Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I could use a big zap of energy lately.

There are all these things that need to be done. Cabinets to be emptied, boxes to be packed, other boxes to be unpacked, cabinets to be filled... You get the picture.  Along with the other normal everyday things like cooking food and laundry. All of which I have no desire to complete.

Not sure if it is the summer heat or just being pregnant in general but I have zero motivation lately. I know I have things to accomplish and I really do want to accomplish them, but it is soooo hard to get off the couch in the morning. I am going to go ahead and blame it on the tiny fetus. With both of my previous pregnancies, I never felt this fatigued - especially in the 2nd trimester when you are supposed to get this wonderful energy surge.  Yeah right.

It probably has a lot to do with the fact that my bedtime hasn't been very regular. It seems the only time I have for myself is from 10 - midnight. So if I want to upload pictures or post on the blog or read a book, I have to wait till the kids are asleep. And I usually wait until Jared has left for work too.

And the Olympics isn't helping much either. Because seriously, who wants to go to bed early when they could be watching Michael Phelps win his record-setting 19th Olympic medal or the U.S. women's gymnastic team take the gold?! Definitely no one at this house. And when I finally decide, oh yes - I will finally go to bed, Bob Costas has to go and tease the next final event coming up and then I am sucked in yet again! Darn you, Olympic fever!

Despite my lack of gumption lately, things have been getting done. The house is now entirely painted (we're talking approximately 10 rooms, complete with upper and lower trim) with the exception of a couple of doors. {We ran out of trim paint and Jared's give-a-damn is officially busted right now anyway.} With every trip across town to our new house, we load up the back of the Pilot and take a few non-essentials over. The phone/Internet and Dish got installed today (after 2+ hours of phone time due to them both screwing things up - ugh, how I hate automated voice prompts!) and work is almost finished on the repairs to the backyard patio roof/overhang thingy.

All that is left is to actually move. But with all that we have already hauled, we mainly just have the big things left - beds, dressers, dining room table... My goal is to be all moved in by Tuesday. Jared has Sunday through Tuesday off so we should have ample time to actually set things up and get organized.
Believe me, I am more than ready at this point!
Let's get this thing done!

Friday, July 27, 2012

love it

I have a weakness for baby ponytails.

They serve absolutely no purpose, but I don't care.  I love them.

I also happen to love this random expression I caught on camera.

And then there is this one...
90% of the time she looks slightly homeless because she refuses to let me tame her wild mane of hair and insists on digging her {dirty} beloved Mermaid shirt out of the hamper and wearing it yet again.
She has attitude and opinions, just like Mom.
Love it.

Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It's been a little overwhelming around here to say the least.

It all started with that Kansas trip 10 days ago. It was fun and Jared had  "a good time"  as my dad would say. {"Having a good time" is my dad's go-to phrase for fun that involves copious amounts of alcohol being consumed.}

During that same time, my grandparents rented a large cabin at Twin Lakes for the whole family to enjoy for a week - just like they do every year. Because we missed the first few days, we made an effort to go out to hang out with everyone most nights last week.

It was fun. Bailey and Avery went swimming in the lake a few times. And because the lake is so low this year, there was a nice patch of sand available right by our cabin. Both girls put their sand toys to good use. We also took the girls out on the boat for the first time this summer.

Avery's first time trying out her life jacket.

Our curly haired girl just sat back and felt the wind blow her hair in every direction possible.

{And yes, that is pizza sauce smeared on her face. We ate super healthy all week and took great care with our appearance too.}

We stayed out way past the girls' bedtime basically every night for 10 days and we eventually began to pay for it. We were exhausted by the end of the week....

...Just in time to close on a new house! Thursday was officially House Day. And while I am excited, I think Jared is feeling more overwhelmed. After all, he is the one doing most all of the painting and minor updates before we move in. He has become a maniac, and I say that with the utmost love and affection (Love you!). For example, he woke up this morning at 5 AM and couldn't fall back asleep. So what did he do you ask? He drove over to the house and started painting! That's one way to get things done I guess.  He has been working like a mad man on everything and it is starting to really come together. {Can't wait to post some before and after photos!} Almost the entire downstairs is painted (and I mean every single room) and the upstairs is starting to take shape. Now just some pesky wallpaper border to take down.  Oh and that whole packing/moving thing too.

