Happy Birthday Kyler!

After celebrating Isaac’s birthday on Friday, then the 4th of July on Saturday, we geared up for Kyler’s birthday this past Monday.  It was a crazy weekend but wonderful.  Christopher had his first paid day off since starting his new job in January.  We (just mama mostly) are still getting used to a different schedule and a lot less time with Daddy than we’ve ever had before.  It’s still hard.  So to have more than just a day or half day was such a special treat.

I had felt some sense of urgency and a lot of pressure to make Kyler’s birthday extra special.  We had worked hard to make Caleb’s birthday special to him and I wanted Kyler’s big day to be no exception.  I ordered fancy cupcakes from a bakery.  I shopped around for baseball figures to top the cupcakes.  I made a special trip to mall (which I despise) to go the Mariner’s store.  I shopped several thrift stores looking for M’s gear.  I dealt with the buying of tickets then on game day trying to get everyone theirs at the right time and place which proved no small task.  I bribed kids to take naps so that we’d be in good shape for game/birthday night.  I made caramel corn to bring to the game.  I put baseball favors together.

Upon thinking and reflecting on why I was so wound up over this birthday, I think the reason is two fold.  Because of the challenges and behavior of one of our children, Kyler sometimes….regularly is the brunt of difficult behavior.  And that’s hard.  It’s actually not fair.  He is the sweetest little curious boy.  He melts my heart almost daily.  And he puts up with a lot.  For one day, I think I desperately wanted him to be the center of attention with his darling self.  I wanted him to have HIS way.  I wanted him to be treated exceptionally well.  I wanted him to totally delight in something.

And delight he did.

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from the front porch…

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to city sidewalks…

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to statues of players past…

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and of players present…

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to examining gifts…

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and blowing out candles in the wind…

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to watching Jared Washburn pitch a complete shutout game against the Boston Orioles.

It was the perfect day for our sweet boy.

(Forget the fact that 5 minutes into the game and already Caleb was sobbing because he had dropped his SECOND $6 hot dog on the ground…or the fact that my husband was sitting 7 seats away from me and I had to dole out 7 hot dogs without spilling mustard on our lovely friend Jill’s lap-which proved to be a small miracle in itself…or that getting 5 children ages 7 and under down several city blocks was more stressful than I’d pictured…or also the reality that several people still needed to get their tickets from us outside the field 20 minutes before game time…or the issue of traveling with 15 fancy cupcakes in a bag simultaneous to the traveling with 5 small children-trying to care for all).

Yeah.  Forget about that and everything else.

It was the perfect day.  The perfect celebration of our third born child.

He could not have loved it more.

And we could not love him more.

For that, it was all worth it.

Happy birthday Kyler boy.

A sweet little nephew

Last year on July 3, after nearly 26 hours of labor, my little sister welcomed her first baby into the world.  After the delight of getting to be pregnant at the same time as my sister, I had the joy of watching her endure an incredible tough labor that ended in a c-section to deliver her son, my darling nephew Isaac.  He was one of those babies who is genuinely cute from birth and still is.  Getting to watch as he captured her heart and overnight made her a mama is something I had looked forward to for a long time and it was more amazing than I’d imagined.

I knew she married well and we adore her husband but with Isaac’s arrival it was more clear than ever how well matched her and Todd are.  I saw love that day that many people go a lifetime without finding.  They were incredible.

This year, we celebrated his birth alongside a multitude of friends and family and I did not get any too great pictures but here are a few.

Audrey's very favorite food
Audrey's very favorite food
Isaac's baby dedication at the party
Isaac's baby dedication at the party
Isaac had LOTS of help opening gifts
Isaac had LOTS of help opening gifts
the baby cousins last august!
the baby cousins last august!
the cousins this June on a stroll
the cousins this June on a stroll

“Root, Root, Root for the Mariners…”

Ever since Rylee and Caleb started T-Ball, Kyler has been beyond fascinated with everything to do with baseball, especially the Mariners.  Anything that can fit in his hands that he can swing becomes a bat.  So often when I come home from work I hear him say “Daddy, throw me the ball” as he is holding up a golf club, stick, gigantic pencil, or a drum stick.  I can’t wait for him to be old enough to play on a team with the Y, he will have so much fun.  Until then, it is backyard baseball for Caleb, Kyler and I.

With Kyler’s birthday coming up, we thought it would make his day to go to the Mariner’s Game.  We got some tickets and will be headed to Safeco Field to watch the M’s play baseball.  Kyler could not be more excited.  Karissa got him a Mariner’s hat and a t-shirt that he has not stopped wearing since he put them on.  We have a little baseball fan on our hands and it is a lot of fun.  Here he is with his hat and the schedule showing you when we are going to the game.

Kyler M's Hat
Kyler M's Sched.

See you at the field!  Go Mariners!

Happy Birthday Audrey!

