We’ve moved!

21 Mar

We’ve moved over to http://family.ashleymade.com

Hope you’ll follow us there!


Slacker Mom: November and December

3 Jan

Well, I win the slacker-mom blogger award. But, in my defense in November I had a TON of clients, therefor in December I had a TON of editing to do. And then The Holidays came. So, needless to say, I was busy. BUT, I did still get the camera and at least took some pictures!

In November we ended up having a power line go down that was attached to our house that knocked our electric out. Because it damaged our box, we had to have a contractor come out and repair it and have the inspector approve it. We thought that we were going to be out of power for at least a week – so our insurance put us up in a two bedroom hotel suite for a couple of days. Luckily it ended up being just that, and we didn’t have to stay for longer than a few days. Trying to keep four kids occupied all day in a hotel room is not easy! And it gets messy FAST! Thank Goodness we had our family friend Julie here to help me pack all six of us up (in the dark) and get everyone there safe and sound in the cold and rain.

Shortly after that, I found out that my grandpa had to be admitted to the ER for blog clots in his lungs. A little bit scary! I guess he wasn’t doing very well at all for a while there, so we were so thankful when we found out that he was going to be going home – on blood thinners of course.

And then I got an invitation to Pinterest, which means like a week of my entire life disappeared. Ok, not really – but a few days I was really sucked in there!

Evelyn got her hair cut short, Olive went to a lot of therapy, and the kids lost all of their toys for at least a week (don’t clean them, they’re gone!).

We took some pictures for Christmas gifts and also for My Little Pixies, the maker of these headbands.

Then Ethan got a busted lip and a bruise on the school play ground and it broke my heart that I wasn’t able to be there for him.
I seriously considered pulling all the kids out and just home schooling them so I could protect them from EVERYTHING EVER! OK, not really. But, it did really suck to go through the first bump and bruise where I wasn’t around to protect my baby.

And then Jobee turned 11 months old! She jumped from 3 month clothing to 6-9 month clothing! She gained 2 pounds very quickly and I’m pretty sure she got longer too. I am NOT a formula momma, but I’m glad that the combination of breast feeding, baby food, and formula is working and keeping her growing!

Then my heart was broken all over again for orphans as I came across this blog: The Blessing of Verity

Then the first part of December I was buried in front of the computer finishing all my editing, taking Olive to therapy, and checking out school options for her.
We looked at Lincoln, the MOSI program at Bowen, and Grand Rapids Christian Elementary’s Special Ed program. GRCES’ program won by a mile. We are SO thankful to have a school choice for her that isn’t just convenient because the other two go there, but also the program really is rockin’! She’ll be included in a regular pre-k classroom with an aid and out-of-room additional support services including a sensory room. So excited.
We also have been making good progress as a family in therapy with her. We have started play therapy, and Karl and I are both alternating going alone too. It’s been good for everyone.

Then I got brave and took all four kids out to make cookies at Mama Kasey’s house all by myself in the totally yuck weather.
(Kasey took these)

Ethan did make some cookies too, but mainly just wanted to play the Wii with Simon. Jobee say in a high chair and ate crackers the whole time :)

And then, again my heart was broken for orphans and adoption again after watching this video.

Then we tried taking some pictures in front of Nana’s tree… some turned out and some just turned out funny.

Then it was time to decorate OUR tree and take our annual photos in front of it.

Jobee, almost 1!

Evelyn 3 (and a half she says!)

Ethan 4 (almost five he says!)

Olive 5! (And if she could, she’d say, “Mom, five and a half!”)

And then we caught Olive in a funny mood. And she took her turn being the Queen of Faces for a bit!

Late this month Karl’s brother Joel and his wife came in to town for Christmas. We went to see the trees at FMG.

They got a lot of practice that weekend at being ‘parents’!

And then we had a whirl-wind of two days over Christmas Eve and Day. We had five things in three days, with two of them being 3.5 hours away in Indiana!

The kids did really, really well actually. We did a lot of the driving at night time after their bed time so they could sleep the whole way – and it worked nicely. Mom and Dad felt like we were hit by a truck by the end. But, it was well worth it. It was really nice to be surrounded by family over the holiday, especially with Joel and Gina.

And then we came to the end of the year. I’m not a resolution kind of girl – but there is something about turning that last page on the calendar and starting a fresh new one that makes you want to evaluate where you’ve been the last year and where you’re going. As I did that, I came up with some goals that I’d like to see realized for my family in 2012 and one of them was to take more pictures of the kids and our family just doing what we do. I often leave the camera in my bag and only pull it out for client work or special occasions – but this year I want to change that.

