Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pumpkins and Cornstalks and Tiggers, oh my!

Happy Halloween!  This year was the first time Marc and I tried to grow a garden and while I can't say we were very dedicated (pretty much we spent a couple hours in one afternoon planting everything and then never touched it again except to harvest it), I'd say it was a definite success.  We grew tomatoes, zucchini, squash, beans, corn, pumpkins, and one very tasty watermelon.

We decided to do a photo shoot with our little cutie to celebrate her turning 3 months old.  I can proudly say that we grew everything in this picture  ;)

And here she is in her cute little Tigger costume.

She was really into this pumpkin.

Our little 3-month old loves cooing and grinning.  This week Aubrey learned how to blow raspberries and she can't get enough of it, she's just so proud of herself.  She also learned how to roll from her tummy onto her back - though this isn't recent news.  When she was only ten weeks old, I put her next to me on the bed for some tummy time and she surprised me by rolling herself right over ... and right off the edge of the bed!  Luckily Mommy has cat-like reflexes and caught her in time.  She rolled over repeatedly for the next three days straight ... and then she promptly apparently forgot how for several weeks and only just recently started it up again.  

How Aubrey felt by the time we were done with our photo shoot

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Daddy's Little Girl

From the moment our little Aubrey was born, I knew she was going to be a Daddy's girl.  How did I know, you might ask?  Well, to begin with, she liked all of Daddy's physical features so much she decided to copy all of them.  Like most parents, when she was first placed in my arms at the hospital I was mesmerized, studying all her little features to see who she got what from.  Imagine my surprise as I began taking mental inventory and every single feature turned out to be Marc's.

Hair?  Daddy's.
Eyes?  Daddy's.
Nose?  Daddy's.
Ears?  Daddy's.
Fingernails?  Daddy's.
Build?  Daddy's.
And the list goes on and on - despite the fact that most of Marc's features are recessive so mine SHOULD have been more dominant.

During the first few weeks we had her home, the similarities between them became even more apparent.  For example, Daddy's little girl also inherited Daddy's not-so-little appetite.  In Marc's family, there literally is something called a "Marc size portion", which you would ask for anytime you really liked a dish.  I can already envision that among this generation of cousins there will soon be an "Aubrey size portion" in honor of our little chunker.  The one thing Aubrey did inherit from me, however, was the speed at which she eats - and this was not a good combination.  Those first few weeks she could (and did) literally eat for three hours straight at times, trying to satiate her ginormous appetite, while eating at the pace of a snail.  Eventually I had to start pumping bottles for her, just so she was forced to eat a little quicker and I could at least have a break between mealtimes.  

The similarities were all over the place - from faces she would make to little noises she would utter to little personality quirks.  I found myself using the phrase "just like daddy" about every other sentence.  I even took a picture of Marc holding Aubrey and they are both (unintentionally) making the same stink face.  I planned on posting it here as evidence, but Marc made me delete it ...

In the past few weeks, though, is when her loyalties have really started to come out.  Recently she has started smiling and cooing up a storm, it is really quite cute.  She'll smile and coo at me all through the day, but when Daddy comes home that's when she really pours on the charm.  She'll grin and grin at him and try so hard to talk to him.  Ten bucks says her first word will be "Daddy" ... and not just because Marc works so hard on it with her every chance he gets.  ;)

Further proof:  As I was getting ready to post this, I played this video to make sure it worked. Marc was at work and Aubrey was eating at the time, but the instant Aubrey heard Daddy's voice, she immediately stopped eating and got a huge grin on her face and started looking around for him.  I'd be offended at her obvious preference, but it is just so cute that I can't help but love them both all the more for it.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Baby Poop: the organic paint stripper

The other night we made quite a discovery. It was 3 AM and we had been peacefully sleeping when Aubrey woke up and decided she was hungry. Marc got up to give her a quick diaper change while I continued half dozing, waiting for him to bring her back so I could feed her. Suddenly, I heard a panicked yell from the nursery.

"Is everything okay?" I called out sleepily. There was a long pause. "... Yeah ... " he responded, very convincingly. That was good enough for me, and I returned to my half conscious state.

A full ten minutes passed before Marc reappeared in the doorway holding out a measuring tape. "Did you know Aubrey can poop five feet?" he asked. I blinked sleepily at him.

Apparently in the middle of the diaper change, just as Marc was about to remove the dirty diaper, our sweet baby decided to relieve herself again. Marc had a premonition and pulled the dirty diaper back up to cover her, but he underestimated Aubrey's awesome abilities. She pooped so forcefully that it arched over the top of the diaper, cleared the lip of the changing table, and landed a full five feet away on the floor. Hence, Marc's panicked yell.

