Monday, August 27, 2012


I so look forward to when these two can really start to develop a friendship. I hope and pray that they can grow to love one another, enjoy each other's company and become life-long friends.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Time with the Stuart family

A couple of weekends ago we spent some fun time with the Stuart family. Friday evening we roasted hotdogs around a fire (to introduce Wedly to the idea prior to our going camping over Labor Day) and had Zach and Carrie and their girls join us. We had a great time!
Visiting around the fire.
Sweet li'l Ellie!
Carrie and Ellie
Brielle trying a roasted Marshmallow.
 Wedly running off with Brielle to play. Brielle is only 3 months younger than Wedly, so hopefully they'll become great friends!
That Sunday Reuben was in town, so we gathered at Roger and Kathy's for lunch after church.
Reuben and Dan admiring their boys. :o)
Gabriel and Benjamin - 2 weeks apart in age.

Already working on his silly faces for the camera.

Trying to get smiles out of our boys.
Time with Grandpa Roger

Both are known for the occasional crazy hair day, so we had to document it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gabriel - 3 months!

Gabriel is 3 months – ¼ of a year old already! I can hardly believe it. Here’s what is going on with Gabe…

-He is 14.1 pounds, 25 ½ inches long.

-He has periods where he still likes to eat a lot, but in general is becoming a lot more laid back. Most nights he’ll give me at least one 4 hour stretch of sleep (sometimes 5), then will usually wake up every 2-3 hours after that to eat. One night he gave me 7 hours of sleep, which I couldn’t believe! He only takes little cat naps (a couple of 20-40 minute ones) in the morning, then a longer one in the afternoon (2-3 hours).

-He is smiling and ‘talking’ so much more these days, though it is usually only when we are home and in a familiar setting for him.

-He has rolled over from his back to tummy a few times in the last couple of weeks and often when I find him awake from a nap, he’ll be in a completely different position than when I left him. I don’t know how he does it, but often times I’ll find him perpendicular to where he had been. Here is a picture of one of the times I found him on his tummy.

-He is tolerating bath time and if I work hard can get some smiles out of him during it. I look forward to when he starts really enjoying his baths.  

-Does fairly well in the car, but we've learned to hate red lights even more than before. The poor kid cries immediately once the vehicle stops. Sigh.

-Gabriel loves the vacuum cleaner. When he is fussy it almost always calms him down. I'm thankful for this, since I vacuum fairly often. Maybe the fact that I vacuumed a lot during pregnancy helped get him used to it!

-My sister loaned us a play-gym to use and Gabe loves it, which makes me so happy! It's making life a little bit easier, because before it seemed he was only happy if I was sitting down to hold him. He likes the wraps I have if I'm soon as I stop to do the dishes, or color with Wedly, or anything else, he starts to cry, so it's nice to have found something he enjoys to give me a few minutes break to make dinner, play with Wedly, etc. Here he is enjoying the toys!

And here are a few more cute pictures of him. What a joy he is!

When he's fussy, this'll usually get him to quiet down.

This picture makes me laugh...we went for a walk and Dan had him in a carrier in which he slept for most of the whole walk. When he finally did wake up, though, he was unhappy and needed a change. I'm sure this isn't proper carrying technique, but he sure he enjoyed it! :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

His faithfulness

A couple of days ago, my sister told me to read Psalm 113. The final verse is basically the story of the last year of my life. It says "He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children." This verse could have been written about me in particular. Within the space of a year (10 months, actually), I've been blessed with a beautiful home and two children. My story is one of God's goodness and faithfulness to me. I'm so thankful for all he has done for me, and more than that, that I can know Him who holds the world in his hands.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Time around the table

I remember having a conversation with my sister a few years ago about goals. She had recently come back home from teaching in Alaska and had decided that she would take a break from teaching and stay home with her children. She decided that she wanted to set some goals for herself - things she could do to help serve her family and those around of those things was to learn to cook. Now, I'm sure she wasn't a bad cook prior to this, but when working full time, you definitely tend to just throw things together last minute. And since their family was taking a major pay cut with her no longer working, she needed to learn to cook on a budget.

As I've recently become a stay-at-home mom for the next several months, I've decided to make a similar goal. That said, I've got high expectations for myself and huge shoes to fill. If you've spent any time at all with the Vander Stoep family, chances are, you've sat down to a seriously good meal. I come from a family blessed with many, many great cooks! My gramma Vander Stoep always had an amazing garden and made some great meals from the bounty. She also was known for her cinnamon rolls, pies, and I have no memories of having store-bought bread at her house...she hand-made every loaf (which, by the way, my mom does too - I only remember a couple of times having store bought bread while growing up). My mom just might be the best cook I know, though it's probably a toss-up between her and my Aunt Charity. My mouth is watering right now thinking of some of the meals I've eaten, prepared by their hands.