It’s really hard to wrap my mind around the fact that our baby is one this week.  Every single time I drive by the exit on 405 where I thought we might have to pull over and she would be born in the car, I remember the intensity of those moments and it feels like it just happened.  And nearly every time we pass that exit, Rylee says “There’s the midwife office Caleb, that’s where Audrey was born!”.

This little girl was so highly anticipated, its tough to put words to it.  From before she was born Rylee was praying for a sister.  Before I was even pregnant at all, Rylee was praying for a sister.  When we told her a new baby was coming, she was absolutely sure it would be a girl.  We carefully explained that only God knew and either way would be great.  She emphatically told us, “No, I already know it’s a girl.”  We asked her how.  She said, “God told me in my dream Mama.”

How could we argue with that?  We waited and waited.  Lo and behold, she was right.  She asked and God answered.  His gift to all of us was Audrey Rose.  Given to us during a more than tumultuous season of our life, she has been a ray of sunshine since the day she was born.  Her smile and giggle delight each of us every single day.  I am amazed at how God used the timing of her entering our family for good.  She has brought out a different side of each of our other children.  She has drawn them out of themselves.  The way they love her amazes me and I can’t imagine life without her.

I am so glad we said yes to the question ‘Is there room for one more?’.  That ‘one more’ is such a sweet treasure.

Here are pics from her birthday party today, it was great fun.  Audrey slept through the first hour but enjoyed the rest of it quite nicely.

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A birthday party parade-complete with instruments!
A birthday party parade-complete with instruments!

Fifteen minute assembly…

…yeah right!

bike

Maybe if you had already done it once or twice, but doing it the first time took probably a total of 120 minutes.  However, now that I have done it, I probably could narrow that time down to 30-45 minutes.  15 minutes?  I don’t think so.  Who comes up with these times anyway?

With all the bike riding that we do in our cul-de-sac and on rides out and about, we figured it was time to get Caleb a bike that actually fit him and his skill set.  The current 14″ bike that he had was long overdue to be replaced.  Not only were the tires practically balled, but because the wheels were so small, even if he was pumping his legs considerably harder and faster than Rylee, he could not keep up with her on her 18″ bike.

So we got him an 18″ bike with 4 pegs for his birthday.  It is actually a freestyle BMX type bike that he might actually learn to do tricks with.  He can stand on the pegs and even rotate his handlebars around 360 degrees.  Out of all of our kids, I can envision him pulling off some of those crazy stunts sometime down the road.  After all, he was the one that was carving sweet turns on his razor scooter before he was 2.  Happy Birthday Caleb, let’s go for a ride!

caleb-on-pegs
Well, it didn't take him too long to figure out what to do with the new pegs. Nice trick pal! So much for "sometime down the road."
Using his "pegs" like his big brother.
Using his "pegs" like his big brother.

Happy Birthday Caleb!

Today has been one of those utterly perfect days.  When Caleb was turning 2 and 3, I planned big parties with too many people.  Now, thank the Lord, I understand my eldest son much better.  Those parties were not fun for him, truly not at all.  He was overwhelmed and doesn’t like being the center of attention.  So we’ve toned it down a lot and he is much happier for it.

Last year we celebrated Caleb’s birthday with snowsuits and hot cocoa but this year was the antithesis with warm sunshine, shorts and burgers on the grass at Seattle Center.  For months Caleb has been talking about going up the Space Needle with his Nana.  So that is what we did to start the day.  Nana and Daddy took the three oldest kids up while Papa, DeeDee, Mama and the babies waited at the bottom.

Then we went to get burgers and took them outside to sit on the grass by the giant fountain in the heart of the city.  We are all a bit pink but my goodness did we enjoy the sun on our faces.  Tears rolled down my sunburned cheeks as I walked behind and watched my children and my oh-so-gorgeous-husband up ahead.  I was overwhelmed with the gifts they each are.  We laughed and smiled so much today that my face hurts.  I thought of a song from high school that said “These are the days, to remember…”.  Indeed they are.  And I’m loving every moment as it comes…puking, dirty diapers and lack of sleep mixed in with the giggles, kind words and faces that melt my heart.  I am well aware that this will quickly pass and they will only grow more indepedent from here on out.

Here is Caleb’s birthday letter (trying to do one for each birthday for each kid!):

My dear oldest son,

You are 5 years old today.  I remember so well washing my car the day before your due date desperately hoping to go into labor, so ready to meet you.  It didn’t help much but the Ukranian dinner I went to at church that night surely did.  A few hours later, you were born.   I was determined not to name you until I met you but it became so clear to me that God’s name for you was Caleb that by six months I finally resolved that no other name would suit you.  I prayed then and still do, that you would be a truth teller even when it isn’t popular, that like the Caleb of the Bible you would have courage to do what is right.   With great relief, I rejoiced that you were born full term after your sister had come so early and been so very sick.

