About Me

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Ryan and I began our journey together over 9 years ago, when we began dating. We became life partners in August of 2004, and this past fall we welcomed a baby into our family. Topher Van Sol was born Oct. 3, 2009. We have two wonderful dogs that bring joy everyday and are getting used to this attention stealer! I am a counselor in training, and Ryan is an Educational Assistant at a residential treatment center. He is also working on his MSW. We live to serve and love. We are blessed my our friendships and family.

Friday, November 12, 2010

13 Month Old Blog

It’s been a while… I feel like I am failing at blogging! And I don’t like it! But, today, I am home with my Tophie and while it’s been a full day, there is NOTHING looming in this evenings’ future that is pressing for my time, at this moment, so I am blogging! Yay!

Today, Tophie has been all mine. I haven’t had to share him with his caregivers, Gina or Brittany, and I haven’t had to trade him off to Ryan so that I can run to class… it’s been just him and me and it is exactly what I needed. My day would have been even better if Ryan were here to play with us; too, however, someone needs to work outside the home. This week has been full of clients, meetings, paperwork, classes, and workshops. Topher has been such a trooper during this time, although, I know he misses his house, his toys, his dogs, and his momma. Wednesday when I dropped him off at care, he did his silent cry! This is when Topher begins to cry and the PAIN is so much that he cannot breathe. Just think of a baby how has fallen and hit their head or something and their mouth is wide open, and yet no sound. BREAK MY HEART! Topher LOVES his caregivers and her sons, but the thought of spending this time apart was hard on him… and me!

As soon as I was pulling out of the driveway he was already being entertained by dogs licking the glass backdoor and little buddies, but that moment of separation… it’s hard. And we survived!
Anyway, back to today… Topher and I have played, eaten, worked and he napped and I vegged. It’s been a great day.

And since I haven’t done this in a while, here are 13 things about my 13 month-old:
1. Topher loves to bark. When his, or any dog barks, Topher has a lot to say back!
2. He is starting to understand and freely give “besos”
3. He can melt even the most stoic college kid by waving to them as they drive by on campus.
4. Topher LOVES string cheese.
5. Shoveling dog food into the dog’s bowls, onto the floor, and into his mouth is one of Topher’s favorite chores.
6. Instead of saying “cheese” when we point the camera at him, he says “EEEYYYYYY” (I started that)
7. Topher now gets in trouble for holding his milk cups upside down and shaking them out for the dogs to drink.
8. Topher gets in trouble for empting the trashcans.
9. Topher gets into trouble for biting me when I brush his teeth.
10. One of his favorite meals is hummus and Middle Eastern wheat flatbread.
11. Baby T now eats 2 eggs and fresh fruit for breakfast- yup, just like a real human!
12. Even though he won’t admit it, Topher likes Glee. He dances to it.
13. As of this week, Topher now has more hair then his daddy. Ryan shaved his head!

Alright, that’s my blog for today! Thanks for reading.
Hopefully, more to come- ‘til then, CHEERS!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bad Mom = Bad Blogger

I haven't blogged in a long while and I feel so sad that so much has happened that I haven't shared with the world! Topher's birthday was amazing and I have so many thoughts I need to write about and pictures to share! Ryan, Topher, and I went to the pumpkin patch in Moriarty, and that was a precious memory-making day! And this past weekend was Halloween (parties, a trip to the zoo, and trick or treating) and Topher was just the cutest baby in the world and really had a great weekend! So... this is my sneek preview to the big blogs to come! I am making a public commitment to blog and work harder to document our life and share more stories about Tophie.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My last post was a quick reflection of how precious life is and how thankful I truly am. I mentioned a friend who recently gave birth to a small 25 week old baby...well, today that sweet baby boy passed away, just 4 days old. I am grieving for all the things that my friend must be going through... feelings and thoughts I hope to never understand.

I mourn for her and that her first experience with motherhood is so laiden with sadness. I pray for her marriage and the rest of her family. If you are reading this, please take a moment, and pray for Erin.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quick post of THANKS

When Topher was 2 weeks late being born, I thought "Why is my body doing this to me? Why won't it go into labor like it's supposed to? WHY?" And then when my milk supply was low and Topher and I were struggling to nurse, again, I thought "Why is my body doing this to me? Why isn't it nourishing and working like it's supposed to? WHY?" It was a difficult time, from the missing of my due date, to the induction, the 32 hours of labor, to the two weeks when we pumped and nursed and pumped some more and I was so sad that things happened the way they did. I still think back and wonder about why.

