Thursday

can anyone say CHEESE?

Ever since this kid turned 10 months old it has been a constant struggle to get him to look at the camera and smile. I'm sure other photographer moms can relate? He would do anything in his power to ruin the picture: look down, look up, look to the side, close his eyes, run away, cover his face with his hands... you name it? Having his picture taken too much {my fault} made him hate the camera. And unless I had someone else there to get him to look and smile.. a good picture was practically impossible. BUT not anymore!!! {muah-ha-ha-ha} He is beginning to understand BRIBES!

As I was attempting to take some pictures of him yesterday he was looking away and closing his eyes as usual.. and I stopped {what am I going to do?} It hit me! Get something to bribe him with!!! I grabbed a chip off the counter and walked back to him. "Caden, sit right here and I'll give you a chip!"... he ran and sat down in the spot... "I'll give you this chip if you look at Momma and smile!".. This is the picture I captured. His very best attempt to smile at the camera. It looks something like a mix between a growl face and a totally cheesey smile. I couldn't stop laughing. I am thrilled! This is the beginning of a new world for me. If I can bribe him to smile with his cute smile.. GLORIOUS!

Isn't he so lovable?
can anyone say cheese?

lara

Tuesday

My Little {BIG} Boy

Caden is officially 18 months old as of yesterday! Can you believe it?

I feel like I am losing my baby as every day passes. It breaks my heart! He is speaking more and more, I am amazed at the words he is picking up. He recently started saying "Gator".. this is his nick name from Triest and Poppy. He is saying doctor, kitty, juice, no, yes, snow, truck, nana (banana), poopoo, duck, dog, apple and lots of others that aren't coming to mind. He understands some of his colors: mostly blue (of course), yellow, green and red. I can see him learning and growing every day.

We went to his 18 month check up yesterday. The doctor said he is far beyond most 18 month old children in physical abilities: kicking and throwing a ball across the room, wrestling daddy (as well as a baby can), doing "down, set, hike!" and running or throwing the football, running like a mad man, picking up a ball with a short lacrosse stick and throwing it, loading and shooting nerf guns... etc. When he asked how many words Caden is saying I turned and asked Caden to say "doctor". He pointed  at the doctor and squeeled "DOC!" {shocking}. He had been so quiet during the visit that it got both of us laughing out of surprise. He said Caden is right on track with speaking! One of our goals for this year is to have Caden speaking fairly well by his 2nd birthday {wish us luck}. One of the questions the doctor asked kind of surprised me.. He asked if Caden immitates Me and Taylor? To this I can definitely answer YES!!! This little boy is in love with, no, OBSESSED with vacuuming. It's a dream come true for any mother. I clean and he vacuums {bliss}. Every morning after he is fed and dressed he runs into my bathroom and plugs in my hair dryer so he can blow his hair into style. It is pretty adorable. When we eat he always takes his plate from the table and walks with it over to the sink so he can put it in. I'm glad at least the things he is immitating are only adding to his good behavior. It really makes me watch what I do and say around him. We lucked out of getting shots this visit.. I always wonder if it was the smartest thing to have him immunized.. I just don't know enough about natural stuff/eating healthy not to :(  BUT I'm working on it. He is totally healthy and growing perfectly. He has grown a whole 2 1/2 inches since October! At this rate he'll be a 6' 5" man before we know it! Here are his stats for 18 Months:

Height: 34 1/2 inches {95th Percentile}
Weight: 27 lbs. 8 oz. {73rd Percentile}
Head: 48 1/2 cm. {75th Percentile}

The rest of his stats from previous visits are at the bottom of the blog, If you're interested. It is great hearing that my little boy is doing so well in all of his developmental areas. But more importantly it's great to hear that he is growing healthy and strong. I love him with all of my heart.

lara

Thursday

"Jesus"

I couldn't let this one go. Caden does and says so many cute little things, and I rarely take the time to write them down. Tonight was one of the single sweetest things he's ever done. I put him to bed at his normal bedtime and after a few minutes he started crying. I went in, handed him his bottle and told him it was time for nigh night and walked out. He was quiet for a little while, but started crying again. I thought maybe he wasn't quite ready for bed or he just needed to be held for a minute. I sat with him in the rocking chair and started singing: I am a Child of God. I ended up singing several primary songs one after the other, and finally he was very still. I figured he was asleep, so I paused for a minute. As soon as I stopped singing he looked up at me and in his sweet little voice said: "Jesus."  My eyes filled with tears as he laid his head back on my chest. None of the songs I sang included Jesus's name, but he knew. I'm sure he felt the spirit. I am continually amazed by little children. They know Jesus. It doesn't take much for them understand who he is and what feelings accompany the spirit.

