easter 2014

Here we are!

I’m 3 days from delivering, Cade just turned 9, Claire is almost 6, Grace Mae is 5, and my husband is just plain handsome.

Trying to make the Holiday go smoothly with so much going on, we did things a bit differently this year.

I had baskets done and eggs stuffed a week before Easter (usually I am the kind of girl that waits until the night before).

The Bunny left a note inside the house explaining there were too many deer in the yard to hide eggs, but that their baskets were hidden and waiting out there somewhere for them – and that all their eggs were at Grandpa & Grandma Koop’s.

So the kids hurried outside Easter morning and found their loot.

Played with it all morning until it was time to get dressed and go over to Mom and Dad’s for the egg hunt.

This meant the weather was warm and they were all dressed up for pictures while they hunted.:)

Over at Mom and Dad’s, they found more baskets, adorable sugar cookies, and eggs galore hidden throughout their (LARGE) yard.

After all  of that, they took the golf cart out for a spin or two and then we headed to Minerva’s for Easter Brunch (highly recommend!) to eat with Nana and Papa & Mom and Dad.

It was a gorgeous day and the rest of it was spent playing outside and then having everyone over to visit and drink wine.

Spent too much time on my feet, I think, because as the evening grew later, I started having pretty notable contractions.

They settled down about 1:30 this morning and I realize this baby is stubbornly (gets it from his father) staying put.

So now we’re down to 2 days before Baby J arrives and I’m just wanting to get these pictures posted before I drop off for awhile.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday, too.





grace mae

This morning was our last before she went back to her Mom’s house.

Wanting to play dress up and have her pictures taken, we went outside and played.

There were some for her Mom (chalkboard signs declaring her love and also a series wrapped in a special blanket that her Mom had made for her).

There were some for her Dad (he likes the more soulful ones).

And when I was burning them to a disc, Grace said, “but what about some for you?”

I don’t think she knows I keep each and every one tucked into my heart.

But I do.


Grace Mae (Age 5)

Likes Softball more than Ballet.

Likes Gymnastics more than Softball.

Likes Soccer better than anything.

Can throw a football better than I can.

Plays basketball with her Mom.

And while she is an athlete through and through, she still loves to play dress up.

Pretend she is a Mommy.

Wear high heels through the house.

Read books.


Is soft spoken.

Gets her feelings hurt easily.


Is the prettiest blonde I have ever met.



caeden + birthday number 9

There’s a place in town that Cade loves to go called Flags and Wheels. They have race car driving on an indoor course, laser tag, bumper cars, etc.

When you walk out of this place, if you are a boy, you are screaming and laughing and talking about how much fun you had.

Moms tend to want to race home and bathe in hand sanitizer.

It’s kind of a guy place – oily, loud, and full of testosterone.

But for whatever reason, the girls have always liked this place, too.

So they came along to help Cade celebrate his birthday, although the boys didn’t want anything to do with them.

Boys against girls all afternoon.

It’s located in downtown Rapid City and across from a junky field full of great places to take a few pictures.

We had just come from getting ice cream (trying to kill time because they weren’t open when we arrived).

Claire is wearing orange sorbet (with marshmallows??!) all over her face.

Grace opted for chocolate with rainbow sprinkles.

Cade had strawberry, Lance had a shake, and Matthew had some sort of cheesecake concoction.

I mention this only because I had to photoshop it all off of their faces before posting this picture.

Considering all of them went to the restroom after ice cream, I have no idea how their reflections didn’t warrant a tad of clean up detail.

But all I can tell you is I wanted them out of the ice cream shop and into my car because their level of activity/decibel of their voices was going to send me into labor.

Here’s a bit of a story.

This old brown vehicle behind me would have been the COOLEST backdrop for the kids, but while I was trying to get one of the girls, the boys discovered a HOMELESS MAN living inside of it.

I have never moved so fast. Yelling at the kids to “runnnnn!” I hastily told him I was sorry for disturbing him (?!) and practically flew across the field to where the kids were waiting for me.

Moving that fast while this pregnant would have been hilarious to see. Too bad no one else around here takes pictures.

