Monday, May 30, 2011

The Burback Kids...

Cassie and Paul have raised some incredible children. Really, I don't even think I'm biased here. They are each so different from one another, but equally big hearted, great kids! Wow, I love them!

Brigg...he is wise beyond his years, soooo smart, intuitive, serious, great sense of humor, honest, inquisitive and so very caring.

Nalani...she is the sweetest child I know, soft hearted, generous like no other child her age, selfless, caring, obedient, honest and helpful.

Ayla...she is also wise beyond her years, so smart, spunky, full of attitude, hilarious, silly, determined, fearless yet also timid in some ways, affectionate and helpful.

Talk about a good mix of kids! They are just so entertaining and fun to be around...I love them so much and just feel so blessed to be able to call them my nieces and nephew.

Just thought I'd share since they were on my heart and mind after spending the weekend with them.

And to think that I have 6 other nieces and nephews who I love JUST as much as these 3...WOW, I am one BLESSED Aunt!

fun and games

We did much game playing this weekend in Muscatine.

The adults and then the little ones played Bags and sat outside enjoying the weather. Then Cassie offered to take Tate for the night...HOORAY! So it was just Sean, my mom and dad and I at the house. We ended up staying up way too late playing Skip-Bo and laughing the night away. Fun times. :)

Memorial Day was spent outside at the pool at my sister's house. It was so nice! The kids had a blast and wore themselves out! We had an amazing dinner (enough to feed an Army!) of ribs, steak, pork chops, salad, homemade fries, and asparagus. YUM-O!

Believe it or not, I hardly took any pictures all weekend!

I was able to capture a few though.

And these two are just becoming such great friends. Since I've been watching Ayla almost every day (this is the last week though) these two have built quite the special bond. They kind of used to be like oil and water...not so much anymore. They still have their moments, but for the most part, they play so well together! I love watching it and it's been soooo good for Tate!

On the drive home tonight, Tate conked out. He was TIRED! I stopped by DeCooks who were outside and Tate eventually woke up and joined Ava and Chloe in the pool they had set up out back while Lora, James and I just chatted and drank wine. I can't say enough how amazing it is to have them living literally a stones throw away from our house. We're going to have a great summer! :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

golfing and gabbing

I love this friendship we have with the DeCooks.

It just works.

We like the same things.

Our kids love each other.

We love each other's kids.

We love each other.

Yesterday Lora, James, Sean and I golfed 9 holes in the afternoon.

It was super fun.

And I was not good, but Lora was...

She parred this hole.

Look at her ball up in the air, heading DIRECTLY to the pin!

And then there was my ball...we never found it.

The guys totally loved golfing with us girls. ;)

Once we got home, the skies cleared up to blue skies and we grilled yummy food, played games and lauged.


I just cannot get over how well Ava and Tate play together.

About as well as Lora, James, Sean and I play together! :)

Tate is one happy camper when the DeCooks are over!

And Lora...she loves Tate like he's her own and I love her girls like they're my own.

I love that.
I love her.

After the kids were in bed inside the house, we hung out and gabbed and laughed by the firepit. We played a heated game of "toss the dirty marshmallow into someone's mouth" (don't ask), drank margaritas and relaxed.

Thanks for yet another super fun night guys!

Can't wait for many more this summer!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Our Peony Bush bloomed...

And I just couldn't resist cutting a few of the MANY flowers on it to put in a vase and bring inside. They smell heavenly!

I love spring!

busy weekend and a reminder...

*Got fingerprinted today for our fostering licensing!

*Busy weekend ahead! Fun stuff. Will have Kayla and Leah for a few hours tomorrow morning. Then, golfing with the DeCooks in the afternoon and dinner and an evening of fun with them!

*Church and then heading to Muscatine on Sunday for swimming (hopefully...if the weather permits it!) and maybe a family trip to Ardon Creek Winery. Staying the night there and more fun on Monday. Only thing that would make it better would be if Chris, Brenda, Bode and Boone were going to be with us. What do you say, guys? How about a surprise visit to Muscatine! ;)

*Likely lots of picture editing will be taking place between all the fun this weekend as well!

