Camping Trip 2012

This past weekend our family enjoyed our annual camping trip up north.  This year was especially fun because it was Troy’s very FIRST camping trip!  Oh the first year is so fun to watch baby experience all his firsts.  I typically don’t take a whole lot of pictures on vacation because I just want to enjoy my kids and not be behind a camera.  This time though, they were entertained with the great outdoors and I had the opportunity to just sit outside and click away as they played.  I intentioned to do very little posing and just catch them naturally at play.  Tori can’t help herself though.  She sees my camera and starts modeling.  I caught plenty of real life moments with her too though.   I got such a giggle out of these shots that I decided to do a super fast process and just post a zillion of them.  The beauty of snapshots is that you can tell a pretty big story with them quickly.  Had I tried to video all of this (and I did do some videoing), it would take way too long to get the gist of the entirety of our trip.  With a collage though, I can sum it up pretty succinctly.   These pictures capture so much.  Below you will see all kinds of “firsts”.   Tanner showing Troy his first bug.  Ty riding our quad all by himself (and he enjoyed it!).  A shot of Jim and I that was taken by Ty.   Troy walking in shoes.  Troy trying to ride his sister’s bike.  Troy trying to ride the quad.  Tori’s love of her brother’s BB gun.  (Daddy will be buying her a Pink Daisy now that he knows she is “all in”).   Ty shooting his BB gun ALL BY HIMSELF.  Cocking it was difficult (you’ll see a shot of that struggle) but he did it a few hundred times as he was enjoying target shooting so much.  I have been hoping to put Tanner in Skeet Shooting out at Ben Avery in the next year or so.  Now I am SO excited that Ty may eventually be able to participate in this as well.  Did we, at long last, find a sport that Ty might enjoy?  Troy’s first time helping his Dad fix the quad (and yes I did mean TROY hee hee).  The kids first tug of war game (where Tori lost a whole chunk of hair).  Tori climbing her first tree.  Tori playing jump rope with her Dad.  (That rope traveled everywhere with us because she said she needed it to catch the bear that once crossed behind me on Papa’s horse Charlie on a long ago camping trip in this same area).  Troy learning how to open the ice chest – SCORE!  Ty’s first cricket friend who he named Will Ferrel at Tanner’s suggestion.

In addition to all those firsts, you will see what I have the blessing of seeing every day.  My children happy.  My children ANGRY (see Tori’s angry face when Ty wanted his gun back).  My children FRUSTRATED (both Tanner and Tori frustrated with the quad).  Tori dirtier than any of the boys could even begin to compete with.  My children loving one another.  Ty giving Tanner a good love bite.   Tori choking Tanner out riding on his back.  Tori throwing her hands in the air in frustration (at Ty no doubt).  Ty yelling at Tanner to bring the quad back.  Tori pouting, pointing her finger “no” at Troy, hands on hips at Ty…just bossin in general.  You’ll also notice Troy’s left eye crossing in.  Bummer huh?  Ty’s joy.  Tanner’s sweetness.  Troy’s curiosity.  Tori’s passion.  It’s all in here and I loved it.  Every minute of it.

I love this shot of my boys!!!!!!!!

Ty wanted his gun back.  She was not a fan.

Think we had a good time?


Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla, bing bang



Time for some family updates…



TODAY – July 31st – is Jim’s 40th birthday!!!! He has aged masterfully in every way.  I can say that because my first memories of Jim go back to childhood so I know.  🙂   Never could there ever be a more perfect person to journey through life with.   Of the last 20 years, every year has seemed even better than the year before with my amazing man so I can only predict that the next 20 will be amazing.

Speaking of 20 years ago…

Recently Jim and I were chilling watching YouTube Music Videos from the 80s.  Jim calls me his “Eighties Lady” because I sorta got stuck there for quite a bit.  Brooke and David helped me out with that.   Anyhow, we were watching Peter Ceterra sing Glory of Love (I loved that song).   “I am a man who will fight for your honor.  I’ll be the hero you’re dreaming of.  We’ll live forever knowing together that we did it all for the glory of love”.

Jim pauses after those lyrics and says “Come on.  Does he really look like the guy that would fight for your honor?”.   I laughed.   I also thought about what he said because I distinctly remember listening to that song over and over on my walkman (yes walkman) in a tent on a ski trip dreaming about my someday man.    Jim is every bit the hero I was dreaming of.  For real.