But, this month, chasing around my healthy, happy, lovely baby boy, I get my head on straight and stop asking why! Two of my childhood friends are facing challenges this month that are much, much harder then low milk supply. One friend's husband had his check-up and they found that the cancer has come back and is now in his left lung. Another friend just gave birth to a 25wk old baby who weighs 1 lb 11ozs. The paths that the Lord had lead my friends to is scary, long, and hard. I know God is in control and I pray that my friends find strength that only God can provide.

I am angry at myself that I have to have doses of this kind of reality to make me stop and give thanks for my healthy son and husband. But, no matter how it comes, the important thing is doing it.

I thank God for my son, Topher Van Sol and for my partner, Ryan Kendall. I also thank God for every remembrance of you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

11 things about my 11 month old.

September has just begun, but already it's shaping up to be a wonderful month! Besides little man, Topher, reaching 11 months, COLLEGE FOOTBALL season has offically started! Here are Ryan and I in our t-shirts watching the first Texas Tech game of the season. It was a victory over SMU! This coming week, Texas Tech is playing UNM here and we have tickets with two other couples. It is going to be a fun game, I just hope UNM shows up and doesn't lose as badly as they did last weekend (72-0 against Oregon, Yiks!) Even though presently I am a UNM student, I will ALWAYS root for Texas Tech- sorry Lobos... WRECK 'EM TECH!

As I said, Topher is now 11 months old and I cannot believe his first birthday is a few weeks away! Here he is looking super cute!

Below are a few pictures of Topher doing things that he loves right now!

Playing with sunglasses

Climbing and sitting on boxes

Standing on his head

Eating and playing with is food.

Here is my monthly list of 11 things about my 11 month old, Topher.

1. Kiwi is one of his favorite things to eat.
2. My cell phone is the best teething toy.
3. One of Topher's legs is rough and the other is soft... because of the way he gorilla crawls.
4. He has mastered giving "high-five"
5. Topher gets very scared and begins to cry during one specific saxaphone solo from Dave Matthews Band. I am very sad about this- video coming soon!
6. Topher does not care for almond milk
7. Topher should probably have Master's degree by the time he is two... he goes to class with Ryan two times a week!
8. Topher's favorite song right now is "Itsy Bitsy Spider"
9. Topher has decided that his sleeping babies like to be thrown out of his crib as soon as it's morning. I head a thump, thump, thump around 7:30am
10. My boy does not understand that he is the boss of the grass and can crawl/walk on it. He freezes when on our beautiful lawn!
11. Topher now understands and is testing what "NO" means. I don't know if I will be strong enough to stand up against the many tears and pouty lips that are in my future from this guy!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Last post of summer

I have no energy and no time, but I feel the need to document how precious Topher is and how wonderful I feel right now.

The school semester is beginning tomorrow and I am beyond nervous/terrified. It is going to be a very difficult semester! Ryan is taking classes, working full time, and doing his first practicum. I am taking two seminar classes and doing clinic twice a week... MY FIRST REAL CLIENTS! It's going to be a busy time. Luckily, Topher has two wonderful caregivers that are going to be taking care him whenever Ryan and I are not available. I thank the Lord we found such precious and loving woman to care for my precious and loving baby!

This evening, Ryan and I were trying to get things together for tomorrow, when Topher decided he needed some attention. He did not like us cooking and preparing our clothes and his food for this coming week, so we played. After eating dinner and sitting down for a little while, I was in the kitchen trying to tidy up when Ryan and Topher came around the corner, walking together. Topher was giggling with delight like he usually does whenever we hold his arms and let him practice his walk, when we decided it was time for a little walk time.

