Tuesday, October 9, 2012

{ Remembering Gigi }

Gigi with her kids on her 90th birthday

Last night, as the world slept on, my family gathered to say goodbye to my wonderful, sweet Grandma.

Nina Ruth Kettler was one of those special ladies whose role in life seemed to be "Grandma." She was a loving wife, mother, friend, and Sunday school teacher, sure, but somehow it seems to me that God wove the tapestry of her life so she could be the perfect grandmother. And not just to her own grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but to all children who came in contact with her.

Gigi and her favorite little man

A visit to Grandma's house always consisted of three things - looking at whatever photos she had recently taken, baking fabulous cookies, and working the garden. I'd always laugh and tease Grandma about her photos, because she had this enduring habit of cutting off the tops of people's heads in them. She didn't care. She was gathering memories! There were photos of family and photos of church, and there were always photos of the neighborhood kids who would stop by to see Miss Nina and eat a cookie. Her life literally played out in pictures.

Speaking of cookies...oh man, those were good. Grandma loved cooking just about anything, but sweets held a special place in her heart and stomach. We shared a love of butterscotch, so every time I was at her house we baked oatmeal scotchies using her special recipe. Nowadays I use that same recipe when I bake cookies for friends and family and they're always "the best cookies ever!" The same goes for her cakes too. Any time we had a family function, you could tell which cake was hers by the tiny corner cut out. She's couldn't resist a taste test, so she would cut out an itty bitty corner and pretend no one would notice. I always found the missing-corner cake, because I knew it'd be a good'un.

Grandma's garden was a special place for her. It was full of the prettiest roses, the biggest peonies, the best tomatoes you'd ever seen. She lovingly tended her plants, and us grandkids spent plenty of time helping her. I didn't inherit her green thumb, but I had fun anyway - especially if she'd put me in charge of the water hose. I probably drowned a lot of her poor plants. ;)

Throughout the years, all of us stored up special memories of Grandma - from lazy mornings sitting on the front porch to getting up at 4 a.m. to go fishing (she was very serious about her fishing) to "peter pan collars with lace" (if you don't get that joke, I'm sorry...there's just no adequate way to explain it). We'll cherish those moments forever, and we'll miss the woman at the center of them. Our loving Gigi, as her great-grandkids call her, was ushered by angels into the presence of God at 3:07 a.m. Tuesday morning, and although we can never fill the gap she left, we'll always have the warmth of her love remaining in every cookie we bake, every seed we plant, every hug we share, and every photo album we fill.

Love you Gigi.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

{Kellen and Chris Brown}

My baby fights going to sleep. He is a sleep warrior.

No amount of routine or anything else you see blogger moms touting will change that. Believe me, I've tried. He just fights naptime and bedtime. Most of the time, anyway. I've gotten used to it.

I do, however, have a secret weapon that I bring out on many occasions:

Chris Brown.

That's right, Chris Brown.

Specifically, the music video for "Forever." I don't know why, but that sends my little warrior right to sleep. Every. Single. Time.

I've tried other videos, but none work like "Forever." Weird, huh? :)

Fun fact: watch the choreography closely. After I watched this about 20+ times, I realized that it includes a TON of subtle Michael Jackson references!

Monday, August 27, 2012

{ Frustration, or the Troubles of Finding Dance Students in Oklahoma }

Good morning, sunshines!

I'm sure you're all very sunny in the morning. You're all morning people, right? No? Good, me neither.

Kellen, on the other hand, is definitely a morning person. He wakes up bright and early with a smile on his face and a song in heart! (That song quickly makes its way out of his mouth in the form of growls and other various silly sounds)

So here I am, bright and early and working on Scottish dance stuff!

I've had so much going on lately that I've had trouble even keeping my days of the week straight. Trying to get a couple Scottish dance classes together with almost no notice is incredibly hard. When you're teaching a dance form that very few people know of, you really need a lot more time than I have to gather students! So I'm 11 days away from my first class and I have one student. Kind of depressing, huh? Yeah...I may or may not have cried about it a couple of times. Especially since people who've been telling me for a year that they want to take dance classes say they can't do anything the night I have scheduled at the studio. Honestly, it's a bit embarrassing having to deal with this struggle for students, but I have to remember that this isn't ballet or even Irish dance - this is a form of dance that no one in Oklahoma even recognizes.

All that being said, I still have time to gather some students, and there's a Celtic event on September 1, so that'll be a place to do some networking. I've also been passing out fliers wherever I can and plan to take some around today, and of course there's a good bit of prayer going into this as well. :D If you have any ideas for my little PR campaign let me know! And of course your prayers are appreciated.

I'm also working on building a blog for the dance school. I'll let you know when that's up and running! :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

{ Oklahoma, meet Highland dance! }

Exciting news! I'm finally starting up a dance school!

Check out the Ladymon School of Scottish Dance Facebook page here, and "like" us while you're at it!

Oh, and spread the word, too. I need as many people to sign up by the beginning of September as possible. Classes are in OKC at the NW Optimist Center and my prices are pretty cheap. Ages 4 to 99 are welcome! :)

Scottish Highland dance is one of the most gratifying art forms/sports available. Personally, it helped me overcome severe shyness and asthma - two problems that plagued my childhood. It also increased my strength, endurance, flexibility, spatial awareness, and coordination beyond what I thought possible, all while giving me a love of my heritage and a respect for culture and traditions. Through dance I also got to travel all over the US and become friends with some of the most unique and kind people imaginable.

Highland dance prepared me for life. It taught me valuable lessons and expanded my horizons mentally, emotionally, and physically. I relate story after story of how dance helped me in other facets of life - and I want to pass that on.

Help me re-establish Highland dance in Oklahoma. Help me have a job that allows me to still be a stay-at-home mom! Help me make a difference in the lives of others. Sign up for dance classes, or at least encourage those around you to do so!

This is back in 2006, I believe. I was a lot bouncier back then :D

In case you missed that link the first time - go like the Ladymon School of Scottish Dance!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

{Thankful Tuesday - Vacation and Adoption!}

I've been lax on my blog updates again, so today's Thankful Tuesday is packed!

