Oranges and Spaghetti

I haven't posted an updated picture of myself, so here you go!  This was taken on Sunday, at 15 weeks.  I am most definitely showing and I've already been asked (several times), "Are you sure you aren't having twins??"  Nice.  Just what you want to hear when you've got 5 months to go.  I've been trying to stretch my postpartum wardrobe from last summer, but it's time to start buying maternity clothes again.  It's a little crazy to think in the last 2 years, I've gone through almost 4 wardrobe changes.  The old me; the first time pregnancy me; the postpartum me; and now the second time pregnancy me.  It's been an expensive two years :)  
The baby is the size of an orange this week and is moving like crazy, because all 4 limbs now have functional joints.  He or she can sense light now and has taste buds that are developing.  Isn't that amazing??  Although I haven't been as diligent about reading the daily developments, every time I do, I marvel at God and the miracle of life!  I have been able to feel the baby move several times now, which is much earlier than Ava, but I think I know what it feels like this time, so it was easier to distinguish.  There is just nothing like those little flutters of life inside you...

For the most part, I am feeling great!  I'm sleeping like a rock lately and not having any unusual pain or discomfort.  The only thing I struggle with is energy :) By late afternoon, I am so worn out and usually so ready for a nap!  Fortunately I've been able to take one most days and that makes a big difference.  I know I still have a long way to go, but I am really enjoying this pregnancy so far and I'm just very thankful for this current season.  It overwhelms me to think we're going to have 2 kids soon!  I have wanted to have kids for so long and now here we are, living that dream :)  We are both very excited about the future!
Last night this little cutie proved to us that spaghetti really is her favorite food!  We've given it to her before and she's loved it every time, but honestly, I hate the mess so I'm not always willing to give it to her!  BUT, we went for it last night and she could not have been happier!  
She gobbled that pasta up and ate an entire plate's worth!  All the while, grinning and kicking her leg while she ate :) She kept looking at us and giggling, as if to say "I love this!  I can't believe you're letting me eat it!!  She also ate mandarin oranges and cheese and drank some milk...It really is amazing she's so small because she certainly eats like a little piggie!  
Needless to say, after her feeding frenzy, we went straight from the high chair to the bathtub!  Lately Ava has been on an upgrade streak...We just moved her up from her infant car seat to a convertible seat and last night from her infant tub to the big tub!  As you can see, she was delighted with the promotion :) 

Life is moving quickly over here, but we are loving every minute of it!  The weather has been beautiful and the sun is shining, I truly do love this time of year.  Ava and I ran some errands today and stopped by a local nursery to see all of the plants and flowers.  I can't wait to buy some and fill my pots on the balcony!  I'm just a little gun shy and not convinced our cold weather is totally behind us...I think after Mother's Day I'll be ready!  After all, this is Minnesota and the weather here is ANYTHING but predictable!  

Hope your day has been a blessed one!  