So, here’s Daddy reading stories to the kids while he’s able to. We love school vacation because that means that Karl gets to work days. Everything in our household just works better when Daddy is on days. And everyone loves it when he gets to read to the kids, pray over them, and snuggle them in to their beds. Today is the last day that Karl is on first shift until summer break – we’re all sad.

And here is Miss Evelyn today in her beeea-utiful Princess get up.

And just today I found out that my photography and my little lady was featured in a Grand Rapids Women’s Lifestyle Magazine!

As I sat down and thought about what I’d like to have for myself and my family in the coming year I came up with a list of things that I will be praying over until they come to be realized in our lives.

Here are (most) of our Goals for 2012:

1. To find a home-church that we really, really love and motivates us to want to come back. (We tried Ada’s Kentwood Plant with family and family friends this week)
2. That I will be able to stay disciplined in reading God’s Word or at least spending quiet time in prayer or reading a Christian book for a while each day. (So far, so good!)
3. That I will be able to shift focus from everything that pulls me away from my kids and family and focus more on them this year. (I don’t know when the title Photographer started over-shadowing my title of MOM. But, that will be changing this year)
4. That Karl will find a position that is first shift, in a place that he feels welcomed, loved, appreciated, and valued for the great man that he is. (Hopefully within GRCS, but where ever the Lord leads is fine with me!)
5.  That finances will not be a struggle this year as I pull back from my work a bit to focus on my family. I’m not sure how that’s going to be possible – but I believe that God is big enough to provide!
6. That our family’s support circle will widen and that the relationships with the people who are already within it will deepen. We believe that many hands can make light work and when our load is lightened we’re freed to do more for the Kingdom! We all have our callings, but I think especially in our case, what we’re called to requires support to do it. I pray that we will also find mentors that want to pour in to our lives and the lives of our children.

I know that in asking for these things, our hearts are in the right place, and look forward to seeing how God answers our prayers!

Anyway, that’s my attempt at filling in the details of November and December that I had forgotten and I hope to do a better job at keeping up in the future!

October in a nut-shell… an enormous nut-shell!

2 Nov

Wowzers! Over a month since I’ve shared. Well, I guess that’s just further testimony to how busy the past month has been for our family!
So what have we been up to? be prepared… it’s long!

So, updates on everyone:

Olive and I have started therapy with a wonderful behavioral therapist that operates out of Pine Rest on the North West side. She’s been super helpful when we can actually get in and see her! I’ve been learning a lot as to what attachment looks like, specifically in an adoptive situation, what trauma does to our brains, and how we recover from trauma. We’re exploring how Olive’s disabilities affect her and how her disabilities combined with her past could be affecting her behaviors in the present. I’m learning a lot about how we need to be parenting, disciplining, and how to purposely bond… it’s been a lot of information! And I haven’t even read all the reading that she’s sent home with me!
Olive has been making some progress, she’s able to say “all done” pretty clearly, has been putting some weight back on, and has started to walk a lot better with out her braces to the point where we might be able to get them re-formed with just ankle support. Which would be awesome!  Developmentally she’s falling in to the 12-18 month range with the exception of expressive language and oral abilities. It’s strange to see Jobee chew effortlessly while Olive is still working on mastering it.

Olive is notoriously hard to photograph, so I couldn’t find many pictures of her looking decent! But here’s her snuggling with her papa:

Being excited to be with Grandma Meekers:

And paying no attention as I tried to get a picture of all four of them out front:

What about me? Glad you asked. I have had an enormous amount of photo work this past month that kind of took me by surprise. Between the client work, second shooting for other photographers, frequent migraines, Jobee not letting me sleep through the night STILL, and all the appointments – I thought my head might start spinning! October was busy and hard. I found myself feeling like I was failing the kids and the house quite a lot. But, it was a learning experience and helped me to refine my multi-tasking skills! That’s. for. sure. This month I’m pacing myself. I’m spreading out client work and I have a mental cap on how much I’m willing to take on. I really wanted to beef up clientele and my income to be able to afford tuition for the kids at their private Christian school next year — but it was evident that life at home would be chaos if Mom stayed that busy. I’m fine staying busy with play dates, crafting, cooking, house work, and all that mom-stuff that I can include my kids in. (Because we all know I HAVE to stay busy) But staying busy with all the working-mom stuff es no bueno for my family. I will still take on a smaller amount of photo work, but will certainly be pacing myself and putting a cap on it. I’ve met with the kids’ school’s administration about our income and tuition expectations and we’re praying for the best case scenario: where Mom can still be Mom AND the kids can continue to go there. Time will tell. But, with a more gentle pace in work, more focus on the family, being invited in to a wonderful local support group for mom’s of traumatized children, making progress in therapy, Jobee starting to sleep through the night!! and my migraines essentially under control with medication — I expect the later part of November forward to be much more balanced and enjoyable.

