Sunday, December 2, 2012

A NEW HOME . . .

Not a new home to live in, but a new home for our online family journal.  I am switching over to wordpress, mainly because after five years I ran out of free picture storage on this site.  Come see us at

Hopefully this site will still be here for awhile, as I don't plan to delete it, and still need to print the entries into book form.  Our first entry on the new blog is a Thanksgiving recap, and OH what a Thanksgiving it was.   :)

Hasta la proxima vez, amigos. . .   

Monday, November 19, 2012

When Baby Boy Turned TWO . . .

Last Friday, November 16th, my baby boy turned two.  Oh my.  Here's how he spent his day:

My dad brought over donuts and chocolate milk the morning of Caleb's birthday.  It made the boy happy.  (Not that he needed it with cupcakes coming that evening . . . but grandparents just don't understand a limit to sweets. :)

Anna and Ben both had school, so Caleb and I played in the basement rec room most of the morning.  He loves it down there . . . especially the pretend food.  And piling pillows, of course.
Then we had lunch, Caleb took a nap (while Ben helped me decorate and prepare some of the food), he woke up and played with his big brother and sister. 

Grama Sue and Grampa Dew came over before dinner to play with Caleb while I got some last minute stuff done for the birthday bash.  (I had Caleb wear this polo shirt because Ben-Ben wore the same shirt at his 2 year old birthday party.) 

We kept it so simple this year, and I loved it.  Maybe I learned my lesson with the older two, but I think I'll keep birthdays pretty simple until Caleb is old enough to know the difference (two more years?).  We had a big extended family shin-dig last year, but this year we only invited both sets of grandparents over.  Wish you could see the whole group in the middle picture above.  I used the left over Sesame Street decorations from Ben's party when he turned two, so it still felt pretty festive.  Oh, and I made one of Cabers favorite dinners:  pasta, garlic breadsticks, grapes, salad.  Mmmm.

My mom made these yummo cupcakes, german chocolate with home made whipped frosting.  Ethan helped blow out the candle, since Caleb didn't really get it.  All he wanted was one of those cupcakes in his mouth parts. 

Cupcakes and presents!  Caleb loved all the presents he received this year, thanks everyone!  Unprompted, Anna picked out a little present for Caleb at a bazaar we went to, the mitt and ball for .25.  Such a thoughtful girl.  So of course Benjamin wanted to give him a present too, and we found an old See-n-Say at a different bazaar for .25.  Perfect.  I like that the kids want to pick out gifts for eachother, and I especially like that they use their own money to do it (which they can afford since they buy second hand. :)   

All the presents were a hit with the birthday boy, and all the kids had fun playing around with Caleb's new toys - stacking blocks from Grandparents Jones, and noise making puzzle from Eth and I, mitt and glove from Anna, See-n-Say from Ben, cutie clothes from Grandparents Rayhorn.  We did a few Caleb friendly games because Anna and Benjamin insisted we have games at his party, which included Ring Around The Rosie, and a Chasing game.  I had to throw on the middle pic above because Ethan and Chuck just happened to be sitting the same way.  Like father, like son . . . kinda.  :)

Chuck and Melissa got Caleb a bunch of super adorable clothes for his birthday, including the handsome cardigan pictured above.  I had Ethan do a little photo shoot with Caleb after church yesterday because he was just too cute.  :) 

Well, this final picture was taken a few weeks ago, but still his birthday month.  I included it because Caleb looks super adorable shirtless and with mickey mouse ears, and also because I am almost never in pictures!  Even though I look pretty scrubby in this one, I still want the record to show - I'm around too.  :) 
***  And I also want the record to show, it's been on my mind lately that on both Anna and Ben's second birthdays is when I found out I was expecting again.  So if we were to keep that pattern of about 2 1/2 years between babies, I'd be finding out that I'm expecting right now.  But I'm not.  (We're done having kids.)  And I feel so at peace with that.  Caleb still feels like a baby to me in many ways which I'm sure helps, but I just honestly feel relief that I'm not pregnant right now.  Love my babies, don't love pregnancy.  :)  Just wanted to mention it. :)  *** 

