November 27, 2012


...for the opportunity to gather with more than twenty members of my extended family in West Virginia last week.

...for time to play at the park on a sunny day in late November.

...for the comfort of crowding said family members into my grandparents' home for fun and food that was created by many hands.

This was actually taken the day before our Thanksgiving meal, but Garrett shared that small table with Grandpa Horton whenever it was time to eat.
...for the foundation that sixty years of marriage between Grandma and Grandpa Horton has created.

...for a blond two-year-old who went with the flow of later-than-normal bedtimes, his first stay in a hotel, and sharing his Papa Mark with Stan.

...for whiskey-glazed carrots.  (Thanks, Alice!)

...for returning home again.

October 1, 2012

...and just like that... (Version 2.0)

Our household is now occupied by a 2-year-old!

We celebrated Garrett's 2nd birthday last Saturday with a house full (well, not as full as last year) of doting grandparents, aunts, uncles, a cousin, and dogs.  However, our celebration wasn't limited to Saturday.  I picked Garrett up from Ducky a little earlier than usual on Thursday to take him to Dairy Queen for a pre-birthday treat, an M&Ms Blizzard.  (What?  How dare you accuse me of using my precious son's birthday as an excuse to get my DQ fix?)  My mom, a.k.a. "Grandma Friday", a.k.a. Garrett's personal photographer for the weekend, arrived late Thursday evening.  She, The Birthday Boy, and I found some bargains Friday morning at some of Monticello's rummage sales - a $5.00 tricycle, some Elmo slippers that Garrett didn't take off until several hours later, and some other fun stuff.

Friday evening, Nathan and I twisted Mom's arm to stay with Garrett while we went out for dinner at Minneci's to celebrate our 8th anniversary.  (As you might suspect, no real twisting was required.)  If you haven't yet experienced Minneci's, go there this weekend!  Good.  Stuff.  Maynard.

As for Garrett's actual birthday party, no Pinterest-worthy decorations were necessary.  The best decorations were the love and laughter that filled our home for a few hours Saturday evening.  And what kind of mom would I be if I didn't encourage my son to paint his face with blue icing?

Happy birthday, Little Prince!


September 12, 2012


Last Saturday, we met 3/5 of the Losher family - Sam, Annabelle, and Elaina - at Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington.  It is the third park Garrett has visited this year.  On our way there, one of us asked Garrett what kind of animals he thought we'd see.


(Oh, my heart.  There you go again.)

Well, there were no zebras this time, but we did get to pet some goats under the watchful eye of The Alpha Male, see a kangaroo with a joey in her pouch, laugh at some singing dogs, and see some frogs publicly displaying their affection for each other.

The aforementioned Alpha Male is at the top of this photograph.
Apparently, Garrett posed no threat to these kids.

I would normally be "working outside the home" today, but Garrett has croup, so I got to have the day "off".  Until next time...

August 10, 2012

From My Heart

It's probably no surprise to any of you that motherhood has, for me, been an incredible experience, and "incredible" probably isn't an adequate adjective.  I remain on the fence about whether or not to try to add to our family of three.  (Nathan will tell you he's comfortable on this side of that fence, but he also said that on the other side of the fence we named "Garrett".)  I know that climbing over the fence I'm sitting on involves a whole lot more than merely wanting to.

Lately, I've struggled with the temptation to diminish my experience as a mother because there obviously isn't as much to juggle as if we had another child.  I wonder if I'll ever be able to really relate to my friends who have two or more children.  I imagine other moms - none in particular - looking at my life and thinking, "She has no idea.  One child?  That's a walk in the park!"  While there's certainly truth to that - our job as Garrett's parents has been relatively easy so far - we'll never again not be his parents.

I suppose I'm seeking some encouragement.  Can anyone relate?