So, there on the kitchen floor, Ryan and I sat and played a new game I like to call, Topher Pong. We hold his hands until he's in a standing position and then encourage him to walk to the other parent. He loves this game. Usually he holds onto our fingers pretty tight and uses us for balance, but tonight, he got his balance, began to walk... and kept going all on his own! Amazing. He took multiple steps, multiple times! The most I counted was 7 in row! He is getting more and more confident in his walking and soon will not even need my fingers to get his balance. He is getting so big.

I long to post more... about our Taos family vacation and our trip to Cruces/El Paso to visit family... and to ramble more about the amazing things my 10 month old does... but school is beginning and I know I will not be able to sleep if I don't get my pens and pencils in my backpack tonight!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A little catching up on all things Topher

Topher turned 10 months old on Aug 3, and I decided to write a blog about some of the cutey things I get to witness. He is so fun and I love watching him explore and become a little human. It seems he is always teething and has had some sepersation/stranger anxiety. I am trying to remember that it is developmental and appropriate. I just hope to raise a healthy person. Anyway, here are some of the things that make up my little man.

The guerilla crawl- Topher is so funny, my little buddy. Topher is such a good crawler, he loves to roam around the house and explore and find all the treasures that we leave around the house… a broom, tupperwear, water bottles… however, when he realizes that he is alone, he makes a bee line for me. But, when he decides to come back, regular crawling is just not quick enough. So he puts one foot down and does the guerilla hustle! It’s so funny. He is so mobile and physically competent now. Topher can crawl from room to room and follow after me as I put things away. He’s a pretty proficient crawler, but he still prefers to pull up on things and cruise along the couches, the dining room chairs and the dogs.

This month Topher became skilled at squatting down and standing and can reach down to get a toy without plopping down on his bottom, although that is still ‘easier’. He’s adept at getting down from standing back to sitting or crawling and most often he stands and hold on with only one hand so that his other hand is free for play.

Topher has started shaking his head from side to side when he is in a silly mood and sometimes I feel like he is going to throw himself to one side. It makes us laugh which makes him laugh, which makes us laugh, which makes him do it more!

This month Topher started trying to let go of us while standing, experimenting a bit with balancing on his own! He doesn't like to sit still much these days and we have a hard time containing his wiggling in environments where we need to wait patiently on our laps (in public places) – he is eager to jump down and cruise around the room. Sometimes I have to go to my “happy place” because when I think of him crawling in public, I want to rush home and sanitize every bit of him.

It seems like this past month Topher’s cognitive development has absolutely exploded. He has learned so many different things. He has learned how to do his “scruntchy face” (smiles with a scruntchy nose) and is becoming more intentional when asked. Topher knows what it means when we ask him to clap his hands, sign “all done”, and wave. He also responds to his name, “come here” and has started asking to be picked up by holding up his arms and does the same when we say “Up, please”.

Topher has also learned how to initiate peek-a-boo. We’ve often played it with him by covering his face with a washcloth and asking “Where’s Topher?” Topher now covers his face with his shirts on the changing table, a table cloth at a restaurant or random toys. He sometimes gets a little too ambitious and raises the object way over his head, where I can still see his face, but it’s so cute.

Topher has developed a love for water. He is so fun in the bath, although his favorite thing is to stand up in the bath tub. It makes for difficult cleaning- since I constantly have one had holding firmly in his slippery arm, but when he can understand the danger that implies and has more control over his body while in the tub, I will not fight it. He loves playing with letters and squirty animals while bathing. He also loves playing in water that is not in the tub… like dog dishes and water hoses! He loves splashing in both of those things and making BIG messes. And lastly, his love for water has carried over into his sippy cup. He loves drinking water. Whether it’s from my water bottle, a cup at a restaurant, or his sippy cup, he gulps and gulps. I am so happy to let him indulge and that he likes water. As long as this continues, we will keep juice far far away!

That is just a taste... I wish I could document every little thing!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Where we are going and where we've been

Here is video of Topher just starting to crawl in May and then video of him taking 3 whole steps! He is growing so quick and I am falling behind on my posting!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I should be doing homework...

Greetings from the family that is being held hostage by summer school. Right now, I am deliberately hiding from my homework... well, not homework, but studying for my first test in summer school. I've been at it since Tuesday, when I started classes and it's already so draining. But thankfully it'll only be the month of July that has me crazy! Ryan is taking 2 summer classes as well and right now is hard at it in the bedroom working on his paper. Poor Topher, he has been getting read bed time stories from my Abnormal Psychology book and learning about diagnosis of Mental Disorders. He is going to need therapy after this summer!