It wasn't until the next morning that we discovered an interesting property of baby poop. Marc thought he'd cleaned up all the poop, but apparently some had oozed under the changing pad cover. In just a few short hours, it managed to completely strip the paint off my changing table. We no longer underestimate either Aubrey or the destructive power of baby poop.

Aubrey's pooping face

In other news, our sweet little baby girl turned one month old. Her favorite activities include eating, sleeping, and staring at ceiling fans. She's started smiling in response to Mommy and Daddy, and she weighs a whopping eleven pounds. She is certainly a cutie.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Written by Marc, Edited by Robyn

The Keelings are proud to announce the birth of our newest family member. She arrived on July 24th, 2015 at 1:50 after 24 hours of labor, numerous attempts to administer an IV, and lots of pushing (and resisting on the baby's part).  We have a beautiful little girl we have decided to name Aubrey Anne Keeling.

Like every parent in the history of mankind... we will now start talking about how awesome and sweet our daughter is.  Little Aubrey has brought so much joy into our lives in the few short days that she has been here (even at 2:00 am, 3:15 am... etc). We love to watch her twitch in her sleep as she dreams about... well, we don't know what but it is fun to watch.

Marc never thought that he would enjoy changing diapers, or getting his shirts contaminated with spit-up, but for her... it is all bliss.  Robyn already knew that she would enjoy all of it, but what she could not imagine was how beautiful and cute Aubrey would be, nor to what degree she would love being a mom having now begun the journey.

Here is our sweet little Aubrey.  Hope you enjoy!

Length: 20 Inches
Eye Color: Blue
Hair Color: Auburn (depending on the light)
Weight: 9 lbs 1 oz

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Marc's Non-Eternal Companion Encounter

Written by Robyn, Co-Authored by Marc

Last Sunday night, Marc and I were peacefully watching a nature documentary in our living room together when there was a knock on the door.  As it was nearly 9:00, we weren't expecting anyone, and I was not fully dressed (being pregnant in July is not conducive for wearing unnecessary layers of clothing), Marc rose to answer the door.  From my position in the beanbag chair, I had a perfect view of the front door and the woman on the other side of it as Marc opened the door.  She was probably in her early twenties, was wearing a very short skirt, and had multiple tattoos and piercings.

"Hi, I'm Clover," the woman said rather bouncily, and she started to walk into our house.   In confusion, Marc at first started to politely stand aside for her, but then he realized something was off and put his hand up to block her entry.  "I'm sorry, do I know you?"  he said.

"Oh, I'm the companion you called," she replied.  Marc flushed a moderate shade of red.  "There must  be some mistake - I didn't call a companion," he told her.  "Isn't this 69....?" she said, reading an address off her phone.  "Well yes, but I can assure you that we never called for a companion."  And without another word she immediately got on her cell phone to her boss and walked away, explaining as she went that the client at our address said he had never called for someone.  

Marc closed the door and came back to the living room with a look of utter bewilderment on his face.  "I thought that was illegal in Utah!"  he exclaimed, and I admit I could no longer contain my laughter.  I educated Marc on the "companion" underworld in Utah (I have some experience with this as I used to work next to a "massage and tattoo parlor" with a fascinating night life), and we both had a good laugh about the whole experience.

We finally settled back in to continue watching our documentary about birds when again there came a knock at the door.  Marc and I exchanged glances (his was rather wary, mine more of an anticipating grin), and he again went to answer the door.

This time, the young woman at the door was more modestly dressed, but with exceptionally long hair and decked out with what had to be at least a pound's worth of jewelry.  "Hi, I'm Summer!" she exclaimed.  "Do I know you?"  Marc responded.  She looked at him in confusion.  "I'm Summer," she again stated, as though that should be her passcode for Marc to let her in.  "Who are you here to see?"  Marc asked.  "I don't know ... but I'm Summer," she responded.  "I think someone is pulling a practical joke on me because I didn't call anyone, but you're the second person who has stopped by tonight," Marc said.  The girl simply looked at him in confusion.  "I'm Summer," she again responded.

To his credit, Marc had handled the first situation quite gracefully, and he had done pretty well this time as well, but at this point his composure started to falter, unsure of how to respond to this girl who simply kept repeating, "I'm Summer" and making no move to leave until he had let her in.  Finally, Marc blurted, "There's another family living downstairs ... maybe you're here to see them.  Their door is around the side of the house."  "Oh!" the girl happily exclaimed, and walked away in obvious relief.  

