Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 :: lessons learned

2014 has been a roller coaster year!

We lost our business, our income, and our home.  From a material standpoint, we were left with nothing.  Despite our lack of possessions, we have absolutely everything we need:  God and our family.


Here are a few of the important lessons we learned in 2014:

Our relationship with God is more important than anything else.

We can rely on God in any and every situation.

God will provide.  He has placed people in our life who take incredible care of us, and he designs the perfect circumstances to meet our needs.

God is specific and creative and thorough in the way he plans:  an extra vehicle, three extra bedrooms, work that utilized untapped skills, being in town (and at the house) to support family during a difficult time, a second job that earns the precise amount of money we need...  He is good!

We don't need much of what we thought we needed.


Life. Is. Good.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

wintertime gator rides

It's been so cold the past week or so, but we've still taken a few opportunities to bundle up and head outside.  This day was clear and snow-free, but cooooold.

The cold won't stop our fun!

Lauren learned to hold onto the handle, so she got to ride in the gator with Collin and both kids had a blast cruising!

A few days later, Daddy took the kiddos out to brave the cold + snow for more time in the gator.

They loved it, obviously!

she feeds herself

Miss Independent is all about feeding herself, regardless of the mess it makes.

She's happy

and eats plenty, so it's all good.

She's getting so big!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lauren Kate :: 16 months

Lauren Kate is 16 months old!

Like every other, this month has been a big one.  Lauren Kate is growing and changing every day.  She wears 18 month clothes and got two new teeth this month, which puts her total at 8!

Lauren is a busy and active girl.  She's adventurous and brave, willing to try anything.  She climbs onto everything, and especially likes being on the stool in the bathroom so she can wash her hands and brush her teeth by herself.  She will try to copy any trick Collin does, and she is not afraid of getting hurt.  Luckily she's a tough cookie and brushes it off pretty well when she wipes out.

Sweet baby girl seems to really want to communicate, and she is starting to say several words.  She says mama, psss (please), p (up), uh oh, pup-pup, arf, and mow (meow).  She babbles a lot, especially when she's "reading" a book or "talking" on the phone.  Squawking is a pretty common method of communicating frustration.  Lauren points, nods, and shakes her head really efficiently, so she typically is able to communicate what she wants.

Lauren Kate is a fantastic mimic and she's learning adorable skills in the process.  She snuggles her baby dolls, pats their backs, and says "shh shh shh."  She copies dance moves, different car noises while she's driving toys, and any silly way Collin uses other toys.

Laughing and making people laugh are Lauren's favorite things.  She's really silly and loves to show off, spinning and giggling and making funny noises.  Her laugh is precious and it's so fun when she and Collin laugh together.

Girlfriend still loves to eat, and she's not very picky.  She loves cottage cheese, meatballs, chicken, ham, cheese of all varieties, strawberries, peaches, and yogurt.  This month she discovered the joy of dipping, so that's one of her new favorite activities during mealtime.  She will take a sip or two of milk, but she really only likes drinking water.

Lauren is learning about pretending, which is precious to watch.  She likes all kinds of pretend play - grocery shopping with her new cart, cooking in the play kitchen, taking care of babies, and talking on the phone.  She also loves reading, sometimes to herself and sometimes in the lap of someone who will actually read the words.  Her favorite parts of reading books are pointing at the pictures and turning the pages.

Lauren is working her way into toddlerhood and we're enjoying all the changes we see in our sweet baby.  She's growing and learning and becoming a big girl.  She is strong and determined, sweet and persistent, and smart, smart, smart.  We're praying about how to parent our precious girl in ways that develop her strengths and encourage her to use her persistence to help others and make our world a brighter place.

You are an absolute ray of sunshine, Lauren Kate, and we love you to pieces!

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014 didn't go as planned, but we were together and we celebrated the birth of Christ!

We snagged a sweet family picture after we attended the Christmas Eve service at Papa & Grandma's church,

and then Collin enjoyed some "hot milk"

while Lauren snacked.

After we put the kids to bed, we stayed up way late laughing and playing Family Feud.


Christmas morning started with a sweet conversation

and then presents.

After presents, we bundled up and went outside to play in the snow!  I don't remember another Christmas when it snowed fluffy flakes all day long.

Lauren Kate LOVED sledding!

(princess wave!)

Collin and Ryan got a little crazy with their sled...

After supervising for awhile,

Collin decided he'd like to help pull Lauren's sled.

She loved it!

He loved it!

Oh, and did I mention we got to spend Christmas with Uncle Shane and Auntie Bridget?!