Life of the Meyers'

6 week update

We've made it to the 6 week mark and are finally adjusting to being a family of four.  Whew!  Unfortunately, most of these last 6 weeks have been a serious recovery time for me.  For those of you who don't know, Dominic's birth was an extremely difficult one.  I had to have a c-section because he was transverse, and they had a hard time getting him out.  Needless to say, the surgery did not go as planned.  Thank God, Dominic was perfectly healthy other than being a little banged up and bruised.  I didn't fare so well, though.  What should have been about a 1 hour surgery took close to 3 hours and I hemorrhaged severely.  Long story short, three blood transfusions and 5 days later, I was able to go home from the hospital.  Due to the size and type of incision I had and all of the blood I lost, it took weeks before I was able to get around, lift Lina (finally just able to do that now), and do even the most ordinary things.  Mike was a lifesaver and ran nonstop doing everything he could to take care of all of us.  We are also so thankful to Mike's mom for staying a few extra days and to my mom & dad for coming out to help when Mike had to go back to work.  It would have been impossible to function without their help!  It would have been hard enough just trying to take care of Lina, adjust to a new baby and recover from childbirth,  but it was all I could do in the beginning to stand up and walk a short distance.  I am finally feeling more normal and am getting used to doing everything myself. 
Although it has been sort of overwhelming, I love being home with my two babies!  Dominic fits into our family perfectly and we adore him.  I think Mike & I are just really enjoying having a baby again.  I love the little noises, snuggles, smell- everything!  Even the lack of sleep doesn't seem as hard this time around.  Maybe because I knew what to expect?  I am just soaking it all up as much as possible.  The toughest part is that Dominic has been colicky and has been crying for a couple hours in the evenings.   I can hardly stand to hear him scream and cry like that, so Mike swaddles him up and walks and walks and walks with him while he cries.  He is such a great dad.  I don't want to get my hopes up, but the last couple of days we have seen some signs that his crying is letting up.  The crying periods haven't been as long and his gassiness seems to be getting better. 
Other than the colicky time, Dominic is such a sweet little baby.  He seems very mellow (other than when he is hungry!) and definitely seems so much more like an infant than busy body Lina did when she was a baby.  He has started smiling and cooing, and loves laying and "playing" on his little jungle play mat (Lina hated laying there as a new baby!).  Lina is doing great as a big sister.  It was tough for her at first, but she tells us every day that she loves Dominic and that he is her "best friend"!  She loves to hold him and gets very excited to show him things.  I think it helped a LOT when I was able to hold her again and now that we are back into a normal routine. 
We just started back up with Lina's music class one day a week, and she also started a program called "Parent's Day Out" one day a week.  My big girl!  PDO is sort of like an introductory preschool for 2 year olds.  It is 3 hours, one morning a week.  It allows me a morning with just Dominic, and helps Lina begin to have some separation from me, be in a group environment, learn, and get some great socialization time with other kids.   I have been so impressed with the school and program! Of course, I was an emotional & nervous wreck taking her for her first day, but she did GREAT.  I was SO proud of her.  I think all of the Moms Club activities, playgroups, and time we have spent doing things together has really paid off.  She is so well adjusted for a 2 year old who stays home with her mommy!  She loves her teachers (2 to a class for the little ones) and I think she is pretty proud of herself for being a big girl and going to school. 
So that is a quick update on our new life as we know it!  Here are some pictures of the last several weeks:



Welcome, Dominic Michael!

It's a boy!!!  We welcomed Dominic Michael into our family on Thursday, July 29th at 12:24pm.  We are so thankful for our perfect little guy and Lina is very excited to be a big sister!  Thank you to everyone for the calls, emails, texts, cards, thoughts and prayers.  Dominic is doing just great and I am slowly feeling better each day.  It has been a whirlwind week and we have so much to share, but it is still just about impossible to find the time to get on the computer!  Until we get a chance to blog more, here are pictures of Dominic's first several days. 

Dominic Michael pictures

June & July so far...

Well, despite my best intentions, pregnancy and a busy summer are getting in the way of my blog updates!  Here is a recap of the last several weeks (The pictures are the best part anyway, right?):
In June we went back to Michigan for Gina's baby shower, a weekend at Devil's Lake with the Meyers Family, and some time in Brighton with the Evangelista family.  Even though we thought we would have more time together once Mike graduated, we saw him even less in June!  He traveled every week that month, so we were in Michigan for most of the time without him.  Lina had a blast at the lake with the Meyers family, and loved being at Boppa & Gramme's house in Brighton.  The driving & traveling was crazy and way too uncomfortable this month, but worth it to see how happy Lina is when she gets to see her grandparents and aunts/uncles/cousin.  We missed Mike, but knew he was doing his best by getting most of the traveling out of the way before Baby Meyers arrives.  (On a side note- we are so proud of him!  Just shortly after his graduation, Mike received a promotion.  He will continue to the do the same type of work with some added responsibilities and projects.)
My dad drove us back out to Iowa and the drive back to Iowa was TERRIBLE!  Unfortunately, it was one of the longest ones we have experienced.  We are lucky that Lina is such a trooper in the car!  On the bright side, Dad got to spend Father's Day with us here the next day.  It was a nice, relaxing day spent down at the river and playing in the backyard.
Mike's parents came out for 4th of July weekend and really helped out by watching Lina and allowing us to get some baby projects done around the house.  As always, Lina had a ball with her grandparents.  Mike & I went out to dinner while they were here and realized that it was the first time we have been able to go to dinner "just the two of us" in 7 months.  It was WONDERFUL, but !Yikes! that is way too long to wait between date nights.
In Lina news, she is doing great.  She did really well with all of the traveling, but her sleep schedule has been pretty off this month.  She is going to bed SO late and it makes for a very long, exhausting day for me.  I wish I could borrow just a teeny tiny bit of her energy!  We did end up putting her in a double bed right after her 2nd birthday and she has adjusted so well.  She was pretty excited about her "big girl bed" and it wasn't the horrible ordeal I had expected at all!  Nap time has been more difficult than night time, but she still takes her nap more often than not. 
This past week we updated her room a little bit by letting her pick a few fun new things.  She has seen us working in the baby's room and we didn't want her to feel left out.  She had so much fun helping Mike put some funky new knobs on her dresser and choosing some things for her wall.  I will post pictures when it is all done! 
Lina is getting very excited to be a big sister.  She understands that the baby is coming soon and likes to tickle and kiss my belly.  She also loves to tell me that she will sing the baby a song when it comes (the "Calma" song from Diego), and will ask my belly "coming soon, baby?"  It is so cute!  I know she is going to be a great big sister.  I can't help but feel guilty that my time is going to be divided in just a few short weeks, so I have been trying to do everything I can with Lina in the precious time we have left during the days of just the two of us.  Even though being in a bathing suit is one of the last things I want to do right now, I have been taking Lina to the pool as much as I can.  She gets so excited when she sees "the big water table" and has so much fun!  We have also been playing at the park, having playdates with friends, and went to the zoo this weekend as a family.  I never thought I would be sweating to death while walking the zoo with 3.5 weeks to go until the baby comes, but we had a great day as a family.  Again- the things you do to see your child have fun! :)  Lina has been calling us "Mom" and "Dad" lately and I hate it because she sounds so grown up!  I want to be "Mommy" just a little longer...
In baby news, I have been feeling ok.  I am definitely feeling better at this point than I was when pregnant with Lina, but I am totally exhausted.  Aside from the exhaustion of keeping up with a 2 year old all day and not being able to sleep comfortably at night, the heat is killer!  FYI, the horror stories you hear about being extremely pregnant in the heat of the summer are true!  I think my hands and feet are about twice their normal size by the end of the day.  Luckily, my doctor has agreed not to let me go so overdue this time and it looks like they might even induce me the week leading up to my due date if I haven't gone into labor on my own (I'm guessing fat chance I will go into labor on my own considering how bad it was last time!).  I don't want to wish away the time because there is still so much to do, but physically I am ready to be done and it is very reassuring to have the end in sight this time.
This past week my friends surprised me with a baby "sprinkle" at one of my favorite restaurants.  A sprinkle is basically a mini shower for non-first time moms.  It was such a fun night and made me even more excited for this little baby's arrival!!  Love my friends.  
Crazy to think this might be my last entry as a mom of one!!!!


