Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ArtPrize 2010

We had talked about wanting to go to ArtPrize this year since Kaden was a year older and can sit in a stroller and walk around much more easily than he could have a year ago. So, on Sunday afternoon after naptime, we ventured downtown along with the rest of humanity. We parked by Grand Valley, bundled up, and proceeded to walk around most of downtown for a little over 2 hours. Kaden was such a trooper- he loved looking at all of the art (although he kept calling it "arc."). It was such a fun family day. It seems like it gets harder and harder to find big chunks of time to do something fun (and FREE!) as a family, and this was the perfect moment. The afternoon was a perfect mixture of walking, looking, laughing, and most importantly, playing. Sometimes I wish I could just freeze moments like that to make them last forever.

Me and Carol Roeda by her ArtPrize Entry. It was beautiful!

Playing and singing Jesus Loves Me for Kaden on one of the many pianos downtown

Of course Kaden was more interested in the "struction" than the "arc"

Daddy and Kaden experiencing the art

Very cool artsy idea, photo, entry. I loved it.

Gotta' love GR!

Playtime in the GR letters

Me and my adorable boys

Just chillin'.

More fun with mommy


How can you not LOVE this kid?!?

And these boys?!? Oh my.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Birthday Trip to Lancaster

I'm back from a wonderful weekend with my family in Lancaster, Pa. It started off with a long night in the airport, enjoying Starbucks and a good book. I can't remember the last time I did that. Kaden cried when him and Andy left the airport, and I felt terrible for leaving him, but I knew it would be good for all of us. Andy was looking forward to a guy's weekend with his little buddy, and I was looking forward to a weekend with family and shopping! After being served beverages from an airplane cart in the terminal (everything else was all closed up by then), we finally boarded the plane and I arrived at my parent's house around 12:30 on Friday morning.

I slept for a few hours and at 8am we were off to first get a notorious egg and cheese sandwich. My mouth was already watering just thinking about a NJ egg sandwich- nothing beats it! At 8:20am, we arrived at my Grandma's house. We had it all strategically planned- from which way she would enter the car to how long it would take for her to lock up her house. I sat in the back seat with a camera in front of my face ready to capture the moment. My Grandma got in the car, looked at my mom in the front seat and said, "Hi, Sharon." I was wondering how long it was going to take for her to realize I was sitting right next to her in the backseat. She looked at me, and after a brief paused, exclaimed, "Yennifer!" (The Y is from her heavy Dutch accent). She cried and said, "Now this is going to be the best weekend ever!". I think we surprised her, what do you think?!? :)

The rest of the weekend was full of lots of laughs, time spent with family, and shopping. My Dad had to buy a trailor for the car to fit everything, and his chairs were tied to the roof. The biggest joke of the weekend was my antique window that I'm SO excited to get. It's a good thing my parents are driving out here in a month- they'll transport all of my large items to MI for me! :) My grandma couldn't believe I'd pay money for a falling apart, antique window. But, I've got the perfect plan for it in my house. A different generational view, I guess. We shopped till we dropped, bought too much, ate lots of good food, but most importantly, spent time as a family.

Now it's back to reality, catching up, snuggling with my little man, working, and jumping into the routine again. Even though life quickly goes on, I'll savor the memories with family and my Grandma. Life is precious, and I'm determined to savor life memories like these.


Yennifer is here!

Family picture- my Grandma, me, and my mom

Amish boys on their way home from school. I love it.

The girls on their way home from the one-room schoolhouse

A little blurry, but that's what happens when you try to hide taking pictures of Amish schoolchildren from the back of a moving car.

A little girl and mother or older sister on a bike.

The Amish version of a minivan.

I think at this point my Grandma was telling us we were nuts. The Amish guy was also selling us his personal trailer. Nice.

"See, this old window can go right here." I won't even tell you what my Grandma said after that.

Roadside stand. Buy some gourds, and put some money in the basket.

The scenery. Sometimes I wish I lived a more simple life.

The final packing job of the trailer. Notice my window and suitcase are both on there.

Ta Da! My dad was proud of his packing job.

