Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Eight Great.

Eight years ago I married this sweet guy who wore basically the same two sweatshirts and probably two t-shirts all through college/our dating years. You don't believe me. Let me go find some photos of them to prove my point (forgive the bad quality, I'm taking photos of photos with my phone):

Ah, stretch.
And 'ol blue (and a really great face by me).
Living Sacrifice.
But obviously the mundane wardrobe of mostly black band shirts didn't turn me off 'cause I married that sweet guy and eight years later I can say it's one of the best decisions of my life.

first dance!
young love
Love you, Greg!


Monday, April 29, 2013

Eli's Weather Party.

Eli is our redemption "rainbow baby", the baby born after our loss of Maelee. But he is a boy. So I can't, you know, dress him up in rainbows everyday and I couldn't justify having a rainbow party for his birthday. Even though I really wanted to! But then he started to get REALLY into the sky and clouds and wind and the sun and it dawned on me: We can have a weather party! Because rainbows are a part of weather!

Add in Pinterest and my own scattered ideas and you got our weather party for Eli's second birthday, which fell perfectly on Saturday the 27th this year. There are loads of things you can do for a weather party and I think especially for older kids. But we still had fun! I tried representing all types of weather, but rainbows DEFINITELY took over!

I wanted to keep the guest list small to minimize my crazy. I tried not going over-the-top. I did on a few things. But let me tell you, oh deary, I could have gone WAY WAY WAY more crazy. I recall walking through Party City and my mind in complete overdrive on all the things that could be done and created with all their colored items.

Appropriately for a weather party, I suppose, was it rained earlier in the morning and stayed mostly cloudy and overcast for the two-hour party. I was pretty bummed because I had loads of decor for the backyard that I didn't want to put out due to rain. And our umbrella would have fit with the theme! But alas, no sun to block.

I designed the invite, nothing too fancy.
You can see in the mirror the rain drop garland on the window. 
Snowflakes hanging, I quick drew clouds on the table.
White umbrella hanging up was one of the favors (kids/parents got to decorate them)
Random treat assortment: white meringue "clouds", sunflower seeds, skittles, lemon "sun" drops, lollipops, snowballs (yogurt raisins), yogurt stars, and gummy bears (they are rainbowy but mostly I just really wanted a gummy bear) 
The favor bags included sunglasses, rainbow star stickers, fruit snacks, and baggies of rainbow trix. The umbrellas did not fit in the bags!

The photo in the frame is Eli at the kids museum weather map!
Also, most all the bibs were used!
I planted some rainbow flowers, one of my favorite touches. 
This was supposed to be helium filled balloons displayed in a cool rainbow pattern. But it wasn't worth the cost. Silly streamers would just have to do. 
I love this yellow cloud shaped napkin holder from IKEA I found for less than  $2!
And the cute napkins are from there too. I heart IKEA.
The cupcakes turned out cute and were quite easy!
Boxed cupcakes, buttercream almond frosting, weird sour candies... wha-lah!
Of course, rainbow fruit kabobs! 
And rainbow veggies, too! With dill dip. 
Remember Eli's "1" from last year? Well, I guess it's a tradition now. Greg calls it a shrine.
Also, you can see the "sun chips" and rainbow chips-n-dip (blue chips with cowboy caviar).

Our main food was SLUSHburgers which is what we grew up calling Sloppy Joes. It was the best  weather-like named food that we could think of that was good for a crowd. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was going to be served... but that didn't seem very easy to do for a crowd. No photos of the slushburgers because well, they are not pretty. We also had a pasta/coleslaw salad that was white and fluffy like a cloud. 
It's easy to find sun-themed drinks. Sun (un)sweet tea, capri suns, Sunkist...
Bam! I also had every color of the rainbow Powerade that I considered freezing into rainbow ice cubes.  I didn't. 
This is the "cloud jello" I forgot to put out on the table! 
I got a huge stack of books from the library on weather for the kids to read... but they stayed on the table for decoration!
We had a snowball fight! The older kids got into throwing them around... and cute Chloe just chomped right down since they were, indeed, marshmallows.
Some things that didn't happen that I wanted to included:

1. Snow cones. We had a little hand crank deal we could have used, but Greg's trip to Sonic to get ice that morning didn't happen and who wants to crank out twenty snow cones? I almost bought a machine on Amazon... but really, that I couldn't justify.

