God is always working to make His children aware of a dream
that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream,

a new dream that
when realized will release a new song, sung with tears,

till God wipes them away
and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts

--Larry Crabb

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I never...

A few weeks ago at the MOPS group that I attend we discussed our pre-child philosophies on being a mom in a simple format and then compared them to our realities now that we are parents. The format was simple, just fill in the blank.  "Before I was a mom, I never thought I would____________."  I've been thinking about how much being a mom has changed me.  The things that were once ultra-important (a clean car, a tidy house, showering daily for example) are still important but take a back seat to anything that my girl might need.  For the record, I still shower almost daily, but am usually accompanied by a 18 month old that has an infatuation with shampoo bottles and bubbles. 

Before I was a mom, I never thought I would....eat food out of someone else's mouth.  It is disgusting, but I have to admit that it has happened.  What else is a mom to do when you are at a friend's house, your daughter takes a bite of something and spits it out into your hand.  Top it off with being in general too tired/lazy to get up, feeling slightly hungry, and eating the rejected food object becomes a viable option.  It happens and I KNOW I am not the only one who does it. 

Before I was a mom, I never thought I would...sleep in a bed affected by a diaper insufficiency.  When L was really little I would change her in our bed at night.  I don't know whether it was the cool air hitting her or what, but when that diaper was off the girl would pee every time. I guess I'm a slow learner because I kept changing her in our bed. My coping mechanisms when sleep deprived are very compromised and so I would turn an absorbent pad upside down over the puddle, put her back to bed, go back to sleep, and deal with the linens in the am.  My pre-mom self would be very disappointed. 

Before I was a mom, I never thought I would...wear sweat pant equivalents every day unless there was a compelling reason to not do so (ie..going somewhere.) I realized when pregnant just how comfortable sweats are and that never really changed after L was born.  Old Navy comfort pants...where had you been my whole life?

Before I was a mom I never thought I would...be ready for a good nights sleep at 8 PM.  Some days I am just so exhausted from chasing Lauren around, picking up countless toys, fixing meals, playing, and all the other things that moms do to keep a house running.  I love to sleep and don't get to sleep in much anymore, so going to bed early is my escape.

Before I was a mom I never thought I would...let a kiddo sleep in my bed.  It is not intentional and it doesn't happen too often, but sometimes L does sleep with us for some portion of the night.  Often she wakes up in her bed around the same time as Craig (around 4:30), will cuddle up with me, and sleep for a few more hours.  I know it is not a good habit, but to be honest I love those early morning hours of watching my girl sleep and praying over her.  I know that the day will come when she won't want to curl up next to me and it makes me want to cherish each moment now.

Before I was a mom  I never thought that I would...let my kid wear clothes in public that had leftovers from lunch spilled everywhere on them.  You know what?  She is 18 months, and she can be a messy eater and I don't want to do 5 loads of laundry a day so sometimes she does wear a little squash on her shirt to the store and I'm ok with that.  Matter of fact, sometimes we wear matching food spots on our clothes.  Don't judge us. =)

Before I was a mom, I never thought I would...go to bed without picking up all the toys.  A MOPS friend recently told me that trying to keep a tidy house with a toddler is like trying to brush your teeth while eating oreos.  I concur. 

Before I was a mom, I never thought I would...be so deeply concerned about every aspect of someone else's life.  Not that it is in a controlling "I want her to be perfect" way, but in a way that says I love her so much that I want to protect her and guide her to make good choices and be healthy physically, emotionally, and socially. 

Before I was a mom, I never thought that I would...be this happy as a mom. 

I also never thought I'd admit in a public place that I have slept on baby pee.  But I did.  Because I'm a mom.

Friday, September 28, 2012

18 Months of Lauren

Eighteen months ago we held our little Lauren for the first time.  Those early days with her are somewhat of a blur as we were overwhelmed with being responsible for such a precious gift, but I do distinctly remember looking Craig in the eye and saying things like "What do we do now?" and "What have we gotten ourselves into?"  Tonight, I sit in amazement of this little girl that is growing up before our very eyes.  She is getting so big and picking up new words all of the time.  Being a mom is MUCH more demanding than I ever imagined, but so much more fulfilling.  Here are the latest tricks that she is up to.

Lauren has discovered that she has a hole in her nose.  As far as I know she still thinks there is only one...on the right side.  She has also realized that her right pointer finger fits perfectly in this hole.  Yuck. 