Happy Birthday and Happy Graduation!

We had two very big days this month- Mike's graduation and Lina's 2nd birthday.  We celebrated both special occasions the weekend of Mike's graduation with family and a few close friends.  The celebration began on a Thursday night as family started arriving in town.  It is always SOOOO good to have family here.  Lina was bouncing off the walls with excitement.  I don't think she knew what to do- almost all of her favorite people were here at her house at the same time!!!  Oh boy!!!
Mike's graduation ceremony was Friday morning in Iowa City.  Both sets of our parents, Tara & John, and Gina all came with the three of us to the ceremony.  It was an emotional day and I was so proud of Mike.  He has accomplished so much over the last two years.  I told this to him and in front of family on Friday night, but I have to say it again.  I can honestly say that Mike is one of the best people I know.  He is just such a GOOD person.  I don't think most people could have handled the last two years the way he did.  He was very successful at work, had to travel extensively, excelled at school, earned the complete respect of his classmates (who are on average a good 10 years older than him), survived on no sleep, was still a fun and hands on dad with Lina, and a loving husband to me.  And all of this while dealing with everything life threw at him/us in the meantime!  Mike has worked so hard and deserves every success that comes his way. 
Friday night we took everybody out to a delicious dinner at a Japanese steakhouse.  I could tell that Mike was genuinely happy and enjoying his day with all of the special people in his life.  Mike's boss was also able to join us, which was great!  She has always been incredibly supportive and such a great mentor to Mike.  It was very fitting that she was able to join in our celebration!  Lori & Matt got to town Friday night, and everybody came back to the house after dinner.  We watched a slideshow that I made as a gift to Mike (along with his new set of golf clubs that he will finally have a little time to use!!) and had a good night hanging out. 
Saturday morning we went downtown for "May Market Days" in LeClaire for a little shopping and people watching.  That afternoon we had Lina's birthday party at our house and our "Iowa family" (our close friends) came over to celebrate with us and our family.  Lina had such a great day.  She had a Curious George themed party and was very excited about her Curious George cake & balloons.  In fact, her big George balloon is STILL perfectly inflated and has become a permanent fixture in the house.  Lina likes to point it out to us every day and I don't have the heart to throw it away!    
Although it is hard to believe that 2 years have gone by since Lina was born, the age of 2 really seems to fit her.  She has such a bright, fun personality and I hope that she never loses that "spark" that she seems to have been born with.  We love you so much, our little Lina bean!!! 
And thanks again to everyone who made it out to share in the celebration- you made it so special!!   


Mother's Day 2010

Mother's Day seemed extra special this year.  I just feel so lucky to be a mom to such an incredible little girl.  I view being a mom to Lina as my greatest accomplishment, and I think the events of this past year have really put that into perspective for me.  Every day Mike & I marvel at Lina and wonder how it is possible to love her more and more as the days go on when we feel like we couldn't love her any more than we already do.  And then the thought of being a mom of two in just a couple months?  It is impossible for me to comprehend how it will feel.  I can't wait to meet this little baby and welcome him/her into our family. 
I also took some time to think about my little angels.  It is impossible not to think about them on a day like Mother's Day!  I think the pain will always be there, but I am definitely at peace.  A friend of mine who had a similar experience told me that when she looks at her second child, she knows that as difficult as things were, it was meant to be because she can't imagine life without her daughter.  I am sure I will feel the same way once we have our baby- it will be the realization that this sweet baby would not be here if life hadn't happened the way it did.  Ok, sorry, Mother's Day reflections make me too emotional!
The day itself was great.  Mike made brunch reservations for us at Pebble Creek, a golf course near home.  Lina behaved herself extremely well (she usually can't sit still whatsoever at restaurants), so it was actually a very nice and relaxing meal!  When we got home, I planted flowers, Mike worked on the yard, and Lina helped.  The weather was beautiful and it was a pretty perfect day.  Oh!  One more thing that was special about the day was the dress that Lina wore to brunch.  She wore a little blue dress of mine that I wore when I was her age.  My parents gave it to me just a couple of months ago and it was the perfect dress for Mother's Day!    


We rounded out April and headed into May with some fun visitors!  Grandpa Jeff & Grandma Maggy came out to Iowa for a weekend and Lina got lots of quality time in with them.  I spent most of the day Saturday in the Chicago area at a baby shower for one of my best friends, but Lina & Mike had a great day with Jeff & Maggy.  They played outside, did some shopping (Mike got a new grill from them as an early graduation present), and just hung out.  When I got home Saturday night from the shower, Lina was still so happy and excited to show me the things they had been doing while I was gone. 
The last weekend in April, we had a wonderful visit from Jenny, John & Jonah.  Lina was in heaven playing with her cousin Jonah!  They were just so cute together.  Lina is doing and talking so much these days, so it was really fun watching the two of them interact.  We took them down to the John Deere Pavilion on Saturday, and Jonah had a blast seeing all of the tractors.  I think his exact words were "I love this place."  After seeing the tractors, we had lunch at Lagomarcinos, a long time family owned business that is sort of like a soda fountain joint.  The rest of the weekend we just enjoyed each other's company, played outside, and headed downtown for a little walk along the Mississippi.  It was a great weekend and  Lina couldn't stop talking about her cousin!  Just look at the expression of pure happiness on her face in this picture.  I LOVE it!!  

Click HERE for more April pictures 

Happy Easter!

We had such a nice Easter weekend this year!  For the second year in a row, my parents came out to spend Easter with us in Iowa.  Lina was just about bursting with the excitement and fun of having "Mammy & Boppa" here.  They also brought their dog, Asti, so Lina was in complete heaven.  There can never be enough dogs around for Lina!
From the moment Gramme & Boppa walked in the door on Friday night, Lina didn't waste any time getting down to the business of playing.  I can't emphasize enough how much she loves spending time with all of her grandparents!  She is a lucky girl!  Lina also loved all of the special treats she got this weekend.  That little girl couldn't get enough candy!  I think she knew she could push her luck and get more than she is normally allowed to have because Gramme & Boppa were here.  It IS pretty hard to resist when she says so sweetly, "More candy, Mommy (...Daddy, Boppa, Gramme, fill in the blank)?"
Even though the weather was supposed to be crummy most of the weekend, we ended up lucking out!  We had a beautiful afternoon on Saturday and a beautiful morning & afternoon on Sunday.  We decorated eggs, had an egg hunt in the backyard for Lina, cooked a nice dinner, made it to 8:30am mass on Sunday (pretty impressive for us! ;) ), and had a yummy brunch after church.  Lina did really well at church for the most part and she looked so sweet in her little Easter dress.  By the end she was ready to go home and wasn't too thrilled when we went back to our pew after Communion.  She started saying "Bye, people!  Lina's house!"
It is always so hard when family leaves, but at least this time we know that it will only be a little over a month before we see everyone again for Mike's graduation and Lina's birthday.  I am counting down the days!  I am just getting really anxious for Mike to be done with school because I am starting to worry about everything we need to do before the baby comes.  By the time he gets done with school, we will only have 2 and a half months left.  On top of the normal outdoor work that needs to be done in the spring/summer, there is a lot to do inside.  Decorating the nursery will be the fun part, but moving all of the furniture around, converting the guest bed into the nursery, converting the office into a guest bed/office combo, and getting Lina transitioned into her "big girl bed" will all be challenges.  I'm ready to get going on it all!  And I know Mike is, too.  He is SO ready to have more time at home.  It is pretty crazy to think that Mike has been busy with school for Lina's entire life.  We are both just so thankful that he will be done with his MBA before our family grows even more.  Lots to look forward to!
We hope all of you had a great Easter, too!  Summer always brings visits back to Michigan and around Iowa, so we hope to be able to see lots of family and friends in the coming months!!

Click on the link to view Easter weekend pictures.  I am hoping to add to the album throughout the month of April, so check back!