And speaking of packing/moving... that brings me to more chaos of the week.

On Sunday morning, after working a night shift and not sleeping, Jared decided to go to our old house to pack up the remainder of our things. It seemed like a good idea. The plan was for Taylor (my dad's now hired hand who used to live with them for a few years in high school - long story) and his brother to drive my dad's pick-up and trailer down to our house while Jared rode along and slept. They got there and realized they couldn't load everything they came for and that there was way more than we had remembered leaving. {Isn't that how it always is?} They loaded up all that they could and got on the road.

Jared, running on no sleep, told Taylor to take the next exit on the interstate in a couple miles and then fell asleep. He woke up a while later to discover that they never took the exit and were now 30 miles in the wrong direction.  Whoops #1.  

So thus a 2-hour trip became a 3-hour trip. Eventually they got back on the right road and since it was now a straight shot home, Jared again fell asleep. He woke up as the truck was breaking down along the side of the highway. Turns out Taylor had filled my dad's diesel truck with regular gas.  Major Whoops #2. 

Now Jared isn't the most patient person to begin with, but he basically lost it. They were over an hour away from home and had to wait for my dad to line up my grandpa's pick-up to come and switch vehicles. Jared wasn't about to sit and wait in a truck for an hour and a half with a person he felt like strangling, so he walked the 5 miles to the nearest town in 105º heat. {It's a wonder he didn't have a heat stroke.} And since he got a nosebleed a mile or so into the walk, covering his arm and shirt with blood, there wasn't a soul about to stop and ask if he needed help.

And when it was all said and done, neither Jared or my dad killed anyone. And someday I think we might be able to laugh about it. {Although I think it is going to be a while before my dad laughs about it...}

And rounding out a week-plus of ups and downs, today was my aunt Kim's funeral in Fonda.

Funerals are tough, even if you aren't particularly close to someone. I always find it so hard to see other people grieving, witnessing such raw pain and sorrow. I am a crier anyway - tack on some pregnancy hormones and I am a mess.

It truly was a beautiful service. When I am in church, it is usually the music that speaks to me the most. But I thought the message today was memorable. It is the message we all have heard time after time.  We know the story of Christ's victory over death, but it seems particularly moving to hear when you are mourning the loss of someone.

The older I get, the more faith I have that our life on this earth is not the end. It gives me hope and strength to know that death is most certainly not the champion. Because someday I am going to be the one desperately missing and grieving for someone I love. And it gives me peace to have faith that I will see them again someday.

Honestly, I have never lost someone close to me.
All my grandparents are still living.
My parents and siblings are healthy.
I have been blessed with a husband and healthy children.
And I do realize how very fortunate I am to be able to say that.
I am personally not afraid to die. I am much, much more afraid of experiencing the pain of losing someone I love. I know my day will come. I just hope that when I am the one in that front pew of the church, I can remember that while our life on earth is short, the rest of our journey is for eternity.

Sorry for this long, random post
{for those of you who made it this far!}.
Lately it's been a mix of happy and sad. And I am hoping for some calm days ahead.

21 weeks

21 weeks

Don't worry. I don't plan on posting a picture every week.
(That would probably bore even me.)

I just wanted to represent with a picture that included some make-up and the touch of a straight iron.
Aka: effort.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Today my aunt Kim passed away.
She was only 51 years old.

Her death wasn't expected. She hadn't been feeling well the past few months and had been to see many different doctors at quite a few different hospitals. No one could give her an answer to what was going on. Then earlier this week she started feeling worse and was admitted to a hospital in Des Moines. It didn't seem to be anything extremely serious at the time, but overnight she took a turn for the worse. Kim's organs began to shut down and she was placed on a ventilator. Family was called to be by her side. She passed away early this morning.

Kim was married to my uncle Marty, my dad's younger brother. I can't say that we were ever close. When I was younger, my aunt and uncle and my parents didn't get along for a variety of reasons. Then about 2 or 3 years ago, they started to mend fences. I don't know what prompted it, especially after being at odds for a good 20 years, but it happened. And gradually relationships were repaired. And maybe this is the reason why. I believe that God knew they would need each other for support, in this instance and in days and years to come...

