Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Word of the Week...


The kids hanging out in the pool. (Yes, Ethan was right next to them.)

So at the beginning of this week, we took advantage of the apartment swimming pool a few times. After, Anna and I had slight sunburns on our shoulders, but nothing that peeled. It's turned into a nice tan for both of us, but was a bit uncomfortable for a day or two. On Tuesday, Ethan got the worst sunburn he has ever had. It was crazy bad! Lots of pain, pain medicine, hot pink skin (he didn't want me to put a picture of it on here, but I have one :), and starting today - peeling...gross! He didn't use any sunblock, something we always put on the kids, and was out for two hours during peak sun time. I really did feel bad for him, and went out of my way to make things easier because the slightest movement was uncomfortable. Thank goodness the pain is gone now. We've almost gone through a whole bottle of aloe lotion just this week.

Yay for more swimming! Especially since the weather was mostly in the 90's this week. Ben has a new baby floaty that he likes...for about 10 minutes. He doesn't stay at the pool as long as the rest of us, mostly for lack of interest. Ethan or I go up with him after about 30 minutes tops. Anna is getting so brave in the water. She swims all over the pool with this little floaty or just arm floaties, and wants to learn how to swim. She has practiced going under water a few times. So brave! I love the last picture of the "Daddy Train." The kids LOVE that!
Anna's new (to her) bike! Such. A. Cutie. I love the classic picture of the Daddy following along the child. Anna was so focused on turning the pedals, she hardly ever looked up. We were glad to finally get outside again for Anna to practice. This week has been soooooo hot! The only outdoor thing we were doing was the pool. Finally it's cooled down whew.

This same day, we went for a walk to "explore the woods." This is one of Anna's most favorite things to do. Ben-Ben got so annoyed when the tall grass was the perfect height to tickle his nose. He did not like that one bit, so he stayed on the outskirts of the deep, dark, woods (as Anna likes to call it). The last picture shows Benjamin and I singing some action songs together. He doesn't really look happy, but trust me, he loved it. :) One funny thing Ben has been doing lately is speaking his own language. Seriously. Ethan and I think the accent sounds a bit like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. It's pretty amusing. Benjamin has so much to say...but only in this other language he seems to be fluent in. :) He still only says about three words in English though. Haha!
And finally...bath time! I know I take lots of pictures...I just want to remember everything. Anna and I (and sometimes Ethan) love to look back at our family albums over the last few years. It's fun! Anyway, despite all my picture taking, I realized I didn't really have any bath pictures, nake-y pictures, or even just diaper pictures of Ben-Ben. I took a few Saturday night during bath time, and put up two of the "modest" ones. The flash caught the kids differently, but still, you can see the extreme difference in Anna and Benjamin's skin tone. Anna is our little brown berry. I can see a few similar features in my kids, but mostly, I don't think these two look like siblings. I think it's fun. :)
So, there are a few highlights from our week. Until next time, peace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Father's Day, Grandma Susan, and a New Haircut...

This picture captures perfectly how Ethan feels about being a daddy. Unfortunately, it doesn't capture the kid's true feelings about having Ethan for a daddy. Anna and Ben-Ben were not in the mood for pictures, obviously. Benjamin just had his shoes put on, so of course he thought we were leaving immediately. Despite what the forced Father's Day pictures show, we LOVE Ethan. He is such a great Dad. He's very hands on, incredibly helpful (not just with the wee ones, but with house stuff too), and makes so much time for his family...even though he's in the middle of a difficult, time-consuming graduate program. I, we, appreciate and love him sooooooo much! When I asked Anna what she loves about her daddy, she said, "I love when he plays Polly Pockets with me, and when he plays everything with me. I like when he reads books to me, and he sings to me at nighttime." I think Ben would answer similarly, except the Polly Pocket comment...not that he wouldn't love to play with those (he LOVES anything that Anna does or has, and wants to be where she is), he's just not allowed because of the millions of little choking pieces involved. Benjamin loves when Ethan chases him, reads to him, builds towers with him, and goes out "exploring" with him.