The highlight of our Feb/March was a family trip to Florida!  We had such a great time visiting with Tara & John and Gina & Drew.  Lina absolutely LOVED her time there.  Between getting to play with everybody, it being warm enough to run around outside, and getting to go to the beach, she was in heaven!  She is such a water baby...we could not get her out.  Even though it was freezing cold, she screamed and cried each time Mike tried to make her take a break.  This was Lina's 3rd trip to Florida, and she is already asking to go back.  I have one of the Florida pics as my desktop background and every day she asks to go back to the beach.  It breaks my heart!  I wish we could just pick up and move down there, too! 
The week after we got back from Florida, Mike headed to Brazil for almost 2 weeks.  His MBA class was taking a week long trip and then he had to stay a few more days to visit a factory for work.  Luckily, my dad came out to stay with Lina & me for a few days.  I still had about a week alone after he left, and it was a VERY long week.  It is just really hard work being home 24/7 with a toddler, never mind being pregnant and tired.  Lina really missed Mike this time, too.  I don't know if she could sense my stress when he left or what, but she was very upset and had a really tough time sleeping while he was gone.  When we picked him up from the airport she was SO SO excited to see him.  She ran across the room to him and just clung to him forever.  It was precious.  Makes me tear up just thinking about it!
Pregnancy wise everything is going really well.  I feel the best I have in a long time, and the baby continues to look healthy!  We had an ultrasound as soon as Mike got back from Brazil.  We decided that we aren't going to find out the sex this time, but even if we wanted to we would not have been able to see a thing!!  The baby was curled up SO tightly for the ultrasound.  He/she was moving his/her arms and legs, but refused to bring the knees down away from the face.  All we could see was the little butt and those feet!!  Unfortunately, I have to go back in a few weeks for another ultrasound because they couldn't even get all of the necessary measurements!  I hope I can stay strong and not find out!!
I know the next couple of months are going to just fly by.  We have so much to look forward to!  My mom & dad are coming out for Easter this weekend, Mike graduates on May 14th, Lina's birthday is May 21st, then it is Gina's baby shower time, summer fun, and BABY MEYERS WILL BE HERE! 

Here are pictures from the last 2 months....

December and January...where do I begin?

The last couple of months have been a whirlwind and I am so far behind in my updating!  Here is a quick summary of what we have been up to during the months of December and January:

December started off great and we had a wonderful time celebrating our early Christmas at home before heading to Michigan.  We shopped, baked Christmas cookies, cut down our Christmas tree, and even took a horse drawn carriage ride in our little downtown.  Shortly before Christmas, we received some very exciting news...I am pregnant again!!!  Although we couldn't have been happier, we were very cautious this time and decided to keep the news to ourselves for the time being. 
We headed back to Michigan and spent the first few days with the Meyers family.  Lina had a great time playing with her cousin Jonah, seeing her grandparents, aunts & uncles, and visiting the Toledo Zoo for the zoo lights display.  Santa visits the Mann/Meyers family on Christmas Eve, and we were so proud of how brave Lina was!  She said "Santa!" as soon as he walked in the room, told him "tanks" for her new train, and even sat on his lap for a few minutes.  It was a great feeling seeing Lina enjoy Christmas so much. 
On Christmas morning, we went to the Evangelista house.  Both of my sisters and their significant others were there- the first time we have all been together!  Also, for those of you who don't know, Gina is expecting a baby in July!  It is going to be a very exciting summer!  The entire Evangelista family came over later in the day, and it was so nice visiting with everyone after not seeing them for so long!  Lina did really well, but was totally burned out that night after already having had a few days of celebrating and traveling.  We spent the next day with the Sangeorzan family, and even though Taboo got a little rowdy this year, we had a blast as usual! :)  Unfortunately, I started having some complications with my pregnancy right around this time.  It was very difficult going back to Iowa under the circumstances, but we knew we needed to get back. 
The next couple of weeks were sort of a blur.  Mike's parents came out to help out over New Year's and my dad came out the next week to help with Lina so that I could take things easy.   It was a very tough and emotional several weeks, but things are looking much better at this point!  The baby continues to have a strong heartbeat and I am out of my first trimester, so we are staying positive that I will have a healthy pregnancy.
After all we had been through, I thought my 30th birthday was going to be very low key.  My parents came out for the weekend, and I thought that was the way we were going to celebrate- just the five of us, relaxing and spending time together.  Mike made dinner reservations for just the two of us on Saturday night and told me we had two stops to make.  He took me to get dessert first, and we drove back to LeClaire for dinner.  I guess some people might have been suspicious about this, but not me!  I was just happy to actually get to GO out to dinner, nevermind just have it be me and my husband.  Dessert first was a wonderful birthday treat as far as I was concerned!
On the way to dinner, Mike told me he wanted to stop back home because he forgot the card he wanted to give me for dinner.  He convinced me to come inside to peek in on Lina, and when I walked in the door....SURPRISE!!!!  I have never been so surprised in my life.  Seriously.  Even if I would have had the slightest idea something was up (which I did NOT!), my parents only had 30 minutes from the time we left the house before people started arriving.  I still don't know how they did it!  Once I saw all of my friends in the family room and it finally occurred to me what was going on, I burst into tears.  I was so overwhelmed by everything Mike & my parents did to put the party together, and also by the fact that we have made so many wonderful friends in the short time we have been here.  It was a very special, unforgettable night.
In other news, our 20 month old little Lina is doing just great.  She is just so FUNNY.  She makes us laugh more and more each day.  She is talking quite a bit, knows her letters A-F (and some other random ones!), her main colors, and lots of other fun things.  She is still taking a music class one day a week, and having a great time.  Last week, Mike took a few hours off to come with us to music.  In typical Lina fashion, she broke away from us while everyone was sitting in a circle and ran to the center of the circle.  She turned to each person in the circle, waved, and said "HI!"  She loves being the center of attention and can be such a little ham!  On the other hand, she is still sweet as can be.  She gives us kisses and hugs all of the time, still wants to be held and cuddled, and is such a mama's girl when we are home together!  One of the funniest things she has picked up lately is to say "Geez, Dada!" or "Geez, Maize!".  She follows GEEZ with whoever is doing something wrong or that bugs her.  It is pretty hilarious.
So, that is my synopsis of the last couple of months.  I updated the photo gallery with a new Dec-Jan album.  I feel terrible that I didn't get more pictures with everyone over Christmas.  I think between the way I was feeling and being so busy, I just didn't do it.  I got a decent amount of pictures when we were with the Meyers family, but started feeling much worse as the week went on.  I really wish I had more pictures with family!  Sorry everybody!
Now that things have settled down, I am going to do my best to keep the updates coming.  Thank you all SO much for your thoughts and prayers!!

Vegas, Baby!