Karl and I? We’re doing really well. Busy of course, but in a good place. We just celebrated 6 years of marriage in Chicago this weekend. It was really nice. Way too fast, being that we only had one day. But, really nice none-the-less. We went for a long walk around the city, got lunch, went to the Shedd, caught a cab back to The PUBLIC where we ordered room service and watched bad TV for the rest of the night.

Some pictures with the timer on the camera catching us at random:

Other than that, Karl and I recently read Crazy Love by Francis Chan which has helped us to radically change our focus. Lots and lots of changes that we’re working on. We have a new long-term life-goal, a lot of new short-term goals, and a lot of old-habits and attitudes to kill. But, all-in-all it really has been a wonderful life-changer and I’d recommend it to anyone!

Jobee turned 9 months AND 10 months since I last posted. Yikes.
She took her first big girl bath with Evelyn…

She got harassed by Daddy, per usual…

She didn’t want to take her 9 month pictures….

Then she thought… well okay, maybe one or two.

She went to Chicago with Karl and I for our anniversary and had her 10 month pictures taken there…. and apparently weighed the same amount and wore nearly the same exact outfit! lol oops! I did knit her little socks for her though.

We actually took a picture together… just for proof that I do really exist.

She loved sitting in the window….

And I just had to share a few of her chubby soft morning cute-ness… think she’s going to regret not having enough pictures of herself when she gets older?

And no your eyes aren’t fooling you, and no I am not blind to the color-cast, Jobee is a little orange. She really likes her orange baby food and her face shows it! lol

And then she was a little monkey side-kick for Daddy Gorilla for Halloween just a few days ago. (I was a cat)

At her 10 month appointment, she weighed in at 13lbs 8oz. (Which means she hasn’t really put on any weight) She was 26.5 inches long and had a big ol’ noggin measuring 17″.
She is doing everything that she should be doing and Doc said that much like Evelyn, she’s likely to be a late walker and crawler due to loose ligaments. I kind-of figured considering how rubbery she is. And that’s alright – because I like her little anyway! She’s still in 3 month clothing!!! Baby forever? Yes.
As far as the growing thing goes though, my body just doesn’t want to nurse her anymore and my supply is dropping rapidly. So, the plan is to nurse her as much as my body allows, follow with solids, and then cap her off with formula. She actually hasn’t had any issues with digesting the formula and seems to be a LOT happier (if that was even possible?) now that her belly is finally getting all the way full. And get this – she is sleeping through the night most nights that she gets a bottle before bed! Sweet, sweet sleep!

Miss Evelyn… Evelyn got a special treat of making noodles with my Grandma this weekend. It was really cute to watch… (Olive was included for brief moments too, as her main objective was to throw the batter or eat it by the handfuls. lol)

She was very proud of herself when they were done.

She is definitely entering the terrible threes, challenging our authority and seeing what she can get away with controlling. Ethan started this about 3.5 years old and peaked a couple months after his 4th birthday where it pretty much went away. Evelyn is definitely less strong willed than he was and is much more sensitive to discipline – so I’m hoping this phase doesn’t last long. She is such a sweet little mama though, even when she’s being naughty. She seems to really enjoy school right now and says she plays with the babies a lot. She brings home a ton of art work and I think that is probably her favorite thing about being a preschooler. Oh, and she’s completely potty-trained, finally! Thank you Jesus!

On halloween, just a few days ago, she had her second bigger accident since she’s been born. She tripped and fell in front of the house across the street while trick-or-treating and busted her lip up pretty bad. She had about a quarter inch cut across her lip and a chunk of her gums taken out. She was pretty traumatized by it, but it seems like it’s healing well. I hope for her sake, since she can be very self-conscious, that her teeth don’t end up turning gray. She went to school yesterday with her big swollen lip though, which I was really proud of her for sticking it out. And she’s doing much better today.

