Friday, July 29, 2011

Flashback Friday

You know how I said that the mountains run deep into our's a photo that I know you'll love!! This is my older sister, April, and I "digging for gold" in Colorado. I think it was probably about 25 years ago!! It's a classic!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Only Child

What happens when your big brother is at Summer Camp at Grandma and Grandpa's farm for 5 days?! You get the most smooches, hugs, snuggles, play time, food, giggles, and sweet mom and dad loves!!

Being the second kid is tough....I know from experience. So, when Parker got the chance to go to my mom's farm for Summer Camp for FIVE WHOLE DAYS, Brandon and I decided to make the most of Andrew's "only child" status for the week!

It's funny how different my two boys are. And this week...well, Andrew got to show us just how amazing he is, without big brother around to steal his attention.

Because we were in Colorado on Andrew's 8 month birthday, I didn't get to post about all of the fun things my baby boy has been up's a little update:

Andrew is a big boy....I mean, that boy is sturdy! While in Colorado we had numerous people try to guess how old Andrew is- 16 months, 14 months, 18 months....nope, my Andrew is only 8 months old!

He loves his food! Well....he loves my food! Ha ha! Andrew has always been a good eater, but lately it seems like all he wants to eat is whatever is on my plate or in my glass (luckily, it's usually water). He will drink water out of a straw and he has tried everything from toast to grilled cheese to pancakes and he seems to be doing pretty good for a boy with no teeth!

That's right- my son is 8 months old and has no teeth! It's crazy! All of my friend's babies are getting 4, 5, 6, even 8 teeth and some of them are younger than Andrew. But, I'm not worried. He'll get them when they're ready to poke through!!

My baby boy wants to move, but he just can't quite get it. Andrew will get up on all fours, rock back and fourth, and then fall flat on his belly. Then he kicks, laughs, gets mad, and wants someone to help him get back up. I'm really not ready for him to be mobile yet and as much as Parker wants Andrew to be on the move...I secretly want him to be this way forever!!

Andrew is funny! He is a ham...always trying to get us to laugh or smile at him. And, it usually works!!! He and Parker have so much fun together and I love it when they're in the backseat of the car together and all I can hear is giggles (I need to record this sometime). They are always cracking up at each other.

Andrew's laugh is contagious. Whenever he giggles, you can find all of us giggling too!!

My Andrew is the sweetest little guy you will ever meet. He gives hugs when I pick him up and now when I say, "Andrew, give Momma a kiss", he plants a wet, slobbery tongue kiss on my cheek and I just love it! Brandon actually taught him how to do this and I think Brandon loves it even more than I do!!

Andrew is growing up too fast though and I find myself thinking about his 1st birthday with anticipation and fear!! I'm scared of not having my little baby anymore, but I also love each new stage that he is going through.

I've come to realize that with two kids, life is so crazy that it's hard to take time to see all of these small moments and to slow down long enough to make little memories. But, one of the best things about being a parent of two little boys is watching them grow up TOGETHER.

And, something else we've realized this week- we were so boring before having two kids! I love the chaos of our family and I know we are all ready for Parker to be back (every morning when Andrew wakes up he looks all around for Parker!!)!

So, Parker comes home tomorrow and Andrew has one more night of "only child" status. Let's see how many "only child" snuggles we can get in between now and tomorrow afternoon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy...

I asked Parker the other day what his favorite part of summer was...his response, "SWIMMING!"

And, a couple of weeks ago (yes, I know I'm behind on my blogging), Parker completed his third year of swimming lessons with his buddy Julian and his teacher of three years, Ms. Laurie.

Parker started out the swimming season barely able to put his chin into the water and out...because he has become quite the fishey! First accomplishment at swimming lessons: putting his face in the water. Second accomplishment at swimming lessons: putting his whole head in the water. Boy were we proud of this. As Julian swam and swam circles around Parker, my little man was slowly getting more and more confident in his abilities.

And, this past week while on vacation, Parker swam (if only for a few feet) with his head underwater!

