Big smile) "Really mom?"
"I guess you have to believe to know if I am or not- because I was told by the boss of all the tooth fairies, that if you don't believe anymore, then they don't bring any money anymore."
"Mom, that would be cool if you were the Tooth Fairy."

I didn't lie; I really am the tooth fairy in our house!  The bummer of this story is- I forgot that night to take his tooth and leave the money, so he was so disappointed when he woke up.  So, later that day, I had a dollar in my hand and told Jake to come into the kitchen.  I slipped the dollar into his hand,  gave him a wink, and put my finger over my mouth to remind him of the secret of being the tooth fairy.  He smiled and gave me a huge hug- he hasn't questioned it again.

I love these memories!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Good Marriage

"The thing about a good marriage is-even if a terrible mistake happens, you just can't imagine your life with anyone else.  That's why you commit to each other.  That's why you make vows to each other- that through the good or the BAD, you'll just keep trying.  You're fighting not only for love, you're fighting for something bigger than either of you.  You're fighting for the family you've become, you're fighting for the 'Us' you've become, and that really IS worth fighting for!"

~ Sally Field as Nora Walker on Brothers & Sisters

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm in LOVE!

I'm in Love with my new vacuum!!!!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Taming the tongue

My lovely daughter is not so lovely sometimes.  She's had some real interesting quotes lately for or about me.  I don't always hear these right from her, but from those she speaks to about me.  Here are a few of them:
1.  Some first graders stopped me in the hallway one day at school and said, "Are you nice?"  I said, "Do you think I am nice?"  They both smiled and said, "Yes!, but Isabelle tells us you are mean, because you always get her in trouble." - Thanks Izzy, but really you get yourself in trouble.

2. Izzy one morning before school (with a neck and eye roll)- "Mom, why are you always trying to be so pretty at work, isn't that like bragging?"

3.  A 2nd grader a lunch said to me as I was sitting next to Izzy at a table- "Are you her mom?"  Before I could answer, she interjects with, "No, she's my GRANDMA! HAHAHA!"

I am trying so hard to teach her to speak kindly about and to other people.  She has a sassy little mouth on her, and frankly I am out of ideas on how to train/ tame her tongue.  It saddens me that she will have to learn the hard way, by losing friends or having someone else do it to her and hurt her feelings.  I just don't know when my 5 year old became 15!  Where is the innocence, and the obliviousness to the mean and hurtful words in the world?  How do you teach her before it's too late, that joking is only a joke if the other person thinks it's funny?  At least right now, I am the one she speaks unkind about, but I want to stop it before it gets redirected to other people and mother's are calling me to complain.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When Life gives you lemons....

I've always tried to teach my children gratefulness, respect, and finding the blessing in all things.   It's not the behavior or attitude I normally get when things are not going the way they wanted or planned them to.  However, my daughter gave me a lesson of seeing the bright side of a bummer situation.
I was cleaning up the flooded water in our basement and lamenting about how gross it was, that this was not a good situation, and blah blah blah.  Then, I hear Izzy say-
 "At least if it keeps flooding to the top, it could be a swimming pool for us to swim in!"
Thank you Izzy for finding the bright side of the situation, I would have never thought of that!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

First day of school(s)!

The first day of school! Kindergarten at St Dominic's School for Isabelle and Greenvale for Jacob! Both have wonderful teachers and it should be a great years for them. I didn't have time to shed any tears this morning as I too returned to work this school year, and I was preparing for my students to arrive. I feel we have walked into a whole new chapter of life, but a good one!

Look who's 7!!!

Forget the first day of school- Jacob is turning 7 today! Usually I can't believe all the time that has gone by and how fast it's gone, but with Jacob- I don't feel old enough to have a 7 year old! I still feel, and usually act like a kid myself. Poor Jacob has endured the all the "firsts" for us. We were 2 young kids (23) when we had Jake. Brenton and I looked at each other in the hospital after we had him, and couldn't believe they were going to send us home with him, without any "formal" training. I think back and laugh at that I was clueless about (and still am at his current age). I'm so thankful for what a great boy he is! He has a heart of gold for other people. We put more pressure on him to be the "good" example to his siblings, and he usually does without a fuss. He loves animals, his friends, family, and sports. He still loves to cuddle and be close to Brenton and I. We are so blessed to have him, and look forward to all life has in store for him!
Interview with Jacob:
Favorite color- blue
Favorite restaurant- McDonald's
Favorite food- Cheese Party Pizza
Favorite drink- Root beer
Favorite sport- swimming
Favorite book- Biscuit
Favorite character- Yoda
Favorite movie- Snow Buddies
Best Friends- Adam, Trenton, Mac, Oden & Ainsley
Favorite thing to do with Daddy- Go out to eat at Godfather's pizza
Favorite thing to do with Mommy- cuddle
Where do you want to go to college- Minnesota to be a Gopher
What do you want to do when you grow up- Be a vet and work at Target
What are you most looking forward to about being 7- sleepovers, cake, and bowling

