December 22, 2013

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

[Kaiya's first play in the snow!]
Well, we finally got a good snowing here last night. It's been drizzling and letting down some fluffy stuff, but today we had a few inches worth so we bundled Miss Kaiya up and set her out on the balcony to test the white stuff out. With a bit of squirming (and with some manual moving of some limbs by her daddy), our little angel made a cute little snow angel imprint! Anyway, it was quite funny to watch her, all squinty-eyed in the bright light and not sure what to think of the cold white stuff around her. It was especially hilarious to watch her eat some snow, with a timid little lick, then an awe-struck look of intrigue, followed by attacking the stuff with her mouth. She LOVES to eat just about anything, so this was no surprise!
[She was laughing but couldn't open her eyes in the sunlight, haha]
[mmmmm.... snow....]
This year we decided to stay here in Iowa for the holidays. As much as we love being with family, we were done traveling around for the time being. We've been all over the place this last year, literally to one side of the country then the opposite coastline, and we'll be going to Spokane at the beginning of March for Brandan's last internship before graduation in May. Our ward family is so awesome though that we're being fed Christams Eve dinner and hanging out with what friends are left in the area over the break, so that should be fun! I am also glad to have the time over this next week to review some things in preparation for taking the GRE next week (yikes!) and Brandan is preparing for his final internships beginning in January. Life is pretty exciting and busy for us right now, but then it never really slowed down, did it? I'm just glad we could make time last week to go out for our wedding anniversary!
Kaiya is cute as ever, of course, though I might be biased in saying that... haha. She's had her two bottom teeth since early November and it makes her little pity laughs and cheesy squinty-eyed smiles even more ridiculous. Her hair is now long enough to put into piggy tails, but it's not very thick so it's a struggle tying those little hair ties around the few strands she has a billion times (lest to say that I've only done it once or twice...), but it looks adorable when I have done it! She hasn't really said any "real" words yet, just babbles a lot still and squeaks and squeals when she knows she's in trouble or on the run down the hallway. She's been walking/running around since early November as well, which still sometimes catches me off guard because she's still a tiny little thing to me! I love her little strut though and her wide-gapped jog just before the face plant as we're walking after her growling. Just last week she learned how to climb on things, which I thought was fun for the first few climbs up onto a chair or up a step, but.... man, it really drains the energy out of me trying to make sure she isn't an inch away from a head thump to the floor! She's so high-energy all the time.
[She LOVES drinking from straws- she gets pretty close to passing out because she sucks so hard for so long... haha]
[Kaiya's first little piggy tails!]
Since this was the first year of our married life that we've been home for Christmas, we went all out and got a real Christmas tree with decorations, put up our stockings, and have been playing with our elf on the shelf. I've had a delicious smelling candle going, have made a few batches of wassail, made eggnog/peppermint ice cream shakes, and enjoyed seeing Christmas lights all over town. It was especially fun having a little one to sit on Santa's lap at the mall and play dress-up with with holiday outfits!
[Kaiya meets Santa - she was speechless... ;)]
[Helping with the Christmas tree - real tree, our first one!]



November 29, 2013

Kaiya's Pretty in Pink Party

[Miss Kaiya in her 1st birthday outfit]
Well, it finally came - our first baby's first birthday! Kaiya was due on Thanksgiving last year and came four days later, but this year her birthday came two days before Turkey Day so we had a day of festivities for Kaiya, then a day to prepare the pies, then a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving Day.
On Tuesday, I spent all morning preparing a small, 6 inch PINK lemonade cake, lots and lots of PINK lemonade cupcakes (all covered with PINK lemonade frosting and sprinkles of course!), cutting strips of PINK tulle and tying it around a small elastic band, spraying lace with fabric stiffener and glitter, stitching a PINK 1 onto a onsie, wrapping PINK ribbon around glass jars, filling those jars with PINK candies, rummaging through all my fabric for PINK pieces, and setting up PINK plates and balloons all around our friends' basement for Kaiya's PRETTY IN PINK PARTY!
It was pretty fun - we took some cute pictures of our sweet pea before she could fling off the crown and run away, then let all the kiddos play for a while with the balloons and toys before pulling out some presents and cake. Kaiya enjoys playing with her new toys (especially the hot wheel cars!) but I definitely did most of the present opening, which was fun for me - it's just as fun opening a gift for your little bug as it is opening one for yourself! It was adorable watching her eat her cake though - we placed the whole 6 inch cake in front of her and, though nervous as she was at first to ruin the icing... haha... she soon realized how tasty it was and went to town!
I would say it was a successful party and it was great to celebrate Kaiya's special day with some good friends - so thanks to everyone who came and played with us for a little while! That, mixed with Brandan's cumulative exam being taken the same morning and finally being over with (he passed!!!), and a break for him from classes the rest of the week and playing games and stuffing ourselves with yummy food and pie two days later has made this a very good week!