And last but certainly not least, Ethan. He’s getting SO big! He’s become such a good little helper, and listener. We have issues with disobedience when he’s over-tired but other than that, he’s shaping up to be such a great little man. There’s not too much new going on with him. He’s smart as a whip, sweet as can be, and has been a super-trooper for us. He definitely has an obsession with Mario Galaxy on the Wii. I think that he would play it 20 out of 24 hours a day if I’d let him. Which obviously, I don’t. He even went as Wario (sp?) for Halloween. He looked so stinkin’ cute!

(L to R: Julie, Karl’s sister as a princess, Olive as Cinderella, Evelyn as Little Mermaid, Ethan as Wario, Jobee as a little Monkey, and Karl as the Gorilla he’s dreamt about being for years!)

Oh, and he and Evelyn had a school field trip to a pumpkin farm that Karl and I went along on. Here are a few pictures of that…

My brave little man (alright, not so brave as it took A LOT of coaxing) went down the zip-line.

Evelyn like sliding off of these things? They look like big bobbins to me, lol.

Ethan was super cautious about it, but he tried the rope too!

They did a maze and Ethan finished first, by a mile. And Miss Evelyn ended up last, but still had fun!

Despite their looks, they were really excited to pick out pumpkins and eat doughnuts and cider.

Alright… I think that’s it!
I’m hoping that as I finish the client work I have and my role transitions back to primarily being MOM over the next month, I’ll be able to share more often!

Preschool, Studio, Eight Months and Cabin!

19 Sep

We’ve had a lot of changes over here in the last month or so.

Ethan and Evelyn have both started preschool! These pictures are from their visiting day a couple weeks ago.
Evelyn did a great job entering a totally new environment surrounded by people she hasn’t met before.
It was kind of old news for Ethan, as he has the same teacher again and he’s in preschool for a second year.
We were given the go-ahead from his Ped to put him in kindergarten early — but we decided against it and went with a second year of preschool. He’ll go to kindergarten next year though.
It was a new classroom and they added another teacher to Mrs. VanderSluis’ class, Ms. Tyler and changed rooms. So, it was still a little new for Ethan – but he did really well too.
Because the timing of the visiting day we had all four kids in tow. So you’ll see Olive and Jobee in one of the pictures. Olive did a great job being in a classroom full of typical kids! It was actually kind of nice because we got to talk with Mrs. V for a few minutes about what it might look like for Olive to go to GRCES next year. We’re hoping that they’ll allow her to do a year of preschool there under Mrs. VanderSluis before moving on to Kindergarten.

I also recently signed a lease to rent a studio space down town for my photography business. We really like it.

We went in there one of the first days to take some pictures of the space to show potential clients – and used the kids as models.
They’re going to have some full slide-shows for their graduation or weddings!

I took some pictures of Jobee while we were in there too for her 8 month pictures.
I still can’t believe that my little tiny NICU preemie is 8 months old now!
She’s adjusted age of 6 months – and definitely acts like a 6 month old.
She just started sitting up well on her own. She’s babbling, putting everything in her mouth, laughing, starting to point at things.
She’s such a happy little mama and makes all our lives that much better!

We went to the lake house over the holiday weekend. Apparently it’s turning in to tradition to meet the VanKempens up there and make a day of it. It was a lot of fun and I ended up taking more video than I did pictures. But here are a few:

So anyway, it’s been busy over here since then. The kids have started preschool officially, Olive has gone back to preschool (Thank God – she loves it and the routine really helps cut the chaos around here), and Karl and I are back full swing in to our busiest season. With fall pictures, weddings, school starting, doctors appointments, Olive going to a psychologist, blah blah blah — there’s a lot going on… But I probably wouldn’t have it any other way ;)


For the Grandmas: Olive & Jobee

26 Aug

For the Grandmas and other family we don’t see very often. Here’s a little montage of some clips of Olive & Jobee. I’ll do the other two soon :)

A Day in the Life 8.25.2011

26 Aug

I realized it’s been quite a while since I’ve done a “A Day in the Life” post – so I thought I’d do one yesterday.
I don’t glamorize anything, change anything, prep anything. That’s not the point. The point is just to capture my lovely little family just the way they are, doing what they do, on an ordinary boring day.
Oddly enough the day didn’t end up like most our days – so I’ll have to do it again when school starts. Normally we would have a doctors appointment, errands to run, phone calls to make, clients to get with, or lots of computer/photo work to do.
But, not yesterday. Yesterday was an ‘unplugged day’. Every once in a while the kids start watching and depending on the TV and video games and iPad a little too much for entertainment… they become bumps on a log and have temporary amnesia when it comes to remembering how to just play. So, when that happens – we have a couple unplugged days to help them remember that Sponge Bob and Team Umizoomie or what ever that show is, is not everything in life.