Now, for a few factoids about Mr. Caleb J. -
He loves to play a hiding/"chase me" game right now.  I sing him "Twinkle, Twinkle" every time I put him to sleep.  Other songs he likes are Popcorn, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Sunshine, and he loves all the music (and dancing!) at the dance parties Ethan does with the kids.  He loves to scare people by hiding, jumping out and (quietly) saying "Boo!" . . . but it's not very scary.  We read to him all the time, and he loves it.  Especially if the book has to do with animals.  He's obsessed with animal noises (he does a great elephant).  Cabers likes to eat, obviously!, and he's very adventurous with foods and new flavors and doesn't mind spicy things.  Caleb still loves his nuki and blankie combo.  We try to keep it only for when he's sleeping, but as you can see from multiple pictures above, we're failing miserably.  It's just too cute, and he loves it so much!  Now that he's officially two, we'll probably try harder, and just like Ben, take it away completely when he's three.  He's entering a bit of a cranky, possessive stage - the terrible twos perhaps? - and I think because he is delayed in talking that it just makes things harder.  *Anna and Ben never really had a terrible two stage. Ben got his terrible stage over with when he was one, and Anna was too sweet to ever have a terrible stage.  hehe.  Also, I can't help but think since they were both such great talkers - like complete, long sentences by the time they were two - it helped immensley to be able to  voice their frustrations and their wants.*  Anyway, speaking of Caleb's talking skills, or lack thereof, he does know a lot of words.  To name a few:  bah (ball), bllllocks (he always holds on to the L when he says blocks), ah do doo (means I don't know), duck, papa (grampa), mehmeh (gramma), hat, hah (hot), uckkk (yuck), uh oh, etc.  Many of his words are pretty hard for the average person to understand, and I tried to depict that with my spelling above.  Ethan and I both think that Caleb is becoming more aware of the fact that he can't talk, and that he doesn't seem to know what to do with his mouth.  It's a good thing, but also causes more frustration for him the more aware he becomes.  Final thing - One of my favorite things about Cabers?  He is such a snuggly, sweetie!  He loves to give hugs and kisses, lounge on your lap to be read to or watch a movies, snuggle up just because, and find you for huggles and comforting when he gets hurt.  He's also helpful (when he wants to be).  Caleb loves to bring people their shoes when they're getting ready to leave, and he also brings Anna and Ben their backpacks in the morning.  He's pretty good at following requests too, even two step commands.  Ok, that's enough facts for now for my two year old boy.  

      The final thing to write about is Caleb's medical update.  Can't skip that.  :)  I feel like it's been forever since Cabers was born, and all the craziness of his birth  (click on it if you'd like a refresher, or to see his sicky NICU pictures) seems like a distant memory.  At the same time, I can't believe that time has flown by and he's two already!  Caleb is doing well with his lung issues/asthma.  The last few times he was sick with a cold not only did he not require any extra prescriptions, but the retraction breathing and wheezing were very minimal as well.  It only strengthens my hope that Cabers really will continue to grow out of these issues the older he gets.  When I run in to one of Caleb's NICU nurses around town, or pass by the hospital, or see his baby pictures, I remember all of the complications of his birth, and how sick my baby was.  It reminds me of that hard "in between" stage we were in for six weeks - he was here, struggling to get better, but he wasn't home with us.  It also reminds me how grateful I was for the wonderful care he received, and how much peace and calm I felt during that time.  I am so grateful Caleb Jones Rayhorn is in our family; he's our bucket of love!   
***My dad would like me to give him credit for "bucket of love" because he's been calling Caleb that since he was a few months old.  I actually don't typically use it, but it does acurately describe my babes.  :)***       

Friday, November 9, 2012


I'm so excited that it's November!  All the thrill of the holidays is upon us.  But first let me wrap up a few things from October.  I only posted one journal entry the whole month.  I know.  Unacceptable.  My thoughts were else where last month.