Meals were important in our family. My mom was always up early to pack us a lunch for school and often made us a hot breakfast, as well. Dinner time was spent around the table where we all gathered to enjoy one another's company and talk over the day. While the meals were nutritious and well-rounded, I don't remember ever hearing the word "diet" come out of my mom's mouth. Health was important, but there was never any pressure whatsoever to look a certain way and maintain a particular body shape. We lived an active lifestule and with our meals there were vegetables a plenty, but having a bowl of ice cream after dinner was also fairly common.

Now that I have children to feed, I want to pass on to them similar values. I want them to have a healthy relationship with food. I hope they learn that it is a blessing to be enjoyed, but not worshiped. I also hope they don't take the opposite extreme in worshiping a perfect body, where they are willing to go to extremes to get that body. Both extremes are so prevalent in our American culture, so it isn't going to be easy, but I hope I can follow my parents example in how I raise our children.Food can be an idol whether it be an obsession over fast-food or an obsession that you only eat organic and judge others that don't (in my opinion). :) I'm not saying organic is's great - it's just not of eternal value.

All that said, I've really been enjoying cooking for my little family. It's been fun sitting down to plan the meals ahead of time, which not only helps with grocery shopping, but it solves the problem of figuring out what to make the night of, which was always my least favorite part of cooking in the past. I hated opening the fridge and staring in, racking my brain for ideas, never having all that I needed on-hand for any one recipe.

I thought I'd leave you with a favorite family recipe, in honor of my gramma. It's called Dutch Mess and is perfect for those who have a garden full of veggies ready to be eaten. Sorry that I don't have any's up to you to decide quantities! :)

-Lettuce - lots
-Any veggies and other salad toppings you have on-hand (tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, carrots, celery, mushrooms, sweet peas, broccoli, peppers, sun flower seeds etc.)
-boiled egg
-Fried potatoes

-Seasoning Salt

Cut plenty of lettuce, add salad toppings and dressing and mix together. Fry bacon and potatoes and add to salad while very, very hot. They are supposed to wilt the lettuce a bit. That's it! It's simple and trust me, this is oh so good!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How time flies