June 13, 2012

Garrett Meets Madison

Last weekend's trip to the Riddles' in Madison was Garrett's first.  We hadn't seen Mike, Karyn, Owen, and Elliot since last September when we met them in Peoria.  We had planned on driving to Madison Saturday morning, but Mike talked us into heading their way Friday night.  We expected Garrett to sleep most of the way there since we were in the car for more than three hours past his usual bed time, but Garrett had other plans.  He may have slept 45 minutes during the entire four-hour journey, but aside from a few, brief fussing episodes, he was a happy traveler.  Just when we thought he was drifting asleep, he'd point out the window and say what we understand as "BIG TRUCK!".

Saturday, we went downtown to Madison Children's Museum.  What a wonderful place!  I could have easily spent an entire day there - by myself!  I loved the quotes on the walls throughout the museum.

"Childhood is the most beautiful of all life's seasons." -Author unknown

"Love all children of all species for all time." -William McDonough

Garrett's favorite exhibit was the water dome in The Wildernest, an area designed for children up to five years of age.

(Don't worry.  The water wasn't hot, as it appears to be here.)
A future scientist?
Sunday, we went to Henry Vilas Zoo - another first for Garrett.  We got to see a polar bear, a grizzly bear, prairie dogs, bison, otters, flamingos, giraffes (my favorite!), camels, and much more.

We finally found a place where we belong - the zoo!
After wandering around the zoo for a couple of hours, we enjoyed a delicious lunch nearby at ZuZu Cafe, where Garrett 'painted' his face with the peanut butter from his sandwich.  (Yes, that's Nathan using a potato chip to scrape some of it off!)

Between our excursions to the museum and the zoo, we thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with Mike and Karyn, watching our boys play happily together, playing Catch Phrase and Family Feud after the kids went to bed, and reaping the benefits of the Riddles' expert hospitality.

We're back to our reality now, which really isn't bad at all.  Looking forward to this Fathers' Day weekend!

May 31, 2012

Say what you will...

...but I love Richard Marx's music!  If you've never heard "Angel's Lullaby", I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the lyrics below and then listen to this beautiful song.

I was never alive
'til the day I was blessed with you.
When I hold you late at night,
I know what I was put here to do.
I turn off the world and listen to you sigh,
and I will sing my Angel's Lullaby.

Know I'm forever near-
the one you can always call.
Right now all you know to fear
are the shadows on your wall.
I'm here, close enough,
to kiss the tears you cry,
and I will sing my Angel's Lullaby.

So tell me how to stop the years from racing.
Is there a secret someone knows?
I'll never catch all the memories I'm chasing.
I'll never be ready to let go.

And when the world seems cold,
and you feel that all of your strength is gone,
there may be one tiny voice-
your reason to carry on.
And when I'm not close enough
to kiss the tears you cry,
you will sing your Angel's Lullaby.

Let this be our Angel's Lullaby.

(To listen to this song, click here.)

Me & our "Angel"

May 17, 2012


One of Garrett's Christmas presents last year was a pirate ship that came with several accessories, including a treasure chest.  Before Garrett could open the treasure chest himself, he'd often bring it to me to open.  I'd open it slowly as Garrett anticipated what would be revealed, and I'd excitedly say, "Treasure!", to which he'd raise his blond eyebrows and open his little mouth in excitement.

The more we repeated this routine, the more I thought about what I hope Garrett will learn throughout his life about real treasure.  Real treasure is not found in a treasure chest.  In fact, for most of us, real treasure isn't tangible at all.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Luke 12:34 (NIV)

April 28, 2012

Christmas in April

Nathan spent most of this morning assembling the Deluxe Farm Train Set Garrett received as a Christmas present from his Grammy and Grandpa Mark last year.

(Actually, Nathan might not appreciate me telling you it took most of the morning.  It really only took about an hour.)

What does Garrett think?  You tell me...

April 17, 2012

Sayonara, Carpet!

