Sunday, August 30, 2009

July 9, 2009



Nichol's Lake Adventures go on and on. Today is Ava's first boat ride! Big fun baby... hold on tight... Uncle Toddzie is gonna go fast... fast... fast!



Uncle Todd and Ava are... "Ready Set!"



Ava and Emma are on the boat and excited. They can't wait to feel the wind in their hair and the sun on their faces. Ava would be smiling big but her life jacket is squeezing her cheeks!



Emma, Ava, Me, & Grandma! Uncle Todd is taking our picture in Mickey's Ears. Nothing but open water here! Ava likes this Nichol's Lake special spot. Can't wait to swim in the ears next summer.



Uncle Todd lets Ava take the wheel! She is big stuff sitting in the Captain's Chair. Summer fun is pure magic. Thanks Nichol's Lake for great weather, great family, and great fun!

July 8, 2009

We made it last night! Ava and I got to the cottage late Tuesday night and the gang was up waiting for us. Ava slept the entire way. We unloaded our stuff into Grandma's and Grandpa's cottage and made ourselves at home. Ava had a bottle in her sleep and then slept great the whole night in her moses basket without waking up once. When she did wake up she was all smiles and cooing. Grandma and Grandpa loved it! Mornings with Ava are the best. She had a bottle and snuggle time and then was back down for a nap.

We had a nice relaxing morning with the gang. Uncle Todd put on a big breakfast which is my favorite. Ava had lots of cousin time, aunt and uncle time, and grandma and grandpa time. She is spoiled rotten people... Just rotten. I had more coffee and kicked my feet up while Ava was being passed around. Then the sun came out and was shining bright for our cottage day. So we got ready and headed down to the beach!



Beach Beauty! Look at my new swim suit... I love the ruffle butt. I had fun hanging out with Grandpa. He sings in my ear.



Playing on my tweeter beach towel. I had fun playing with all of my toys. Look at how well I am filling out!




Emma played with Ava in warm bath water. The lake water was pretty cold for her little bum to get in. Maybe next year.




I had so much fun today... I needed a nap. Nothing better than snuggeling into mom's legs. Out like a light. I love to sleep in the shade. Life is good!

July 7, 2009



Road Trip... Ava and I are packed and ready to head north! We are leaving tonight to go to the Barron-Hinds Nichols Lake Adventure. I can't believe how much stuff I had to pack for one small person. Wish I took a picture of my Dodge Journey... But all I have is this one of Ava relaxing before the 2 hour ride. She looks so "Sweet!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rob's Birthday



July 5, 2009 is Rob's Birthday... I am not sure what happened to the documentation of his day this year. There is literally not a single picture of Rob on his birthday... All I can say is hummmmmmmmmmmm??? We did celebrate... we did.

This year for Rob's birthday gift he went on a fishing trip and he seemed to have a great time.

He also did get some new clothes from the girls. Tweet-Tweet! He had a good day of sleeping in, cinnamon rolls for breakfast, relaxing, snuggling Ava, lunch served on the couch, more relaxing, we went to the Outback for dinner, my parents came over after dinner to give him his gift of new ECHO work boots, and then we had cake. The only picture taken on his birthday is this one of Ava waking up for her nap??? Next year we will need to do better in the Rob picture department. hahahahha. Poor Daddy.

4th of July



Ava looked all red, white, & blue for the forth of July! We had a great breakfast with Grandpa Kolkman at the Cracker Barrel. Then we met up with our neighbors and friends at the Barksdales for the parade. It was fun taking Ava into Grandville for her first parade because it was also my first parade! Traditions need to be set early.




Not sure how Ava slept through the entire parade... It was so Loud! Next year she is going to be diving in the street for candy. I just know it!

We had a great lunch at Rick and Sally's after the parade. Thanks Barksdale's for having Ava and I over for your independence day lunch. It was delicious. Rob had been gone on a fishing trip this week so we were excited to get home and see him and hear about his trip. We spent the afternoon relaxing at home before the evening festivities.

We ate dinner cookout style at the Arnoldink's. Then, Rob and I took Ava to the Allendale fireworks with our friends and neighbors of Cozy Acres. I didn't think she was going to like them... So we cuddled up in Rob's Ava-lanch and she fell asleep. Mom's arms are magic! She never made a peep the entire firework's show. Can I say out like a light. We took her home and tucked her in. Sweet dreams. All in all... Ava's first forth of July was a hit!

July 1, 2009



Practice... practice... practice... Ava is trying to sleep in her bed for nap time. Again... Some days she sleeps great and other days not so great. She loves to be held when she sleeps. Go figure... How did that get started? As much as I love holding Ava twenty-four-seven... I really need to get her to sleep in her crib. How am I ever going to get anything done when I go back to work and start my master's degree this fall? Not to mention it won't be long now before Ava will not fit in the bassinet. Today she woke up three times in twenty minutes. That's it... How is my Ava ever going to sleep in her crib at bedtime? Boppy to the rescue. She loves to nap on this birdie pillow. So be it... She just needs to practice once a day to get the hang of sleeping in the nursery. I'll try anything once!

