Saturday, August 18, 2012

A new blog!

We've started a new blog. Well, really we are continuing the same family blog...just using a new portal. I was having too many problems uploading pictures onto blogger. If it takes me more than a few minutes to post something it just isn't going to happen (hence the absence from the blog for the past month). So, we made the switch to wordpress. So far? very happy. Very easy.

Please come to our new site!

P.s. If anyone knows if there is a way to transfer blog content from one blog to another please let me know!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Big sister

Audrey says everything her sister says and wants to do everything her sister does. Everything. 
She loves her so much and already looks up to her.

Sometimes however, Audrey doesn't fully appreciate Annika's tendency to try to mother her when I am not near. 
As you can see by Audrey's face here. 
and the way she is trying to get away from her sister here...

The other morning I was taking a shower while the girls played in the family room. I was about finished when I heard Audrey sobbing. First thought was that she must have hurt herself pretty badly. So I got out to see what was going on. Audrey was sitting on the ground mad as hornet crying and crying. Big sister? Standing above her telling her to go to her room. I asked Annika why Audrey was crying. She simply said, "because I send her to her room." Why she sent her sister to her room? "Because I just can't listen to her cry and whine anymore..." 

How many times do you think she's heard that?;) 

p.s. that book I'm reading is hilarious and very insightful. highly recommend it. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Minnesota 2012

The girls and I got to go to MN again this summer for the now annual(?)  "Christmas in July" with the Van Essens. We had a great time and I think its safe to say we are fully recovered from our trip. Oh my was I tired for a few days after that. I felt like I was moving in slow motion...pregnancy, children, and heat can sure take it out of you. So glad we were able to go out. It was great to see everyone again. Annika keeps asking when we can get back on a plane to see Gramma Great. 

Following the river at at SAC. Trying to get all our wiggles out. We did this over and over. 
It was very nice to have Nana and Papa along to navigate through the airports. Thank you for all your help...and the games on your ipad! 
A large part of the family...minus the families who weren't there and a few sleeping children.
The great grands and gramma great (again missing a few who were sleeping or not there). I believe come December Grandma will have 39 greats...? So fun to see all these little ones and remember what it was like to play with my own cousins growing up when we would fly out for reunions. 
Audrey was content to sit by Auntie Gloria in the shade (did i mention it was hot out there;)) 
We had our first Van Essen family Olympic games with representatives from not quite all over the world, but more than just the Netherlands now (thanks to many new "outlaw" cousins);) 
oh the competition! I come by it honestly. 
Annika found her "friend" Uncle Brian right away. 
Team Italy. Stacked with the pregnant of whom volunteered to complete the "skipping" part of the relay...why I thought that was a good idea who knows.
the girls were entertained again for hours with Gramma great's babies
We did get to enjoy a brief thunder storm one afternoon all cozy in bed. I love those summer storms. 

Safe to say we were tuckered out after our few days in MN. Audrey actually slept on the plane! Hallelujah! 

Great to see you all again! We love you and thanks so much for your hospitality! 
One last pic from the evening I went up to the cabin with the girls. Definitely a lot of little girl cousins running around. We are certainly a female dominated family...take that however you like;) 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

the things you say

annika is absolutely delicious at three and a half. she wakes up at 6:30 (or 7 if we're lucky) and doesn't stop talking until she goes to bed. i remember telling eric when annika was a baby that once she started talking, she was not going to stop. she was a little late in verbal development so i thought maybe i had been mistaken. nope, it just took her a little longer, but this girl rarely stops talking now.

some of my favorite things she says right now:
 randomely, spontaneously: "mommy/daddy/nana/granmama/etc. i love you so much."

"I need some chaplips." (chapstick)

 (when wanting to do something i have asked her not to do): "mommy, can you just look that way for a minute"

 "i just need to cry right now."

 "i so excited"

 "i so happy right now."

 "mommy, that what you want to do? you sure? ok, thats your choice..."

 when teaching her babies how to swim: "its ok, i have you, trust me, i won't let you go..."

 when asked how old she is, "I three and a ha-alf"

 at school when making a 4th of July bracelet, "my mommy is gonna love this."

(to her Coco doll) "let's go to pretend church/school/dance class/swim lessons"

(packing for a trip) "mommy, where we going?" Me: "Well you are going to grandmama and grandpa's house." Annika: "Where are you guys going?" Me: "Napa." Annika: "Oh, I think I like Napa." Yes honey, Im sure you will. Soon enough.

 I love 3 and a half. I remember last summer being such a struggle with Annika. Constant discipline. My friend Joy encouraged me to stay strong and we would see the rewards this year. So glad she was right. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of battles to fight with this spirited little girl(like every day), but honestly, I find myself saying daily just how fun this little 3 and half year old is. What a joy. Annika, once again, in my wildest dreams i didn't imagine that i would have such a sweet, spunky, delightful little girl in my life. thank you for being you. you are a joy.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Swimming lessons

After a week of swim lessons Annika finally made it through a day with no tears! As a cream! Some for her biggest supporter as well of course! Annika has been asking every day since then when she gets to go back to her lessons. She loved miss Joni and talks about her all the time. She is teaching all of her dolls at home to swim now. Now if we could just get some more hot weather to practice her strokes! (did I really just say that?!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


There is a blueberry farm in our town that allows you to go pick your own blueberries and take them home. I never appreciated this fruit until I tasted fresh tart blueberries the summer that I nannied in Maine. Every morning there would be a big bowl of fresh berries on the counter and they were delicious. Let me tell you, a fresh, plump, tart (not too sweet) blueberry has become my favorite fruit. I crave them like crazy. (On a side note, Eric recently sent me this article about the benefits of eating blueberries and beer after a run...which is very interesting because these cravings started after I began running more miles)  So this summer we have taken full advantage of the blueberry farm with many trips in the mornings to pick berries and play in the jump house.
The girls do a really good job of looking for the nice blue ones 
of course many of them end up going straight into their tummies
and we leave with faces that look like this...