2. For the older kids I had a 'make it rain' activity with shaving cream and water and food coloring and the younger kids I had food coloring and oil and water in a baggie to make clouds activity... but I just didn't have the energy to explain and do these the day of... plus my tester baggie started to leak.

3. We had the amp out with music playing and gave the kids music toys to just dance around silly, which was good for the age group of kiddos we had. But I wanted it to be more like a goofy rain dance and have homemade rain sticks for them.

4. I was most excited about the thunder game... bubble wrap on cardboard shaped as clouds... the kids would stomp on it and cause it to thunder. Earlier in the week I made my first cloud and was quite disappointed when I couldn't get it to "thunder" when stomping on it. I figured out you need the really big bubble wrap and didn't have time to get enough to make these right. Also, probably better for a bit older crowd anyway.

There were other ideas pinned and thought of mid-shower that didn't happen but overall, everything turned out well, tasted good and fun was had!

Thanks to our friends for the help and for Greg letting me go crazy yet again! I hope when Eli sees photos of this party years from now, he will know he is loved and he had fun!


PS Soon I'll post the hilarious group kid shot... my ideals meet reality.

Half There.

I wrote most of the below detailed post about Eli last Friday. I wanted Greg to read it before posting it on his birthday Saturday. Around 2am Friday while Eli was crying next to me in my bed, I actually laughed out loud because I recalled writing "I love Eli's sleeping right now." He had a HORRIBLE pre-birthday night.

Midnight rolled around (so technically his birthday) and he ended up in the bed with me with Greg then on the couch. We assumed he was some sort of sick. I figured one of three things:  his friend he was with earlier that week had just come down with some stomach bug that night (his mom texted me to say they wouldn't be coming to the party), or Eli was allergic to the dog/cats at the house he spent three hours at earlier that day, or it was indigestion from the fact he ate basically just chick-fil-a nuggets for supper (parenting fail). He kept moaning or whining every twenty minutes or so and his stomach was making crazy noises. Around 1am, I got towels all around him in case he threw up. I figured the party was cancelled and all the prep was for not. But after 2am rolls around and (gratefully) still no puke (and me awake concerned this whole time) plus no fever or any other symptoms, I thought it's just allergies. I think I eventually fell asleep around 3am for maybe few hours. Then Eli was up screaming while Greg and I sat there flabbergasted, even tried giving him medicine but he would have nothing. Calmed him down, back to sleep. Then he was up at 6:30am and kept asking for breakfast... which he got and had normally with no recollection that he'd just had the weirdest night ever.

We decided if breakfast went normally then the party would go on, assuming he wasn't sick. Minus a slight runny nose and him being a little extra crabby, he was completely fine so we did not cancel. We made that decision at like 9:30am while I was still in my pajamas. I had loads to do before 11:30am rolled around and the party started. So I had to "let go" some of my last minute plans and ideas for the party and what I was going to accomplish.

And the party came and went. It was fun but I am terribly bummed that I was so so very tired! I forgot what it was like to run on little sleep. Plus being pregnant... oh man, I was only half there. So all the hours of planning... and then to not get to fully enjoy it, ah, that is a bit of a bummer. There were some lessons learned for me in all this for sure. Saturday night I slept ten hours and woke up Sunday feeling like a new person. What a difference a good, full night sleep makes!

Why am I blogging about this? Well, partly to be open and real and show you that although the party was cute and fun... I was too tired to really enjoy it! I also was pretty crabby that morning, trying to decide what needed to get done and what I needed to just not do. Poor Greg. At one point later that afternoon he asked (while under a mountain of dishes) "Um, are we going to do a party like this every year?" I tried justifying it all, saying "well this was (hopefully) the last party Eli will have without his little sibling here" but he knows me too well. I just really like planning parties and I really like celebrating my kids!

