Saturday, July 23, 2011


Well Hayden is one VERY lucky boy this year.  On his actual birthday, August 4th, we will be in Branson, MO, with my entire extended family, and he has decided he will have a Volcano themed party!  This is, of course, because "his studies" when he grows up will be volcanology (although his job, he informs me, will be building houses).  He picked out a volcano cake that we saw online (don't ask me how I can pull that off without Nathan's help, but here's hoping), and he helped me design a birthday invitation in photoshop.  It turned out simply lovely, if I do say so myself (wink wink).  He even personally addressed and stuffed the envelopes (although he addressed them to all of his preschool friends who unfortunately will not be attending since it's out of the state lol - he said he just wanted them all to have one to put on their bulletin boards in their rooms - like he has - how sweet!).  Anyway, I had to post it because it's such a funny mixture of cute and ridiculous.

However, since our Volcano celebration will be out of town, we still needed to find a way to celebrate with our local friends.  We had already planned a little beach getaway with 8 other families for the beginning of August, and since all of Hayden's best buddies will be there, and three of them have birthdays in July/August, we decided to throw them a big pirate themed beach party.  Since we were on a roll designing the volcano invite, we just pushed on, and he helped me create a pirate one as well!  I personally find it pretty funny, but aren't those 4 faces just the cutest little faces you've ever seen!?  It's going to be a fabulously fun 4 year old party, mateys :)  Stay tuned for pictures next month.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Pierce Monster

Ok I have to dedicate a post to Pierce.  Why?  Because he might be the funniest, most adorable, undoubtedly most frustrating and LOUD little two year old on the planet.  When it comes to personality, he was giving a giant heeping spoonful, that's for sure.  Usually, when people meet Pierce they fall in love.  He has this little cherubic face with big blue eyes, and curling blond hair, and rosy chubby cheeks, and he can say the most sweet and endearing things.  He is spunky, bright, and fun, and his charismatic personality definitely draws admirers.  And it's this side of him that I love and adore - the one that will crawl into my lap and say, "snuggle me", that will yell "mommy, watch this!" as he twirls with glee around the living room, and that will regularly count down to blast-off with the phrase, "nine, eight, seven, gascoff!".  He loves to sing and dance, and will do the full moves to his favorite songs, "Dinosaurs Marching", and "I'm Gonna Catch You" by the Laurie Berkner Band.  He still loves his blanky and will frequently refer to the "icky corner", which he then proceeds to stick between his toes and into his ear - it is well loved and used! 

He adores his baby sister, and will often "help" me push her swing, or will lay on her activity mat with her and "show her how to use it".  His brother is both his best friend and his worst enemy, but let me tell you, it's heartwarming to watch him play with Hayden (before it turns into a wrestling match over not sharing, or whatever).   He does, however, love to share his snacks and toys (on his terms), and I'll often overhear him saying, "Here bradoo" and handing him a cracker, or a special car.  "Thank you's" and "pleases" come easily to him, and kisses and hugs are given more freely lately.  And he so sweet and squishy that a hug from him is a total pleasure.  If I say, "love you Pierce", he'll immediately come back with the cutest little "wuv you". Melt my heart.

However, there is a less gentle and sweet side to Pierce, that is coming out more and more often as we get into the terrible twos.  It's hard to put up with, but also super super funny!  He is so naughty and rude that it would almost be comical, if I wasn't afraid he'd stay this way for life.  So for one thing, he expects to do EVERYTHING himself, with no help, unless he gets too frustrated and asks for help, and then you are expected to jump to his aide immediately.  This is how it always goes.  God forbid I attempt to strap him into his seatbelt.  He will just turn bright red and yell, "No touch me mommy, MY TURN".  Then 3 minutes later he'll be in tears and frustrated and yelling, "mommy, need help!".  Well yeah, duh!  For situations like this, I try to work out compromises where he can do the top strap (which he can usually manage), and mommy gets to do the bottom straps, and it's a race!  I have to come up with these creative strategies that make it fun, otherwise he gets so mad and angry.  I use the same tactics when getting dressed - he can pick the shorts and I pick the shirt, or vice versa.  Left up to his own devices he would wear only various pairs of Thomas the Train pajamas.....lovely.  Life is hard I tell ya!