12 Months!!

Oh Ava, believe it or not, I am writing your final monthly update from this year because you are now 12 months old!!  We can't stand it, but you're growing up and you've moved out of that baby stage and into toddlerhood.  You are a constant mover and FULL of personality.  Although we have loved every single stage of this last year, this one is by far our favorite!  You are just so much fun and we can't get enough of our time with you.  You make your Daddy and I smile like crazy and you keep us on our toes because you are into everything :) We love being your parents and we can't wait for you to have another little brother or sister to play with soon!  You're going to be a wonderful big sister, we just know it.  
Here are some of your stats from this month:
-You are still a tiny little thing, you weigh 18.4 lbs and you are 29 inches tall.  Because you're still under 20 pounds, we can't turn your car seat around yet, but make no mistake...You might be tiny, but you are mighty!!  
-You wear a size 3 diaper (still) and are wearing mostly 12 month clothes.
-You have 7 teeth (that we know of!) and your smile is full of big and little teeth now!  You always surprise people when you flash them a big toothy grin :) 
-You are still taking 2 naps a day, but pretty soon we will be transitioning to only 1.  
-You go to bed around 7:30-8:00 and you sleep until about 7:30 in the morning.
-You are no longer drinking formula (praise the Lord!!) but whole milk instead.  We are working on switching you from the bottle to a cup, but it's not so easy because you seem to love your bottle!  
-You eat like a little garbage disposal :) Fruit, veggies, meat, cheese, dairy...You love it all!  Often you beg for more from Mommy and Daddy's plate too! 
-The biggest news from this month is that you are now officially walking!!  You started just 4 days after your birthday and you haven't slowed down since.  You look so much older now that you can walk and often you scare me because you can sneak up so much faster and quieter!  You love to chase Daddy around the house and you always make a beeline for Ryley too.  Whenever I open the refrigerator door, you come racing into the kitchen, as fast as you can so that you can stand in the door and check everything out on the shelves!  It's hilarious and so weird :) 
You love to play now and spend most of your day trying out all your toys.
You're starting to do more and more independent play and we often hear you having your own conversation or singing while you do it!  We know your little brother/sister is going to love watching you!
Speaking of a little sibling, you seem to have a sudden love for your baby doll!  You carry it all over with you and give it love and kisses.  For so long you didn't care about your baby, but now you look for it and love to play with it. 
It might have something to do with your new doll stroller.  Mommy found that at a garage sale and so far it's a big hit!  You push it all over and often stop to "check" your baby!
You like to take the baby out of the seat belt and carry it for awhile.   It's so funny to see those first "nurturing instincts" kicking in.
One of your cutest fascinations this month is with your clothes and shoes.  I now have piles of clothes all over the house, because you like to take them out of your drawers or the laundry and pile them up.  You like to sort through them and then carry one or two things around with you.  On Sunday, I didn't realize it, but you carried your jammies with you to the car!  Maybe you're going to love shopping like your Mom and Dad some day :) Now if I could only teach you to sort, I might be able to use your "talents" to help me with the laundry!!
Ava, you are so loud and you love to laugh now!  You get all worked up and you shriek with laughter over so many things.  Ryley and Daddy make you laugh most often, but it's so funny when you are in the middle of a gut-buster!!  It doesn't take long for Mom and Dad to join in with you!
Being outside is your favorite place to be.  You are so interested in all the sights and sounds and nothing calms you down faster than stepping outside.  You love to be on our balcony and we can't wait for it to get hot outside so we can play at the park everyday!
You are just such a little sweetheart and we love you so much.
This has been the best year of our lives because we have you!  12 months have come and gone so fast and we know they will continue to, but we love watching you grow and develop into the little girl God created you to be.  You are a delight to us and we could not be more proud.  

Happy 12 months sweet girl!!
We love you!


It's Happening...

It's hard for me to believe, it's even harder for me to accept, but the minutes are ticking down tonight as my 20's gradually fade away and my 30's begin. Seriously, that just hurt a little bit to type "30" right there, I can't imagine how much it will hurt to say it!! 30??? How can that be possible?? It suddenly seems so incredibly...OLD!!

I've kind of avoided this birthday for about the last 6 months, refusing to think much about it or let it dance around in my head. Instead, I've focused on Trav's April birthday, then Ava's, but like it or not, tomorrow (the 24th) it's my turn. Thankfully we are very busy this weekend and really have no time to stop and "celebrate." Travis did make some plans for us, but our childcare fell through and this funeral took over our week. He feels really badly about it, but it's ok. It's not necessarily one I want to dwell on for long...However, I was looking forward to some uninterrupted time with him :) But, we can do that another weekend.

Anyway, as I face the music and start thinking about all that my 30's might bring, I thought I would reflect a little bit on what my 20's have held and how those 10 years have shaped my life today. This is probably totally boring for anyone but me, and maybe my parents, but I'd kind of like to write it down so one day I can show Ava and her siblings, how the Lord wrote the story of my life. Looking back and reflecting is always such a wonderful way to praise the Lord and see His hand guiding and directing your steps all along. At each step along the way, I had times when I wondered if He had a plan for me, or if He still remembered me, but for every time I wondered that He did a mighty work in me and laid one more piece of the puzzle down. To see only 10 years of it from a distance now, with a little wisdom and perspective behind me, makes me wonder what I'll say when I'm looking at 60 or 70 years? Hopefully, I'll see a beautiful tapestry, rich with good times and hard times, full of depth and maturity and sweet, sweet memories. Most of all, I hope I'll be able to reflect on a life well lived, honestly and humbly before the Lord and others, gradually devoid of me and filled more and more with Jesus. That is my heart's desire...

But for now, my 20's :)

2000-#20-I was a sophomore in college at the University of Northern Iowa and totally unsatisfied with my life. It felt boring. I was going to school full-time and working at a floral shop part-time. Single. I begged the Lord one October night on campus, to do "something" with my life. To give me some kind of story. I was convinced I didn't have one :) Little did I know that He would take those words I threw before Him and take me on the beginning of a ride like no other!