This is what happens when you are way short.
Also I broke out a maternity shirt for the first time this pregnancy. 
He's pretty cute, eh?
Getting his own big cupcake!
All party details coming soon!


Saturday, April 27, 2013


It's been two years since we first held our little redemption baby boy. Having Eli has been the greatest joy.

I haven't done an over-the-top "what is Eli up to" post lately so in honor of his second birthday, it is time. Also a great way to keep record of his change. These are the details for the most doting and/or dedicated of you...

  • Eli's verbal has exploded in the last month or so. It's been so fun to communicate with him in a conversation. This week I've heard a lot of "mama, hold you" when he wants me to pick him up. Or when we are rocking in his chair and I stop: "more rock." Melts your heart. 
  • He started his three-word phrases saying "Hit The Ball" to the guys on TV playing the Masters .
  • He currently loves buses. Airplanes, fire trucks, trucks, motorcycles and other forms of transportation are also favorites but buses have his heart most right now. 
  • If we are leaving someplace or stopping some activity or Eli is recalling he left something, he'll say "bye bye [person or thing]" and often he'll make a list. "Bye bye chair, bye bye table, bye bye spoon." Sometimes hours later he'll just say "Bye Bye (name)". He now also says "Hi (name)" and when you hear him say your name, it will make you smile.
  • His favorite spot and/or activity is to play in the car when it's off and parked in the driveway. He climbs and roams around in there, sits happily, and pushes buttons. I can now see why ever leaving a child in a running car is dangerous. 
  • Eli is a biter. When he's excessively happy, frustrated, angry, he bites. Thankfully he almost always remembers he can only bite his blankie or the couch or pillow. I just don't ever want to see this display of his emotion on some other kid. Oi. 
  • Speaking of blankie, he still loves his blankie and can be found saying "blankie" if he's upset. Every nap, every night and too often, for fun and comfort in between. I'm so glad we have four and I do a "blankie load" of laundry every few days
  • He calls music "ahggie." No idea why. But that's how he says it and he requires his aggie to be on in the car for any length of trip. And this week he even learned to say "different ahggie" when the song or CD is not to his liking. Yikes.
  • Eli loves yogurt still. And french fries. And chips. And well, most any snacky type food most especially with a crunch. Sigh. He does eat fairly well most days... but he can definitely refuse a green bean with the strongest of persistence.   
  • He says his own name like "Ali" half the time and the other half correctly like "Eli"... I can't figure out why he nails it sometimes and then missed it completely other times. I have to double check to make sure he's not talking about his cousin!
  • Eli is becoming more impressionable. He is more concerned when daddy leaves so I started reassuring him with "Daddy always comes back" etc. So now he reassures himself with "daddy back" or "mama back" if he's feeling upset.
  • One of Eli's favorite times of the day is "Rogers" time with daddy. A long while ago, Greg started singing the theme song to Mr. Rogers every day when he came home from work and took off his dress clothes. And that turned into Eli joining him as they romp and play and rough house in our bedroom. The bed never looks nice after Rogers time is done. But Eli loves it so much, he'll say "More Rogers" over and over.
  • Eli is definitely more two in his behavior. He will want to hit something or chuck it across the room if he is mad. You can see the sin in his heart as he is about to go off. It's so sad and yet often amusing. It's been fun and hard to teach him in these times. 