So yesterday started at 1:00 am. That’s right… 1AM

1:00a: I still haven’t fallen asleep yet. Jobee was sleeping for a little while but woke up about a half hour ago. I nursed her and now she is wide awake and so am I – with terribly sore boobs. This child has the worst latch ever and I can not correct it no matter what I try. I’ve decided to start cutting her to four day-feedings and one at night to help save my boobs! She just had her night feeding, so we shall see what happens from here. I have a few oz of juice in a bottle if things get desperate. Currently she is rolling from side to side and grabbing on to Karl’s arm and vying for his attention – all in vein seeing that he is out cold. Well, I guess we will try to get her back to sleep so I can too.

5:45a: YAY! the insane night of weaning the night before worked! That was the longest she has EVER slept at night! 4.5 hours! I gave her juice and she’s actually gone back to sleep!

9:00a: Evelyn comes in our bed and wakes everyone up. Interestingly enough, the night before was the worst sleep that anyone has ever gotten, with Evelyn going to bed at 1am because of the storm and Jobee having a massive protest fit until 3am because I wouldn’t nurse her and she’s teething. And then Ethan got up at 7:30am! But it paid off – because we actually slept in today! Probably the most sleep anyone has gotten in a year! Although, Karl is still trying everything he can to not wake up. Eventually Evelyn bothers him awake. He says he’s not feeling well.

9:33 I sit down at my computer to check email, look at Facebook, and all that fun stuff.

9:38 I think to check in with my Dad and see how mom is doing… I’m stalling because I’m just not ready to get moving yet. My mom’s recovering from her third brain/spinal surgery trying to correct a Chiari Malformation.

9:39 No reply – so I go check and see what the kids are doing. Karl has served them cereal in front of cartoons. (None of us are morning people – this is as good as it gets) They’re happily eating the special cereal that they each picked out from Aldi. Ethan’s special serial is a knock off of a peanut butter and chocolate crunch and Evelyn’s is cookies. They eat it with rice milk.

9:40 I go to take a picture of Karl and he’s not happy about it. He says he doesn’t feel good and doesn’t want his picture taken today. I told him it’s a “A Day in the Life” Day – he’s not happy about it. So, I take a picture of his hand instead ;)

9:41 Jobee starts her day off relaxing in her swing while every grump-butt in the house is still waking up. Olive is actually still sound asleep – so we let her sleep.

10:00a I jump in the shower to get ready for the day. I decided that I can’t remember if Jobee’s even had a bath in the last week – and throw her in with me. 10:18 this picture was taken. Jobee loves the water. Even the off spray from me showering doesn’t bother her as long as she has her little fishy to chew on. She’s so happy and bubbly in the morning! I don’t know how she does it.

10:25 Karl brings Jobee down while I get dressed. I come down to find them laying like this…. I’m thinking he might actually be sick. Olive gets up, gets a cup of instant breakfast to eat while I go get Jobee dressed and ready to eat.

10:37 I pick out some jarred baby food for Jobee because we’re out of her home-made stuff in the freezer. All I have in the freezer right now is turkey and peas… not going to give that to her. So, Beech Nut it is. Jobee is being a ham and takes 15 minutes to eat a third of the Jar. I’m thinking she’s not all that hungry and  move on to Olive.

10:50 Olive has learned to make the silliest faces when the camera comes out.

10:55 Olive is a quick eater. She eats a whole bowl of baby food mixed with applesauce in about 5 minutes. I send the kids off to pick out their clothes and get themselves dressed while I feed Olive.

11:10 I load the first card from shooting today and I instruct the kids to start picking up their dirty PJs and put them in the laundry room. Judging from their first responses, I have a feeling it’s going to be an up-hill battle to get them to help around the house today. While the card is loading I go pick out Olive’s clothes for the day, get her changed, and do both girls’ hair. Olive’s is easy because we just chopped it off! I just put a little clip in it and we’re done!

11:06 Alright, time to ‘feed’ the Mama. I don’t really like real food in the morning so I drink my “Energy Drink”. It doesn’t actually have any caffeine in it or any stimulant. It’s basically just flavoring and a ton of B vitamins. Karl and I have been drinking these A LOT lately to keep up our energy and I’ve heard B vitamins help fight off depression – so I drink it for that too. I play around on the computer for a while because I know I have the whole house full of chores ahead of me and don’t want to do it. I nurse Jobee too.

11:45 I finally get moving, switch a load of laundry over, put a new one in, and pull the clothes out of the dryer. I ask the kids, who want to be my laundry helper? “I DOOOO!” They say.