Our Vegas trip finally arrived!!  Tara, John, Mike & I had planned this trip as a sort of 30th birthday celebration for Mike, John, and me.  The trip fell the week between John's and Mike's birthday, and my 30th is right around the corner in January.  The trip was better than we even expected!  My mom & dad came out to stay with Lina, so that really helped with my anxiety over leaving her for the first time.  Lina absolutely adores her Gramme & Boppa, and she had more fun with them than she probably would have had with us!  Knowing that she was safe and having fun allowed us to totally relax and have fun ourselves!
We got in on Friday afternoon and met up with Tara and John at our hotel, the Venetian.  The hotel was beautiful and our rooms were huge!  It really was like being back at our hotel in Venice where we got engaged.  We spent Friday afternoon walking around checking out the hotel and some of the strip, eating and having some drinks before our dinner reservation.  I was so excited about our dinner on was one of the things I was most looking forward to!  We had reservations at Craftsteak (or stripsteak, steakknife, etc. as Tara kept calling it), Tom Colicchio's restaurant.  For those of you who don't know, Tom Colicchio is an amazing chef who is the head chef on Top Chef- Mike & I love him!  Dinner was probably one of the most expensive dinners we have had, but worth every penny!  We decided to do the Chef's tasting menu, so we were able to try a bunch of different courses and foods.  Delicious!! 
At dinner, Mike & John surprised Tara & me by telling us that they had made us appointments for a massage at the Canyon Ranch Spa.  We couldn't believe it!  What guys we have.  So, the next morning, Tara & I met up at the spa while Mike & John went to bet on and watch football- what a perfect way to start the day!!  The spa was like nothing we had ever seen before.  It is one of the biggest day spas in the country and completely luxurious.  The only pictures I could get were along the way into the spa and at the couple reception/check in areas along the way.  I got busted trying to take a picture of Tara & myself in our robes because apparently there are no cameras allowed once you are inside.  It was HUGE and fabulous- I will probably never experience something like it again!  First, we went into the locker area, which is like a spa in itself.  There were lounging areas, food, drinks, anything you could want while you wait.  Our massages were wonderful, and afterward we were brought out into another area (post spa service relaxation area??).  Again, there were drinks and fruit, and you could sit in this huge relaxing room that was decorated like you were partially outside.  It was very Zen! :)  Tara & I went into the sea salt grotto room and also checked out this other room with zero gravity chairs, music, and crazy stuff on the ceiling that puts you into a meditative state.  We could have spent all day there!  There were so many other rooms and things to do that were included in the "spa experience".  It was incredible. 
The four of us spent the rest of the day walking along the strip and checking out some of the other hotels, gambling and eating at more great restaurants!  We knew that we wanted to do a club on Saturday night, and really wanted to get into Tao.  Tao is one of the big nightclubs and where celebrities frequent, have their parties, etc.  That night Tito Ortiz had a big fight in Vegas and he and his wife Jenna Jameson were hosting the afterparty at Tao.  We knew it was going to be tough to get in, so we were trying to figure out how to get on the VIP list.  Everyone claims they can get you on the VIP list, so we didn't know who or what to believe.  Our hotel gave us these cards that were supposed to let us get in through the VIP line, but we knew we needed to get there early just in case.  So, we got there around 10:30 (very early for Vegas!) and there were already about 300 people waiting.  We couldn't even figure out where the lines were starting!  One of the bouncers even told Mike & John to just forget it.  Tara & I were determined, so we walked right up to the front and Tara just nicely asked the bouncer where the lines were and what we should do.  He looked at us and thought for a minute, then told us to grab Mike & John.  He let us right in through the ropes and we got into the little line of people waiting to walk in the club!!  How is that for an ego boost??!  ;)  And, the VIP cards we had allowed us girls to get in for free and Mike & John to get in for $15 each (normally would have been $20 and $50).  The night ended up being SO much fun!!!!  Once we were inside, it was just crazy.  When I see all of you, I can tell you more :)  We also got to see Tito Ortiz and Jenna Jameson- the walked right past us within arms reach. 
We were afraid that nobody would be feeling too well the next morning, but we were up and at 'em around 9am and did a great brunch buffet.  Then it was off to get our rental car and go see the Hoover Dam!  The Hoover Dam was definitely something that was more Mike & John's thing, but we all had a great time.  We did the power plant tour in addition to walking around the dam.  It was much more fascinating than I thought it was going to be and I learned a lot.  Mike was, of course, in engineering heaven.  It was a really cool thing to see!
Sunday night we did another nice dinner and went to see Mystere- a Cirque du Soleil show.  We gambled for a bit afterward, but Mike & I had a 7:00am flight the next morning, so finally had to call it a night.  We really did everything we wanted to do while in Vegas.  I think we pretty much spoiled ourselves, but who knows when we will do another trip like this!  It was very bittersweet coming home, actually.  We could not wait to get home to Lina, but were also sad that our trip was over.  It sounds corny, but it was almost like the end of a chapter for us!  It was our last trip in our 20's, probably one of our last adult/couples trips for a while, and probably one of the last times we will go out to the clubs!  We welcome our 30's and cherish life as a family, but it is sad that many of the other things that we did when we were in our 20's and it was just the two of us are coming to an end!  I know that those of you out of your 30's are saying BOO HOO right now, I'm sure you remember what a milestone 30 was!  Tara & John- thank you for making this a trip to remember!!!

Click on this link to see more pictures from our trip:  Vegas pictures

October= busy, busy, busy!

We did a lot of traveling and had a lot of visitors this month.  It was wonderful!  Mike's parents came out for the weekend in early October to watch Lina while we went to the Michigan vs. Iowa game.  Lina had so much fun with her grandparents and Mike & I had a great time in Iowa City for the day.  Mike got free tickets for the Michigan-Iowa game through his MBA program because it just happened to be Iowa's homecoming.  It couldn't have worked out any better!  The Executive MBA students were allowed to get as many tickets as they needed for family, so Mike got 6 tickets.  We took our good friends from Des Moines, Tim & EJ (they count as family, right?) and our new friends in LeClaire, Chris & Sarah.  We had a few things working against us that day- it was freezing (it literally snowed), the Wolverines lost, and I couldn't drink because of the darn medicine I am still taking- but we still had a blast!  We had so much fun with our friends and cheering on our team!  The next day we were even able to go to a little apple festival in downtown LeClaire with Jeff & Maggy before they left.  It was a good weekend!
But, I do have to say that one of the best things about the past month was getting to see both of my sisters for the first time in about 6 months!  It was the longest I have ever gone without seeing them.  Tara & Gina flew out to Iowa and stayed for a long weekend.  We all had so much fun!  We talked, went out to eat, took Lina to the Family Museum, walked downtown, and just hung out!  Tara & Gina wanted to do something "fall like" since they don't have much of a fall season in Florida, so we also spent an afternoon making pumpkin muffins and apple pie.  Yum!  Lina had SO much fun with her aunts.  She loved having them play with her and all of the extra love and attention she was getting.  It was so cute the way she said their names- "TEE" for Aunt T and "Nee-na" for Auntie Gina.  When Gina first got here, she was showing Lina her travel bag and pointing out the dot pattern on it.  Lina became obsessed with dots from that moment on, and for the following couple weeks has been pointing out everything that has dots or circles.  She points to the dots and yells " DOT DOT DOT DOT DOT!"  It is pretty funny, especially because she notices dots in such random places!  I included a video of Lina playing with Tara & Gina in the photo gallery.  You can tell by her shrieks that she is having a blast!
Luckily, Tara & Gina didn't leave until Sunday evening and were here to offer moral support when I took Mike to the airport Sunday morning.  He left on a two week trip to China.  It was really hard for him to leave and hard for me watching him go.  Mike always travels here and there, but has been very fortunate that he hasn't had to do much major traveling since Lina was born.  This was the longest he has been away from us!  I think I would have pretty much lost my mind being home all day by myself with Lina for 2 weeks, so my dad drove out to Iowa in order to help us drive back to Michigan while Mike was gone.  We spent a day at our house so that my dad could take a break before getting back in the car and turning around.  "Boppa" even got to come to Lina's last music class while he was here! 
Our trip to Michigan was just what the doctor ordered!  I got to rest up and Lina had an absolute ball with her Gramme & Boppa.  She played outside in the leaves for the first time, rode on the tractor with Boppa, danced and listened to music every night with Gramme, had some special treats (the word cookie is now in her vocabulary!), and just played and ran and played and ran some more!!  I don't think she sat still the entire week.  There is just way too much fun to be had at Gramme & Boppa's house!  We were lucky enough to see some of my aunts, uncles & cousins, too.  I miss them so much and it was great getting to spend an afternoon together.  Lina also loved playing with Asti, my parents' dog.  Asti is a little easier to boss around than our dogs, and boy did she get a kick out of yelling his name ("Ti-Ti!") and pulling him around on his leash.  Lina also had fun trying to make poor Asti bark.  She would shriek at the top of her lungs, which provoked Asti to bark- and for some reason that just cracked Lina up!  I have a really cute video of them in the photo gallery. 
While we were back, I took Lina to Toledo for the day so that we could spend some time with Mike's family.  We got to spend the day with Grandpa Jeff, Grandma Maggy, Aunt Jenny, Uncle John, Jonah, and Great Grandpa & Grandma Mann.  We had such a great visit!  Lina loved playing with her cousin Jonah and getting to see all of the fun toys he has at his house!
We got back to Iowa the day before Mike came home.  Mike had a great trip and brought back lots of goodies from China!  Ladies- China is not a bad place for your husband to visit!  Think purses, jewelry, scarves, etc. :)  His trip was a very busy one, but Mike still found some time to sightsee.  He really enjoyed China!  The highlights of his trip were hiking up the Great Wall and eating Peking Duck- he was told that a trip to Beijing would not be complete without experiencing these two things!  Mike had some pretty bad jet lag and it took him several days to adjust.  Even though he wasn't feeling great, we still had a really fun Halloween weekend.  Lina made an adorable lion!!  Our friends in Davenport had trick or treating on the 30th, so we took Lina trick or treating for the first time with them.  She and her little friends had so much fun!  The 4 little girls were too cute- a lion, chicken, pumpkin and witch.  They got the hang of it very quickly and were all so excited.  We think that Lina just thought being outside when it was dark out was the coolest thing ever.  By the end of our 20-30 minute trick or treating stint, she was holding her elmo bucket up to people and saying "Lina!  Lina!"  She wanted to make sure they didn't forget about giving her candy!
The next night we had trick or treating in our neighborhood.  I stayed home to pass out candy while Mike took Lina around to a few of the neighbor's houses.  We weren't sure if she would let us put her costume back on, but she remembered the drill from the night before.  She was dying to get out the door!  Mike said that she was saying "Elmo" this time she went up to the door, as in, make sure you put that candy in my Elmo bucket!  I have a video clip in the album of Lina getting back home after trick or treating with Daddy.  She really is the cutest little lion!
November is going to be another busy month!  We had to reschedule our trip to Vegas and it is now only 2 weeks away, the week we get home is Thanksgiving, and then it is Mike's 30TH BIRTHDAY!  Time is flying.   
I added a bunch of pictures and some videos to a new album:  Oct. part 2