Okay, well maybe I am. Our poor family doctor... we went to Topher's 9 month check-up on Friday and before I get to all of Topher's stats, I have to explain why I feel bad for our doc. She is such a wonderful doctor and we really like her. She's calm, always very sweet and really patient with me... I can be kind of a hand full. See with my summer class we are learning all about mental disorders and diagnosis and it has me totally freaked out. One book we have lists all the disorders as well as their diagnostic symptoms... so of course, I read them and think, "Oh no, Topher has ____!" Like yesterday, at his appt., his head measurement was a little smaller on his growth chart then it should have been, and I went right to thinking it was Rett's Disorder... characterized by a child whose head gets smaller! I had them measure it again! Of course, with a 9 month old baby, he did not sit still, so we got another measurement! And no, he does not have any disorders. He is developing perfectly. It is just my reading that has me in a tizzy! But our sweet Dr. Evans, she just smiles and shakes her head.

Anyway, now on to the perfection that is Topher. Topher turned 9 months on July 3rd and he is growing so wonderfully. He weighed in at 20.8lbs and height of 28.5 inches. Both are perfect on his growth chart, but I think he is a little taller. I tried to measure him when we got home, but he wiggled too much. Everything about him is just perfect. He is socializing beautifully and he interacts with me so much. I love watching him explore and he loves the freedom. He is such a joy.

So, here are 9 things about Topher:

1. Topher loves grapes, blue berries, strawberries, and plums.
2. Topher thinks Harper is the funniest thing.
3. Topher can clap on demand and wave hello.
4. Topher's favorite toy right now is a faded yellow football! He's just getting ready for Red Raider football.
5. Topher loves to flush the toilet and turn off the lights.
6. Topher has three or four teeth on the top of his mouth that are just ready to come through!
7. Topher LOVES water. He will gulp and gulp out of my water bottle- sometimes leaving me high and dry!
8. Topher's favorite book is his night-night prayer book.
9. Topher's favorite game is chase. He loves to chase me and Ryan around the house!

Well, there are 9 things about my 9 month old. He is so amazing and so fun. I am truly blessed. Pics coming soon!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Topher- Water Baby

Here are two videos of Topher swimming at Joel and Suzie's house. The first video is a little longer, and nothing really exciting happens, but if you listen closely, you can hear Topher doing his sleepy cooing. Cousin Alyssa was gently pulling Topher around in the floaty and he got very tired.

This second video is what happened as soon as I turned off the camera. But I switched it back on right in time to catch him nodding off! Poor sleepy swimmy baby!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The thoughtfullness of Pregnancy

So, my good friend, Shannon, decided to reflect back on her pregnancy and wrote down 20 thoughts she has had over the last 10 months. It was such a great idea, that I made a list and posted it on Facebook. But just for good measure- here are the thoughts I remember thinking! Some serious, some very serious, and some were just my wild imagination!

1. “How did this happen? Oh, yeah, VACATION!”
2. “Pregnancy is the best birth-control. I don’t think I’ll ever want to have sex again!”
3. “Pregnancy is the best aphrodisiac!”
4. “This kid is going to be a hermaphrodite… I just know it!”
5. “Ryan, is my NOSE swollen? It is! Dang it!”
6. “Will I be able to love this baby as much as I love my dogs?”
7. “No, Mom and Dad, coming to visit me the weekend of my due date will NOT make me go into labor. Sorry to keep you waiting!”
8. “There is no way this thing is coming out of THERE!”
9. “My baby is going to be ugly… I just know it!”
10. “I know this is impossible, but what if the baby comes out with dreadlocks!”
11. “I wonder if I can get one of those handles that older people use so they don’t slip in the shower for my toilet, because getting off of it is difficult… since I’m on it every 5 minutes!”
12. “ Will I love this baby is she/he decides to go to UTexas, A&M, or OU… probably NOT!”
13. “If anyone asks me how much weight I’ve gained… I think I’ll sit on them and have them guess!”
14. “Wow, my belly button is gone.”
15. “If this baby is a boy… can I help him become a feminist?”
16. “If this baby is a girl… can I help her become a feminist?”
17. “I wonder if Karen Horney was right… does Ryan have Womb Envy?”
18. “How bad am I going to screw this kid up?”
19. “Will I ever wear regular jeans again?”
20. Week 42… “Will this baby ever be born… or am I going to be this way forever!?”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

He's on the move

I realized that I had really updated about Topher's crawling- he now is a moving man. So this morning, I decided to take a moment and video his movement. He is so quick and he loves to 'talk' while crawling. He is so cute.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our portraits!