2001-#21-I was a junior in college, in an exchange program at Fresno State in Fresno, California. HUGE year for me. Dated 2 people I shouldn't have, learned lots of lessons the hard way; Lost several close people to me in devastating circumstances; Walked in plenty of grief and found my faith rocked to its core...And YET, found God faithfully tending to my heart and showing Himself to me in a very real way. Major heartache and major growth this year.
2002-#22-Huge milestone year. A game changer year in many ways. Graduated from UNI with a bachelor's in Interior Design. Got my first job and moved to Naples, Florida to work for an ID firm. LISTENED TO MY MOTHER AND GOT INVOLVED AT A BIG CHURCH...MET TRAVIS!!! Began a relationship with him that would change my life forever. Fell head over heels in love. Served on a ministry leadership team together. Made lots of new friends.

2003-#23-Got engaged, got married!! Moved to Wake Forest, North Carolina with my new husband to begin our new life! Became a seminary wife :) Started Nannying. Lived on a shoe-string budget and couldn't have been happier!! Saw the Lord provide for us and begin to shape our ministry life together. Enjoyed married life!!

2004-#24-Moved out of our apartment into a little house we rented on a huge acreage. Watched the Lord provide for us in incredible ways! Developed some sweet friendships with other seminary couples. Travis began serving at a little country church as their youth pastor. Trusted the Lord and walked way out of our comfort zone in many ways...Got our first baby!! A darling golden retriever, Ryley :) Our home was never as clean again!!

2005-#25-Grew very close to the family I nannyed for and fell in love with my little Olivia. Continued to support Travis in his Seminary journey. Spent some of the best times with our friends, made incredible memories. Traveled around the east coast. Developed some great relationships in our Church and loved our little group of students. Started praying about expanding our family. Got a random call from Grace Church in Minnesota...

2006-#26- Flew to Minnesota for a formal, second interview. Accepted a call for Trav to be the Junior High Pastor at Grace! Moved in March. Brand new city. Brand new jobs. Brand new Church. Brand new friends. Sweet to be closer to family, but still a difficult year of transition. Grateful for the move and excited about the future! Really began trying for a baby.

2007-#27- Bought our first place, a condo! Started nannying again for 3 cute little boys. Major year of transition at Church, lots of ups and downs. Explored Minnesota. Continued to try for a baby...Got pregnant!! Miscarried that baby a few weeks later. Huge season of disappointment and grief. Started really blogging through it and watched God use that in several ways.

2008-#28- Grew very close as a couple, took a wonderful vacation together to Marco Island and really sought the Lord for His plan in our family. Saw incredible blessing at Church. Decided to enroll in an infertility program...Fought through a big delay when our insurance provider changed...Travis flew to Peru for a Mission's Trip...I discovered I was pregnant again, on our 5th Anniversary, while he was gone!!! AMEN and AMEN!!!! Started my wedding business. Enjoyed every minute of my pregnancy. Found out we were expecting a girl! Little Ava Page made her way into our hearts...

2009-#29- ALL ABOUT AVA!! Our precious daughter was born on April 17th. Life changed forever, but for the better! Wonderful year of learning and parenting and marveling at our sweet gift from Him. Incredible year of ministry and blessing at Church. Lots of wedding business. Very, very grateful to be in Minnesota, at Grace, right where we know He has called us to be.

2010-#30- Wife. Mother. Pregnant with baby #2!! Waiting to see what God has in store!!

What a ride these last 10 years have been! Major milestones, huge life decisions, and unbelievable blessing. All to His glory and His name...

Thank you Lord for 29 years of life!!

Look out 30, here I come!!


Oh What a Difference a Year Makes!

***I fixed my video problem and posted it below!!***

One year ago today, this is what we were up to over here...
Snuggling with Daddy...
Stretching out in our brand new crib...
Sleeping in our new swing...

And looking so darn cute!

TODAY, one year later, we are facing a much different reality! We officially have a little walker on our hands! I have a cute little video to share with you below! Enjoy :)

Ava has been slowing getting more and more brave in the last few days, but today she gained that confidence she needed and she started walking from room to room! She's very proud of herself and she can tell it must be impressive because I keep following her and cheering her on :) Pretty crazy to think we were doing lots of sleeping and nursing last year, and this year she's officially mobile!

Yay Ava!!


A Little of This, a Little of That

Well, it's been a Monday.  Enough said, right?  It wasn't a bad day, just a day full of stuff.  So in no particular order, here's a slice...

-I woke up this morning with a very, very vivid dream on my mind.  So vivid in fact, I could taste it.  I dreamed specifically that I was eating hummus and sea salt pita chips last night.  When I got out of bed, all I could think about was getting my hands on some!  So, during our errands today, I picked up the most incredible hummus and some new sea salt pita chips that were very tasty.  The next thing I need to pick up are some pickles.  Big, dill spears to be specific.  Can you tell I'm preggo??  I'm dreaming about food, what does that say??