Pumpkin Patch

We went to the pumpkin patch this weekend and Lina had a blast!  It is hard to believe she is the same little baby we were propping up next to the pumpkins last year!  Here are some pictures from early October... October 2009 Album.


Dave Matthews Band Concert

The other weekend, Mike & I left Lina with our friends for the night and went to a Dave Matthews concert in Des Moines.  This was a big deal for me, considering I have only left Lina 2 times and still not even for 24 hours.  Turns out Lina did just great and we had a much needed night out!  We met up with our good friends Tim & Ej, went to dinner at a new restaurant in Des Moines, and walked down to Principal Park for the concert.  It was supposed to rain that night, but ended up clear and cool- perfect!
DMB has always been special to Mike & me and reminds us of the good old college days when we first started dating.  We went to our first DMB concert together in 2002 (I went to my first one 11 years ago in '98- yikes!!) and have loved seeing him in concert ever since.  It was such a fun night that allowed us to just be "Mike & Kristen" and reminded us of how much fun we have together. 

Fall has arrived!

Well, we are hanging in there!  That is pretty much the best way to describe the last month.  Unfortunately, I am still dealing with some health complications as a result of the miscarriage, and that has made it very hard to move forward.  Just when we feel like we are back on our feet and dusting ourselves off, something else seems to go wrong or come up.  We have been dealing with the emotional pain (and physical, in my case) for almost 3 months now, and we are SO ready for some sunshine!  Can somebody please tell that black cloud to get lost already?!

In the meantime, we have been trying to keep busy and enjoying our time with Lina.  She is our joy!  Lina just turned 16 months old this week and she is rambunctious as ever!  Wow, that little girls keeps me busy.  She is communicating with us more and more, and is happiest when she is free to run and climb all over the place.   Lina learned how to climb up her slide (both up the stairs and up the slide) and go down on her own, so she thinks she is pretty cool.  I also found our little monkey in the pantry the other day, hanging on the second shelf.  She climbed up and got stuck- couldn't go any higher and couldn't get back down.  This was after I had already found her sitting on the first shelf.  Needless to say, I keep the door closed now!

My favorite thing about her right now is her sense of humor.  Even at 16 months old, Lina knows when she is being funny, and LOVES to get a reaction out of us.  Lina still loves to boss around her dogs, whom she now calls "Dodo" (Dozer) and "May" (Maizie).  If you ask us, she has named Dozer pretty appropriately.  This is the time of year when I most want to strangle the dogs- squirrel season.
Some of the other things that Lina is really into right now are:  Dora the Explorer, Elmo ("Mo"), tomatoes (she can't get enough!), the vacuum, planes, trains, boats, and tractors, of course.  We are convinced that she loves anything with a motor, just like her daddy!  A funny tractor story- we were at a friend's house the other week and playing on the driveway.  Lina kept pointing to the open garage and telling me "that!!"  Finally, I realized that she wanted to see their John Deere tractor.  Ever since Lina rode on Grandpa E.'s John Deere tractor, she has been obsessed!  As soon as I let her go into the garage, she went over to the tractor and gave it a big kiss.  It was hilarious!  Mike is very proud.  :)  

Lina still loves, loves, loves music.  She is always dancing or bopping her head ("shaking her coco" as Grandpa calls it) to a song.  We bought her a little keyboard that plays music and she just loves it.  I am pretty excited because Lina and I just started a toddler music class one morning a week.  Getting to do things like this reminds me how lucky I am to stay home with Lina right now!

In other big girls news, Lina gave up her beloved nightly bottle several weeks ago, and it is a little bittersweet for us.  We know it was time, but it is still hard to let go of our little baby.  I think this was especially tough on Mike, since he does Lina's bedtime routine.  As long as she keeps snuggling in his lap for books, I think he will be OK. 

Even with Mike back in class, we have really made the most of the time we have had on the weekends this month.  We went to the zoo, walked downtown for ice cream along the river, and went to Des Moines for the day (unfortunately, our trip was cut short and we didn't get to see everybody we wanted to!).  We finally tried the Davenport Farmer's Market, and were very pleasantly surprised!  Last weekend we went to the apple orchard, and Lina had so much fun.  She walked right along with us probably the farthest she ever has, went on a hayride, and ate a whole apple for the first time.  She also had corn on the cob for the first time this month and absolutely loved it!  At first she was having a hard time holding the corn, but I put the little holders on the ends, and she did great.  We have also been cheering on our Wolverines and are cautiously optimistic!!  We have been practicing with Lina, and she is starting to get "GO BLUE!" down.

GO BLUE and bring on Fall!!

Click HERE to see all of our pictures from September.


Despite everything we have been through lately, life goes on when you have a 14 month old.  Here are some recent pictures of life in LeClaire...

August 2009 Photo Album

Our beautiful tree...

I debated whether or not to write this entry, but decided it would be for the best.  As many of you know, Mike & I have been through a very difficult couple of months.  Shortly after Lina's 1st birthday, I became pregnant with twins.  We had complications with the pregnancy beginning around the 4th of July, and we have been back and forth to the doctor more times than we would like to remember.  Each time we went to the doctor, had bloodwork or ultrasounds done, the verdict changed as to whether the babies were going to make it.  It has just been an agonizing emotional rollercoaster.  After getting a strong heartbeat and being told at our last appointment that one of the babies was healthy, we lost both babies 2 weeks later.  It was devastating.  Each day for the last month and a half has felt like an eternity, and to have it end in such sadness has made things even harder.  And, as if going through surgery once wasn't hard enough, things did not go well after my D&C, and I had to have surgery AGAIN a week later. 
I decided to share this, because, although it is a very personal thing to go through, it is not something that Mike & I feel we should hide or even can hide.  We know that it will take time for us to heal and that this will be something that will always remain with us.  We know our families and friends have shared in our pain and have done SO much to help us out in any way they could along the way.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  Knowing that we have had the love and support of everyone we care about has meant more than we can explain.
The picture you see here is one of us standing in front of the latest addition to our backyard.  Mike & I decided that we would plant a tree as a way to remember and as a way to ease some of our pain.  It is a big, beautiful tree that will grow right along with our family for years to come.     

Summer Fun!