[Wait... was I suppose to save some??]

November 21, 2013

Family Photos - Kaiya at 1 Year

First of all, thank you SOOOOO much to my awesome friend, Kirsten Schoenrock, for taking these for us on a very chilly mid-November morning (we definitely had jackets on in-between photos!). You are the best!!! We will cherish these!! :)

[Our little family of three, Kaiya just about 1 year old!]
[The Daddy Toss - Kaiya LOVES it!]
[Kaiya wouldn't look at the camera for quite a while... she was way too interested in these leaves we finally are letting her play with!]
[Kaiya recently learned that she's quite good at throwing things over her head backwards so I love that Kirsten caught this little pose because it's a very common one at our house!]
[Huh? hahahaha]
[I can't believe she use to be 6 1/2 lbs.... our little sugarbug is growing up too fast!]
[Cliché photo? Perhaps.... Adorable though? YES!]
[Why do I almost get emotional when I see this picture? I really haven't ever felt a love so deep as I feel towards my precious baby girl]
[Twooooo Wuuuuuv :)]
[Our silly girl probably just told me a hilarious secret about our photographer in her gibber-gabber ;)]
[A play off of our brother-in-law, Tyler's, idea of an artsy photo, hehe]

November 2, 2013

Happy Halloween With Our Baby Octopus!