-Speaking of this pregnancy, so far I truly have no complaints.  I feel good, any nausea I used to have seems to have passed and I've even recovered a little bit of my energy again.  But I do have one thing on my mind most days and that is food.   I crave things that are salty, day and night.  No sweets, no chocolate, just salt.  Weird I know.  I could eat feta cheese, pickles, wheat thins and now hummus and sea salt pita chips all day long!  BUT, unlike my first pregnancy, I am allowing myself a single soda or coffee once a day.  With Ava, I drank no caffeine.  With this one, I wouldn't survive the day without it!  I told Travis tonight that I look forward to a coke with fresh limes, like an alcoholic craves beer!  I mean I'm seriously obsessed with it.  It's my little reward after a long day and I savor every sip.  There is just something about a fresh lime slice in a glass of ice cold coke...oh it's sooooo good!!  I know, I'm so weird.  I'm starting to freak my own self out with my strong feelings about this!

-I took Ava to the doctor today by myself and it was not a good experience.  Travis always comes to all of her appointments (by his choice, he likes to hear the updates!) but today he had something he couldn't get out of, so I took her alone.  We went for her 12 month check and also to have her ears looked at, as I wasn't totally sure she didn't have another infection.  Thankfully, she didn't and that was good news.  But, unfortunately for her, it was an appointment full of pokes and prods and 3 separate ear checks.  You can imagine it was not a pretty scene in our room!  All of her stats were great and her development is perfect, ahead of the curve in a lot of ways, but the finger poke for hemoglobin and a shot in each arm, in addition to the ear checks were not a walk in the park.  I was trying to hold it together for her, but I literally had to wrestle her to the table or on my chest to get through it.  It was exhausting by the time we were finally done!  For both of us :)  Thankfully, she was fine once we got out of our room, but for awhile, she was "that" child who started screaming the minute another doctor or nurse walked in.  It was so sad.  And I was sweating :) Oh the joys of motherhood...

-However, on a much heavier note and in a very sad way, I was savoring my time with her as I wiped her tears away and held her tightly.  We got a call last night from my cousins' daughter, to tell us that one of her friends who comes to our junior high ministry, lost her Mom in a car accident last night.  Just like that.  At only 13, her life and the lives of her other siblings have been forever changed.  It crossed my mind multiple times, that sweet little Katie will no longer have her Mother to wipe her tears away.  Her Mom can't hold her tight tonight and tell her it's going to be ok.  She's just been dealt a very cruel blow and I can't imagine the road she has ahead of her.  And at such a young age.  Travis spent a good deal of time with her and her family today and he will be doing the funeral on Sunday, but if you can, would you just pray with us for Katie and her family?  We're not sure about any spiritual foundation in her family or if anyone knows the Lord in a personal way, so we are storming Heaven's gates on their behalf with our prayers.  We know the potential for life changing decisions at the crossroad they are now facing and we are confident that the Lord is pursuing them in their darkest hour.  But grief is grief and it's hard no matter what, especially when you are so young.  Our hearts are heavy tonight and we asking the Lord to do a mighty work through this tragedy...We know He is the ultimate Healer, the Father they need, and the Comforter.  Please pray for Katie, for her older brothers and sisters and for her step-dad Kyle.  I just keep asking the Lord to be near to them...

-Trav just walked in the door and we've got a date with 24 on our tivo, so I need to wrap this up.  Our week is a very busy one and tomorrow is going to be the busiest day yet, so hopefully I can get my rear end in bed at a decent hour!  But not before Jack Bauer saves the world or something tonight...We're so sad this show is ending!!  We love it!  At least we have plenty of prior seasons to catch up on :)

Hope you have a blessed week!

A Hootenanny and a 1st Birthday!!