Kim and Marty have two children, my cousins - Jay and Kayla. Jay is 23 and will be starting a job in Omaha working as an engineer. Kayla is just 19 and recently finished her first year of college. I can't imagine how hard this must be. Marty has lost his partner, the person he pictured growing old with. And while you're probably never "old enough" to lose your mother, being 23 and 19 just seems so unfair. Throughout childhood you picture your mom moving you into your first place, helping you plan your wedding, and meeting her grandchildren. And even though she won't be there physically for these events, I know she will still be there. She must be so proud of her kids and all they have achieved so far.

It seems impossible to understand why things like this have to happen.
The phrase "everything happens for a reason" just isn't of much comfort in moments like this.
The only thing I can take away from this is that
Life Is Short.

Don't take it for granted.
Spend an afternoon reading that book that's been lying on your desk for months.
Get down on the floor and play with your kids.
Take that vacation you've always talked of going on "someday."  
     Make "someday" today.

I ask everyone to please say a prayer for their family.
Say a prayer to help them get through the long days, weeks, months, and even years ahead while they are missing the wife and mother they love so very much.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


As of today we officially have a new home.

It's going to take some a lot of paint, tons of carpet cleaning solution, and even more time, but we are going to make it our own.

We are anxious to get started and then get moved in. It feels good to know we can {finally} settle in and not worry about moving or packing another box for a long, long time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

20 weeks

20 weeks pregnant
with Baby Solko #3

Definitely not the most flattering picture in the world (hate pics with my hair up),
but with temps averaging around 100º lately, it's the best I can do.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kansas weekend

The weekend was fast, but it was a good one.

We were loaded up and on the road by 6:30 Friday morning, with a quick stop for a donut or two at Casey's, of course. The girls were cooperative and Bailey was even excited about a trip in the car.

I did the driving (all 7 1/2 hours of it) while viewing this in the passenger seat:
Jared was mighty comfy camped out with two pillows and a blanket.

Thankfully he was tired enough to not object to my choice of music or its volume.

We made the trip is good time - very good time actually. Except for a 40-mile stretch of "road construction" in Nebraska (which literally consisted of traffic cones and blocked lanes with no actual construction), the traffic was good. I tend to drive pretty, shall we say, "aggressively."
If you are a slow driver in the left lane, we are definitely not friends.

After a lengthy lunch break, we made it to Jared's dad's house in Herndon by 3:30.  We had just enough time to unload, clean up, and make it to the wedding rehearsal. Everyone basically turned in early in preparation for the wedding the following evening. Which, in hindsight, was definitely a good idea.

Saturday was a pretty casual day to start off with. We hung out at Alan and Ann's and let the girls enjoy not being trapped in the car. Esther (Jared's step-grandma) got to meet Avery for the first time and Bailey got in some Papa Alan time.

Later we took Bailey around and introduced her to some horses.
She was okay with looking at the horse and maybe even petting it for about two seconds, but she wanted nothing to do with sitting on it. The first time Jared put her on she screamed and cried hysterically.
It wasn't until we were ready to leave that she suddenly said, "I want on horse!"
{She always needs to do things on her own time table.}

The "ride" lasted all of half a minute, but it was enough to snap one quick picture and for her to tell us over and over that she rode the horse.  We also had to go see some cows so that she could bring them up for the next day as well.

Later that night was Greg and Lina's wedding in Atwood. 

Greg Mumm and Jared are 2nd cousins. They have spent many hours drinking beer together in Herndon, at Oktoberfests, or anywhere else cold beer is available. We have many fond college memories that involve Mr. Greg Mumm, many of which should not be detailed in any form on this blog. Greg was the best man in our wedding and I know Jared was honored to be a part of Greg's.

Sadly, since we have lived so far away, we only met his new bride for the first time this past weekend. Lina is a cool girl and I can see why Greg snatched her up. {And she voiced approval of my M-Bolt concert attendance, so she is definitely top-notch in my book.}

The wedding reception was a good time, even while managing two little kids. Thankfully other kids were there so ours weren't the only ones making noise and running around during the reception. I was also very thankful for help from Jared's dad, especially when it came time to doling out the food and keeping them entertained at the table. Bailey was more than ready for the dancing to start. She was practicing her moves as soon as the dinner music began.  Then someone gave her a popsicle that was completely thawed out. So basically juice in flimsy plastic.  She loved it. And to the lady who gave it to her: umm thanks, but you really shouldn't have. Like really - you shouldn't have.

She was a sticky, orange-flavored mess.