June 30, 2009



Ava met her friend, Bianca Palazzolo, for the first time today. Katie Riemenschneider Palazzolo and I have been friends since Junior High. Our April babies are only one day apart! The girls had a great first play date and looked adorable. I think they are destine to be good friends. I also had a great time catching up with Katie, Dave, and Mrs. Riemenschneider. The Riemenschneider household really rolled out the red carpet for us. Thanks Katie and Bianca for being such great hosts.

June 29, 2009



Ava's favorite lovie is Lily Mae Leap... We played dress up today and Ava got dress up as her favorite... Love her pond pants. What great detail in this little outfit! Thanks Barb Cooke for such a perfect baby gift. LOVE IT!



They are twins. All Ava needs is a hat and a pair of open peepers. She is all tuckered out from dress up!

June 28, 2009



Here is a picture of Ava taking her first nap in her big girl bed. She has spent the majority of her life sleeping in arms. Mostly mine and Rob's. She sleeps great in our arms. But it is time to start having her take some naps in her big girl bed so she gets used to it before she outgrows the bassinet. I know all about SIDS and the back to sleep rules... but she naps so much better on her tummy. I am watching her like a hawk out side of her door. So much for getting anything done. But she loves her tummy and is sleeping like a baby. Good job Ava!

Delinquent Blog Site

August 29, 2009
It is what it is people. I am two months behind on keeping this page current. How can this be? It feels like I just finished catching this site up. Ugggggg. Story of my life I guess at Home Sweet Kolkman. I feel as though I can do one of two things with this page. One... Sit in front of this computer feverishly jotting down all of our adventures big & small. Or two... I can just live them. Savor all of the moments created at Home Sweet Kolkman in the moment and just fly by the seat of my pants. I guess I pick somewhere in between these two options. I will do the best I can with what time I have to dedicate updates to this page. I promise. I see a trend readers. I fall behind. I catch up. I take a break. I fall behind and the cycle repeats.

This time I fell so far behind I don't know where to begin. How can I possibly update all of you on what has been happening with what is happening? I have one solution for this problem. Trust that it is true a picture is worth a thousand words. I will post pictures with small blurbs of what we have been doing over the past couple of months. I have to call it good with picture postings or I will never catch up. Then I will do my best to add something each week. I know I have made this promise before readers... but this time I really mean it!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tweets


June 26, 2009
Just in case you have not seen enough of our baby wearing hats with flowers and hats with bows... I switched it up a little for you to see her wearing her black hat and "blue bird" feather. She is cute as a button in what ever hair pretties she is sporting. Clearly, she's got the look!

During the time I was pregnant with Ava... we knew her first as Tweetie Bird, Baby Bird, and Birdie. Just a side note for you readers... When Elise past away, several of the angels we received and have since collected are angels holding birds. I took this very symbolically. Both creatures have wings. Angels belong in heaven and birds sore the earth. So when I found out Rob and I had a second chance at bringing life into the world I gave him a blue wooden egg in a nest... Symbolic of the egg in our nest. The light clicked on and he realized we had our second child on the way. This is how the ball got rolling. So really... Ava has her sister to thank someday for all of her nick-names. Thanks Elise.

The Bird lingo and birdie things became almost a game. Who could come up with the most creative bird-like names for her and who could find the cutest baby things that have bird themes. It is really amazing to me how much you can find, how much you can creatively come up with, and how it all stuck to her. Ava has been called Tweets, Tweeter, Tweet-Tweet, Chirp, Chirp-a-roo, Peep, Peeper, Peep-er-roo, Chick, Chick-adie, Robin, Rob-in-ette, bird-ette, and bird-zilla just to name a few. Ava's nicknames really took off in-utero without her say so and I am pretty sure they are all here to stay. Tweet-Tweet! Even Ava's name means "Pretty Delicate Bird!" All of the bird lingo and bird accessories became a constant part of her life and a part of her persona. She is Tweets...

I listened to a lot of music to get me through some of the anxiety of having a high risk pregnancy. Not only do I use poetry a lot in my life I also use music. Just songs that remind me of one thing or another in relationship to my life. Ava's Blue Bird Hat Photo... makes me want to share one of the songs I love with you that also reminds me of her... My Baby Bird. I would love to add this song to my playlist but it is not among the song options. Sorry. But... You can still enjoy the lyrics below.