He also expects to be the absolute center of the universe, and if he wants my attention and I am talking to someone else, say in the car, he'll yell, "mommy, no talking daddy, talking ME!".  And he generally does it in this low growl of a voice that sounds so odd coming out of cute little him.  Or if I'm hugging Hayden, "no mommy, snuggle Piercey!".  There is just no room to wait his turn, or to join the group.  It's all or nothing!  He is just very demanding, and will order me around like it's no ones business.  The other day he was yelling at me from the kitchen to tell me he was all done with breakfast, so like a good mom, I went in there to help him get down from his chair.  And the response I got was a resounding, "Mommy, out of Wubby's kitchen!".  And he does it all with this horrible pouty face, with his nose and mouth all scrunched up into this horrid grimace.  Another favorite word he has is "STOP", except it sounds like "SCHTOP", and he widens his stance and holds his hand up baring my way.  Today I was holding Ruthie on my hip and swaying to quiet her down, and for some reason Pierce didn't like it, so he marched up to me and yelled, "Mommy, SCHTOP dancing!", and when I ignored him he yelled, "Moooooomy, SCHTOP dancing AGAIN!" lol. 

Obviously these are not behaviors or responses we condone, and we are working on helping him with his patience and manners, but I cannot lie and say that sometimes it is hard to keep a straight face!  Your angelic little two year old yelling "SCHTOP, Outta Wubby's Kitchen" is pretty hysterical.  Who says that??  So while I'm not proud to report on his mischievious ways, I really wanted to get it down so that someday, when he is a smart, successful, polite adult, I will remember all of his little boy antics :)

I'll leave you with a video of him stealing "nacks" from the pantry - still up to his old tricks!

Adventures in Potty Training

Hayden potty trained (relatively) easily at just shy of 2 1/2 years old.  So I had it in my head that I would accomplish it in the same timeframe with Pierce, even though clearly his personality is quite different!  Nevertheless, as promised, the day returned from our Colorado trip, we decided to just dive into it.  We bought the singing potty, we stocked up on marshmallows and M&Ms for rewards, and we bought the Iron Man underpants (his choice).  And then proceeded to spend 3 days cleaning pee and poop off of every surface imaginable in our house!  It was such fun.  I nearly threw in the towel, but I kept reminding myself that he would only get more stubborn and defiant as he got older (is that really possible though?), so we just stuck with it.  Now, 2 1/2 weeks later, he is doing quite well - phew!  We are by no means accident free, but he really understands the idea of using a potty, he refuses to wear a diaper, and every time he starts to wet himself, he says OOPS and runs to the potty.  So we are well on our way, and will hopefully have a totally potty trained boy by the end of the summer! 

I just have to share this video of him on his little potty that Nate took the other night while I was away.  It just shows so many of his funny little personality traits, and his happy, inquisitive, independent nature.

Lace and Pearls

You know how sometimes things don't live up to your expectations?  Well having a girl is not one of those things lol.  It has EXCEEDED my expectations and I just love love love her, and am having such fun with all things girly!!  It doesn't hurt that she is so smily, chubby and simply adorable!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nudie on the Bearskin Rug

My in-laws have a special bearskin rug in their home, and each time a grandbaby is born, they have their photo taken at about 5-8 months old, nudie on the rug.  It's kind of a time honored tradition, and because we aren't going to make it back to Colorado in the next few months, we decided to take Ruthie's photo at the ripe old age of 4 1/2 months.  She is the youngest nudie photo!  But it turned out pretty cute.  Here she is, along with her brothers, in the buff!  Can you tell which one is her without a big bow in haha?

Belly to Baby!

Last August we went on our Gomer/Roberts family trip to Durango, CO, and 3 of us daughter-in-laws were pregnant!  I didn't yet know that I was having a girl, however my sister-in-laws knew they were expecting little boys in October and December, respectively.  Those little boys are now here, Braysen and Caleb, and are CUTE as can be.  And little Ruthie joined them in February.  I have to put my vote out there that it was more fun hanging out all together this year in Canon City, and out of our bellies!  But it's fun having those memories of being pregnant together....I think someday our kids will enjoy looking at these photos of this special time in the life of our growing family.  It also reminds you how quickly time passes - it seems like just yesterday we were posing for the photo on the left, and now here they are, and growing fast!  I cherish these little ones and know that next time I see them they will probably be walking....

A Day on the Poudre

The summer after I graduated from Madison, I packed up my life and moved to Fort Collins, Colorado.  It was the first time I was truly independent, and making a big move away from my family and everything that was familiar to me.  Having grown up with a deep love of skiing and the outdoors, I knew without a question that Colorado was the right place for me, however I didn't know a single person there!  I remember settling into my new apartment, and watching my parents drive off back for home, and feeling this huge sense of excitement at the adventure ahead of me.  I went immediately to the DMV the next day to get my new Colorado license plate and license - I was on the brink of so much!