A few more daddy-kiddie pictures. The first one is blurry, but I like it because it shows how Anna was trying to hide behind Ethan, and not be in the picture...we tried to trick her. The middle one is a cutie of father-son in matching outfits. Really it was unplanned, but cute nonetheless. Oh, and to show our appreciation to Ethan, Anna and I wrote him a sweet card, got him a huge chocolate bar that he of course needed to share with us, and bought some yummy steaks to make for dinner.

My mom was visiting for a few days this last week, and I totally dropped the ball on picture taking. But this is what we did: Swimming, Children's Museum, parks, some good finds at a few garage sales (including a bike for Anna!!!), the mall, a movie date (Anna and Grammy went to see Up), playing, cooking, a haircut for Anna, and the graduation party for my cousin, Virginia. AND Ethan and I had a rare date night, in that we actually went somewhere. Wheeee! We went to a movie, and it'd been over a year since we'd seen a movie in the theater. The best part is that we live right next to a dollar cinema and finally got to go. Fun, fun.

Okay, back to the haircut. I was surprised that it was so traumatic for me. If you scroll down through previous posts, you can see that Anna's hair was about four or five inches longer before this cut. I'd thought about her getting a short cut, but had decided that I just wanted her to have a trim and some bangs. Well, I made the mistake of asking what she wanted, and she said, "Short hair. Short, short." She then went on to say she wanted short hair like me. (I may start growing mine out's been short for years. :) I want Anna to be able to make her own decisions on things like this...not force what I my mom did it. I was so sad, and really, really missed her long hair for a day or two. I know, crazy. I told Anna her new hair was cute, but that I missed her long hair and she said, "It's ok mama, I like this, and my old hair is in the trash." Yep. She's had so many compliments on her hair, and I do love it now. Seriously, it's so adorable. It looks super cute in a headband (see above) and super, SUPER cute in pigtails, especially with bows. (Anna has pigtails in the father's day pictures, but you can't really see them.) Ah, enough about haircuts. :) I'll have to come up with more interesting things to journal about for next week's blog. Until then, have a beautiful week.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summertime, And The Livin' Is Easy...

It's the middle of June, and summertime is in full swing around here. The temperatures are starting to creep up past the 60's and low 70's (my ideal temps) and we're finally getting to take advantage of our apartment's swimming pool. We've had a few BBQ's, lots of outdoor walks, many trips to the park, games on our big grassy hill, and we're finding more fun kid things to do in the area. Yay! Above is a picture of the "stew" Ethan and Anna made from a walk in the woods they went on. Yum, yum!

Last weekend we went to the Crossroads Village - old fashioned town - and Huckleberry Railroad as part of the S.K.I.P. program. (So it was all free, which was great since that place is normally pretty price-y.)

The fact that the town was old fashioned was pretty much lost on Anna, but she had fun looking in some of the shops. She LOVED helping this "farmer girl" go to the pump to get water and carry it back to water her garden. Anna has been obsessed with gardening lately...convenient timing now that we're living in an apartment. So she was in heaven with this activity, and was so sad when we had to go.

While at Crossroads Village, we also spent quite a lot of time at the rides. There were some old fashioned favorites like the carousel, venetian swings, mini train, and a cart and pony ride Anna was proud to go on all by herself. The three pictures above are from the four of us going on the Ferris wheel together. I don't know what my problem was, but I was SCARED! I'm never scared on that kind of stuff; I normally like it. The picture above captures my true emotion during that ride - holding Anna tight, laughing and screaming simultaneously, breathing quickly. I have decided that I must have been scared because it was the first time I was on a ride like that with my own kiddies. I was nervous on their behalf. Despite that, the kids loved it and Ethan did his best to calm me down. :)

At Crossroads Village, they had a few clowns doing face painting. The line was ridiculously long, so I told Anna I'd paint her face when we got home. I'll be honest, I was hoping she would forget. Of course she didn't. Anna wanted her face painted like the clowns were doing it...huge bugs taking up the whole face. I thought the butterfly would be the easiest to replicate. Anna chose the interesting combination. So yes, it somewhat resembles the butterflies the clowns were doing. Anna was very pleased with it. Ethan and I thought it looked more like some kind of Aboriginal war paint.