To make it even better...Parker learned how to go underwater, open his eyes (ouch!), and dive for his little plastic fish!

Wow! This has been an amazing summer and we are so proud of our little fish! Thanks Laurie and Julian for helping Parker gain more confidence in the water...we now have a full-fledged fishy on our hands!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

First Family Vacation

Last week we went on our first vacation as a family of four. We packed up the Armada and made our annual trek out west to "check out" from our everyday life and enjoy the peacefulness of family and the mountains. And, while going to Colorado brings back many memories for both Brandon and myself (both of us grew up going "out west" with our families as children), it's a whole new experience when you go on that trip with your own family.

Now....let me stop here and say one thing: After this trip I am now a firm believer in the phrase- "whatever can go wrong, probably will."

And the fact that Brandon and I survived this trip, not only survived it, but we actually had a fun (not quite relaxing) time, proves that we can get through most any situation together. And, now that I've peaked your's the story of our very first Riffel Family Vacation.

First, let me just say that my boys are the best travelers! Not everyone can take their 8 month old and almost 4 year old on a 9 hour drive and only stop twice!! Here's what I love most about road trips- it gives me uninterrupted time with my little guys. In no other place do I have their undivided attention, except for in the car. We played games (our favorite is the license tag game), watched movies, snuggled, counted "oil pumpers", tickled, giggled, sang songs, colored, and read books. We did so well that the time went by super fast and by the time we made it to Colorado, I was really proud of my super duper travelers!

There's something about the mountains that is in our DNA- we love it there....and, if our families weren't in Kansas, we would have packed up and moved out west a long time ago. In fact, as soon as we pulled into Colorado Springs, Parker asked me, "Mom, can we move here?!" Brandon gave him a high five and we explained to Parker that we are just visiting Colorado, but that after this visit, we would be back!

Our first stop in Colorado was Colorado Springs....not for the sight seeing, although there is so much to do there, but this was a trip to visit with Brandon's family. Most importantly, we were there to see Poppy (Brandon's grandpa, Leon)....Poppy had never met Andrew!!

We always enjoy our family in Colorado Springs. Aunt Becky and Uncle Jay are always so welcoming (and always offer up their home for us to stay with them, but this year we opted for a hotel room...our families are just getting too big!). Grandma, Pa Pa, Morgan, Avery, Aunt Dana, and Uncle Joe were there as well, and Parker and Andrew got their fair share of attention on this trip!

In Colorado Springs, we visited with cousins, ate some good food, and swam in the hotel swimming pool....and we enjoyed our first few days of vacation....

All except for that first night in Colorado Springs!!

(This next part may be too much for some of you to handle, so be warned....there is poop involved)

Like I said earlier, my kids are super duper travelers. So, when we went out to dinner that first night in Colorado and Parker whispered to me that he needed to go poop, I didn't think anything of it (he's still young enough that I need to go with him to make sure the wiping and hand washing get done correctly). So, I took him to the bathroom. Parker hopped up on the toilet and started his usual grunting to go poop....well, after a few seconds, the grunting turned into screams and cries and Parker started to plead, "help me momma, help me momma!!"

I told Parker to "shush" and that he needed to calm down. I thought he was just tired and that maybe his tummy hurt...but, when I looked down at the toilet and didn't see anything, I grabbed a piece of TP and reached around to his little tushy. What I felt there, I hope no parent ever has to feel. It was like a fist was stuck up inside his pooper. I tried and tried to get it out, all the while, Parker had gigantic alligator tears and he was screaming bloody murder (I can only imagine how bad this hurt him).

When the door to the bathroom opened, I was praying that it was someone that might be able to go out and get was Morgan...thank God!! I sent her out to Brandon, Brandon ran in, felt Parker's tush, and said, "we've got to go to the hospital!"

Parker was so brave.

We drove to the hospital (about a 10 minute drive) and he didn't cry, didn't say a word, and just sat there concentrating and looking at me with pleading eyes. It was breaking my heart to see my big boy in so much pain.