Kenny Loggins- The Horses

We will fly way up high
Where the cool winds blow
Or in the sun laughing having fun
With all the people that we know
If the situation should keep us separated
I know the world won't fall apart
You will free the beautiful bird
Caught inside your heart

Can you see her oh she flies so proud
Cast her wild wings over water and cloud

That's the way it's gonna be little darling
We'll go riding on the horses yeah yeah
Way up in the sky little darling
If you fall I'll pick you up, pick you up
If you fall I'll pick you up, I'll pick you up

You will grow until you go
I'll be right there by your side
And even then a whisper in a wind
Will call me to you in the night.
I hear all the people of the world
In my one bird's cry
I see them trying every way they know
To make their spirits fly

Can you see her moonlight in her eye
Coming from under my wing
You were born to fly

That's the way it's gonna be, little darling
We'll go riding on the horses yeah yeah
Way up in the sky little darling
If you fall I'll pick you up,I'll pick you up
If you fall I'll pick you up...

That's the way it's gonna be, little darling
We'll go riding on the horses yeah yeah
Way up in the sky little darling
If you fall I'll pick you up,I'll pick you up
If you fall I'll pick you up...

I'll pick you up darling yeah!

We're gonna be riding on the horses baby...
We're gonna be riding on the horses baby...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ava takes a Hot Summer's Dip



June 23, 2009
Today the weather was hotter than hot in Cozy Acres. Temper-atures have officially reached a whopping 90+ degrees this summer and the humidity is out of this site. So after Ava's morning nap we headed over to the Arnoldink's for a "pool day." In all honesty, I was really excited for Ava to try out her new swim duds. I must say she looked cutter than cute sporting this water ready look from Old Navy. She was fashionably sporting a pink and orange cover-up hoodie, a pink and orange flower swimmy-suit, pink flip-flops, birdie towel, and pink sun glasses. (Ava is not seen wearing her pink shades... Oops! They were darling on her... I will capture them on her next time readers... next time.) I will say that our little sun bather looked healthy showing off her chubby arms and thighs. At this angle our Tweeter looks quite thin for being a twelve pound keeper.

This picture of our pool beauty says it all... Hot and Crabby!



Normally, Ava loves going into the tub... so I thought why not use it to cool her off outside in this heat. But for whatever the fashion-ista's reasons... she was not impressed. The look on her face and the tears speak for themselves. Maybe she didn't want to get her new duds wet. I explained to her that in public we don't skinny dip in the tub like we can inside at Home Sweet Kolkman for bath time. But she wasn't buying my reasoning or the wet bathing suit. I guess I will have to work with her on this one some. I am sure in time she will turn into a true water baby. It is in her genes to love the pool.

The Ava grizzlies bought her out of the tub and out of her cute Old Navy swimmy-suit. Once she calmed down some she did enjoy a long nap in the Aquatic Swing. Nothing like sleeping in the bird-buff with your "peeper." Baby-nite-nite. Ava slept for about two hours in the warm summer breezes of our country side. While she napped I caught a little summer fun in the sun of my own. A little tanning, a cocktail, dipping my feet in the big kid pool, talking with Kris, and watching her girls play was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. A little time spent at the Arnoldink's did Ava and I some summer good. Thanks neighbors!



All in all, I think for trying something new Ava did okay at "the pool". Plus... with or with out the water Ava can really model off swim wear. America's Top Model better watch out. If Tweeters could walk I am sure she would be struttin' her tail feathers on the Cat-Walk! Tweet-Tweet!

Father's Day 2009




June 21, 2009
Father's Day 2009... A day for Rob! We celebrated him for all that he is........ A WONDER-FUL husband and father. Happy Father's Day Rob... We love you!

I had to post the picture of Ava sleeping on Father's Day morning. She's such a sweet little sleeper. How could you not love waking up to such a perfect site? Ava graced us with her usual good morning cheer and starving belly. So she had her breakfast bottle, several good morning cheezes, a snuggle or two, and she chatted all about her dreams from the night. She makes the sweetest sounding words and stories these days. She is quite the ham in the morning. It is one of her happiest times in the day. You would almost think it is on her agenda each morning to win our hearts over again and again... We remind her daily... She already has.

Since Rob works at the tree nursery and at the farm he doesn't have the usual places like a desk, computer, or work station to show off his favorite people. So the girls and I decided to give him a way to show them off. We gave him a digital photo album that he can keep on his key chain. It is the perfect gift to help Rob celebrate his children and fatherhood. With the smile on his face you can conclude he was happy to have this gift from the girls and I. Now he is never without pictures of the people he holds most dear. We also found him new and fancy pocket knife gizzy. Another perfect gift for "our" outdoor dad. Hugs and Kisses Pa-Pa!