Today I'm thankful for...

1. A new family member! My in-laws always have several foster children, and they've had Allysha since before her second birthday (she's three now). As of last Thursday, July 12, she's officially a Ladymon! That means Shaun has a three-year-old sister and Kellen has an aunt who's just a few years older than him. She's witty and sassy...and sometimes she's pretty sweet. :) I'm kind of hoping the sassiness fades though!

2. Quality time with family. Shaun, Kellen, and I spent the entire first week of July in Creede, Colorado with Shaun's family, and it was a blast! Between the 4-wheeler expeditions, fishing, inside jokes, hysterical laughter, and storytelling, I didn't want the week to end. And of course Kellen got loads of attention!

3. Fresh mountain air. I miss it like nobody's business. Even during the warmest part of the day, Creede is pleasant. Coming back to the Oklahoma heat was not fun! There's just something about a cool mountain breeze that makes even sitting on a cabin porch invigorating, and I can't wait to go back.

4. Good eats. I LOVE the restaurants in Creede. I guess I've only eat at four of them, but I'm a big fan of each. MJ's and The Old Firehouse are our favorites for breakfast, and TOF is also a great stop for ice cream when you're shopping around downtown in the afternoon! Cascada is a Mexican restaurant with a really out-of-the-ordinary menu and a to-die-for Caesar salad, which happens to be one of my favorite meals. :) There's just something about their dressing! My favorite place to eat, though, is Kip's Grill. They have elk burgers that make my mouth water. Shaun and I ate there twice, and the second time was quite an adventure. I love sitting on their patio, but we got caught out there with Jared, Katrina, Barrett, Madison, Holley, Ethan, and Kellen during a downpour! The table umbrellas just weren't cutting it, and everyone but Kellen and me (we sat in the lucky seat I guess lol) got soaked before they moved us to a table under the awning. Oh well, it was one for the memory books!

5. 4G and wi-fi. If there's anything that can make me thankful for coming home from vacation, it's the ability to use my phone again! In Creede you're always on edge network, and even when you can get wi-fi it doesn't work that great. On vacation I received texts hours after they were sent, rarely could make phone calls, and getting online was impossible a lot of the time. It let me know how dependent I am on technology! Getting a break from it all was fun, but I'm glad to be connected to the world once more.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

{Thankful Thursday}

Well, I missed Thankful Tuesday...again...so today is Thankful Thursday. I start blogs all the time lately, but with everything that's going on I never get them finished!

This Thursday I'm thankful for...

1. Downsizing our stuff. Shaun and I are finally getting rid of a whole bunch of stuff we've been keeping around for little to no reason. It's my goal to make our house (and life) simpler and less cluttered, and making a bit of money while I'm at it! So if you're interested in anything, we've got most of it posted on Craigslist - antique dishes, antique piano, couch, chair/ottoman, two dressers, some music stuff (a bass, a bass road case, etc.). Let me know if you want to see photos of anything!

2. Having more time to be busy. Sounds crazy, right? But it's true - since leaving that one job I used to have, I've been busier than ever. I'm getting to do things that were important yet shoved to the bottom of the to do list for ages. AND I get more time to play with my sweet baby!

3. Free diapers. I have yet to buy diapers, thanks to all the wonderful ladies in my life. Before Kellen was born we were given boxes and boxes of those awesome tushy covers, and I could not be more thankful. That's an expense that I'm grateful to avoid thus far!

4. Kellen's cuteness. His latest cute baby trick is trying to say "I love you." Whenever we tell him "I love you" he smiles and says "I looooooooo oooooooooo." It's the sweetest thing ever! I don't know why he tries to say that certain phrase, but I'm definitely okay with it! :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

{What's that? More changes, you say?}

It's only Wednesday, but this week is already full of big decisions!

I kept it kind of hush-hush, but I was able to do an interview pretty quickly after I lost my job, and after a second interview Monday I was offered the job. Pretty awesome, right? Right.

Unfortunately, my head and my heart were saying two different things. My head said "this is a great opportunity with a great company with opportunities for great advancement. Jump on it!" while my heart was saying "this isn't the right choice, despite how enticing it sounds."

Shaun and I prayed and talked and prayed and talked, and realized that yesterday was the day to take a leap that we've been talking about since I found out I was pregnant:

I'm now officially a stay-at-home mom!

For years I've read Bible passages such as Proverbs 31 and known that God's plan for the mother includes staying home. I know that a lot of moms aren't given that option, and I blame today's societal structure (and ultimately, sin) for that, but I also know that today's society views a stay-at-home mom's role quite differently from the Bible.

The mother in Proverbs 31 does anything but "stay." That word is so stationary, so inactive, but a godly mother is one of the most active individuals you could imagine! She works with her hands, is diligent in bringing home the perfect food for her family, makes investments (buys fields), uses profits to plant a vineyard (more investing and work!), and much more. She takes care of her family in every way possible.

I could go on and on about how beautiful the woman depicted in Proverbs is to me, but I won't! I will, however, ask for your prayers. Please pray that God prospers and blesses my family for following His outline for the family.

This will be a hard transition, but it's so worth it. I'll be doing some odd jobs, probably including some work for Oklahoma Woman magazine (wanna buy some ad space??) and an antiques/home decor booth. I'll keep busy, for sure! I'm also still actively looking at jobs that are 12 hour shifts, such as hospital jobs. I'd get to be home the majority of the time!

As for Shaun, now that I can watch Kellen during the day, he has time to work more on his freelance design projects. If anyone has a design project they need done, let me know! He's available for a wide range of designs, from t-shirts to album covers to animated trailers. I'll also be working as his project manager, so I can cut you a good deal. ;)

The next few months will certainly be an adventure! If nothing else, our budget will probably be very interesting. :) After the year we've had, though, we're great at trimming the fat from a budget. And it's pretty hard to phase us now, after all we've been through. So bring on the trials. We've got a Bible in hand and God to guide us! What more do we need? :D

Saturday, June 9, 2012

{3 months old!}

...well, almost. Kellen will be 3 months old on Monday, and yesterday I decided to take a few photos with our DSLR. I'm not great at getting him to pose, so I just set up a (very wrinkly) sheet as a backdrop and let him do his thang! I think the photos turned out pretty cute.