[Our little baby octopus all ready for Halloween!]
I am all for cute little homemade (aka non-expensive) costumes. Growing up we always grabbed our play clothes or reinvented regular clothes to make ourselves gypsies, army men, evil chefs, hippies, etc. It's almost weird for me to think about going to a store and buying a premade costume! This year I didn't have very much time to come up with something and make it for Kaiya, let alone for Brandan and myself (and Brandan certainly didn't have time or desire! haha) and so, thanks to pinterest, a few pairs of tights, some stuffing and a large amount of felt leftovers in my crafting box, we became an ocean with an adorable octopus hanging out with all the fish.
[A family ocean :)]
Our ward at church had a trunk-or-treat on Halloween night and it's always so much fun to see all the kiddies in their cute little costumes, walking around with their bags held out saying 'trunk-or-treat!.' My favorite part is passing out the candy so I don't miss any of them! This year, we decided to actually decorate our trunk and it was pretty fun - using some posterboard, we created a monster mouth that kids had to reach inside to get a piece of candy. Little did we know with some taped-on triangles and poster board eyes on our car that we'd get a treasure chest, "best trunk" award full of candy! So that was pretty fun. There were also various costume awards, several of which went to Kaiya for cutest costume - our little sweet pea rocked those stuffed tights and googly-eyed hat! There were so many cute babies though - you can't go wrong with any kind of costume on any baby or toddler! (except perhaps Miley's twerking stuffed animal costume - YUCK)
But anyway, it's so fun having a kid now so that we can participate in more of the holiday activities. Not only did we pass out candy to kids, but got to collect some goodies for our little miss. Not only did I drop some goodies off at a kid's Halloween party but I actually got to go and hang out with my kid! Not only did we tell people about what we'd be for Halloween, but I got to excitedly tell people about the baby costume I was making! So much fun - it amazes me that I liked this holiday before having a little participant to entertain with it!
[Kaiya with her friends Jaden and Aaron at a kiddie party]
[Mama and Baby]
[Monster Car!!! Accessorized by Brandan's Spiderman and my Barney from HIMYM pumpkins]
Other than fun Halloween festivities, Brandan has been crazy busy trying to balance current studies with review for his cumulative exam coming up and spending time with us. Every evening he spends NOT studying impresses me. I can't even imagine how stressed out he must feel trying to let go of school stress for anything else. As most of you know though, you would never really hear about how stressed out he is through every day conversation. He keeps his worries to himself to try and keep everyone else happy and uplifted. I'm so glad he chose to go into school to do something he really enjoys and is good at so he only needs to learn something once to remember it long-term. I know he'll do just fine on the cumulative exam, no matter how much or little he stresses about it. But anyway, so he'll be spending every spare moment focused on that and on Kaiya's first birthday, November 26th, he'll take the exam and be able to relax! Yay!
As for Kaiya, she is hilarious (yes, even more hilarious than she was a week ago). Every outing we've had running errands has been full of strangers breaking into smiles and laughter as she smiles and giggles at them or does a little dance for them. We'll definitely have to have the "stranger danger" talk as soon as she can understand what I'm saying to her... haha!
She also, just within the last few days, has learned how to give kisses, do the signs for 'milk' and 'more' and understands the word, "stop" (which of course makes her stop only momentarily before a huge grin appears and she goes at whatever mischevious thing she's doing even faster or crazier!). She has also discovered a new phony laugh, an almost pity-laugh if you will, that she now does whenever she knows that we want her to laugh along with us. It's pretty sad sounding and only makes Brandan and I feel silly that we thought she might be fooled to think we were really funny or awesome. She also took her first step almost two weeks ago while I was at choir at DMU (of course she would do it during the only short period of time I am not with her during the week!!) as Brandan was watching her. She has come really close again since then but I think she's a little too comfortable crawling everywhere!
And as for me, I have been keeping myself really busy reviewing for the GRE which I hope to take in the next month or so, NOT running (my break from running following the marathon has given me so much spare time that it amazes me that I might be able to get back to it! haha), and keeping up with Kaiya and all the holiday activities.

October 21, 2013

"What does the fox say?... Run, run, runa-runa, run, run, run, run, runa-runa, run run!"

[Just before the race started]
On a very cold late-October morning in the chilled humid air of Des Moines, IA, a gun went off at 8am announcing for the runners to begin their many hours long trek of 26.2 miles. Runners waved to family and friends as they made their way across the Des Moines River bridge on Locust Street and towards the capital building and tried to keep their adrenaline and nerves in check with their pace. With spectators all along the way holding up inspirational quotes, handing out water, sports drinks, tissues and even gummy bears and fruit slices, or playing and singing music to entertain, the route was perfect. Perfect scenery of gorgeous homes, parks and rivers, and high rising downtown avenues. Runners' breathing slowed and calmed, their bodies fell into relaxed rhythms, and they slowly but surely made their way through the finish.
I am thrilled to say that I was one of these runners this past weekend. I have been known to love running (some might even call me a running fanatic...), primarily from college  and on, but let me tell ya... no matter how much you love it, a lapse of time spanning 2 years of injury, working overtime and barely finding time to eat and sleep, then becoming pregnant (sick, anemic and low back issues to go along with that one..) and pushing a baby out of your body just before having to recover for a few months from doing so, it is really rough trying to get back into it. I began training this summer when we moved out to Oregon for a few months and it wasn't as easy as I was expecting. My low back had lots of issues and I not only had the struggle of motivating myself to get moving but to also push our baby in a stroller out in front me the whole way. Thank goodness for tax returns because our BOB stroller has made all the difference - I took Kaiya with me on every run besides a few of my longest routes. I think 10 or 12 miles was about her limit of napping and keeping herself entertained while being strapped to a seat. I could not have asked for a better baby though, because with all the breaks I had to take to drink water, eat a supplement, stretch, or walk for a bit, my training times ended up being 10-11 minute miles a lot of the time, making it a couple of hours of her time each day.
I was really nervous (not excited nervous.. well excited, but so anxious that I couldn't sleep the night before and felt so sick to my stomach the morning of that I had to force-feed myself a few spoonfuls of oatmeal and then lay on the couch and take deep breaths) for this one. I wasn't worried I wouldn't finish or that I would let my family down or anything, just nervous that I might get injured like I did my last marathon over 2 years ago in San Francisco where my stubborn-self cried as I forced my body against its' will for the last 10 miles after a sharp stabbing pain began abruptly in my left knee. I was also nervous about not being happy with my time. I have a very competitive nature and it's hard for me to think it'd be okay to pay money to run a race and not win a medal or reach a goal time. My first marathons over 3 years ago were Boston qualifiers and I still have this idea in my head that I still have that potential and didn't want that idea to vanish.
Well, I am happy to say that I ran the 26.2 miles in 3hrs 50mins 33seconds, only 10 minutes shy of Boston qualifying for my age group now  and even less shy of it for my age group starting this upcoming February. I felt great the entire run. My energy stayed up and I never felt very tired or worn out. I did stop for a minute at a port-a-potty (post-pregnancy... you can never be too careful with bladder urges!! hahaha) and then 3 or 4 times to stretch my very tight hamstrings. I also felt fairly leisurely the second half of the race once I decided to back down from an 8 min/mile pace I started with and keep a 9 - 9.5 min/mile pace. I felt so great after crossing the finish line and when I saw my time I almost cried. I have NOT lost my idea in my head that I can and will re-qualify for Boston soon. I am excited to relax for a few weeks and then jump into some yoga, strength training and speed work so I can improve. It took me several months to get back into running-lover mode and now I'm ready to rock-n-roll! I'm so grateful that I have a body that can handle and even enjoy this kind of physical exertion and for the husband that I have who is always there to help me train and fixes me when different parts of my body decide to break (yay for DPT's!!).
[mile 8 - waving hello]