Rob's journey to fatherhood has been a long road as well. He has two beautiful daughters, Elise and Ava, whom he loves with all of his heart. While I generally do not speak for Rob, I think it is safe to say, that the loss of Elise leaves his arms longing for her as well as it does mine. I can not officially speak to the loss of a child from a father's point of view for the obvious reason... I am not a father. However, I do know this day is bitter-sweet for him too. He has done an amazing job handling his own grief and being supportive of me in mine. No two people grieve the same this we have come to know. I believe there is nothing short of amazing watching your husband become a father. Watching the love he has for our daughters warms my heart in a way I can not describe. I know that Rob's heart is big and there will always be a special place reserved for only Elise. Ava is a true blessing to him and our family. The love he feels for Ava and is able to show her will never be taken for granted. He sure loves that little girl.

And with that... I leave you with this photo of Elise, Ava, and Rob having some time together on Father's Day along with a couple poems we hold dear to our hearts.



Silent Foot-prints
We never had the chance to play, to laugh, to rock, to wiggle.
I long to hold you, touch you now, and listen to you giggle.
I'll always be your father. She'll always be your mother.
You will always be our child, the child we never had.
But now you're gone... but yet your here. We sense you everywhere.
You are our sorrow and our joy. There's love in every tear.
Just know our love goes deep and strong. We'll forget you NEVER.
The child we had, but never had, and yet we'll have forever.
Anonymous-

The Broken Chain
We little knew that morning, that God was going to call your name.
In life we loved you dearly, In death we do the same.
It broke our hearts to lose you, You did not go alone;
For part of us went with you, The day God called you home.
You left us peaceful memories, Your love is still our guide;
And though we cannot see you, You are always at our side.
Our family chain is broken, And nothing seems the same.
But as God call us one by one, The chain will link again
Anonymous-

Rob thanks for letting us celebrate you today... You are the best!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ava's 2 month check-up



June 17, 2009
Ava had her two month well child check up today at ABC Pediatrics. Rob and I were both looking forward to knowing officially how much our baby has grown over the past month and a half from her last appointment. Boy were we surprised. Ava now weighs 12 pounds even and is 22 & 3/4 inches long! What a chunk. That is just under a five pound weight gain from her two week check-up and almost a five inch length gain from her birth. So when I say Ava is growing like a weed... that's a fact!

Tweeter is definitely a good eater and a nice armful. Her height and weight place her in the 62nd percentile along the well child check bell curve. My Ava is certainly THRIVING! Dr. Hoogstra said she is strong, shows good development of her senses, and has great social skills. That-A-Baby! All of our playing, talking, reading, and singing are paying off!

She survived her immunizations by a thread. I say this only because she had baby Tylenol on board 3o minutes prior to arriving and she liked the sweet tasting oral rhotovirus. Nurse Sarah was organized and had all three shots ready to go so I didn't have to hold her legs down... she did. I am thankful for that. Pre-poke Ava was all smiling and cooing in between sucking on her goo-goo. Then came the first shot... Her little peepers got super big... Her bottom boot-lip came out... Her eyes shut tighter than tight. In fact, I couldn't see her lashes anymore! Then came the big girly cry. She belted out this, "It hurts me momma!" dramatic cry for a full minute past the last poke. It was so sad to hear her tweet-tweet. Three round band-aids later, Lily Mae, and a 4 oz. bottle before things were looking up. Poor Baby. Her Tylenol finally came to the rescue... and baby Ava night night. We took it easy for the rest of the day and just snuggled on the couch. Life at two months old isn't all sugary sweet.

A Face for Poetry


June 10, 2009
AVA ELISE....... "For this child I have prayed." SAMUEL 1:27. Ava... I grew to love you before you were ever born. I prayed for your well being the entire time you grew in-utero. Now that you are here safe and sound I am relieved and graciously thankful for your precious life. Just one smile from you and my heart melts. I can not stop gushing about you from your head to your toes. You are fabulous in every way and you are the perfect addition to our family. Ava you are the joy in my heart, the bounce in my step, the sparkle in my eyes, and the perfect bundle to fill the ache in my arms. Thanks for all that you do, for all that you are, and for all that you will be... My Second Daughter... My Rainbow Baby... & My Pretty Delicate Bird... Tweet-Tweet!

One of the many past times of mine after your big sister past away was reading poetry. I have so many sweet poems that remind me of Elise. It was a very healing part of my journey through grief. I continue to use poetry in my life. Poetry is here to stay! I hope you will grow to love poetry as much as I do. Here are a few poems that remind me of you... ENJOY MY LITTLE TWEETER!

A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN
A little bit of heaven
Drifted down from above
A handful of happiness,
A heart full of love.
The mystery of life,
So sacred and sweet
The giver of joy
So deep and complete.
Precious and priceless,
So lovable, too
The world's sweetest miracle,
Baby girl, is you.
-Anonymous

SUNSHINE
She's a little bit of sunshine
She's a smile to light our days
She will steal our hearts and keep them
With her warm endearing ways.
She's our precious little daughter
With a sweetness from above
Who will fill our years with laughter
And our lives with lots of love.
-Anonymous

Then last but not least... This is the poem I memorized and read to you (Ava) in-utero with a few modifications, of coarse, to fit your story and journey to birth perfectly. You are a miracle from above and an answer to my prayers. I love you!