Friday, June 8, 2012

An update from the life of LL

Sorry I've been somewhat MIA lately! The past few weeks have been hectic. Actually, crazy is a good word to describe it as well.

At the end of last month, I lost my job, along with at least 24 of my fellow employees. It's a long story that won't all be recounted here, but it's a doozy. To boil it down a bit - it started with some huge company changes that meant most of us would lose our jobs anyway, got muddled by extremely poor executive communication, got inflamed by an enraged company president who just flat didn't want to let us know the truth, and ended with a large number of "random" firings as a "punishment" for those who wanted to know what was going on. If that doesn't make sense to you...don't worry. It doesn't make sense to me either.

I'm upset that I didn't deserve to lose my job, but more than anything I have this sense of relief that I no longer work there. I can actually sleep at night now. It's amazing. I think it's equally amazing how people band together in these situations. A lot of us have grown much closer, and so many people are helping me find a new job. God is doing great things in my life.

I may find a job soon, or it may be a while. Either way, God is taking care of my family, and I'm getting to spend all my hours with Shaun and Kellen, which is just perfect.

So...thank you to everyone praying for me, please continue to do so. Thanks to everyone who's given me job leads, and if anyone else has anything please let me know! And last on my thank you list for now - thanks to everyone who's bought and IFYL shirt lately. You're really helping us out!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

{ Thankful Tuesday - Remembering Grandma Alice }

Last night we unexpectedly lost Shaun's sweet Grandma Alice. It came as a shock to all of us, and I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that we won't be able to drive down to Cement to visit her.

Looking back on the six years I've known Alice, I'm thankful for all I've learned from her. So today's Thankful Tuesday is a peek at a few of the things about Alice that I'm most grateful for:

1. She listened. I mean...she really listened. She was one of those people who asked how you were doing and actually wanted to hear the answer. If you needed someone to talk to, she was always there.

2. She made special time for all the little ones in our family - grandchildren, grandnieces and nephews, and her great-grandson, Kellen. I remember when Madison was just a wee one, she kept grabbing Alice's hand and leading her away from the others and over to the window. Madison pointed and said over and over, "Alice...sheeps! Sheeps!" They sat there for a good while as Grandma talked to Madison about the goats (or "sheeps" according to Madison). Out of everyone in the family crowd that day, Madison knew that her great-aunt Alice was the one who would take that time with her. I don't think they realized I was spying on them the whole time, but I couldn't help it. It was just too sweet. :)

3. She baked like nobody's business. Seriously, one piece of her butterfinger pie was never enough. I remember when Shaun and I first started dating and we were driving out to Cement where I would meet his family (all 75+ of them) at a party, he kept telling me how great his grandma's baking was. Her yummy baked goods always held a special place in our hearts...and our stomachs.

4. She showed me what quiet strength is. I've heard that saying many times, but I never truly knew what it meant til I got to know her. Most strong people you meet are bold and outspoken, but Grandma Alice was the kind of person with a personality an outsider might find easy to misread. She was a rock of good sense, love, and the kind of grace only God can give.

5. She was, as Shaun and his sister have said, the matriarch of the family - a shining example of a Christian, a generous soul, a caring heart, a true role model for us all.

We are sad that you've left us, Grandma Alice, but we rejoice in the knowledge that you are by God's side. We love you.
"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18

Monday, May 7, 2012

{Memory Monday - Baby Giggles}

The past week was rather eventful - I got my hair chopped off (thanks Jessica!), had a garage sale, went to my friend Kacie's baby shower, and had dinner with some family members we don't see often, but the best part of the week by far was Kellen's cute antics!

My little guy's been giggling up a storm this week. He's been quite the giggle box since he was about 4 weeks old, but lately it's been nonstop! He giggles at Shaun and me, at his mobile, at his favorite toy (his seahorse. It's a big hit with him!)...it's always insanely adorable. :)

Earlier tonight I gave him a bath, and it's by far his most beloved part of the day. He splashes, talks, smiles, and laughs the whole time. I let him stay in for a while after we're done because he enjoys it so much. I hope he grows up to be a fish in the water like the rest of the (blood related) Ladymons! I can't even go underwater without holding my nose, and I can barely swim. :( Kind of stinks since I'm built like a swimmer lol.

It's moments like we've had this past week that I'll remember forever. The smile on Kellen's sweet little face that makes my heart melt is one of those things that can turn the worst day around. Each time he talks to me (we have great conversations) I feel more successful than a billionaire, because I have the best family in the world. God has blessed me with so much.

This is home
Now I'm finally where I belong
Where I Belong
Yeah, this is home
I've been searching for a place of my own
Now I've found it
Maybe this is home
This is home
- "This Is Home" by Switchfoot

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

{Thankful Tuesday - Take 4}

It's that time again! Today I'm thankful for...

1. Haircuts. Seriously. My hair was driving me nuts - in my face all the time, impossible to fix...you get the picture. I'd been admiring Emma Watson's short hair for quite a while and finally decided to try it. Photos to come soon!

2. My sweet baby's laugh. It can brighten any day and is the most adorable sound in the world!

3. My husband's help. Shaun is always there to help me get everything done AND keep my sanity. Earlier this evening my sweet boy decided to go on a crying spree (never really figured out the reason. I think he was just super-tired and resisting sleep), and after a while of me walking around with Kellen and bouncing him up and down with no luck, Shaun took over so I could have a break. It's nice to know I'm never alone in this whole parenthood thing! :)

4. My Scottish heritage. At the Kirkin' of the Tartan on Sunday (that's a Scottish church service to you confused readers out there) the preacher reminded us of the time during the Act of Proscription when Scots weren't allowed to wear their family tartans or do anything associated with their cultural heritage. They were so dedicated to their family identities that they would secretly take scraps of their tartans to the pastors to be blessed. I'm so proud to be a part of a people who refuse to be crushed by persecution!

5. Hospital refunds. I received a bill that didn't make sense, so I called the account services number at the hospital, and they told me that I was actually owed a rather large refund! I don't quite understand how this mix-up occurred, but I'm glad to get some money back!