Dear Jacob,
Happy Birthday bud! How exciting that your first day of First grade is on your 7th birthday! We are so proud of you for working so hard in school. We know that you will do great things with all that you are learning. We pray that you will continue to "be a blessing" throughout your days to anyone you can. We love the way you love people and love animals. Mom thinks you will do something with animals when you grow up because they make you so happy. Thank you Jake for 7 great years as our son. You've been the first to do it all with us, and you've brought a smile to our faces everyday since we've met you! We pray that you never lose that sensitive side that loves his mom and dad with all his heart, yet we love watching you be rough and tough with your friends and on the baseball field too!
We pray that today is a special day for you, not because you are starting school, but because it's the day we will always remember as receiving the greatest gift- our first born son. We love you so much! Happy 7th Birthday!

Monday, August 30, 2010


He's growing fast! Manny is now 5 months old, and has reached his full adult size. He's been losing teeth a lot lately, and with his new ones growing in, he gets his top lip hung up on them. I think it's so cute!

Fruits of my labor

I have said it before, I can't grow anything! This spring I bought one of these 'Topsy Tomato planters". I thought this was a guaranteed tomato maker, I didn't think I could screw it up! I even talked to a tomato "expert" at Bachman's, to get a recommendation for the best tomato to use in one of these planters.
Well, this is all that my tomato plant produced for me this year- one lonely tomato! It was delicious, and I tried to savor every bite knowing it was all I was going to get this year. Why can't I grow things?!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shut the front door- Andrew is 4!!!

My "baby" is 4 today- I had to stop and think about how strange that sounds before I could go on! FOUR- REALLY, it's been 4 years since I've had a baby, it doesn't seem possible. I haven't fed a bottle to my baby in 3 years, haven't searched high and low for a nuk at all hours of the night in over 2 years, and haven't changed a diaper in over 1 year. But I have watched Andrw grow from an infant into a little preschool-aged boy! I have laughed more times than I can count, and I have also clenched my teeth more times than I would like to admit.
Andrew has more energy than all our other kids did at his age. He is on the go from the minute he wakes in the morning til his head hits the pillow at night. He runs everywhere he goes and usually with a big smile on his face. He loves life and seems to live it to the full of his 4 year old mind and body ability. A lot can be learned from him zest, I just hope I can keep up with him!
Interview with Andrew:
Favorite color- Blue
Favorite food- Sausage pizza
Favorite drink- lemonade
Favorite sport- swimming (this is the kid who HATED all forms of water just a year ago)
Favorite book- The Gruffalo
Favorite character- Thomas & Elmo
Favorite movie- Toy Story (all 3)
Best friend- Jake, Daddy, and Joshy
Favorite thing to do with Daddy- wrestle and get toys at Target
Favorite thing to do with Mommy- Go on Mommy dates, get a special cup and go to the zoo
What do you want to be when you grow up- Play Policeman and work at Target with Daddy
What are you most looking forward to about being 4- Chewing gum and no training wheels

Dear Andrew- Happy Birthday buddy! We love you so much! We can't believe that you are 4 today. You are so funny, energetic, spunky, and independent! We love the way you love your family and your friends. You are always willing and looking for new people to invite to play with you. We love the way you sing and dance when no one is watching, then giggle and fall down when you realize we are watching. You love to follow your daddy around the house when he is home and do whatever he is doing, and you never let anyone tell you that you are too small or too young to do anything, and you are fearless!
Andrew, we pray that as you continue to learn and grow that you will continue to ask questions about Jesus and sing him praises. We pray that you will use your friendly attitude to teach and lead others to Him throughout your life. We pray that you continue to gain weight and height, so your body can continue to be healthy. We pray for your safety- you are a monkey and you are fearless. As much as I love to see you spread your wings and try new things, I worry that someday you will hurt yourself. Love you TyTy- we are so blessed to have the opportunity to raise you as our son! Have a Happy 4th Birthday!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Triathlon reflection

I can't believe I haven't blogged this yet! It was the focus of my summer. It consumed most of my mental thoughts and absorbed most of my physical energy..... I COMPLETED my first triathlon (mini) on August 14th here in our town. I signed up back in June and started my training process with one of the best training partners (my neighbor). We spent 2 months, getting up with the birds to run, bruising our bottoms from biking so much, and drying out our hair from all the chlorine in the pool. I probably complained every step of the way, but when the triathlon day actually came, I enjoyed myself, I would even say it was fun! I made some new friends throughout this training journey and strengthened other frienships. Plus, I learned a lot about myself and my ability to mentally 'push-through' something.
When we originally registered, it was all about finishing without dying! But somewhere along the way as the training went on, I watched my practice times improve. I started to believe that, not only could I do it, I could do it well. My first goal was to just finish before the sun went down, then I decided 2 hours seemed appropriate, then I changed it to under 1 hour 45 mins. So I was pleasantly surprised with my final triathlon time being- 1:32:10! That was way more than I had hoped for!
As fall begins to roll in, next summer seems like forever away, and if you asked me today if I will do it again, I would say yes! However, the reality is- it was hard to get in shape for something like that, and through the LONG, cold, unmotivated winter months, I am sure I will lose all the "in shape" I have gained. And I will have talked myself out of doing it again more times than I can count. So it is my hope that I will look back at this blog entry and remember all the good and fun times I had, rather than all the hard work ahead of me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Michigan 2010