Where Did You Come From?
Where did you come from, Baby dear?
Out of everywhere into here.
Where did you get your eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.
What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.
Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.
What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.
What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than anyone knows.
What makes your sweet smile of bliss?
An Angel, Elise, gave me at once a kiss.
Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.
Where did you get those arms and bands?
Love made itself into hooks and hands.
Where did you get your feet, those darling things?
From the same box as the cherubs' wings.
Where did you get that dimple so cute?
God touched my cheek as I came through.
How did they all come just to be you?
God thought of me and so I grew.
But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought of you, and so I am here.

George MacDonald, 1871

Ava's Baptism





June 7, 2009
Ava was baptised today. It feels good to have this under our belts. This day was bitter-sweet for Rob and I. We were able to celebrate this milestone with Ava among our family, friends, and our church community. But it is times like this when we feel Elise's absence the most.

The last time Rob and I planned a family event at church was for the funeral of our first born child. So many memories flood our minds for today. A part of our grief that will never leave us. But today's church service and baptismal ceremony is a time of joy and celebrating Ava's life as we welcome her into Holy Spirit and help God into her heart.

Todd and Christina, or shall I say Uncle Toddzie and Auntie C., are Ava's God Parents. They are also Elise's! We are doing all of the little things possible to keep our girls connected. Thanks Todd and Christina for taking on this special role in Ava's life. I know you will be the best of the best for her to role model our faith in the world around us.

The mass was good and it was nice having Father John Vallier for the service. He is the priest who gave Rob and I our pre-marriage counseling, he married us, he came to the hospital when Elise past away and blessed her body, and now it is great having him share in Ava's baptism. He is a great priest and has seen Rob and I along our journey together as a couple and has been with us for some big milestones in our lives. I hope to share many more positive events with Fr. John. Thanks Father.

Now here is some Barron baptism history... In our family, there is an old baptismal gown that my dad's grandmother made by hand. It is sixty-one years old to date and it still looks beautiful. I love that my great grandmother made this gown and that it has been worn by generations of my family. It is so beautiful and delicate. The last person to wear it was Elise which makes this gown all the more special. I am glad that Miss Ava was next in line to slip into this gown. Then to follow the church ceremony I had a beautiful off-white cable knit dress for Ava to wear. I picked out this dress for Ava while she was 18 weeks in-utero at the Gap Outlet in Birch Run. It is perfect because Elise also wore an off-white cable knit dress from the Gap on the day of her funeral. So in a way not only is the family gown tradition to wear so is having a cable knit dress. And....Ava, you looked beautiful in both dresses!

To follow mass we had a small gathering of family and friends back at our house for brunch and dessert. It was quite the feast. We were hoping that right after mass our neighbors, Adam & Angie, could start cooking all of the the oven items... but we had our house locked up tighter than fort knocks and they were not able to start cooking up the feast we had prepared... Oh well, we tried and we ate an hour post arriving back at home versus right away. Trial and error. We will be better next time family and friends who patiently waited to eat.

After the meal we opened gifts. Ava was showered with lots of faith filled presents. She received kid christian story books, bibles, angel figurines, angel pins, a cross, clothes, money, and more. Thanks everyone for your generosity. We will put all of these gifts to good use. Thanks for celebrating this milestone with Ava. May there be many more celebrations on her behalf. Tweet-Tweet!

Lily Mae



June 3, 2009
Who is Lily Mae? Well she is Ava's favorite baby for the time being. I have been playing up a storm with Ava here at Home Sweet Kolkman and I have introduced her to every toy and baby known to man. This little frog blanket is her personal favorite. It is neat seeing her make this baby selection on her own.

I discovered Ava one day just lovin' on this baby. She sucks on Miss Lily's three fingers on her left paw and kisses her on the lips! I was hoping that she would kiss me on her own first but how can I compete with this adorable little creature? Clearly, I just can't. I am only the girl's mother. I guess I shouldn't feel too bad really, I am not the only one who is second fiddle to Lily Mae. Glow worm gave her a run for her money along with her lamb rattle and pink bunny from Bunnies by the Bay. But Lily has one up on all of us. She is a combo baby... Part frog and part silky blanket. At this point in time she is the front runner of favorites in Ava's life.

As Ava is exploring the world around her and developing her own sense of style and personal flare I will keep you readers in her loop of favorites. There is nothing better in life than playing with my Tweeter. Not only do I get to help her explore all of these new things around her... I also get to watch her brain develop and see her build up her language and social skills. Plus she is learning how to use her hands and fingers and build all sorts of strength in her neck, arms, and legs. What a great way to spend my day and bond with this precious life I have longed for. Life at Home Sweet Kolkman really is Sweet Sweet Sweet. Thanks Ava for all the joy you bring into my life. I love you sweet girl! Hugs and Kisses XXXOOO Forever and Always.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

May 24, 2009
Memorial Day was declared a federal holiday in 1971. We now, designate this day to remember loved ones who have passed on, as well as remembering our service men and women. Flowers and flags are placed on graves in remembrance of them. ELISE... ROB, AVA, & I REMEMBER YOU SWEET BABY GIRL.. WE MISS YOU MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY...