Having grown up with sisters, I’ve sometimes felt like I didn’t really ‘get’ you. You are a boy after all.  You are complex.  You are strong.  You are very bright like your Daddy.  You feel deeply.  You have provided me with great challenges and I have learned so much about life because of you.  You changed my heart.  You opened up a part of it I didn’t know about.  Your smiles and hugs are of high value to you and I am always delighted when you share them with me.

You surprise me still with your understanding and comprehension of things.  You bless me with your tenderness towards your siblings.  I love laying in your bed at night telling you stories.  I love watching you share your things with Kyler.  I love watching you  ride your bike, climb the rock wall, swing on the rope and tend to the fire.  You thrive when you have a task to do.  You are on your A-game when you are outside, with lots of wide open spaces and can roam free.  Burning things is likely your favorite activity at present.  You are very careful and responsible with the fire just like your Dad has taught you.

I love knowing you Caleb and am forever grateful for the ways you’ve changed who I am.  Your beautiful blue eyes and long, floppy blond hair are one of my favorite things to look at in all the world.

Happy Birthday sweet boy-you are a treasure.

Mama

Rylee’s party

Rylee with puppies
Rylee with puppies
Cousin Isaac watching puppies
Cousin Isaac watching puppies
Our own Davy Crocket!
Our own Davy Crocket!

Rylee with Payton on the cart
Rylee with Payton on the cart
Rylee on a horse
Rylee on a horse
Mama and Kyler riding a horse-he was so brave!
Mama and Kyler riding a horse-he was so brave!
The boys had more fun running and playing with toy guns than riding horses or playing with puppies!
The boys had more fun running and playing with toy guns than riding horses or playing with puppies!
A treasure (candy) search in the hay pile
A treasure (candy) search in the hay pile
The birthday girl and her horse cupcakes
The birthday girl and her horse cupcakes

Our friends Mark and Holly opened up their home to us today to make Rylee’s party so special.  She has been talking to strangers at the grocery store, to anyone who will listen about her upcoming party with so much anticipation.  It was everything she’d hoped for.  Thank you!

Holly and Audrey
Holly and Audrey

30 and Beautiful

It was a day that started off with the kids riding scooters and bikes out in the front yard even before breakfast.  That’s because it was already 70 degrees by 8am.  After riding a bit, the kids ate pancakes in the driveway as the day heated up.  Not a bad way to start Karissa’s 30th birthday.

 

Kim and Sean blessed Karissa

Kim, one of Karissa’s dear friends, drove a couple of hours to wish her a happy birthday.  Kim is always welcome, but she was especially welcome as she came with coffee, fruit, gifts, and best of all the most tasty homemade scones to bake in the oven.  Thanks Kim!

 

After Kim’s visit, the day was closing in on 90 degrees so the kids enjoyed the pool, the sprinkler, and the hose.  Soon it was time for lunch and nap time.  What better way for a “one day past due” Mommy to spend her afternoon resting in her bed while Dad got the kiddos finished with their lunch and in bed.

 

Party Hats

That evening, Buzz, Dee Dee, Papa and Nana came over and brought dinner.  Dinner consisted of steak, potatoes, yummy strawberry lemonade, peanut butter pie, and lots of fruit.  Thank you everyone!  With the house so hot, we decided to eat outside, the only problem was that the picnic table in the back was still in winter conditions and needed to be cleaned off.  We got the hose out and did our best to clean it up.  However, we did not think about the fact that the wood benches would then be too wet to sit on.  With some quick thinking, we put a table cloth on and then laid out 8 towels on the benches and had everyone sit down on the mostly dry seats.   The food was delicious but it really was the party hats worn by all that made it so fun!  The quote of the dinner was from Caleb – “You don’t have very many friends at your party Mom.”  We all had a big laugh.  Karissa would not have wanted it any other way given all the circumstances.

 

After dinner, we had a great dessert but before that was served, somehow Rylee managed to get her finger smashed in the baby seat.  Papa, although 60+, moved with some serious speed and was her hero.  Once free of the seat she sat in her Daddy’s lap with some ice and water combo in a zip lock bag which she proceeded to accidentally spil into his lap.  Let me tell you even though it was 90 degrees, I would not sign up for that again.

 

Later, our friends Kris, Bekki, Jake, and Tommy came over.  It was wonderful to catch up with them and have our kids play together.  They always have such a great time with those two boys.  After a wonderful time staying up way too late with them the day was over.

 

Karissa and I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful community.  We know there have been many times in life that God has used our family and friends in remarkable ways to bring comfort, joy, encouragement, and truth to us throughout the years.  We praise God and thank Him regularly for the people in our life.  Thanks to all of you who made the day so special for Karissa.

 

I love that I am married to a 30 year old hot mama.

 

-Chris