[Finish line - about to speed up with my final kick]
[I know it doesn't look like much of a kick in this pic but... I passed this guy about 3sec later!]
[My favorite cheerleaders :) - so happy that Ethan and Jaden Baham could come support me too!]
Outside of running, I've been keeping myself very busy looking into graduate schools and planning out our budget, traveling and housing plans for staying here through February, being in Washington for Brandan's last 8 week internship, then a month or two between graduation and taking his licensure exam next summer. Anytime I try and plan beyond that, I drop the topic pretty quickly because we have no idea where we'll end up with a job for Brandan and for graduate school for me. It's crazy to think that Brandan graduates in only 7 months!!! He has done great so far, keeping his grades up high enough to show that he's learning what he needs and wants to and can pass and become a doctor of physical therapy, but low enough to prove that he really does balance family and school very well to keep himself sane and happy (which means that Kaiya and I are sane and happy having a husband and father in a medical school!).
[our monthly splurge date night of dinner and bowling with our friends Ethan and Steph - did you know Brandan and Ethan have their very own bowling shoes? Brandan even has his own personalized bowling ball, so needless to say they dominated the game!]
Kaiya just keeps finding new ways to entertain and intrigue us. Her bottom two teeth have finally made their way up through the gums enough so she has a good bite on her, but not enough to see very well in a picture. She blabbers non-stop with the "da-da-da-da" and "guh-guh-guh"'s which sounds so cute I can't imagine them actually turning into real words that I can use to have a conversation with her! We have been told by anyone who has been around her for more than a few minutes that her screams and squeals are hilarious and abnormally loud and pitchy. I swear she could shatter glass with them sometimes. I think Brandan and I have gotten use to it because sometimes we'll get funny or even nasty looks from people at grocery stores or at the park and we realize Kaiya is screaming at the top of her lungs at the piece of grass she's holding or the bird she sees. It isn't a bloody murder scream, but a super super SUPER excited scream.... that she uses for everything... and that she uses to play. I think it's hilarious, but there are definitely times when we feel like we might go deaf if she keeps it up. Hahaha... oh Kaiya, silly girl. She is definitely a cutie with a spunky disposition. We love her SO freaking much. So glad to have her in our lives as daddy's distracter from his evening studies and my play mate and running buddy each day :).
 [Kaiya's teeny tiny teeth!!]
[This girl would eat all day long if I let her! such a good little eater]