Fun in Cozey Acres



May 24, 2009
I just love the neighbor-hood we live in. Cozy Acres is the place to be. I could not think of a better place to live and raise my children in. This is the warmest place in the world and it is so fitting for my family. There is fun in this wonderful place for all of us. The neighbors are great... the friends are fabulous... and the relationships we have here are priceless. While Cozy Acres can be also known as Crazy Acres... There is no other place I would rather call home.

Summertime is the best in our neighborhood. We all get together and hang out. There is always something going on and we spend a lot of time at the Arnoldinks. On the weekends you can find adult fun and fun for the kids pretty much around the clock. On this particular weekend of fun we had the race on, deep fryers were cooking up fish, fries, turkeys, poppers, and more... Then fresh beverages washing it all down... The kids were swinging, bike riding, swimming in the kiddie pool, blowing bubbles, and having car washes for all of their toys. The fun is just endless. Give us a little sunshine and we will give you a great day of outdoor fun. Ava is the littlest squirt for now... and she was able to enjoy some stroller rides, sticky big kid kisses, and watching all of them out having fun. I can't wait to see her next summer toddling around in the neighborhood mix. Truly, there is no place like our home. Some call it the sticks... but to all of us living in Crazy Cozy Acres... it's Home-Sweet-Home.

Gearing up for Memorial Day


May 23, 2009
Memorial Day in the cemetery is a big day. At Rusk Cemetery, where Elise is resting, there is a no artificial flower rule. So everyone who rests there receive beautiful floral arrangements this time of year. Elise is the only soul who has real flowers all year long. Yes, even in the winter! So when the cemetery comes to life and other souls are being loved and visited by their living family members... it's fun for us to see. The amount of flowers and other sentiments family members leave their deceased loved ones warms my heart.

Elise has the biggest and beautifulest floral arrangement of coarse, go figure. Rob and I usually pick out Elise's big flowers together. But with a new baby in the house Rob picked out Elise's flowers on his own this year. I think he did a great job doing this task solo for 2009. We brought them to her today with Ava as a family. They are so pretty. Rob maintains her flowers all spring and summer long with lots of water and fertilizer. She is so spoiled, so loved, and so missed.

The cemetery does have a grounds keeper and nearby neighbors who water all of the flowers twice a week. I have spoken to these wonderful watering souls a few times. They know Rob and I frequently visit Elise and tend to her flowers diligently. They typically do not water her flowers. However, they do spray them to keep the deer and bunnies away. What a great place to rest! It is so peaceful, so well maintained, and so vibrant with color all spring and summer long.

Rob and I remember our first born daughter every second of every day. We personally do not need a holiday dedicated to remember her. But it is nice to have a holiday set to officially remember our loved ones as a whole who have past on and for our service men and women who have died fighting for our countries freedom. We look forward to this holiday each and every year. My family has incorporated bring Elise her big live flower basket this week as Kolkman tradition. Memorial Day is a holiday truly worth celebrating. We love and miss you forever and always Elise Renee!

Miss Playful




May 21, 2009
I love that my baby is getting a playful side. Ava absolutely cracks me up. The more I laugh at her the more she is pleased with her silly ole' self. It is facinating to me how she is developing. She is learning so much so fast even at a month and a half old. Her little senses are coming to life right before my very eyes. She is discovering so much about the world around her and it is such a joy to watch.

Ava has a boppy playmat. As you can see it has tons of toys hanging like bugs, butterflies, flowers, a mirror... etc. It plays music for her and it is a soft spot for her to play. She loves this mat. She is just starting to find her voice and it is such a delightful high pitched squeak and squeal. I can get her so reved up trying to grab at these hanging objects that taunt her so... She just squeals. She gets her little arms a going and I think my Tweeter just might take flight. I can't wait for the day when she can actually get these toys. Who would have thought that learning to use your hands and grab could be so much fun.

I guess with this entry all I wanted to say is that watching my baby play, learn, and discover is so fun and so amazing to watch. I can see her mind and senses work as she tries to get these toys. She is using all of her senses to discover the world around her. Everything is so captivating to her and in turn her learning process is captivating to me! I can spend hours just watching her and getting her all excited about her toys and learning. My sweet baby girl is learning to PLAY! With these photos posted... you can see what a hoot she is and how she can ham it up. I just wish you could here her squeal with excitement. Maybe I will learn how to post some video. It's definitely something to see her do with your own two eyes. Ava has a super-duper playful side and I am loving it!

