Saturday, December 1, 2012

Giving is Better Than Receiving

Since having Caden and Carter, giving has become more important to me. It breaks my heart that there are kids who are lacking the basic necessities: food, clothing, and shelter. When our boys grow up, I want them to be givers. In order for them to become givers, they need to see us give. This Christmas season, I have been trying to find ways to include Caden in the giving process. I know that a lot of families are struggling financially, but there are a lot of ways to give without spending a lot of money. Here are some affordable ideas for getting young kids involved in the giving process this Christmas season:

1. Donate clothes and toys:  Usually, before Christmas and birthdays, I go through the boys' toys and clothes and either give them to someone who I know needs them or donate them. This year, I decided to include Caden in the process. I am so proud of him; he donated two large bags of toys that he no longer plays with.

2. Donate food:  You do not have to donate a lot of food. Caden picked out two items at the grocery store to put in the food barrel at church. Again, I do not think it is the amount that matters; it is the process of teaching our kids about the importance of giving.

3. Operation Christmas Child:  For under $20, you can fill a shoe box for a child who lives somewhere around the world who has very little. Caden enjoyed shopping for a boy his own age and understood that the things we were buying were not for him.

4. Angel Tree:  Since Caden was born, he has picked out a gift for a boy on the Angel Tree his own age. This year, I talked him in to picking a 3-month-old girl who wants car seat toys--how precious! In the past, I have been frustrated by the Angel Tree because of the requests for $100-$200 items. This year, there seemed to be a lot of requests for affordable gifts, which was nice to see.

5. Donate a new toy:  During the Christmas season, many businesses collect new toys for kids.  We have not donated a new toy yet, but plan on finding something for the RiverBend Pediatrics Drive. When you donate a new toy, it does not have to be an expensive toy. Both Ross and TJ Maxx are excellent places to find a nice toy for an affordable price. Caden loves searching the toy sections in both stores to look for "treasures."

It has been so much fun helping Caden pick things out for others. He has always had a giving heart, but I think he is beginning to understand that there are kids who have very little and he is blessed to have what he has.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Constant, Good, and Sovereign

Sometimes I read blogs and wish I was able to be as honest and open as other people are on their blogs. Because of my job, I am very careful about what I post about our family. I am continuously inspired by people who are honest and open about the struggles and trials they go through in this life. What I do know is that in all of the struggles and trials our family has been through, is going through, and will go through, God has not and will not forsake us.

Vertical Church Band's song, "Not for a Moment," has been my comfort lately reminding me that God is constant, God is good, God is sovereign, and He will never forsake us.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Heather & Macin

In September, I did something I have not done in a long time--I photographed a wedding. From time to time, I get asked to photograph a wedding, but I usually politely decline. Weddings make me nervous; if something goes wrong, you cannot re-shoot them. One of my good friends from high school asked me to photograph her wedding and I tried to say no, but she would not let me. To make me a little less nervous, I took my brother along as my second shooter. My brother and I worked really well together and it made us ponder possibly shooting more weddings together in the future. 

Thank you again Heather & Macin for letting us be a part of your special day!

The Bride & Groom
My brother captured this amazing shot.
The Beautiful Bride
The Donald
Father & Daughter
Mother & Daughter
The Ceremony
Mr. & Mrs. Ensign!
The First Dance
The Garter Toss
A Wedding Shoot
All Clear
The Dress
The Rings

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Our Little Rock Star!

(I found this post from October in my "drafts" and am not sure why I didn't post it.)

Caden: "Mom, guess who's student of the week?!"
Me: "Who?"
Caden: "I am!" 

And, in case you can't read it. . . he still wants to be a rock star! 
Rapping with his Dollar Tree mic

When we're in the car, he always wants to listen to Colby's music. He usually sings the choruses, but today I heard him starting to rap. Like father, like son!

(He now raps the entire song Colby wrote me for our wedding. I need to videotape it.)

Fall Days

Today was a gorgeous fall day. I took the boys to Dorris Ranch to let them run off some energy. I wasn't going to take my camera, but I'm glad I did. This photo makes me smile.

Best Friends

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Spiced Apple Cider, Pumpkin Pie, & the Pumpkin Patch

I have been in the "fall mood" lately.  Trader Joe's must love to see me coming because so far I have left with pumpkin bagels, pumpkin pancake mix, spiced apple cider, and pumpkin pie.  I think it is the changing leaves-I love the changing leaves in Oregon this time of year. I need to get out there, brave the rain, and snap a few photos before winter arrives all too soon.

