Thursday, September 26, 2013

Family Yearbooks

I've been meaning to create Family Yearbooks for some time now.  With buying a new house and adjusting to our new situations, unnecessary expenses have been put aside for now.  But we got a coupon from Target for a FREE shutterfly 8x8 photobook.  I figured, what the heck, I might as well give it a try.  I did pay abou 4 dollars for extra pages (you know me) and then like 5 bucks for shipping or something.  Overall I am pretty pleased.


  • The book designing software was easy to use
  • Pretty customizable (some extra "things" were extra money and weren't covered under the coupon)
  • Good quality
  • The have an option for lay-flat pages (kinda pricey though I'm not sure what they may cost on other sites)
  • This particular size book is a bit small for my liking (especially because some of my pages have a ton of pictures on them)
  • Some "extra" things cost extra money (certain stickers etc, they have an option for a pocket in the book)
Overall, it was definitely worth the price in this case.  I'll try to do some pros/cons of other sites I might use for photobook printing!  (And hopefully I will be back more regularly soon!)

Check out the book I created on Shutterfly:

Photo Book Tip: Create an adventurous travel photo album at

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Letter to My Son on His First Birthday

Dear Brody,

Today marks the day we have survived our first year together, although the word survived doesn't seem to fit in your case.  I had so much fear before you were born.  Would I love you the same way I love Kayla?  Would you know I love you?  Would Kayla love you?  They all seem silly now. 

Of course I don't love you the same way I love Kayla.  You are different people.  And of course Kayla loves you, you are just SO easy to love.  From your simple and quick entry into the world, to our  nursing relationship, to your transition to solid foods, to each milestone you have achieved, life seems so simple with you.  

"Sons are the anchors of a mother's life."

You exude joy.  More joy that I think any other person I've met.  I feel that even though it seems that you get the short end of the stick a lot, you still flash that amazing dimple-y smile that melts my heart and cheer me up on my very lowest days.  We have had an indescribable bond since the very second you were born, and probably before.  

Friday's child is loving and giving.

It's not to say you don't want or need things, but you really give a whole lot of love to our family and the people you meet.  Kayla taught me what true unconditional love is, but you have taught me something different and equally as important.  You have taught me the amazing capability of the human heart to love.  Just when I thought there was no room left in my heart to love anyone more than the people I already had, I was trying to figure out how I would "split" my love.  Little did I know that the heart has an AMAZING capacity to grow and love.  Now only that, but how it can love in completely different ways, but completely equally.

"There is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that transcends all other affections of the heart."

Thank you for being not so great of a sleeper.  I got so much extra special time to spend with just you and me in our busy lives.  Yes it was hard.  But it was worth it.  Thank you for teaching me that life is all about joy and how much you can squeeze out of the simple things.   Thank you for bringing so much joy to your sister and for making it so easy for her to love you.  Thank you for loving her as much as I do (I can tell you do and I'm going to have to remind you later in life.)

I thank God every day for bringing me you and will continue to thank Him for the rest of my life.  

"Son, you will outgrow my lap, but never my heart."

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Brody Lawrence: 11 Month Update

One day before his birthday.  I've been busy editing photos and plan on posting tomorrow and possibly Sunday or Monday.  :)  We are going apple picking for Brody's birthday.

Weight: Not really sure.  I'll have to put him on the scale later to see, but I'm guessing maybe 22 lbs?

Length: No way this is happening.  I'll do a stats update after our doctor's visit next week.

Head Circumference: See above.

Physical Milestones:  He loves his "walker" toys and he can pretty easily stand on his own and maneuver around the furniture and toys easily.  On my mom's birthday, Brody took his first steps and we managed to catch some of them on video.  For the week after that leading up to his 11 month birthday he decided that wasn't for him.  Crawling was faster and easier.  He climbs up on EVERYTHING.  I love the little smirk he gets when I look over at him and he's somehow standing on the ottoman.  OOO he is going to be so much trouble.

Eating:  Still a champ in this area.  He eats everything and puts everything in his mouth like he's surprised not everything he touches is food.  #fatkidproblems  He has started trying to "use" things as they are intended (i.e. brushes, the forehead thermometer) so I started giving him a fork/spoon.  He definitely doesn't get it, but that ok.  He has to learn somehow.

Verbal:  He says Mama and Dada pretty clearly, and I think something that he says means Kayla, but it's definitely not clear. 

Sleeping:  At some point between 10-11 months, Brody caught on.  It's cool to sleep.  He rarely wakes up before 5 am now (occasionally he will fuss/cry a bit but always puts himself back to sleep pretty easily).  If it's 5 or later I will feed him.  If I feed him he will sometimes go back to sleep until 7-7:30.  If he doesn't wake up, he is usually up for the day around 6-6:30.  He is still consistently napping twice a day at home.  The times very a bit depending on when he wakes up in the morning.  Through all this sleep difficulty, I am very very thankful I have a baby boy who EASILY goes down for naps and nighttime, rarely any fussing/crying and I lay him down awake.  And it's been this way since he was born pretty much.

Likes:  Peek-a-boo, clapping, waving, eating, pushing buttons (mine included), Kayla, love bites/open mouthed kisses
Dislikes: me telling him no

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

2.5 Year Update: Kayla Marie

I feel the need to write about Kayla as I am almost always writing at Brody.  Mostly because ALL I'm writing is monthly updates which are going to end soon!  So here's a little late 2.5 year update on our little peanut/peewee (my favorite nicknames for her, which actually sometimes I call Brody and she always looks at me like I'm crazy.)

