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Best Moments of 2017 | Moments Monday

Ideally, I would have posted this, say, on New Year’s Day. Or at least a few days after. But Day 15 it is… having a little baby to care for at home has thrown me for a loop. But one of my goals in life right now is to enjoy the “now”… so I’m trying my best to do that. With that said…

I thought it would be fun to look back (one of my favorite things to do! and it’s the reason why I take so many pictures of my life!!) on 2017. There were so many special moments, and they are so quickly forgotten if I don’t take the time to cherish them. Some of them were purposefully captured with my nice camera and others were quick iPhone shots, but these days I’m finding the source of the capture doesn’t matter so much as the memory itself that was captured.

Here we go…

January

This was a good month! Ryan and I enjoyed celebrating our first wedding anniversary in San Diego, California on a trip that began at the end of December and ended the first of January. We were there over New Year’s and my birthday. This is a picture of my delicious French Toast breakfast on the morning of my birthday in La Jolla.

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We loved La Jolla so much that we came back the next morning, had another delectable brunch at Brockton Villa, and visited the seals. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip!

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Other fun moments included just being with this handsome guy (pictured), walking the beach (our weather on this trip was TERRIBLE– chilly and cloudy and rainy– and during the trip, I was so disappointed. But do you know what? Now, a year later, all I remember are the happy memories. Just goes to show that it does no good focusing on what you can’t control!), visiting the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, seeing my Aunt, Uncle and cousin, visiting some of Ryan’s cousins, and LOTS of good eats!

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I love it that I share a birthday month with my husband. My sister-in-law’s birthday is also at the end of the month, so we are all Kaiser birthday buddies. We enjoyed celebrating back in Illinois! Also, an interesting note: I was pregnant in this picture, but did not yet know it!!

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This moment was probably the absolute favorite moment. Ryan and I had been trying for a couple months, and because of my “over Googling” ways, I had myself convinced that there was “no way” I could be pregnant this month. Because of this, I made myself wait until I knew a pregnancy test would be accurate. It was a Wednesday morning, and I remember trying to be totally casual about it… I peed on the stick, set it down on the counter so it could process, and then continued to get myself ready for the day– I needed to be leaving soon to get to my women’s bible study. After about a minute, I couldn’t take it any longer and I glanced down… and saw this 8 letter P word, as clear as day! I was SO excited! I immediately took a picture of it and almost sent it to Ryan as a text, but decided to wait instead and tell him in person that night at dinner. I went out that day and bought him (me, really 😉 a book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and gave it to him as a gift to open. I have his reaction on video.

I just remember being overjoyed this entire day– I couldn’t stop smiling. I simply could not believe it actually happened, and I was already so thankful for the miracle growing inside of me!

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February

Not included is how terribly ill I felt from mid January until mid March, because who wants to remember that? 😛 The first trimester did not treat me well– I was utterly sick and nauseous 24/7 and knew an exhaustion I had never felt before. Most days were spent on the couch (if I made it that far) or in bed until noon. The days felt like months and the months felt like years, and people told me, “It’s just for a short time.” In the moment, it didn’t feel short. It felt like an eternity and in fact, I thought the way I felt would never ever go away. But it did, and by the end of March I was feeling SO much better!

At the end of February, we traveled back to Illinois and told the rest of our families the exciting news! Both sets of our parents knew (and my sisters, since I needed “I’m ill and may not make it” text support most days), but the brother-in-laws, nieces and nephews, and Ryan’s siblings had yet to find out. It was so fun to tell each one!

For my family, I wore a t-shirt that said, “We’re hoping it’s a kitten.” It didn’t take long for people to catch on! And for Ryan’s family, he had our meal prayer and ended it with, “We also want to pray for the little baby we are welcoming in at the end of September.” Both of his sisters shrieked with excitement the minute he said that!

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We had a fun brunch for my sister-in-law and her sweet baby girl while they were back in the states visiting from India. Her and her husband had this miracle baby at the end of July (2016), and this was a great way to throw them a shower and meet this sweet girl for several family members. We continued to enjoy their company, as they were back on sabbatical for several months.

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Celebrating family birthdays never grows old to me. Reasons why: 1) Family. 2) DESSERT. My mom and nephew Silas share a LEAP YEAR BIRTHDAY (statistically, this is in sane). Another one of my nephews, Liam, is also a February birthday boy.

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March

In March, we said good-bye to my dear Uncle Ducky. He lived in Arizona with my precious Aunt Chris and their amazing family, which consists of a lot of great cousins. Ryan and I took a trip to the Southwest, along with my parents and siblings, to celebrate his outstanding and generous life while here on Earth. He was truly a Steward of God and lived his (much too short) life to the fullest. We will never forget him and his vibrant spirit and personality, which he used to light up any room he was in.