Here are just a few of the highlights from our trip to Michigan! It's always the best week of my summer and a GREAT way to wrap up summer before school begins.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


There is no question here- I am out-numbered! For every one thing I put away-3 more are taken out. For every room I get cleaned, 3 more are dirty. It's an ongoing battle, and it sometimes make me crazy!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Big Mama

It seems that the kids have been obsessed with the time they were in my belly (uterus). They talk about it all the time at home, and always want to look at their baby books to see pictures of my BIG pregnant self. I don't know if it's because some friends have recently had babies that we saw, or I have some pregnant friends, but it seems a little weird. Today as Jake was playing with his friends, I overheard him say this, "My mom had the hugest belly when I was in it, it was like out to here (extending his little arms as far as they possibly could reach) she was so fat!"
In that moment I just smiled, since crying would be embarrassing, and thought about how clueless children are about hurting people's feelings. I didn't dwell on it too long, since he followed the comment with, "But now she is not fat!"
In all honesty, I can't be mad- I really was as big as a house. And I really have 'literally' worked my butt off!
(Picture from 2003, after 2.5 days of labor with Jacob and finally getting some drugs, I could sleep)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Surviving the August heat

I usually spend the summer in a mental debate about turning on the AC or not. I usually sweat out a few nights before I cave and do it. However, this summer I feel like the AC has barely been off. It seems to be hotter than usual, and not just hot- HUMID (which is the worst).
The kids have been loving it! They spend the day in the pool in our yard, and I love watching them and listening to all their giggling and playing they do. Occasionally when I start to sweat too much, I remind myself that winter is only 4 months away, so I don't mind the heat as much! Here is some of the fun from today...
Jake relaxing

Andrew splashing others, but not wanting it back

Goof balls!

She is so beautiful!

Crazy head first entry by Izzy (I put a stop to those ASAP)

Izzy loves to torture her brother with ice cold hose water!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tasmanian Devil

For those that have raised toddlers and teenagers, I need to ask- Which is more challenging, a 3 year old or a 13 year old? The way I see it right now, 3 year olds need to be the most challenging people to deal with at any age. I am pretty sure the creator of the "Tasmanian Devil" was a parent of a 3 year old.
A part of me seriously thinks Andrew wakes up and plots ways to make my life harder. I think he has a special voice in his mind that maps out ways to follow me around and destroy everything I've just cleaned up, organized or put away. I also think God uses 3 year olds (specifically Andrew) to develop character and patience in parents. If I received a grade today for parenting, I would have gotten a D- (I'm just saying, it's been one of those days). I am counting the days until Andrew is 4 (1 month). I am hoping he slows down a little and learns that destroying things isn't the only way to go through life and that he will have a much happier and peaceful mother!

Izzy loses a tooth!

The process of Izzy losing her 1st tooth-

Monday, July 26, 2010

We don't need Dr.'s

Conversation in the car after taking Andrew into the Dr. for a weight check...

Jake: If I made the world, there would never be any shots or drawing blood or any Dr.'s or anything like that.
Izzy: Jake, you need Dr.'s in case you get sick (with a little neck movement and eye roll to make her point). In my world as a Dr. you would get suckers instead of shots. They would have the medicine in them.
Me: Jake, what would someone do if they broke a bone?
Jake: They could just buy a cast-thingy at Target and put it on at home. And buy some crutches, and return them when you are done with them, then get some band-aids there too.
Izzy: Yeah!

Who needs Dr.'s when there is Target!?


Izzy's been working hard and saving money to get her Generation Doll a matching Dorothy outfit. On her 'Nana Day", she cashed in that hard earned money and purchased it. They look so cute together. The outfit came with the cute ruby-red shoes and a basket with Toto.

Bad hair stage

Some days I wake up and wonder how we ever got to a place where our oldest is almost 7! I remember the days of changing 3 kids diapers at one time. It's truly amazing how fast time goes. This morning I found Jacob in the bathroom with a spray bottle and comb looking in the mirror to get his hair looking right! He is really wanting to grow his hair out, like Justin Beiber. You know I love pop music, but I haven't been much of a Beiber follower, so I am curious where he got the idea that Justin has the hair he wants. Sadly for Jake, he has 2 terrible colics on the back of his head, so it's difficult to control his hair. I hope this "long hair" phase doesn't last, because I hate long hair on boys. But it's just hair and there are bigger things to stress out about.