Potty Training:  We did the three day potty training thing last November.  Kayla was catching onto things really quickly so I thought I'd stick her in underwear and give it a go.  Since day 3, she's been probably the easiest kid to potty train I can imagine.  She had a little set back when we moved into our house and changed her daycare, but overall she's been pretty great.  She now only has accidents if it's been a while since she went and she literally can't hold it any longer.  She even goes to the bathroom, wipes and flushes and everything by herself now.  I always get a little stab of pride when I tell someone she's been pretty much potty trained since 22 months, with an occasional accident here and there, and they are always shocked.  Honestly, I think it was mainly easy because Kayla is pretty astute and loves to do what I am doing.

Sleeping:  For the most part Kayla has been sleeping for at least 10-11 hours straight at night and for a while was taking some LONG naps (like 3-3.5 hours).  She stopped sleeping until 7 at least and has now started waking up at 6 am pretty much on the dot almost every day no matter what time she goes to bed (7-9:30 pm if we are out and about).

She has recently stopped napping at daycare for some reason but always consistently takes at least a 2 hour nap at home easily.

At night, we've been struggling with on and off fears at night.  Not exactly sure what of, but sleeping with "mommy and daddy's pillow" and daddy "catching the scaries" in her room before bedtime seem to help.  Overall she's pretty great, I just wish she would sleep in a little later, but she usually just comes to my bed and watches educational videos on youtube while I rest for another hour or so.

Gross and Fine Motor "stuff":  Let's see, she's learned how to really jump now.  She's pretty adept with running, climbing, etc.  She loves to dance and sing.  She's pretty awesome with a spoon and fork and loves practicing cutting with a knife.

She also LOVES cutting with scissors at school.  Like, loves cutting so much it's a little disturbing. :)  She loves coloring and is actually great and tracing her letters.  I bought this dry erase cards with a little pen in the dollar section at Target.  They are amazing and she loves them.  She is definitely right handed, but will occasionally put stuff in her left hand.


  • Baby dolls
  • Pretending to cook in her kitchen
  • Singing
  • Youtube videos of nursery rhymes
  • Playing with cold water in the bathtub (man she really gets a kick out of that)
  • Bubbles
  • Parks
  • Cereal
  • Our monthly activity box that comes with stuff to make and do
  • Making Brody laugh
  • Being the first one to get Brody when he wakes up
  • Her friends at school
  • Nail Polish
  • Pink and Purple
  • Dresses
  • "Taking" pictures
  • Being just like Mommy
  • Doing everything "myself"
  • Airplanes
  • Fountains
  • Shoes (trying on shoes at every store we go to, even the grocery store, because doesn't EVERY store have shoes?)
  • Getting her hair braided


  • Justin sometimes (you should hear her say his name)
  • Sleeping in
  • Going to bed
  • When you tell her no (Daddy LOOK at Mommy!; Don't talk to me!)
  • The scaries in her room (the truck across the street)
  • Loud noises that she doesn't understand (the lawn mower, thunder, sometimes the vacuum cleaner)
  • When you tell her what to wear
  • When you tell her she can't wear shoes in the house
  • "Strange" foods
  • The "skin" on food (crust, apple peel, for example)
  • Leaving her hair up in any form of ponytail (unless it's a braid)  Note to self: learn to French Braid

Verbal:  Kayla's verbalization, sentence forming, etc really exploded after Brody was born.  She enunciates really well (I think) and she's actually very insightful.  She really uses a lot of "sayings" I use and you should hear the way she says Justin's name when she's mad at him! :)  "JusT-in"  I don't know if it's because I'm her mom and I'm always around her, but I think she really speaks very clearly for her age, compared to the other kids I've been around.  Again, not sure if it's just because I hear her ALL day every day and I only hear other kids sporadically or what.  She still has some trouble with tenses of tough words (geese-geeses) and some trouble with words that have multiple meanings.  I have realized in watching someone learn the English language at how hard it really is in comparison to other languages.  She is really doing great though.

Kayla is really a little mommy.  She wants to do everything I do, she wants to help me with Brody.  She's more likely to eat something if she "helps" me cook it.  For the most part, she's really easy to be around.  She doesn't have a ton of toddler meltdowns, or maybe I just know how to deal with her better and I know how to pick my battles with her.  I'm still trying to mainly lean towards positive reinforcement for discipline.  I think the most frustrating thing for me as a mom of this particular toddler has been the extreme fear and anxiety I can see in her (that is one of my worst traits which I've actively tried to not project onto her), and the way Brody always wants to play with her or see what she's doing and sometimes she wants to play be herself.  She kinda whiney in those instances and is a bit of a "tattle tail."  But if that's the worst, I'll take it because those two kids are seriously like soul mates. :)

Here are some recent photos I've taken of Kayla.  I've been working really hard on my photography and am hoping to be able to continue to progress towards maybe taking some photos of someone other than my kids.  Maybe I'll offer up some pregnancy/family photos to my little sister. ;)

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She isn't always happy, but she's always beautiful :)
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Eating corn at the WI State Fair
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Playing with the focus and depth of field
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Lovely profile :)
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My little girly girl 
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MMM Cream Puffs...except Kayla doesn't think so.  She's loves the "puff" part though.
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This kid loves slides...and swings.
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Hard to catch her NOT talking.
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More slide joy.
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Chasing bubbles
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Practicing my composure.  This sidewalk get's AWESOME light in the morning.
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Hands up on the rolly slide.  This momma doesn't want any pinched fingers.
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So pissed this is out of focus because I love the framing I go.
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This is my favorite recent picture of Kayla.  She is singing "Skin-a-ma-rinky-dinky-dink."  "I love you in the morning..."
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Justin seriously rolls his eyes when I pull out the "model" photos.  Sometimes she loves the camera, sometimes she hates it.
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Love her laugh.