The ever expanding vocabulary is amazing.  She will not say many words on command, but when you are not expecting it, she has LOTS to say.  The other night, for example, we were at a friend's house and I was standing next to a veggie tray.  (I tend to hang out by the food...go figure!)  I dipped a carrot and offered some to Lauren.  "No."  Then, as clear as can be, she said "Tomato."  Sure enough, after giving her a tomato, she was happy as a clam.  Her other favorite word is "Poo."  She says it at least 50 times per day.  In Lauren's world Poo is a universal term for pretty, shampoo, and, well, poo.  She'll look at my earrings or a picture of herself and say "Poo."  She also says it repetitively during diaper changes until we either confirm there is poo or tell her no that it is just potty.

Her first kiss.  It has happened.  From a boy.  I think it caught her off guard, but her little friend Connor planted a big old kiss right on her lips during a recent playdate.  The look on Lauren's face was priceless as he pulled away.  Completely frozen.  I don't think that she really liked it.  Psshhew.  P.S.  Daddy is keeping a closer eye on Connor these days.

Books.  This girl LOVES books.  We read at least 40 books per day...no exaggeration necessary.  She doesn't show a lot of favoritism, but really likes ones that have animals in them.  She also has her favorite pages within them.  For instance, in the Big Bird's Big Bike book, she only wants us to read the 3 pages where Big Bird is riding the bike down the hill going "EEE-YII-YIKES"  "EEE-YOW" and "AAII-EEEE!"  Every now and then we have to shove a particularly annoying book under the couch to keep from having to read it constantly.

Eating.  If you ask her before any meal what she wants, she will always tell you "ga gog."  Hot dog.  Gross.  She does get hot dogs a couple of times per week but I cringe every time and feel like I am failing as a mother.   Lauren doesn't like potatoes, (which some say means she can't be a true Riedel), but loves most vegetables.  Corn on the cob, green beans, tomatoes, avocado, squash, cole slaw(!), and brussels sprouts are the favorites.  Yeah!

Mario Kart.  Craig and I still play Mario Kart quite regularly.  It is one of those things where we are almost equally matched (although I admit I am usually not the one with the higher score).  As soon as she hears the music, Lauren chants "go Mama go."  On occasion, she'll say Dada but then smiles and says "No, Mama!"  Smart girl.

"Melmo"  aka Elmo.  Tonight we went to Wal-Mart for a bit.  I never realized that they display Elmo in nearly every aisle, but they do, and Lauren pointed each of them out.  I am not a big fan of commercializing kid's clothes, diapers, etc, but I do love Pampers Baby Dry diapers and they happen to have Sesame Street Characters on them.  While it is mildly ok to wear "Nernie" (Ernie) and "Bir Bir" (Big Bird) at times, the girl's eyes tryly light up when an Elmo diaper is pulled out of the box.  I broke down and bought her a pair of Elmo jammies this week (because they were cheap and she needed new pj's) and was awakened in the night more than once to Lauren giggling "Melmo Melmo Melmo." 

While she truly does cute things all day long, sometimes she is a little on the naughty side, too.  She likes to throw food.  And toys.  And make the house look like a bomb went off.  And lift up my shirt in public to show others my belly button.  However, I thank God every day that He allowed me to be the one that she calls Mama.  So in love with her.  Here's a short video of her and Daddy reading a book.

(Sooo...we bought a new video camera and I evidently STILL can't figure out how to upload videos. Sorry!  Check back...I'll keep trying!)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Daddy's Home!

Lauren was so excited last night when Craig walked through the door after being in Maryland for 3 days for work.  She was sitting in her high chair at the time and immediately stopped eating (the girl loves her food--this rarely happens!) and followed him around the rest of the evening.  They read books, shared ice cream, and littered the house with all of the toys that I had meticuloulsy picked up.  I became invisible. 

I, the one who stayed up late with my girl on Monday night when she spent the hours of 9-10:30 in her bed, and then in my bed saying "Dada Dada Dada."  And who later that same night (or perhaps more appropriately early the next morning) coddled her when she was up from 12:15-1:30 saying "Dada Dada Dada."  And who again from 4:00-6:00 held her, sang to her, and told her how much daddy and I love her as she cried "Dada Dada Dada."

I fed her every one of her meals and changed every one of her dirty diapers.  I took her to the mall to play on the germ-infested playground, I took her clothes shopping, I took her to Church to play with other kids, I read books, stacked blocks, and gave her candy by day and by night did my best to comfort her as she cried "Dada Dada Dada."

And on Thursday Daddy came home and all was right in her world again.  She slept for 12 hours straight after Daddy, of course, put her to bed at her request/demand.  This morning when I got her up (Craig had to work) she smiled and said "Mama."