Someone up above was watching out for us that night. We went to the ER and the doctor there was so sweet to my sensitive Parker. He fixed him right up and reassured us that this happens all the time to kids, especially when they've been traveling. He told us to give him a lot of juice and fruit in the next few days and that would help Parker get going again.

This doctor was so nice that after we were in the car, on our way to our hotel, Parker looked at me with sad eyes and said, "Mom, we need to go back to that hospital. I forgot to tell that doctor that we are staying in a hotel with an indoor swimming pool!" I told Parker that we could call the doctor in the morning (of course, Parker forgot).

Thank God, Parker didn't have any more trouble the rest of our trip...

After our two night stay in Colorado Springs, we headed up into the mountains to the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort. Ahhhh....the mountains are breathtaking, the trees are so green, the lakes are pristine, and this resort was charming.

We spent our first day swimming in one of the hot springs swimming pools. It was a comfortable 84 degrees outside and the water at the pool was 98 degrees. It felt great!!

Right before we left Kansas, Parker took two weeks of swimming lessons. Throughout the lessons, he clinged to his teacher, Laurie, and hated the idea of "diving for rings." Something must have clicked with Parker in the hot springs water, because he got over his fear of the water pretty quickly.

And, Andrew, in true Andrew fashion was just as happy as could be swimming in his swimmer and watching his brother do his tricks for us in the water. (He also got lots of smooches in the water because he is just so darn cute!)

The next day we decided to go on an adventure with the rest of the Riffel/Blubaugh family. We drove out to St. Elmo and fed the chipmunks!

It took those little chippers awhile to warm up to us...

But, after a couple of hours and the little guys eating out of our hands, I decided that Parker could be the next Chipmunk Whisperer.

Andrew took it all in and I think he was wondering, "Why in the world is my family chasing these little rodents around with sunflower seeds!" But, my goodness, did we have fun!!

Parker and Avery (and Brandon) had so much fun that they decided to build a Chipmunk McDonald's when we got back to the campsite and the little chipper at the campsite got quite a good meal at McDonald's later on that day!

I've got to pause for a minute and tell you all just how sweet my little chubbaroo Andrew is on his cousin Morgan. Morgan is nine and is so good with my little guy. And, on this trip, she showed just how grown up she is getting and Andrew showed us all just how much he loves being with his Morgan. Morgan would hold Andrew when he was sad, play with him, walk him around to look at things, feed him, and she even got him to take a nap one day! Yep, Andrew sure does love Morgan!

On the other hand....Parker and Avery are two peas in a pod. And, if you ever catch them together unsupervised- you better watch out, because most likely, they are up to some trouble!

On the next day (What day are we on?? I've lost track!), instead of going fishing, we decided to take all of the kids to a local fish hatchery. I didn't know what to expect from a fish hatchery...but, this place was great! Especially for my inquisitive little boys and nieces (and Brandon too)!

The volunteer working at the hatchery, explained everything to us...there were over 1.2 million little rainbow trout at this hatchery! Crazy! And, after the explanation, she gave us all a little bucket of fish food and told us to have fun feeding the fish!!

Let me tell you- those fish loved us! They were well fed that day!!

And, I have to admit, it was a great way to spend our second morning in the mountains!

After the fish hatchery, Parker and Andrew wanted to show the girls "their" swimming pool! You see...Dana, Joe, Morgan, and Avery were all camping with Grandma and Pa Pa Riffel. Normally, we would have joined them camping, but camping with an 8 month old and a 4 year old, doesn't sound like a "fun" and "relaxing" vacation for the parents of those two boys! (Next year we will have a new camper and I will camp for weeks if the boys want to!)

So....that afternoon we took everyone to "our pool" and we had a great time swimming, splashing, going down the slide, diving for fish, and just enjoying the time together in the mountains. of my favorite parts about being in the mountains and doing so many fun activities in the looooooong naps that we take in the afternoons! Oh how I love to snuggle up, with the windows open, and the sweet mountain air floating around us as we snooze in the big comfy resort bed!!