Me and Grandma

My Family (minus my brothers)

Amish one-room schoolhouse. Maybe I should move here and teach there.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Becoming a Big Boy, Part 1

While there are many things that prove that Kaden is truly becoming a big boy (such as wanting to do everything himself, wanting to be like daddy, talking non-stop, etc.), I see the official big boy status coming in 3 parts. Part 1, no more high chair and a spot at the big table. This was accomplished this week. Part 2, big boy bed. We're still trying to figure out when to do that. We don't need the crib for another baby and he stays in the crib just fine, but lately the night routine has become quite lengthy, and I wonder if a new big boy bed and room would help. Thoughts anyone? Part 3, potty training. Kaden loves going on the potty and goes on it at least once a day. However, he has yet to tell me when he actually has to go. He asks when he sees the potty or when I change his diaper. I figured this is still good progress as he loves to use the potty. I suppose I could kick it up a notch, but, nah... we'll give it some more time. Enjoy the pics of Kaden enjoying his new chair at the table. Oh, and place no judgements on the fact that my child is eating a worm donut from Meijer for lunch. That's what happens when you feel guilty about leaving your child for a few days.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

5 course meal

Yesterday was a crazy day. It began by saying bye to my Dad, who made a spontaneous trip out to MI for the weekend to visit us.... by us I mean his grandson! :) It was a fun-filled weekend, but of course Monday morning came way too quickly. I felt like I hadn't quite worked ahead as much as I would have liked to (this would have been the case even if my Dad hadn't come out, so it was definitely worth him coming! :) ), and it was going to be a busy week. I leave on Thursday for my surprise trip to NJ for my Grandma's 85th Birthday that I mentioned awhile back. I won't be in NJ very long as we'll be spending the weekend in Lancaster, PA. Anyways, trying to work ahead, play catch up, pack, and have everything in place when you leave your child home with your husband for 3 days always presents a bit of an interesting week. So, when I left my house yesterday morning to drop Kaden off at a new babysitter's house for the day, my stomach was churning with anxiety. He seemed pretty excited to go to Pat's house as we drove there- he talked about her basketball hoop, we talked about other kids that would be there, and he was pretty upbeat. Well... once we walked in the door, he screamed. Clinging to my leg, my child looked at me and wondered..."Now what, Mom!?! First, I have all of this attention from my Grandpa, Uncles, and parents all weekend, and now you leave me with a stranger?!?". Let me first say that Pat is no stranger to us. She attends our church and comes highly recommended for her in-home daycare. My anxiety was not over her, it was more over Kaden's reaction. Kaden's never cried like that for anyone when I've worked, which has made my decision to work part-time and balance being a mom, all the easier. But on Monday morning, as I drove away from Pat's house, I was bawling. I knew my son was in there screaming, I wondered how his day would be and how he would nap away from home in a strange environment, I didn't feel like I had good closure and a chance to really say goodbye as I left, I knew I wasn't fully prepared to enter my week, and I wondered why I was doing this. I've been told that I'm normal- apparently I'm not the first person to cry when they bring their child to daycare. But, needless to say, it was a rough day yesterday. Those tears were real, those feelings were real, and I just felt bad. To top it off, there were some unexpected things I had to deal with at work, which didn't help things.

Okay, breath of fresh air. Kaden had a good day at daycare, he stopped crying shortly after I left, slept, but was kind of crabby and clingy when we got home. Dinnertime didn't go very well, and again, I was right back to where I started. Andy needed to mow the lawn, and I knew we needed a diversion. So, we headed outside. I put the to-do list aside, and went outside to play with my boy for a couple of hours. We went for a nice walk, we helped daddy mow the lawn, we played in the shed, played on the swingset in the backyard, and laughed. What this little boy needed was time with his mommy. Time for him to know that his mommy still loved him, that she thinks about him when she's at work, and that she cares so deeply for this little life that it overwhelms her. As we were getting ready to come inside after a fun night of play, Kaden beckoned me to sit down on his little tikes picnic table. Not an easy thing to do as an adult, but needless to say, I managed to squeeze myself in there. He proceeded to go under his swingset, he grabbed a handful of rocks, walked all the way around his swingset, and placed the handful of rocks in front of me on the table. "Pizza, Mommy?" "Oh, you made me pizza, Kaden?" "YEAH!" he said excitedly. This continued. Back to the rocks, back to the table... many times... at least 5. Each time he returned with many "items"- yogurt, milk, skittles, bagel, and an apple. Sounds like a yummy meal to me. He even pretended to feed me the milk as he made a sipping sound and held the rock up to my mouth. Gotta' love that kid. We enjoyed our imaginative picnic, and my heart was warm again. I knew today was a new day (which went much better if you were wondering), and all was well.