Above: Anna getting used to the cold water. Lake Superior has prepared her well for this. It took Anna about 15 minutes to get used to floating in her life jacket, and now she swims all around the pool. We're never more than a few feet away from her, but she does NOT want us to touch her. Anna's so independent. She loves the water!

Benjamin is okay with the water, but doesn't like to stay in too long. Besides when I'm taking pictures, Ethan and I each take a kid to be in charge of. The one who has Ben usually spends a lot of time walking around the outside of the pool with him. (There is a nice, grassy picnic area for him to explore.) Ben-Ben does like Anna's floaty she so graciously shares with him, so he's been spending a little more time in the pool. I love the two pictures above with Benjamin intently looking down at the floaty, clearly realizing that it is something he needs to taste. The next picture shows him doing just that. Yum. Hope you're all having a great summer too!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Our Ten Year Reunion (And Dating Story)...

Graduation Day, June 1999

Ethan and I both graduated from Marquette Senior High School 10 years ago this month. I know, we're getting old, but I really don't's exciting. Even though we're a mere six hours south, we aren't going to be able to make it to the reunion in July. :(  We both think it would be super fun, but Ethan will be right at the end of a VERY busy summer term, and we're going up to MQT a few weeks after, AND the cost of gas is getting up there again, so we made the decision not to go. (We would have had to drive up Friday morning of the reunion, hang out Saturday, and drive super early Sunday morning for Ethan to be home in time for a group project meeting ....NOT fun with two little kiddies.) We do keep in touch or get together with our close friends from high school often-ish. And now with facebook, we pretty much know what everyone else is up to that we might be curious about. Plus, there's always the 20 year!  :)  So...
Junior Year. 1998. *I have many other photos of us from high school, but didn't want to take the time to scan them. Some are pretty sweet, some are pretty amusing.*

One of our friends, Becky, was curious about "our story." You know, how we ended up together since we do have some history from High School. I thought I'd set the record straight...because I am just positive you are all dying to know the details of our dating story. Ha! (Please pick up on the sarcasm here.) *I don't think you quite know what you're in for, but this is long and detailed, even by my standards. Feel free to skim or skip, of course. I do think that someday our kids will be interested in this story, so I didn't want to leave anything out, since this blog is also our FAMILY JOURNAL. (I'm saving it onto CD. :) Well, you've been warned.*

I moved to Marquette the summer before my sophomore year, so that is technically when Ethan and I first met. However, he was dating a nice girl, and I started dating one of his good friends at the time within a month or so. Most of sophomore year we were dating these other people, and then we both just happened to "break up" around the same time. *Oh my goodness, all this high school dating stuff is just so amusing now...but it was so serious then.* So, shortly after that time, summertime-ish before junior year maybe, Ethan and I became good friends. And eventually, very good friends. We really had tons of fun together, loved talking with each other, and we were close, even when we dated other people. We always felt very comfortable around eachother; we had chemistry and we just clicked. We hung out all the time Junior and Senior year. About half of senior year we "officially dated" each other, and went to a formal dance or two. *Seriously I am laughing to myself right now because teenage relationships are just.....funny.* We were way better friends than we were boyfriend/girlfriend. We didn't always make the best decisions together - ahem, understatement - like skipping school all the time senior year (this was before MSHS enforced their attendance policies), among other things. But we were good kids, were active in our church (we talked religion/shared testimonies and beliefs often), got good grades, and we were involved in various school clubs/sports/organizations.  We had some mutual friends and some of our "own circle" of friends, which was nice.  We have so many good memories from that time - Like hiking and swimming during the summer, a couple formal dances, randomly breaking out into "Our Song," Little Presque Isle, double dates with friends, having movie nights together, Sugar Loaf Mountain, studying together :), Taco Bell runs, cliff jumping, a surprise birthday party Eth planned for me senior year, kickin' it with our mutual friends, :) cruising in the econoline van - HA, a sweet Valentine's date I planned senior year, church activities, and the list could go on and on.