Happy Birthday Honey!


I have spent my mornings the last week or so catching up on Season 3 of Parenthood.  Might be my favorite show.  I just get it.  From Asperger’s, to infertility and adoption, to the dynamics of a big family and all that goes a long with that…the show just really resonates with me.   Brooke says I think like Julia and cry like Christina hee hee.  True.  I cry as much as Monica Potter while watching that show (and that is A LOT!).  In fact, I am a little concerned that Tori may try to ground me from watching it.  This week she cuddles up next to me and says “Mommy are you happy?”.

“Of course I am happy!  My girl is snuggling with me.”

“Then why are you making that face?”

“What face?”

“This one.”   She then scrunches up her eyebrows.

“Well I am a little bit sad watching the show”.

“But you just said your happy!”

Oh having a girl is a blessing.   I love how she watches, and interprets, and responds.  So precious.  One male member of the family doesn’t register my emotions.  The other two quietly observe but they say as little as possible.  The girl?  She just dives in.

“You’re saying your happy but the evidence doesn’t stack up so let’s talk this through and work it out.  I don’t like to see you sad so how can we fix this?”

Man is she adorable.

What else?   My Canon 5d Mark III is coming in today and I am giddy with excitement.  So unfair that I am getting a super wahzoo present on Jim’s birthday but I can’t wait.  Waiting waiting waiting on the UPS man to come.  Hurry hurry buddy!!!!!

I am also having a strange issue with my knee.  I think it is neuritis (inflammation of a nerve).  I seem to get this fairly regularly but it’s usually in my finger tips.  My mom keeps trying to get me to increase my B12.  Probably should do that.  My knee is fine.  No injury.  BUT if I touch my left knee to anything it feels like I have a terrible bleeding injury.  The skin is really painful and burns like I just skid my knee down the pavement.  The good news is, it doesn’t impact walking or anything but the bad news is, I get down on my knees a lot with a year old baby and it is so painful.  Even getting into bed hurts so I have to be really careful to keep off it when crawling onto anything.  This has gone on for about two weeks now and I am so ready for it to be over with.  Don’t really see a point in seeing the Dr about it.  Diabetes could be the underlying cause of these issues and it does run in my family so Type 2 is a strong possibility eventually but hopefully that isn’t the case now.   Who knows.   Also could be a FMS since FMS is a nerve related thing.

And this last little thing for family members who call me “The Absent Minded Professor”…

Last week after running around taking kids to Dr. appointments, picking up prescriptions, and general errands, I was returning home and glanced down noticing something odd about my skirt.  The seam looked strange.  Real strange.  Oh shoot.  Skirt on inside out.  All day.   Woops.


Tanner has been making me laugh lately because he regularly says “Do you think I should?” when what he means is “I want to so may I?”.  Tori, on the other hand, says “I think YOU should”.  There different personality types sure keep me amused.   He is every bit eleven now and I am loving every minute of it.   This week I was thinking back to how moved I was the first time I took notice of toys strung across my family room floor.  Choked me up.  Baby toys!  MY BABY’S toys in MY house.   Dream fulfilled.   As new parents, we celebrated everything.  Every little detail and first.   What is particularly awesome about being a mother of four though is that when you celebrate all the “firsts” with baby, you are also watching baby’s siblings celebrate with baby.  Everything Troy does, he has an entire cheering section for.  It’s pretty hilarious really.   And as this paragraph is about Tanner and not Troy, my point here is that it has been incredible watching my firstborn as a big brother.  He is a great big brother and it’s just as fun to watch him as it is Troy.

I also love that I still catch him doing his dinosaur run every once in awhile.  I love that run.  I love that the childhood glee is still in there and fights to surface.  Every time I catch him doing it I wonder if it will be the last time I get to see it.  Oh how I love that run.


I don’t know what is in the water over here but something is changing.  Ty has been emotionally relating to people.  More than ever before (which was pretty much not at all).   Here are several examples:

Ty was up at Grammy Rene’s and I overheard this:

Ty:  Do you live here all by yourself?

Grammy:  Yes Ty I do.

Ty:  Do you want me to move in here with you so you won’t be alone?

That was a big deal.  I said “no” by the way.  LOL.