  • Sometimes when I ask him a question like "which one is the circle" and he obviously knows the answer, he'll be all sly and point to the square and whisper "no"... until he finally decides it's time to pick the right one. 
  • He doesn't love books as much as he used to... I mean we aren't reading loads of books in a day like before BUT he can (and loves) to read longer books! So we aren't only reading board books which is a nice change of pace. However, he still does not have the attention span for his awesome Bible I love to read.
  • Instead of reading books, he wants to look at pictures (and even moreso videos) of himself. He's such a narcissist. He even, I figured out yesterday, knows which app is the pictures on my phone. Sigh. He'd sit there quietly looking and watching for hours if I'd let him.
  • And he still likes TV too. Only some shows, he's got an opinion, but I can turn it on and he will just stop and stare. 
  • He's wearing 24 months and 2T size, spot on I suppose. Pantswise 18-month are usually too tight and 2T is usually too long.  He also has a few 3T shirts that fit him. He wears a size 7ish in shoes and I'm hoping he'll hurry up and grow into those size 8 TOMS I got him for his birthday!
  • I love Eli's sleeping right now. Goes to bed at 8pm, maybe a little earlier or later depending on our schedule, and then wakes up around 7am (actually this week it's been 6:30am but for awhile it was 7:30am which was fantastic). He then goes down for a nap at 2pm every afternoon usually for almost two hours. Sometimes he'll wake up and want to finish his nap in our bedroom. And sometimes I'll let him. I'm not really looking forward to transitioning him from his crib this summer.
  • He knows a red bird is a cardinal and a orange-breasted bird is a robin. He does love buhrds. 
  • Eli's still fascinated by the sky and clouds and anything in them. 
  • He is so not potty trained. He could care less about walking around with a full diaper on. Sigh. My hope is he'll be potty trained by the fall. We shall see. I'm not going to stress about it. Yet.
  • He learned the word "meatball" at IKEA and now says that randomly.
  • He knows most all of our family's names and loves to point them out in photos. 
  • If you see Eli pointing at this nose and saying "copy", he wants to play the copy game where you copy whatever he does. He finds it a fabulous way to spend time. 
  • I'm pretty sure he still knows his letters but he doesn't play with letters as much as he used to. He "moved on" to numbers and likes to count to ten or just count how many he sees of things. However, most of the time it's two (two stop signs) even if there is more than two. 
  • He knows most of the main colors (even pink and purple) but cannot say yellow whatsoever. 
  • Sometimes I'll catch him in his chair, flipping quickly through a book, saying "all done" and then chucking it on the floor for the next book. So maybe he is a speed reader. 
  • We gave him a bubble bath awhile ago and now when you say "are you ready for your bath, Eli?" he will always, always respond with "bubble bath" and fully expect one. We now just put the tiniest of bubbles in each bath because it makes it all that much more enjoyable. 
  • His favorite inside activity is a tie between "bucket ball" and "bat and ball". For "bucket ball", you hold the bucket, he throws. He actually makes it quite a bit. For "bat and ball" you get the bat, he pitches. He would play these games for hours. And hours. Big fan of all balls and sports-related toys. 
Well. How about that for details on our little, growing man?

