Newborn Photos by LindseyMarie Photography

A huge huge thanks to LindseyMarie Photography for taking our newborn photos! If you’re in the Twin Cities, I highly recommend her work. Thank you for capturing these moments for us, Lindsey!

A few notes: My friend knitted us a lion cap and a little lion stuffed animal, which you’ll see in some of the photos. We tried to get a photo of all four of us, but we couldn’t get the 2-yr-old to sit still! The photo with Captain, Lion, and me is a sort-of recreation of Champ’s newborn photo. Once I get prints made, that one is going to hang in the living room right next to Champ’s.

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Now I have to figure out something to do with all those wonderful, make-me-melt photos of the Captain and the boys for Father’s Day. Any ideas?

Maternity Photos

The problem with springtime in Minnesota is that it is completely unpredictable (if it even exists at all). So either we were going to take the photos in the snow, in the mud, or in the dead grass.

Oh, it’s still March, I said. Let’s wait until April, I said. Then we can take maternity pictures outside in bright short sleeve T-shirts and rain boots, I said.

I had this grandiose idea of taking our Maternity photos with rain boots and umbrellas against the skyline of the city.

Then the day came.

And it looked like this:


I had a few ideas, which continually got shot down by weather or fear of overcrowding or traffic. Finally I got the idea of a library.


Half the time was spent chasing Champ up and down the aisles of books, but we did get some good photos. Thanks to LindseyMarie Photography for capturing the day and being so flexible!


That blur of Champ’s hand was pointing to where the baby is.


FYI, Kids can’t run away madly when perched atop daddy’s shoulders.


Most photos were achieved only with leftover Easter candy, which Champ shoved into his cheeks like a chipmunk.mat4









The computers were also a big help in distracting the little wild man.








Speakeasy Party: Photos, Food & Dress

This post is full of pictures! It includes some photos from the photo booth, what to wear, how to do 1920s hair, and what food & drink we made for the potluck. Click here to read Speakeasy Party: Part One



We clean up pretty nice!



via flickr


Purchase your own on Etsy from this seller

Don’t you love Pinterest? That’s how I got most of the ideas for this party. I bought some poster board and dowels and ended up making all the props and moon and stars myself. But you can buy the set of props above from Etsy! The favorite prop of our guests, though, ended up being Neville. :)

I set up my Macbook Pro with Photo Booth so people could take their own photos. While we did take a handful of those, we ended up having a party-wide photo op, and took turns taking photos with the nicer cameras. Here’s a sampling from the ones off my camera, photoshopped into a 1920s rich black and white:

arvin1b brothers1b brothers2b brothers3b brothers4b eddy sward b girls1b guysb lindsey1b nemzek1b nemzek2b willard1b willard2b

1920s Dress

Captain wore the suit he bought for our honeymoon cruise. Men are pretty easy, if you ask me. Suit, suspenders or vest, tie, fedora, those caps I call “cabbie hats.” (I just looked online, and that’s actually what they are called! I’m so proud.)


He’s pretty super.

Women could wear flapper dresses or little black dresses (introduced in the 20s by Coco Chanel). But good luck trying to find maternity dresses from the 1920s. They looked like this:

Don’t ask me how they fit babies in there.

Creamy colors work best for daytime 1920s parties, and blacks and reds work well for late night parties. But pretty much any color is game—it’s the silhouette that’s important. Nothing you need to be sewn into. Dropped waists or no waists for the non-pregnant folk.

I grabbed the only dress from Savers that I could find that would 1) fit my bulbous form flatteringly and 2) had some Art Deco lines to it. It had holes along the top seams, so I got it marked down from $10 to $6. I bought matching thread for $1 and sewed up the holes. Call me Sherlock Holmes, but I’m pretty sure the person who owned the dress before me was a student. The seams were worn down where a backpack would create enough friction to tear them.

As for hair, I looked up a ton of YouTube videos, and I think this one is the best one:

She also has a more classic finger waves style (wet hair) and a 1930s hair tutorial. You can check those out here.

I’m pretty sure the back of my head was a disaster. I was afraid to look, so I never did. The finger waves I had to redo so many times. The gel I used wasn’t meant for this type of thing, and the waves kept falling out no matter how much gel I added, so I ended up using long, thin bobby pins to hold the finger waves in place. I waited for the rest of my hair to dry, then curled the ends with an iron and rolled into pin curls as shown in the video. Then I let dry, sprayed exorbitant amount of hair spray, and let it just sit on my head for an hour or two before removing all the pins and combing through the hair with my fingers.