One day we were at Michael’s and Ty started talking to the sales lady and asking her if she lived at Michael’s and if she was alone and how far she had to drive, etc.  His investment in her world was nothing short of amazing.


The day he APOLOGIZED to Papa for interrupting him and Uncle Dusty.


On Father’s Day, he had the following conversation with Uncle Dusty:

Ty:  Happy Father’s Day!  Oh yeah.  Your not a dad.  But your going to be and you’ll be a great one.

The only person that acknowledged my brother’s heart that day.  Go figure!


Playing a game of Whonu with us last week…

Ty:  I picked cotton candy for you Daddy.  Don’t you like it?

Jim:  Not especially.  YOU like cotton candy.

Ty:  Daddy.  I am really sorry I picked that card for you.

It was so sweet and sincere and over something so simple.  I got tears and just stared in wonder at Jim.

What in the world?  It’s like I am suddenly living in an alternate universe with him.

Last week, while sitting at the table at lunch, Ty starts talking to Tori about someday moving out of our house.   (He is considering the purchase of the home next door).  Tori starts getting very upset.   Tori didn’t like the idea of moving away someday.   She starts whimpering and saying that she doesn’t want to leave mommy.   Tanner, feeling sorry for Tori, because of course he would on this topic, says “It’s okay Tori!  You don’t have to leave mommy.  I am not going to.”   I wanted to laugh SO BAD.  He said that to her in the sweetest most sincere voice and he meant every word.   Oh Tanner.  How I love you.  Anyhow…

Tori, in typical Tori dramatic fashion, escalates the conversation.  She is such a girl.  Now, instead of being upset over potentially moving away, she blind sides all of us with a conversation about how I was going to die before her and then she would be alone and that she just wanted to go be with Jesus with me when I go.   I sit there dazed and confused wondering how we got “there” and Ty intercedes with this:



I pondered this and realized that often times, Ty is empathizing with what he can relate to.  Ty hates to be alone.  I think that is why he understood Tori’s heartache.   Typically he doesn’t empathize simply because he honestly doesn’t relate.   Some of the examples above are learned I think.  Interrupting for example.  We have been trying to teach him that and sometimes he remembers.  The thing with Tori, Grammy, and Dusty though – that was all Ty.

What is crazy weird to me is that in these cases, Ty was the predominant person EMPATHIZING where no one else was.  Isn’t that amazing?   I have been truly shocked by this.  It started with that apology to Jim a couple of months ago that made both Jim and I tear up and now we see it happening more consistently and we are just truly amazed by it.

This isn’t to say that Ty doesn’t have Asperger’s.  He does.  BUT, life on the spectrum means that everything is on a spectrum.   There is no box here.  I don’t want Ty to live in a box.  Anything is possible and he is proving that to us all the time.

It is such an incredible blessing having the privilege of living life with Ty.


Recently we discovered that Ty is color blind.  He has trouble seeing his red and greens (I guess that is the most common?).  He can see them but not all shades.  Of the test below, he could see the 25 but not the rest of them.  He came close on the 56 thinking it was 36 but the rest he couldn’t see it all.  When the Eye Dr. told me he was color blind I didn’t believe it so I did my own test once we got home.  Sure enough.


For Braxtyn’s sixth birthday we took all the kids to Great Skate.  I was really worried about managing Tanner, Ty, and Tori (Jim stayed home with the baby).  Tanner took his time in typical Tanner fashion but eventually made it out onto the rink.  He enjoyed it so much he talked and talked all the way home (which is very unusual).  Tori used the skate assister (PVC pipe on rollers as a walker – genius of an idea).  It only sorta helped.  I had to skate holding onto the assister as well because she was skating faster than she could support.  Looked like her feet were flying out from under her the ENTIRE time.  She was whoooooohoooooing away though.  Loved it.   And again, shockingly, Uncle Dave got Ty out on the rink with an assister.  They only made it around one time but he was all smiles and I was surprised he got talked into it.  Mostly, he was just super stoked about the arcade.   All in all, it was a fantastic time and I didn’t fall once.  Awesome.


Jim and I LOVE to play games with Ty because his stage whisper and poker face (not) are hilarious.  He usually reads for Tori and when he tries to keep the “secret”, Tanner and Jim and I are all trying so hard to stifle our laughs because his whisper could be heard two doors down and it is like he has no idea.  He also gets mad at Tori’s choices sometimes and tries to negotiate a change with her in his stage whisper.  Also funny because it is never strategic at all.