After we graduated, Ethan went with his family to New Zealand for a year and I did a year at NMU. We kept in touch a bit during this time - on the phone a few times, and Eth even wrote me letters, which is not something that comes naturally for him. The summer after, Ethan was getting ready for a two year mission to Australia and I went to Idaho for a summer term at BYU-Idaho. We did get to hang out a bit at the end of summer, right before Ethan's mission, because I was in Marquette to see my brother, Andrew, who had just returned home from his two year mission to Mexico. I remember the last time I saw Ethan before he left for Australia. We were in my parents backyard at Andrew's open house. I had this realization that it could very well be the last time I ever saw Ethan, and it made me so sad. (Little did I know. :)  Yeah, I had dated other good, fun guys by this time, and Ethan and I were just friends.  But it was Ethan - we'd been such close friends for years.  I was pretty sure that everything would be different for both of us in two years time (it was different, but in only positive ways). BUT, we said our goodbyes and didn't see each other for almost 4 years.

Ethan spent two years in Australia, and then attended BYU when he got home. I went back to BYU-Idaho, lived in Utah for a semester, spent a summer in Indiana living with old friends and working at Purdue University, had two marriage proposals (did you guys know I was such a heart breaker? :) and then went on a mission to Los Angeles. *I was joking about the heart breaker comment.  It was just coincidence.  But seriously, I often think how thankful I am that I ended up with Ethan over any other guy I've dated.* So during this three year period Ethan and I sent each other maybe a letter or two each. Even though we'd been close friends, I thought it'd be good for both of us to limit contact and focus on our separate, current adventures. Then, I got home from my mission in July of 2003. Ethan was out in Utah, but he called me within the first week, you know, just to say hi. :)  Ethan and my brother Andrew were still really good friends, and we had some other mutual friends, so we didn't really loose track of each other even though we weren't keeping in touch.

I moved to Indiana for the fall semester to stay with my Uncle and Aunt. I wanted to spend time with my younger brother, Alex, and earn money before going back to school. Ethan called a few times a week and we talked for hours. Seriously, hours. I really looked forward to his phone calls. We e-mailed all the time. I have to give my Uncle Harry credit for accurately predicting in October-ish 2003, that Ethan and I would eventually get married. When I insisted repeatedly that Ethan and I had tried the dating thing already, and were just really good friends, he insisted: "Angela, no boy calls that often unless he's interested in being more than really good friends." Such a wise observation, Harry. :)  So, Ethan and I were both going to be in Marquette for Christmas and we hadn't seen each other in years, but we had been in touch constantly over the last few months. I seriously never thought we would end up dating...not to mention getting married. We were just really good friends. I mean, we even told each other about dates we went on with other people. (Ethan told me later that I was the one other girls he dated were compared against. I was just that fun to hang out with. *Another bit o' sarcasm* But it was a mutual sentiment. Sweet.

So, when we saw each other in Marquette, it was........awkward! We'd talked for hours and hours over the last few months, but it was weird in person. We went cross country skiing together, had a movie night with KC chaperoning :), attempted to go ice skating without ice skates, had some game nights with friends, but we were pretty quiet around each other at first. So then I brought up the fact that it felt weird, and things lightened up. Nothing helps a situation like stating the obvious.  hehe.  We also brought up the fact that so many people had told us that we should start dating again. I told Ethan I didn't think I could ever date him again (but deep down I think I probably wanted to...I mean, best friends make the best husbands, right? Maybe I was just being cautious...playing it cool.  hehe).  Ethan told me he didn't think we could stay such good friends if we were dating other people;  it'd be too hard. So, we held out for about one week, and then decided we should give dating a try, you know, just see how it goes.

Rexburg, Idaho. January 2004.

