Monday, December 29, 2008

End of the year wrap-up

**WARNING! Long post ahead!
Well, the end of the year is here much quicker than anticipated. I can’t believe how fast this past year went – but I guess we always say that right? There was so much we wanted to get done in the month of December but it just didn’t work out –the biggest thing being our Christmas cards. Yes, we were actually going to do cards this year. We even bought some. We were also going to get a family picture to put in them but that didn’t happen either. Sorry to all our friends and family! So instead this quick letter will have to suffice. But please know that we were thinking of you during this holiday and that we love you all!

This year has been a busy and productive one for all of us! Brayden started pre-kindergarten and is loving it. He has learned so much, some good and some bad. He seems to be a 21 year old stuck in a 4 year old body! He is very intent on doing everything his own way, doesn’t ever take advice, and loves to tell us all how smart he is and how he wishes that mommy and daddy were as smart as him. He has a very fun personality and loves to joke around and play but can also be quite serious too. His new favorite saying is “Don’t you realize I can do it myself” or “Gosh, you just don’t understand me!” We have a lot of fun with this sweet little boy and maybe someday he will get us raised the way he wants us.

Tarell is in 3rd grade, turned 8 years old, and getting smarter everyday! He gets to be with us every weekend too! He moved to Scottsdale with his mom, which is about 30 miles closer to us so that makes the weekly drive much better. Tarell got to play football earlier in the year and had so much fun with that. He continues to develop a sweet personality and is so helpful around the house. He definitely enjoys being the older brother and likes to teach Brayden all kinds of things. Tarell is pretty sure that he will be the one to teach Brayden to read – it’s too cute!

Erin graduated from nursing school in December and is so excited! She is studying for the state boards and will hopefully take those in January. Then she can get a job and start contributing! Just kidding! We are so proud of everything she has accomplished and she definitely deserves a little break. During her break, in addition to the studying, she has decided to repaint the downstairs and catch up on all the laundry that has accumulated. Maybe by next year all that will be finished.

Mark has had a busy year at work! In addition to his regular work he started a telemarketing department that is going strong! He now has 6 telemarketers that keep him busy so they can keep the rest of the company busy. His hard work has been paying off too – the company has been able to cut down on their marketing mailers while continuing to obtain new customers. We are so proud of him! He works so hard for our family – we love him!

Our Christmas was wonderful, filled with love and happiness. We spent it with family, all the while missing those not with us. We hope all our far away friends and family had a wonderful holiday also.

We have been so blessed this year and are so thankful for everything we have. We are also very thankful for the support and love of our family and friends – we couldn’t do it without you all! We are all looking forward to what the coming year has in store for all of us – it promises to be great. We love you all!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today is my wonderful hubby's birthday. I promised I wouldn't publish his age but he is now in his mid-30's and as awesome as ever! Here are a few of my favorite things (but not the whole list because that would go on FOREVER!!) about the most wonderful man!
  • He is the hardest worker and always made sure to do whatever it took to help me get through nursing school

  • He NEVER complains!!

  • He is the best dad - always playing with and taking care of the boys

  • Mark is a "whatever it takes" kind of guy

  • He is always happy - this works well to counteract my moodiness!

  • Mark is always making our lives more exciting, fun, and happy

  • He can be a little bit silly and always makes me laugh! (See the picture) ----------------->

  • He loves me no matter what (That's what he tells me!!)

  • He is so supporting all the time

I am so thankful to have the most wonderful husband in the world! I love you Mark and hope you have a fabulous birthday!

Friday, December 19, 2008

New title

Well, I did it! As of today I am an RN!! Can you believe it?? I still don't - maybe tomorrow it will seem real...maybe next week, we'll see!

But I graduated. I'm a nurse - yay for me!! (Can't you just see me doing a happy dance??) Merry Christmas to me!

