Our family

Our family

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fall 2014

It's ironic this post is entitled "fall" amidst feeling (and looking) like the first of February outside.
This comes after a bit of blogging break as our family adjusts to a new schedule and routine this fall.  Braydon moved to a new job at Target in September.  While his new position is a great blessing its left mama with quite a few more solo hours during the work week.  Isn't funny how in the hours alone we discover how much we love the hours together?
God is blessing our family with finding time, energy and opportunities to make cherished memories together during this busy season of life.  From random Tuesdays at Mall of America, Sunday nights at the splash pad and visits at lunch break....we are discovering our new normal with an ever changing and evolving schedule.  I'm also loving more one on one time with other mamas and their little ones during the days and evenings (and not to mention my own mom and dad...our life savers and saving grace as we refer to them).
The terrible twos really are not so terrible.  Of course, we experience the occasional meltdown in Target, the constant turning off and on of light switches and the diet that consists of milk, waffles and applesauce...but our two year old is a genuinely kind, sweet and nurturing little boy.  The way he loves his little sister is incredible and is inspirational for all of us to watch.
While Kip's sweetness grows, Miss Lulu has taken over trouble maker in our house (haha, that's hard to say of a 5 month old).  Lulu continues to be a smiley, joy-filled little gal but she is developing way too fast.
She eats just a little less than Kip (literally), moves just as much as him and lets us know her presence more than anyone in our household.  She continues to be our easy baby but has certainly found her voice.  Lucy loves being active, kicking her legs constantly, rolling over and over, chewing on everything and eating her weight in baby food.
Halloween was an absolute blast.  Kip dressed up as a cow every day of the week leading up to Halloween, he had so many parties and gatherings.  Who knew toddlers have such busy holiday schedules?  Kip loves his farm animals so the cow costume was only fitting.  Our neighborhood was inundated with trick or treaters and Kip had a blast running around with his little buddies (and didn't seem to notice that his fingers were basically frost bit by the time we got home....our true Minnesotan). 
Kip and "Buce-daddy" hanging on their new bean bag chairs.  
At almost 6 months Kip and Lucy have taken on their own looks (Kip on left, Lucy on right).  But I still see some little similarities with their smile and bright blue eyes.
I hope and pray everyone has a safe, healthy and family-filled Thanksgiving holiday this week.  Our culture and human nature is so quick to point out the deficiencies in our lives; I hope you can join me this week in finding and being thankful for even the smallest, little blessings surrounding you each day.

Friday, October 10, 2014

4 Months

Lucy Lillian 4 Months
Weight: 13lb 13oz, 42nd percentile
Length: 27 inches, 100th percentile
Lucy donning my baptism dress on the left and my baby pink sweater on the right...thank you mom for saving my baby clothes for my precious daughter.
First food: Rice cereal and mashed pears
Sleep: Just about through the night
New this month: tons of giggles, playing in her excer-saucer, sitting in a high chair, belly laughs galore
Our four month photo shoot was photo-bombed by Kip.
First he sat on her, then he stole her headband and waved it like a garter at a wedding, then he bonked her head and gave her kisses, and finally he sat like he was a little angel all along.
This past month we made several trips to see animals and explore emergency vehicles.  Kip is convinced that seeing cows and climbing in police cars are completely normal occurrences.  Between the Minnesota Zoo, Gale Woods Farm, numerous apple orchards and a barnyard boogie, we all had our animal fill this fall.
Kip rode his first horse and fell even more in love with the 'neigh.'  
He certainly takes after his father in the equestrian world (Braydon on the left).
For anyone with toddlers, we highly recommend Saturday mornings at Gale Woods located in Minnetrista.  Its an amazing educational farm complete with cows, sheep, llamas, pigs and roosters.  Kip's favorite is the cow that he still thinks is a horse.
Braydon recently started a new job with Target; while it make our days a bit longer and our lives a little busier, we are so thankful for this exciting new opportunity.  Braydon still volunteers for the police reserves and always finds time to keep our little guy entertained.  Kip was so proud to have Braydon teach his daycare class about being a volunteer police officer.  I've never seen him smile and beam as much as he did that day.  
And lastly, today marks four years of marriage for Braydon and I.  To think this was four years ago...
And this is today....
Couldn't ask for more.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Summer Reading and All Time Favorites

My neighborhood book club is starting back up this week and the leaves are starting to turn so I thought it was about time to recap this summer's reading.  There are so many fabulous new books out, I just can't keep up.
Two of my favorite reads were Melanie Shankle's The Antelope in the Living Room and Sparkly Green Earrings.  I literally laughed out loud with both of these books but also found myself underlining thought provoking and life inspiring words of wisdom.  The Antelope in the Living Room recaps Melanie's journey through Marriage and Sparkly Green Earrings is her experiences as a mother. She intertwines her faith, humor and real life stories to make an unforgettable story.

What Alice Forgot is one of those books you will fly through in just a few sittings.  Its a thought provoking story of what happens when a woman looses her memory of the past ten years.  It challenges us to examine our own life: what would the me of 10 years ago think of me now?
The Orphans of Race Point is a bit longer read that intertwines many story lines following a childhood friendship throughout many generations.  Its an engaging novel that explores what we will do for love.
Love Idol is a nonfiction, Christian novel that exposes our need for approval in a world full of comparison, criticism, perfectionism and ultimately sin.  It explains how we are pre-approved in God's eyes, we are enough in Him.
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown was by far one of the most life changing (and life challenging) books I've read in a while.  I won't do justice trying to recap it so just do yourself a favor and go buy it (so you can highlight it, re-read it and pass it on).  All I'll say is we (men, women, faith or no faith) need to be gentle to ourselves and let go of trying to be perfect, its the only way we can live wholeheartedly.