Here’s what it looked like by the end of the night:


As for accessories, I ditched my glasses during the party and donned a string of fake pearls. The headband I created myself. Walmart has a “make your own headband” sort of station in the craft section with a bunch of flowers and accessories, stretchy headbands and the clampy kind of headbands (yeah, I don’t know what to call them. The classic kind of headband, shaped like a U). I got the flower there, found an ivory ribbon with plenty of texture, and hot glued the ribbon onto a headband I already had.

I kind of forgot about makeup in the rush of getting food together, so I just used eyeliner. But there are plenty of YouTube videos on the subject.


This was a potluck shindig to save some money. We made hot dogs in the crock pot for the main meal (throw in as many as you need, without water, and cook on low for 4 hours).

Also creamy mints:

click through for recipe

and homemade lollipops with gold sprinkles:

Click through for recipe

And my grandmother’s recipe for punch:

Mix together 48 oz EACH of apple, orange, and pineapple juice (frozen concentrate is fine, but add water, obviously). Right before serving, add a 64 oz bottle of ginger ale.

This punch is amazing and super easy. I don’t even like punch much, but this is gooood.

I was going to make a virgin pina colada for myself, but ran out of time. Friends brought drinks to share as well.

That’s about it! It was a grand party, and we had a ton of fun.

Puppies and Rainbows

Today was the kind of day that left me giddy as a kindergartner. We picked out a puppy and saw a luscious rainbow on the drive back from the farm!

First, I probably need to give some backstory since I’ve been gone so long.

I haven’t been posting lately because any post would have been a downer. Joblessness, homelessness, infertility, a miscarriage. Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely been seeing God’s blessings through everything–yes, even through the loss of our child. However, even when I would mention any of our troubles, along with the blessings, people would focus only on the apparent hopelessness and not seem to remember that I was encouraged by my faith.

Well, now I am writing to you from the living room of our beautiful rental house that is more than we could ever have hoped for. Our landlord / the owner is a Christian doctor and his family that are going to move to Chad to do medicine and missions for the refugees from Darfur. The house is in a great neighborhood and has plenty of room for the three of us. It makes me wish even more that we had additional children to enjoy it! Our new home is without a doubt a Godsend—it is amazing how He brings people together for their mutual benefit.

LT got accepted into an engineering program at a private school in Minneapolis and is joining the Marine Corps Reserves later this month. It will be quite an adjustment for him to go back to college again for a second degree! (He was a History major before graduating and then going to Officer Candidate School, followed by many more months of Officers’ training.) This fall he should be promoted to a Captain in the Reserves!

Little Champ did better than we could have hoped for on the long drive to Minnesota from North Carolina. Usually a very healthy boy, he’s been sick since the first few days of July—double pink eye first, followed by an ear infection, and now a cold that just won’t quit!

Originally LT and I decided we would get a dog after having our second child and potty training Little Champ. Now, since it will be quite some time before we will have another child (if the Lord would grant us another), we decided there is no time like the present. We have a new house, and we want Little Champ to have a companion to fill the gap between children. Yesterday we went to a pet shop to see the puppies. As fun as it was, it confirmed that 1) we can’t just get any dog, since I have terrible allergies to some breeds, and 2) we’d prefer to get a puppy from a breeder. The puppies in the shop seemed completely terrified, and while the shop owners seemed to really enjoy the dogs, I just don’t think pups should be cooped up like they were.

I had been in contact with some Havanese breeders for a month or so now and finally heard back from one that had a puppy available (all others had been previously claimed). After hours on the phone talking to the breeders and owners of the puppy’s parents, we decided that we definitely wanted to meet the little guy.

Here’s the photo they emailed me:
Today we went out to meet him, and on the way, I was just praying that he would either be our favorite by a landslide, or he wouldn’t want anything to do with us. From the photos of the litter, I’ll admit he wasn’t my first choice, but going to see all of the puppies together made me certain that he was the one. He was the first to jump up to greet us and was playful yet super cuddly. We are SO EXCITED to be bringing him home, but we are going to wait until Tuesday. We figure it’s better for him to get one last day with his mommy than to be traumatized when the movers come to our house on Monday.

We haven’t named him yet, and I only got a couple photos of him from our visit today, but I’m sure I’ll post more about him once we have his name chosen and have him home with us!

Four out of the five puppies in the litter. The one I originally thought was the cutest ended up just sleeping in the corner the entire time!