Playdates & Sleepovers



May 21, 2009
Today Ava and I got together with a good friend from work, Emily DeWitte and her daughters, Marissa, Natalie, and Kendra. It is so nice to get out of the house and spend time with a dear friend. Thanks for inviting Ava and I over Emily! I had a great time just talking and catching up.

I must admit that watching Emily's girls play together... I wondered what it would have been like for Ava to have her big sister, Elise, here on earth to grow up with. It also makes me look forward to life down the road with hopefully other future younger siblings for Ava to bond with. I know our family is young and Rob and I are not done trying to bring life into this world. I just have moments every now and again when I wonder about the relationship Elise and Ava are missing out on. I miss Elise so and Ava does not take that ache away. I think every parent that has had to say good bye to a child must do the same. At least I know this runs true for most of the moms in my support group, SOUL. I guess this is something I will always do in lieu of my journey through grief. Emily's girls are sweet as sweet can be and I hope someday Ava will have a close friendship with one of her younger siblings.

Rob went north to the cabin this weekend. So Ava and I are on our own for the next couple of days. I am really looking forward to having some nights alone with her. Some mom and daughter time one on one. To spoil her rotten and to set some family traditions between the two of us when Rob is away. So to kick off our time together we snuggled down for the evening. I ordered pizza and she had Nestle Good Start. We had baby girl bath time, jammie time, book time, and I rocked her to sleep. Instead of putting her right down to bed I held her and snuggled her for most of the night.

When she woke up we had more time rocking in the nursery while I fed her. We read books and sang. She is such a happy baby in the morning. It is my favorite time in the day with her. She is starting to smile more and it is so much fun trying to get one out of her. We took stroller rides and had more time snuggling. Ava seems to have some spring/summer allergies to the pollen in the air so I try to not keep her outside to long. Just long enough to enjoy some sunshine and new scenery. Then pretty much a repeat of the night before. We had lots of fun together. Well at least I can vouch for the fun. Rob returned and it was nice having him back home and getting back into more of our normal routine. We missed him even though Ava and I had our fun. So until next time baby....

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Special Visit


May 18, 2009
Tiffini Booth came to visit us today. This was a very special visit. Tiffini and I have become friends over the past 19 months. Her twin daughters, Marrisa and Annisa share a similar story in life as Elise. They past away in-utero at 36 weeks from an exposure to the chicken pox virus. Her girls would be 16 years old this June. Having Tiffini as a friend has been very helpful. Her and her husband, Chris, know exactly what Rob and I are going through. She has talked with me, cried with me, and has shared her own personal journey through grief with me. She has been someone I can look to for hope of better days to come. At times it has been hard to believe the hope she talks about and of the happiness she has personally come to know. Now that Ava is here safe and sound I understand a little more about happiness and sorrow co-existing. Now that it does at Home Sweet Kolkman I can honestly say the world feels a little less evil. Time has healed me some and I have softened a little in my own grief. I am lucky to have a friend like Tiffini.

Having her come today to visit with my rainbow baby... was very special. Especially since I know how hard baby girls can be... even 16 years later. I am glad that she opened her heart and took the time to meet Ava and hold her. She brought us a beautiful white rose bush to plant in Elise's rose garden. It's beautiful and we look forward to watching it grow in the years to come. It is nice when people take time to celebrate in your joy and still remember your past and how far you have come. Thanks Tiffini! I appreciate your kindness and the fact you never will forget our Elise. Your friendship is one in a million. I am happy knowing our daughters are together playing in those streets of gold!

Rob gets a New Truck



May 15, 2009
Rob officially has a new truck! It has been more than his turn for a new ride. We seem to never get ahead with the green at Home Sweet Kolkman. It's always something with money. When we have a little there is always something waiting to suck it up. We were thinking about getting Rob a newer truck when the Grand-Am was totalled out by some young driver who was not paying attention. For those of you who do not know the story I will just give a little blurb on it... November 13, 2008 on my way home from work I was in an accident (with Ava 16 weeks in-utero) that totalled out the Grand-Am. Then Thanksgiving weekend we bought the Journey-to-Motherhood and Rob went back on the waiting list. He was so happy to finally upgrade to the 2005 Avalanch and I am happy for him. Not to mention... Ava is lucky not to have to ride in the old Dodge. She was trusty and rusty but all in all Tweets is better off in something with a few less miles and with a few more safety features.