Yesterday marked one month since Wedly came home. It's a bit hard to believe. We are starting to see a little more (I think) of what his true colors are as he gets more and more comfortable with both us and his new home. He is definitely a sweet heart, no doubt about it, but this last week or so we have seen him test the waters a bit more to figure out where the boundaries are. He's is much more comfortable with the word "No" these days (which we are actually really glad to hear!) and he has such a funny way of saying it too! He has also been doing a lot more exploring as he is trying to figure out what he can and can't get into. These last couple of days in particular it feels like I've been saying things like "Wedly, please don't do that," and "Wedly, be sure to be gentle with Gabe" a whole lot more. I don't like feeling like I have to say no to a lot of things he is trying, but I think it's just a natural stage we have to go through. It's been so nice to see him become more and more interested in interacting with Gabriel. So far, he is a great big brother! He gets concerned when Gabe cries and tries to find ways to pacify him. Just in general, it's been really fun to get to know him. Here are 10 things we love about our boy...
1. His laugh. He just might have the best laugh of anyone I know. And I love that laughing comes easily to him. Sometimes he laughs for no reason at all, like he just needs to get it out.
2. I love it when he sings, which is fairly frequent. Sometimes I recognize the words, sometimes I recognize the tune (but not the words, which makes me think he must be singing in Creole?) and sometimes he sings a song he's making up on the fly. These songs are a bit hard to understand, except I'll catch a few random words like "Gabriel" or "semi-truck" etc.
3. I love how he wants to be wherever we are. It really doesn't matter what we are doing, he just wants to be involved. He'll even help with washing dishes and vacuuming.
4. I love watching him experience new things. Yesterday I cut up a peach that we were sharing and left the pit on my plate. He asked what it was, so I told him, but obviously didn't explain it well enough, because a moment later I heard a loud crunch and realized he had popped it in his mouth and was trying to eat it. Occasionally I will listen to sermon videos online. I'm sure there is very little he understands, but still he'll sit and watch the "movie." In fact, when I play music on my computer, there is a colorful visual that changes to the beat of the music and he has excitedly watched that as well, calling it a movie. He was pretty impressed with our washer and dryer, both of which have windows to look in and see it at work.
5. I love his cuddles and he's almost always up for a big hug. He loves to be held and will often say "lap, lap" in an effort to get you to sit down and hold him for awhile.
6. His excitement over silly things is pretty cute. He has a little dance he'll do when I start cutting open a mango. He also loves getting a new diaper...he gets giddy over it. It's been a little hard to know what to do about toilet training. I think we'll just hold off and wait until he's really ready, but we've been talking about it with him and will at times have him sit on his little potty. When he sits down he almost always is able to go right away, which makes me think he's physically ready, just maybe not emotionally ready to let the diapers go. Really it depends on his mood because sometimes he enjoys sitting on his potty and doesn't want to get up and other times doesn't want to. Regardless, when he decides he's ready for the diaper he giggles all the way to where we change him.
7. He loves to be chased and tickled. After bathtime each night, Dan will ask him to go grab a diaper. Wedly's made a tradition of grabbing the diaper and getting just close enough to Dan to toss it to him before screaming and making a run for it. His laughter as he runs from Dan can be heard throughout the house. It never ceases to bring a huge smile to my face.
8. I love his concern for others. I mentioned how he is always concerned when Gabe is crying. Well, each night (and sometimes at meals too) we'll ask him if there is anyone in particular he wants to pray for. He's gathered quite a list of people including his papa, Nick and Nikki, Eventz, Josiah, Mateja, Adam, Shiela, Chante and some of the other staff at COTP. His first request is always to pray for Manno. He'll say "Manno, doctor." Apparently prior to his leaving Haiti, his little friend Manno had a doctor's appointment that really stuck in his mind. Anyway, we pray for little Manno at least once a day. We pray for several of his other friends as well, including Mickenson, Fred, Christine and Cindy. After going to church on Sunday, he has requested several times that we pray for church. Other requests include praying for Ben and his school (he starts kindergarten this year). After mentioning Ben he'll excitedly say "Heidi! Uncle Nate! Sam! Levi!" I'm sure there are other things we pray for, but those are the most frequent ones from our boy. We been talking to him about the fact that God hears our prayers and we can bring anything we want to him. It is cool to see the wheels turning in his head as he tries to think of people he wants to pray for.
9. I love his love for learning. He's been learning a lot of new words recently and he gets very excited about his new discoveries. He loves telling us all that he knows. Sometimes over and over and over again. :)
10. I love his spirit of thankfulness. He is really, really good at remembering to say thank you, even with simple things. If I grab him his sippy cup, he'll say "thank you mommy!" He also really seems to appreciate the things he's been given. A prime example of this is how much he loved the water bottle Dan brought to him in Haiti. He carried it everwhere and wanted to show everyone his new water bottle. That's just classic Wedly - he loves and appreciates even small things.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Good job Daddy!!"

Dan brought his laptop into the living room where Wedly was and sat down to do some work. Wedly asked "Daddy working?" to which Dan replied "Yup, daddy is working." Wedly then says "good job daddy!!! Give me a five!"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hiking trip

We went on our first hike as a family and it was nice to get out. We headed to Siouxon Creek trail with my sister's family and my mom. We've been very slow to introduce Wedly to others. We apologize if you are anxious to meet him, but we've found he's definitely not very comfortable around new people and we don't want to bring unnecessary stress to him. So far the only people who've spent any amount of time with him are Dan's parents a couple of times, my parents a couple of times, my sister a couple of times and Joe's family (Dan's brother) once. Each time he's been very shy and hesitant to wander anywhere away from Dan or I (usually Dan). On the one hand I'm really excited for our family to get to know our little man, because he's such a sweet little guy, but at the same time I'm very pleased with his response to hold back and cling to us. Seems like it's a good sign he's bonding well. Wedly LOVES his daddy and whenever we are in a new situation, he sticks to him like glue.

Anyway, before Dan headed back to work, we decided to go on a hike. My sister and her family were heading off on a backpacking trip at Siouxon, so we tagged along with them. Dan carried Wedly most of the way which of course, Wedly enjoyed. At our lunch spot, he stuck close to Dan until the very end when he wandered off a bit with Ben and Sam (who were playing close by). Here are a few pictures from our outing.

Getting ready (note Wedly's placement holding on to Dan's leg)

Venturing off with Benny.

Throwing rocks in the creek!

My beautiful sister, Heidi and her little Levi

Playing with a really neat boat Nate made!


I don't know if my little guy has a tiny head, or if Levi's is extra big!! :)

Sacked out heading home!