Erin Mariano, RN

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Visit with Santa

Today we went to the mall for our traditional Santa picture. The boys were so excited - they love to see Santa - and they looked so handsome!
Last year we discovered that Fiesta Mall has a great activity around Christmas. On certain nights (Schedule) Mrs. Claus reads a story, it snows, and the kids can dance to Christmas Carols. We didn't do it tonight but we will be there for it in a couple weeks. The boys loved it last year. Maybe we will see you there too??

Friday, December 5, 2008

Catching up...

I have been meaning to post for several days now but better late than never! The Wednesday before Thanksgiving Brayden had a "Feast" for his class. Mark and I were both able to be there and it was so cute. All the kids sang a few songs for us before we ate. Preschoolers are so cute! They got so shy doing their performance but they looked so cute with their little turkey hats.

Thanksgiving was great. It was very small for our family but still fun. For some reason we didn't get any pictures.

Then, on Dec. 3rd, I took the biggest and scariest test ever - up to this point anyway. This test is the one that determines if I am able to graduate from nursing school and take the state boards. It is considered a predictor test for the state boards and was 40% of our final grade. I was SO NERVOUS! It was 160 really tough questions and I finished after about an hour - way too soon! When I got to #160, I chose my answer and then sat and stared at the computer screen for about 10 minutes, not wanting to submit the test - I didn't want to find out my score. I thought for sure I would cry if I didn't pass...oh, the agony! So, I finally submitted the test and got my score - I PASSED! With flying colors! I did awesome! And I am still on cloud 9 over it. Ahhh, 2 years of hard work and I am essentially done. I go back to school on the 16th and will officially be done on the 19th. Then I get to study for my boards, which I will hopefully take in January. Until then, I look for a job. I am so excited!

Tonite we decorated our Christmas tree - well, the boys did most of it. It's really cute! We got a smaller tree this year, you know, cutting back. I had visions of making this beautiful tree, you know, like a department store tree. Well, ours doesn't look like that at all but I love it. The boys did a GREAT job - it is beautiful! I love my family. I love my house. I love my life! Things are FABULOUS!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nope, still not the right time

I guess that says it all. But, the time will come. I'm sure!

Thanks for all your prayers - we love you all!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Will it happen THIS time?

We got word that our family is being considered again for another sibling group adoption. We are kind of excited but are being careful to not get too excited, since last time we got disappointed. We should know by late tomorrow afternoon if we were chosen or not - there are 3 families being considered and only one will be chosen at the meeting (called a red file staffing) tomorrow afternoon. So, please keep us in your prayers that what is supposed to happen will happen.

We aren't going to give any more information about the kids until we know for sure - then we will tell everyone how many kids, ages, gender. For now we will just say that we will get enough to fill our house and make life very fun and interesting! The boys are super excited too - they really want this to happen. We'll keep you posted! Thanks for your prayers and we love you all!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

4 years old!!

Exactly 4 years ago today, at 12:17pm, my sweet Brayden made his incredible debut into the world. The past 4 years have been so wonderful with him, I really couldn't imagine life any other way. I love this big guy so much! A few things about Brayden that I love so much:

  • His big blue eyes and cute smile. He has 4 super cute dimples that just make his face light up.
  • He is funny and love to make people laugh. (see last post about his joke)
  • Brayden is so caring about other people. He worries about how others feel and is always trying to make other people feel better when they are sad.
  • He is friendly to everyone and love to have friends.
  • Brayden is so inquisitive...all the time! his favorite questions are "why?" and "then what will happen?" and always has to know the REAL answer, not something made up.
  • He is so considerate (most of the time!) of others feelings and tries to include everyone.
  • He is super smart!
  • He loves to help with everything!

So, Brayden's birthday kind of turned into an entire weekend thing. We started on Friday by going to Peter Piper Pizza, also known as kid heaven! Seriously, where else can you drop a good chunk of change for pizza and tokens, the kids can play happily for hours, and then walk out of there with "treasures"! It was so much fun!