It has been a fun and busy summer!  I can't believe that August is almost here.  I think summer really kicked off when we headed back to Michigan for Lori & Matt's wedding on June 6th.  I am ashamed to say that I don't have pictures of the bride & groom (need to get those ASAP!) because I was busy chasing Lina around while Mike had wedding party obligations.  Lori was a GORGEOUS bride and Matt was one of the happiest grooms I've seen.  It was a great weekend!
We have since made two more trips back to Michigan to spend time with family.  Lina is such a good little traveler.  She gets a little frustrated in the car, but mostly just watches her Dora DVDs.  She adjusts really well to being in new places and being around new people, too.  Mike & I are really glad that she does so well already.  Hopefully this is the beginning of many more trips back to Michigan as a family!
We spent 4th of July weekend in Brighton with my parents.  Lina had a blast with her Gramme & Grandpa!  She had so much fun riding on the tractor with "Boppa" and swimming in the pool with Gramme.  It was so nice having a weekend to relax and spend time with my parents without having an event or having our time scheduled.  We were also fortunate to see the Evangelista family for a BBQ on the 4th of July.  We hadn't seen anyone since Tara's wedding, so it was great to spend time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Last weekend we went to Devil's Lake to spend a long weekend with Mike's family.  We have had a tough and exhausting couple of weeks and it was a much needed weekend to wind down and be with family.  It was "Boppa" Jeff's birthday, so we were lucky enough to spend time with both of Mike's sisters & brothers-in-law and our nephew, Jonah.  Lina got to ride on a boat for the first time, and had so much fun playing in the water and sand with her cousin Jonah.  We hope to make it an annual tradition!
Other than that, we have been busy with playdates and just enjoying the time together as a family.  Sometimes we just walk or drive into our little downtown for ice cream in the evening.  We walk along the river so that Lina can watch the boats.  She just loves pointing to the boats and the birds.  Even though we haven't had the best weather, we go outside to play almost every day.  Lina LOVES playing in and with water.  She plays in her little pool, with her water table, and with her beach ball that sprays water.  She will even take the hose and spray herself.  The water is freezing, but she could care less- she LOVES it!  Lina is also really into bubbles right now.  She loves saying the word bubbles over and over.  It is too cute!
I am sad that summer is quickly coming to an end.  Mike starts back to school in mid August.  He kicks off the semester with a week in Iowa City and then goes back to class every week on Fridays or Saturdays.  We don't want to think about it!  At least we have a really fun September to look forward to.  We have weddings, a Dave Matthews Band concert in Des Moines with friends, and a trip to Vegas planned!  I'm sure the next two months will fly by just as quickly as these last two did.   
For a little picture summary of our June & July, click HERE.

Lina's One Year Pictures

We had Lina's one year pictures taken about a week and a half after she turned one.  She was not that cooperative because we were outside and she was completely distracted.  All she wanted to do was PLAY!  I was convinced that they were going to be terrible and I was so upset because I had stressed so much over making sure the day went smoothly.  We went to a great photographer, we got the perfect time slot, Lina had her nap, the right outfit, etc.  I thought, after all that, none of it mattered because Lina's fun little personality wasn't going to shine through due to her fussiness that day.  The photographer assured me that she got plenty of photos and that there would be some great ones in there.  Well, she was right!  We absolutely loved all of the pictures!  The photographer did a great job!  She must have known exactly when to snap those shots in between Lina's fussing.  About 2 weeks after we had Lina's pictures taken, a friend called to say that she got a postcard from the photography company in the mail and one of our family pictures was on it!  Sure enough, I checked the mail and we were smack dab on the front of the postcard!  It was pretty cool!  To see more of Lina's one year photos, click HERE

1st Birthday

The big day arrived!  Our baby girl turned ONE year old on May 21st.  All day on the 20th and 21st my mind kept replaying what had happened a year ago- going to the hospital, family hurrying to Iowa, experiencing lovely contractions and a seemingly endless labor, seeing those beautiful eyes for the first is just so hard to believe that a year has passed since Angelina's birth!
On the Saturday after her birthday, Lina had her birthday party.  Both sets of Grandparents came from Michigan, and we were lucky enough to have GREAT Grandparents Meyers and Mann come from Ohio to share in the occasion.  Some of Lina's new Quad City friends and our good friends from Des Moines, Tim & EJ, were also able to make it.  The rain held off for the most part and we had a lovely little princess themed party!  Lina had a great time playing with her friends and new toys and she ADORED having the attention from all of her grandparents!!
It is amazing to look at what an individual Lina has become in just a year!  She is running around everywhere, babbling and talking, and making her opinions known!  She even knows when the dogs are misbehaving (many of you know that this is a regular occurence) and shakes her finger at them while saying "NoNoNoNo!"  It is too funy!  I like to say that Lina might look like her daddy, but she takes after her mama :) 
Lina is already having a blast this summer!  We have taken several trips to the zoo and Lina loves seeing and petting the animals.  She LOVES playing outside and has been known to throw a little fit or two when it is time to come inside.  We have already had lots of playdates, wagon and stroller rides, and fun times at the park.  Lina even had her first "sleepover" at a friend's house.  It was VERY difficult for us to leave her overnight for the first time, but gave Mike & me a much needed night with friends and each other.
Although Lina spends most of her day with me, I am proud of the fact that she is really good with other people.  Whenever we have visitors or Lina meets new people, she is not shy and quickly warms right up to them.  She even loves saying HI and waving to most people we encounter at the store or when we go out to eat! 
We love our beautiful, funny, smart, spunky one year old!!!  

Click HERE to view all of the pictures from Lina's 1st birthday!

New pictures have been added to the album March/April pictures.  It is now March/April/May 09 pictures! 
Click HERE to view the updated pictures.

Long overdue...

I must start by saying that it has been waaaay too long since my last update!  Sorry to those of you who have been checking regularly!  It has been about a month and a half, but it feels as if so much has happened already this spring.  In March we were lucky to have Mike's mom & dad (Grandpa Jeff & Grandma Maggy) out for a nice visit.  Along with Lina's Easter goodies, they brought the adorable little bunny ears you see her wearing in the picture.  My mom (Gramme) also came out for a long weekend visit.  It was a Saturday class weekend for Mike, so it was wonderful having the company and getting some "girl" time.  She also kicked our butts in Wii bowling. 
My parents came out to celebrate Easter with us this year.  Easter is one holiday that Mike & I have pretty much spent alone since moving to Iowa, so it was really great getting to be with family.  It was even more special since it was Lina's first Easter.  The weather was actually pretty beautiful on Easter weekend, so Lina got to go on a walk and play with Grandpa & Gramme in the backyard.  We decorated eggs on Saturday and it was hilarious!  Lina loved the texture of the eggs and was mostly interested in squishing the eggs apart.  As you will see by her face in the pictures, she took the egg squishing very seriously.  My parents brought their dog, Asti, so it was three dogs circling Lina's high chair and waiting for her to throw some overboard.  On Easter Sunday, we went to church and made a nice brunch at home.  Lina looked adorable in her Easter dress!
Lina has changed so much in the last month.  First of all, she had a major growth spurt and looks like a little toddler.  We can't believe how grown up she looks.  She absolutely loves Baby Einstein DVDs and will lay on the floor with her big bunny or a pillow and watch her little show.  If pointing to the TV and saying "that" doesn't prompt us to put her DVD on for her, she knows to take the remote and point it at the TV, trying to get Baby Einstein to play.  It is so funny!  Aside from the words "mama" and "dada", Lina's top words have to be "that" and "dog."  She loves to point and say those two words all day long!  Lina also says "cook" when we are by the stove and she says "kick" when she plays with her ball.  It is something about the K sound- she loves to annunciate that K!  
Lina has also learned how to drink from her sippy cup and from a straw, but she LOVES drinking out of Mommy's glass.  She still doesn't care much for juice, so we stick to water.  Her favorite toy right now is her little push cart.  She zips around the house with it and tries to run over the dogs.  She cracks us up every night by doing it!  She screams and laughs and just takes off on that cart full speed. 
In big milestone news, Lina took her first steps last week!!  Lina didn't know I was watching her, and she just decided to walk from one toy to another like it was no problem! 
We knew that she was capable of walking on her own, but think she just didn't quite have the confidence up until that point.  Since then, she is getting more and more confident in her walking.  She still won't walk across the entire room, but she will walk short distances to things or walk to me.  It is just really exciting and fun to think about all this summer will hold, especially once she is walking everywhere.
Overall, this has been a good couple of months for our family.  I have been getting more involved in my Moms Club and have enjoyed some fun "Mom's Night Out" evenings with the girls.  I also joined a book club and have been reminded of how much I love to read.  Now that Lina is going to bed smoothly, it has been wonderful to pick up a good book and relax a little. 
A new German restaurant/bar just opened in LeClaire (this is BIG for our little town!) and Mike has already been able to run up there a few times to have a beer with his buddies.  He has been doing a little bit of traveling lately, but luckily hasn't had to leave the country in quite some time.  In May, he will be done with his first year of MBA classes and will have a summer break until August.  One year down, one to go!  Mike can't wait to have more time at home and Lina & I can't wait to have him to ourselves this summer! 
It is crazy to realize, but as of the end of March, we have been in our house for one year.  A year ago at this time we were expecting a baby any day (yeah, that didn't quite happen the way I thought it would!), trying to move into a new house, and wondering what the heck we were doing here in the Quad Cities.  The past year was such a transition in so many ways, but we are  are happy with how well we have adjusted and how "at home" we feel here at this point.  We are just so thankful to have met some really great friends.  It has made all the difference!
Thanks for reading this long and somewhat choppy post!! 