Our little prince. We’ve yet to pick a name for him.

I also foresee a puppy + two-year-old photoshoot on the horizon, since Little Champ’s birthday is next month!

P.S. Curious about the Havanese breed? Read more about this virtually hypo-allergenic dog here (on Wikipedia, of course).

Little Champ in Colorado

Little Champ and I went to Colorado. If you follow me on twitter, you know how much of a nightmare coming back home was, with all the flight delays. (We got home 27 hours after leaving my parents’ house…it should have taken 15)

But I don’t want to talk about that, and you don’t want to hear about it. You want to see pictures of my baby in Colorado, no?

Now, when I say “Colorado,” I’m sure you picture something like this:

photo by Dhaval Shreyas

Most people I meet who have never been to Colorado don’t realize that only a tiny part of the state looks like what you see above. In fact, a lot of it looks like the Middle East:

Grand Junction, CO (No, I never lived in Kabul.)

I grew up seeing a whole lot of tans and browns instead of greens, dry shrubs instead of leafy trees.

circa 2007.

Basically, I got out of there as soon as I could to the emerald rolling hills of Minnesota. It’s no Ireland, but it’s halfway there. You might look at the pictures above and wonder why I don’t like the scenery where I grew up. You might think, “Hey, the grass is always greener.” True. It is in Minnesota.

Anyway, the valley I used to call home is actually quite a bit greener this year. I lived there during a long drought, and this spring they’ve had nothing but rain. If I had ever gotten out of my parents’ house when I was there, I might have gone out and taken some photos of the scenery. But here’s photos of Little Champ in the Centennial State:

excited to see his uncles

Fun on the trampoline with his uncles (no bouncing!)

This is fun, momma

Witnessing sibling rivalry IN ACTION

Trying out a camping chair in the new Cabella's (so Colorado)

Having a blast in the pool

Standing like a Champ (with support)

This bottle kept him entertained for 1 of the 7 hours in the ATL airport

Back home: baby jet lag

into the swing (of things)

The last few weeks have been filled with chasing the little man around (he’s very fast at scooting), buying stuff from thrift stores, and trying to get into a schedule of housework, which right now includes a whole lot of catch-up work from the last year of being pregnant, having a newborn, and catching up on all the stuff besides housework that I’ve needed to do.

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CAUGHT RED HANDED: Little J likes to pass the time by getting into things and chewing on shoes. He will go after them while you are wearing them, too, which sometimes makes social gatherings even more awkward.

Other hobbies include showing ice cubes who’s boss.

Pulling things off of shelves and waving them about madly.

Eating “cookies” and looking grown up. (Looks like I will need to cut his hair again)

And literally getting into the swing.

this momma

Now that Joey is finally starting to nap regularly—it’s still a battle sometimes. Obviously he would rather spend every moment with his awesome mommy—I am able to catch up on things and tie up loose strings. (rhyme not intended)

I’ve tried to take hold of my chores because I have been slacking and not getting into a schedule. I’d been writing daily to-dos and notes to myself, but needed a checklist/schedule I could keep constant. Once I decorate the magnets, I will post a tutorial on how to make your own :)

I finally finished the tiny throw pillows (each is about the size of a man’s fist) for my neighbor’s daughter, who was born in December… Hey. They took a long time because I hand-embroidered her name on the backs of the pillows, I’m new to embroidery, and I rarely get more than 3 consecutive minutes to do crafts.

Because I tend to not have 3 consecutive minutes to do anything except sleep and (sometimes) cook, I’ve gotten really far behind on folding laundry. Also because I hate folding laundry. This is about 5 loads of laundry and took me hours to fold, because I have an adorable sweet baby to chase around and entertain and feed and change. (I wouldn’t trade lives with anybody!)

I’ve also been going to church 8-10 hours a week and hosting two Bible studies. Lots of God, lots of treats, like these fruit tarts I made in a graham cracker crust. Check out the recipe here.

This one’s crust wasn’t particularly pleased with my brushing it with almond bark. I don’t recommend this for crumb-y crusts.

Baby’s first Easter

What is this?

Mommy. What is this?

I will give it to my sheepy.

I will give you both a hug.

This is the best Easter egg hunt ever!

What do baby Easter bunnies do?

They chew on eggs, obviously.

Little Champ and Mommy, in our Easter best.

Yay! My friend came to visit!

Champ serenades her with his new musical skills. “Pbbbbbbbbbbbbt!”

Our little Easter bunnies!

 BBFs (Best baby friends)