[a ridiculously awesome headband at Babies R' Us - didn't buy it but we tried to convince ourselves to just because it looked so hilarious on sweet Kaiya! haha]


September 2, 2013

From Mountains to Corn Country

[Our little pirate baby during a Labor Day picnic]
Well, we finally made it back to good old Iowa! We spent our last weekend in Oregon meeting up with Ryan, Stephanie and their boys Clayton and Brody (Brandan's oldest brother and his family) at Crater Lake National Park for some exploring, then Bend, OR for a trail race I had registered for. We saw Crater Lake (which is HUGE and BEAUTIFUL by the way!), roamed around near Prospect, OR where there is a "Natural Bridge," aka a lava tube that water runs through, the Avenue of Giant Boulders, a really pretty, tall waterfall, and a super yummy pie shop! Luckily, the boys and Kaiya did pretty well keeping themselves entertained and running around so we could see a lot of stuff in a very short amount of time.
["Natural Bridge"]
[Brandan & Kaiya, Steph, Brody, Ryan & Clay at the waterfall]
[Crater Lake :)]
The Haulin' Aspen Trail race was one that I will probably not repeat. It was a half marathon race up and then back down a mountain in Bend, OR. It was a really beautiful trail and it was really fun seeing the different kinds of people and runners who do trail runs. I was so nervous because I had only practiced on trails twice previous and was using this race as a midway adrenaline rush before the DSM full marathon in October (in Oregon, most of the runs are on trails, so I had limited options for my time frame for a half). I did much better than expected, coming in at 2 hrs 17 mins and 5th in my division (and I even had to stop off the side behind a bush to pee halfway through!), but HOLY COW - there was quite a bit of walk-age going up the steep hills and then coming down on jagged rock paths! It made me feel a lot better once I started though because it wasn't just in-shape granolas running or hardcore buff guys, but a mix of people who just love nature and love running. Anyway, but it was way more exciting coming across that finish line with not only my hubby and baby girl, but his brother's family!
[About 3 miles left during the race!]
After our adventuresome weekend Brandan finished out his last week of internship and we packed our things up into the car and headed back east. We were in the car for an entire day and spent a few days with my Grandma Robertson in Idaho helping her out around the house and visiting several of my cousins and friends who still live nearby. I also made a huge adjustment in getting my hair chopped off! When I was pregnant and even still now, my hair began growing crazy fast (which is maybe a normal speed since it never grew before!), so I've been feeling more and more exploratory with it. My cousin Aubree did a great job chopping my long curls into a short A-line cut that A) Kaiya can't grab, B) is quick and easy to style each day, and C) actually looks cute with curly hair!
We then drove all day to Wyoming to visit our friends who are temporarily living in a very small, dinky cow town in the middle of nowhere, and then made our way to Omaha, NE to visit Tyson and Jackie and their little man for the weekend. It helped a lot to take our sweet time driving that far - I feel like Kaiya did awesome in her carseat and was well-rested. It really helped to take lots of breaks so our little mobile baby could crawl and climb to let our some energy in between long stretches.
Just a few weeks ago Kaiya officially became mobile - she now crawls everywhere and climbs up onto everything. I feel so sorry for her little head, which is now constantly covered in at least one if not three or four bruises! She has also learned how to whine and cry with a really, REALLY sad, high-pitched sound so that you can't help but pick her up and do anything to make her happy again. Of course sometimes it's really sweet and I love comforting her, but she is definitely learning to play the field with us! It also doesn't help us determine how serious her hurt actually is because she is teething hardcore and getting use to a new climate and bedroom too! We can't help but smile when she starts to fuss in her crib and we walk in to see her standing up, holding onto the crib bars like a little criminal :). Our baby girl is growing up!
[Brandan is eager to start his last block of classes, but he will miss his lazy, study-free evenings!]
[Our mobile baby!]
[My sweet ole' Grandma for our 4 generation picture - sorry you couldn't be there in person mama!]