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At the end of March, I went on a super fun shopping trip with my MIL and two sisters-in-law! We had such a blast finding new clothes and of course, drinking Starbucks. Because what is a shopping trip if it’s not induced with sugary caffeine? They were so sweet and came up to Madison… we usually end up in Chicago, but it was a treat having them come my direction.

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April

Celebrating Easter is always a welcome refresher… especially when the weather isn’t still grey and cold. Since it was so late this year, we enjoyed some mild temps to be outside for the ol’ Easter egg hunt. Trust me, it’s quite a production in our family with all the grandkids (13). There are color-coded bags and eggs to keep it diplomatic. Also: the two goons on the bookends!! I love all these kids.

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More birthdays… more smiles… more desserts. 🙂

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Family events on my husband’s side of the family tend to be the calmer affair (less grandkids and people overall). It’s nice to have one celebration that is a bit more relaxing. These two little inherited nieces of mine are sweeter than sugar.

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There were many trips to and fro Central IL. Both of our families (and a lot of my friends, since I lived there for 30 years of my life) abide there… bless my husband’s heart for putting many miles on our car and logging countless hours behind the wheel. Fun note: Behind us in the car is the baby crib we inherited… we are hauling it back home to Madison. If only I knew the work that was ahead of me in giving it a fresh coat of paint!

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At the very end of April, Ryan’s sister, her husband and little Mirielle came to visit us in Madison! It was so great to show them a few fun days in Mad City while they were still state-side.

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My parents came up for the weekend at the end of this month to help us finish up our living room remodel! I really love how it turned out. My goal was to get it done before the baby came, and for that matter, to do it soon so that the next project could be working on the baby room. We were able to keep the wall color the same (I liked the gold), but purchased new furniture and decor. It gave us a lot more functional space!

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May

Oh, how I tried my hardest to PATIENTLY wait for this day! The day we found out the gender of our baby was SO special. All along, my gut told me boy, and my “Mama” instinct was CORRECT! To read more about how this experience went, you can read this blog post.

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After finding out baby’s gender, we announced it to both of our families that same weekend. We had cupcakes filled with blue frosting and had everyone bite into them at the same time. It was so fun to watch everyone’s reactions. We had everyone guess beforehand. Believe it or not, the majority of the people guessed BOY!

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I took 103,495,596 pictures just like this.

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The cats continued to be entertained by us… and also a source of entertainment for us.

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Ryan had a work trip to Fresno, California so I decided to go with him. It was a couple hours’ drive to Yosemite National Park. We enjoyed a couple of days exploring that beautiful land, and I endured his work days by lounging by the pool and shopping (it was tough). Here, Ryan is pictured in front of Half Dome, which we saw after climbing thousands of feet in elevation on our Glacier Valley Tour. (The climbing was done in a bus… trust me, my pregnant body was in no way doing any strenuous hiking!!)

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Life with this guy got sweeter every day…

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Memorial Day with the family. Warmer weather and a more prominent baby belly. Finally to the stage where people could confidently assume I was pregnant.

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We LOVED getting to spend time with this sweet girl before she headed back to India. I mean, how can you look at this picture without smiling. Her parents proudly wear the University of IL gear on her, as they are both alums (as is my hubs!)

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Family time! Sweet Arizona cousins here to visit us in Illinois… of course, we commemorate it with a Cracker Barrel breakfast. A must.

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Baby Knepp has his first shower, thrown for me on my husband’s side by my MIL and SIL. It was so sweet and included no shortage of adorable baby gifts and iced coffee. Also, a special thing: my two SILs and I all end up being pregnant at the same time! The one pictured with me here was due two months before me.

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At the end of June, we celebrate my sister’s 40th (betcha can’t guess which one she is… my sisters have young blood… thanks to our Mom!!) by taking a girl’s trip up to Chicago. Obviously, we ate 3,000 calorie French Toast and egg dishes for brunch. Also, it was maybe the hottest I have ever experienced Chicago. I tried very hard not to die of heat exhaustion hauling my pregnant body around.

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Apparently, I couldn’t get enough of Chicago in June. The very next weekend, I went up for another fun girl’s getaway– this time with my close girl friends! We had fun visiting our friend who lives in the city (sadly, not pictured, but taking the picture!! She’s so good at that). She lives in a beautiful high rise with a great view. We loved walking around, sitting by the pool until it got too windy, and sipping on iced coffee. Best of all was the conversation.

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July

We finally finished up baby boy’s nursery! See more pictures of how it turned out here.

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There was many-a-pool-day when I found myself back in Central IL. How else does a pregnant lady keep cool in the summer? Pictured here are 3 of my adorable nieces… Tillie, Sophia, and Sylvia.