12:00 It doesn’t last long, we’re just getting done with the first basket and Olive and Evelyn are already pretending to be asleep.

12:05 Ethan hears the giggling from the other room and can’t help but come join in the fun. I go off to do a few more things around the house.

12:13 I peek in to see why the girls are quiet. Evelyn is rocking on the rocking horse. That horse use to be mine. I remember rocking on it all of the time at my grandma’s house when I was Evelyn’s age. I go check on Karl and Jobee… and this is what I find. Both of them sleeping on the couch…

12:20 I continue to move around the house picking up and the kids are playing. Ethan is trying to get Evelyn to join his “epic battle” with swords and armor. But, she is still riding her horsey with her baby. With enough nagging he wins and she joins him. Olive stays in her room practicing sorting shapes in to her honey pot. Meanwhile I carry a load of laundry up stairs to my room to put it away and strip the beds.

12:54 I notice that my hips are really starting to hurt… so I take some tylenol. I have been popping A LOT of this lately due to my hips. I went to my Doctor about it and he sent me off for hip x-rays. According to the nurse they came back normal, but the doctor is on vaca and he’ll contact me when he gets back….

1:01 I figure that I should get lunch started. I’m not sure what to make, so I decide on my quicky stir fry with home made sauce. Instant rice, pre-canned stir-fry veggies, two cut up chicken breasts, and my special sauce. It’s good. I get it on the table in about 25 minutes. We talk about how kitties take a bath, how Ethan can blow off his food inside of his mouth and unfortunately Olive gets in trouble for pulling handfuls of rice out of her bowl and smearing them on the table. Ethan declares it’s “the best lunch ever!”

2:06 After we’ve all lingered around the table for a little while everyone gets down with full bellies. But, Miss Evelyn decides that she would like a few more bites of Mom’s bowl before she’s all done. She’s such a good eater – now if we could only get Ethan to try some new things too!

2:22 Karl would normally have left for work by now. But, is feeling really awful and goes to lay back down on the couch. The kids and I decide to go check and see if we’ve grown on our growth chart. Ethan and Evelyn have grown just a very little bit in the last 6 weeks, so we don’t make a new one for them. But, Olive has grown an inch! I thought she was looking taller…. she’s officially an inch taller than Evelyn.

The kids have a spontaneous play slap fight?

Jobee is finally strong enough to hold herself erect with a little help – so we decide it’s time for Jobee to get marked on her line of the growth chart! It’s adorable to see her little half pint self marked on the wall. The chart is four cartoony looking trees… you can’t really tell from the picture. One for each kid… Didn’t think about what I’d do if we add another! oops!

2:25 I head back down stairs…. and realize how much work I have ahead of me. This is the lovely mess that has adorned the whole house. The front room…

The play room…

The kitchen… But I decide it can wait. My hips are killing me, so I decide to just sit for a while and work on editing images.

3:30 I finally get the motivation to get moving and corral the kids to help me clean up the house. Karl is still resting on the couch, so we have a lot to do in an hour before friends come over!

4:20 Our friends show up! It’s Mama Kasey, Simon, and Amelia! While Kasey and I are talking, the boys take it upon themselves to start playing the Wii. I have to remind them that it’s an unplugged day, they can play one round, and then we were leaving to go to the park so Karl could rest with Jobee in a quiet house.

4;39 we’re finally making our way to the park. Olive is being a total pain about walking and won’t walk unless someone is actively encouraging her to do so and looking at her at the same time. Simon is a super-great helper and takes it upon himself to be Olive’s helper. He does a wonderful job keeping her motivated… and when she’s being stubborn he carried her!

We stopped at my friend Angela’s house on the way to see if she would want to join our parade of children at the park just down the block. I’m not normally a stop-by kind of person – but I’m glad we did because eventually her group of five joined our group of 6! It took us nearly 40 minutes to move our child-train 3.5 blocks! But we finally got there!

Miss Olive was so pooped from all the walking that she spent a lot of the time just sitting on the grass observing. I couldn’t blame her, we were tired too and did a lot of the same!

Mama Kasey, Olive, Amelia and Simey.


Angela’s beautiful blue eyed baby Axel.

Just part of our whole group. (L to R: Ethan, Evelyn, Olive, Me with my big butt in the air, Sam, Angela, Axel and center bottom Tess)

6:12 We pack up and head back towards home. Olive jumped in Angela’s stroller (thank Goodness!) for most of the way and Tess carried the walker for us. It was much easier trekking home! And of course below is me checking my phone while Kasey plays with the camera. iPhones can be a good and a bad thing. Good for business – not always good because your business goes with you every where!