Random pics from October - I took a picture of Caleb's profile because it continues to bring me such joy.  The cheeks, the little button nose, the squishy lips . . . oh my gosh, I can't get enough of it.  Seeing Ethan snuggle with the kids also brings me joy.  And I feel joy when Benjamin gets excited and proud of his school projects.  It's the little things in life, really.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately - when things feel overwhelming, or sad, or impossible, there are still moments of joy to be had.  And I've been trying to take the time to recognize them, and let the joy and warmth sink in. 
I don't know why Caleb is sad in this picture (Ethan took it) because he LOVED being a pirate.  And Cabers definitely had the, "ARRRRR!!!," down pretty well.  He held on to that little hook most of the night too, but the eye patch and bandanna came off.  Cute little, chubby pirate! 
This is the first year Anna wanted to be something scary - a vampire.  She didn't want to be too scary though.  No blood.  But we did white face paint and red lips, and of course vampire teeth.  I love this cape my mom made for Anna years ago.  Anna has used it for being an Anastasia type princess, a witch last year, and now a vampire.  Not to mention all the times in between for dress up play.  So versatile.  I still thought Anna looked pretty cute, even though she was supposed to be scary. 
Benjamin was a superhero this year.  Maybe it's because I'm a girl and I just don't understand, but all this boy stuff is pretty entertaining and cute.  Little boys take it so seriously though!  Ben loved that he had built in muscles in the costume my mom found at Good Will.  Ben-Ben was growing out of his other spiderman outfit that I got at a garage sale a few years ago. . . .can't wait for Caleb to grow in to that one, and then I can have two little spiderman boys running around at the same time.  :)     
Los tres ninos . . . before we did any raking.  Oh, and this is the only pic of the three pumpkins Ethan did with the kids this year.  Ben's is on top, Anna in the middle, and Caleb's at the bottom.   
Trunk-or-treat party at church.  First pic is of my three nieces - Rebecca, Rachel and Lily.  I wish Caleb had all of his costume on in the middle pic, and Huddy had his cow hood up.  Last year we have a pic of them in costume together too.  Cuteness!  And of course, Anna and her sweetie friend, Kate.
Ok, I decided this year that costume parades seem so overrated.  Is it even that exciting for the kids?  But of course, I went.  And my mom decided she wanted to come too, which made the kids even more excited since they didn't know they'd be seeing her.  Benjamin's preschool parade was at 10:15, and Anna's was at 11:15.  Then they were both home because it was a half day for Anna!  Oh, and Caleb and my dad had fun playing together during all of this.  Because I wasn't about to lug him around with me.  hehe. 
Finally, trick-or-treating in our little neighborhood on Halloween.  Caleb and I stayed home to hand out candy, and Ethan took the older kids.  Anna's friend came to trick-or-treat with us, and cousin Hudson came too.  And before they left, Hudson took a second to tackle Caleb.  Love it.  :) 

Sorting the candy.  Classic kid shot.  It's funny that they wanted to sort it even though they know it goes in to a big communal bowl in the kitchen (in a high cupboard they can't reach :).  I was surprised by the amount of candy the kids got this year.  We still have most of it left (and plenty of chocolate pieces left).  AND we didn't even have Caleb do any trick-or-treating.  So from Anna and Ben at the church party, a little downtown, and a few blocks around where we live, they got SO much candy.  Fun Halloween festivities.  The kids loved it!  But enough with the details of Halloween.  On to NOVEMBER!!!

I am so, so, so, SO excited for the holiday season to be upon us.  (I count the start of November until New Year's as the holiday season, FYI. :)  It has been a long time since my little family has had relaxing, low key holiday season, let alone a Christmas in our own home.  Let me take a second to recap: 
Holiday Season 2007 I was pregnant with Benjamin and doing my fall semester of student teaching until a few weeks before Christmas, at which time I promptly fell in to a pile of exhaustion from the semester and the pregnancy.  AND even though we were still living in our cozy little house on Front Street, Ethan, Anna, and I decided to spend the night on Christmas Eve at Chuck and Melissa's since family was in town.  So, technically, not in our own home for Christmas. 
Holiday Season 2008 and 2009 we drove up from Clio and spent Christmas with the family.  It wasn't especially stressful, but it wasn't our own home either.  And traveling with little kids is never an easy thing for me.  Oh, and since the end of the semester was always crazy, busy for Ethan, there was plenty of stress during that time of year for him, and so also for me.  (I swear I used to stress about his tests and papers and projects as much as he did.  :)    
Holiday Season 2010 saw the kids and I staying long term with my parents, and Ethan back forth on some weekends between clinical placements.  I started on hospitalized bedrest the first of November.  Caleb was born mid November, which began his six week NICU stay, although we had no idea at the time.  The whole season felt like I was going through the motions with the older kids, while my heart was at the NICU with Caleb.  I should clarify that it will always be remembered  to me as a sacred, special holiday season, even though I'd never want to repeat it.  So many precious, touching memories of sitting in a quiet, dark NICU, holding Caleb, rocking him, singing Silent Night and other songs to my baby, praying, and having so much time to think of Mary and the birth of the Savior of the world as I held my own little babe in my arms.  And finally,
Holiday Season 2011 was all things "our new house" related.  I have a hard time remembering the specifics of last year, it was such a blur.  Getting everything in order to close on the house, and working on the house for a month and a half after we finally closed just consumed me.  I rarely got to work at the house during the day, so almost every night for the month of December (and first few weeks of January), we would put the kids to bed, and come over to the house from 8-ish to Midnight-ish.  Oh, and full days on Saturday too.  I was so tired all the time, and so preoccupied with all the work that needed to be done in as short amount of time as possible, that I would often forget that it was even Christmas time at all.  Christmas Eve I worked at the house during the day while Ethan had the kids until we had family stuff that evening.  We did take Christmas day "off" completely from working at the house (it was the Sabbath too).  The day after Christmas, Ethan took a vacation day and we sanded floors from 7am until 9pm at night.  So yeah, a very busy, crazy holiday season last year.  

