Flashback Friday: Florida edition

Last December, Rob and I took a short trip to Miami, Florida to meet up with our dear friends from Utah.  I was extremely pregnant, it's hard to believe that I didn't have little Tinley while I was there, considering how huge I was :)  Anyway... we filled our days with many activities, as well as lots of good food, fun and laughs!

Susette and I at the Seaquarium

A walk on the beach

Vizcaya ~ Amazing 50 acre estate built in 1916 

With Susette and Clint at Vizcaya

Rob & Clint

In the Everglades, where we took an airboat tour



Chili walk on the beach

View from our room

Rob insisted on going to Key West to get his sand from the southern most point (he once had some, but one of our dear children accidentally broke the glass Sobe bottle, so he lost his dear sand).  It was a long trip, both ways, but it was a crazy amount of fun renting scooters and a golf cart (they wouldn't let me, 8 months pregnant, ride a scooter :)).  Seriously though, I think Susette and I had just as much fun watching the boys, acting like kids in a candy store, on the scooters as we would have had riding them!

Clint and Susette in Key West

Obviously enjoying themselves

Our beautiful friends in Key West

Needless to say, we had an amazing trip!  I can't wait for our next one!  Too bad we can't make it happen with all of our (combined, eight) kids!

Flashback Friday: LD (birthday edition)

Dear LD, or as you write it: Ld~

It is absolutely impossible to believe that you turned five this year!  I feel like you are so old, yet still (and always) my baby boy.  You absolutely love to cuddle and I hope that this kind, affectionate, and loving personality never changes!  Charming would possibly be the best way to describe you, and you often get your way with us because of this :)  Although you are so tender and gentle (especially with any baby that comes your way, and even more so with your baby sister), yet love to rough house with Daddy, who you are a spitting image of.  I absolutely melt that you still call me, "Mama," and everyday count that as a blessing as I know it may not last forever.

You have more personality than I knew possible in a child your age and have the ability to light up a room or fill it with laughter.  You also love music have quite the dance moves, with rhythm and all!  Needless to say, we adore your crazy personality and impressive dancing and get so much enjoyment out of you entertaining us!

Your mind is like a steal trap, and you can recall full movie lines (with actions and inflection) from movies you've seen months (sometimes years) ago and have only watched once.  This is also reflected in your academics!  As soon as you are taught something, you retain it, which is why I think it has been so easy for you to pick up reading.  You have always had a love for books and enjoy your big sister reading to you almost daily, so it seemed to come so naturally to you.

Last year you attended preschool at Hudsonville Christian with Mrs. Cole and Mrs. Kuipers, who Madisyn also had.  As expected with your outgoing personality, you immediately loved it!  You made a lot of new friends, and each day you'd share with me the different people you played with that day.  I love that you played with everyone, boys and girls equally, and certainly don't mind hanging out with the Barbies if it means enjoying time with a friend.

We love you more than words can describe!
Love, Mama

Backlog: Our baby Madisyn (birthday edition)

Even though Madisyn turned seven today (this post was started on March 6th), she will always be "Baby" to us. It is incredibly difficult to believe that we have already enjoyed seven years with our little, yet very tall, girl. I just wish I could freeze time and enjoy these years a little longer! I feel like this year she has truly grown exponentially! First of all, she has grown as a reader more than I could have ever imagined! I knew going into this year that first grade had a huge emphasis on reading, but little did I know that our little girl would go from reading simple, repetitive sight word books to chapter books in a matter of months! It's been tremendously rewarding to see her success and excitement for it! I especially love hearing her read books to her brother and sister... just melts my heart.
LD & M ~ LOVE playing together... In fact, when we separate them, they don't know what to do without the other, but they also certainly know how to push each others buttons

M & her cousin Olivia

Sophie (one of M's best friends), M & LD

The other tremendous milestone made this year was her fear of being in front of people. She has always been our more reserved child (which is often a wonderful trait!). For a few years she wouldn't even participate in her school programs because she was too embarrased to get up or sing in front of others. Then this year she apparently showed interest in doing a solo for the Christmas program... and she was chosen! Yes, you read correctly, a solo in front of a million people (okay, not that many, but it sure seems like it when seven grades of parents, siblings, grand parents, etc... are all packed in like sardines in a quite huge sanctuary). She was one of only three first graders (only one in her class) that was chosen. I cautiously confirmed with her that she wanted to be up in front by her self singing and she sure did! Needless to say, she did amazing! She absolutely blew us away by being so confident! Lastly, I am so glad that our "Baby" now has a little sister to love and teach! She always wanted a sister and she absolutely adores Tinley! I can't wait to see how their relationship grows as sisters... they remind me of my sister and I (I'm 7.5 years older and Madisyn is 7 years older), and I can only hope that they have as great of a relationship as we do!
Madisyn singing her solo at the Christmas program