The instant the door was closed, Marc turned around, looking very, very flushed.  "Marc!" I exclaimed, "You sent her to my cousins??"  (My cousin and her husband rent the downstairs from us).  "I didn't know what else to do!  She wouldn't leave!"  he said, looking very guilty.  "I should warn them!" he said, and flew down the stairs and started pounding frantically on the door to the basement.  Finally, my cousin answered and Marc attempted to explain that they were going to get a visitor at their door, and that he had accidentally sent her to them.  Marc was still a bit flustered though, and unable to find the right words to communicate the situation, and my cousin was very confused as to who this visitor was they would be getting, so finally I yelled down, "Marc accidentally sent a hooker to your door."  "Oh!" she responded.  "Sorry.  I got nervous," Marc said.  However, a knock on their door never came ... so the three of us assumed Summer had decided not to pursue it after all and had simply left.

Unbeknownst to us, my cousin's husband had been outside, enjoying the evening on their back steps and Summer had walked right into him.  "There you are!  You didn't tell me you lived downstairs!" she told him.  "Um ... yes, I do," he responded, confused.  "I recognize your voice.  I'm Summer," she happily told him.  "Hi Summer, I'm Devin," he cordially, but confusedly, responded, shaking her hand. "So ... who are you here to see?"  "I don't know," she said, giving him an odd look, "But I'm Summer."  "Summer ... what's your last name?"  Devin attempted.  "I'm not going to tell you that!"  she responded.  

After a few more minutes of awkward exchange, poor Summer eventually realized that she was most certainly at the wrong house, and she left.  The four of us had a good laugh together about our evening's adventures.  I only wish now that we knew how on earth two "companions" ended up at our door.  If it was indeed a practical joke, then I would like to personally thank whoever did it - they gave me hours of entertainment, anytime I think of the experience.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Adventures in Sunbeam Land

For the past nine months now I have spent two hours every Sunday trying to keep a dozen squirming three-year olds in their chairs and somewhat entertained.  It has honestly been a blast.  I love those little guys and they give me something to laugh about nearly every single Sunday.  When I first started we had 18 (yes, 18!) sunbeams in our class - 16 little boys and 2 little girls.  Every week was an adventure.  In January, though, we got a brand-new, fresh-out-of-nursery class of 6 little girls and 1 boy.

Together we learn very, very basic lessons every Sunday, such as "Heavenly Father has a Body" and this week's lesson, "I am thankful for Fish".

Here are just a few of the lessons I've learned from my Sunbeams:

Lesson 1:  The answer to everything is Jesus.  Doesn't matter what the question is.  While on a deeper level, I can philosophize about how wise it is to have Jesus as your answer to any question, I'm not convinced that my little guys are answering this out of wisdom.  For example, I once asked my class what animals they could think of that lived in trees and received the answer, "Jesus."  Um . . . let me ponder that one.

Lesson 2:  Three hours is too long for kids to go without food.  My very first week in Sunbeams one of my little boys came up to me at the end of class with the saddest look on his little face.  Sorrowfully, he told me, "Avery ate my paper" and held up his reminder slip that he was giving the prayer in primary next week.  Sure enough, his poor slip of paper was very soggy and looked like someone had taken a giant bite out of it.  Poor kid, life's rough when you have to guard you handouts for fear of other kids eating them.  Fortunately, we now have snack time every week and this has dramatically cut down on the eating of non-food items in our classroom.

Lesson 3:  A promise from a three year old is not very binding.  Just last week we had a lesson entitled "I am thankful for Plants, Trees, and Flowers", and since the weather was so nice I decided to take my little girls on a trip outside to look at all the plants and flowers we could see around the church.  Before we left the classroom I made them promise me that they would not leave the grass and would not go into the street.  After I had extracted a promise from every single one of them, we proceeded down the hall to the door and no sooner did I open it for them then one of them immediately took off running, straight for the street.  Fortunately, Marc was my co-teacher that week so he chased her down while I was able to keep the other five little girls enthralled finding pine cones.

Lesson 4:  The difference between boys and girls.  My little boys were INSANE.  There were times when we'd arrive in our classroom to find a dozen boys, all climbing up on the chairs and jumping off of them while making explosion and fighting noises.  However, when once told to do (or NOT do) something, they were pretty quick to respond and happy enough to do it.  Imagine my surprise when during the first week with our new little class of girls I told one of them that she could not stand on the chairs, only to have her burst into tears and spend the rest of the class time in hysterics.  Since then I've learned that I have to be a LOT more gentle with my little girls because they are simply so much more sensitive.  Even still, we have at least one crying fit every single Sunday when one of them doesn't get their way.  I miss my wild little boys.