Playing telephone on the swingset

My delicious meal

Kaden preparing the delicious meal

One final look at the meal- can't you just picture the milk, pizza, skittles, bagel, and apple?

My boy. I {heart} him SO much.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


This is clearly my week for bargains. Oh my. It all started last night when I made an impromptu trip to Target at 9pm for a few random items. Now, I can't just go into Target and get a few items that I need. No, I have to quickly go down and look at all of the endcaps; after all, that's where the clearance items are! As I was making my way down the main isle by the home items and furniture, I once again glared at the blue headboard and toy chest I've been lusting over for Kaden's new room (whenever we move him in there.... no need to right now). As I got closer to the display, I noticed a red display above it....could that be a clearance sign?!?! My heart started beating faster as I pushed my cart faster(yes, this is what good deals can do to you), and I saw 50% off right above them. ARE YOU SERIOUS?!? 50% off?!?!? MUST BUY. I called Andy, my financial manager, to get approval for the purchase, and 10 minutes before Target closed, I was being escorted to my car by a nice Target employee who loaded the Mason headboard and toy chest into my car. Each piece was only $50 instead of the $100 originally. Fabulous deal. So exciting for a Wednesday night, and to top it off, I got a pumpkin spice latte before I went home. Typically this would be enough excitement in the bargain area to last awhile. Gear yourselves up-there's more.

I made a stop at a garage sale this morning on my way to work. Now, let me tell you about garage sales if you're not familiar. You may plan an entire morning of garage sale shopping and find nothing. You may also at times decide last minute to make a slight detour on the way to work and find everything. Today was one of those times. I arrived promptly 15 minutes after the garage sale started (key to finding good deals at garage sales). Clearly I was not the only one with this idea- lots of crazy moms and kids running around everywhere- very typical. I headed to the boys section to find a pair of Gap jeans in perfect condition for Kaden...$1...those went in my arms. Next, 2 pairs of the real crocs that looked almost new for Kaden (in 2 different sizes, so they'd be good for the whole next year) for $3... those went in my arms. I skimmed ahead to the toys (garage sale shopping tip: you do a quick once-over and grab the big stuff you want immediately... then you go back and dig). Mr. Potato Head in the carry case (we have random potato head parts that Kaden loves, but I've been looking for the case)...$1... that went in my arms. 2 big sets of mega blocks for $1 (are you kidding me?!?!?)... those went in my arms. At this point, my arms were full. I brought them over the homeowner and asked if I could start a pile. After my pile was started, I went back to dig. I found some Gap tees for Kaden for less than $1 each, a Wiggles DVD for 25 cents, a few books for myself that I'd been looking for (who needs to get them from the library when you can buy them for $1?!?), a monitor (ours is sub-par and when we have another child eventually, we'll want a new one), a stuffed Bob the Builder that actually makes noise for a whole 75 cents (Kaden is in love with it), some mini cars for Kaden's new car holder (see older post), a travel magna doodle (I've been wanting one of these for Kaden, and I figured one for 25 cents for the car would be a good way to see if he would use it. So far he loves it. He calls it coloring which is perfect- it's mess free!!!), and a brand new Jenga set for $1. Pretty successful, huh? Now. This is where it gets good. I did a final once over to make sure I wasn't missing anything major, and a small blue bag caught my eye. In the corner of a table, I noticed a small, robin egg blue bag. "I know the color of that bag," I thought to myself. Upon reaching the bag, I noticed it said "Tiffany and Company" on the front. Oh. my. I opened up the bag, and there was a gift box, which again, said "Tiffany and Company." Inside that, a velvet jewelry bag. Inside that, I found this. Yes, a $390 necklace, still in the original packaging. Do you know what the price was on the sticker? $20. That's a savings of $370. My husband wants to know if he can give that to me for Christmas this year. When I brought it up to pay (of course doing a hop, skip and a jump on the way there, and trying not to show my unbearable excitement), I commented on how I really liked the necklace. Apparently it was a gift and she never wore it, so she decided to sell it. I quickly paid (grand total of $40 for ALL of the finds, including the necklace) and sped away as fast as I could. I still can't believe it. This is a once in a lifetime find. Wow. I bet you want to start garage sale shopping now, don't you? :)
The find of the season. And yes, it's real.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Like Father, Like Son