We braved the rain today and headed to the pumpkin patch. When you tell a four-year-old that you are going to the pumpkin patch on Saturday, you go to the pumpkin patch on Saturday. . .rain or shine. It was beautiful when we left, but by the time we arrived to the pumpkin patch, it was pouring. Caden and Brody did not seem to mind the rain, but Carter was not happy about it! We quickly found pumpkins and returned home. Caden and Carter were so excited that they got to take cousin Brody to the pumpkin patch and spend the day with him. It is so much fun watching the cousins play together!

Relaxing in the hay before the hayride.

Curls! Carter loved the hayride.

Carter with a pumpkin as big as him.

Our handsome four-year-old.

I love this photo. He has made this face since he was a baby.

Caden loves his Brody.

Brody loved the hayride, too!

Brody loves his baby pumpkin!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Through Mommy's Eyes: Letter #8 (You Are Loved)

Dear Carty,

It has been a while since Mommy has posted about what you have been up to. "Someone" keeps Mommy a little busy. You are ALL boy. . .just like your brother. You are SO busy. You usually wake up before 7 a.m. You are always ready to go to bed  before 7 p.m. Sometimes you nap. Sometimes you don't. Your parents like it better when you do. You LOVE to play with brother. You LOVE to bug brother. You have been saying a new word almost every day. You are beginning to put two words together: "all gone" and "more please." You tell brother, "No! Stop! Don't!" You give the best hugs and slobbery kisses. You don't want to talk about giving up "ba ba." We need to talk about giving up "ba ba." You love to tease and to "tickle tickle." You love to go new places and explore. You want to do everything brother does. You are growing up too fast.

You are loved,


Nan and Mommy loved watching you play with dandelions at the farm.

Humbled, Again!

Caden's preschool sometimes posts funny quotes from preschoolers on its Facebook page. This week's post was about a four-year-old boy who was staring off into space. When the teacher asked him if he was okay and asked him what he was thinking about, the little boy replied, "I was just thinking. It's been weeks since I have gotten a good night's sleep." My first thought was, "Oh, no! That's the boy who is going to sleep his way through high school."

Later that night, while tucking Caden in, he told Colby and me that he fell asleep on the snack table at school and his friend had to wake him up. Immediately, I started cracking up because I had a gut feeling that it was my son who told the teacher that he has not had a good night's sleep in weeks. After a quick e-mail, I found out that it was my son's quote.

It is my son--the teacher's son--who is going to be sleeping his way through high school. . .

This is not the first time I have been humbled as a parent. . .and I'm sure it will not be my last. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get much sympathy from my own mom!

Our Little Preschooler

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Farm Days

Caden and Carter love to go to the farm. . .any farm. This week, I have a family photo shoot at a farm that I had never been to, so the boys and I decided to check it out. They loved the animals. . .the bunnies, the donkeys, the baby bull, etc. They also loved the FREE hayride. Since Daddy wasn't able to go with us, Caden can't wait to show Daddy his new farm. I love lazy farm days with my boys.

Caden (4-years-old) & Carter (14-months-old)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Grocery Store Epiphany

At the grocery store. . .

"Mom, those kids are like chocolate!"-Caden
"Yes, that's how God made them. Don't they have beautiful skin?"-Mom
"Yes, and He made some of us lemon!"-Caden

Saturday, August 25, 2012

10,000 Reasons

"10,000 Reasons" (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman

I can not get enough of this song. . .

"Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me. . ."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Look Who's "1"!

Dear Carter,

One of my friends said he was not sure if he wanted to have another baby because he could not imagine loving him/her as much as he loves his firstborn daughter.  Well, you do not have to worry little man.  We love you just as much as we love Caden.  We love you for being "you." You are only "1," but you definitely have your own little (or should I say big) personality. At times, you can be challenging, but you have absolutely stolen our hearts. We love you so much and are having fun watching you grow and learn new things.  We had so much fun celebrating your first birthday with you and are looking forward to celebrating many more.

We love you, Carty!


Mommy, Daddy, & Caden

P.S. So I do not forget. . .you are 29 1/2 inches tall (55th percentile) & 24.8 pounds (75th percentile).

Photos by Jeremy Mabe

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cousin Time!

Last week, cousin Brody was able to come over and play for a couple of hours.  Caden & Carter were so happy to be able to spend some time with him.  At first, they made him a little nervous (I don't blame him!), but he warmed up to them after awhile.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Caden's First Scooter

When one of Caden's friends asked him if he could skateboard, he nodded his head like guys do and nonchalantly said, "Yeah." (As far as we know, he has never been on a skateboard.) We looked at skateboards for his birthday, but decided it would probably be a better idea for him to start out on a scooter.  He has been practicing riding his scooter at our favorite little park and is doing really well.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cheerios for All!

It is good to know that Caden is not only becoming self-sufficient, but he is beginning to look out for his little brother as well.