Lesson 5:  The concept of honesty is impossible for three year olds to understand.  We once had a lesson entitled "I can be honest."  To begin my lesson, I spent a fair amount of time trying to impress upon them what a truth was versus what a lie was.  It was a timely lesson - the very first attention-getting activity we did was play Button Button, Who's Got The Button, and the very first child (who did NOT have the button) that got asked if he had it giggled and said, "Yes!"  Of course, that was hilarious to all the children, so they all responded in turn that Yes, they had the button, until it got to the little boy who actually had the button, and he responded that, No, he didn't have any button.  Even after an hour's worth of teaching and explaining, though, they still just couldn't grasp the concept of what truth/lies were.  We played a game at the end where I would tell them a simple statement like, "Johnny's wearing a red shirt today" or "We came to church today" and they would stand up if it was the truth, and with every single statement they all just stared at me in confusion.  By the end of the lesson I concluded that three years old is simply too young to understand something as complex as "truth."

Lesson 6:  Learn to keep a straight face.  My very first week in Sunbeams, a week after Marc and I got married, we were in the middle of a lesson about temples when one of the little boys suddenly started screaming at the top of his lungs, "The bad guys are coming to steal Jesus' body!" over and over and over again.  No amount of soothing from the other teacher could dissuade him from this idea, and I have to admit that I wasn't much help, as I was having difficulty keeping a straight face while she kept trying to explain to him that there were no bad guys in the temple.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The path that led me here

Exactly one year and one week ago, the love of my life returned home from a one year deployment in Afghanistan.  Words cannot express what I felt on that day when we were reunited, but I attempted it anyway.  What follows is a blog post that I wrote at the end of that day, Jan. 20, 2013, but which I have never shared until now.  Dedicated to Marc, who still fills me with excitement at the prospect of seeing him again anytime we're apart for more than two minutes.

I stood anxiously scanning the hundreds of faces around me, searching for one particular and very familiar one.  Somewhere within that crowded hangar was the man I love. 

I first fell in love with him almost two and a half years ago.  He won my heart so completely that it scared me how deeply I cared for him, and I reacted by pushing away.  When we broke up I somehow managed to convince myself that it simply wasn't meant to be, and over the course of the next year then I tried to convince myself that I had moved on.  It wasn't until a year later that I dared crack open again the heart I'd sealed up so carefully to see what was inside and the depth and truthfulness of that love came rushing out to hit me in the face. 

I knew that a difficult decision now lay before me, and that in choosing one of those paths I would have to lay bare my heart and risk having it crushed completely.  But I also knew that I would never forgive myself if I didn't take the risk and make that choice.  So I took a deep breath and took the leap of faith, emboldened as only those who are in love can be.  But things did not exactly go as planned and a few short weeks later I found myself saying goodbye once again, unsure of where we stood and if there was even any point in trying to continue.  He was headed to Afghanistan and it would be another year before I would even see him again.  The path that had once been so clear and straight now seemed completely overgrown and blocked by fallen trees.  But again, I remembered the promise that I had made myself when I first made the decision to begin this journey, and I knew that I could not give up until I had truly given it everything.  So again, I took a deep breath and continued the journey, fighting through the undergrowth and climbing over fallen log after fallen log.  For eight months I persevered, because every time that I would falter, discouraged by my lack of progress and on the verge of giving up, something inside me would call me back and remind me of what I was fighting for. 

Finally, in the ninth month since we'd said our goodbyes something changed between us.  I felt the change as soon as it happened and my heart leapt for joy inside.  I was only too eager to believe it, yet I was cautious, afraid that it might not be real.  Yet every day the little voice that whispered caution grew quieter and quieter.  Each day as we talked I could feel myself falling more in love with him all over again, until finally it reached a point where I knew that I was in very real danger of falling hopelessly and completely for him.  The last month, and especially the last two weeks, until his homecoming crawled by.  I knew that I was pretty deeply in love with him, yet I couldn't be certain how he felt or how things would be once he actually returned.

It had all come down to this moment.  I stood only ten feet from where the rest of his family stood, waiting to find him, yet we were separated by walls of people between us.  Anxiously I scanned the face of every soldier I saw, trying to find the one that had been ingrained into my memory.  Suddenly he appeared, only a few feet in front of me, and my heart skipped a beat.  For one moment I stood frozen, unable to believe that it was really him, and then our eyes met and I saw the light of recognition in his eyes.  I came unfrozen in an instant and threw my arms around him.  I could have stayed in his embrace forever, it felt so unbelievably good to have his arms wrapped solidly around me.

The rest of the day passed in a dream.  At times it seemed surreal, to have him actually there and to be walking and talking with him.  But at once it was also the most natural and comfortable thing in the world to be together with him, laughing and teasing.  Every time we touched, however briefly, my heart raced inside me. 

I know it's only the first day that he's been back, and so this might seem premature of me to say.  But I can't help myself - this has been a long time coming.  I love him, plainly and truly.  Being together with him feels undeniably right.  It has been an incredibly long and at times painful journey, but we have now reached the end of this path and the beginning of a brand new and exciting one.  I can't wait for what the future holds.  But for now, I'm content just knowing that tomorrow I'll get to see him again.