Meanwhile this one insisted on only being held by me.
A room full of eager and willing relatives, and I got stuck holding this little stinker the entire time.

Family picture at the wedding

So as you can imagine, we had an even better time when Papa Alan took the girls home and watched them for the rest of the night.
{Alan: you were super-grandpa and we definitely owe you one.}

So even though I was sober and completely aware of how ridiculous I looked, I danced and had fun. That's the thing about Kansas. Every time we go back there and hang out with friends, we always have a good time. No matter what we are doing.

I was reflecting on that thought as I was driving yesterday.

It's so great to catch up with good friends you haven't seen in a while. You remember all the fun you always had together and how much you still have in common. But it is bittersweet in a way. At the wedding we were talking to Jared's cousin Abe and his wife Alex, who have two girls about the same age as ours. Alex said, "Why don't we ever have a play date or just hang out together?" And I replied, "It's probably because of that whole 6-hour distance thing." Oh yeah...

It sucks. We have friends spread out across Colorado and Kansas and Nebraska and Iowa that we just don't get to see much. I suppose that is what happens when you go to college out of state and meet friends from other places. When you graduate, you all go your separate ways and live your own lives. But I miss them. I miss all the fun times we had and the fun times we could be having. Sometimes I wish I could call up my friend Tara to come have a Long Island Iced Tea with me on some random Tuesday afternoon or that Jared could swing by Greg's house to talk about whatever it is guys talk about.

So while I occasionally wish we were all just one big happy group of friends like those featured on a weeknight sitcom, I am grateful for the good friends that we can see once a year (or even less) and still pick up right where we left off. We might not see each other all that often, but I still cherish these friendships. And I am thankful for reasons to get together. Like a wedding.

Congrats again to Greg & Lina Mumm!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Weekend Road trip

Today's news:
We're having a healthy baby!
I had my appointment today for the "official" results of Tuesday's ultrasound. Baby Solko #3 is lookin' good.

Which is great because I have lots of other things to worry about at the present moment - like packing up for our 8-hour road trip tomorrow. Yes, that's correct. 8 hours. In the car. With a 2 year-old and a 1 year-old. And a husband that will be trying to sleep from the previous night's shift.
{FML is the only appropriate phrase to use here, I do believe.}

Jared is in his cousin Greg's wedding this weekend back in good ol' Herndon, Kansas.
[And for all of you that have heard stories of this infamous place: no, he is not marrying his cousin.]
It is sure to be a good time. The booze will be flowing and the karaoke will be in full swing. And Jared gets a guaranteed D.D. 
Lucky him.

So I have been a list-making fool. Love lists. I can't survive without lists. Because Heaven help us if I forgot extra insulin, or even worse, Bailey's Bun-Bun. We have a cooler packed with cheese sticks and "foot" (fruit) snacks and a bag full of books and small toys. We debated borrowing a DVD player to entertain Bailey, but we decided that we might not be able to handle multiple hours of Disney movies and the whining that would ensue should we attempt to turn it off.

In other preparation I have been creating a play list for the trip. Our itunes is completely overrun by random songs Jared sees fit to download on a whim. Every few months I nag him to go through them and we find that he only knows about half of them. He just downloads whole albums when all he wants is one or two songs. So I have gone half-blind looking through our music to make a play list of a measly 50 songs. It's random. Think Queen meets fun meets Johnny Cash.

And on the topic of random... I found something that stops me from eating peanut butter straight from the jar with a spoon: Costco's "natural" peanut butter. (Ingredients: peanuts and salt.) Apparently I need that high fructose corn syrup. I miss you creamy Skippy!

Enough of my ramblings, I really should continue packing the car and then get my butt to bed. We have a long day tomorrow. That is if I don't veer off the road in frustration by 10 AM... Just kidding. An occasional DMD and a mouth-watering Nutrageous will get me through the day!
{Have I mentioned that Nutrageous candy bars are God's gift to pregnant women and that I may need an A&E style intervention soon?}

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Think of me as we are rolling down I-80 tomorrow. And again on Sunday. Say a prayer for my sanity. And my blood sugar. [Damn Nutrageous...]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The "Big" One

Ultrasound that is.

I turned 19 weeks today. And today was The Big Day.