We were out west by this point, the beginning of January; Ethan in Provo at BYU, and I in Rexburg at BYU-Idaho. It was a 3 and a half hour drive that one of us made every weekend (except two) all semester. So again, during this time we talked on the phone and e-mailed a lot. And usually spent Thursday to Sunday doing fun, date-y stuff in Rexburg or Provo. We also tried to go to the temple every weekend, but probably only got there half the time. After dating for about 5 whole weeks (I know, it's not long), we thought we might want to get married. We decided to pray and fast about it...since it is a pretty big decision :)...and everything was happening so quickly. It felt so right immediately, but we wanted to be absolutely sure we weren't just getting caught up in the excitement of it all. We were in Provo the weekend of Valentine's Day. We went to the temple. After church on Sunday, February 15th (NOT on Valentine's Day) we were talking about marriage, our impressions, answers to prayers, and feelings for one another. We came to the important conclusion that we were meant for each other. The time was right. It was a very exciting afternoon for us there on BYU's campus. It was so quick, but we'd known each other for years, and we had no doubts. It's funny, but once we were officially engaged, all of the sudden we felt too young to be getting married, 22 and 23, and that's something that two of our grandmothers told us. :)

So, that weekend is when we knew we were getting married, but the next weekend was a more traditional proposal. I didn't think Ethan was going to be able to come up and visit the following weekend, but he surprised me. When I answered the door, he was standing there, red rose in hand, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him. He even looked nervous, and he says he was, which I now think is funny since we already knew we were getting married. It's a good memory though, and a great weekend he planned for us. Oh, and about six of my ten roommates were looking on from the window, clapping and cheering when he popped the question. When I of course said yes, Ethan pulled out the ring box - which was so sweet, because I didn't even know that he had bought the ring already.  Ahhh.  (He chose the perfect ring for me...all by himself.  :)

The next two and a half months were busy, but fun. Telling our parents was...interesting. Unfortunately, it took three of the four of them by surprise. Ethan says he never really filled his parents in on his dating life (although they were, and are close, and he kept them informed on all of his other life happenings). Our relationship was no different. I think they had just found out the week before that we were dating, and then Ethan called a week later to say we were engaged and were getting married at the end of the semester. Whew, that's got to be crazy. I had told my mom everything, and had kept her informed minute by minute. :) She was very excited when we told her - screamed, laughed, screamed some more. I assumed that my mom was filling in my dad along the way, but maybe not. Ethan was so nervous to call my dad to tell him we were getting married. (We decided not to do the whole "ask permission" thing, because we'd already decided, but my dad - Father of the Bride - was the first informed, and Ethan called him to give the news.) My dad said something along the lines of, "Well...Sure." It was a very short conversation. This is all a bit amusing to us now that we are so much closer to our in-laws. :)

March 2004.

A couple of our engagement pictures shown above. I know that many personality traits and characteristics don't change in people, so in many ways we were the same people we were in high school. But in many other, more significant ways, Ethan and I had changed a lot since high school by the time we got back together. We had numerous, individual life experiences - living in different places, meeting different people, learning different things - that helped shape who we had become back in 2004. These experiences made us that much more perfect for each other. One of the biggies was that we both served a mission for our church. The mission helped strengthen our faith, but also taught us so much about people, the world, compassion, service, different cultures, and so much more.  Religion was a huge part of who we were in high school too, but a mission helped to solidify us. I think it's fun that we knew each other in high school, and have a history there. But I love even more that we didn't keep in touch for years, went our separate ways, had other relationships, lived in other places, grew as individuals, and met back up. I personally think it's a pretty sweet story, but I am biased since it's my story.

April 2004.

And this is our wedding day, which is described in great detail in a previous journal entry. We were happy. We were excited. We were very much looking forward to living in the same place...not having to drive 3 1/2 hours to see each other on long weekend trips. Once we decided to start dating again (January 6-ish 2004), it didn't take long to get to this point above (April 30, 2004). We just new it was right. I am so blessed to have my best friend as my husband. Ethan is such a great friend, husband, and father. I love him.

So to tie this back in with what we've been up to for the last 10 years since we graduated in 1999: from our wedding in 2004 to now, 2009, we've bought and sold our first home, had two babies, both finished our bachelors degree, Ethan's one year into his DPT program, and we've had lots of fun, and a few hard moments, along the way. I wouldn't change any of it. It's fun for me to reflect and look back on our story. I would have never guessed that we would end up together, but I am so glad we did.