Or, even better, on a blanket under a big Aspen tree!

And, something else that I love about the mountains (let's see how many times I can change the subject here) is that our cell phones don't work! Yes, I said it....we didn't take phone calls, check e-mail, send a text message, or look at facebook for three whole days. It was like heaven...I'd forgotten what life was like without the Internet! I was so proud of Brandon. You see my husband lives for technology, so when we got to Colorado, I was shocked to find out that he had turned his phone off...even when he did have cell phone service, he wasn't using it!

And, when I did bring him his phone...while he was napping with Andrew one day (I thought he may be able to check in for a minute)...he put it away, in his swim trunk pocket, and he snuggled up with Andrew instead. ask, "Did he remember to take that phone out of his pocket before he got back in the pool?" Well, of course he forgot it was in there and his iPhone went for a swim with him! Let's just say that made it even easier for Brandon not to check his phone every five minutes....LOL!

Where was I?? Okay...our last day in Mt. Princeton was sad. None of us wanted to leave. Parker was sad. Andrew was sad. And, Brandon and I definitely did not want to return to reality.

The only way we talked Parker into getting into the car was to tell him that our vacation wasn't over yet! We still had three more days of hotel sleeping, eating out, visiting with family, and one more thing....the Denver Zoo! After the boys heard that, we were out of there!

The Denver Zoo was perfect. While Brandon, Andrew, and I wanted to see the animals, Parker could have cared less about the animals and luckily there was a train, a carousel, and a lot of cotton candy!

Our Denver family is also fun to visit! While in Denver we ate some yummy pizza and Mexican food, and we got to visit some more with aunts, uncles, and cousins that we haven't seen since Andrew was born. We played pass the baby and Andrew loved it. Parker showed off his skills on the iPad and taught everyone how to play the "ball game." And, Brandon and I got to catch up with Brian and Heather (cousins) who are expecting their first baby in September.

After our visit in Denver, it was really time to head home. We were all sad to be leaving, but we all agreed that was missed our Bella girl and our beds at home.

On Saturday afternoon, we headed out. And we drove the entire way home...

I have some friends who don't take their kids on vacation. They say that it's not really a vacation if their kids are with's not relaxing. Here's what I think: I love this "family vacation" thing. I love spending time with my kids...sleeping in hotel beds with them, staying up late and sleeping in (I'm thinking one day my kids will sleep in). I love being with my little family 24 hours a day and going on adventures with them. I love it that, in a way, we had a "Griswald family vacation", but that we laugh about all of those little hiccups that we had along the way. Brandon, Parker, Andrew, and I now all have memories that we will keep for a lifetime and inside jokes that we will talk about for months. We got to spend time with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma, Pa Pa, and Poppy, laughing, being silly, trying new things, and even arguing a little.

Yes, I'll admit, it wasn't all that relaxing...but, it sure was fun! In fact, I'd go as far as to say it was wonderful and extremely memorable! And, as I'm sitting here writing this, my head is already spinning about where we'll venture to next year...what we'll do...where we'll stop along the way. I'm ready for it!! I'm ready for the next Riffel Family Vacation!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flashback Friday (Video Edition)

Yesterday I was uploading a couple of new videos to our You Tube page and I couldn't help but look at some of our older are two that I had never seen before.

This first one was recorded almost exactly two years ago- Parker was about a month away from being two years old. For those of you who know Parker today, listen to how different his voice is, his words, the way he says, "da da," instead of, "Dad." Look at how much he's grown in two years and how much he has learned! This video makes me smile.

The second video makes me cry. It is of the first real time I got to hold Andrew. While he was still in Ottawa, I got to hold him for about 3 minutes while they changed his bedding, but when he was 4 days old, I got to hold him....all day....I didn't give him up to let anyone else hold him. It was quiet and sweet and we just sat there and snuggled. Don't let the IV or the tubes scare you....he was so strong and so brave, and this is one of my favorite moments!!

