Saturday, June 27, 2009


This past Tuesday was Natalie's 2nd birthday and we've been busy all week. I have such mixed emotions: on the one end, I'm freaked out about how fast she's growing up. It seems like just yesterday we brought Natalie home from the hospital (such a cliche, I know!) I'm sappy if you haven't learned that about me yet so I could get kind of sad thinking about it. But on the other hand, I think of those who have lost little ones and I'm more grateful than even that she's growing up and experiencing life. So that's what I've just gotta remind myself of everytime I find myself wishing I could experience it all again.

Anywho, back to Natalie and her birthday. We've basically been celebrating it all week (we so spoil her :) She's been talking about 'NayNay's bird-ay' for a while because she had to wait so patiently to get through her cousins', Briella, Taylor, and Hailee, birthdays. So by the time hers came around, I think she understood that birthdays involve cake, presents, and parties. On her birthday, we went to aunt Jess' for lunch with aunt Sarah and Grandma. She played with her cousins and had a pretty exhausting day. Jordan told her in the morning that she was two and not one anymore and most times, she has remembered that when we ask her. The next night, we got together with my side of the family for cake and presents. She wasn't too sure about all the attention.... You just never know if she's going to be a show-off or shy. But she loved the cake and her presents. We got her a princess vacuum that's a canister style so that now she'll leave me alone when I'm trying to vacuum. On Saturday night, we got together with Jordan's side to celebrate a belated Father's Day and Natalie got more presents again. I think she loves parties more than presents actually. It was a great birthday (week!).

Natalie can be feisty (sp?) then sweet, hyper then shy, talkative then whiney... she's always keeping us on our feet! Natalie's been in a big girl bed for about a week and a half now and has only fell out twice (it's only set at about a 10in drop!). She's climbed into bed with us quite often but we just put her back in hers and she's fine (thank goodness- thought we were heading towards a bad habit.) She's also starting to say 'love you' more often and without us pushing her to say it! She's gone '#2' on the toilet probably 90% of the time, this week, and we don't even bribe her with candy anymore. She hates to be in a dirty diaper but it's hard to get her to go #1 on the toilet so wish us luck with trying to accomplish that!

We are just so in love with her.... and everything about her. I heard on the radio this week something about how no matter what we do or don't do... no matter WHAT, God's love is unchanging. He will never love us any less or anymore than He always has. Nothing we do will ever be able to separate us from God's love. I've always known this but it really hits home having children of my own. My love for them will never be conditional, either. How could it ever be? They are such a gift from God and no matter what, I will treasure them. I just praise God that I can show my children this unconditional love that He shows us.
We LOVE you Natalie! So excited that you're two!
Here are pics of Natalie's birthday week:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

5 years later....

So it's coming up on the 5th anniversary (June 30, 2004) of my grandma (my mom's mom) dying.... and I still miss her like crazy. In some ways, I cannot believe that I haven't seen her for that long but sometimes it seems like it's been even longer. I want so bad to talk to her again. If there is one word that would describe my Grandma Morren it's 'Generous'. Whether with her time or money or anything, she would do anything for you. Being a travel agent, she took us on so many trips that I took for granted at the time.... not just because it was a free trip but because it was with her. How many people go on vacations with their grandparents? My grandma used to own where Townline Estates is currently located and when she sold the property, she took all of her kids and grandkids on a cruise. And not just any cruise. At the time, it was the grandest ship on the ocean and the biggest as well. It was the Royal Carribbean: Voyager of the Seas. We had awesome rooms and everything we wanted to do that week was paid for by her. It was our inheritance, she would say, and she wanted to see us enjoy it. And we soo did!

This was my 'cool' grandma that would go shopping with us to how ever many malls we could fit in in one day and sometimes overnight. She was the grandma that took us out to dinner, breakfast, and lunch when we'd sleep over and sometimes a movie as well. When we were real little, we'd refer to her as the "Russ' grandma" because that was our favorite restaurant that she'd take us to! When we turned 16, she would have us pick her up for dinner (though she'd pay) and then we'd go to her favorite gas station (the Marathon in Zeeland where they pump it for you - or used to anyway) and she'd fill up our tanks. She loved to serve us and have a good time.

You could really get that lady laughing too! For Christmas, she would invest so much time and money and creativeness into our gifts. She'd make a spiked punch and pick out games to play. One year it was a chair game where everyone ended up on each other's laps, another year it was having to drop a quarter into a jar using your butt cheeks!! Really - is that normal for a grandma?!

Growing up, I was always closer to my other grandma because she was just up the road but while in high school, I grew so close to Grandma Morren. I'd go to her house in between school and work and we'd just talk. One time, I went to the bathroom on the way out the door and I clogged the toilet! And you know what? Grandma unclogged it for me because I was running so late!! I'm telling you, she was generous! My grandpa died 12 years before her in June as well, and she happened to have his obituary laying out. We got to talking....and then we got to crying. I had never cried with her before and I'll never forget it. She was not the kind to get mushy and emotional. And only 2 weeks later, she died of a heart attack. The last time we talked, I was rushing out the door only a couple days prior to that and she said, "when will I see you again?" and I replied, "who knows". She was 73.

