Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to...

The most sincere and compassionate woman I know.

A true friend to all.

A loving daughter, sister, mother and grandmother.

My mother.

Wish I could show up on your doorstep with a big white coconut cake and two grandchildren.

You're the greatest, Mom. Love you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Love this girl...


Here's the latest from the mouth of Chloe...

(During a recent phone conversation with Grandma Jill)
Chloe: "We're not coming to your house. We're NOT!"
Grandma: "Why not?"
Chloe: "Because it's not Christmas!"

"Tomorrow when I am older, when I am an adult, I can have one of those white things!" (a vitamin C tablet)

(As she's practically smothering Ryan on the floor)
Valeri: "Chloe, don't lean on him!"
Chloe: "'Cause he'll pop?"

Neil: "Are you a smarty pants?"
Chloe: "No!! I'm a smarty dress!"

"Someday I'll be able to tell someone what to do!"

"Am I gonna be a grown-up in the morning?"

"Mommy, that's a lovely dress!"

"Hey Mom, you gotta go take care of the food!" (while I'm changing Ryan's diaper and dinner is on the stove)

Chloe: "Do you like little dogs?"
Valeri: "Yes, I do."
Chloe: "I like big dogs and cats, but not little dogs. Actually, I like little dogs, cats and horsies! Are horsies nice?"

"We got a lot of toilets!" (after discussing with daddy the number of bathrooms we now have with the finished basement)

As you may have gathered, one of Chloe's latest obsessions is being a grown-up/mom. She's constantly saying things like, "When I'm a grown up, I can do this.." or "When I'm a mom, you can't tell me what to do...", etc. Funny kid.


She is extremely protective of her brother. Some days even a glance in his direction will result in an earful from big sister. Watch out!

She loves Ryan to pieces and tries to help out as often as possible. I'll often hear her say things like, "You're such a sweet boy!" and "Ohhh, Buddy, you're okay!" to try and calm him. She mimics so much of what we say.

Chloe's personality has certainly proven to be bold. She is not afraid to put someone in their place or stand up for herself or someone else. While this presents plenty of challenges for me, I know in the long run this boldness will serve her well. Such a spitfire she is! Life just wouldn't be the same without her.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mmm mmm good!

Our Ryan is becoming quite the master eater! This weekend he was introduced to Ritz crackers. He hesitated to try them at first, which is totally out of his nature considering EVERYTHING he gets his hands on goes directly into his mouth. Once he finally gave in, he was hooked!

{The 4th picture is my favorite. He's destroying that thing!}

"Whew, that was a lot of work. I'd better take a breather before dinner!"
{Notice the foot propped up and his arm hangin' over the edge of the high chair. Yeah. Rough life.}

And here's my little helper feeding her little brother for the very first time. I couldn't resist grabbing a shot of this hysterical moment. Chloe actually did really well getting the food in Ryan's mouth without gagging him, despite what the above picture may imply. The only thing she didn't do is give Ryan any warning each time a spoonful of green beans was headed his way!

Obviously, he survived.

So! Ya hungry? If so, I just might know a little boy who'd be willing to share!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Flashback Friday

Here are my wonderful parents as kiddos.
I couldn't resist since these photos go so well together!



I saved these onto my desktop a few weeks back with the intention of using them in a 'Flashback Friday' post. I never got around to that post and then forgot about it and these photos all together... until today, when I discovered they were still sitting on the desktop! And so, here they are!

Something else I discovered on my desktop today is a file containing a handful of Ryan's newborn photos, which I'd planned to put into a slideshow but never got around to doing. I am so grateful! Those are probably the most valuable to me of any of his photos! I am still keeping my fingers crossed I get ALL our photos back some day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Technologically devastating...

Unfortunately the only real event of this last week is our external hard drive dying on us. Of course it happened with no warning. And completely out of the blue. All of my photos are on that thing. ALL OF THEM! All of my recipes. Old church talks Neil and I have given over the years. All of our Christmas letters. 80 gigs worth of music, which luckily Neil has backed up on his iPod. Old family photos I spent hours upon hours scanning and editing in photoshop. I am absolutely devastated.