I'm so grateful for these videos and Brandon's knowledge of how to capture all of these moments and share them with others!! We especially love our iPhones which allow us to record and upload them straight to You Tube. Great memories to last us a lifetime!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Breakfast Time!!

Let's face it....mornings at my house are kinda hectic. I get up at 6:00 am (sometimes earlier), get all ready for work, the boys wake up, Brandon gets in the shower, I get Parker breakfast, get Andrew breakfast...Get the boys dressed, Parker's teeth brushed, breakfast dishes in the dishwasher (one thing I'm compulsive about), and we rush out the door to make it to Sherry's and work on time.

Well...for the past couple of weeks, Aunt Dani has been coming to our house to watch the boys, which has helped us on time in the morning. Of course, any change in the routine is hard at first, but we are definitely enjoying Aunt Dani coming to our house everyday....more about Aunt Dani later.

So, we've had more time in the mornings to play, watch cartoons, sit down together and eat breakfast (isn't it amazing what an extra 5 minutes can do for you?!), and this morning I had an idea....what if I taught Parker how to feed Andrew?!

Wow, was Parker excited about this! He hopped up on my lap and fed his brother...

At first, Andrew looked at us like we were crazy, but after a few (messy) spoonfuls, he was his normal piggy wiggy and he chowed down on some Banana Orange Oatmeal!

(Yes, Parker says he thinks the baby food smells like chiken nuggets....he loves those chicken nuggets!)

Andrew is so laid back, he'll let Parker do anything...and, I think Parker's doing a pretty darn good job at this big brother thing!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Workin' at the Carwash!!

What's the best way to get a clean car??!! Wait for the hottest day of the some fun new sponges at the store....and then make your 3 (almost 4) year old believe that washing the car is more fun than swimming! Ha ha ha ha ha!

This morning I came home from the store with some fun car wash accessories and Parker was so excited! So, this morning, Parker and Brandon clean the cars until they shined!!

They scrubbed...

They worked in the super hot sun...

And they even washed the windows!

They were working so hard, that Parker told me to stop taking pictures so he could keep on working! LOL!

Now you're asking, "What's so special about this moment that I had to blog about it?!"

Here's my answer: I love this kind of stuff! I love it when Brandon teaches Parker how to do something new- I love it that they'll do this again in a couple of weeks and then years from now, Parker will be able to do this on his own! Even though this is something small, my mind is thinking ahead and I can see Parker "Workin' at the Carwash" (in about 10 years) in the driveway and washing his mom's car to make some extra money!! This is just how my mind works...

Happy Summer!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Flashback Friday!!

So...I really like this Flashback Friday thing. I think it's because it's a good excuse for me to look through all of our old photos and reminisce about all of the memories Brandon and I (and now Parker and Andrew) have made together!! As I was thinking about memories, I just had to share this one with you all- because I know some of you were with us through this time, but I'm not sure you know the whole story about it (and, if you weren't....well, it's just a sweet story)!

This Flashback Friday is about the day we got our Bella Girl!

It was November 2004. In September of 2004, Brandon started a new job at the University...two weeks later, I interviewed for my position (still under the name of Brooke Davies, so no one even knew Brandon and I were soon-to-be husband and wife) and I was hired at the University. The next month, we were married (October 23, 2004), went on our honeymoon, and on November 5th I started my job....the next week we moved to Ottawa, and our lives started to slow down. As you can imagine- new jobs, a new marriage, and moving- this was one crazy time for us!

But....although it was crazy, we just had this feeling...a feeling that this was right.

About two weeks into this new life of ours, I saw an ad in the paper for lab puppies. Brandon and I both love dogs...we love the companionship, we love the sweet demeanor, we love the everlasting love of dogs. So, when I saw this, I shared it with Brandon. His response: "We can't get a dog now! We live in a duplex, we don't have a fenced in yard, we aren't ready for this!" I was devestated, but I knew he was right so I threw the paper in the trash and didn't think about it again.

The next week, I came home from work to find this.....