And one funny for you….

Tori:  I had a weird dream last night.  I dreamed about snakes and they were getting on me.

Me:  Oh wow.  That wasn’t a good dream.  I had a super weird dream too.  I dreamed I was in a store and the cashier had grass growing out of her head instead of hair.

Ty:  What store?

Really?  I tell you that I saw a lady with grass growing out of her head and you are more interested in where I was shopping?   Too funny.  Too Ty.



Tori:  My hair looks crazy!  I can’t get it back to normal.

Me:  I think it looks fine.

Tori:  YOU’RE MY MOM!  And YOU don’t think it looks crazy?



Me:  Why don’t you go back in and play with your brother?

Tori:  He knows where I am where.

Me:  You mean where you are?

Tori:  Ya


Tori to Ty:  What are you going to play for crying out loud?

Ty:  Stop saying that to me all the time or I am going to say that to you all the time!


I am trying to put Tori in size 4 pants as she could use the length but man I can’t keep them up even with the elastic inside belts tightened up.  Such a skinny girl.  She can finally wear the bracelet Uncle Dusty made her.  It was intended for her as a newborn.


As I predicted, Troy has Strabismus – specifically Esotropia.  Just. Like. Ty.  What are the chances of that?  I’ll tell you.  4%.  4% for ONE child. What does that make the percentage for two???  COME ON!!!!  My grandmother called me to feel out how upset I was over it.  I had a moment where I wanted to temper about it but then I talked myself off the ledge because in the grand scope of things – it’s just not a big deal.   I am sad that I will be covering another one of my babies eyes with glasses.  I am sad that he will likely have surgery this winter (Ty had two surgeries for this).  I am sad that we will be harnessed with patching again for another DECADE.  BUMMER!!!!   But…I am so very grateful for all the good stuff and this is small potatoes compared to other things we have had to manage so…it is what it is.

Please pray that we can figure out how to keep his glasses on him.  The only way to strengthen his left eye is to make it easier for him to use it (glasses).  If he doesn’t use it, he will eventually get amblyopic which means he will lose vision because the brain will simply stop trying.  He is far sighted (also like Ty) but I think his vision is actually a bit worse than Ty’s and that is probably the cause of the eye crossing.  It has all happened so fast.  Just over a month ago when I did those pictures of him in the washtub, it wasn’t noticeable.  Now, I can’t take a picture where it isn’t obvious.  The left eye crosses in.  Once in awhile the right eye crosses too but that is a good thing because it means that he is at least attempting to use the left eye.  He can’t use both at the same time thus the reason the right will cross if the left is used.

The Dr. suggested that we put drops in his eyes every morning for two weeks to dilate his eyes and thus blur his vision further.  This way, when we put his glasses on him he will notice a big difference and will recognize his need for them – or so the theory goes.  Pray that works.  Ty started with glasses at 8 months and I had to give up back then because I just couldn’t get him to do it and we tried.   Wonder if the eye drop trick would have worked on Ty but frankly, I really doubt it.

And by the way, this is probably a preemie thing.  They eye muscles are some of the last to develop and babies just don’t develop the same outside the womb as in so that 4% figure is probably off considering both Ty and Troy’s prematurity.   How I hate it when babies under bake!!!!

The second bit of news is TROY IS WALKING!!!!!

He isn’t walking exclusively still but he can walk across a room and walks more and more every day.  He started taking steps before he was 12 months (10 corrected) but started truly walking on July 20th (12 months/11 corrected).  We were at Brooke and Daniel’s and my theory is that he didn’t like being shown up by cousin Quinn.   He loves the praise and has a big cheering section every time he makes the choice to walk.  All day long his older siblings are screaming for me “TROY IS WALKING MOMMY COME WATCH!”   I think he would be walking more (and would have sooner) if it weren’t for his vision.  I can tell that his depth perception is off by the way he throws his head back.   Esotropia can give you double vision so I think that has been part of the struggle.   Since I am getting my new camera in with HD video, I will be sure to post a walking video soon!