I started working for my professor a few months before the school year started, so I could have the summer to settle in before the stress of graduate school started in.  One day the secretary for the atmospheric science department came down to chat with me, and told me that she wanted to introduce me to another student who had just moved out from the east coast, and would be in my class that fall.  And that is when I met my good friend Stacey!  It was such a relief to make a new friend, and to both completely be fish out of water in our new surroundings.  We took to exploring each day, and ducking out of work early to drive up Rist Canyon, and the Poudre Canyon, with the sun roof open and the windows down, listening to the Eagles, and James Taylor.  We would stop and take pictures of horses, and sit and spread blankets and read along the Poudre River, and just totally relish that fact that we were in Colorado and it was amazingly beautiful, and we were so lucky.

Later, after I met Nathan, we would take our two puppies, Dallas and Lilly, for hikes along the Poudre River, and to swim all the time.  I remember one day when the river was frozen and they were both skittering out along it, ice breaking, and then falling in, and LOVING it.  Nate and I spent many days up in the canyon, and camping up by Cameron Pass with the dogs - in rain and shine and snow!  Those were very carefree, fun days.

I lived for 3 years in Fort Collins while I completed my graduate degree, and then worked for the university for another year.  I have such strong feelings of nostalgia for that time of my life, when I was young, and free, and had my whole life ahead of me.  It is the town where I met and fell in love with Nathan, and where I think I really set the course for all that has happened since.  I huge part of my heart will always be in Fort Collins, which is why it is so special each time we go back.

This time I think was especially fun and poignant for me, because Nathan and I took our THREE kids back to the place where we fell in love, and I was able to spend time on the river again with my friend Stacey and her husband, who are due with their first daughter.  It was really crazy to see how far we've come these past 9 years, and where our lives have taken us.  I have driven up that canyon so many times, in so many different types of weather, on so many different adventures.  However I think this time was the only time I had ever been listening to the Laurie Berkner band and passing out snacks and sippy cups....I'll just put that out there haha.

So we spent the day drinking beer from local microbreweries Odells and New Belgium, and dipping our feet in the FREEZING river, and soaking up the sun, and enjoying time with good friends.  It was one of my very favorite days on the whole trip.

And now I need to take a trip down memory lane with some old favorite photos from our FoCo days :)

Sigh....and now back to real life again!  Kidding, I wouldn't trade 2011 for anything, but it is fun to look back, and to share those special memories with my kids.  Hopefully they grow up with the same appreciate for the great outdoors that their parents have!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Colorado Summer Vacay

Ok wow, I don't even know where to start!  We just got back from a marathon trip to Canon City, Denver, Fort Collins, and the Oregon Coast.  I think I am going to break these posts up into three parts based on the different segments of the trip, otherwise this is going to be one loooooong post.

So the first portion of our trip was a day long drive with the fam to Colorado, followed by a long weekend stay at a gorgeous house in the mountains outside of Canon City, with Nathan's entire family.  And by entire family, I mean parents, grandparents, 4 siblings, their husbands and wives, and 8 little ones!  But this house was amazing and more than adequately accomodated all of us in comfort.  It was honestly just a perfect weekend.

The trip started out early on a Thursday morning, when we piled 3 sleepy, pajama-clad kiddos into our mini-van at 5 am, and set off for Colorado.  It was hysterical, as Hayden repeated no fewer than 5 times before leaving our neighborhood, "mommy we are STILL in Texas!".  I realized he probably couldn't comprehend that it was actually going to be hours and hours and hours until we crossed first into New Mexico, and finally into Colorado.  I was so proud of them though really during the drive.  There was a lot of sleeping during the first 4 hours, and then some movie watching, coloring, stopping to play and nurse, and only a minimum of whining, crying and general mis-behaving.  As we passed the off-ramp for Nathan's parent's property in southern Colorado at about hour 11, we both commented that really the drive was totally do-able!  However, as we crept up on the 13th hour, heading from Pueblo into Canon City, things started to break down, and we were more than happy to pull up in front of a beautiful, three story, 6 bedroom house in the mountains, and to be greeted by Mammaw, Grandpa Bill, and a very excited and smiling cousing Brylin.

The whole weekend was just full of the sound of little feet scampering all over the house to get into something fun together, and lots of giggling, and running and playing.  It was super heart-warming to watch the boys form bonds with their cousins, and also to really enjoy spending time with their grandparents and aunts and uncles.  Wrestling matches abounded, as well as nature walks, table tennis matches, and tumbling routines.  I love love love my niece and nephews, and I just adore that they will grow up with these special memories of vacations taken together.

