Friday, December 26, 2008

This one's for Janene


Jaron and I have loved this Christmas season.  We've noticed an increase in love and the spirit of giving, both in our home and in the community.  We're so grateful for the birth of Jesus Christ, for His perfect love and healing that still touches the world thousands of years later.  We hope you all had a wonderful, peaceful, and love-filled Christmas as well!  Here's some of the highlights of our Christmas day (photos of our beautifully "white" Christmas forthcoming...)

Our sweet angels posing by the tree on Christmas morning.

They became not-so-sweet after Santa brought them some dart guns.

Mikey's breakfast of root beer and Pringles (stocking treats)!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Adventures in Babysitting

'Tis the season to be giving, right?  Well, Jaron and I thought we'd start a Christmas tradition of offering our babysitting services to the families we Home and Visit teach...all on the same night!  In a community with lots of graduate students and residents, free babysitting is a hot commodity!  So we considered it a big party, and I planned to decorate Christmas cookies and watch a Christmas movie with all the kids.  Well, it was a great idea, and then all of the sudden we had 13 kids in our home, 4 of them one-year-olds (who don't all do stairs, and we don't have baby gates yet!), and a lot of noise.  Oh, and I can't forget to mention that when Jaron came home from work (which was when the kids started arriving), we realized that he HAD to shovel the ice from our driveway and sidewalk--it's a city ordinance that it must be done 24 hrs after a storm or we get fined.  SOOOO, the kids start rolling in and Jaron has to run to Lowe's for an ice-chopper, and I'm giving Spencer any incentive I can think of to help with all the madness (he did an amazing job, by the way).  Since the parents all dropped off/picked up their kids at different times, I would joke with them not to pay any mind to the "controlled chaos" going on in the basement or kitchen.  None of them seemed too concerned, though; I think they were just grateful to have a night out and that their kids actually survived the ordeal!  And Jaron busted out the scraping and shoveling and was able to help out inside before anyone got mortally wounded.  It was certainly a party, and while pretty crazy at times, it really was fun, and it made us feel good to do something for other families. (ps...please noboby call CPS on us for exceeding the 5:1 child-to-caregiver ratio!)

Winter FREEZING-land!

So today we went to church (Emily and the boys--Jaron was on call).  I step out of the car and am almost blown over by an arctic blast.  Check it: -25 degrees with the windchill today! (and I'm talking about the Ferienheit, not Celcius degrees here).  I opened the back seat door, bundled the kids up, and told them to run for the church doors as if their lives depended on it.  A second later I hear a "thud" and then a wail and a "Mommy!  Help me!!!"  Spencer had slipped on the icy pavement and couldn't get his legs under himself to stand up (probably cause the wind kept blowing him back down).  I reached out to give him a hand, trying to steady my large-belly body on the ice so I don't go down too, and thankfully we both made it.  We ran (or shuffled over the ice) as fast as we could into the building, with me chanting over and over, "I love Iowa...I love Iowa...I love Iowa..."  I think I finally thawed out sometime during the second hour.  That's what I call a Winter Wonder-land!  At least we'll have a white Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanks for the visit, Hamilton's!

We're so glad our Texas buddies from Med school (who are now in Ohio), met up with us at my parent's house in Indianapolis.  It was great to spend a couple days with them and their adorable boys!

Thanksgiving in Indy

We had such a wonderful time with my family at Thanksgiving!  I felt so blessed that, after it looked like Jaron was going to have to work all week, he was able to arrange to get the whole week off, so we had a nice, long trip!  All my brothers, their spouses and kids were there, as well as our special friends from med school, the Hamilton's (see other post).  We ate good food, enjoyed fun company, watched movies, read, slept, had a date, and recharged our batteries.  One highlight of the trip is that my brother, Chris, brought out several paintball guns.  The adults had a paintball adventure on Wed, but the kids got their turn Friday.  It was Chris's bright idea to let the kids have the guns (with adult supervision, of course) and let loose on the dads who would serve as moving targets for the novice sharpshooters.  I'm not sure if any of the dads really expected their kids to actually hit them, but Jaron's several welts prove that his sons are quite good shots.  At first the dads just ran from tree to tree.  This then evolved into a contest of "who can scale the tree fastest without getting shot", all while paintballs whizzed around their heads.  Us wiser (and pregnant) adults had the time of our lives laughing at those lunatic dads, but I think we also secretly admired the length these brave men will go to to show their posterity a good time.  That's true love right there.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Leaves, Glorious Leaves!