Among the above, this past year Madisyn also:
*Began first grade (first year of all day/every day), she is handling it like a champ and still prefers to have an 1 1/2 nap immediately after school, which gives us all a little more (less whiny, less crying) family time at night :)
*Ran her first kids marathon (completed 26.2 miles within two months), ran two miles straight at one point
*Taught herself how to do the splits and a cartwheel (it is somewhat scary how quickly she can drop into the splits)
*Had her first community ed basketball experience (and loved it!)
*Took her first dance class (liked it, but didn't love it)
*Took her first gymnastic class (and LOVED LOVED LOVED it!)
*Began having interest in basketball, soccer, baseball and golf
*Lost more teeth than I can count... I think we're at eight total!

Tinley Joy

Our little peanut finally arrived! To say the wait was worth it would be a tremendous understatement! I do not even know how we could be so amazingly blessed by her in our first three days. The kids absolutely adore her and are amazing at holding, talking and helping out with her! But it's not only the kids... Rob and I seem to spoil her rotten wanting to hold her ALL of the time :) Yes, she's the baby of the family and is already getting a little special treatment!

I have to share our labor story because it was truly an answer to prayer! I'll try not to draw it out too long, but bear with me... It began on Tuesday, February 21st (41 weeks) when I had a NST scheduled along with a possible dose of Cytotec (a drug that can be used to help begin contractions which often lead into labor). Leading up to Tuesday I felt more and more like I really wanted labor to begin on its own and wanted to avoid inducing drugs if at all possible. When I shared with the nurses that I decided not to do the Cytotec, you could tell that they were somewhat surprised... likely because most people at 41 weeks are anxious to be done. But to be completely honest, I was still feeling fantastic (even ran that week!).

Anyway... NST went great, skipped Cytotec and went on my way home. Next NST was scheduled for Saturday with the option of Cytotec again. Following that, I would be scheduled for an induction (with Cytotec) on Monday night followed by Pitocin on Tuesday, if necessary. Needless to say, I was seriously struggling with the decision. I really wanted to avoid Pitocin, but I honestly still was hoping that something would happen on its own. I prayed and prayed and prayed (and so did the kids, bless their hearts... they really wanted to meet their little sibling). I've never wanted pain so badly!

Friday early morning, I began having occasional contractions that woke me up. Finally, around 4:00, I figured that it was time to get up and see if this was the real thing. I timed them and they were 4-5 minutes apart... YEAH! I hopped in the shower, woke Rob up around 5:00 and called the in-laws to come and watch the kiddos. I told them to take their time, so they got here around 6:00 (both kids had woken up from the noise and were tremendously excited to hear that we were headed to the hospital) and Rob and I made it through the crazy snow storm (that closed the kids' schools) by 6:30.

By 8:00 I was fully admitted, dilated to 4 cm, 60% effaced, and was given the opportunity to request my epidural. I felt okay, but knew that I wanted it before too long, so gave the go-ahead. By 9:00 I had it and was ever so grateful (I was now 8 cm and 80% or 90% effaced)! I had been to the point that things were getting quite painful (I have no idea how you women do it without!). And speaking of my epidural, my anesthesiologist was a guy that I've gone running with! I don't know him well, but recall one run that we did from Hudsonville to Wealthy Street Bakery in Grand Rapids last year. Anyway, he did a phenomenal job :)

After that I think I was ready by 10:00 or so, but the nurse waited until 11:00 to check me and sure enough, we were more than ready! My wonderful doctor came in and two contractions later we had our perfect baby girl! In fact, she was born at 11:09 am :) She was 8 lbs. 12 oz. (one ounce bigger than her big brother was), and 21" long. She's a lengthy little thing!

I am still amazed at how He answered our prayer so perfectly!

The snow!

Happily in labor (thank you epidural)

Proud Daddy

Big brother!

Big Sis!

Holding her never gets old!

Daddy and his baby girls!