The bounce house and the blue colored sand keep us entertained all morning long!

We are sad that blueberry season has come to a close. Now for some more strawberries in August! 

Monday, June 25, 2012


We've been having lots of summer fun with cousins. Audrey is starting to really love seeing her cousins. Anytime she hears a group of kids playing outside she says "cousins, cousins!"Annika continues to love her big cousin Ethan, but as the girls get older she is starting to talk about miss morgan a lot more. There are only 5 months between them but when you're three that is a lot of time. Annika is really starting to look up to her big cousin mo.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Some guys have all the luck

Looks like a(nother) little lady for this guy!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day Eve!


Now that you are getting old enough, I think it's time to share with you an ancient tradition dating back thousands of years that not many people know about called "Father's Day Eve."  The night before Father's Day dads get to sit back, reflect on their families, the good memories and the lessons learned in the past year and archive those thoughts so their children can learn what their dads were thinking about them when they were young.

Originally, these thoughts were written on tablets (stone, not iPad), then papyrus, then the tradition was lost for centuries.  It was only a handful of years ago this tradition was re-discovered and resumed, but since stone tablets and papyrus are a pain to store, blogs are now the medium used.  (Do not bother Googling this tradition and I will let you know when Wikipedia is okay to search)

Anyways, enough history on Father's Day Eve.  On to tradition!

First, let me tell you girls that even at your young ages it is crazy how much you love each other and how different you are.  Yet even though you are different, you are both extremely sweet and caring.  Annika, the whole flower girl event for you was like a coming out party.  Your extraversion is so more apparent, you love talking to just about anyone who will listen, and you have a pretty good sense of humor.  You have also already lost the "dy" and "my" from daddy and mommy, now it's just "dad" and "mom."  I know 60 year olds who haven't lost that yet.  While it is a bit sad, it is rather humorous coming from you, your mother and I hear you talk to us and just say "who is this girl?".

Audrey, you have no shortage of words either.  You are curious and will get into anything if it looks interesting and older kids are doing it.  You already have figured out how to work the system.  The last two times you have spent the night at Grandpa and Grandmamas you have gotten sick and Grandpa has stayed up with you watching TV in bed.  I am pretty sure you faked the sick part (I know, not really) because the next night you got me up to hold you and then promptly turned around like it was time to watch TV... at 1:30am.  Yes, you have learned to work the system.

One of my favorite little treasures lately is when your mom has to go to work and you both cuddle up next to me "nice and cozy" and we get under the blanket and watch Despicable Me.  I love Annika how you think the main character's name is "Despicable Me" instead of Gru (and you can't really say Despicable) and Audrey how you laugh at your sister when she mimics Vector yelling "Oh yeah!"  It's hilarious.

Father's Day Eve also has to include a lesson that I have learned from you two.  So here it is: as I watch each of you grow and see your differences I realize like anything surrounding management, I can't handle you the same.  You are different and need to parented in ways unique to you.  While sometimes I wish it would be easier and I could just parent you exactly the same, I recognize I wouldn't be doing you any favors.

In the same vain, I recognize that God parents us the same way.  Each different in our own unique ways.  He loves us where we need it most.  Proverbs 3:11 states "do not despise the Lord's discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in."

Two lessons.  One, it makes me see the ways that God is providing the discipline that I need and instead of fighting it, it would probably be more beneficial to lean in and realize he is trying to help me and mold me (like I am trying to do for you).  Second, it keeps me cognizant of wanting to make sure I am not doing what is easy when it comes to being your dad, rather that I am doing what is best for your growth.  I know I don't always do that well, but it is something that I am fully aware of.

All that to say, I am proud to be your dad and you are growing and stretching me each day.  Your personalities bring me so much joy.

So girls, there you have it.  Your first Father's Day Eve recording.  You are now part of a great tradition that dates back thousands of years...

...(or 45 minutes :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

five years ago...

i squeezed into this white dress with the help of my mom and sister...
and walked through this vineyard to meet up with my best friend

it was the easiest decision I had ever made

which is how i knew it was just right...because you see, decisions had never been easy for me

my dad walked me down the most beautiful aisle lined with candles and under gorgeous hanging chandeliers

we were surrounded by friends and family who supported us then and have supported us since

we said our vows, not really understanding yet for ourselves all that they would mean
our friends sang "In Christ Alone", a song i have come to love even more than i did that day

we kissed

then we had a party! what a fun party it was! 

we have been watching our wedding video over and over with the girls and my favorite part is seeing all of you who were there celebrating with us! 

family and friends

these are eric's grandparents. they turn 90 this year. they have been married for a really long time. they lasted the longest at the "married couple dance." I have a whole new appreciation for the winners of those dances now that I know the work that goes into a good marriage. 

these five little cuties are so grown up now. some said this is a foretelling of what is in store for eric...

how fun would that be?! 

this little man is almost 6!!!

so many many friends came from near and far


and so many cousins!

we danced the night away

our cake was delicious...cheesecake...yum

we ended the evening with a traditional apu alum dance to neil diamond's "Sweet Caroline". who can remember who started this tradition?
 i am continually amazed at how God has given me things that i didn't even know that i needed in a spouse. these last five years have included a couple of small moves and one big one. new careers, new friends, new little family members, two of our own beautiful children and....

ONE MORE ON THE WAY!!!! if you made it to the end of this post you get to hear our news. Baby #3 due Oct 30. We are thrilled and so thankful for all that God has blessed us with.