These are my two picks for good old fashioned beach reads.  You'll finish them in a day or two and be entertained every moment.
I loved Wonder.  It may make its way to an all time favorite list.  Every student and parent should read this book and cherish it.  Wonder is the type of story made for curling up and sharing, for talking and connecting.  Its one of the best nonfiction books I've read recently.

And because I'm a book fanatic (and I've seen people posting their favorite books on facebook) I thought I'd share my all-time favorite/inspiring books.  I tried to come up with just my top 10 but ultimately had to break it up so I could share a few more. In no particular order....

Top 10 Non-Fiction
1. The Emperor of All Maladies
2. Love, Medicine and Miracles
3. The Irresistible Revolution
4.  Tuesdays with Morrie
5. The Last Lecture
6. Marley and Me
7.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
8.  The Omnivore's Dilemma
9. Cutting for Stone
10.  Still Alice

Top 10 Fiction
1.  Water for Elephants
2.  Room
3. My Sister's Keeper
4.  The Alchemist
5.  Redeeming Love
6. The Shack
7. The Art of Racing in the Rain
8. The Husband's Secret
9. A Thousand Splendid Suns
10.  I'll Love You Forever

Saturday, September 6, 2014


It's amazing how much can happen in a short span of our lives.
About four years ago Braydon and I stood on the shore of Smith Mountain Lake and announced our marriage vows.
Now our two year old is enjoying the same lake, the same dock, the same sacred space as we shared on that special day.  I love that we re-visit our place of "I do's"multiple times each year and that we share this special place with our growing family
As the extended Andrews family evolves (welcoming its 8th grandchild in October!), Shiloh (Braydon's parent's home) has transformed into a child's dream come true.
Braydon and I are convinced we don't need passes to Disneyland or Six Flags any time in the next 10 years.  Shiloh has everything from water sports, a mini roller coaster, and sandy beaches to home cooked food, endless toys, wooded trails and, most of all, two amazing grandparents.
This was our first visit to Shiloh without any other visitors; while we certainly missed all the cousins, brothers and sisters, it was special to have precious one on one time with Mama Boo and Papa Deke.
Traveling with the two kids had its challenges but it was so worth it.  We loved spending our days outside and our nights relaxing by the fire. 
Lucy was also blessed to meet her Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather.  She showered her Great Grandma with so many smiles and giggles....it was a time I will always remember.
The theme and highlight of our trip was cows.
Yes, cows.  
Our boy has an incredible obsession with cows.  So much so we actually had to be careful when mentioning the C-O-W (there were major tears when we arrived at a hardware store and he was expecting to see a cow there).
It just didn't get old for this little guy.
Kip could have sat and watched the cows and goats for hours and hours.  I think he still associates putting on his muck boots with feeding farm animals.
And he still carries his cow figurine all around the house (its even made its way to the dinner table...while eating his favorite food, hamburgers, oh the irony).
We had the unique privilege to watch cows being milked at a local dairy farm.  This was an incredible process and was fascinating to watch for both the adults and the toddler.
Did you know that one dairy cow produces about 7 galloons of milk per day?
We love spending time and making memories with Mama Boo and Papa Deke, we only wish we all lived just a bit closer.
Thank you for an amazing weekend away and a time we will always cherish.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why I Love the Challenge

Trapped.  That’s the best way to describe someone with ALS.  A fully functioning mind trapped in a body that can’t move a finger or easily breathe on its own.  A disease that overtakes a body, abandoning the soul and mind of movement and independence. 

I’ve always felt called to work with and help people with cancer; it’s my vocation as a nurse and as a person.  However over the past two years as a hospice nurse my heart has transformed, molded and empathized with so many other diseases.  ALS tops the list.

ALS is a degenerative disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.  The break down and subsequent death of nerve cells cause the brain to lose its ability to control and initiate muscle movement. After the disease paralyzes the extremities, it creeps into the respitory systems and robs the ability to breathe.  Individuals and families are faced with the harrowing decision of a life dependent on a ventilator (breathing machine) or a death of respitory failure. At this time there is no cure for ALS and very limited treatment options.  
ALS takes robust, young people and transforms them over the course of years into completely dependent, nonfunctioning bodies.  The disease affects the person, family and support system to their absolute core.  People with ALS require 24 hour caregiving, extensive protection against infections and pressures sores, heavy equipment to assist in mobility, computers to help with communication and relentless love, empathy and grace.
The ALS ice bucket challenge isn’t perfect in explaining the disease and the basis is a little confusing (dumping clean, ice cold water over your head so you don’t have to donate?), but the challenge is spreading awareness and raising money. At this time, ALS always results in death.  The main hope is in research and advancement of medicine.
Awareness is essential to the battle.  Awareness allows people to understand the need, grace and empathy required for the battle.  Awareness stirs our souls and moves our bodies to help those who are truly in need.  Awareness motivates us to donate our time, energy and money to a cause that is desperately in need of help. 

Obviously there are many other awful diseases in our world and many worthy causes in need of money and donations.  The ice bucket movement spreading through our nation and world not only brings hope for awareness and advancement in ALS, it proves we can come together for good, we do have resources to share and we do have hearts that can support and love others.  
Just like Jesus did.