When we get back to the house, our friends have to leave because they have dinner plans with their grandma and we find that Julie DeGraaf has come over while we were out!

6:30 I hassle Julie that I am going to take a picture of her despite her protest, because that’s what I’m doing today, and she DOES look beautiful and not to worry about it. She feeds baby Jobee a little juice and her favorite little person Evelyn sticks close by. I think to myself that I need to get dinner going, but really don’t want to make anything. Pizza it is!

7:30 Jobee works on sitting. Isn’t she the cutest! Olive works on standing from the center of the room with no assistance. I’ll put a video of that up soon! She’s really starting to get better at it! I’d really like it if Olive was a proficient walker by this winter. It will make our lives a whole lot easier. I wanted that for her (us) this past winter, but that was a no-go. So, hopefully she’ll get it by this one!

8:43 Dinner’s done, Julie had to leave, and we finally get the kids down for bed ( a little later than the normal 8:30).

8:50 Karl and I turn the TV on, sit on the couch with Jobee, and settle in for the rest of the night. I am SO pooped from the day. It’s hard pulling double duty when hubby is sick! The rest of the night consists of playing on the computer, watching a movie about a run-a-way train, and trying to get Jobee to stop fussing and go to sleep. We finally get to sleep around 12:30am. It’s been a full day!

Fun at the Lakehouse

1 Aug

This past weekend we spent some time at the lake house. On Saturday my family came up to enjoy the day with Tim & Cyndi and the kids.
We had a lovely day in the sun, a wonderful dinner (with the best Ranch Beans!), and ended it perfectly with a trip to a little local ice cream shop and a fire.
It was nice to enjoy a lazy summer day as a whole family.We took a lot of pictures, so I’ll let a lot of them speak for themselves.

My dad spent most of the time fishing off of the dock. Evelyn had a BLAST catching fish with him.

Daniel, my younger brother, spent a lot of time fishing and in the water too – but some how didn’t end up in the pictures?

Jobee spent most of the day getting passed around and loved on by every one.

(Olive and her Gramee)

We tried to get a picture of my grandparents with all my kids…. these first ones will be how 99% of them actually turned out. (reality)

This one is the only one that turned out with everyone looking at the camera. (leave it to four kids under five though)

(Below: Grandma Meekers and Papa)

We also tried to get a picture of all the kids with Nana. Once again, these first ones are how 99% of them turned out.

And this one is the cream of the crop. (You’d think they’d know the drill by now *wink*)

(Below: Nana and Popi)

(Below: The local ice cream place)

Waiting patiently for their ice cream and picking it out.

This is the size of the KIDDY cone. Scale might be hard to tell from this image, but it’s at least a pint of ice cream!

The kids got a ‘baby’ cone…

to my surprise they actually finished them!

(Jobee hung out in her car seat and didn’t make a peep like the little angel she is)

Olive even enjoyed sharing with Daddy!

Eventually all good things must come to an end. We enjoyed a fire for a while and the day was done.

Too bad the next day wasn’t so pleasant! On the way home our van’s transmission completely stopped while going 70mph on the highway. We were so lucky to be able to coast to a stop just a couple hundred feet from the end of a rest stop on-ramp. AAA towed the van for us while we waited on the side of the road in 90 something degree weather with four tired kids and a dog. It was an interesting way to end the weekend… But, hopefully we’ll be given a little mercy and it won’t be too expensive to repair! We shall see…

It’s been a while….

19 Jul

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated our family blog here… shame on me. But, in my defense – I have been pretty busy with photo work this summer. Which is a good thing :)

About two weeks ago we went down to Indiana for the fourth of July. All of us packed up the kids and took them to their first drive-in movie! They saw Cars 2….. well, most of it. Ethan passed out about a half hour before it was done, and it was my understanding that Evelyn fell asleep before it was half way over. I ended up in the van with Jobee most of the movie because she was a little fussy and ended up being ‘that baby’ who just won’t be quiet. So we nursed in the van most of the time. But, I was able to get a few shots before the sun went down of the kids eagerly awaiting the movie to begin!

They had a blast, and are currently asking if we could go again as they look at these pictures. :)

The next morning we went to Crown Point and watched the parade. Olive was happy as a clam to just sit on her Daddy’s lap, since she’s not able to run for the candy or eat it anyway. Good thing Daddy is better than candy to her.