We had fun a few weeks ago raking our leaves and playing in them.

We bagged 20 bags that day...but notice how many leaves are still on the trees?  We're still working on getting them all up weeks later!

"Daddy, I'm so gwad you'w here wif me"

Mikey crawled on Jaron's lap during dinner one night and told him this.  It had been a while since we had had quality daddy time, and Mikey wanted to make sure Jaron knew he was loved!

Halloween Fun at Home!

The fact that it's taken me until November to post all our Halloween adventures should be indicative of how BUSY we were during Halloween week!  Phew, I'm still exhausted!  At home we had fun carving pumpkins (Emily's isn't carved cause I saved it to bake "Dinner in a Pumpkin" on Halloween night).

Cleaning the guts...

Final products with Daddy...

...and with Mommy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Halloween Fun at the Museum!

The Museum of Natural History puts on a free Halloween party each fall.  In one building, the kids get to play a live game of "Clue", going from room to room, interviewing Ms. Scarlet, Prof Plum, et al., to discover who stole the candy.  Spencer LOVED being a detective!  In the 2nd building, the kids got to play games, earn candy, and do Halloween crafts.  It was all so fun, and best of all it was FREE!
"Pin the Eyes on the Spider"

"Pin the Mouth on the Bat"

Outside the Museum, having a good time!

Halloween Fun at the Hospital!

The Orthopedics Department at the hospital puts on a trick-or-treat each Halloween.  The kids got to dress up, meet Daddy, and go around to the different reception desks and office areas in Orthopedics and get some goodies.  Lots of other resident families were there too.  After the trick-or-treating we went in the "party room" and had cupcakes, cookies, gathered party favors and played with balloons.  It was so fun, especially the part about getting to have Jaron there!
Jaron's a doctor, Mikey's Raphael, Spencer's Luke Skywalker, and Emily is...a pumpkin??

Jaron helped the kids maneuver through the Ortho offices.

Spence and Mikey go for the good stuff!  All the secretaries were so nice!  They loved seeing all the kids in costume.

Halloween Fun at School!

Spencer's Kindergarten class had a Halloween party, and Mikey and I went to "help out".  As you can see from the pics, Mikey, or should I say, "Raph" (aka "Raphael"), as he now insists to be called, made himself right at home with all aspects of the party--the snacks, photo shoot, and parade.  Mikey didn't think twice about stepping right in with the big kids.  He even used his super-Teenage-Ninja-Turtle skills to fight off the evil Darth Vader and Venom at various times during the party.  And Spencer, or should I say, "Luke Skywalker-as-a-Jedi-Knight", loved having his little bro there.

Mikey and Spencer at Spence's table, enjoying a Halloween snack of spiders and ghosts.

Spencer's class picture.  Luke Skywalker is front left, and Raphael is center back. (Spencer's teacher is back row, 3rd in from the left.  She's really great.)

Luke and Raph on the march around the basketball court.  I don't know who that nice guy helping Raph is...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Our Sweet Boys

This is Spencer suiting Mikey up for a ride on their "Rocket Ship".  Several months ago, when Mikey broke his leg, Spence was such a good big bro and created fun games for Mikey since wasn't as mobile.  Notice the Mickey Mouse booster chair, the rocking horse behind (where Spencer would take his seat after buckling Mikey in with his Sunday pants belt), Mikey's shield, and Mikey is wearing a clip-on tie. These are all essential elements to a successful flight on the Ship (and it was a success!).

Need I say more?!

We love our Spencer and Mikey!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Em! (Sept 6)

It was my birthday too this weekend, and I got the BEST present a child could ever give a mom (at least that's my perspective after struggling with Mikey for many months)...Mikey has been going Pee-Pee on the Potty!!!  Seriously, it's a dream come true for Jaron and me.  On labor day (Mon), I went to the store to buy diapers, and decided then and there that that would be the last pack of diapers I would ever buy for Mikey.  I mean, heck, the kid can ride a bike without training wheels--what's the big deal with a Potty??  I talked it over with Mikey, and we bought stickers, candy and prizes and got to work (he's all about the stickers and candy and prizes).  So he's had some accidents, but for the most part he's been going in the potty and loving all the praise and treats he's getting (and of course big brother gets some too for being a good cheerleader).  