Out of order Valentine's Post

Although I have plenty of backlogging to do yet, I'm feeling in the Valentine's spirit and therefore feel the desire to post pictures from this month. One of the greatest things that we did this month was write "love" letters to each other and put them in these cute little mailboxes (from Target dollar spot, thanks for the tip KT!), which I added vinyl letters to at one of our monthly craft nights (thanks KT & Theresa!). The idea came from a friend at our MOPS group and several of our friends jumped at the cute idea.

"Daddy I love you. This is LD. Love, LD"
"I love you so very much so much. I love you. I hope you are going to have fun at school tomorrow. I love just so much. Love, Madisyn Dykema XOXOXOXOXO"
To Madisyn, from Landon,"Madisyn Landon I love you" (picture of monkey)
"Mommy, I love you. Thank you for making food. LD"
"Mommy, I love you so much. I miss you 'cause you are on the treadmill. Love, Madisyn XOXOX" My favorite are the letters between Madisyn and Landon, they are just so sweet! They have even written the baby (white mailbox) some! I may just have to pull these out in six months or so, because we all seem to love it so much!

Hot Chocolate 15k

Who would have known that there is a 15k race out there?! What a perfect distance! I hope that I can do it again this year! This race was one of my favorites of 2011, not because of the chocolate fondue or hot chocolate following the race, but because it was fun to go down to Chicago with some of my running group friends (Cindy, Tammy, Kristin H., Kristin L., Heather) and run the entire race together! Aside from the 1/2 in October (where I ran with Rob, Doug, David, Rudy), I don't recall a road race where I've run with a group of friends the entire time! Not to mention, some of my dear other friends (KMac, KT & Theresa) were down there running it for the first time too! Hopefully they'll run it again this year too :)

38 w 2 d

For the few of you who aren't on FB, here is the most recent belly picture! I still have plenty of backlogging to do, but I figured if I posted this when the baby is four months old, it may not be relevant anymore. So far, so good! I'm feeling better at this point than I did with either of the other two, so I'm planning on at least a week late and if baby arrives anytime before then, it will be a wonderful surprise! In fact, Rob is more anxious than I am! I was still able to run this week (3 miles, with a few walking breaks), but I have yet to determine if there will be anymore running in my future :)

Backlog II: Madisyn's marathon

Last fall, as a 6-year old, Madiysn completed her first marathon!  Well, kids marathon actually... but what an amazing feat it was!  I honestly could not have been more proud of her!  To complete the marathon, the kids were to run a total of 25 miles prior to race day and complete 1.2 miles on race day for a total of 26.2 miles (official marathon distance)!

During her training she ran distances of one mile to two miles without stopping!!! Seriously, she may have distance running in her future!  But that's really not what made me so proud and excited for her.  The true test was getting those miles in when it started getting boring and at times was dark outside!  Even though she wasn't always jumping for joy to go out and run, she still did it!  It would have been easy to quit, but she toughed it out!

Nana and Madisyn, pre-race

Beginning of the race!

Nana, Papa, LD & Madisyn, post-race

Madisyn and her proud Mommy, post-race
I'm hoping that lesson taught her more than you can keep running further than you think...  Hopefully she learned that sometimes you make commitments that are not always easy to keep, but it's important and worth it to keep your word and more importantly, that many goals in life are not easy to achieve, but the payoff is always worth the time and effort put into it!  Aside from anything she learned, I think my favorite part was that we got to spend so much one-on-one time together!

And of course, Madisyn's stats :)

(photograph by Tina Vink, link on picture as well as below)
We are a busy family of five! I enjoy time with my husband and kids, running, being outdoors, shopping for deals, and cuddling. My wonderful husband keeps busy playing with the kiddos, hunting, fishing, exercising and working on projects around the house. Madisyn is six, in 1st grade, loves being outdoors and isn't one bit afraid of bugs or worms! Landon is four, a spitting image of Daddy, and is the sweetest, naughtiest and funniest little boy, all in one! Tinley was born February 24, 2012 and has already blessed us beyond belief! Here's a glimpse into our crazy and wonderful lives... hope you enjoy!

Tiece of Cake

I've finally decided to make a blog (Tiece of cake) dedicated to cakes... as to not consume the family blog.

(photograph by Mindy Leigh Photography, link on picture as well as below)

Madisyn Grace

Madisyn Grace
"Baby" & "M" (photograph by Melissa @ M Design and Photography, link on picture as well as below)

Landon Adrian

Landon Adrian
"LD" & "Bubba" (photograph by Melissa @ M Design and Photography, link on picture as well as below)