After the Avalanch made it from the car lot to our home it sat in the driveway for about twenty minutes before Rob installed Ava's car seat base. I think he was ready to have the daddy ride. He was so proud putting Ava in his new truck for the first time that I captured it on film. His smile is priceless. Maybe this truck for him is his Avalanch-to-Fatherhood. We took a family cruise that evening and Ava rides so nice. Oh... so does his new truck. The Avalanch is so much cleaner, so much quieter, and so much newer. Ava and I love the new truck Rob. Tweet-Tweet~

Ava visits Grandma's Work


May 14, 2009
Ava and I had a busy day. We packed up and made the rounds. It is still a challenge to get us both ready but slowly we are getting the hang of it... One day at a time right? I just keep telling myself that it will get easier when she finally sleeps through the night. If that statement isn't true... please don't tell me. I cling to the idea that she will sleep all the way through the night and that when she does my life will get a little more normal and a little more routine.

We had a great visit with friends from work to kick off the day. Thanks Amy Fox for opening up your home to us. We had a great time hanging out and meeting Shelby. She is a beautiful little girl too... Thanks for the gift. Wet will definitely happen. That little bag is just so cute. It was great seeing Amber, Ryder, and Carrie. Ava loved her little presents. You are all so kind.

After this visit we were off to Emden's USA Baby to get a few things. I don't often venture out to Kentwood so when I do I need to use my travel miles wisely. After Elise past away I never closed out my shower registeries. There are a few things I still need for Ava and other future children that I never purchased. Rob and my parents need to have their own carseat bases to tote Ole' Tweeter around in once I go back to work. It will be nice for them to have their own. This will save me a ton of time moving my base from vehicle to vehicle. With time already being an issue any means to management our time is worth while and will pay off in the long run.

I have not been in this store since I registered for Elise so it was hard going back. But Ava and I survived and now that I have all of the baby goods I could possbile need... I never have to step foot into this store again. Well, at least not until Ava is having children of her own. I will say on a positive note that I did find Ava a photo album with a tree, bird's nest, and blue bird egg for her pictures. What a find! I just can't believe how many little blue bird things are available to buy. She is going to be my blue bird tweeter for life.

After this busy day of getting ready, having a playdate at the Fox's, and shopping at Emden's USA Baby.... Ava and I decided to stop buy and visit Grandma Barron at her work. Grandma had no idea that we were coming and she was pleasently suprised to see us. She was able to show off Ava to Linda Champion, her boss, and to all of her other co-workers. She was grining from ear to ear. A PROUD Grandma to say the least. Ava is really lucky to have a Grandma to love her like my mom. There is just something special between a Grandma and her Grand-baby. I think this photo I posted says it all.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shared Milestones

May 13, 2009
Today both of my girls have milestones! Ava is officially four weeks old... and Elise is celebrating 19 months in heaven. How ironic that these events would happen on the same day. It's the Girl's Rainbow Connection! Ava doesn't turn one month old until the 15th but her four week old mark falls today. I can't imagine what it would really be like to have a 19 month old daughter and a one month old baby girl. Probably because if Elise were still here with me... Ava would not be. But if they were both here I would be the luckiest mom alive. Only in my dreams sweet girls.

Maiden Voyage

May 12, 2007
Ava and I enjoyed our first walk to the cemetery to visit our special Angel, Elise's, Resting Place. The weather was perfect for our first mile and a half jaunt. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the bugs were buzzing. It took us nearly half of the day to get ready to leave the house. By three o'clock we finally made it by the skin's of our teeth. Ava loved bouncing along the dirt road to the cemetery in her Baby Hawk infant carrier. I enjoyed the fresh air, change of scenery, and time to spend with both of my daughters. On this first walk, I did realize that the gnats are out in full force. I was swatting them away from Ava and I pretty much non-stop so the trip was short and sweet. I am on a mission to get a stroller net so I can keep Ava off bug limits. Bugs or no bugs, starting "Elise Traditions" with Ava are so important to me personally because they keep my daughters connected in the only ways they can be. This sunny trip made my day and fulfilled my dreams of our first walk to Rusk Cemetery. Here's to many more walks, talks, and trips to visit Elise's Resting Place. Rest In Peace My Dear One.

A Trip to G.G.'s


May 11, 2009
Ava enjoyed her first visit with her Great Grandma Kolkman (A.K.A. G.G.) The three of us had a fabulous visit. This was a great way to spend the afternoon! G.G. could not wait to get her hands on little Ava. We were greeted in the hallway as usual and the snuggling began as soon as I could unbuckle Tweet's car seat. Ava is so spoiled, especially, by her "grandmas." She was given a very special and very traditional gift from Grandma Great. Ava now has her very own set of engraved baby silverware by Oneida. Such a thoughtful and perfect gift. Ava is the closest living great grandchild and Granny has more than patiently waited for her turn to spend some quality time with Ava one on one. Ava was the perfect guest and slept very peacefully for the majority of the time. She enjoyed being in the loving arms of her Great Grandma. There is something special about G.G.'s touch. Her heart is filled with love, her mind is full of wisdom, and her arms are always open... What's not to love? I look forward to many more visits and many more talks for the two of them to share. The bond between Great Grandma and Great Granddaughter is very special, in fact, it's Great!