Monday, April 30, 2012

{Memory Monday - Take Two}

This week I'll be recounting some Iron Thistle Scottish Festival memories, since it was Kellen's first Scottish fest!

Shaun and I took Kellen out to the festival all three days, and he did great...apart from the biggest diaper blowout he's ever had. I figure I can forgive him that!

I was afraid I wouldn't really wouldn't be able to do much dancing, but I ended up doing seven dances (I think. I kind of lost count). Then Lauren and I took some time on Sunday to work on our Hornpipe and Bluebonnets! It's so much fun to have another dancer to work with again. It's also fun to come offstage and give my sweet baby kisses!

We got to watch some great bands this weekend, including Scotland Rising, Flowers of Edinburgh, and Beyond the 9. During all this we discovered that Kellen is really good at sleeping through bagpipe music. I hope he outgrows that by the time he goes to OSAS (Ohio Scottish Arts School)! The morning wake-up call is given by a piper every morning at camp. By the way...he WILL go to OSAS, whether as a dancer, piper, or drummer. Any of those would be acceptable!

On a more serious note, I learned a valuable lesson this weekend. A creepy guy in his 50s or 60s who shows up at EVERY Scottish festival in Oklahoma and practically stalks us dancers was there, as usual, and I happened to mention him to an off-duty police officer who was volunteering at the gate. He told me that if someone gives me the creeps, I'm probably right to be creeped out. I pointed out Mr. Creepy Guy, and as it turns out the cop, who tracks down child predators, knew him. He's a registered sex offender who wasn't even supposed to be allowed at such events. I've definitely learned to trust my instincts! If someone seems off, there's probably a reason.

This weekend was loads of fun and I'm sure I've left out most of the good stuff, but I'm exhausted! I'm sure I'll have more to add later. :)

Photo compliments of Dustin Cooper. Shaun was being Sasquatch :D

One of my fave OK pipers, John Imes, decided he could play sitting down. You don't see that every day!

I forgot to bring swords, so an audience member loaned Lauren a pair lol

This is what Kellen did most of the weekend!

All About Irish dance troupe! Little Keyara (bottom left) performed for the first time. I remember when she was just a baby being held by her mom as her siblings performed!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

{Thankful Tuesday - Take 3}

 It's Thankful Tuesday again! I gotta say, taking a day to list things I'm thankful for each week really puts everything into perspective for me. I've been rather grumpy today, so it's a good day to make my thankful list. :)

This week I'm thankful for...

1. Time with friends. Having Tyler and his 4L crew over was a great break this weekend. Seeing old friends and making new ones always lifts the spirits! Especially when those friends tell silly jokes and do all sorts of hilarious things.

2. Peppy music. I've been listening to a lot of it lately! Since the surest way of calming a fussy Kellen is to dance around the house while holding him, I need happy tunes to keep me going. :) My favorites right now are Tyler Carter (of course!), Jackson 5, and The Almost.

3. The upcoming Scottish Festival. I haven't been to a festival since September, so I'm itching for Saturday to get here. If you're in Oklahoma you should come! It's the Iron Thistle Scottish Festival in Yukon at Kirpatrick Farm. Rumor has it I'll bust out a Hornpipe! (I say rumor because I had a baby 6 weeks ago, you know. I might decide I'm too tired lol)

4. Beautiful weather. Shaun, Kellen, and I have been to the park a couple times, sat out on the back porch enjoying the cool breeze, and had a couple cookouts. Loving this spring!

5. Having so many gorgeous photos to document the life of my precious baby boy. I especially love the photos Whitney took! Check out a few of the previews:

What are you thankful for this week?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Memory Monday

This week I'm starting a new tradition: Memory Monday! Each week I'll share a few things I'm filing away in the memory bank as great moments with family and friends. :)

Over the weekend Shaun and I got to hang out with our honorary brother Tyler, who happens to be one of our very favorite people! He is a sweetheart and we don't get to see him nearly enough.

For those of you who don't know Tyler Carter, he happens to be one of the greatest singers I've ever heard live. Don't believe me? Then click here (just a heads up to all my readers...kinda risque lyrics). He started out as the clean vocalist in Woe, Is Me and is currently on tour as a solo act.

Anyhoo, Tyler got to meet his [honorary] nephew and we got to meet his band/crew - Matt, Case, Joe, Ty, and Shelby. They're all pretty sweet! It's always great to meet musicians and people in the music industry who are nice. And hilarious too. While we were all standing around behind the venue, Ty found a shirt in a puddle that he wanted to keep. Everyone else said it was a stupid shirt, so next thing you know Tyler's pitching it in a tree while yelling "O'Doyle rules!" Case did a little tree climbing to retrieve the shirt, and while he did band members threw gravel at him while chanting "stone the emo kid!"

That's probably one of those "you had to be there" stories, but I thought it was hysterical. It reminded me of all the ridiculous moments I had with friends in college. Sometimes I miss doing completely random things like, say, blowing stuff up with fireworks or leaving a city kid (I'm looking at you, Jeremy!) in the woods while snipe hunting. But I digress.

All in all, it was a great weekend for the Ladymons! We've kind of been recluses for the past 6 weeks, so it's good to have some interaction with fellow humans. :) I also had some plans to go to the zoo, but we didn't know til we got there that they were having a special event and there would be more people there that you could possibly imagine. Since we are, as I mentioned, recluses, we left. Maybe next time!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thankful Tuesday: Take Two!

Here goes another Thankful Tuesday!

I'm really liking this whole Thankful Tuesday business. In fact, you could say I'm thankful for it!

Okay...that was a bad joke. I apologize. Pretend I never said it.

Anyway, It's a lot of fun sitting down and thinking about what you have to be thankful for. It's amazing how many things you can think of, even on a bad day. Making a list will turn your day around, I promise!

Here's a sample of things I'm thankful for this week:

1. Kellen rolled over last night. Now, I am NOT thankful that I missed it (my Mom was watching him for a few hours), but I am thankful that my little man is so strong! He was on his tummy and pushed himself up then wiggled til he was on his back. Who knows when he'll do that again...