I guess she still loves me, the girl just missed her daddy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Three years of yellow roses.

On the mantle above the fireplace I have a memorial picture of my dad.  Lauren has taken notice of it lately and demands that we stop to look at it for a while saying "Pa, Pa" and pointing.  I tell her how that is my daddy and he is in heaven.  I tell her how much I miss him and how I am sad that I can't see him.  I tell her how much Grandpa would have loved her.  And we talk about the expression on his face...how he is smiling at us because Grandpa liked to smile and tease.  She smiles back.  For those moments Lauren is perfectly still in my arms taking it all in while I fight tears and occasionally let them fall.  Every time. 

Since I first learned that I was pregnant with CJ and then with Lauren my heart would break all over again knowing that they would never have an earthly relationship with their Grandpa Daryl.  Maybe it is my mother's heart that can accept that my dad is gone but continually wonders why my children were robbed of the chance of building memories with him.  God has given me an overwhelming desire keep memories of him alive so that my child(ren) can have a sense of knowing him. 

Yet, when that picture catches my girl's eye there is a stillness that comes over her.  It is almost like she knows him.  When she spots a picture of Craig or I or my nieces she gets excited and wants to look at them together but it is short lived.  With pictures of Dad she is drawn in. I think--or maybe just hope--that she is feeling a connection. Oh how they would adore each other.

Tomorrow will mark the three year anniversary of the day that Dad died.  Three years.  It has been tougher than I ever thought it could be. In some ways it seems like just yesterday that he was here and in others it seems like he has been gone a lifetime already. Three years of a single yellow rose marking Dad's absence on the table through the holidays and other special days for the family.  Three years of missing him. 

If wishes could change reality I would wish for one more talk with my dad.  One more hug.  To hear his laugh one more time.  One chance to see him and Lauren play and bond.  I guess one more of any of things would never be enough. 

I find so much comfort in knowing that dad is in paradise basking in the fulfillment of God's promise of eternal life...but some days I just miss him so much here!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bye Summer =(

Wait!  Where has summer gone?  This has been the fastest one to pass ever!  I'll try to recap the highlights.

Maddie was here for 6 weeks.  It was like she arrived and then I blinked and she was gone.  We had a splendid time.  She took an American Government class just for fun and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It became a little difficult at times because her pick up time was smack dab in the middle of Lauren's nap time.  We tried to delaying her naps until we got home...didn't work. We tried attempting to get her to nap earlier...fail. We tried staying close to Maddie's school so that she wouldn't fall asleep in the car...disaster.  Finally, we had Maddie take a bus home..Ding Ding--it was a winner!

We didn't do a whole lot this summer in terms of outings or vacation, but we did take in a Tiger's game and get together with some friends.  Maddie was also in Soccer camp which she loved so that kept us grounded to home, too. 

Craig's parents came out for a week towards the end of July and my niece, Brooke, spent the last week that Maddie was here with us.  That week was filled with all things One Direction.  I guess since my days of boy band infatuation are long forgotten I was not the most enthused about entertaining those who referred to themselves as Mrs. Horan and Mrs. Styles for the week.  We did have a great time together, though!

I spent a lot of time in Iowa this summer.  It all started when I went for a while to help my mom sort through some stuff at the farm in anticipation that she move SOME DAY.  While I was there we decided ot look at a few houses just to see what was available on the market.  One thing led to another and we she totally fell in love with the perfect house for her.  It was fun to be able to help her in the house buying process since it had been 25 years since mom and dad bought the farm, and she had never done such a thing on her own. 

Sadly, later that week our family suffered yet another tragedy as my cousin Josh passed away.  I'll never understand why God chooses to do things the way He does them sometimes.  I am so incredibly tired of seeing people that I love and care about (as well as myself) hurting.  But I do know without a doubt that God uses these horrible things to bring about good for His kingdom.  Still, though, why?!?!

Later in the summer, I was able to spend a couple of weeks helping mom get settled in her new house and doing a little handy work.  I changed the deadbolt locks for her, installed a peek hole in the door (which I tease will only allow her to see people's belly buttons because she is so short!), put in a keyless entry for her garage door, and installed some shelving in the pantry and closet.  It was fun to be able to use power tools that Craig doesn't let me use.  It was fun.

Last but not least we finally had some long overdue family pictures taken.  Since the farm is going on the market later this month and will be sold before we return to Iowa we decided to have the pictures taken on the farm.  They turned out very nice and I can't wait to get my prints!  I'll try....and I do mean TRY...to post a sneak peak below. 

