Monday, May 31, 2010

Tyler Lately

Look how big my baby is getting. He gets more personality and spunk with each day. He's had to learn how to stick up for himself and he's definitely not always the mellow, go with the flow kind of kid he used to be. It's still his underlying nature, but he's learned how to stick up for himself and I get a real kick out of it. When something gets taken away from him he lets the whole world know he's pretty ticked about it- whether it be toys being taken by Marshall, an empty bottle he wasn't ready to give up, or when Mommy takes crayons away. The crayons always elicit the biggest fit. He gets bored of paper very easily and seems to think as long as he's carrying it, he should be leaving his mark. We've yet to find any large "masterpieces"... and I hope to keep it that way.
He's becoming quite the character. He's learning its fun to climb and do things a little out of the ordinary. Hiding is becoming a fun game and if he hasn't seen Marshall in a while and suddenly finds him, he'll flip out! He loves his big brother. The other morning he was having a ball in this new play space he found... under the kitchen table on Marshall's booster seat. He played there for a while, left to find a spot on Mommy's lap while I worked on the computer, then made his way back again and again.
He walks all over now and it is the cutest thing. Sometimes he'll just wander the house. I think its just because he can. He's gaining confidence and that can sometimes be good, sometimes bad. Today he was standing at the top of a little slope of dirt and finally worked up the guts to walk down and fell over and slid, face first, all the way down. It wasn't high or very steep, but he refused to try again the rest of the evening. But then we were at Grandma's and he was very persistent while playing on the trampoline. There were three bigger kids (Marshall's age) on there with him and when Tyler would fall over, he'd make his way back up and smile so proudly.

He still has pretty good sleeping habits. He's down to one nap a day usually and most times still falls asleep on his own. He likes to work himself into the corner of his crib while he sleeps. (Just like Marshall still does.) This morning I couldn't find him in the crib and I thought Colby had put him in our bed and I didn't notice, until I realized he was right up against the side of the crib closest to me (where I obviously didn't figure he'd sleep). The last couple of weeks he's battled some kind of stomach trouble and in the midst of a late night throw up experience, he found a new best friend. This little puppy. I needed something for him to hang on to (hoping it wouldn't be me ALL night long) and Ty made friends with this soft pup right away. In fact, this picture was taken one afternoon that he wasn't feeling good at all and he wouldn't settle down until he had his puppy on Mommy's bed. I felt so bad for him because he wasn't feeling good, but he looked so precious and I'm glad I got this picture so I can always be reminded of his sweet, angelic nature as a young one. (Something tells me "angelic" doesn't stick with boys for long.)

It's so fun to see his similarities to Marshall. And the differences. Oh, what fun these little ones are. I love being a mom.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


It's been fun to see the progress we're making on our front yard and I thought some of you would like to see too. Since we finished this step of the yard, we have sat on the wall admiring our "yard" in all its beauty.
This is now. We just sit and stare at our naked yard and are in awe at the beauty we are creating.
It's been a work in progress and we've had a lot of fun with each little step, but now we can really see the vision.
Just waiting for sprinklers & grass.
(Marshall didn't want his picture taken...)

This picture above was taken in January, before the wall, but after 5 loads of rich, mountain soil.
This was last fall, after the 1st dump truck stopped by our house. Marshall thought this one pile of dirt was heaven. He had no idea we'd get all kinds of dirt coming to our house.
And this is what we started with last year. We were stoked about this blank slate we had to work with and haven't regretted it since. Funny side note: This is the one and only picture Colby saw of the house before he told me to go ahead and submit an offer on it. He loved telling people that I'm so independent that I bought our house before he even got to look at it. :) What a lucky guy... I am that independent.

Hopefully we'll make great strides in the backyard in the next couple of weeks. I told Chase that we have a goal to have our yard near finished by the time he gets home. Haha. Two years better be enough time to finish!

