Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ruby is five...

...going on 16!  We had a couple of parties to celebrate this honey and she was so excited to celebrate her birthday at school for the first time.  I think it was a pretty great birthday.  Ruby is truly sugar and spice.  And you never know which Ruby you're gonna get!  She's as girly as a little girl can come, hence the party skirt and jewelry.  She is a treasurer.  Her nightstand is full of things that mean something to her... there's a story behind each trinket and picture.  She's a romantic.  Ruby loves a good love story and dreams up love stories for herself.  She's uplifting.  When she senses that someone is sad, she bends over backwards to lift their spirits.  Even if it's Charlie on a time-out for picking on her, she's trying to smuggle his blanket to him.  What a sweet and sassy element she brings to our family... what a blessing!  We love her so much!

Ruby's mini-me and favorite baby

Couldn't love this little lady any more than I already do!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

pumpkins and snowflakes

October 24: The first snow!  Actually, the snow was already accumulating the night before (when we were carving our pumpkins) and when we woke up, we had to scurry around for Natalie's winter boots!  There were 2 inches on the ground!  It forced me to get our snow gear out so the kids could play right away.  One of our trees still had green leaves and thankfully we didn't lose any big limbs with the weight of the snow.  The slightest taste of a winter wonderland had us playing Christmas music and drinking hot cocoa that day.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

baby emmy

My sweet Emmy is changing so much lately.  She took her first steps on Saturday!  She has been standing up all on her own for about the last month.  When she does that she gets all excited, starts to laugh and bounce, causing her to topple over.  So she was extra giddy when she took a couple of steps.  Maybe it's wrong, but I just haven't really been encouraging her to walk much.  For one, Jordan's been hoping to see it happen (which he did!) and two, I want her to stay a baby for as long as possible!  She'll be a toddler soon enough!  The reality that these are the last 'first steps' is so bittersweet.  Why do I have such a hard time letting go?  Why am I so nostalgic?!

She's starting to try to use a spoon but she's too impatient to work on that skill when she's got a free hand to just scoop the food into her mouth.  Just in the last week she has started babbling more.  She just learned how to say 'go' at Natalie's soccer game when we were cheering Natalie on.  And then Natalie got her to say 'Nay-Nay' that same day.  And no one has ever said 'num num' as cutely as Emmy has!  She occasionally says 'Bu bu' for bye-bye and she can wave.  And of course she says 'muh-muh' (that's me!) and 'da-da'.  She makes the kissing sound and kisses and hugs toys and her momma.  But she knows that her 'da-da' is prickly so she leans away from him at all costs when he is making kissy noises.  But once in a while, she will let him kiss her even though you can tell from her face that she is leery!

She still loves to laugh. She loves getting chased.  She is happy almost all of the time.  She dances, sings, and likes to nod her head 'yes'.  She also does this thing that Charlie always has done: she drops her head down as far as she can while still being able to look up and glare at you from underneath her eyebrows.  And then she giggles.  Actually, I think all of my kids have enjoyed doing that.  Maybe this is universal in babies and toddlers?  I had thought my kids were special :)  She loves peek-a-boo and when we scare her.  She sometimes laughs so hard it sounds like she is crying!

She has a bunch of teeth: 12 teeth in the first 10 months!  She just got some molars in.  She must have a high tolerance for pain because there was just one week where during the night she would moan and occasionally I'd give her some meds.  And then I realized after the fact that she had cut more teeth!  Needless to say, her big toothy grins are to die for!!

She is too darn cute.  I am constantly going after her chub and so are the rest of the kids. Those are the times when she's not so quick to smile, if we all bombard her at once with hugs, tickle-bugs, and kisses.  But sometimes she attacks us back with her slobbery kisses.

She takes great naps and out of my four children, she is the first that I have successfully established a bedtime routine where I can place her in her crib and she will lay down and go to sleep without me first feeding her, or with it being absolutely quiet in the rest of the house. I was way too high strung with the other kids.  I rarely laid my kids down with a bottle but would feed them in my arms, then quietly and calmly lay them down and sneak out, then I would demand that no one make a peep!  With Emmy I can kiss her, give her a blankie and pacifier, and she's usually compliant with going to sleep.  Meanwhile, the other three kids are making no effort to be hush-hush.  And that's great!

To sum this all up: I pretty much have the most perfect baby in the world!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


There was a time when I earnestly wanted to know who I'd marry and how many (if any!) children I would have.  As young girls, my friends and I would play MASH where you would write down names of potential husbands (who at that time were only 12), where you would live, how many kids you would have, and what their names would end up being.  Wish I could scrounge up one of those games to see what my hopes and expectations were at the naive age of nine!  And it was also decided if you would live in a Mansion, Apartment, Shack, or a regular House.

Not sure what even made me think of this!  But I never would have thought that I'd have gotten this lucky!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


We had been on a countdown for 65 days for our family trip to Florida and now we've already been back for a week.  And I think I actually want to go back worse now than before we actually left!  We had such a great time.