That is why I am so, SO excited for this year.  Life still feels busy.  And things, of course, are never perfect.  But we are having the holidays in our own home, and especially compared to the last few years, things are pretty low key.  We still have extended family get togethers and traditions (that I love!), but I am so excited to wake up Christmas morning just our own little family, in our own little house.  I want to take the time and enjoy the small, beautiful moments this season.  To recognize blessings and joy around me, amid the heartaches of life.  To bake, to listen to music, to play the piano, to carry out traditions with the kids, to feel the spirit of the season in my heart, to sled, to drink plenty of hot chocolate, to laugh, to hold my kids close.  Bring on the holidays...  
(And lest we all forget, getting so wrapped up in the holiday season, next week my baby turns two! TWO!! :)            

Monday, October 22, 2012

Things That Make Me Happy Lately . . .

Here are a few of the things that make me happy lately:
  • Caleb learning to say "duck."  He still hasn't had a language explosion or anything yet.  (And he's still definitely delayed in the speech department.)  But, it's as if he's finally realized it, and I can tell he's trying harder, and gets very proud of himself when he acquires a new word.  It's pretty adorable.
  • Going on a field trip with Benjamin on Thursday.  We went to the fire station with his whole preschool, and it was fun to help out with his class.  And man, preschool kids are so affectionate . . . even with perfect strangers.  I could tell that Ben-Ben was happy I was there - he kept peeking over at me and giving me little smiles.  But he mostly kept his distance and stayed by his friends.  Oh, and he LOVED riding the school bus, probably his favorite part.  (I made him sit by me on the way home. :)  It made me so happy to see Ben in his classroom.  He didn't even know I was there yet for about 5 min. because he was so wrapped up in snack time and chatting with his friends.  Yay!  And Caleb had a super fun morning with his Gramma and Grampa.   
  • The kiddos had lots of grandparent time this week, and I just so appreciate it.  I am grateful we live here in Marquette.  It's not just being grateful when it's the "babysitting" variety of grandparent time.  I like it when family members pop in, or when I occasionally babysit for nieces/nephews and my kids get so excited to see them, or Grampa Chuck coming over with a container of ice cream, or my dad stopping over to look for a snack and take a nap on my couch.  It all makes me happy.  And although we have plenty of extended family time, Ethan and I were recently talking about it and we feel like our own family unit too.  We're not feeling "bombarded" with family.  :)  There's a good balance for where we are in our life, with the kiddos being so young.  I'm assuming they aren't going to want to spend so much time with their grandparents and family when they're older and teenagers, so I'm glad they're getting it in now. 
  • The fall weather is making me happy.  So happy.  It's a beautiful autumn this year in the U.P., which isn't always the case.  We're still enjoying weather in the 50's even up to 60's, some rainy some sunny.  And of course we've had some super chilly days here and there too, which I also love.  Hm, why do I often comment on the weather?  It seems like such a lame topic, but occasionally comes up in my journal entries.  I guess it's because the weather and season directly affects the types of activities my little family does.  And that's what I spend the majority of my time doing - raising up my sweet familia.  And this time of year, with the beautiful fall weather, includes my most favorite family activities, especially outdoor ones.  Ok, enough. 
  • I had a little "get away" weekend with a long time friend last weekend.  That made me very happy.  Girl time, kid free time . . . what's not to like?  I hadn't seen this friend, Elizabeth, since 2009 I think.  We had a lot to catch up on in person!  We met about half way between the two of us which was Frankenmuth, MI.  We shopped, ate some yummy food, laughed, walked around the town, and lounged a lot at the hotel (had to get our money's worth - Frankenmuth hotels are so expensive!).  Oh, and we did face masks just like the good ol' days getting ready for a Stake dance.  Ahhh, so fun.  So rejuvenating. 
  • We rented Kung Fu Panda 2 a few days ago.  We decided that Caleb reminds us of Po as a baby.  Maybe it's his wise demeanor, or his chubby belly/cheeks, or the way he walks, but can't you see him as a baby panda?!  Seriously, you should rent the movie just to check out the similarities.  Too bad he's already going to be a pirate for Halloween.  hehe.
  • Anna cried while watching a movie because the ending was so happy and touching.  She cried out of happiness, people!  It makes me happy that Anna Belle's is such a sensitive sweetie.   Oh, one more funny thing about Anna - she is starting to get her first crushes on boys.  It's pretty cute (Ethan doesn't think so, hehe).  She gets a little embarrassed when I ask her about it, but she still tells her momma everything.  I hope that lasts!  
  • Ethan carved pumpkins with the kids yesterday because I wasn't feeling up to it, and it needed to be done. (We got them over a week before, and kept putting it off when something else came up.)  I actually went grocery shopping and ran a few errands while Eth did pumpkin carving, baths and bedtime. That makes me happy. Ethan always makes me happy.  Oh, AND he folded some kid laundry and put it away that same day . . . which is awesome because he usually says he doesn't know where the kid's laundry goes. :)
  • Anna and Ben filled up their last sticker charts that we used to reward and recognize good behavior, however randomly.  (See pictures below.)  It was good incentive.  We'd been doing charts for a few years now, on and off, but mostly on.  Sometimes stickers, sometimes drawing a star on the square.  Well, now we're doing a slightly simpler version, just because.  I call it the family "Kindness Jar."  We put puff balls in when someone does or says something kind, or is being especially helpful or is well behaved.  I like the family unity of it all, instead of individual charts, and that there will be a family reward at the end, again, instead of individual rewards.  (The kids usually choose a fun activity they want to do, instead of treats, which I love.  But we did go out for ice cream once.)  I love that it's random, and that getting one puff ball really encourages them to try to "earn" others (if they ask for one, they automatically don't get one though).  This is a really common idea in an elementary classroom.  Fill a jar with beads or something, and have a class pizza party or other reward when it's full.  Sometimes teachers take out items for bad behavior, but we decided not to do that.  Neither of the kids have teachers who are doing this in their classrooms, but they sure love the idea at home.  Well, Ben is a little less motivated since it's not such an individual reward - a sticker on his chart - but it's still working ok.  Anyway, yay for new ideas!    