I love my sweet little boy. I hope he knows that.

lara

Wednesday

Attitude

I love my visiting teachers

It is amazing to me that every time they come the message they share applies perfectly to my life. I love it! It is truly proof that God can inspire and prompt people to serve as his angles. I have been thinking a lot about what goals I would like to have for this year. There are, of course, those goals related to health and talents, but I continue to come back to my attitude. I am not necessarily a negative person, but I feel that I need to improve my attitude regardless. I want to be that girl who is so cheery and makes everyone smile just by her presence. I love that girl.

The visiting teaching message for this month was on self reliance. I was amazed that out of all the topics relating to self reliance my visiting teachers decided to share their feelings on Attitude. They read a poem to me {and I begged them to let me keep it} It really struck home for me. I hope that over the years I can grow into that girl, the one who, by her presence, makes everyone's day a little better.

ATTITUDE

The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude; to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than Appearance; giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company... A church... A home! The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable, the only thing we can do is play on the one string we have; and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you... We are in charge of our attitudes

-- Author Unknown

How do you keep a positive attitude?
lara

Sunday

Build-a-Bear: Britton and Caden

A few weeks before Christmas, while Taylor and I were finishing up our Christmas shopping, we passed the Build-A-Bear Workshop in the mall. I seriously love that place. We went in and looked at all the cute animals! They had this fluffy dog, he was SO cute (I fell in love)..  I thought he would be a perfect sleeping buddy for our little man.  I really wanted to build it for Caden a for Christmas, but we ended up deciding it would probably be more fun to let him build his own. We had been making that list of activities to do over the break and I figured it would be a fun little activity for Britton and Caden to do together! Grammy took all 4 of us (Britton, Maddy, Caden and Me) a few days before Maddy and Bryce flew home.

We let the boys loose to look at all the different stuffed animals, they totally didn't get it... but eventually they noticed the animals lining the wall.  Caden loved the horsey, he wouldn't stop buzzing his lips making the horsey sound. I'm sure that would have been his first choice in a stuffed animal, but I thought the dog would be better for sleeping with. (Taylor and I ended up taking him back a few days ago for a little Momma, Dada Caden date, and let him build the horsey, and he totally loves it!) Britton got the same cute dog as Caden and we started the workshop! We skipped the sound boxes and headed to the stuffing department. They stepped on the pedal to fill their animals, gave them a great big hug and put a little heart inside.  Next was the grooming station, they brushed and blew their puppies till they were clean and fluffy! We looked through the accessories, but all the boys were really interested in were the little red teddy cars. They honked the horns, pushed them around, and sat inside. I think we had all 6 of the cars scattered around the back of the shop! What a sight... typical boys ;) We finished with the birth certificates and a little house for each dog. Caden named his "Bobby" and Britton named his "Buddy" (I think?) It was quite the adventure! Caden loves his Bobby, he sleeps with him every night! Thanks for the fun day Grammy!

Build a bear
The dog is sticking his tongue out, so Caden was trying to mimic the dog and lick him {gag} fur in the mouth!

Build a bear
I love this picture of Britton, it's so sweet!
Build a bear

Build a bear

Build a bear

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IMG_0251-2

IMG_0247-2

IMG_0256-2
lara

Thursday

New Years Eve

New Years Eve, the end of 2009. I remember New Years Eve 1999 all too well, has it really been 10 years?!

Bret got a stack of court side tickets for the womens basketball game on New Years Eve. I have to admit, I'm not a HUGE fan of basketball.. but I enjoy watching a game every now and then.  Taylor, Ross, Triest and I decided to bring the babies to the game... looking back now, I'm not sure it was the best idea we ever had. The buzzer was so loud that both Caden and Gabe were in tears for the first half and nothing, with the exception of Poppy could calm them down. The cat nap for Gabe and Popcorn for Caden seemed to make the 2nd half not as bad. BYU won, of course, their womens basketball team is pretty talented. We chatted with family and friends when it was over and took a few pictures. We flagged Cosmo down during the first half of the game to come say hi to Caden...... BIG MISTAKE! The second he got close to Caden, I saw a flash of flinging arms and legs and the highest blood curdling scream I've ever heard out of his mouth. He was in tears within seconds. I laughed out of shock! He was terrified to say the least. When the game ended Cosmo was on the court and I went over to take a few pictures of him with Gabe, who had no fear whatsoever. He was quite intrigued bu the strange looking man ;) Taylor brought Caden over to see if he would possibly take a picture with him.. but the second he saw Cosmo he started crying again.. and yes Cosmo felt REALLY REALLY BAD ;) he even held his tail in shame. LOL. We finally got one picture with Poppy standing in the middle of him and Cosmo. I got my fair share of laughs in for the day. Hopefully he'll warm up to Cosmo over the next few years!