Apparently, Carter enjoyed breakfast in bed this morning, "Mom, I had Cheerios for breakfast. . .and so did Carter!"-Caden (4-years-old)

Guess what I had for breakfast this morning?!

Friday, July 27, 2012

"My Mom forgot to mention. . .

I am officially a 'walker'!" (11-months-old)

"Hi, Mom!"

Birthday S'mores

Last week, we had a busy but fun week.  Colby & I visited Seattle for our 5th wedding anniversary (photos coming soon!), and when we returned, we celebrated Caden's 4th birthday.  Since we were returning on Caden's birthday, we wanted to do something special for him.  Not too long ago, we ate at Johnny Ocean's Grille and noticed that they served s'mores.  We thought that that sounded like something Caden would like to do.  We were right--both Caden and Carter enjoyed making and eating s'mores.  I have a feeling that Caden will talk us into making s'mores at least one more time before summer ends.  

Caden's birthday surprise

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Through Mommy's Eyes: Letter #7 (Birthday Letter)

Dear Caden,

When we found out that I was pregnant with you, the ultrasound tech thought you were a tubal pregnancy.  After I was prepped for surgery, the doctor who was supposed to perform the surgery was hesitant to perform the surgery because he was not 100% sure that you were a tubal pregnancy.  We will be forever grateful that the doctor did not perform surgery that day.  We can not imagine our lives without you.  You are full of life, love, & laughter. . .lots of laughter! Happy 4th Birthday, Caden Cree!

Love you to the moon and back,


We celebrated your 4th birthday with family and friends at Bounce (Photos by Uncle Ryan (Thank you!))

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Almost "1"!


Next month, we will be celebrating your 1st birthday!  Caden is SO excited--he asked if he could go to your party : ).  I can't believe that at this time last year, you were still in my belly. We can't imagine life without you.  You have added so much love, joy, & laughter to our family.  

We love you sweet boy!


We had our annual family photos taken today by Jeremy Mabe.  I love the following photo he captured of Carter playing with Daddy.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July Fun

Last year, on the Fourth of July, we let Caden stay up to watch P.K. Park and Alton Baker Park's firework displays from our favorite little park.  It was a mistake. . ."someone" was a little crabby the next day.  So, this year, we started lighting off our fireworks at 7 p.m. so the little ones could go to bed at a decent hour.

Caden put on his sunglasses for the bright fireworks : ).

I am not sure who was more excited about setting off fireworks. . .Caden or Colby.  They have been setting off smoke bombs for the last three days. Caden says they are "fighting the pirates." He is definitely "all boy."

Caden is still a little nervous around the loud fireworks.  He said he likes the "quiet fireworks." So Colby, being a good daddy, only set off small fireworks for him.

Carter watched the fireworks from his jumper on the porch.  He was a little nervous, but never cried.

He smiled, laughed, jumped, and clapped every time another firework was set off.

Usually, we can see P.K. Park and Alton Baker Park's firework displays from the end of our driveway, but the trees have grown up so much that now we can only see the firework displays through the trees.  Lucky for us, our neighbors put on a firework display right over  our house : ). Surprisingly, the boys did not wake up; it sounded like we were in a war zone!

We hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Caden's First Trip to the Dentist

Last week, Caden went to the dentist for the first time.  At first, he seemed a little bit nervous but he said he didn't need to hold my hand (sniffle sniffle).  He did an excellent job while the dental hygienist cleaned his teeth.  She said he was her best patient of the day.  He was extremely interested in examining his x-rays; he had the hygienist show him both his top and bottom teeth (baby and permanent).  Not only was he excellent during his own exam, he entertained himself during my exam as well.  Our little man is growing up on us!

No cavities!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Polar Bear Poop, Elephant Pee, and a Stingy Bat

My Grandma, who lives in California, had to attend a conference in Washington, so we decided to meet her at the Oregon Zoo.  Since Caden has been born, we have taken him to the zoo every summer.  It is interesting to see how his interests change as he grows older.  This trip, he was interested in "reading" all of the "books" (informational signs) about the animals.  If you ask him about his zoo trip, he will most likely tell you about the polar bear pooping, the elephant peeing, and the bat not sharing his broccoli.

When we went to the zoo last year, it was three weeks before I delivered Carter, so this was his first real trip to the zoo.  He called all of the animals "dog dogs" and enjoyed playing in the grass with Caden during the bird show.  It was a long day for the boys, but they were both excellent.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Watch Out World!

I took ten steps! TEN! And. . .I can climb up onto the couch pretty easily.  I am making sure Mommy doesn't get bored this summer!

Update:  On June 25th, 2012, I took 16 steps. . .I am determined!

10 1/2 months old