Happy birthday son. I love being your mama.


Thursday, April 25, 2013


Eli loves to get thrown in the air by his daddy. My friend captured this fun shot awhile ago and thought it needed to be shared.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Double Slide.

Took this photo today and realized Eli's legs are probably going to be longer than mine in a few short (ha) years. And how weird will it be when he is towering over me?

Love this soon-to-be-two boy and glad for this double slide time... even if I had to keep crawling through a tunnel to get there.


Friday, April 19, 2013


I have shared before about the importance of the song (more the meaning behind the song) "Blessed Be Your Name" in our lives.

It was sung at our wedding.

It was sung the first Sunday we went to church after we had the ectopic pregnancy.

It was sung (well, sort of sung, the words were on the back of the program and the musical track played) at Maelee's funeral.

It was sung, by my request, at church right after Eli's dedication when he was almost two weeks old.

And to my tearful surprise, it was also sung at church the day after we found out about this new baby.

It was such a great promise to me. A way the Lord gave me peace and understanding and hope at the very beginning of this child's journey. Was it a "this baby is going to live and you are going to have a cake walk pregnancy" audible promise from God? Nope. But it was a "I'm still God and still in control and completely trustworthy in even this" peace.

So I've tried to remember this often during the moments where I am freaking out or unnecessarily worrying. The truth is we don't know the outcome of this pregnancy. We hope it means bringing home an alive and healthy baby. There is no guarantee of that. But we choose to trust God. He is the same whether this baby lives or dies. He is still good and we will still choose to bless His Name. Oh it will be hard, hard, aching trust and we will be a fumbling, real mess if the outcome is not what we want. But the Lord has carried us through before and will again if that is the case.

His grace in grief has been one of the joys of following Him in this life on earth.

So when these two young, naive, sheltered, lovestruck North Dakotans stood and sang this song on that stage in Grand Forks almost eight years ago, we had no idea what suffering, wilderness, darkness and abundance would come (or what is yet to come).

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Oh and this was sung on Sunday, April 7 at church too, right after Maelee's should-be third birthday. I hope the song never grows old so it's around a long time to challenge and comfort my soul.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Get Through April.

I am so very happy that it's already April 16. That means this month is half over! Now April is the specialist of months for us but it's also quite weighty. Yes, yes it is. The thing I'm most scared about right now, as you could guess, is losing this baby. But mostly, losing this baby in April. 

You see, people that lose kids have sort of really whacked out fears and ways their natural, sinful selves think (I'm sure that most parents actually have this, we just take it to a new level). And when we found out I was pregnant one of the first thoughts was "Oh let's make it through April." Because all of our kids have made their appearance in April. Our ectopic baby was lost in April. Maelee was stillborn in April. Eli was born in April. And since this baby would not be able to survive outside the womb if born now, we would also lose this baby if he or she were born in April.

This baby is ideally our late September, very early October baby. He or she gets to buck the trend. Yes, that is what I hope!  We have loads of little hurdles to make it through until this little lovie's birth date, but join me in praying he or she makes it through this month. And pray for my sanity and focus and right heart... I don't have an appointment until early May to verify this little one's heartbeat. That's a few weeks of possible freak outs!

Thankfully I have one adorable, growing little boy about to turn two and get to distract myself planning his party! Yes!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Nise Ant.

We head back to our sunny home tomorrow morning. It will be sad to go, we've had loads of fun but we will be glad to have some warmth! Brrrr.

Greg really wanted to go to a Twins game and since he hasn't been to the new stadium, we had tentatively planned to go this afternoon in fact. But today's game was cancelled. So cold and snowy.

More photos of our fun day with great friends yesterday but for now, a letter my six-year-old niece wrote me and a photo of me with my two dears. Love these girls. Ali was appropriately bummed when she found out its going to be a long time (Christmas most likely) before we get to see them again. Sigh.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

April (Snow) Showers.

We are in MN. Crazy, right? What's really crazy is the weather. Well only crazy if you aren't from around these parts. We came right before a lovely amount of snow showed up. The airport was even closed for a bit today.

We came for a wedding so missing it wouldn't have been good! Greg's a groomsmen in our friend Jaysen's marriage Saturday. Yay!

We also get to see my family because we're crashing at my sister's place. And my mom flew in from Arizona and my dad, who was in ND helping out my cousin, drove in too! That one was a surprise, so fun to see my dad when not expecting it.

Here's some phone shots from our time...

With the almost-marrieds!
My sister's deck.
My daddy.
Ava helping shovel. Had to force her to come inside.
Eli hating this white cold stuff. Or maybe it was the pink boots.
Sweet moments.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Inquiring minds want to know so...

I have been quite shocked at my baby bump this time around. I remember being in Arizona and feeling like all the really good food the baby was showing. But I was only 10ish weeks along so I figured that couldn't be... but by the end of our week there one of the pairs of pants I brought didn't button anymore. Interesting.

For my appointment yesterday, I was convinced I had gained ten pounds already... that's how significant I feel the bump has become. But oddly enough, I've only gained a pound or two max. It's just all out there. My doctor said babies start showing much earlier the more pregnancies you have (which makes me wonder if those moms with 20 kids start showing at conception).

I went back and looked at my bi-monthly belly shots with Maelee and me at 20.5 weeks with her. It's about how I look now at 12 weeks!