2. Speaking of my Mom watching Kellen, she did that so I could swing by the Conservatory for a show. I'm so happy that I can go to shows and enjoy them again! When I was pregnant I was usually too nauseous/overheated/grumpy/uncomfortable to enjoy watching bands play, even if they were some of my favorites. It was miserable! This time around, I got to watch Jerry Roush's new band, Glass Cloud, and they were awesome! I stood front row to take some photos, and Jerry kinda missed the speaker when he was trying to stand on it and stood on my back instead. Good thing I'm tougher than I look! ;)

3. We finally got Kellen's photos done! They no longer qualify as newborn photos, but better late than never! lol Whitney and Ray came over a couple weeks ago to do them originally, and Kellen was just NOT going to cooperate. He was wide awake, cranky, and wiggly the entire time. They came back yesterday and he did so well! He was out like a light for just long enough to get some cute photos of him laying on his tummy, then he woke up and let them take some cute photos of him holding his head up. I'm so excited to see them all!

4. I cannot stress how thankful Shaun and I are for all the gifts we've received for Kellen. I feel horrible that I've only gotten about half of my thank you notes done, but just know that you'll get your note soon and we're thankful from the bottom of our hearts!! There are so many things people have given us that we just can't live without, many of which I had no idea I'd need. Then there's also the beautiful handmade gifts I've received. I'm so grateful that so many women took the time to make Kellen something special.

5. One of the things I'm most thankful for this week is Kellen's smile. He grins ALL the time now! Sometimes you can see his dimples and it just melts my heart. He's even giggled a couple times! Each time he smiles I feel like everything in the world is just perfect.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mommyhood Goals - Round 1

I've got a plan! It's a good plan!

...this means it may not last long. But it's a good plan!

What's the plan? Here's the plan!

Stage 1: Find synonyms for the word "plan." Reduce usage of word "plan" to avoid sounding silly.
Stage 2: Realize I always sound silly. No shame.
Stage 3: Come up with a list of goals every month of Kellen's first year, and at the end of the month revisit my goal list to see how things went. :)

Okay, we've got a plan! Now I just need some super-worthy goals. Here's what I have for this month so far:

1. Get crafty, but start slowly. My craft list so far includes burp cloths, fancy washcloths (you'll see what I mean when I finish some and post photos. I found a cool tutorial but I lost it...so no examples for now!), cuddly blankies, and Boppy covers (check out some cool ideas and a pattern here). I'll have to work my way up to the Boppy covers, methinks!
2. Be more diligent about couponing. Thankfully I'm already doing fairly well with this! For instance, I have a fairly pricey (and necessary) purchase I'm planning to make at Babies R Us now that we have our tax refund, and thanks to a 20% off coupon I'll be spending $215 instead of $270! Go me!
3. Keep Kellen's room organized. Sounds simple...but I'm not a neat freak by any means. I'm just lucky if my clothes make it out of the laundry basket and into the closet before I wear them and put them back in the dirty laundry! Yet again, doing well so far. I'll let you know how that goes!
4. Document everything. I want to be sure every moment of Kellen's first year is recorded in some manner! Between my baby calendar, which is a good alternative to a baby book for someone disorganized like me, photo albums, and the ever-handy Instagram, this goal is well underway. :) Along with this goal, I'm going to try to post a photo blog each week so you can keep up too!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Thankful Tuesday!

 Since I have a lot to be thankful for, I'm stealing my friend Amber's Thankful Tuesday blog theme. :) Speaking of which, you should check out her blog here and her photo blog here. Lots of cute photos of her adorable kiddo!

This week I'm thankful for...

1. Our first month with Kellen. It's been one crazy and fun adventure for sure. He is such a sweet, precious baby and I can't imagine life without him. He's growing entirely too fast for my liking. I want time to slow down so I can enjoy having my tiny baby longer!

2. Time with friends. Last week Kellen and I got to spend some time with the lovely former support staff ladies (and he decided to misbehave...*sigh*), then we headed down to Droverstock with Mom and saw some USAO peeps. It was fun catching up with everyone! I haven't gotten to see many friends lately, so that was some much-needed friend time.

3. Maternity leave. Today is the last day, and it seems like it lasted 5 days instead of 30. I get to work from home for a month, which is great because honestly, a mental breakdown would probably be in the forecast if I had to go back to my office without him tomorrow. Even though I'll be home with him I still have ambivalent feelings about it. I'm blessed to be able to do that and thankful to have an income, but I also want nothing more than to dedicate every waking minute to my baby boy. It's a tough situation for me, knowing that eventually I'll have to spend over 8 hours a day away from him.

4. All the wonderful deals I've found lately. Finances are always tighter than skinny jeans on a chunky emo kid around our house, so having a baby in the mix makes them even tighter. Thankfully, I've found loads of great coupons to help with some of the more expensive things I need for him (Babies R Us in particular has some good'uns), and I've also started religiously checking out blogs like Money Saving Mom. How did I not know about such websites before now??

5. A great Easter weekend. Shaun, Kellen, and I went to church then headed down to Cement to celebrate with the Ladymons. I was really thankful for such a fun first Easter for Kellen, and especially that my in-laws' foster children were able to take part in a Christ-centered family's Easter. Who knows if they'll have that chance ever again.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Time flies when you're sleep deprived and having fun!

I'm currently laying on the couch with a sleeping baby on my chest. Every time I put him down he wakes up and cries. Good thing I love cuddle time with my Kellen! Plus it gives me time to blog.

My lil' man will be 3 weeks old on Monday. I can't believe he's so close to a month old already! Time never seems to pass slowly when I want it to.

The past [almost] 3 weeks have brought many funny and/or sweet moments. I think sitting in our rocking chair with Kellen and singing every hymn I know while he goes to sleep is one my favorite things in the whole world. It definitely makes up for all the moments when Kellen behaves less than stellar. ;)

As far as less-than-stellar behavior goes, today has been pretty full of it! Whitney and Ray came over to do some newborn photos [very belatedly, so they're not even really newborn photos...obviously I'm not the greatest at scheduling lately lol], which means Kellen spent a good portion of the time naked. He peed on me twice, on Whitney's blanket once, on Shaun once, and then he rounded out his bodily function-fest by pooping on my jeans. I think a couple of months ago I would've found this horrifying, but today it just made me laugh. I like to think I'm handling slightly gross bodily functions fairly well! I was worried that I wouldn't.