If you would like to see the most recent pictures, click here to follow the link: March/April pictures 

Go, Tara, Go!!

This past weekend, Lina & I flew to Florida to watch Tara run in the Gasparilla Half Marathon.  Mom and Dad also flew in from Michigan to join everybody in cheering Tara on.  This was the second year in a row that Tara ran the half marathon and she was awesome!  She didn't train as much this year as she did last year, so she worried that her time wouldn't be as good.  However, Tara ended up shaving about a minute per mile off of her time!!  Her chip time was an incredible 2hrs. 3 minutes and some change.  Tara & John's good friend, Greg, also participated by running in the full marathon.  Greg is an amazing runner and finished with a time that qualified him for the Boston Marathon.  It was really cool watching him run, too.
Our family had so much fun being there for Tara and just being a part of the event in general.  All of the runners and supporters were really inspiring and I was caught off guard by how emotional the whole thing was.  I think it will be neat for Lina to be able to look back at the pictures and to know she was there, cheering on her Aunt T!

Check out the album Tara's Half Marathon to see pictures from our time in Florida!

And a few more visitors...

Lori & Matt came to visit for a few days and it was great to have them out!  Angelina loved having some special time with her Aunt and soon to be Uncle. 

We added a few more pictures and pictures from their visit to the album February.

                   Time for Visitors!

We were lucky enough to have two visitors over the last few weeks.  Mike had to travel on business for a week, so Lina's Grandpa E. came out to stay with us while Mike was gone.  We had so much fun that Grandpa had to extend his trip an extra couple of days!  Then, just this week, Lina's Grandma Maggy came out for a visit.  Lina had a great time shopping and playing with her grandma!  Click on the album February to see some pictures from the last couple of weeks. 

8 Months Old

Our little bean is 8 months old!  Unbelievable.  Lina is blossoming before our eyes!  She is already cruising around the furniture, chairs, her toys, and anything else she can pull herself up with.  Whenever I take her to my MOMS Club activities or playdates everyone is shocked that Lina gets around as adeptly as she does for such a young baby (Sorry, another proud mom moment)!  It really is adorable seeing that little body go like crazy!  I don't think it will be long before she is walking around.  

Lina has recently learned to wave and clap and spends a good part of her day waving like crazy to her doggies.  She LOVES her doggies- although they probably don't realize it by how much she also likes to hit and pull on them right now. 
Lina laughs more and more each day, especially when Daddy gets home from work!  She shrieks with excitement and immediately starts waving when he walks in the door.  Daddy gets Lina to laugh more than anybody can!  One of her favorite things now is being driven around the kitchen in her high chair.  She cracks up! 

Lina has also started saying MAMA-MAMA-MAMA.  Not sure if she is really associating it with me, but I'll take it.  It is a welcome addition to her sing-song shrieks and little grunts!

Mike & I are just so in love with our little girl.  She gets funnier and more precious every day.  We are already really looking forward to the spring and summer.  She is going to be at such a great age and we can't wait to get outside and play.

                                          Our silly girl!  Look at that hair!

Lina playing with her friends, Mia and Ada.  They were all born within a month of each other!

                     A lazy morning                                                  Cuddling with Daddy

                                                        Lina & her doggies

      I love this picture.  My little professor.                      Help!  How did I get in here??

Happy Holidays!

Well, we were a little delayed in getting back to Michigan for the holidays.  We weren't able to leave until the Tuesday before Christmas and that turned out to be a terrible day to leave!  The roads were icy and the wind was whipping.  What should have a been a 7 hour drive turned into a miserable 11 hour drive.  Poor Lina!  She did as well as can be expected for a 7 month old being confined to her carseat for that long.  We were very relieved to finally make it back safely. 
We celebrated Christmas Eve with the Meyers family and Christmas with the Evangelista family.  There is nothing better than being together with our families!  Angelina had a wonderful first Christmas. As always, our visit seemed much too short!  Luckily, my mom & dad were able to drive out to Iowa and spend New Year's Eve with us here in Le Claire.  It was a great way to bring in 2009! 

Check out all of our holidays pictures... click on the link below.

Big Girl

Lina is just all over the place!  It is as if she hit 6 months old and just decided to grow up right before our eyes.  She quickly became quite the little pro at crawling and loves the fact that there is life outside of the family room.  She takes off into the kitchen, dining room and hall in order to explore and see what she can get herself into (yep- dog bowls on the kitchen floor already had to go!).  Not only is Lina crawling everywhere, she is pulling herself up onto everything!  I can't take my eyes off of her for a second anymore.  She has always been a strong baby, and I guess that paired with an inquisitive baby spells trouble!  The other night Mike went to check on Lina in her crib and she was just standing up, holding onto the railing and staring at him.  I think it startled him half to death!  When we see all of the incredible things she is doing, Mike & I just can't believe she is only 6 months old.  On the other hand, we can't believe she is ALREADY 6 months old!

On the move...

Well, Miss Angelina is officially on the move!  She started crawling just a few days after her 6 month birthday.  Here she is with one of her first crawling attempts.  What a big girl!!  

'Tis the Season

We had a really great Thanksgiving weekend this year.  We have been so busy lately and it felt good to get some family time with just the three of us.  Our actual Thanksgiving was really low key.  We enjoyed relaxing, watching the parade, and browsing through the Black Friday ads.  Then, on Friday, we were up early to do some shopping! 

We also thought we would get a jump on our Christmas decorating this year.  We are always in Michigan for the holidays and never get to enjoy our tree for more than 2 weeks.  SO, this year we went out and got our tree Thanksgiving weekend.  We found a perfect tree farm right here in LeClaire.  If we actually stay put for a few years, this will definitely be the start of a family tradition.  They have a barn complete with a restored 1800's sleigh, wood burning fireplace, warm drinks, and decorations.  Lina loved looking at all of the lights and the fire!  After checking out the barn, we headed out to choose our tree.  The trees were really beautiful and we were able to cut our own (Mike insists!).  It was a great day and a perfect start to the holiday season! 

On Sunday, we woke up to a backyard covered in snow!  It was beautiful.  We were also able to visit our good friend Megan who was in town from D.C.  Can't get much better than that!

Angelina's Baptism

Angelina's Baptism was November 22nd- just one day after her 6 month birthday.  We asked Tara and John to be Lina's godparents and they fly in from Florida just a few weeks after tying the knot.  The entire baptism weekend was a really wonderful time with family and friends.  I think at first we were so busy and focused on cleaning, preparing food, hosting overnight guests, etc. that we didn't have time to think about how meaningful the weekend was.  It just hit us all of the sudden while sitting in church surrounded by our family.  We are SO blessed to have such caring family and friends who came from all over the country to be with us on Angelina's special day.  Thank you to everyone who was there and thank you to those who sent their best wishes.  We love you all!!
A special thank you also goes to Lina's grandmas.  Grandma Maggy came out several days early to help get ready for the weekend.   Between Mike's hectic work and school schedule and a teething baby, I never would have been able to be ready without her help.  Thank you also to Gramme for making Angelina's beautiful baptism gown with lace from her own wedding dress.  It is such a special gift.
If you would like to view pictures from the weekend, click on Angelina's Baptism album.