For most people it's just the ultrasound to see whether they are having a boy or a girl. But once you have had an ultrasound not go according to plan, it takes some of the carefree fun out of it.
Believe me, people. Ignorance is most definitely bliss.

After having a miscarriage with my first pregnancy, every ultrasound filled my brain with worry and anticipation: "Please God, let there be a heartbeat." And after a few normal ultrasounds with Bailey, I started to relax. {My personal mantra: See Vanessa, everything is fine!}
And then BAM! - the 24 week ultrasound that revealed her cleft lip.
Back to dreading ultrasounds.

Dread isn't quite the right word. It's special to see that tiny little person dancing around on the screen before you. It's cute to watch them suck their thumb and kick their little limbs. And it is completely reassuring to hear the words: everything looks great!  It's just that there is so much that can be wrong. The human body is so complex, it truly is a wonder that problems don't occur more often. And honestly, a cleft wasn't the end of the world. We're blessed to have kids that are healthy. And happy.

But I still worry.

At least I do the moment I am lying on that table with gel rubbed all over my stomach.

Here was the first look at Baby.

Baby spent almost the entire ultrasound with its legs up to its mouth and hands covering its face. {This chid is already about 1000 times more flexible than its mama.} Every single facial profile picture features at least one hand and one leg.

But thankfully this child gave us a good look at everything, including about 8 different close-ups of the mouth and lips throughout the ultrasound, courtesy of my extra-reassuring ultrasound tech.

The ultrasound tech was so sweet. I told her up front that ultrasounds make me nervous due to past experience and that I have a little girl born with a cleft lip and palate. When I got scans at the Med Center with my last two, they weren't allowed to give you any information at all during the ultrasound. And I was prepared for this lady to do the same. But this time around I have to wait 2 full days to get the "official report" on the ultrasound findings, so I was working up my best A-game to guilt some info out of her.

Turns out I didn't need to. Absolutely no harassment was necessary.
She talked me through the entire thing and let me know system by system that things looked great.  Everything was normal. A huge weight lifted off me.

And I am not kidding about the 8 different views of the face. I think she really wanted me to know that things looked normal. And after that many looks and her explaining what I was looking at, I finally got it. {And I think I might even be able to perform that part of the ultrasound now!}

So that's it in a nutshell {pending my "official" report on Thursday of course}:

A boring, drama-free ultrasound and a healthy little baby.
Exactly what I was hoping for.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sun and Sand

Earlier this week we took the girls for their first swim at Twin Lakes.
Or at least the first swim of the season.

There is a certain cuteness that comes with babies covered in sand.

A sweetness in watching them scoop it up with their tiny shovels and pour it in and out of their pails.

Hearing giggles as little waves wash over their sand-covered, chubby feet.

{I just love fat little baby toes...}

And with this quick trip we were able to star another item on our Happy Family Movement bucket list for summer. {Click here if you are wondering what in the heck I am talking about.}
I need to load up on popsicles and sidewalk chalk and find a couple free afternoons so we can start accomplishing more on our list.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Getting Crafty

In general I am not much of a crafty person. My brain usually doesn't come up with ideas on its own, so I am much better off just following simple instructions.

I saw this idea in a magazine my mom gave me and decided to take the time to make it. It's simple (aka I was able to do it) and very cheap.

Fabric-Wrapped Wreath
 ~ patriotic style  ~

You need a few basic items:

*12 inch round foam floral/craft ring
* scissors
* ruler
* 6 inch length of floral wire (not pictured)

Then you choose fabric (use scraps if possible) in 7-10 different patterns.
I used 7 because that is what I had. {And by what "I" had I really mean what my mom and grandma had. I don't exactly sew. See above description of uncrafty-ness.} The more patterns you use, the tighter you should keep the color palette.

Cut the fabric into ten 14"x 1.5" strips per pattern.

Then taking the fabric strip, loop it around the ring, right side out, and tie in a double knot at the front. Continue doing this in order of the fabrics, staggering the placement of the knots, until all are used. Every so often bunch the fabric together so the ring doesn't show. For the final step, loop the floral wire through the fabric on the back of the wreath to create a hanger. Trim any loose threads and you're all done!

The final product:

It would look much better hanging on a wall, but I forgot to buy the previously mentioned floral wire...

You could use the same idea to make a different themed wreath - Christmas, Easter, Halloween, or even just pretty colors that look good together.

Not bad for only costing $4.79 to make!