Hope this summer has found you all healthy and safe.  Life is busy with a little girl who does not walk, but RUNS everywhere, and doesn't stop unless she is asleep, but all these are reminders of how blessed we are.  We are loving every minute with our sweet girl!

Ok.  So I got it to lad, but I can't make it bigger!  Also, the edited version doesn't looke like Lauren's head is floating on Craig's chest!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Playdate/Maddie/Tires/Father's day.

What??? TWO posts in one week?  Yep! 
Yesterday Lauren had a playdate with her little friend Zachary.  It was so fun to see them pass toys back and forth, chatter, and burn off tons of energy following eachother around the house.  I guess she is finally at the age where she can actually play and interact with another kid instead of just play in the same room.  It was nice for me, too, to have Zachary's mom here and have conversation other than "Please don't throw your food on the floor" and "Let's not get that out until we put a few hundred other toys away."  It was comical when Z's mom and I sat down in the recliners--me with my glass of water and her with her Diet Pepsi sitting on the table between.  The kids immediately both sprang to their feet to bum a sip (or backwash into our drinks would perhaps be more appropriate!) while we both instinctively pushed the glasses to the back of the table.  I guess being a mom of a 14 month old will do that to you! 

Craig left last night to go get Maddie.  Can't wait to have that girl here which will make our family all be in one place.  I've missed her so much!  We've got some fun stuff planned, but my favorite is just "family time."  Every evening after dinner we make sure we do something together as a family...like a walk, a game, or an outing.  We have made an effort to do this ever since Maddie was little, and now if we get up to go our separate ways we are met with "Hey wait!  What about Family Time?!?!"  Love it.

As I write this, L is napping and Craig and Mads are actually at a tire store somewhere in Illinois getting a tire looked at.  It has had a slow leak for a while and I specifically asked a certain husband of mine to get it fixed before this trip, but, according to him anyway, he was "over tasked" with too many things by yours truly.  Baloney.  Anyway, hopefully they get it fixed soon and can get back on their way.  It's not nice to say "I told you so."  Especially not on the day before Father's day. 

I am on the ball for father's day this year!  I have corn on the cob shucked and ready to cook, burgers ready for the grill, and one of Craig's favorite desserts in the fridge.  Cards are bought, signed, and either mailed or in their hiding places until tomorrow.  Check.  I am that good.  However, this day is really very sad for me.  I REALLY miss my dad.  I'm trying to look at it from the standpoint of celebrating Craig and my father-in-law, but that doesn't stop the reminders that someone is missing.  I don't know if it will ever get easier.  ='(

Ok that is it for now.  Have a great weekend everyone...honor those special men in your lives tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer is here, and Lauren has discovered how much fun the lawn sprinklers can be.  Last night Craig and I were adjusting some of the sprinkler heads and turned to find little punkin giving herself a shower.  She was soaked, but having a great time!
I'm trying to figure out Lauren's personality.  She is social and loves to go up to new people, but then she tucks her chin in and won't say a word.  I don't know that I was every shy like that, but I'm sure it is normal for her age.  At home, she chatters non-stop.  She is really into animals and their sounds right now, especially goats and dogs.  They're cute, but my favorite is her snake sound.  So cute!
I always have intentions of writing thought provoking, meaningful posts, but in the midst of even this short one, a little girl has helped herself into the Lazy Susan and dumped Cheerios all over the floor, brought me a container of oatmeal, and now smells a little funky, so I best be wrapping this up.  Things are busy busy busy here but oh so much fun!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I'm going to brag about my husband for a bit. Last September, Craig submitted a resume for consideration to appointed to a competative developement fellow position. We patiently waited for months as the applications were reviewed, and got excited when he was awarded an interview with a panel of "uppity ups" in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago. The interview went very well despite the fact that he literally had to run across a field to make it there on time after his rental car wouldn't start that morning. A week later, we learned that he had been selected! This is truly an honor and we are so excited that his career is taking this direction .

There are lots of unknowns yet about how this will all play out and that causes me a little anxiety, but we do know that the new position starts with orientation in Huntsville, Alabama on February 19. Initially, Lauren and I were going to go with him to Alabama, but decided against. Lauren does not transition well to travel/changes in sleeping habits, and Craig will not likely have much down time that we can spend with him anyway, so L and I are going to stay home. Craig has to phase out of his current position, which is bittersweet. His team is truly like a family to us...they have been wonderful for him to work for and so, so, so kind to us when we were having complications with our pregnancy. It is hard to leave such great people, but the the opportunties that await are amazing.