*Monday evening, I am so looking forward to completing our June Menu calendar and our general June Activities calendar! Seriously, I LOVE getting the monthly calendars done and posted on our it! :)

*And DON'T FORGET about my GIVEAWAY! Just a little tidbit of information...the page I am asking you to create takes just a couple of minutes, will not cause you to get emailed or contacted by anyone, is free and if you create it for this great cause, you have done your part and if you don't want to, you'll never have to look at or use your page again. However, in doing it, you will be making a HUGE difference! PLEASE help us!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Foster Care/Adoption Class #1

Wednesday night we attended a Foster Care class that's required to kind of start the whole process. It was super informative, super exciting and solidified our feelings even more. We're all in people!

And just so it's out there...we are definitely hoping and praying that through this, we are unitied with our future children. From this process, we would love to adopt. We covet your prayers. :) We are not opposed to fostering children who may end up being reunited with their families, but have made it very clear what our intentions are. We were told that it is important to do so, so that we can be matched with the best children suited for us to parent forever if that situation were to arise.

This is all so new to us and we are really learning so so much! I will say that once we are at the point of bringing children into our home...names, pictures and details will not and cannot be shared on this blog. If we end up adopting any of the children, we will look forward to introducing you to them at that time.

We will certainly keep you posted as we continue on this journey!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Preschool Roundup!

It's like in the last few weeks Tate has grown up so much!

He is just too sweet (most of the time!).

Today was a BIG DAY for him...he had Preschool Roundup!

We are super excited about the preschool he will be going to and mostly that he will have Ava with him in his class!!!

He was BEYOND EXCITED to finally dawn his backpack and go to school!

My goodness gracious...this picture just about makes me a weepy mess!

My baby is going to "school" in a few months! He wishes he were starting tomorrow!

He and Ava stayed super close to each other the entire time and I have a feeling that isn't going to be changing once they start going regularly (4 days a week starting at the end of August).

They got to do a "craft project" with one of their teachers after they met the other teacher.

Tate was such a big boy introducing himself and saying "it's nice to meet you Mrs. Christiansen".

My heart is ripping out of my chest thinking about him growing up so much!!!

Love these two to much, it hurts!

They were so proud of their flowers they decorated...

Then their teacher helped them put a "stem" on their flower and stick it in a cup with dirt that they planted a sunflower seed in...

This is what was on their flowers.

Tear. :(

And then they played with the multitude of fun toys!

They really preferred the kitchen and spent 95% of their time there. I see a glimpse into their future as husband and wife? ;)

And Chloe had a BLAST playing there too!

Oh Tate, how you have grown this last year!


I love you so much and am beyond proud to have you call me mommy. I know you will thrive beyond anything I am dreaming once you are exposed to this wonderful world of school!

Don't know if I'M ready, but you CERTAINLY are!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I love K-Love!

I wrote this story that happened today on K-Love's Scott and Kelli Facebook wall a few hours ago and moments later, Kelli read it on air!!!

This is what I wrote and what she read:
We were at a play date this morning when my son, Tate (age 4) suddenly looked at me and said, "we should be listening to positive, encouraging K-Love". We have K-Love on our radio in our kitchen 24/7! Listening to it, he has learned of the devastating tornadoes and how so many effected by them need our prayers. He suggested to me a few moments ago that we should pray for "the people who had tornadoes at their homes." We stopped in that instant and said a prayer for them. Thank you for truly being the "positive and encouraging" reminder to my 4 year old and to our family!

The funny (and sad) thing is that I knew that they read some of the facebook posts moments after they're posted and so as the song that was playing as I posted it ended, I decided to video tape the radio just in case they read the post and they DID! I was so excited to have it on tape so that I could post it on my blog and let you all hear it! Unfortunately, in my excitement and shock, I messed up and didn't save the video on my phone and it was lost. :( Ugh...makes me sick! I seriously wanted to cry.

I'm kind of over it now, but still wanted to share what Kelli read. :)

new shoes

Last night, I FINALLY invested (and at the price of these shoes, it's DEFINITELY an investment...YIKES) in some good running shoes. I went to Running Wild, a running store here in Davenport where they measure your feed and tell you what the best shoe is for you. It was necessary. I have recently been experience lots of pain in my knee and feet and under each of my big toenails, I am bruised. After my runs, my feet are throbbing so bad and there is so much pressure on them because my current running shoes felt too narrow and tight or something. I don't know, it just wasn't right.

This is the first time I have EVER bought running shoes...let alone tennis shoes that were purchased solely according to how they felt and having nothing to do with what they looked like. I'm not a fan of the color and style of my new shoes, but I could care less...they are COMFORTABLE!!!