Lina's 6 month picture proofs- only up until Dec.3rd

We had Angelina's 6 month pictures taken the week before she officially turned 6 months old.  They came out beautifully!!  Here is the link for the picture proofs:
Click on the “view proofs” link.  On that page click on View My Proofs and that should open a new page.  Click on “Lina” and your password will be kristen1119.
The photographer also put the pictures together in a slideshow set to music.  You can download the slideshow by clicking on

Tara & John's Wedding

Tara & John got married on Nov.1st, 2008- Congrats Mr. & Mrs. Woodman
The trip to Florida could not have been any better and the wedding could not have been any more beautiful. 
It was Lina's first time on a plane and going into the trip we were so worried that she would have a hard time sitting still.  Lina completely surprised us and did great!  She entertained all of the passengers and slept for each leg of the trip. 
In addition to flying for the first time, it was Lina's first time at the beach and first time in the water.  She LOVED the water!  It was so precious watching how much fun she had "swimming" and splashing around. 
We stayed at a hotel with lots of family and friends on Longboat Key.  It was amazing to see how many people made it to Florida for the wedding.  Even Mike's parents (Grandpa Jeff & Grandma Maggy) came to enjoy the wedding weekend and help with Lina.  The beach was gorgeous and we were lucky to have some time just to relax, enjoy the setting, and hang out with everybody before and after the wedding. 
The wedding itself was at Selby Gardens in Sarasota.  It was a beautiful day and the ceremony was perfect- personal and meaningful.  Tara and John just looked so happy and Tara was a truly stunning bride!
Since I was in the wedding, Mike had the job of getting Lina ready for the big day.  He did a great job and Miss Lina looked like a little doll!  After the ceremony, a trolley took us to Michael's on East for the reception.  Everybody had such a great night and Gina & I made it through our speeches just fine (whew!).  Mike & I were even able to get some time to ourselves at the reception thanks to family and friends! 
Click on Tara & John's Wedding Album to see all of our pictures from the trip.

Pumpkin Carving

Here are some pictures from pumpkin carving the other night.  We will be in Florida on Halloween, but we still wanted to get in the Halloween spirit a little bit!  The highlight (or should I say lowlight?) of the pumpkin carving experience was thanks to Maizie.  After we were done with our carving, I put all three of our pumpkins on the ground in front of the fireplace.  Mike took Lina up for a bath and I left the room for about three minutes to clean up.  When I came back into the family room, Maizie had stolen the top off of Lina's pumpkin and eaten it.  TYPICAL BEAGLES!!!  The last two pictures are of Mike holding what is left of the top of Lina's poor little pumpkin and of the bite marks on the rest of the pumpkin. 


Lina & I started off the month by heading back to Michigan for about 10 days.  Mike couldn't come due to his work and school schedule, and it is still too difficult to drive back alone with Lina for such a long trip... dad drove all of the way out to Iowa, left his car here, and drove back with Lina and me.  Then he came back out with us and drove himself home.  What a dad! 

The trip to Michigan was great, but busy as always!  I had my 10 year high school reunion the first weekend back and Tara's bachelorette party the next weekend.  The night of Tara's bachelorette party was the first night Lina has ever spent  away from both Mike and me.  Even though she was in great hands with Grandpa and Gramme, it was still hard leaving her overnight!  The week in between was filled mostly with visiting friends and family and bachelorette party planning with Gina  We also took Lina in to visit Gramme's work, Gina & I had our bridesmaid dress fitting (thank goodness it fit!), we took a trip to Kensington with Grandpa, went shopping with Mom & Gina for the dress Lina will wear to Tara's wedding, and got to go with Tara for her final dress fitting!!  We missed Mike like crazy, but we were able to chat and he was able to see Lina on the webcam. 

Right before we headed back to Iowa, Lina got her first bad cold.  Poor little thing!  We took her to the doctor for her second round of shots the day after we got back to Iowa, but she couldn't get them because she was sick.  I have to admit that I was a little relieved that Lina's shots were postponed!  I am not looking forward to doing that again!  Other than the cold, Lina is doing great.  She can already sit up on her own and weighs 15 pounds, 1 oz.  The last couple of weeks she has been really into Row Row Row Your Boat.  It is the funniest thing!  As soon as we start rowing she breaks into the biggest smile.  She also knows to look when you call her name and has just started to squeal and laugh when Mike & I laugh really hard.  Her reaction just makes us laugh harder, then Lina gets more excited, then we laugh, etc. etc.  So cute!  The other thing Lina has been into is making this little grunting sound (not very ladylike and greatly encouraged by Grandpa because he thinks it is hilarious).  I don't know where it came from, but Lina has discovered that it gets a reaction out of us.

This past weekend we had some friends over for the first time since moving to LeClaire (YAY!!) and took Lina to the pumpkin patch on Sunday.  Now it is only a week and a half until we pack up and fly to Florida for Tara & John's wedding!!!

Instead of posting the latest batch of pictures here, I put them all in an album.  Just click on the link October 2008 to see more pictures.

Our lazy Sunday

The weather was beautiful here this past Sunday!  There are not too many days this time of the year when we don't have something going on, so we took advantage of it.  We went on a nice little walk and played out in the backyard.  Lina loves being outside and especially loves when she gets to spend all day with Daddy! 

Sitting up!

Cereal, here I come!

Lina tried rice cereal for the first time today.  She actually did a good job of not pushing it back out of her mouth, but we don't think she liked it too much.  We will have to wait a few days and try again!

4 months old

Our beautiful daughter is just getting cuter and more entertaining by the day!  She is such a smiley baby who loves to play and be a part of the action.  One of her favorite things to do right now is try out each new sound and noise she discovers that she can make.  Once she figures out a new noise, she uses it like crazy (those of you who have heard her in the background during phone conversations know what I am talking about!).  She likes to have mini "conversations" where we talk to her and she responds back by babbling or screeching as loud as she can.  It is so funny!!  The other precious thing that she has started to do is laugh- it is the best sound in the world! 
It just really seems like Lina has grown up this month.  She is starting her rice cereal, sooooo close to scooting around on the floor (she has an inchworm thing going right now), and can keep herself propped up in a sitting position.  We have really been working on the nap/sleep thing, and Lina is slowly starting to get more used to her crib.  It seems that the more comfortable she gets with her crib, the better she sleeps.  The challenge right now is getting her used to falling asleep on her own while laying in the crib.  She only likes to fall asleep in Mommy's arms!  Things are slowly improving, though, and hopefully next month at this time we will have a good little sleeper!  All in all, it has been a really good month for our little family.  Lina is such a joy and we are starting to feel more at home here. 

Lina making her screeching noises- you can tell by her face that she knows she is being silly!

Visit from Grandpa & Grandma

Angelina had a GREAT time with her Grandpa Jeff and Grandma Maggy this week!  They took her shopping, had lots of fun playing, and even gave Mike & me a chance to go to dinner alone!  Dozer and Maizie also had a great time since their golden retriever buddy, Kody, came, too

Getting ready for Florida in my new water goggles from Grandpa and Grandma!

First "Playdate"

Lina had her first official playdate last Sunday.  Her new friend Payton lives right across the street and is just 10 days younger than Lina!  It was so cute watching them interact.  Payton was babbling away at Lina and Lina's main objective was to grab onto Payton.  The two of them mostly just wanted to stare at each other.  It was too funny!

Our little Wolverine!

As you can tell in the first picture, Angelina was very excited to watch her first Michigan football game.  By the end of the game, Lina's excitement had turned to disappointment and disbelief!!  Even though it doesn't look like it will be much of a season in which to introduce Lina to Michigan football, we are convinced she will still be a true blue fan!!

That did NOT just happen, did it???

Des Moines Visit

Mike had to work in Des Moines this past week, so we made a mini trip out of it.  We were able to spend a little time with friends and spent Sunday afternoon at Prairie Moon Winery (what used to be our fave Sunday activity!) with Megan, Rob and Miles.  While visiting Megan & Rob, we peeked in on our old (first) house next door...the new owners have definitely done some interesting things to the backyard.  Let's just say they have electric blue and orange chairs on the patio.  I think Megan really loves looking at them.  ;) 
While Mike was working Monday, Lina & I stopped into the Attorney General's office and were able to visit with my old co-workers and friends.  It was so good seeing everybody!  I actually miss work, believe it or not!  OK, maybe it is more the people and socialization I miss!
Speaking of socialization, Mike & I are finally starting to meet a few people here- it has been very difficult so far!  I have met a couple of women through my new Stroller Strides class, we went to dinner with Mike's co-worker & wife, and hung out with some of our neighbors.  It was SO nice to finally get out and have some adult company!!