If I could only see her one more time. Grandma, do you know that I did get married to Jordan just like we always knew I would? Do you know that I have 2 beautiful girls? Did you hold them in heaven before God sent them my way? Do you know that I think of you everytime I do leg exercises (inside joke)? And everytime I eat at Russ'? And everytime I see a Chinese Checkers board? And everytime I eat bologna? Did I ever tell you how much you meant to me, how much I love you? And yet, all these feelings are so selfish because I know she's happier beyond imagination in Heaven with Jesus and Grandpa.

A few weeks before she died, I graduated and when we were done with the ceremony, she was walking up to me as fast as her little legs could carry her and she gave me a big hug. She looked like she was so proud of me. And that's how I imagine she'll greet me in Heaven someday. Grandma, I cannot wait to see you again....

so in love....

So, I'm having a hard time believing how fast time flies. Ruby is 7 1/2 months old and Natalie will be 2 (too) soon. I never knew I could love my girls so much and I wish time would just stand still! But that's as mushy as I'm gonna let this post get because I could go on and on....

Natalie is talking ALL the time now. I guess she has been for about the last year but now we both know what each other is saying. She's been a really good girl lately and I'm hoping that she'll be in that very small percentage of kids that don't get affected by those terrible twos! She has recently discovered how to crawl out of her crib and does so repeatedly during nap time! I'm going to have to learn to keep a straight face real soon! This afternoon, I was in the basement and I heard her jump out of her crib and walk to the stairs. She stood at the top for a while before tip-toeing down and when she got to the point where we could see each other she said, "No, Nay-Nay not naughty!" like she was trying to convince both of us! And then she giggles and runs over to me and says "Hug?" and gives me hugs and kisses! I would really like to get her potty-trained soon. About 15 times a day, she's taking off her pants and diaper right after she pees and then sits on the toilet. Anyone got any potty training tips?

And then there's my Ruby! I love this new stage. She's got the cutest laugh to go with her ever-smiling face! She can melt my heart just by looking at me - her eyes are so full of love. This girl loves to eat and she's been feeding her addiction with cheerios. Or I guess, more accurately, I feed her addiction! The other night, mom and dad Barkel came over and mom says, 'what's this under her chin?!' It's a cheerio stuck way under her double chin! And a couple nights after that, I put the girls in the tub and before I even realized what Natalie was doing, she had pryed a cheerio out from a fat fold under Ruby's belly and ATE it!! Ruby has been sleeping through the night for about 3 weeks now and it is WONDERFUL!! Not to complain, but I had gone so long without getting a good night's sleep. All of a sudden, Ruby has 3 more teeth (for a total of 5 now).
I just feel so blessed to have wonderful, healthy girls. This love I feel for them overflows into my everyday life and I am a better person because of them and Jordan, too.

Oops! I got mushy again!

Monday, June 1, 2009

the birm

More than a week ago on a Thursday, Jordan and I ordered some bark for our annual 're-barking of our landscaping'. We ordered 6 yards of the cheap stuff - economy mulch from Mulch Pro in Borculo (we try to buy as local as we can!) The stuff got delivered that same afternoon and - like a good housewife - I began to spread it. The mulch was like dirt and not the bark that we thought it'd be. So once Jordan got home, he brought a tub of it back to Mulch Pro and they agreed that it was not what it should be. They said they'd deliver 6 more yards that same day of the right stuff and asked if we didn't mind keeping the dirt. The dump truck man came back with the good stuff and more than half of our money back! We were so excited - we got 12 yards for $35. Mulch Pro said that being their first year, they didn't want any problems with any of their customers!

We spread the 6 yards of bark but then we had to figure out where to go with the dirt. We're planting a small garden this year, so we thought we'd use a lot of the dirt for that but what to do with the rest yet...? In our garden book (that I love) there's a picture of a backyard that has this birm that's used to seclude a play area for the kids and I've been wanting to do that but we didn't want to spend the extra money on the bark. So it worked out perfect that we had all this extra dirt to build a birm with! Now, honestly, can anyone tell me what a birm is? I kept refering to it as a peninsula and Jordan was calling it a birm. Finally we were both like, 'why are you calling it that?!' I had never heard of a birm before and apparently it's just a fancy name for a hill used in landscaping. Now I've been getting mocked by my husband for not knowing what a birm was. Am I the only one?! Anyways, after hauling MANY wheelbarrows back and forth from our driveway to the backyard, the birm is finally completed! Actually, that couldn't be further from the truth because now we need (or want - whatever!) to make it pretty with plants. We're thinking of doing tall grasses spaced out in the middle and plants in front and behind the grasses. I'll have to post final pictures once we get some plantings in there but for now, here are the before and after photos.

The rectangle in the back is our garden that we need to plant yet - Ahhh!- we're so behind!!Jordan and I really enjoy doing landscaping projects together, so now that the bark and dirt are hauled, we're anxious to get the birm full of plants (and the garden, too!) If anyone knows of any greenhouses that typically just dump all of their plants at the end of the season, let us know! Were all about free things and we'll make it work!!