Speaking of ways I've surprised myself - I've become one of "those" parents. You know them. The parents who post 5,000 photos of their kids every day. Yeah, I was seriously pestered by those types before I had a kid. I promised myself that I wouldn't be one. I wouldn't flood Facebook with pictures of my kiddo! Buuuuut it looks like, despite my promises, I've failed. Let's face it, my kid is too darn cute! If anyone dislikes seeing so many photos of undeniable cuteness, they can unsubscribe from me. :)

Well, that's about all my sleep-deprived brain can come up with for now. I've definitely got some blurry days going on lately! Thankfully Shaun and I seem to handle lack of sleep better than most...or maybe Kellen is sleeping more than most newborns do. In any case, I haven't done anything incredibly goofy yet! Don't worry though, if I do anything too crazy you know I'll share it. :) I can't help but tell on myself!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

{2 weeks}

Kellen will be 2 weeks old tomorrow night. Time flies when you're trying to savor every moment!

These past two weeks have taught me a lot. I dove headfirst into motherhood with the notion that anything I expect will probably turn out totally different, and I was right. For starters, everyone's "if you think you're tired now, just wait til he gets here!" proved totally wrong. I'm definitely tired, but not like I expected. Kellen sleeps at night. Not as much as I'd like, but sometimes he'll sleep for 3.5 hours at a stretch, which is awesome!

Kellen also doesn't cry very much. There have been a lot of fussy babies in my family, so I halfway expected him to spend a good deal of each day wailing. You can imagine my relief that he's a quiet little guy!

One of the things I did expect is how much Shaun loves our sweet baby. He's already the best father I've ever seen, and I'm getting teary-eyed just typing that. Having a partner in this parenthood stuff who is patient, loving, and kind is such a blessing.

What I love the most, though, is how my entire perspective on life has changed. It's hard to describe to anyone who doesn't have kids, but the way I view everything, from church sermons to songs to free time at home is different. Somehow a baby brings everything into focus. I feel I understand God's love a fraction more than before, because my love for Kellen is a dim mirror of God's love for me.

This new adventure is by far the favorite I've ever had. It's a tiring, sometimes confusing, always expensive adventure, but it's one of the best things that's ever happened to me. Shaun and I are so blessed to have Kellen. God's given me the best family anyone could ask for.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Kellen Daniel
Born at 11:33 on March 12, 2012
Weighing 8 lbs, 4 oz

My sweet baby boy is finally here, and he's already a week old! Time is already flying, and I'm not sure I like it. I want him to be my teeny little guy for a bit longer than he probably will be.

Last Monday Shaun and I went in to Deaconess at 7:30 a.m., where they induced labor. I originally decided against being induced, but my doctor would be taking a few days off and wanted to be sure she was there for the birth, so I agreed to it. Thank God I did! Turns out Kellen was bigger than anticipated (the doctor guessed 6 to 7 lbs), so any longer and I might've ended up getting a C-section or an episiotomy at the very least (yuck). I've been praising God that my doctor needed vacation time to move into her new house!

During the first few hours of labor, which lasted about 15.5 hours, the nurses and doctor monitored my contractions, asking me how much they hurt on a scale of 1 to 10. When I repeatedly said 1 or 2 they kept calling me a trooper. :) Apparently I was talking and relaxing through contractions that leave other women breathless. Then in the afternoon they broke my water and all that changed. I was still able to talk through most of the contractions, but I've been told my face turned some interesting colors. I'd already settled on having an epidural, but I didn't realize that the contractions would triple in pain right after my water broke. I wanted my epidural NOW!

The hilarious anesthesiologist made a point of telling me repeatedly that I had the perfect back for an epidural and that he was used to working with the "great white American buffalo." All the silly banter made the process pretty painless! After that it was smooth sailing, and while many women swear by the beauty of a natural birth, I couldn't be happier with my decision to have an epidural. I remained calm and clear-headed while I pushed and I was able to thoroughly enjoy my first glimpses and touches of Kellen much more than if I'd been in unnecessary pain.

Future mommies, I highly suggest Dr. Alward and the team at Deaconess for labor and delivery. Their birth center is unparalleled in the OKC area. All the doctors and nurses are as sweet and helpful as can be, and the lactation consultant works wonders. Add in the really nice rooms and calming atmosphere and you've got a winner!

Well folks, that's the story of the day Kellen arrived. I'll have more blogs on Kellen and some of our special moments for you soon! I'd appreciate everyone's prayers as the three of us are embarking on this journey as a family. Everything from Kellen's continued good health to finances to just learning to be godly parents has been on my mind lately. It's a lot to take in!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

More week 38: Pregnancy brain

Brain no worky.

To be fair, my brain is working...there's just some sequencing off somewhere. I've heard of pregnancy brain, but this is ridiculous. For the past eight months, I've forgotten to do plenty of stuff, but not quite like this week. I usually forget an entire task, but this past week I've done surprisingly well remembering to get everything done...with the exception of one tiny (but important) detail.

First it was my three cheese chicken and pasta. I put all the ingredients in my skillet, Wanda (yes...she has a name. She is my favorite skillet of all time, so she deserves a name), turned the burner on two notches past medium and slapped the lid on, just like I always do. A few minutes later I noticed it wasn't bubbling like it should, and it took me another minute to realize it was because I had turned the knob the wrong way. Instead of medium high, I had it set between low and medium.

Possibly the same night (I really don't remember), I had just put a small load of Kellen's stuff in the laundry when I realized I'd forgotten to put in a few new onesies. I ran (read: waddled) back to his room, grabbed them, and ran back to the washer. I opened the lid...and saw enough water in there for a leprechaun to go swimming. I had forgotten to reset the load size, so instead of "small," it was set on "extra large." -.- Not a big deal, but highly annoying.