I don't have these weekly shots from Eli but I did not start really showing until into week 20 something or more with him. This is me at maybe 25 weeks?

And really am not into all this belly shots on the internet thing...but I don't want this baby to feel left out:

It's hard to capture it on camera myself and get the full affect but here was me trying to figure out what I'm wearing to the wedding this weekend: 

And yes, I chose the photo of me that did not have my dorky "is this going to work" face or the one where I felt my arm was ginormous.

Here's to hoping I get to see this belly (and baby) grow!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Another One To Love.

Eli did some sidewalk chalk for you today:

Oh yea!
Protective (and loving) brother.
Growing Family
I did plan on telling y'all sooner. But we didn't want to rain in on the Brown's baby announcement. Then it was just too close to Maelee's season and I couldn't handle that. I am twelve weeks along now(!!) and I have an appointment in the morning to see how things are progressing with this little one (not more, we did have an early ultrasound and there was just one in there). 

I have done much processing the last weeks and I look forward to sharing with you soon. 

Please join us in thanking God for this child, this gift to us, and praying for him or her and us in the next months to come...



UPDATE: Baby is alive as of this morning! His/Her little heartbeat was 162 when the nurse could get it (they were sure moving around) and all else was looking fine! 

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Three years.

My Facebook status this morning: "Oh how I wish we had our girl's third birthday party today, filled with all things girly and fun. Instead we miss her like crazy and hope for heaven. Grateful for Maelee even still."

I have much to process and share and that will come soon. For now, just wanted to acknowledge it's April 6, it's Maelee's birthday and to say thank you again for caring for our little family. 

We miss you baby girl. 


Friday, April 5, 2013


I've talked before about the importance of dates to me. I don't know why they matter so much (oh silly me) but with Maelee, I've realized partly I make it a big deal because it's all we get. These days are hers because we don't get any other special days with her. Ever.

April 4th is when she died but we didn't know that and because it was Easter, there is some redeeming quality there. I talked last year about how April 5th is the worst, there is nothing good about the day we found out and I had to start labor. April 6th is better because we got to hold our baby girl, and it's her official birthday. So to me, today is hardest and toughest and maybe hurts the most.

But praise be, we've had such love and support shown this week. Our friend Sidni was with Eli and I most all day yesterday so I could make cupcakes. Today she brought a meal and came with Eli and I as we delivered them to a few friends around town. Other friends brought us yummy cookies and an edible arrangement to enjoy. Plus the notes and texts and messages... ah, I am so grateful for the friends that love us well and miss Maelee with us even three years later (and not think us crazy for still being sad). I don't know how people can lose a child without support and love through it. It's just not something meant to walk through alone.

She would have loved y'all. Really.

My get-to-keep-not-eat cupcake given to me yesterday by my dear, talented friend Cindy!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Trying to make this week honoring to Maelee's memory, missing her with others, and also make it special, even fun, for Eli. I just want that to be the tradition for her week in our lives. So yesterday, since we live in such a wonderful place with weather so beautiful this time of year, Eli and I went strawberry picking. Besides that cute strawberry hat and hopeful Halloween costume, I think it's just the red factor that makes strawberries a fitting Maelee tribute.

It was beautiful and enjoyable with perfect not-too-hot weather. Eli did well, didn't pick berries unnecessarily or stomp on more than one plant. We also got crazy muddy which is perfect boy fun I suppose. 

He picked this one all by himself!
Mama and son.

He loved running down the isles.
He's counting them here.
Our Instagram memory pic.
And later I came home to find our boy snuggling up with Maelee's pillow my Aunt Bonnie made. Made me smile and sad all at the same time.

And just so it's said out loud, I am so overflowing, completely, smashingly, giddily, perplexedly, gratefully, happily filled with joy because we get to have Eli. I don't want anyone to think we aren't enjoying Eli because we are consumed with our loss for Maelee. It's the opposite. We love this boy and are speechless about the gift he is to us everyday.