And, although everything that Brandon mentioned above seemed true, he was way off, because this was the PERFECT TIME for us to add Bella to our lives! We cleaned her up (she had been living on a farm and was covered in fleas...bleck!), we trained her to ring a bell hanging on the door handle when she needed to go potty, we took her with us to our family gatherings, to work, and we loved taking her to the dog park!

The thing is...Bella has helped us. She helped us learn how to be responsible together, she has taught us that you have to work at "raising" a dog, she taught us to relax...that things aren't always going to go as planned, she's been our best friend since that cold November day in 2004....and we've loved how she's adapted to our new family. First, she had Parker- and Parker is "Bella's boy"....they snuggle, play, watch movies, and even read books together before bed time. And, now she has Andrew....let me tell you....Bella thinks Andrew is her baby. Everytime he cries or makes any kind of a noise, Bella is right there to check on him.

This flashback is one that I'll always remember...walking into the house that night...

and all of the memories this night has brought us!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Is the greatest form of flattery....especially when it's your 7 month old son doing it! Just in the past few days Andrew has started to imitate all of us- every time Parker is silly, Andrew makes silly noises and starts to act goofy, any time we sing any type of "la, la, la, la" (similar to Elmo), Andrew starts to sing, "la, la, la...", he copies our kisses, our hugs, our talking, and he's even trying to imitate our movement! And, I don't just mean he's trying to wave at me when I wave at him (which is VERY exciting), but he wants to MOVE....he wants to follow Parker around the house...he wants to JUMP out of my arms and chase after Bella, he wants to get off of my lap and get his toys...the only problem: he can't actually do it yet. The poor little guy wants to do it so bad, but he's just not quite there yet.

Something else that's new: Andrew is a rockin'! Not rockin' to music, but up on all fours, gettin' ready to crawl! Parker didn't crawl until he was almost 10 months old and this was just fine with me- no baby gates, no chasing....but, Andrew, I think he'll be crawling in the next month! This seems's just so crazy how fast time is flying by with this second boy of mine!!

Each new milestone is so much fun...but this imitation mile marker, I think it might be the funniest one yet! There is never a dull moment in this Riffel house!

Monday, July 4, 2011

I am Proud to be an American...

As I sit here watching the fireworks in New York....Parker and Brandon are out at the park watching the local fireworks show and Andrew is asleep at my side (Bella is nervously perking her head up with each boom and shriek of fireworks)....I am getting chills as I listen to Beyonce sing, "I am proud to be an American...."

We spent this weekend celebrating our many freedoms. This day- Independence Day- holds so many reasons to celebrate. This weekend we celebrated America by spending time with family and friends.

(On Friday evening, we celebrated with our best friends- Justin, Julie, Caden, and Mason Hoffman. This is a video of the boys playing in the much fun together! They were in the pool, the sprinkler, but their favorite was being sprayed with the hose by Justin. Silly!)

We took a step back and really celebrated all of those small freedoms that we take for granted everyday...

(Andrew's first encounter with a goat and a chicken and Parker's first home-made popsicle...Grandma and Grandpa's farm is a place that the boys truly love!)

I looked at Parker and Andrew and I found a new feeling of happiness for their future and what this day will one day mean to them. I looked at my sweet boys and was thankful (once again) for how blessed Brandon and I are to have them in our lives and to be able to celebrate our nation with teach them the importance of Independence Day.

This weekend we did it the old fashioned way....we opened up our yards and driveways to our neighbors and gave our kids new memories and traditions for the 4th of July. We sat in lawn chairs, grilled burgers, brats, and hot dogs, and everyone brought something delicious to eat. We chased each others kids, cleaned up their spills, laughed at their innocence, and enjoyed our freedom to celebrate together.

This day, we celebrated friendship...a tradition we expect to continue.

And....when we told Parker it was time to go see the fireworks....his eyes lit up with the type of excitement you see on Christmas morning. You see...this was his first time to watch a fireworks show and he had been looking forward to it all weekend!

Happy Birthday, America! Thank you for such a beautiful birthday weekend!