It's a mechanical issue, which means the files are still in there. We just can't access them for whatever reason. Last Monday we took it to a guy from church who owns a computer repair business. He handed it over to another guy who specializes in hard drive issues. Yesterday we were told it wasn't looking good, but we have yet to hear the final verdict. We know of someone else who is planning to look at it this week, assuming the other guy can't figure it out. But if he can't retrieve the files, our only other option is to pay $1400+ to have it sent in somewhere, taken into a dust-free room and basically dissected. Like I have a grand and a half just sitting around to cover that cost! So it can be done, but not for nothin'. Makes me so mad. I know it's just "stuff", but can you really put a price on photos? If you ask me, the answer is no. I am truly hoping and praying for a miracle.

Thank goodness I maintained a website for Chloe the first two years of her life. Even if I can't access those photos for the sake of editing, digital scrapbooking or posting them here on my blog (for whatever reason I'd want to), at least the important ones are on a keepsake cd, which I ordered when her website expired last summer. And then there's this blog, which I'm even more grateful for now than I've ever been. There are lots of great pictures and memories documented here, which would otherwise be gone.

If the hard drive can't be fixed we are planning to just hang onto it in hopes that the cost for such a process eventually goes down. Can't hurt. Until then, I'm cherishing the photos I do have and am taking each day. And you'd better believe I'm going to start a back up system of periodically saving my photos onto discs so this nightmare doesn't re-live itself.

On the upside, I have lots to be grateful for. And believe it or not, this experience has been eye opening in more ways than I even wish to go into.

Lately Chloe has been saying just out of the blue, "Mommy, I just love you so much!" Such simple words have never been so meaningful to me. She has no idea how she melts my heart.Photobucket

And my sweet, sweet Ryan. Gosh, I love this boy. Snot, drool and all!

We'll see what happens with the hard drive. Until we have good news though, you probably won't be seeing too many 'Flashback Friday' posts.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter festivities

Here are some pictures highlighting our Easter week!

Hunting Easter eggs at the park

Evaluating the goods

Saturday Chloe went to an Easter party at church, did another egg hunt and made some cute crafts. I didn't get any pictures, but she seemed to have a great time.

Here's Ryan on Easter morning.
Don't worry, buddy, you weren't the only one disappointed by the blizzard.

This was taken right when we got home from church. What a joke! Don't get me wrong, I love snow. But in the middle of April? And on Easter? Come on! Where's the sunshine and tulips? When we left church, it was snowing sideways and by the time I got the kids buckled into their car seats and brushed off the wind shield (with Ryan's blanket, I might add, since I had no other option), we were soaking wet! Good times.

Chloe opening a gift from Grandma Jill

And Ryan opening his...

Easter kisses from sister

Apparently hunting eggs never gets old...


Ryan observing...

My babies

This girl loves her brother. There's no doubt about it!

Daddy letting Chloe beat her in her first game of Candy Land. Thanks, Mr. Easter Bunny!

The last two years I've had every intention of coloring eggs with Chloe, and somehow it's just never happened. Maybe next year I'll get my act together. Neil's sister, Lori and Jared drove down for Easter dinner and we enjoyed a relaxing evening together. Hope your Easter week was great too!

Say it isn't so!

Dear Ryan,

Are you really 5 months? Really? Already? It just can't be! Why can't you stop time so I can enjoy your stages a wee bit longer? Work on that for me, would ya? In the meantime, here are some of the fun things you've been up to:

  • You were introduced to rice cereal on March 1st. I know you weren't quite 4 months yet, but I was looking for any possible solution to your horrible sleeping pattern! Did it work? Not one bit! But you did seem to enjoy the rice cereal! Since then you've tasted a variety of other foods. You sure make funny faces when you try new things. Your favorites seem to be applesauce and squash.

  • At your 4 month check up on March 16th, you weighed 14lbs., 8oz. (50th percentile for weight), and measured 25.75 in. (80th for height)! I'd be willing to bet that since then you've grown another 2 inches! You are my long skinny boy!


  • Around the time you hit the 4 month mark, you all at once discovered 3 things: your voice, your feet and your thumb! That's right, we've got a thumb sucker on our hands! And recently you seem to feel entitled to suck your thumb AND nurse at the same time! I'll have to say, Ryan, you've got it pretty good!