Ruthie was of course a dream baby on the trip, and just was passed from aunt to uncle to grandma the whole trip, with a huge smile on her face, and as my family was quick to note, always a cute outfit and bow :)  There are 4 "babies" in the family, and 4 "big kids", and one teenager, and it was fun to lay all the little ones on the play mat together and watch them grab for each other and just enjoy the company of other little babies.  They all rotated between the swing, the jumperoo, and the playmat haha.  Just a bunch of sweet kids.  One of my favorite parts of the trip was trying to organize a photo of all 9 kids together.  I mean just getting all of the kids awake and dressed at the same time was a major accomplishment, and then to get them all happy and smiling?  Forget about it haha.  But that is what makes the memories of this photo so sweet and funny.  Love the cousins!  And one more to come next February :)

Aside from just hanging out at home and eating the most fabulous meals (Nathan's family is full of foodies), we also saw the sights of Canon City.  While we had to sit out of the big white water rafting trip this year because of the kids, we decided instead to head aboard the Royal Gorge Railway, for a trip through the canyon, along the "white river" as Hayden called the Arkansas.  The snowmelt was at it's peak when we were there, and in fact the river was running so high that the canyon was closed to rafters for the time being.  The rapids were quite spectacular, and the boys were super intrigued by it, and especially enjoyed the outdoor rail car where we could get a front row seat of the river.

Some of the other highlights of the trip included another mini-trainride overland to the TOP of the gorge, where we were then able to get off and take in the spectacular view of the Royal Gorge and the bridge spanning it.  Unbelievably gorgeous, although it almost gave me a heart attack to watch the kids get so close to the edge, even with a strong fence between us and the open air.  How are kids so brave?!  And it was funny because Nate and the baby had to sit a few cars back from the boys and I, and I could hear Ruthie squealing in delight the whole time.  Very very cute :)

After the mini-train ride, we all headed into the Royal Gorge park itself.  I was a total basket case about this outing because I just really don't like heights myself, and I hate seeing my kids be in any way vulnerable either.  So this was really an exercise in conquering my fears!  Rationally I knew that it was totally safe.  I mean there was NO way a child could have gone over the edge of that bridge - the fences and railings were high and completely well made.  But still....this was a wooden slat bridge.  You could see the rapids thousands of feet below you.  Scary.  Furthermore, the wind was blowing, and the bridge was swaying pretty noticeably.  The boys LOVED it, and I tolerated it for the views haha.  Then to further test my anxiety, Hayden insisted on riding back across the Gorge in the aerial tramway.  Now I've ridden lots of trams while skiing, so this is nothing knew to me.  But literally, the Royal Gorge is over 1000 feet deep, with raging white water at it's base, and it's freakin scary!  Grandpa Bill held Brylin up to the window to look out, and I could see her mom struggling not to grab her back haha.  Hayden was right up there too, and loving every minute the breeze blowing in his face, and soaking in the sights and experiences.  It was pretty fun :)

Now in viewing the previous couple of photo collages, you may have noticed the lovely fashion choices made by a few of the guys.  There is a story behind this haha!  A few days before we left, my mother in law reminded me that it was Father's Day while we were all together, and could I think of something we could do for the dads?  Well clearly nothing as mundane as cooking them all breakfast would suffice for this group.  We put our heads together and came up with the idea of tie-dying them all t-shirts that had "Super Dad"-like phrases on them, that they could all wear together during our trip to the Royal Gorge.  Well, it turned into the most fun project.  While the boys were off golfing together, all the moms and kids took off to the Dollar Tree to buy supplies, and with the kiddos napping or otherwise occupied (this got messy!), my sister-in-laws and I tie-dyed all the t-shirts.  It was amazingly funny and fun to try our luck at tie-dye, and then to attempt to keep it a surprise from all the guys!  I mean where in a vacation house do you hide 7 soaking wet and dyed t-shirts to dry?!  I took one for the team, and hung them out on our balcony, in hopes that none of the boys would see it because our room was kind of off on the side of the house, and hoping that Nate wouldn't venture out there or see it through the closed blinds.  Well....of course there had to be a flaw in my plan - which in this case turned out to be Pierce.  Big surprise.  The little munchkin managed to lock himself in our room!! Nate had to scale the balcony and go through the sliding door to get to him and unlock the door.  So the surprise was ruined for him, but it was quite comical as he asked me what all those shirts were haha.  We gave the guys their shirts at breakfast on Father's Day, and it was so cute, because they were such good sports to all wear them out that day.  In fact, Nate's grandpa Powell had his regular shirt off, and his "Papa Rocks" t-shirt on within about 30 seconds of receiving it haha.  So cute!  I love these dads and it was awesome to spend the holiday together.

I cannot thank Nate's parents enough for organizing this trip for us, and giving us the gift of a perfect weekend spent with family.  And I want to shout out to all my lovely brothers and sisters that I LOVE YOU and you are SO fun to spend a weekend with.  I will never forget our game of Catch Phrase (which would have only been better, if possible, with Dan O present).  And you all have the cutest kids ever :)

Thanks for reading about our big Canon City adventure.  Stay tuned for more highlights from our time spent in Denver, Fort Collins, and Oregon!