We also know that the program itsself is 3 years in length, divided into two 15 month segments in the Detroit area and a 6 month stint in DC working either at the Pentagon or the Taylor Building. After completion, the type of jobs he will be qualified for will be again in the Detroit area, so we won't be moving (aside from the temporary relo to DC)--which is a h.u.g.e. relief!

Even though I am super excited for Craig (and me, too!) I am not liking the unknown of when we'll be where. I'm tinkering with returning to work casually, but that is off of the table until more information is available. I want to enroll Lauren in an infant swim course, but can't commit to the time frame at this point. So hard to be in a little limbo.

In the meantime, we're praising the Lord for the opportunity and trying to turn the anxiety over to Him, too. It's all good...just a little scary!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I never intended to let my blog go for so long. Days are filled with meals, diaper changes, Story Time (library), MOPS, playing, clean-up, and naps. Evenings are family time, and by the time the little one drifts off to sleep there is nothing left in me. Except tonight...Craig was off today and we had a quiet day around the house tag-teaming for the care of our sweet girl.

The last few months have been very good. We made a quick trip back to Iowa when our plans fell through to have Maddie come here for Thanksgiving. It was nice to be with family, but not so great to spend 10 hours in the car each way to get there and back. Lauren is a fantastic traveler and we only had to stop ONCE on the way home--can I get an AMEN!?!?! Still, it is a brutal drive. By the time we got home we hand 1.5 weeks before returning to Iowa for Christmas...just enough time to get my girl a little less clingy and unspoiled after constant attention was paid to her over Thanksgiving. Lauren and I flew there for Christmas and Craig drove out to meet us a little later. Flying was...well...interesting, but I care not to do a solo flight with her until she is a little older (and can sit still). I was a little overwhelmed with the amount of baggage we had for 3 weeks away from home. A very large checked suitcase, a car seat, medium stroller, stuffed-to-the-brim carry-on, and a diaper bag. It was a little tricky to make sure I had the right things in places where I could get to them, but overall people were very helpful. It is amazing how nice people are to a baby. And to the mom of a baby. Delta gave me....um, her...an extra package of cookies, people offered to stow and retrieve my carry-on for me, the lady behind and to the right on the plane made faces to entertain Lauren, and best of all my fam was waiting on the other end to relieve my burdened arms of their contents (namely, the girl).

A week before we left I caught a massive head cold, which was miserable. I took Sudafed religiously but I can't say it really helped. When I arrived on "vacation" I was really worn down. The combination of the stress and cold settling in my ears caused me to be sick with Meniere's type symptoms for about a week. Not.fun. My "bad" ear is still ringing louder than usual and I feel forced to watch my sodium intake closer than ever. =(

All in all, it was a good time, though. We got to go to my cousin's wedding and see a ton of extended family there. 6/7ths of the new Nieuwsma babies were there so it was especially fun to meet them. We also had a great time in Omaha the week between Christmas and New Years with Craig's family. We spent NYE in the Quad Cities with our good friends Tim and Molly, which was wonderful. The trip back was delayed by a snow storm near Kalamazoo that slowed us down by about 3 hours. :(

It is so nice to be home in Michigan again. It made me realize how much this house and area really feels like home now to me. As after any trip it took us about a week to get back in our routine with Lauren. She really misses having her entourage of people at her disposal!

Lauren is changing so much right now. She started crawling just after Christmas and is unstoppable. The four teeth that she has are 2 bottom center and 2 outside top. It makes for a funny smile but we love it! She is really into books, music, and blocks and loves to cuddle with Mommy! Nothing, though, is more precious to her than food. She will eat ANYTHING...which is a relief to me. There is not room in this house for more than one picky eater and Craig has informed me that he has little intention of changing! She is starting to look more and more like a little girl and less like a baby, which is bittersweet. Such a sweet girl.

Craig and I were just talking tonight about how a year ago things were so uncertain. I was on week 4 of strict bedrest and scared that I would either go crazy (I did, it's true), or bring our little miracle into the world too soon (I did not). In retrospect it is amazing to see how everything worked out so perfectly, although at the time it was not felt. We are so grateful that God allowed us to carry to term. That experience as well as our short time with CJ, have taught me to appreciate every moment because each truly is a gift. My motto in all things is to be thankful. I never in a million years thought I would be nearly laughing outloud as I scrubbed sweet potatoes off of the fabric blinds this week, but I am so happy to be a mom that it was almost a joy. Almost. The journey to get here was brutal at times, but it has made this place in our lives even sweeter.

Well, I need to get some sleep. Even though I am spoiled with a 9 month old that sleeps between 12-13 hours per night, she has already been down for 3 and I'm looking forward to a little extra snooze and going to Church in the morning.

Thanks for checking in!