Hey there, if you are reading our blog, then you must love us, and if you love us, then you will probably want to check out our family portraits. Below is the link! Just email me (anlabrown@hotmail.com) for the password!



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The best Mother's Day

What a blessed Mother's Day weekend! I am still smiling and am still feeling the love. I cannot believe I am part of the club that gets awesome gifts, usually made from glitter and paint created with little hands and big hearts. Mother's Day, right now at least, is my new favorite holiday. I am sure the excitement will lessen over the next 17 years, but for now, I love that I get celebrated for making my little Topher.

My Mother’s Day actually started the week before when I received 3 cards in the mail from other mothers in my life. First to arrive was from my mom. She sent me a beautiful card and a compact mirror that says, “A Mother’s Love is a Gift from God”. It is the perfect size to fit in my purse AKA the diaper bag! It is very special for my mom to celebrate my motherhood. She is the one who taught me what a mama is… and she did an amazing job. Second, I got a card from my good friend, Lindsey. She and I met at school and she is not only a wonderful friend, but also a new mom as well. We have bonded over being counseling students and now as being counseling students with baby boys! I am so blessed by her friendship. And then I got a card from my good friend, Shannon. She was thoughtful enough to send her card all the way from Lubbock. Shannon will soon enter the club of moms, she is expected to give birth to her baby boy any day now! It was so sweet to be acknowledged by these busy women in my life!

As Ryan rolled over to me on Sunday morning, he was surprised that I was already awake, laying there with the huge smile on my face. It was like Christmas morning. I was so excited to get up, get Topher and begin MY day. And MY day it was! It began with Ryan making a spinach and green chili frittatta. It was YUMMY! Topher and I got ready for church while Ryan cooked and then we all ate breakfast together.

At church, it was fun to be with friends and Topher made me a Mother’s Day card in the nursery. Well, honestly, the ladies at church made it… but Topher did let them paint his hand and put it on my card. I think I will cherish it forever! After church, Ryan, Topher and I went to lunch, and I decided I wanted PASTA! So, we went to Macaroni Grill and Ryan and I shared a warm spinach salad and Chicken Scaloppine- it was AWESOME!

After church, Ryan and I rented a movie and watched it while Topher took his afternoon nap. It was a sad movie, but fun to hang out with Ryan. After Topher ate his dinner, we decided with was wonderful weather, so we needed to go to the park. It was Topher’s first time going to the park and he enjoyed it, almost as much as we did. His first time swinging was so cute, and he didn’t really understand the slide. He was a little hesitant about crawling on the grass, but soon got used to it!

At the park, we met a friend who was born 2 days after Topher at the same hospital, so we were probably on our way out when they were on their way in! It was so cute to watch these two little guys smile at each other on the swings. But I truly felt humbled when the mom told us about all the health issues her little boy had been through. He had heart surgery 3 days after birth and was in the hospital the whole first month of life. Thank God, he is healthy now, but what a way to begin! I hugged Topher a little tighter and prayed a little more fervently that night.

I love this picture. Sweet moments spent between Father and son.

Ryan was very disappointed when the gift he ordered for me didn’t make it in time- although I told him a card was more then enough… but I am glad he didn’t listen! Last night, Ryan and Topher gave me the most precious gift. It is a necklace with Topher’s name on it and a single pearl. It is so beautiful and I will cherish it forever.

Last May I was pregnant with Topher and got a card for Mother’s Day and it was so special, but this year was so much more amazing, because I got to hold that precious being that made me a mom. I got to celebrate all over again, the gift that God gave us and I will forever be Topher’s mama!