Cousin time!  (Lily in the first two, Charlotte in the middle and Hudson in the last two.)
Ben's Preschool Field Trip to the Fire Hall!
Anna and Ben's last sticker chart . . . and on to our family "Kindness Jar."

Girls weekend with my friend Elizabeth!  So much fun; for sure a new tradition!  (It was a beautiful drive downstate on Friday morning, as you can see from the last picture.  Unfortunately it was raining and blowing the whole way home on Sunday - talk about white knuckles and maybe even some screaming while driving over the Mackinaw Bridge!  A stormy Lake Superior is beautiful too . . . just not great driving weather. :)

Caleb is obsessed with these Mr. Potato Head glasses, and he always wants me to wear them too.  They aren't very comfortable either, as you may assume.  :)  The glasses make him look so wise, though.  Ha. 

My dad came over on his birthday to open his presents, and have some roast, and eat a cupcake, and be sung to by three of his grandkids.  (And he was on his way to a Boy Scouting thing after . . . hence the uniform.)  He is using the "Bear Claw" backscratcher to comb his moustache.  Classic. 

I know I already had some pics of cousins on here, but I had to include these too.  This is Lily, my sister Beth and Stuart's foster daughter who they are in the process of adopting.  I babysat her a week or so ago, and I loved how her colorful outfit and hair and bright blue eyes popped against my white bedding and rug.  Oh, and Lils loved my fluffy rug . . . she's a crawler now, and she didn't want to crawl off of it.  hehe.  Cutie!
Autumn fire in the backyard.  Thanks, babe.
And finally a beautiful walk around Presque Isle with the kiddos.  We were even pleasantly surprised to run in to some old friends at the start of the hike.  The kids loved exploring and being little scientists.  I enjoyed the beauty, family and friendship around me. 

So, there are some of the things that have made me happy lately, including some pictures that make me happy to look at.  Maybe next entry will be things that don't make me happy lately?  hehe.  Probably not.