The little monkey is making me crazy with his climbing lately.   While typing this, he moved the laundry basket next to the hope chest so that he could use both to climb up on my bed (which is quite high).   Also while typing this, he used the CPU as a step to climb up on top of the desk so he could sit beside the monitor while Ty is playing computer games.  Drives us crazy.  I have told him “NO” and removed him from sitting on the desk at least six times since I started typing this.  I used a stool to try to block him but he just knocked it down and climbed over it.  And there he goes again…right now…aaaaaahhhhhh

He still uses my coffee table and end tables as walkers and I just LOVE having to navigate the obstacle course through my house due to all of his furniture relocations.  He loves to relocate everything actually.   Moves the videos from the cabinet to the box under the tv.  Unloads my bathroom bottom drawer and puts everything up on top of the cabinet one item at a time.  Empties his bedroom drawers.  Takes my books off the bookshelves.  Every. Single.  Day.   And, no, I have not yet moved all my books to upper shelves.  With every kid I tend to procrastinate on that and when I eventually can’t take it anymore, they are almost out of that stage.   Tori is now yelling at me because he climbed up in her lap in the recliner and is ruining the cards she is making.  She is not happy.

He is also fulfilling my sensitivity prediction.   He doesn’t like it when Tori cries.  If she gets upset, he starts crying.   He also doesn’t like Tanner to be upset.  Recently Tanner was, well plainly put, pouting.  He didn’t want to do the dishes so he parked himself on the floor, put his head between his knees and had a small pity party.     Troy didn’t like Tanner being upset so he joined him and jabbered away trying to get his attention.  Then he crawled under his legs and tried to force Tanner’s head up.  Tanner couldn’t resist him.  Who could be sad with your baby brother trying so hard to make you smile?


His favorite song, we recently discovered is “Witchdoctor”.  He sings “Oooohhhh EEEEE” or variations of vowels sounds all the time so the other day I started singing Witchdoctor to him and he swung his little head around like I had finally figured out what he wanted.   He lets me sing a verse and then he sings ooooohhhh eeeeeeee.    So cute.


Okay I am done for now.



Eden {Phoenix Newborn Lifestyle Photography}

This is gorgeous Eden.   She was a little sleeping angel.  I have been excited to meet this little darling.  Her mama offered their home as a backdrop for Eden’s portrait session and I was excited for a more “lifestyle” type shoot.   I am going to post more shots on my blog than I usually do so that you can see what shooting in your home may look like (as opposed to shooting newborns in mine for a more “studio” style.)

Perfection personified…

Here is Eden with older sister Kennedy.  I have had the blessing of doing sessions with Kennedy since she was six months old so it is always fun to spend time with her.  I was amazed at how much Eden looks like Kennedy (minus the blonde hair).

I love this shoot of these sweet sisters.  It looks like big sister is whispering secrets to baby sister.  And so it begins…

As a mother, I loved the investment of my time and dreaming in regards to my children’s first bedrooms.  For this reason, I enjoyed capturing Eden sleeping peacefully in her nursery.  The room her parents dreamed and designed for her while they were waiting for her arrival.

The details…it’s all in the details…

Thank you J and S for the opportunity to capture this amazing time in your family’s life!   Look forward to seeing you all again!



Back in April and May, Tori and Braxtyn took a community center Gymnastics Class together.  Tori was in 7th heaven.  This weekend is Braxytn’s sixth birthday so I was reminded of these pictures that have been sitting for awhile.

Shot through the glass while observing her class from the patio.

This was my beautiful little monkey sitting outside of Gym Class happy as could be to have his freedom on the sidewalk.    He has been cracking me up (and driving me crazy) with his climbing antics.  He is climbing up everything.  The couches, the coffee table, the beds…he even is climbing up on top of my desk and sitting next to Ty’s monitor screen (he uses the CPU as a step much to his Daddy’s dismay).

My concern over his strabismus/esotropia issue is increasing.  We just started to notice it a month ago and now his left eye is turned in slightly all the time.  You can’t see it in the picture above and that was only in May.  I’ll have to get a picture of him this week because I think it would totally show now.  His appointment with the Eye Dr. is next week.  I predict a possible surgery but glasses and patching are just a given.  Not our first rodeo on this diagnosis.  Again?  Really?   I so am not looking forward to about 10 more years of patching and we are still patching Ty!   At least I will be patching the same eye on both of them.

10-4 ya’ll.  I gotta do bookwork now.  🙁