We had a wonderful weekend, celebrating with our little ONE year old!  Ava officially turned one on Saturday, the 17th, and from the moment she woke up, we were celebrating!  Travy brought some balloons home on Saturday morning, which she immediately loved. When he walked in the door and she saw him holding the balloons, she opened her mouth really big and said "OH", pointing and grinning.  It was hilarious!  We realized she'd never really seen balloons up close before!
I got all of her gifts wrapped up and ready for her to tear apart.  I know this looks crazy for a first birthday, but it wasn't really as grand as it seems :) Just a few things she needed and 2 toys.  BUT, it's all in the presentation, right??
We had a fun, quiet day with just the 3 of us, until my Mom and Dad arrived for her big family party that night.  As you can see, getting her to pose for ANY pictures this weekend, was more than a challenge.  She's definitely more opinionated now that she's one :) 
But sitting on her car did the trick :) 
She wore her new dress and sweater from Aunt Stacie and Uncle Jesse and it was so sweet on her!  
We love it!
She also got a darling, little, pink camping chair that is precious and just right for her.  I'm sure we'll be taking it with us to many things this summer and fall!  
Because Miss Ava is only one, we decided we would wait another year or so to do a party with friends, instead we chose to celebrate with family because we have so many family members who are in town.  On my side of the family, April is a huge month for birthdays!  There are like 11 of us or something who were born in April.  This year in particular was especially big because there were 4 of us celebrating BIG milestone included.  So, we decided we would do a big combined party, celebrating the milestone birthdays and my cousin Brian came up with the idea to do an old-fashioned hootenanny!  Hilarious, right??
In case you'd like a dictionary definition, a Hootenanny is explained here:
hoot·en·an·ny  (htn-n)
n. pl. hoot·en·an·nies
1. An informal performance by folk singers, typically with participation by the audience.

Think "Dan in Real Life", when they have the family talent show.  That's exactly what we did!  On this particular branch of my family tree, there are quite a few musically talented people, but not necessarily within my own immediate family!  We have singers, songwriters, recording artists and lots of untapped potential :) We had serenades to spouses, original songs sung, tap dancing, jazz dancing, jokes, and even a certain little 1st grade boy who played "twinkle, twinkle little star" on his armpits!  THAT was hilarious :) It made us laugh to think what our kids will contribute someday...maybe they'll be musical, but if they take after Travis and I, they'll probably be doing some kind of trick with a ball!  Like, "How many free throws can you shoot in a row" or "how many tricks can you do with soccer ball??"  After our talent show, we upped the energy and all danced along to the wii game, "Just Dance."  Have you played it??  It's super fun and a total workout!  I'm pretty sure everyone joined it for at least one song!  We were exhausted when we got home, but it was such a fun night!!  I have a video of the dancing, but so far I haven't talked Travis into letting me post it :) I'll work on him...

We rented a clubhouse and all 30 of got together for a rip-roaring good time!

As you can see, here are the big milestones in our family...
Me-30 (I'm still in denial, but my day is approaching!)
My cousin Amy-40
My uncle Ron-70
We knew this would be a fun way to celebrate Ava's big day!
She was such a good little sport, playing with her car while we waited to eat.  We were laughing at her here because she had a little "Marilyn Monroe" moment when she stood over an air vent and her skirt blew in the breeze!  She must have liked it because she continued to stand there, dancing and grinning!  Uh oh :) 
That's cute when you're one, but we're going to be in trouble if she's still doing it when she's 13!!
My cousin Rhonda and my Mom
My cousin Brian, my Mom and Travis
The cutest birthday girl!  
Getting ready for her second cake experience :) 
We brought 2 cakes, one that was a pull-apart cupcake cake, and a free one from a local grocery store!
Sadly, I am doing everything I can to stay out of the leftovers we brought home :) 
It took her a few minutes, but eventually she got her hands in there again and smeared the frosting all over her face!  We have learned that she is not a cake girl however, she had no interest in eating any of it!
Just a few adoring cousins to cheer her on!  Ava is not short on love or attention, can you tell??
We LOVE it!  We're so thankful to have so many sweet family members for her to grow up with.
Pride almost kept me from posting this, but I'm doing it anyway!  This is the 4 of us who have rather "big" birthdays this month!  BUT, I could not look worse after dancing all night :) 
This was taken at 11:00 pm!
Who keeps their one year old out until 11pm???
She was an angel considering how tired she must have been!

Because we had such a big day on Saturday, Travis and I decided to have Ava open her gifts from us, last night.  That's the beauty of a one year old, she had no idea we were asking her to wait!
Her greatest joy seemed to be playing with the tissue paper and trying to offer it to Ryley to eat.  
We could have gotten away with no gifts, had we known how much she'd enjoy this!!
Ryley was happy to participate in the mess :) 
We gave her a couple of outfits, some new jammies, and a little people princess carriage, but she only had eyes for her new shopping cart and its accessories!
It took her only a few minutes before she was cruising around our house!
She seems to have some kind of fascination with the ketchup and mustard bottles :) 
I think she likes it!

We had a wonderful weekend, it was fun to share her big day with our family.   Hard for both of us to believe that a year has already come and gone, but what a wonderful blessing our sweet Ava has been to us.  We can't wait to experience another year of Ava!!