Fast forward to tonight...when I started frustrating myself to no end. Mom and I ran some errands and ended with a trip to WalMart so I could pick up cookie ingredients. I double-checked the recipe, declared that I had everything I needed, and headed home. Around 7:15, when I decided to start baking, I realized I'd forgotten something: eggs. I read the recipe twice, I've made this type of cookie a hundred times...yet I forgot one of the most important ingredients. *sigh*

Shaun kindly went to Braum's and picked up some eggs for me and I got started baking. I was putting the first batch in the oven when I realized that I set out the salt, but I never put any in the dough. I decided maybe it wasn't important and went ahead with my cookies.

Turns out they taste just fine, but apparently pregnancy has stolen my ability to tell when cookies are done. The first batch literally fall apart on my cookie rack. And when I say "on" my cookie rack, I really mean "through" my cookie rack. Cookies pieces everywhere.

So here I sit, drowning my sorrows in some nice cold milk and eating broken cookie pieces. I'm pretty sure I've had about 1/3 gallon of milk, but at least I'm not drowning my sorrows in what I really want: cookie dough. I think this is why I haven't baked much in the past few months. I can't handle the temptation!

I suppose Shaun was right when he recently told me "I know what a man's job is in pregnancy. The woman eats for two, the man thinks for two. In my case, anyway" At the time I wasn't so amused, but I have to admit he's right.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hey, guess what? Still pregnant.

Since my last blog was super short, I feel like I can take license to write as long as I want for this one. Let's face it...I like to ramble.

Today marks the 38th week. Gotta tell ya, I am tired of being pregnant. Being pregnant means I don't get to meet Kellen yet, and it means I get to deal with all these stupid pregnancy woes, like the heartburn. And the nausea. And the tiredness. And the rib pain. And all the other little things like that.

I haven't been too emotional throughout the past 8+ months (that I know of), but I think it's starting to catch up with me. I've seen several Facebook friends who were due after me have their babies early, and the other day it actually made me cry. Yep...I cried out of baby jealousy. Ridiculous, I know.

Every time I read an article saying that women as close to delivering as myself should get extra rest and generally take it easy, I just have to laugh. Who has time for that? I've got tons of work to get done before maternity leave, I've got a crazy amount of housework to do, and I've been helping Shaun get the first issue of the scene[essence] magazine done! So, silly articles: I laugh at your naivete.

Speaking of the magazine, I'm really excited about it. Last night I finished up a fun article about Mitch Brown, the tour manager for Woe, Is Me. He's been a friend of ours since the first time we met the WIM guys in 2010, and he's one of the most impressive young guys in the music industry today if you ask me. If you don't go read about him...I'll cry. Seriously. I'm pregnant. The waterworks could start any time.

...You'll also love the rest of the magazine! Articles about great music + Shaun's super-cool designs = pure awesomeness.

In the midst of all this craziness, I've found myself yearning to go on vacation worse than I can ever remember. I think it might have something to do with knowing I won't get to go anywhere for quite a while! I'm starting to get cabin fever. I'm just ready to go somewhere peaceful. Somewhere that doesn't involve work or other everyday tasks!

I guess that's all that's going on in my exciting little world lately. And when I say exciting, I mean the opposite, because my entire existence is revolving around waiting right now lol. If anyone feels the urge to help me whittle away at my pre-baby to do list, come on over! :)

 Yep. I get this a lot.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weeks 37/38 in numbers

3 - The number of baby showers Kellen has had

18 - The number of packages of diapers we've been given (that's a lot of diapers!)

15 - Days until Kellen's due date

37 - The number of weeks I've been pregnant (tomorrow is 38 weeks)

24 - The number of pounds I've gained so far

6 to 7 - The approximate weight the doctor is guessing for Kellen's birth weight

4.5 million - The approximate number of times I've complained about how much my ribs hurt

Since this blog is entirely too short, here, have a cartoon!

Monday, February 13, 2012

{Week 35 - Are we there yet?}

30 days until Kellen's due date! I have tons to get done before our lil' guy gets here, but I still hope he decides to come a little early. I'm ready to see him and I'm ready to have the ability to take a deep breath again!

Third trimester has been an adventure and I've found several things I can't live without lately. These days I'm in love with my Boppy pregnancy wedge, Tums, and ice. My Boppy because it's the best pillow ever and helps me get a bit of sleep, Tums because stomach acid is trying to eat up my insides, and ice because I've been anemic/iron deficient and I guess eating ice is a symptom.

Unfortunately, even with my Boppy I don't sleep much these days. If Kellen's not kicking me, the ribs on my right side are hurting like they've been knocked out of place. It's not so fun! Makes me feel like this:

(by the way, check out this cartoonist's blog here. She is hilarious!)

Today I stayed home from work, avoiding the crazy drivers in the snow. I fully intended to get tons of work done in the morning then go in at 1 after the snow had melted, but that didn't happen. Instead I was a bum. All day. I felt really bad about it, but Shaun keeps reminding me that with everything I've been doing and how little sleep I've had, I need to take a break and rest on occasion. I won't get that opportunity after Kellen is born!

Speaking of Shaun, I'm pretty sure there's not a better husband around. He's been so helpful! I've even caught him doing the dishes when I hadn't asked him to. :) If I had a best husband trophy I'd award it to him!

Monday, February 6, 2012

{Baby shower}

(Most of these photos were stolen from my Mom. I forgot to bring my camera!)

Saturday was baby shower numero uno! It was put together by Margaret, Nina, Sue, and JoAnn, and they did such a great job! When I think of baby showers I always think of cutesy baby blue decorations and silly-looking cakes (this is possibly because I rarely go to baby showers), but these lovely ladies went above and beyond! They put together a baseball-themed shower, complete with Cracker Jacks, hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, good ol' fashioned bubble gum, and baseball-shaped cake pops! I loved it, especially since I got to have all my fave snacks lol.

I got some amazing presents, including this quilt by Elaine and a blue, red, and cream afghan handmade by my cousin Earlene!

You can't really tell in this photo, but Kellen got so much awesome stuff. We're blessed to have such generous friends and family! You can't really see it in the photo, but we even got the little baby spa (it has a wee little jacuzzi jet!) I registered for but never really expected to get. The hostesses got it for me!