Our (well, Nathan's) latest DIY project was a biggie.  With his dad's help, Nathan replaced the carpet in our living and dining rooms with bamboo flooring we purchased at Lumber Liquidators in Champaign.  Here are a few pictures from before the carpet was removed...

...and here are a few (from the same perspectives) from after the bamboo flooring was installed and the furniture was put back in its place...

I wish I knew how many thousands of dollars we've saved over the last eight years by not hiring someone to paint, install flooring, landscape, or do many other things that Nathan has become so good at doing himself.  He gets an idea, gets my approval (Ha!), spends lots of time researching options, finds good deals, and gets the job done.  For that I am grateful!

This project probably took half the time it would have if Garrett and I had been home.  Instead, we spent the Easter weekend with Mom and Mark at their home in Lima, OH.  Garrett was an excellent traveler!  The drive to Mom's takes about 5 hours, and we only stopped once on the way there and once on the way back!  However, I don't think I'll press my luck and plan a 10-hour trip any time soon.  Garrett learned the word "kitty" while we were there and got lots of lovin' from some grandparents who were tickled to have us with them for a few days.  You can read about Mom's perspective on being a grandparent and see some great pictures she took by clicking here.  (See "How to refocus your life....".)

What's your latest DIY project?  I'd love to hear about it!

April 5, 2012

Garrett's Weekend With Nonnie & Papa

Last Wednesday, one of my wonderful mothers by marriage, Sandy, a.k.a. Nonnie, called me, buttered me up a little bit, and asked if she and Howard, a.k.a. Papa, could keep Garrett for the weekend.  They know I was reluctant at first - only because this would be the first time Garrett and I had been apart for that long - but after talking it over with Nathan, I agreed to let him go.

Sandy and Howard came to Monticello to pick Garrett up Saturday morning.  As they loaded Garrett's things into their trunk and installed his car seat, Sandy said, "It's a good thing you don't have twins!"

Nathan and I did our own things for most of the day.  He went to Champaign to pick up the bamboo flooring that he's going to lay in our living and dining rooms this weekend, mowed the yard, and did some other things around the house.  I went to a prayer vigil, took my time making a grocery list and going to the grocery store, and enjoyed eating when I wanted to.  That evening, we cooked dinner together, ate in front of the TV, took a post-dusk walk, hand in hand, to Dairy Queen, and took our time enjoying our treats - Nathan's hot fudge shake and my Peanut Butter Bash.  (That's my new favorite, by the way.  Move over, Peanut Buster Parfait.)

We had lunch in Champaign Sunday before heading to Danville to fetch Garrett, and when I called Sandy to let her know we were on our way, she said Garrett missed us.  (Cue the breaking of this mommy's heart.)  At nap time, he stood at the edge of his Pack & Play saying, "Mommy...Daddy...".  Howard rocked him to sleep, and he slept for an hour in his Papa's arms.  Over all, I know a good time was had by all.  Garrett and the girls next door got to hunt for Easter eggs, Garrett got to spend some quality time with his grandparents, including Great Grandma Shirley and Grandpa Rick, and Nathan and I were reminded of the importance of time spent with each other.  We topped off the weekend with a trip to Bismarck to visit with Grandpa Rick and Leona some more.  There, Garrett enjoyed playing in the dirt and giving us 'gifts' of rocks and sticks.

We are blessed indeed!  Thanks, Nonnie and Papa!

Enjoying a snack in Daddy's office last month

March 27, 2012

Today's MOMent

What I experienced today is definitely one of those "MOMents" I heard about a couple weekends ago.

After our typical Tuesday trip to the library for Baby Lap Time, Garrett and I headed to Champaign to get a few things at Walmart and to eat lunch at Bob Evans.  Our waitress brought the milk I had ordered for Garrett in a cup with a curly straw poking up through its lid.  Garrett's expression said, "That's the coolest thing ever, Mom!"  (I think it was the first time he'd ever used a straw.)  As we waited for our food, he colored with the orange and blue crayons he'd been given between 100 sips of milk from the cup with the curly straw.  Soon, my lunch and Garrett's grilled cheese sandwich and fresh fruit were delivered to our table.  Garrett had a minor meltdown when I insisted-without giving in to his crying (Go, me!)-that he eat one grilled cheese sandwich triangle before eating more grapes.  We made it through his meltdown without attracting too much attention from the other patrons.