{on our way in Caden saw a vacuum by the janitors closet... oh joy... his favorite thing in the world}
New Years Eve

New Years Eve

{Gabe sleeping with a blanket over his head because of the buzzers}

New Years Eve

New Years Eve

{I love Gabes face in this picture}

New Years Eve

{Poor Cosmo}

New Years Eve

New Years Eve

Before the game we attempted to take a few pictures of Caden and Gabe in their matching pajamas... and well, the following pictures sum it up.

Caden: "Take the picture already"     Gabe: "grrr...Why do I keep falling over?"

New Years Eve

Caden: "uh... what am I supposed to do now?"     Gabe: "oh, hey mom :)"

New Years Eve

Caden: "why are you still laying on me?"     Gabe "....... mom, a little help down here."

New Years Eve

Caden: "OH! Maybe he wants me to kiss him!"     Gabe: "what is he doing to me!?!"

New Years Eve

I couldn't stop laughing after looking through these pictures.. their faces are so funny. Ah, Caden loves his baby Gabe.

That night we were joined by Russ, Amalie, Maddy, Amy and Andrew to celebrate! Triest got the card game Nertz for Christmas and we finally sat down to play it. Triest and Amalie attempted to teach me how to play! I felt so behind.. cards were flying everywhere... AH! and my brain just kind of froze! LOL. At least I played enough rounds to get the gist and understand the rules. Taylor and I went and bought the game a few days later.... and now we're pro! I highly recommend it! We watched Fools Gold, sat around and talked and waited for the clock to strike 12:00! Taylor rounded up the boys to prepare the huge boxes of semi-illegal fireworks. We all stood around the fire pit and watched our 15 minute show. Bret got some great night shots of all of us and the fireworks, I was definitely impressed. The snow was covered in ashes and fuses by the end and we were all slightly frozen. It was wonderful having the family together to bring in the New Year. What will this year have in store? I can't wait!
Nertz: CHECK!  Fireworks for New Years: CHECK!

New Years Eve

New Years Eve

New Years Eve

lara

Monday

Family Activities

Over Thanksgiving Bret and Ingrid told all of the kids that we are now in charge of planning activities when we are having a family gathering. So after our fun trip to Park City we all started emailing and getting schedules together so we could get as many fun activities in as we could! We each added to the list and it came out to be something like this:
chhristmas activities

We can proudly say all but 2 things off the list were achieved! I didn't mind too much skipping the sledding and tubing at Soldiers Hollow, although they would have been fun.. I am always ok with being dry and warm instead of covered in snow ;) The day after Christmas we planned to visit the Draper Temple to do a whole stack of family sealings. It was such an amazing experience, it was my and Taylor's first time doing sealings other than our own! The spirit was so strong and I am sure a families rejoiced in heaven! It was one of the highlights of my Christmas break. After the temple we headed to Cucina Toscana in Salt Lake.. this place is possibly the greatest restaurant I have ever been to. It's an incredible authentic Italian restaurant run by a friend of Bret and Ingrids. Every time I eat there, I feel like I've died and gone to heaven. The crown on top of all the delicious courses of food is their desert. They have the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted, it has a slightly bitter dark chocolate taste and is completely DIVINE! I hope we keep it a tradition to go there every year!
Temple Sealings as a Family: CHECK! Cucina Toscana: CHECK!

Sunday after Christmas we started the flower headband project. Ingrid bought some plain metal headbands off etsy and had the brilliant idea to decorate them with homemade fabric flowers. We each, kind of, made up our own patterns of how to sew these flowers, and they all turned out so cute! I made 4 headbands, more than my fair share... but I wanted every color! I now have black, brown, cream and b&w flower headbands.. and I LOVE them!
Make Flower Headbands: CHECK!


flower headbands

flower headbands

Monday night we went to Color Me Mine for the family night special. I love this place... I'm pretty sure I'm obsessed with it. It's therapeutic! Taylor and I agreed that 3rd time's the charm, we both felt pro and were able to make our best creations yet! Ingrid, Ross and Triest made really cute mugs (he-hem, excuse me Ross's was manly, not cute). Bret made a very cool BYU vase. Oma made an intricate giraffe print plate, and Taylor and I made Cereal bowl/mugs! I thoroughly enjoyed this activity!
Color Me Mine: CHECK!

Color me mine 3
  {check out her cute flower headband}
Color me mine 3
{Ingrids Mug, I love this idea}
Color me mine 3

Color me mine 3

I'll call it good for this post, coming soon: New Years and Build-A-Bear!
lara

Saturday

Christmas 2009

Christmas has already come and past! It's a week into January! I can already tell this month is going to pass all too quickly.