And let me add here on a serious note that I really do believe in miracles, big or small, and this comes in direct answer to prayer.  Jaron and I had been praying two weeks ago for 2 specific things relative to our kids--for Mikey's success on the potty and for guidance with Spencer's fits and emotions.  Both have been MUCH better this past week, with Mikey actually agreeing to go on the potty and Spencer being MUCH more pleasant (and me being inspired to love and spend meaningful time with him).  I'm grateful for answered prayer (which, it's ALL answered, by the way).

Happy Birthday Jaron!!! (Sept 7)

I just want to declare to the world how wonderful, amazing, and awesome my sweetheart is!  Through our 7 1/2 short years of marriage we've had thin and thick times, experienced breathtaking sights and a handful of frustrations, and I am grateful for every moment of it.  Jaron is my best friend, he inspires me constantly with his example and empowers me through his love and confidence in me.  He is also the most amazing dad to our kids.  His patience exceeds mine, and his love for romping, teaching and playing with the kids leaves no doubt in their mind that their Dad adores them, even if he's not around as much as he'd like to be.  I love this man so much, and it seems so fitting to have his birthday right after mine--It's the best present I could ever ask for!! 

(Photo taken last spring in Costa Rica)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fun on Labor Day

We've had a fun Labor Day, enjoying some time with Jaron (who took a 2-hour nap after being on call all night and then spent the afternoon with us).  We took our bikes to a nearby trail and rode for a while.  The biggest news of the day is that Mikey learned to ride WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS!  These kiddos really can do it, if given the encouragement and patient teaching (thanks to their Daddy).  Jaron's given Mikey a few lessons before today, but today he really got it, and toward the end of our ride together he had gained enough confidence that he told Jaron, "No Daddy, I can do it by myself now!"  (The pictures aren't the best, but let me assure you that Mikey looked like a stud pumping away on his Huffy special all by himself!)

Iowa is fun

We've had a lot of fun here in Iowa City.  I don't think I've mentioned some of the fun things we did this summer, so I will now (our camera was broken so I didn't get pics of all of them).  Every 4th Friday our mall (which is a 10 min walk from our house) has a "Family Night" when the Children's Museum, Carousel, and kids' meals at the food court are free, along with free popcorn and a clown that makes balloon animals.  They also have a couple hours of discounted skating at the ice skating rink, so we've now experienced this Family night twice.  Last month I took the boys ice skating, thinking it would be really fun (which it was, in a "wow, that was fun after-the-fact" kind of way).  For starters, I assumed they would provide double-bladed skates for the little guys, I mean, who would expect a 3-year-old to skate on one blade?  Wrong-O.  They only had single blade skates, but I decided to try it anyway.  Before I could finish putting on my skates my boys darted out into the rink and were prostrate on the ice and wailing.  But I picked them up, secured one of them to the wall, and tried helping the other skate.  We rotated like this off and on for a while, which was pretty exhausting for mommy, especially for a mommy with a protruding belly.  I have to say that it was fun to see them, over the couple hours we were there, gain more confidence and better balance.  Before the night was over Spencer learned to skate by himself, doing a kind of shuffle motion with his skates, his arms out like an airplane and his bottom thrust back for balance.  Mikey never left my side, but we took lots of breaks in the hockey "time-out" box (I needed my recovery time).  I'd try convincing him it was fun to watch the other skaters, but he much preferred skating with Momma.

Some of the other fun things we've done are going to a free concert in the park (which they have weekly in the summer), lots of bike rides and jogs on trails, lots of playing on playgrounds, getting sand to add to our backyard sandbox (aka "Treasure-Digging"), and camping at a state park.  The camp-out was last weekend with our ward.  It was really fun to get to know our ward family better and for our boys to have one last campout of the season.  Jaron brought the boys' bikes and his skateboard, and after the campout was over he and Spencer rode the scenic loop around the park, with Mikey and I driving the support vehicle.  The park was really hilly, but the picture below doesn't do justice to the steepness of hills Jaron and Spence flew down (with Jaron's little skateboard wobbling like crazy!).  At the bottom of the hills I'd open the trunk of the wagon and they'd get a ride to the top of the next hill.  Almost as nice as skiing!

"Come Here Witto Buckin' Bull!"

