Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Party in the USA

In case you haven't noticed, Lakin's kinda into princesses as of late.  She also likes the color pink... the number 6... oh, and still loves the letter K - but that's beside the point.

For her third birthday we invited three of her friends and their families for a pink princess explosion.  The only agenda for the evening was to do stuff while wearing princess dresses.  I think we nailed it.

 Alicia (the pillow) made it to the party.  Lakin saw this pillow out and immediately went downstairs to get the green pillow (aka Diego) since those two don't like to do things without one another.  I thought the imaginary friends were done, but apparently not.
 Each party guest received their own lace crown and wand.  We'll pretend that each one fit perfectly, was comfortable for the girls to wear and will be treasured forever.  Just pretend with me.  Okay?
 White Hydrangeas for the par-tay.  Thanks Hoffman family for having a gorgeous Hydrangea bush to pick from.
 Walmart wands.  We'll also pretend that these didn't break within 15 minutes of the party start and pose as an eye poking hazard.
 Nothing says "Princess" like a folding table, plastic table cloth and mismatched folding chairs.
 These straws have made it to many parties.  I am finally out.  Consider this your final farewell to the striped paper straws in mason jars.

 Lakin requested each guest wear a princess dress.  Turns out, she's the only one into hardcore princess dress up.  I think a few guests humored her and wore a dress for a few minutes, but otherwise, Lakin was riding solo with her purple Princess Sophia dress and sash.

 In her full, three-year-old glory.
 So much excitement as we waited for the first guest to arrive.
 Seeing her birthday cake for the first time.  Lakin still claims that eating cake was the BEST part of her party.
Meet the biggest labor of love for the party, the four layer pink cake.  The four layers were each a different shade of pink and the cream cheese frosting was scrumptious.  It was a disgusting amount of cake and a booger to cut and serve.  Over the top?  Yes.  Should I have done cupcakes from HyVee like every other year?  Yes.  Live and learn.  Love the photo bomb from Bennett who was snacking on some Cheerios so he could be cheery for the party.

Now for some party pics...

 Dad makes it home with PIZZA!
 Ben being a big boy with the big girls.

 Emily made a special card for Lakin.

 Lakin and Baby Jaguar meet for the first time.  They've been inseparable ever since.
 Annie made a card with Lakin's picture.  It was awesome.  Check out to find out how you can make your own.
 Awkward hug for these besties.

The younger siblings gathered round the kitchen for some fun of their own.

It was a perfect evening.  We're so thankful for friends to celebrate with.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Lakin Ellie: Three

 This happened.  Today, you turn three!

Lakin, you have blessed our lives immensely these last three years.  We never could have imagine a little girl so full of life, so perfect as the one the Lord gave us three years ago.  Sometimes, okay, every single day we talk about how amazing you are and how lucky we are to have you as our child.
When your mom found out she was pregnant she began dreaming of the little person you would be.  We remember specifically asking the Lord to make you "spirited."  Ha!  That He did.  You are one of the most spirited people we know.  You celebrate every single day, adore each special moment of your life and know how to live life LARGE.  Just this morning you about came out of your seat when I asked if you wanted a special band aid for your most recent battle wound.  You love to drink your water from a fancy tea cup.  Each day you dress yourself with the most bling, ruffles, and lace as you can possibly find.  We love how much you savor life's gifts.  
You are such a goofball, finding humor is all you do.  You are funny and love being silly.  Right before bedtime you always get extra giggly.  Right now you love to make silly faces for the camera and it's hard to get you to make a normal face when your mom has her camera out.  Your expressions are priceless and we have a whole file of photos you will someday roll your eyes at.  We hope you always laugh as much as you do now.
 You are curious and full of questions.  You want to understand your world and love talking through things over and over.  You have such an honest perspective on life and love to wonder and dream aloud.  You think of others, asking  questions about the people we encounter throughout the day.  We're always amazed at your observations and understanding of the people in your life.  You are intuitive and empathetic and such a people person.
 Right now you love dress up, playing with Princesses, watching movies, playing games like Candy Land, Hopscotch, and Bingo.  Each day you ask us who we're going to see and where we are going to go.  You love being on the go, visiting friends, and shopping with Mom at Costco and Target.
You have been waiting all month for your birthday.  You ask, every night if tomorrow will be the day.  You have been planning your party and special day all summer since we decided to do a little party.  Your three best friends will be here to celebrate.  You guys will wear princess outfits and eat pizza- your idea of the perfect evening.
Sweet girl, we love you.  We can't wait to see all the ways you will grow in the next year.  Your beauty literally takes our breath away.  Happy birthday, Lakin Ellie!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


This is a scene from my life. Only my house usually has mounds of toys all over. We got company arriving in fifteen.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my dad's birthday.  He deserves all kinds of fanfare.  But this blog post will have to suffice.