So after all of that, we headed to Pizza Ranch where we met Nana and Grandpa and Grandma who had JUST returned from Arizona.

More chaos and loudness and eating.

After stuffing them into the SUV, Dad turns to me and says, “I do not envy you at all.”

No kidding! Why do I DO this to myself?

I was talking to a girlfriend last night and she said, “you know we are the kind of moms that just buy them something for their birthdays and then send them to everyone else’s parties, Val.”

Where was she to remind me of my parenting style before??


The boys stayed up until 2 am (after I had gone down to verify that lights were out and they were settling down at 10pm) and had to get up at 7am for soccer games.

Cade’s official birthday is tomorrow.

Nine years ago I gave birth to a 7 lb. little boy that literally changed my life. Isn’t is something how when you don’t have children you don’t get it?

And then you do, and you wonder WHY did it take you so long?

He wants donuts instead of a birthday cake because donuts are a HUGE treat and are rarely eaten around here, and as far as Caeden believes, deserve their own food group.

So donuts it is.

And presents.

And a family day.

Happy Birthday, Caeden Koop. You really have no idea just how much I love you.




38 weeks + dallerie’s dress circa 1973


Last weekend Ry’s Mom came over to take some pictures of me in her dress that she wore in her final weeks when she was expecting Rylan.

Even down to the picture in the background, she wanted them to be as similar as possible.

Such a sweet gesture, isn’t it? Ry’s baby book has the pictures of her in them, and now Baby J’s will have these.

It was getting late and the bedroom we shot in was pretty dark. My ISO was set at 3200 at times, so forgive the grain and quality. The photographer did an excellent job with what she had to work with – thank you Dallerie!

I think I have told you before how much I love Ry’s silliness.

He sings to us morning, noon, and night. Plays hard with the kids in a way that Mom’s just don’t do, and is always making me laugh. I love him for it.

So in this series, he was just working downstairs, and popped up to see what we were up to.

While Dallerie was telling me to lean against the door (replicating her picture from 40 years ago), Ry decided to photo bomb. It’s my favorite of all of them!


And since he was there, we thought we better get some together (never happens!!).

Took 30 seconds and he started screwing around. Love these just as much!

And then after we were done laughing and being silly, I changed so that Dallerie could take a ‘before’ picture (wanting an after in the same pose. Lord help me work up the courage to be without a top post-baby!).


And while she was snapping away, Claire Bear came in to see what we were up to.

And she did this one all by herself. I will forever love Dallerie for capturing this sweet kiss. Melts me.

And then Rylan popped back in again. And she took this one.

I think I was whispering, “I love you,” when she took it.

And then when we were all done with pictures, Caeden appears.

And we got a great one of us, too. Except I am in pajamas. We are at the stage where he doesn’t need to see/want to see his mother half dressed. Right? Right.


As of tomorrow, I have never been this pregnant. Caeden and Claire both came early, and it’s strange that I’m STILL pregnant.

Even stranger that I still haven’t packed a bag for the hospital.

I’m down to eating once a day or not at all because I am out of room/the ONLY thing I want is Qdoba (kinda like my beloved Chipotle) but it’s all the way in town and too far to drive to get my fix as often as I’d like to.

Eat ice constantly.

Toss and turn all night.

Wander around with a to do list in hand, otherwise I would forget my name let alone what I needed to do (SO spacey right now. Maybe it’s just being tired. Whatever it is, I am zoned OUT).

Can you believe we are having our son any day??

When I think about holding him in my arms, the butterflies in my stomach start up immediately.

So in love, so ready, so … happy.






pinkcheeks studio + baby j’s crib mobile



Here it is!  Baby J’s crib mobile. Have you ever seen anything so cute?!

Nichol is incredibly detail orientated and made sure everyone was just right. Down to our favorite colors, personalities, and style.

I can’t tell you how much I love this!

Whimsy and funny and bright and perfect.

If you want to check out her work, you can find her shop on Etsy: Pink Cheeks Studio

Thank you Lori. I loveeeeeeeeeeeee.