Here's where that MOMent really begins...

Garrett leaned forward to reach something, and his face turned red.  I knew right away that he was pooping.  We both still had quite a bit of lunch to eat, and I had a feeling he wasn', so I decided I'd wait to head to the bathroom to change his diaper until we were finished eating.  At one point, I asked our waitress if I could pay her.  She said I should pay at the counter.  I told her I needed to change Garrett's diaper and that I'd pay after that.  (I didn't want her to think we had dined and dashed.)  By now, it was apparent to my sense of smell that Garrett had really done a number in his size 4 Pamper.  As we gathered our things and headed toward the bathroom, I heard one gentleman say, "Boy, he sure has some blue eyes!", and I swear that, as we passed their table, the other guy with him said, "...but he sure does stink!"

It was bad.  Up-the-back, almost-ran-out-of-wipes, threw-his-onesie-away-when-we-got-home BAD.

To top it off, after hearing some...ahem...sounds coming from the other stall, I heard its occupant utter an expletive.  Seconds later, she asked if I would please hand her some toilet paper.  (We've all been there, right?)

The moral of this MOMent is: If you take your 18-month-old to Bob Evans for lunch, request the table closest to the bathroom.


March 18, 2012

Hearts at Home 2012

I spent Friday evening and most of Saturday at Hearts at Home's National Conference on the campus of Illinois State University.  This was my first time attending this annual event, and let me tell you - I cannot wait to go again next year!

I took Friday afternoon off, and my dear friend, Stephanie, picked me up around 1:30.  Our first stop was the mall in Bloomington where we took our time to browse, eat ice cream, sit and chat, and browse some more - all rare occurrences when you're the mother of young children!  We met three other moms for dinner at Medici, and then the five of us headed to Moms' Night Out where we laughed until our faces hurt.  Part of the entertainment was provided by Carl, Matt, and Mike of 321 Improv.  Talk about good, clean fun!  (If you ever have a chance to see their show, do it.  You won't be disappointed.)  A friend's parents offered to put us up for the night and even cooked breakfast for us Saturday morning.  I won't soon forget their eager hospitality.

Friday night was the first night I had ever spent away from Garrett.  (Obviously, I survived!)

That's Stephanie and me among more than 6,200 moms!
What I took away from this weekend is that we, on our own, don't have what it takes to accomplish what we've been called to do - as mothers, as fathers, as wives, as people.  We must draw strength from God for the journey.

...and there's no such thing as a perfect mom.  (Whew.)

March 2, 2012

Catching Up

We don't sit still very much these days.  At least not when Garrett's awake.  On any given day in our house, you'll hear one or all of the following:

"Garrett, we don't stand in chairs.  Sit down, please."

"Put Solo's food back in his bowl."

"That's garbage, Garrett.  We don't play with garbage."

"Please don't bite anyone today."

Well, you won't hear that last one on any given day.  Just this week.  When I pick Garrett up from Ducky Day Care, his teacher gives me a piece of paper with "Your Little Ladybug's Day" across the top.  On Wednesday's she reported, "He tried to bite friends several times today.  He did not seem to be angry at the time, they were just in front of him."  (He just needs to learn to give closed-mouth kisses!)  One of the other Little Ladybugs, Ava, kissed Garrett as soon as he arrived the other day, and he immediately started clapping!

In a few years, Garrett probably won't want Ava to see this picture:

 Solo has taught Garrett how to play fetch.

In an attempt to gain energy to keep up with our busy 17-month-old, I've officially begun training for that 5K I resolved to run this spring.