Now go enjoy your holiday. Thanks to all those we celebrate Memorial Day in behalf of! We owe you our lives and freedoms. Thank you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Little Baby Factory

Some old friends from high school came by today for a BBQ. I'm one of the only few that did NOT have a baby in the last three months.
These four are all under 3 months. They all lined up on the floor and I asked my boys if they wanted to join in the fun. Marshall politely refused (no joke, his refusal was polite) but Tyler chuckled his way towards the group. He's a whole year older than most of them and I think he did some reminiscing of his own this afternoon- remembering what it was like to watch the world go by from that perspective.
I kept walking around the house, meeting mounds of baby gear, commenting on how our house looked like a little baby factory. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see Marshall's shorts... he really was there, just didn't want to be included in the baby count. He was really intrigued by the little ones though. He was admiring one of the little girls and he came to me and said, "I like that baby." It was really adorable how he was enjoying their sweet tinyness.
Here's the whole clan. Tina's hubby had to work, and there were so many others we wish could have made it. Hopefully next time...
It was so fun to get together. Let's not wait so long before we do it again!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

World's Greatest

Colby's been bugging me about when I would share the following. Beware, if you have a weak stomach, you may want to just skip this post. All except for maybe the last paragraph.

I'll start with two weekends ago. I was headed out on my first Bridal shoot and Colby was being so supportive sending me off with confidence. But I should have returned the favor with some kind of help, but had no idea Tyler would behave his worst. Seriously, his worst behavior to date. He cried the whole almost 3 hours I was gone. Except for, I'm told, the 10 minutes he fell asleep on Colby's shoulder. Poor Ty just couldn't get over the fact that his best friend (me) left him to fend for himself against the two big boys. When I got home, Colby told me he almost put Tyler up for adoption. But the rough night gave Colby a new appreciation for my life as a stay-at-home mom. He caught me off guard when a few nights later we were talking and he mentioned I had a big day the next day. I had to ask him to clarify, to make sure I hadn't forgotten some giant obligation, but he said, "Just doing what you do... every day is a big day." I loved that Colby, seriously.

Now for the doozy. (I'm chuckling inside just thinking about it.) Colby's always been proud to take his little boys along on the annual Father & Son's outing. Marshall had his first over-nighter without Mom when he was just 1 year old and Colby was so excited to take Tyler too this year. I had a night wide open, with NO plans and big dreams of a long bath, catching up on my magazines, and possibly conquering my long abandoned sewing basket. Within minutes of deciding my first task flying solo, Colby called. This is how it went: (abridged version)
C: How are you doing?
A: I'm good. How are you?
C: We're good. Are you having a good night?
A: Yeah...
C: So, where are you?
A: At home. Why?
C: Oh, ........
A: What's wrong?
C: Oh, nothing.
A: Colby, what's wrong?
C: Well, you know, on the way out here, Marshall threw up all over himself and his car seat. I got his clothes changed and we kept on going. He didn't want to eat any dinner and then he wanted me to hold him because he didn't feel good. Then he threw up again. All over himself and me (face included). So I figured we better head home. And then on the drive, Tyler threw up all over himself and his car seat. So, I'm really sorry to interrupt your night, but I might need your help getting all this taken care of. You'd be amazed at how calm I've stayed through all of this though.

Oh, poor Colby. I felt so bad. And he seriously did handle it like a champ. Perhaps better than I would have. Better luck next year though, right Babe? Colby is the world's greatest dad. I cannot get over the stuff my kiddos have put him through and I swear he loves them more in spite of it :) Oh the joys...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh, this is so fun!

First bridal session baby!
Nikol, you're gorgeous! I've had so much fun working with you...
... and I'm so glad you were my first bridal client.
You and Steven compliment each other beautifully.
You're in for so much fun. More than anyone can prepare you for.
Hold on to each other and cherish each other... through it all.
This love will bless your lives
(and hopefully many others, wink wink).
Congratulations you two.
(Just 18 more days!!!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

This is what we've been doing...