Evelyn on the other hand DOES know what candy is, and LOVES it. So, she was very excited to be able to catch it and eat it.

Ethan was happy to be at the parade but was taken off guard with all the sirens. He does NOT like loud noises and spent about half of the parade like this. lol

I had to go all mama-bear on a few bigger girls to stay off our candy-catching-corner. But other than that, the kids had a really great time and I got quite the sunburn on my shoulders.

Olive has been making a lot of progress since her horrible hospital stay. She really, really reverted and we had A LOT of struggles the following weeks after she got her tubes re-done and her tonsils and adenoids out. A lot of force feeding, near seizure level sugar drops, force-feeding medicine, crying by every one, little sleep, and a lot of frustration. We’re glad it’s over. She’s recently completely came out of her funk and actually has been making a little emotional progress! She’s been a lot more smiley than she’s ever been and has actually been laughing a lot! (Half of the time in completely inappropriate situations, but it’s laughing!). We’re going to be going to a behavioral therapist starting next month, which I’m really excited about… The other day we went to the park to play with some friends and I got her in a mood where she’d actually let me take some pictures of her and Karl. We ended up moving her down stairs in her own room, and I want to print some of these for her shelving tops.

And what good would a picture session with Olive be with out her famous ‘potato face’?

While I’m at it, I might as well share some pictures of my little Jobers. I got to take some pictures of her modeling headbands for a friend’s Christmas in July sale (hence the Christmas-y look) — and boy is she a ham! She was definitely in her ‘birthday suit’ in the front yard on this rug, hamming it up, rolling around, and being cute as ever. Unfortunately a lot of them show her girl part in full view, so I can’t share them here – but it was SO funny. She’s starting to actually EAT baby food instead of just playing with it this week and I’ve learned that her favorite flavor is Pears. She’s also gained a little thrush :( But, aside from a few hours here and there, it hasn’t bothered her, and she’s been a happy little camper like always! I can’t believe that she’s almost 7 months old!

I can’t help myself – here’s just one of her little bare bottom. Tell me she isn’t the cutest little chub ever!?

Alright, I must go take care of said happy baby who has just woke from her nap. I treasure these rare moments when Jobee is napping, the other two are being good, and Olive is at school. They’re short, but they sure are sweet! And now they’re over…. Good bye!

Jobee’s First Foods

2 Jul

Jobee got her first tastes of baby food today.

She turned six months old this week and her doctor told us that we can go ahead and start introducing it to her. I don’t think that we will actually start feeding her babyfood on a regular basis, as I don’t think she’s quite ready developmentally. But, it sure was fun to watch her try it out!

She was 25.5 inches (50%) and 13lb 7oz (25%) with a head circumference of 16.5″ (50%) at her visit.
She’s right on target developmentally for her adjusted age of four months old.

She tried a little rice cereal with a little white grape juice mixed in this afternoon.

She was excited for it but didn’t really know how to eat-eat it.

Most of it came back out.

But she sure was happy to give it a go!

How can you not just eat this little girl up!?

Pool Fun

28 Jun

This past weekend was my Mam and Pap’s 50th wedding anniversary and I had a family shoot scheduled in Chesterton, Indiana — so we went down to visit my parents for the weekend.

One special thing we ended up doing was going to my Aunt Sis’ pool at her apartment complex and letting the kids swim. They’re REALLY warming up to the idea of swimming. It was fun.

Jobee however did not think that it was all that fun.

This was her first time ever going in to a pool.

Her first time going in to a body of water that wasn’t a warm bath, surrounded by the arms of her Mama.

As you can tell, she wasn’t all that fond of it at first, even though her Bumpa kept her very safe and comfortable.

She did however, calm down when my Aunt Sis did the ‘Mama bounce’ with her and held her close with just her feet dangling in.

When she went back to my dad, she was much more open to the idea and actually started to enjoy herself.

Tell me that is not the cutest little swimmy diaper butt ever?

But, she really liked it when Daddy got his hands on her. He had her butt wiggling like a little fish and had everyone laughing.

What she really  preferred was to be snuggled up on her Grandma though. I could just eat her up!

Here’s a shot of everyone enjoying the pool and Macky modeling her cute little “Brown belly” (everyone on the brown side has a ‘beer’ belly)

Olive tried very hard, the whole time, to make sure that we knew she was still mad at us and is not going to have a good time yet.

But eventually Daddy even got to Mrs. Grumpy Pants and she had some fun too! This was the first time we had seen her smile for days and days. It was a welcome treat.