Thanks again to everyone who came and gave us such lovely gifts! It means more than you know to us. :)

Well, folks, I leave you with a photo I couldn't resist including. Allysha decided to ham it up for the camera!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Yesterday I turned 25. It's my last birthday before Shaun and I add a member to the family! Somehow it really snuck up on me this year. Mom called me on Thursday and asked if she and Dad could take us out to Logan's on Saturday, and it took me a few seconds to figure out what the occasion was. Must be getting senile in my old age! ;)

To kick off the celebration, Shaun and I went to Abuelo's for lunch and split their amazing dessert nachos. Did I mention they don't sing or embarrass you for your birthday? It's amazing. :) After that we stopped by the mall in search of a pretty sweater to wear to my February 4th baby shower (no luck), but Shaun didn't let me stay too long. He hustled me home, muttering something on and off about how I should take a nap. Sure, as a pregnant lady I am totally down with naps, but I wasn't sure why he kept insisting I rest before dinner. Totally made sense later, however!

Shaun knows my distaste for traditional birthday parties. Don't get me wrong, I like birthday parties for other people, but in the last few years I've grown to dislike having a party for myself. So this year, Shaun took it on himself to give me the kind of party I would like, and I must say he did a good job!

Mom and Dad took us to Logan's for dinner, leaving a key hidden so some of my friends could sneak into the house. I don't know if Shaun and my parents are super-sneaky or if I'm just so oblivious that I didn't notice anything was up, but I had no idea what was going on til people jumped out of the kitchen yelling "surprise" lol.

On that subject...I do not have a good surprised face! I later said that I just don't get surprised very much anymore, but that's a poor way of wording it. Truth is, I get surprised, I just don't show it very well! I blame the fact that I'm always slightly sleepy. :)

Anyhoo, we did two of my favorite things: sat around chatting and playing Catchphrase. I think Kacie, Jenn, Emily and I could go pro as a Catchphrase team! You know, if pro Catchphrase existed. I think we need to have game nights from time to time, because that was loads of fun. It's also nice being able to catch up with people I hardly ever see! I think I must be a hermit or something.

All in all, a very good birthday. The best I've had in a while! I said that about Christmas too, and I must say I like this trend. Let's keep it up!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The adventures of a first pregnancy - things I've learned along the way

Crib salespeople are scary. Like...used car salesman scary. Walk into Storkland, I dare you. You. Will. Be. Mobbed. There's no saying "I'm just browsing." Nuh uh. They don't believe you. Thankfully our dream crib happened to be at Room to Dream, where the saleswomen aren't pushy. Still slightly intimidating for someone like me...but not pushy.

Registering is also scary. There's too many important decisions! What kind of bottles do you choose? Will baby be given pacifiers? How do you pick those? What the heck is buttpaste, and who came up with that name?

Your entire body will rebel against you. I sat down on the floor this morning with my Macbook, and when I decided to get up I couldn't. Not because I'm front-heavy, but because my hips decided they were not going to cooperate. Almost destroyed my computer in the process. Sleep is basically non-existent, and don't get me started on the rib pain.

Birthing class will scar you for life. I knew they'd probably show some disturbing videos, but I still wasn't prepared. The lovely, early-90s videos featured women who looked distinctly like men, and I saw things. Awful things. Animations are fine. Diagrams are even better. But for pete's sake, keep the videos away from me.

People you hardly know will want to touch you. Now, I'm fine with hugs and high fives and such, but random people touching my stomach is a little weird.

Baby kicks are the sweetest thing in the world...until 2 a.m. Then, they become a reminder that you're probably not going to sleep at night for months lol.

There are a lot of references in the Bible you never truly understand until you're on your way to becoming a parent. The bond between a parent and baby (even one who isn't born yet) has deepened my understanding of the Father's love for us in a profound and moving way.

There's plenty more on my list of things I've learned along the way, but that's a small sampling  to start off with! Moms (and dads), what did you learn with your first pregnancy?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

McGriddles, cars, and God's perfect timing

I haven't driven my own car in, oh...about 2 years. Kinda sad, huh? I had a little Grand Am that had served me well, but in the spring of 2010 it decided to give up the ghost. We could have fixed it...if we'd had the money. But we didn't. The list of things wrong with it was just too long and too expensive. Every time we'd talk about getting started on that list, something else would happen that required our money and attention. I ended up driving my Mom's CRV. Thankfully my parents were able to spare their extra car for a while (quite a while), or Shaun and I would've been in trouble. Our financial situation for the past two years, especially 2011, has meant that we've had to do without some things, including a new car.

Now, with Kellen on the way, having a car we can all fit in is way more important than before. Thankfully, Shaun's truck is paid off this month (woohoo!), so we figured we'd be able to get a car if we continued scrimping in other areas. Kind of a precarious financial idea, but it was the best we had.

However, once we started gearing up to car shop, my parents let us know that they had just reached an agreement to sell their lot in Piedmont, which had been for sale for months, and they were going to give us the money to buy a car. In fact, the amount was just right to purchase one of the cars we'd been looking at.

We started earnestly looking at Scion XBs, cars that Shaun loved for the interior room and I loved for the gas mileage. The only other car I even considered was the HHR, but most of those were a bit out of our price range.

This week, right before we'd actually have the money to buy a car, Shaun got a serious McGriddle urge. For some reason he decided to go to the McDonald's on 66 and Piedmont Road (that is currently being remodeled...but he didn't know that), which he never goes to. As he drove by one of the businesses on Ranchwood, he noticed the perfect HHR with a for sale sign.

He figured that with its custom paint job, wheels, and other after-market mods it would be out of our price range, but he asked the owner anyway. Turns out it was actually cheaper than everything else we were looking at, and the owner was willing to hold it for us for a couple days.

In the end, we got the perfect car for us. Plenty of room for us, the baby, and cargo, and it's pretty to boot! Literally 10 minutes before Shaun took a short drive and found exactly what we needed, I asked God to lead us where we needed to go, and He did. It's amazing how He answers our prayers, if only we think to pray them.