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I kid not. There were LOTS of belly shots.

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Another niece of mine… sweet Noel! Sparklers make any summer evening just a little bit more magical. Come to think of it, sparklers perfectly depict this child’s personality. Bright, glittery, energetic, and you never know where some of her spunk is going to land!

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At the end of July, we took our “Baby Moon” up to Door County! We took the Ferry over to Washington Island one day. This was one of my favorite little parts of the trip.

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We stayed at a B&B (Thorp House Inn in Fish Creek– highly recommended!) We enjoyed lots of cute little shops and restaurants and had such a relaxing time.

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Also in July (this was a packed month!!), my family came up for our traditional WI Dells waterpark extravaganza…  but first, we had some stop in Madison for a couple of days of fun. Included in these must-do activities was the zoo, concerts on the square at the Capitol…

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A tour of the magical land of Epic (where Ryan works) (AKA Disneyland)…

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and Brunch Club. Obviously. Because Donuts.

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And onto the Dells we go. It never does disappoint!

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The most entertaining part was watching most of my family partake in a game of water volleyball. Trust me… I stayed on the sidelines. That is where I belong!!

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August

By the time August rolled around, I felt like meeting Baby Boy was just around the corner. And It was! My sisters and friend threw me a beautiful woodland-themed baby shower.

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I truly tried to soak up every bit of “I’m pregnant… so let’s have waffles for breakfast” as I could.

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Ryan and I made as many trips up to the Farmer’s Markets as we could while still without a child on the outside. And it maybe also had something to do with Stella’s hot spicy cheesy bread and/or cinnamon sugar covered pretzels.

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I spent most of my days anticipating when Baby Boy would come, but also tried to just relax and enjoy my freedom of taking naps and getting out and about. I visited a famous Madison area sunflower field on one afternoon and it was so delightful!

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September

My best memory of this month (and YEAR!) happened on the 21st. We welcomed our son into this world, Otto Ryan! He stole our hearts immediately! He came out with tons of dark hair (the doctors and nurses couldn’t believe it), chubby cheeks, and a mighty personality.  You can read my birth story on my personal blog right here.

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My dear Mom stayed with us for a week to get us on our feet after the arrival of Otto. We ended up needing a bit of extra support because of my husband’s health and my slow recovery, and my Mom was the perfect person for the job. She had our entire house organized, Otto loved upon and cared for, doctor’s appointments driven to and groceries retrieved, and emotional support given! It was a day of many tears when she left. I can remember falling apart and saying, “How am I going to do this without your help?” She assured me that I could.

And I did. But her help during those first days was invaluable!

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September also brought on moments like these… (cue the heart eyes)

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And these.

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October

Ryan and I quickly learned that parenthood is TOUGH! But full of SO many joys, too. We love our little guy and the meaning he brings to our lives. We enjoyed a couple trips back to Central IL to show him off to family and friends.

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November

Life becomes somewhat of a blur… days run together, I forget about the weather, and showers become a luxury. Meals happen at odd times, sleep is a thing of the past, and laundry seems to double in size. But our hearts have grown ten sizes bigger because this little boy lights up our lives! He grows by the day and his smiles multiply. He learns new tricks all the time and astounds us with his alertness and recognition. We love him so much!

He continues to be a champ as we make travels back to IL for the holidays. Thankfully, he doesn’t hate his carseat and usually just sleeps. We get more and more used to this whole “parent” thing and brave many outings with him, but also enjoy our quiet weekends in.

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December

Christmas time is here! The thing about having kids is that once you do, time just goes into fast-forward. It reminds me of when I was little and used to watch VHS tapes… and you’d fast forward to a certain part and the image on the screen would go really fast. That’s what it feels like.

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So Christmas snuck up on me, but somehow I managed to figure out the holidays as a new mommy! It was super fun to have this little guy around for his very first Christmas at just 3 months old! Meanwhile, he continues to learn so many new tricks, like “talking” and rolling over!

PIN ITOtto loved being able to celebrate with all of his cousins. My Mom made her traditional “grandchild gift” this past year… a super warm and soft fleece blanket!

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Otto has fun with his cousin, Janie! These two are only 7 weeks apart!

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And we have come full circle. Ryan and I enjoyed celebrating our birthdays a little early with his side of the family, this time with Otto! How very special. 32 doesn’t feel so bad after all, although now I think we are officially “in our 30s.”

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Last but not least… let’s end the year here.

“My mom doesn’t always do yearly recaps, because they take a long time to make. But when she does, I steal the show.” (See what I did there? Catching that? If not, Google “I don’t always Memes.” You will soon see the resemblance.)

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Thanks for reading!

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