Then on Saturday we had a birthday lunch and Brayden opened his presents. He had already seen them wrapped in the garage and just couldn't wait anymore - he had to have them.

On Sunday we had another birthday lunch after church with Grandma and Granddad! Lots of birthday celebrating for a special kiddo. We love you Brayden!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brayden's joke

On the way home from Brayden's school today he told me a joke. What makes this such a "blogging" occasion you ask? Well, it was his first joke that actually made sense and wasn't well rehearsed - it just came out of the blue.

Brayden: "Why did the duck cross the playground?"

Me: "I don't know."

Brayden: "To get the other SLIDE!!"

And then he cracked up, as did I, for about 10 minutes. It was hilarious! I also thought that he was asking me a legitimate question - those of you who know Brayden knows that he has a knack for asking random, incessant questions - so the joke was a total surprise! I just can't get enough of him!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Halloween

Halloween was so much fun for the boys this year. We started by carving the pumpkin of course. It took a few minutes for them to get past the gross feeling of the pumkin "guts" and Brayden actually gagged with the first whif - it was so funny! Eventually they really got into it though and had a blast cleaning it out. Here is the finished product.

Halloween night we took the boys to the Queen Creek annual Trunk-or-Treat and it was packed!

We couldn't even get Brayden to look at the camera - he was in awe. A real Storm Trooper!

There were lots of kids activities sponsored by groups in the community so the boys got to play some games to earn candy. Then for the Trunk-or-Treat portion there were about 40 cars in the parking lot and the boys were hooked up! Their bags were so full! But the best part of the night was seeing the Storm Troopers and C3-PO. Since Tarell was Darth Vader the Storm Troopers would even solute him when they saw him and he would salute right back just like it was normal. It was so funny!

Their favorite activities were the cow milking contest and the pumpkin put.

This is definitely going to be a yearly tradition - it beats traditional trick-or-treating!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kids Fair = good time!

A couple of weeks ago we ventured out to the Cardinals stadium in Glendale for the annual Kids Fair. It was quite a drive but the boys had so much fun! There were so many people inside that we could only move with the crowd! But, the boys were hooked when we first walked in and saw Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers - it was the best day of their young lives. The best part for us was when Brayden, with all the confidence in the world, walked up to Darth Vader and stuck out his hand to shake hands. It took Darth Vader by surprise and he just stood there for a second and then finally put his hand in Brayden's. It was great to see the HUGE smile on Brayden's face - I've never seen him look happier! Unfortunately we weren't ready with the camera so we didn't catch that but here a few of the pictures we did take.

It was a long day but so much fun!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nope, not the right time

I guess the title says it all. We were not chosen to be the adoptive family for the little 5 yr old boy. As much as I wasn't sure about this being the right thing I was pretty disappointed when I got the call. Oh well, right? What else can I say...I guess it will happen when it's meant to happen, hopefully.

Brayden asked again tonight when his sister is coming. Well, soon I hope. Then he asks me, "Did you ask Heavenly Father if she can come now?" I tell him, "Of course" and he wonders, "What is taking so long? Can she hurry?"

Oh, my dear boy, I wish she would hurry too. We'll keep asking!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is it time??

Remember a few posts ago I shared that we are hoping to adopt a child or children? Well, I received a call yesterday that we have been "matched" with a child. He is 5 1/2 and has been in foster care since he was 3 and, from what we have been told, a sweet little guy. There are also several other families that are also being considered so on Friday there is a meeting where all the agencies with families will meet together and basically "sell" their family to find the right home for the kiddo.

We are really excited since it feels like we have been waiting for so long but this is definitely not what we were expecting. We had originally said we could take a sibling group of 3 with at least one girl - we so want a girl - and we just aren't sure if this is the right thing for us. We are praying about it and are getting mixed feelings...sometimes it's so hard to decipher our feelings and what we are being told to do.