  • Anything that comes within view you try to grab. When you're successful you grasp it for dear life, examine it until you're practically cross-eyed, and then, without fail, put it in your mouth! EVERYTHING goes in your mouth these days. EVERYTHING!


  • You love to sing, especially in the early morning when the rest of the house sleeps. A few Saturdays ago, after a rather rough night of frequent wakings (which resulted in you spending the latter half of the night in our room), you woke up at 6:45 and for the next hour and a half, serenaded us with several different variations of "Ahhh...ahh..ahhhhhh..ah!" While Daddy and I generally prefer silence while we sleep, we couldn't help but smile as we lay in bed. And you were just content as could be in the pack 'n play, exercising your vocal cords and playing with your cute feet!

  • You absolutely love your sister and give her a warm smile each time she comes to give you a kiss or play. You laugh and laugh at her silliness (often times when I think she's being obnoxious, which makes me grateful), and are so patient when she gets a little rough. God was certainly thinking straight when he made you babies resilient!


  • You have been rolling from side to side for over a month now, but April 4th, you rolled from your back onto your stomach for the first time! Less than a minute passed before you realized you were stuck with your little arms underneath you. So of course you cried until I placed you on your back again. The following week you worked at it and finally, Friday, you rolled ALL THE WAY OVER (back to back). Unfortunately your head hit the leg of the coffee table on your final tumble, which resulted in tears! But I was so proud of you! You're getting so strong, and it's obvious you just want to take off! Changing your diaper has already become a challenge because you just won't hold still for me! Every time you're placed on your back, you immediately flip over onto your stomach. It's hilarious, and oh so cute!

  • You can sit up by yourself for about 4 seconds at a time before falling over. For some reason you always want to lean forward, which you're gradually learning doesn't help. You'll get there soon!


  • You are such a flirt, enjoying interaction with anyone willing to give you attention! When you get excited you squeal and kick your little legs a hundred miles an hour! You giggle and coo, and are just the sweetest little boy in the world! I love your chubby cheeks. I love your crystal clear blue eyes. I love your perfect round nose. I love your tiny toes that curl under. I love your soft whimper when you aren't happy. I love your hearty contagious laughter when you are happy. I love your chill personality. I love your sweet spirit. I love your grunting, growling and every other funny noise you make. I love that you recognize me as your mom, and that often, just seeing that I'm right there makes everything better.


    I sure adore being your mama! I have to admit I was terrified when Daddy told me you were a boy, but now I can't imagine life without a son! Keep learning, growing (but not too fast) and being the sweet little man you are! I love you, buddy.


    P.S. Here's a video clip I couldn't resist posting. {pause music to listen}

{Pictures courtesy of Rachael Pullman. Thank you again, Rachael! What do ya think of the editing? Not bad for a first timer, eh?}


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Conference weekend

I love General Conference weekend. For those of you not familiar, General Conference occurs the first weekends in April and October. Rather than attending our normal Sunday church meetings, we listen to or watch via satellite the leaders of our church give its members instruction and guidance. I love it for a variety of reasons. First, it's a break from the norm (8:30am church and 2 small children - need I say more?). Next, there's always great food to munch on, and usually more than we could ever eat! The best part of Conference, however, is the spiritual rejuvenation I gain after each session. As always, the talks this Conference were uplifting, comforting and truly inspired. I was especially touched by Robert D. Hale's message about living within our means, Jeffrey R. Holland's message that we never walk alone, and President Thomas S. Monson's reminder that while we sometimes have it rough, it could always be worse. Ain't it the truth?

During Saturday morning's session, Neil L. Andersen was named a new Apostle
. To clarify, my husband is in no way related to this man. It's simply a coincidence that they share the same first and last name (spelling and all). Lots of people had fun with this, congratulating Neil on his "new calling". It was funny at first, but got old fast. Still, it is a pretty cool honor to share a name with an Apostle. Elder Andersen seems like a wonderful man who will teach us many things in years to come.