We've been busy lately. I figured I ought to share about our current events now, so they didn't get overlooked. I've been doing a handful of portrait sessions lately, and I feel like they are taking over our blog. Soon, very soon, Andrea Stratton Photography will make its official debut and will have its own domain, but for now, I'm still sharing amidst our family stuff.
Probably the biggest thing that's been going on is Chase's recent departure. He left for his mission this last week and we couldn't be prouder. The "three amigos" were proudly sporting their own "Future Missionary" badges at church in honor of their awesome uncle.
Marshall is taking great strides when it comes to swimming. I'm sure there's someone out there that will be quick to remind me about a time that I talked about my anti-floaties stance on learning to swim. Well, as with all kids, Marshall has made me eat my words. Each year, Marshall has gotten progressively more FREAKED OUT about swimming. He loves to be in the water, but he has to be frantically clinging to a parent's neck. A couple weeks ago we got him to quit the tears when he had a life jacket on and he'd cross the pool without any one holding him. So this week he graduated to floaties. He swims around so proud of himself and his "independent" state in the pool. He still won't let us more than an arms length away without a small freak out. -Not like we swim away, but you know... testing his limits-
The boys are growing into a great friendship. They love to play together and it makes me so happy. I love having two boys. I even hope to have another boy or two before any daughters come to our family. These two crack me up. At least once a day, when Ty wakes up, Marshall will go into their bedroom (as I'm informed I cannot go get him) and get Tyler all riled up. They both will jump and scream in the crib and play, play, play. It is SO funny.
Another big milestone: Grandma & Grandpa Tomkinson celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. We had a fun celebration at their house and we had a fun time visiting with family and friends.
They are such an inspiration. We love you Grandma & Grandpa.
This was a good one! Right before the anniversary party I had the kids in the tub and I was curling my hair. I got them out and told Marshall to go get some underwear while I finished curling my hair. After a few minutes I realized he never made it back so I went to find him. The back door was open and when I asked Marshall what they were doing he said, "We are naked bums playing in the dirt, naked bums!" That was one of the funniest things I've seen these kids do in a while. You can't really see it, but Tyler had a diaper on. But being naked hasn't stopped him since from crawling out to that pile of dirt.

Another thing we've been up to is working on our yard. We laid all these block along our back patio and we're going to bring in a bunch of dirt so the grass is at the level of the top of the block. The back of our lot is just a bit higher than our foundation, so its helped us create a fun, unique oasis in our backyard. We used the same block to build a small retaining wall in the front too. The real slope to our lot is in front of our house so we wanted our front grass to be more level and not such a pain to mow. We're making progress, slowly but surely.
Here's another classic Marshall moment. I was vacuuming the boys' bedroom and working my way down the hall toward the toy room. Marshall was busy playing and got it in his head that if there was anything on the floor I'd suck it all up with the vacuum. (I must admit, I have threatened that before, but not this day.) Well I kept noticing him running back and forth and when I got to the door I realized what he'd been up to. He got EVERYTHING off of the floor and piled it into his play house. We have a collection of larger trucks that park on the floor next to the play house and each boy has a special box for their special things. Then there's a basket for animals, one for legos, and so on... He dumped them all (along with the containers) into the play house. He even went as far to put Tyler's rocking horse (at least the size of Marshall) into the toy box and then tried to shut it. This kid cracks me up. All three of my boys make me smile from day to day (I love you Colby, my oldest child). I dare say I have the best life ever. The only thing that would make it better would be to have an extra few hours per day (that magically didn't deplete my energy stores) to accomplish all of my daily tasks or a special helper that would put my clean laundry away and wash the dishes. Oh yeah, and organize various drawers and boxes.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Little Friend Taft

This little boy is getting so big! Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We love you Elder Stratton. Now go work your butt off!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