Andy when he was Kaden's age (a few months older)

Awhile back, my MIL found Andy's old Cubs shirt and I asked her if I could have it. I knew it would come in handy someday...like a rainy Labor Day when you have nothing else to do. The pictures say it all. We had to dress Kaden up just like Daddy was at his age in the picture- down to similar shoes, the pants rolled up, etc. This was about as close as we could get to an exact replica (without the wood paneling and shag carpet of course! :)). I love the comparison of the two pictures. So cool, and Kaden thinks its even better that he can be like his daddy. Lately, Kaden wants to be just like Daddy. Here are a few ways Kaden mimics Daddy:

-Likes to say "Go Cubs Go," and "Go Blue"
-Has to do EVERYTHING outside with Daddy whenever Daddy is out there- work in the shed, wash the car, work in the garage, mow the lawn.
-If Daddy wears a hat, Kaden wears a hat.
-When Daddy shaves, Kaden has to pretend to shave.
-When Daddy puts on after shave gel, Kaden pretends to.
-Kaden wipes his sweaty face with his t-shirt like Daddy does
-If Daddy wears Crocs, Kaden wears Crocs.
-When Daddy has a drink in a cup, Kaden has to have a drink in a cup.

You get the picture. These boys in my life are buddies. I love my boys!

My boys in their Cubs gear today

Mowing the lawn together this summer

Working in the garage this summer

Friday, September 3, 2010


We had a decent round of storms last night around 1:30am. The rain was pattering against the window so hard, at times I wondered if the window would break. The sky lit up with streaks of lightning, giving light to the early morning hour, more light than normal at that hour. The thunder cracked as the storm moved through, and it was clear we were in the middle of a nice storm. Now, as any parent knows, you don't just hear a storm in the middle of the night, roll over, and fall back asleep as the storm dies down. No, no no. Instead, with the first loud crack of thunder, you hear a scared voice from the other room, "Mommy, mommy." Hey, I'm scared sometimes when I hear storms like this- why wouldn't a 2 yr. old be scared, too? I went into Kaden's room to try and console him, which is very difficult when (a) you're barely awake and confused and are finding it hard to see without your contacts in, and (b) your 2 yr. old keeps hearing the storm and there is no consoling until the storm is over. So, I resorted to the usual line that comes out of my mouth when there is no other rational thing to say at that time in the morning....."Do you want to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed?" Now, let me tell all of you future parents out there a tip. You don't want to do this often, as it may become a habit (like it kind of did when Kaden was sick a couple of months ago and the only way to get him to sleep through the night was to let him sleep in our bed). HOWEVER, it's hard to think rationally in the middle of the night. All you want to do is to calm your child, and mostly, get back to sleep yourself! So you resort to putting your child in bed with you.

Needless to say, Kaden fell right asleep as he snuggled right between Andy and I (good thing we have a King bed), and we all fell asleep as the storm died off. You would think this would be the happy ending to the story. Um, no. What people don't often tell you is that your child takes over the bed. Suddenly they are laying across you and your husband, or their arm is in your face, and you just lay there not wanting to move for fear of waking your child. At 3:30am, when a hand suddenly came out of nowhere and punched me in the eye, my sleeping child made a nice trip back to his crib where he slept soundly until 7am.

Let me say another thing about this. Usually we move Kaden back to his crib once he has settled down in our bed- again, we don't want to make habits. And it usually works out fine. Another thing. Being woken up by a punch to your face is quite startling in the middle of the night. You're enjoying your rest and then... BOOM! Elbow to the stomach, hand to the face... you get the idea. At first your reaction is "AH.... what is happening?!?" Then you realize it's your 2 yr. old, enjoying his sleep in your bed (How do they sleep in some of those positions?!?). And while it is frustrating at times, I wouldn't change it for the world. What's better than enjoying cuddles with your little boy while he sleeps soundly? Before you know it, he won't want to cuddle anymore, so I'm taking it while I can.