That's what Mikey was saying over and over as he reached for and fed the Jersey calf at the petting farm.  His Joyschool class (a co-op preschool I'm teaching with 5 other moms) went there for a field trip and getting-to-know-you activity.  The kids had a blast, though I could tell they were overwhelming the owner as she showed them around the farm.  Could her anxiety have anything to do with my sweet Mikey chasing her little lambs all around? ("Oh, no little boy, please don't scare them like that!")  He was just being friendly, I mean, who doesn't like a game of tag?  So although we didn't spend too long at the Petting Farm, we ended the outing nicely at the nearby dairy with some free ice cream cones (part of the field trip package).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Spencer Starts School!!


 All those sleepless nights when Spencer was a newborn, how I longed for the time when I could get a little "break" from being an over-time mom.  Now my first "break" has come, with Spencer starting Kindergarten, and I've missed him like crazy (Note picture to left).

Since I did home-preschool with him and Mikey last year, we've never really been apart, and Mikey misses his "Bubba" and so do I.  But we're adjusting, I'm enjoying quieter rides in the car and one-on-one time with Mikey.  And Spencer is loving his school.  If you ask him what his favorite thing about school is he'll probably tell you it's the lunches!  I've bought his lunch several days this week and Spencer thinks he's going to a restaurant each day!  Chicken nuggets, hamburger, pizza,'s heaven to a growing, hungry boy!

I'm so proud of Spencer and love him so much.  He's growing to become a kind, loving brother and son.  I also love his excitement for life, his vivid imagination (he loves to "build" things in our garage or yard and to draw anything that he imagines), and his sensitivity to others.  I'm sure he'll do great in school this year!

Mikey Turns 3!!

Mikey's birthday was August 16th, but we celebrated it a couple days early so Jaron would be home with us (he was on call on the 16th).  We had just gotten back from our trip to Texas (which was a blast and wonderful to be with Jaron's sister Jenna at her reception!), so we hadn't had much time to shop.  First thing in the morning we headed out to Wal-Mart, I did some grocery shopping while Jaron took the boys to check out the "big-boy bikes".  I hadn't finished my produce shopping when I hear, "Beep! Beep! Wook (look) OUT!!"  and "Varooooom! I go so fast daddy!!" Here comes Mikey, tearing through the apple and orange stands on the smallest "big-boy bike" they make.  Mikey beamed ear-to-ear as he pumped his little legs harder and harder on the pedals.  The customers beamed (and chuckled and pointed) as they saw this little speed-racer on his new big-boy bike.  As soon as Mikey saw me he exclaimed, "Wook Mommy!  I got a new big-boy bike!!"  He was so proud, and I felt one of the many joys of parenthood: arguably having more fun watching my child enjoy his present than he was actually experiencing himself.

As I'm writing this, I realize that I haven't taken any pictures of Mikey's bike yet (shame on me), but we did capture the "Dino-Cake" (Mikey requested it--and it's RED, not pink!).  

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Jaron officially started residency, hence I (Em) have taken over the blogging indefinitely.  The boys and I wanted to celebrate Jaron's first day, so I went to a consignment store and bought us all "Iowa Hawkeye" shirts and whipped up (with what I had in my kitchen) an "Iowa" rice-crispie frosted cake.  After getting to the hospital at 5:30 that morning, Jaron came home after 8 pm.  We partied hard for about 20 min until Jaron said he had studying to do, and that has pretty much been the tune we've been singing all week (minus the daily parties).  But we (and especially ME) are so proud of Jaron for getting here in his career and we especially love that, although he's been busy, he finds simple ways to show us that he loves and cherishes us.  WE LOVE YOU, JARON!!

House in the Projects, pt 2

Here's some more before and after pictures of the dining area, kitchen, and another one of the Great Room.

Coralville House Project ("Before" and "After")

I don't mean "Livin' in the Projects" here, but the fun of moving into our new house in Iowa and working Nana Runyan like crazy so we could have some fun color on our walls.  It's taken me a while to post these, and not much has changed since Nana left 2 weeks ago, but I thought I'd give y'all an idea of how much "fun" we had (and "fun" IS the operative word here, since each new project I was scheming in my mind I would present to Jaron as "Wouldn't it be FUN if....", such as "Wouldn't it be FUN if...we hung shelves in the garage

                                        ....we replaced all the light fixtures in the house
                                        ....painted our 17-foot walls--you paint, honey, I'll hold the ladder...)

Anyway, enjoy these "before" and "after" pics of our Great Room, the Boys' room, and in the next post, our dining area and kitchen.  (We haven't hung any pics or decor yet, so it's pretty much just paint at this point).