So, please pray for us right now, we could use all the prayers we get right now! Please pray that the right decision will be made for this little boy and for us. Whether that means he is placed with us or not he needs a good home! Thanks everyone! We will know by Friday and I'll post the outcome!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Walking with Dinosaurs

Last Friday we got to go see the Walking with Dinosaurs show and it was INCREDIBLE!! The boys were in awe the entire time. Here are a few pictures we took...

The dinosaurs are amazingly life-like and I thought the boys might get a little scared but they didn't at all. In fact at one point, toward the middle of the show, Brayden declared loudly for all to hear, "Don't worry mommy, those are just costumes, they aren't real dinosaurs. But I will protect you if you want." Thanks kiddo!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Brayden's wife

After I picked Brayden up from school today we had a funny conversation. To preface this - he has been really concerned lately about growing up and having to live on his own. He just doesn’t want to do that! He says he wants to live with us forever. He gets pretty worked up over it almost daily and wants my reassurance that I will allow him to do that. Of course I tell him that he can, but I know that he will change his mind in just a few years.

So today here is our conversation:

B: “Mommy, when will I have my own daughter?”

Me: Well, you will grow up, and go on a mission first. Then you will come home and meet a beautiful girl that you will fall in love with, get married, and then have kids.”

B: “But who is this girl? Do I know her?”

Me: “I don’t know who she is. But that’s something to worry about when you are older, not now.”

He sits back and thinks for a minute.

B: “I am going to marry a girl named Alicia.”

Me: “What? How do you know that?”

B: “I had a dream and I read a book, the Book of Alicia. That told me I would marry her.”

Me: “Is Alicia at school or in Primary?”

B: “No, I don’t know her but she is beautiful!”

Me: “What does she look like?”

B: “She has green eyes and short dark hair with a ribbon in it. The ribbon is pink or red and that makes her beautiful!” (He has had this thing for girls with ribbons in their hair – they are only beautiful if they wear a ribbon.)

He seemed very sure about this and I didn’t even know what to say – I was too busy trying not to laugh because he was SO serious. So, I guess if anyone comes across an Alicia that fits his description let us know so we can keep in touch with her so Brayden doesn’t have to look too far for his future wife. Oh, the funny things kids say! Gotta love em!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Outing to the park

Well, we found our camera cord for downloading pictures but now we have lost the memory card! What?!?! How does one lose a memory card, but not the camera, you might ask?? That is the exact question we have been asking Brayden - that dear boy has quite the knack for taking apart whatever he can and then losing interest. Maybe there will come a day when we will stumble upon our long lost memory card in a very unlikely place. But, that would require a deep cleaning so maybe not! :-) In the meantime we have a smaller memory card we can use...oh well!

A couple Saturdays ago Mark took the boys down the street to the park and they had so much fun! They started out on their bikes while Mark carried the remote control cars. After about a block Brayden didn't want to ride his bike because he said he was "too busy" (that has always been how he describes being tired) and instead wanted to run alongside Tarell. How funny that he was too tired to ride his bike but he could run no problem.

So they got to the park and pulled out the remote control cars - one is a HUGE jeep and the other is kind of a stunt car that can crawl and do tricks without crashing. Oh, boys and their toys. A great time was had by all - especially me since I got to sleep in! Oh happy day!
Here are a few pictures from the park...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Auction for NieNie

About a week ago my mom called to tell me about a horrible private plane crash in St. Johns (my old home town). She then went on to tell me about the couple (Christian and Stephanie Nielson) in the crash and that they were friends of my SIL Kellie. I immediately went to their blog and recognized that I have been there before. (Maybe I shouldn't admit it but I spend WAY too much time blog surfing) This blog (NieNie Dialogues)is an amazing example of how to be a wife/mother/and beautiful person. Stephanie and Christian have 4 beautiful children, a wonderful extended family, and the faith and prayers of thousands across the country as they lay in critical condition in and AZ hospital. They are both in a medically induced coma, with Stephanie having burns over 80% of her body. According to the updates that you can read here on her sister's blog they are both doing fairly well, all things considered.