I'm really looking forward to attending my first Hearts at Home conference in a couple weeks with my dear friend and fellow mom, Stephanie.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

February 15, 2012

What toast?

I was running late this morning.  When we'd normally be heading out the door, I was putting bread in the toaster for Garrett.  The toast popped up, I spread some peanut butter on it, and then I gave it to him to eat.  As I gathered my things, I looked at Garrett and reminded him, "Eat your breakfast, Buddy."  After I got our coats out of the closet, I again looked at him.  "Come on, Garrett.  Eat your breakfast.  It's time to go to 'school'."  I poured myself some coffee, and when I turned around again, he was stuffing his peanut buttered toast down into his seat where he thought I wouldn't see it.  Written all over his face, which by now was painted with peanut butter, were the words, "What toast?"  After we giggled together, I haphazardly wiped the peanut butter off his clothes, hoping none of the other Little Ladybugs at Ducky Day Care have severe peanut allergies.

How was your day?

February 9, 2012

All Out A Cappella

Last Saturday, Nathan and I ventured to Tolono, IL, for the 7th annual a cappella concert to benefit Unity Music Boosters - All Out A Cappella.  What a great concert!  Seven groups performed - The Other Guys, No Comment, Xtension Chords, RipChords, Prairie Blend, Surreal Sound, and Vocal Rush.  My favorite group was The Other Guys, but my favorite performance of the evening was Surreal Sound's rendition of "Songbird" by Eva Cassidy.

Ah...good, clean fun.  Thanks, Dad & Leona, for entertaining Garrett and Solo!

Nathan gets to plan our next date.

February 2, 2012

Toddlers, don't try this at home.

You'll either want to lay down to watch this video or rotate your monitor.  Sorry 'bout that.  It's just too cute not to share!

As you might guess, Garrett is keeping us on our toes!  His personality is emerging more and more every day.  He's learning some animal sounds; he knows what dogs and cows "say"!  Our Tuesday visits to the library include songs with motions, and he's beginning to do them on his own, anticipating what motions come next in each song.  Basically, he's the smartest 16-month-old we know!  

January 23, 2012


We're one for one in Our Dating Game!  (Don't know what I'm talking about?  Check out my goals for 2012 here.)

Last Sunday, we left Garrett with Grandpa Mark & Grammy (the Forsyth variety) and met our friends, Jenn & Jamie, at Black Dog Smoke & Ale House in Urbana.  (In November, 2010, Nathan and I went to Black Dog for our first post-partum date, but there were Illinois football and basketball games in C-U that day.  Needless to say, Black Dog was PACKED, and we'd have had to wait for quite a while.  We headed to Outback instead.)  Anyway...the food at Black Dog was delicious DELICIOUS.  If you live in the C-U area and haven't been there, go.  If you've been there, go again.  If you come visit us, beg us to take you there.

Next month's date: All Out A Cappella.  We've already bought our tickets to the Early Show, which, according to Uncle Todd, is for "old codgers".  I'm okay with that.

Any ideas for the remaining 10 months of this year?

January 12, 2012

It's official! Garrett is "perfect".

His doctor said so!  (We already knew, of course.) 

I took Garrett to Christie Clinic for his 15-month checkup on Monday.  (Wasn't he just born?)  He is now 33" tall (92nd percentile) and weighs 23 lbs. and 3 ounces (29th percentile).  Dr. Palazzolo said his ears looked perfect and his lungs sounded...wait for it...perfect!

Peanut butter jelly time!
His diaper this morning?  Far from perfect.  Ew.


What are your goals for 2012?  I have a few:

-Participate in (preferably by running) and complete the Kirby Derby 5K
-Hire a Garrett-sitter once each month so Nathan and I can go out on dates
-Be more intentional about celebrating the birthdays of those closest to me


Ever heard the song Winter Snow?  If you have 3 minutes and 51 seconds, listen.  It's lovely.

Good night!