HOWEVER, they do have fun shoelaces! I needed something to be fun about them or they just wouldn't have been "me"! :)

Oh, and I got running SOCKS too. Ya, they make those! Ha...never would have known that. Also, never in a million years dreamed I would be in a "running store". There were a few really skinny, athletic people in there...I totally didn't fit in. Someday I plan to though...someday!

T minus 10 days until my first 5k!

I'm totally not ready...this knee thing forced me to stop running for the last week(ish) and so I feel as though I'm going to be LUCKY if I can make it 2 miles. I will do my best and will still be proud of my efforts, I've decided that much!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Wanna win this?

It's FREE to don't even need to open your wallet!

All you need to do is set aside 5 minutes of your time...really, only 5 minutes!

Included in the giveaway...

*2 SUPER FANCY CUSTOM MADE clipboards. ;)

*a reed diffuser in Pink Honeysuckle

*Bath and Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom Antibacterial Hand Soap (one of my FAVORITE scents!)

*1 free infant, baby, child, engagement or family photo session with ME! (sorry for anyone who isn't in a community I photograph in!)

Words directly from The Adventure Project founders:

Recently, Bill Gates posted a challenge on his blog:
“I need your help in making the case about why small farmers (in developing countries) are so important – in fact, I want you to share your best ideas and help spread the word.”

The best ideas submitted by May 31st will be posted on The Gates Foundation website, and Bill will blog about the winners. We read it and shouted, “THIS IS US!”

So we worked night-and-day last week to create our One to 1,000 Challenge:

Launching today, we have set an ambitious goal. We have ten days to enlist 1,000 people in spreading the message about the importance of small farmers. If we recruit 1,000 people, and reach Bill Gates, sponsors will donate in support of our Grow Campaign! We need your help.

Eighty percent of the poor in Africa work as small farmers – and 75% of their children go hungry. All because they don't have the right tools and resources to grow more food. This is our chance for us to use our voices to support Kickstart irrigation pumps in Kenya, and tell Bill Gates why our Tribe is going to change the world.

Launch the site and become One of the 1,000 here!

So this is the deal.
We need YOU to create an page.
It truly is simple.
An page is basically an online business card.
Your name, a short bio, any links to blogs, websites, facebook or twitter pages that you want to share.
You can use it in your email signature if you want. Anything. I have my page as my signature on my Jennie Peakin Photography email account so that all of the links to my photography blog, website and information are in 1 place instead of my signature being FULL of links. It's cleaner and prettier. :)
And honestly, it took me like 5 minutes to set up and register.

Simple simple way to help The Adventure Project in their effort to eliminate extreme poverty.

I believe in it so deeply. For years I have felt like there HAS to be a way to win the battle against extreme poverty. And I believe we can see it in our lifetime if we choose wisely the WAY we give. It's so important.

So I am asking for your help. You need to do 3 SIMPLE, QUICK things.

1. Go to and sign up. It really will take you 5 minutes TOPS.
2. Go REGISTER your page HERE. This is important. We need to know who is connected to The Adventure Project. The will literally take 15 seconds. I'm serious.
3. Ask someone else to join us. Or help them sign up. Simply spread the word!

If you want more info, go HERE and read up on it. The directions may be clearer there.

And then, tell me about it via email so you can be entered to win the giveaway!

You will receive 2 entries for the giveaway just by creating your own page!

If you don't want to do it yourself, but would like a shot at the giveaway...I'LL GIVE YOU 1 ENTRY AND I'LL DO IT FOR YOU...just email me at japeakin at hotmail dot com and include your email address you would like me to use along with any links to blogs, facebook, twitter, etc. you would like me to include.

Receive 1 entry for spreading the word about it on Facebook.

Receive 1 entry for spreading the word about it on Twitter.

If you want a personal page AND a business page, create 2 and get 4 entries!!!

I want to see all the fun pages!! We are looking for people to use farming or gardening or food-type pictures as a background. If you are looking for some amazing photos, click on THIS FLICKR SITE for same photos you can use. OR you can just use your own. Like MY SISTER'S page. :) You can see some examples HERE.

I will draw for the giveaway on June 1st.

Make sure you email me and put "MY ABOUT.ME PAGE" as the subject and include a link to your page, your twitter and facebook posts so I can enter you the correct number of times!

Thank you so much for taking part in this!!!!

the view from my phone...