So, now the reason for this help raise the much needed funds to help pay for their medical expenses and other needs during this time of healing many blogs are holding a silent auction. Check out the many sites participating, find something you like, and bid your hearts out! I have seen some fantastic things up for grabs. It seems like a win-win situation; you get something fabulous while contributing to a wonderful cause.

Check out DesignMom for participating blogs and BID, BID, BID!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The latest...

ARGHH!!!!! I've put off posting for a couple weeks now because the memory card reader on my computer isn't working and I wanted to put up pictures. So, I've been looking for the cable to download the pictures from the computer but can't find it...where could it be??? Well, I decided that I wasn't going to wait anymore, I'll just post the pictures later.

The last few weeks have been exciting for us. The first excitement came when Brayden started school. Well, pre-kindergarten that it, but he goes to an actual school Mon-Fri all day. He was so excited for his first day that he couldn't even sleep the night before! And, each morning he can hardly wait to get to school - it is so cute! His teacher, Mrs. Lambert, is now the smartest person he knows (I've been replaced!) and he has made some good friends. Yesterday he came home with a little bracelet thing (that he SWEARS is NOT a bracelet) that he called a Principal Paw. He then told me that they talked about respect at school and everyone who was respectful got an award, the Principal Paw. He also taught me what it means to be have to be nice and listen and follow directions. He also taught me about trapezoids and parallelograms - since when do 3 year olds learn about these things? It is so great to see him excited about learning...and great to see that he is learning! (We have some great pictures of his first day at school in his cute little uniform with his big-boy backpack that I will post later)

Next exciting thing...we painted part of the house, and I LOVED IT! We painted the kitchen, eating area, entryway, and family room, and it all looks so great! It's nice to not have to stare at white walls anymore. We have the best deep red wall in our family room, a gorgeous light yellow-green in the kitchen, and a green-khaki wall in the entryway, with cream colored paint on the other walls to bring it all together. We also painted Tarell's room (finally) a safari yellow color for his jungle/safari theme room. My next project is the kids bathroom, the downstairs bathroom, and the master bedroom. Then we will have to hire someone to paint the livingroom since the ceilings are so tall. Eventually the entire house will be beautiful! It's kinda hard to picture so just think Model Home - It looks great!

Last exciting thing...I finished another semester of school! YEAH!! I took my last final yesterday and was kinda nervous about it but my grade was posted and I did fabulous! Not to brag but I'm feeling pretty good about my abilities as a nurse! I now get to have one wonderful week off then 10 weeks of school, 3-4 weeks of preceptorship (where I actually work in a hospital side-by-side with a nurse)and then I am done!! My dream areas are Labor and Delivery and the NICU working with premies. I can't believe I am this close to being finished with this part of my nursing school. I have plans to continue on and get my Master's and possibly my Doctorate but we'll see what happens.

So that's the latest and greatest with us. I promise to get some pics up as soon as I can find that blasted cable...I'll keep looking!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


So, I've been debating about whether to write this post or not but I finally decided to just go ahead and do it! I've been inspired by others that I have met through blogging and other places that some things should be shared, even if they are slightly personal.

Many of you know that we have been trying for about 3 years to have another baby and it just hasn't happened. We have even seen a fertility specialist and undergone treatments but stopped short of in vitro (it's amazing how expensive that can become!). Unfortunately I seem to fall into an ever growing category of women who have unexplained infertility and it seems that there really isn't anything that can be done about it. This has proven to be extremely frustrating because Mark and I both have felt that more children were in our future and Brayden and Tarell have been BEGGING for a sister for awhile now. We've prayed and fasted asking for the opportunity to have another baby and never really felt like we got a clear answer. So, instead of waiting for a time when we might have money to try in vitro we decided that there are plenty of kids out there that need a home...we have a home that needs more kids so we looked into adoption.