Like every other Conference weekend, we did not lack in the food department! For the last couple years, we've spent Sunday's sessions with our friends,
Dan and Stef. And without fail, we've always planned for and prepared way more food than we'd ever eat, including last weekend! Hey, better to have too much than not enough, right? :)


Chloe is beginning to grasp just a tinge of what General Conference is about. I pointed President Monson out a handful of times so she'd begin to recognize him, but it got to the point where she thought everyone who stood at the pulpit was President Monson. :) She did recognize the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, who both she and I love. Can't blame us girls. Who wouldn't want the sound of angels serenading their home?


Hope you all had a relaxing weekend. Until October...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Easter Story Egg Hunt

With Easter just around the corner, I thought I'd share a neat activity idea. We did this yesterday with the 8-11 year old girls I work with at church. We read the scriptures only, but for the sake of my young family, my own version includes a summary to accompany each scriptural account. This is a great way to combine the spiritual aspect of Easter with a fun traditional egg hunt. We will probably start this tradition next year when Chloe's a little older.

Easter Story Egg Hunt

You will first need 12 plastic eggs. If you prefer, gather several more and fill them with candy, but make sure to reserve 12 for this activity. Number the eggs 1-12 with a sharpie and fill the eggs with the corresponding scriptures/summaries and props. When the egg hunt is over, gather everyone in a circle to open the eggs.

3 dimes
Scripture: Matthew 26: 14-16
Summary: Judas betrayed Jesus, revealing to the chief priests Jesus' whereabouts in exchange for thirty pieces of silver.

sacrament cup
Scripture: Matthew 26: 39-44
Summary: Jesus prayed to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. He pleaded to be relieved of His suffering, but only according to His Fathers' will. He had just been betrayed by Judas. His other disciples, who promised to stay awake and wait for Him, had all fallen asleep, leaving Jesus entirely and utterly ALONE! In these final moments of His life, Jesus was literally taking upon himself all the sins and sorrows the world had ever and would ever committ and endure. His agony was so extreme that He sweated drops of blood.

knotted twine
Scripture: Matthew 27: 1-2
Summary: When morning came, the chief priests and elders of the people decided to put Jesus to death. They bound Him, led Him away, and delivered Him to the governor, Pontius Pilate.

small piece of soap
Scripture: Matthew 27: 24-26
Summary: Pilate believed Jesus was innocent, but due to the pressures of the Pharisees, he handed Jesus over to them, then washed his hands clean, as if to say, "I want nothing to do with this."

square of red fabric and thorns
Scripture: Matthew 27: 28-29
Summary: Jesus was stripped down and put in a scarlet robe. A crown of thorns was placed on His head, and He was mocked and whipped.

Scripture: Matthew 27: 31
Summary: After they mocked Jesus, they took the robe off Him and led Him away to be crucified. The soldiers nailed His hands and feet to a cross.

Scripture: Matthew 27:35-36
Summary: The soldiers took Jesus' garments and cast lots for them.

Prop: small rocks, pebbles or dirt
Scripture: Matthew 27: 50, 51 & 54
Summary: Jesus died. The ground shook and there was a great earthquake. The people, in fear, then realized that Jesus truly was the son of God.

Prop: strip of white cloth
Scripture: Matthew 27:57-59
Summary: Joseph, a disciple of Jesus took Jesus' body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, then placed Him in His tomb.

Scripture: Matthew 27: 60, 65-66
Summary: Joseph rolled a large stone in front of the tomb and "sealed" it to ensure Jesus' body would be safe.

bay leaf
Scripture: Mark 16: 1-4
Summary: After Jesus had been in the tomb for three days, Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome brought spices to Jesus' tomb so they could anoint Him, only to discover the stone had been rolled away.

#12 {this one gives me chills}
Prop: leave the egg empty
Scripture: Mark 16:5-6
Summary: When the women entered the sepulchre, they saw an angel, who told them Jesus was no longer there. He had risen!

Because this activity leaves out some of the other important aspects of the Easter story (in my opinion), it may be worth reading it in the Bible from start to finish, and then pausing to open the eggs when those points of the story are reached. Either way, I think this is an awesome idea. Props to whoever came up with it!


No matter the fun activities we each have planned with our families this season, may we all remember why we're celebrating.