Okay, so it's time for me to unload my phone again and share with you the random pictures I end up with! :)

We got this crazy good deal on a bunk bed at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago and since we need to have room for more kids (if you have no idea what I'm talking about our news HERE) and we have cousins and friends stay over a lot, the bunk bed was necessary...and cheap. So why not, right? :)

Tate sleeps on the top. He loves it...a lot.

Here I go photographing beverages again. I don't know what my obsession with that is! And I'm telling you right now, this won't be the last time!

I got some wine coolers...because I'm SUCH a big drinker (HA!) and realized that this flavor is my favorite! YUM!

Tate's hamper's the 2nd one we've gone through. It was time to bring out the big guns. So now this is his hamper...

I love Bath and Body Works hand it. Just put this scent in my kitchen and it's so good!

That day we garage saled and got the bunk bed...we got this too. It was a quarter. Totally worth a quarter to see how much Tate loves it. :)

Can't WAIT to make our June menu!!! May's ALMOST over! Just knowing what we'll be eating and seeing it all organized in front of me just makes me happy...and calm and comfortable. Weird, I know. Can you tell that we eat a lot of meat? Ya, that's our diet...and honestly, it's NOT getting old. I am totally a carnivore!

And remember our messy cabinets I posted a picture of?

Ya, they're a bit better now. But THIS little shoe rack turned hanging pantry has been a life saver for us for the last 3 years! We couldn't survive without it! It hides behind a door and it holds SOOO much!

My dessert several nights a week...a spoonful of peanut butter and Pepsi Max. Yup, I'm a health nut!

Sean and Tate got DQ the other night. It was such a nice night!

And then we went to the fountain at Vander Veer Park! We love the fountain and are happy it's up and running again after a long winter!

We grilled BBQ Ribs, veggies and had salad on Saturday night. It was the best meal I've had in a long time...yum!

I HATE whirly birds!!!
They make my landscaping and yard look terrible!

As most of my regular readers know, I have been dieting and losing some weight. I went to my parent's house today and got a wild hair to try on my wedding dress. I kinda set my being able to fit into it as a early on goal. Not sure why, I just did. WELL, I must have been larger at my wedding than I remembered because I tried it on today and it was WAY too big! I mean, probably close to 2 sizes too big! I was SHOCKED! You can't tell in this picture that it was too big, but I could easily pull it off without unzipping it the whole way.

It was pretty emotional (weird...wasn't expecting that!) to put it back on...and then to have it be too big made it all the more emotional!

So there you have it again!

I may make this a regular thing...kinda fun to share these random phone pics!

I am hostiing a GIVEAWAY...


In the next day or two, I will be posting about how you can get a chance to win a prize from me.

And this time, you don't even have to open your wallet to get a chance to win!

Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Sneak Peek...

I had 3 unbelievably fun photo shoots this weekend.

It's kind of crazy that I actually get paid to do this! These photo shoots MADE my weekend...truly!

I don't always share images on this blog of my photo shoots, but I couldn't resist this time. I just got so many adorable pictures...but you only get to see 1 from each shoot!

That is unless you'd like to go on over to the Jennie Peakin Photography blog to see the rest. ;)

Jessie and Jake's Engagement Session was yesterday...

I had a family session with Mike, Sarah, Leah and Kayla...

And then a family session with Heidi, James, Helaina and Breleigh...
(this image is officially my favorite image I have ever captured to date)

Go to my photography blog to check out LOTS of pictures from my sessions this weekend!

Tate says The Lord's Prayer...

Remember how I told you I was trying to teach Tate "The Lord's Prayer"? Well, he learned it. I gave him until the end of the summer, it took him about 10 days. Seriously, kids are SUCH sponges! It is the sweetest thing to hear him say it! He said I could video tape him saying it tonight and then I clicked "Record" a few seconds too late! :( All you miss is "Our Father, who art in Heaven", I'll get the whole thing another time. This was just so impromptu while eating dinner, I had to take advantage of his willingness! :)

(And I LOVE his lisp in this!!!)

Friday, May 20, 2011

a nice evening

We got to watch Brigg play baseball again tonight.

It was a nice night and as usual, Brigg played well!

Then we got ice cream (by "we", I mean Sean and Tate...oh how I would have loved to devour a gallon sized Blizzard!) and went to the fountain at Vander Veer Park that is now up and running again.

And a self taken family picture session.

Always difficult...

Ya, one of my favorite "smiles" from Tate.

The "crazy eye smile".


This is the best we got...