We checked several options..private adoption, out of country adoption, church social services, etc and the common problem is money. I can't believe all the fees that go along with adoption and it can run around $50,000. Since I am in school and we have only one income at the time that just isn't an option. So, we looked into the child crisis nursery here in AZ and found what we were looking for. This kind of adoption involves slightly older children that are in state custody for any number of reasons...but they need homes too. In order to be eligible for this we had to take some classes and then fill out loads of paperwork and have our house inspected and then be approved by the court. On May 22nd we were finally certified to adopt! YEAH!!

We thought for sure that we would have kids soon after. Now, 2 months later we are still waiting! This is the hard part. We've had some possibilities but nothing that we felt was right for us. As badly as we want more kids we want it to be a good situation for everyone so we might be a little picky, which we have been assured is a good thing in order to make it work! We are super excited and we decided that we could even take a sibling group if it is the right situation. Our desired ages are 0-7 and i absolutely require that we get at least one girl! I'm longing for some pink princess stuff! We'll see what happens!

I had originally wanted to wait to let anyone know what we are doing until something actually happened. BUT, I decided that prayers and support of family and friends might help out in finding the kids that are meant to be part of our family. So, any prayers would be greatly appreciated! Thanks everyone, we love you!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I realized that I haven't put up very many pictures lately and that makes a boring blog! So, here are a few pics of us over the last few months.

Picnic at the park

4th of July fun

Fun in the backyard - maybe someday we'll have a pool???

These 2 boys could stay outside playing in the water FOREVER if we let them. We love these guys!

The talk

I've had a few questions about how Brayden's talk went a couple weeks ago and, well, let's just say we are glad it's over. I gave him a few options for topics and he chose missionaries. In the week leading up to the talk he practiced and was sooooo excited to get up and give his talk in front of everyone. He was really worried that the kids would laugh at him though but we had seemed to work through that by Sunday.

On Sunday we got to the primary room a few minutes early so he could get used to standing at the podium, which he enjoyed. Then the kids started coming and I could see him get nervous. I tried to talk to him but he was pretty worked up and kept asking when it was his turn. He was very fidgety during the opening exercises and then suddenly it was his turn. We walked to the podium and that's where it all went downhill. He stood up but got incredibly shy and wouldn't talk. So, he held the pictures for me while I gave his talk. He did offer a few words every once in a while but for the most part he refused to talk. (He's gotten really shy all of a sudden - I'm not sure what's going on!) After it was over he got upset and felt pretty bad that I wouldn't "let" him give his talk! It's funny how things can get so turned around in a 3 year old's mind! But, we talked about it and he ended up being ok. Now, he wants to talk we'll try it again someday. I was proud of him for the effort and he still remembers what the talk was about. It's cute to hear him quote it once in a while.

He also reminded me about the talk incident after church this past Sunday when he told me that the older kids don't always talk either. Apparently one of the older kids did the same thing as Brayden - and he really emphasized that the boys was OLDER. I hadn't even brough it up but it seems that he's been thinking about it. It was sweet. I love that little boy!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rock Star

The other day Brayden started telling me that he has "always wanted to be a Rock Star!" WHAT?!?! ALWAYS huh?? He was so serious too - and he made it sound like I was holding him back from his rock star dream. Too funny! He has a guitar that looks like a rock star guitar that plays rock-like music and he has been having a blast with that. We were driving in the car with my mom and Brayden gave us a concert with his own songs, it was great. He sang about wanting to be a rock star and a doctor and a policeman and that he was a great rock star. I wish I had a video camera to catch it all, it was so impressive and creative. Then he played the guitar over his head and down at his feet with his tongue sticking out and a true "Rock Star" face. So, I wonder who has been showing him old 80's rock videos - we don't even get MTV so it wasn't at our house. Here are some pictures I took of the concert he gave me later that afternoon.