I'm mostly going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

First of all, we thought it'd be best to leave Emmy behind.  And we were very glad that we did.  It was much easier on us.  But I'm sure that this will be an issue someday when she's old enough to understand so we will just have to go again sometime.
Poor Emmy is obviously clueless here or else she would be crying!  But she had just as much fun camping with her uncle Matt, aunt Katie, and cousins (and sleeping in a bathtub!) than she would have had in Florida.

Our kids experienced their first airplane ride!!  They were so excited for this.  Charlie had been asking almost everyday for weeks if that day would be the day for flying on the airplane.  Most of us wore comfy clothes but Ruby had to travel in a dress, of course!!

Natalie and Charlie were quite excited when we were taking off but when I was encouraging Ruby to look out the window, she preferred to keep coloring her princess picture and she would just look me in the eye and say, 'Mom, I know!' like she had done this a million times before!

We got to our 'Florida House', Fantasyland, and went to the closest fast food place.  We were all ready for dinner.  Afterwards, we all got in the water. And by that time, it was dark. The place was so gorgeous at night.  The girls loved the lazy river, all dimly lit, and Charlie loved the pool and splash pad.  We all said throughout the weekend that we will have to stay here again.

We went back to our villas that night and mom and dad had put together Disney goody bags for all the kids, complete with bubble gum, drawing pads and crayons, lipstick, and cash!! 
The next morning, we were DISNEY WORLD bound!!!  All 18 of us had coordinating shirts, again thanks to mom and dad, and the little girls had their princess gowns.  Ruby stayed in hers the whole day at the park until just before we left.

Then a monorail ride into the Magic Kingdom!  Another first for the kiddos which they loved!

Disney was decorated for Halloween!  So fun!  But it made me a little sick, the park was only open until 7p that night with our park tickets :(  From 7p on, more people started pouring into the park for a special trick or treating night.  How fun would that be, too?!

Our kids did amazingly well that day!  We had some teary eyes from Natalie and Ruby after the princess show because neither Rapunzel or Merida were performers.  So we had two girls that were very concerned that their favorite princesses weren't there.  And Charlie was crying while he had to be peeled off of the carousel (which is weird since we can do that at the mall!).  And I'm not going to lie, I had some tears in my eyes as well... but tears of joy of course!  Seriously, I was so excited to be here with our family!!  And I think our kids enjoyed every moment of the Magic Kingdom experience.  We rented a stroller and each kid took turns riding in it.  And it was 90* which also meant we were filling up our water bottles at every drinking fountain we crossed.  We went to the park on a Friday which made for a relatively 'small' crowd of people.  We hardly had to wait any longer than 20 minutes for a ride.  Although the wait times for meeting the princesses were quite a bit longer than that!!

Our family's favorite Disney princesses are Merida, from Brave, and Rapunzel, from Tangled.  It was so cute to see Jordan obsessed with making sure our girls got to meet these ladies.  We went to the Magic Kingdom 8 years ago and we had a much different agenda.  But this year, it was all about our kids!  And meeting those princesses lived up to every expectation we each had.  The girls were starstruck!  It was definitely a highlight to the vacation.  And I decided after meeting them that I, too, want to be a Disney princess.  No joke, I want to work at the park and pose with little kids and act like I'm a real princess.  But that dream will have to wait until the kids are grown up and out of the house.  So maybe the role or Elinor (Merida's mother) or Mother Gothel (Rapunzel's 'mother') will be more suitable?  I'll take what I can get!!

The girls both went on their first rollar coaster rides, too!  And while Jordan and I did those couple roller coasters with them, Charlie went on 'It's a Small World' with grandpa and grandma.  And he can't stop talking about it.  They said it was pretty hilarious how he loved it so much!  It was just such a great day.  

The next morning, we got out to the pool asap.  We got out to eat and Ruby used the bathroom about 15 times that day, but other than that, we were in that water all day long.  I was thinking that I'd lay out, or even just sit on a lawn chair, but I think I was in that water just as much as my kids.  We had so much fun.  And it was a blast just hanging out with all of my nieces and nephews.  They all get along with each other so well.  Even my lazy river rides were always with the kids and not exactly relaxing.  But FUN!  And every time mom went on the lazy river, the grandkids tortured her by pushing her under the waterfalls and making sure the fountains thoroughly blasted her.  We got pizza that night and everyone went to bed 'early'.

And then we were on our way back home.  To the airport by 6:30am and back in Grand Rapids by noon.  Our family slept pretty much the whole flight home and we were able to just chill out the rest of the day.  And now, I'm afraid I want to go back to Disney more than I did before we even went!  Of course, we didn't get to see it all... that wouldn't have been possible.  So we've got to get back to show our kids the rest of it.  The weekend was magical!  Plus, we owe Emmy a trip there now, so we will be back in the next couple of years!!  

Jordan and I have been wondering when and how we'd be able to do a trip like this for the kids (it's so expensive!!)  We have been wanting to go so bad knowing that the three oldest kids are at such perfect ages.  And then mom and dad made it happen.  They are beyond amazing... even if they hadn't taken us to Florida!  We are so blessed by their love and encouragement.  They are young at heart and have such a spirit of adventure.  I hope they enjoyed it even half as much as we did!  We are so thankful!  Dreams really DO come true!!  This trip was magical!!