A couple of months ago we all gathered at Colby's parents' house for a greatly anticipated moment. Chase's call had come. The silly boy had already opened it that morning, but had to keep it all a secret until we all got together. The family gathered around and couldn't wait to find out who had "called it." Haha. No one was even close.
We all were, and are, so excited for this new chapter of your life to begin. There has never been a doubt in my mind that your call was truly inspired.
You are such a fun and giving person. You've been taught how to work and how to love. You'll be an incredible blessing to the people of Singapore and Malaysia.
(I'm crying right now harder than I've cried at all these last couple of months.)
I pray for your safety, and I know I'm not the only one.
These next two years will be a time of service and growth for you. You will be an incredible instrument in the Lord's hands. I'm so proud of you for your courage and desire to do what is right. Thank you for being such a great example to your family, especially your nephews. They look up to you so much and this giant example of obedience will leave a lasting impression.
Thank you Chase. I love you. We all do.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I'm surprised I haven't shared this already. A while back I picked up these beauties at my favorite store (TJ Maxx). After a few weeks I wore them to church. WHY did I wait so long? I seriously had the best day... with much thanks to these delightful shoes. When it comes to clothing, I've always had a love for something a little off from the norm. When I saw these shoes I knew I had to have them. What a punch they would give to a simple outfit. They came in a purple version too, and I almost bought both... hehehehe. Well, the whole day I was wearing these I couldn't get over how happy they made me feel. The bright little flowers were captivating and the excuse to paint my toenails was well past due.
These are easily my favorite pair of shoes I have ever had. Ever.

Have a lovely day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fun Family Session

Wow. I've been sitting here in front of the computer experiencing an overwhelming "writer's block." Lucky for me, the talent I hope to showcase tonight is far from phonetics. I really just wanted to share some highlights from a family session I had a couple weeks ago.
These three make an adorable family. It was so fun to hang out and capture some memories. My favorite part of the whole night was after quite some time of trying to get little Karter to smile, and him delightfully resisting, they showed up at our house and suddenly Karter's usual charm and charisma found its way out. Long after the sun had set and the camera was put away.
Isn't that how kids do it though. Keep us on our toes and constantly remind us that we are not in charge. I just love it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Parties, parties!

Two weeks ago started an exciting week at our house. When I found out we were expecting Tyler and that the boys' birthdays could possibly be on the same day, I was a little nervous. I thought it could be potential for disaster. I'm glad my eyes have been opened to the FUN to be had when our household has reason to celebrate so many blessings in such a small amount of time.
Marshall just turned 3! We had a little scare that the "terrible three's" had made itself into our family, but for now, it seems to have subsided. Marshall is mostly back to his sweet, hilarious self.
We started the celebration with family at Jumping Jacks. Marshall was running around like a maniac, pulling Daddy along behind him, going a million miles an hour. I seriously only got one clear picture of Marshall's face. He didn't sit still for a second. Then we came home for presents and cake. He's usually quite a ham, so I was SHOCKED when he got all timid and shy when the spotlight was on him as we sang him "Happy Birthday!"
Which was the opposite when we sang that song to the next birthday boy.
He was just soaking up that spotlight with his eyes on that cake. This kid LOVES his sugar. I remember when Marshall turned one he wasn't sure what to do when we put the cake in front of him. It took a lot of convincing and eventually a spoon flipped the switch in his brain, "Oh! I'm supposed to put this in my mouth."

Well not Tyler. He cautiously picked up his first clump of frosting and the rest was history. He would grab it by the handful and try to fit it all in his mouth. You can tell by the frosting smears across his face and into his eyelashes.
My sweet baby is growing up.
Tyler really knew what to do while he opened presents. He even would move on to the next one, which really surprised me.
Everything just made his face light up. We were cracking up the whole time because he loved everything he opened and then Marshall would exclaim, "OH MY 'OSH! I want to play with that!"
Tyler was also pretty good to give Marshall a turn at checking out his new toys until the giant bubble tube. Tyler would NOT let go of those bubbles. It was pretty funny.

Our birthday week was a lot of fun. It made me excited for the combined birthday parties we'll be able to throw for these two. I think I'm over my anxiety of shared birthdays.