Dad, you are the best father.  You have lovingly put up with so, so much:

- painting my bedroom in your newly built home.... yellow
- all the hairspray; on the floor, on the wall, in the air- not to mention the Benjamins you dropped to keep my hair looking good all through high school
- the time I got my car broken into when I was supposed to be at my ACT Prep class
- moving, almost every single year of college
- the expense of braces, retainer, and a night mouth guard
- the middle school years (this could easily be a category of it's own, but to save our other readers we'll just issue a blanket statement here)

Thanks for not only putting up with me, thanks for loving me more than I even know and teaching me how to love my own children.

Hope today is the best!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lakin Lately

She is beautiful.  Inside and out.  I. Love. This. Girl.  Not going to lie, two was a loooong and hard year.  Lakin is strong in spirit and will.  All good, except when you're learning your boundaries.  But as we turn the corner to three I can see a little girl emerging.  She's respectful and kind and considers others.  She's imaginative and creative and is always looking for a way to play and seize every opportunity.

She is so much me and yet, completely her.  There are moments where we are so in tune with one another and other moments when we've both dug in our heels and are fighting to stand our ground.  She's learning when to yield and I'm learning when to say yes, which I don't say enough.  But I'm trying to change that.

Each day is filled with wonder and magic.  She's absorbing the world and learning so much, so quickly.  It still amazes me how well she can read people and a situation.  She acknowledges others pain and offers her love and empathy.  She really is the most empathetic individual I know.
She spontaneously offers compliments and shares love.  She reminds me of all the rules and things I've worked to teach her over the last three years when I forget them.  And I forget quite often.  She takes things very literal.  My sarcasm is a bit of a mystery to her but she is growing in her sense of humor and has quite the comedic timing, herself.

Her memory is remarkable and she's always scheming.  If you make a promise, she takes it very seriously and calls you on it if you forget or hope that she will.  SHE NEVER FORGETS.

Lakin loves dress up and often can be found with her "pretties" on.  She changes clothes completely two to three times a day, making for lots of questionable laundry.  She dresses herself, potties by herself, straps herself in to the car seat, and pretty much fights for independence in any situation.

I love that Lakin is always willing to include others.  She misses her friends throughout the week and dreams up elaborate things for them to do the next time we plan to see them. She is an extrovert through and through which sometimes makes me feel exhausted, but mostly, thankful.

I love her.  I can't believe in a two weeks this beauty will turn three.  I adore the little person she's becoming.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bennett Brand: 10 Month Old!

I got some mixed emotion about this post.  10 months.  That's like 2 months away from his first birthday.  Yes, yes, that's elementary math shining through.

This last month was pretty significant for Bennett.  He started crawling and pulling up and cruising.  He started opening cabinets and hanging out dangerously close to the top of the stairs.  He started raising all kinds of ruckus in the bathroom and eating toilet paper.  Proud moments, all of them.

He also popped another tooth, which was the longest, hardest labor of love, and this is coming from a woman who birthed two children... a snowstorm.  His teething was straight up epic.  He whined and woke up in the middle of the night and produced some of the foulest diapers that ever did exist.

Due to my persistent prodding, he started speaking.  Of course he said, "Dada," first.  They always do.  And then, "gawg," which is Bennett speak for dog, and finally, "Momma."  I tried not to take it personally.  I only birthed him.  Uphill.  In a snowstorm.  And we don't even own a dog.  BUT I DIGRESS.

So, yeah, pretty much overnight my babe became a toddler.  I had a tiny fit over it for about a week because it was transition into a new phase and I always freak when we transition and my expectations have to shift to the changing times.  Good thing the husband is willing to listen to me grumble a bit and remind me that this is what making and raising babies brings... along with lots of wonderful things too.

So, this little boy continues to grow more and more handsome each day.
He loves:
Wagon rides
Multigrain Cherrios
Being neked
His sister
The little whale bathtoys
The stick that helps lock the sliding glass door
My iPhone

Being wiped clean
Changing his diaper
Having to dry off from a bath
Waiting... for anything
When Lakin takes things from him
Seeing you walk through a room without coming over to pick him up

Little boy has the best sense of humor and some of the most fantastic facial expressions.  I always prayed for expressive children and so far, God's delivered.  He loves new people and new places and is pretty content in most environments.  The boy is a pool hound, and would soak up potentially harmful rays all day if someone would just let him be.  He hates to wear hats and hates for adults in his life to wear hats... or earrings... or glasses.

Ben and Lakin are going to be quite the pair.  I can tell that there will be no end to the crazy plans those two will hatch.  They play together all the time and seek one another out in a room.  Ben looks up to Lakin so much already and he laughs at all the weird things she says.  They pass toys to one another in the car and Lakin explains things to Bennett as she goes about her day.  "Ben, this is a seat belt, we wear it in the car or we go to jail."  "Bennett you can't put Dora's shoe in your mouth, it will choke your throat."  "Did you poo, Bennett, it's okay because you're a baby and you can't sit on a toilet."

Our 10 month photos were a little scattered.  Someone, who shall remain nameless refused to sit still or look at the camera, or take the glasses out of his mouth.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Just a Little VBS Decor

Indulge me.  I spent the last several months planning out our church's VBS decorations.  This is the product of my labor of love.  Pretend you're interested.

This post is about me.  Not you.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program of stories about my children and other really exciting things.