This year we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my family! It was so fun to be home for Christmas and share it with Taylor and Caden :) Unfortunately I didn't take as many pictures as I should have.. there was so much was going on that I didn't want to step away. We hit Christmas Eve off with LOTS of cooking: Beef pastries with gravy, Moms amazing rolls, Fruit salad, Lemon Ginger Cookies, Chocolate Nutella Cookies (for Taylor), Cinnamon rolls and more. That night we enjoyed quite a feast! After stuffing ourselves with the delicious dinner we put on a live "improv" nativity. We each dressed ourselves in costumes and chose who we wanted to be... unfortunately, for Lane, the only costume left was Mary. He quite willingly played the part and stuffed his dress with a large pillow to make himself appear pregnant. I just about died of laughter when Taylor (playing Joseph) placed his hand on Lanes belly and started rubbing it.. AHHHHH!!! It was probably a little sacrilegious to do it improv style, but it was a good laugh for us all! Next we opened pajamas, I love this tradition, we all get a pair of pajamas to sleep in for Christmas Eve. Mom got the girls matching pjs and the older boys got matching pjs as well. We each ran and got dressed and hurried back downstairs to open our hot chocolate mugs. Earlier in December we went to color me mine and made mugs to open on Christmas Eve! Once we were done with hot chocolate and thin mint cookies, we watched Merry Madagascar. Now you have to understand that Madagascar 2 is unanimously my family's favorite movie (I will post about that later). So naturally we all rolled with laughter while watching the 21 minute movie.. ah, it is SO funny! Then we read the Christmas story out of Luke and hit the sac at about 10:00.

I had warned Taylor that my siblings might wake him up at around 4:30, and he threatened to kill them all if that happened ;) but to everyone's surprise Taylor was the first one up at 5:00 forcing everyone upstairs to see what Santa brought! lol! We had so much fun opening presents and eating warm cinnamon rolls. It was quite the day. My family totally spoiled Taylor, Caden and I. Taylor got a spotting scope, and some really fun games. Caden got a baby vacuum, probably his favorite present of all.  They got me a Blendtec Blender, which I've been wanting since we got married. Now I can make smoothies every day! My last present was from both my parents and Taylor. I had asked for money for the Canon 50D camera body, which I was hoping to save for and get this next spring. I expected the wrapped box they handed me to be filled with some money. When I opened the big box there was another little box inside of that.... and inside of that box was another box. Inside of that little tiny box was..... an envelope, the card inside the envelope held a 1 $ bill.. I was so confused! Mom said "look on the back of the card". When I flipped it over I read "look upstairs in my closet under my dresses." My heart did a major flip and I ran upstairs (followed by all my siblings)!!!! I found the wrapped box.. it was kind of heavy.. could it be?? Taylor's face was completely lit up when he saw me carrying it back downstairs... I tore off the paper and it was the camera!!! I don't know that I've ever been so excited! I was like a kid on Christmas morning.... oh wait ;) It was a wonderful surprise. My mom took my old camera as part of the trade! I am so excited to help her learn to use it and we can both progress in photography! What a day!

With a car filled to the ceiling we left that afternoon to join the Van Leeuwen Family for Christmas night. We opened more presents... (we are seriously so spoiled)... and had an amazing Christmas dinner. Taylor got the Oakley Oil Rig sunglasses he's been wanting for a while now, I think it is his 4th pair of Oakley sunglasses (he's ooobsessed) ;) I got the Canon 50mm 1.4/f lens, which I LOVE! Caden got a Train Table and tons of new clothes, which he desperately needed! I was still trying to figure out a few things with my camera so I only took a few pictures that evening. Caden had a great time playing with all his new toys and a few of his cousins toys as well..

We had so much fun spending time with both of our families. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people who love Taylor Caden and Me so much. I love this time of year: I love that it brings us all together, to give, share and love. I am so grateful for the birth of our savior and the many sacrifices he made for each of us. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Christmas


Christmas Presents


Christmas Presents


Christmas Presents

Christmas Presents

Christmas Presents

Christmas


lara

And Many More to Come

At the age of sweet sixteen my heart was stolen. I never dreamed on that day I met you that someday I would be lucky enough to share the rest of my life with you. You have always given me butterflies and taken my breath away. You make me smile and laugh like no one else can.

The day I married you was the happiest day of my life.

It is hard to believe it has really been 2 years. I have truly cherished every day with you. I am so grateful for the life we have together. I am so lucky to call you mine for now and forever. You are my best friend and the love of my life. Happy 2nd Anniversary! AND Happy 1st Anniversary of being sealed to my two handsome boys! I Love You!

T 18 b-day

Bridals

Bridals

Wedding

Sealing

Sealing
lara