Category Archives: Dakota

“Ben Drink Water Like Dakota!”

So, I was sitting on the couch this morning folding a big pile of towels while Ben and Dakota played behind me on the tile floor.  The next thing I know Ben comes running up to me with water dripping from his face and down his shirt and he says, “Ben drink water like Dakota!”  He had a huge smile on his face and seemed to be feeling quite proud of his accomplishment.  I turned back to see Dakota lapping up water from his water bowl that apparently Ben now shares with him.  And sure enough a little while later (as if there was any doubt the boy was drinking from Dakota’s water bowl) I caught him doing this…


Ben LOVES to do EVERYTHING Dakota does these days.  He likes to lay next to him (and on him) and he even tries to mimic Dakota’s unique talking.  For those of you that have been around Dakota for any amount of time you know what I mean…it’s hard to describe, but he does…talk.  Ben likes to say, “Dakota goes ‘whoa whoa whoa’.”  Ben also takes GREAT pride in feeding Dakota dog food twice a day and speaking on Dakota’s behalf when he needs to go inside or out.  He’ll ask me, “Can you help Dakota go outside, Mommy?”  Or he’ll stand by the back door and call out to me, “Dakota wants in, Mommy!”  Here they are enjoying a nice afternoon outside together a few days ago.

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Filed under Ben, Dakota, Orlando

Poop and Turtles and Bears! Oh, My!

Well, after about a month long hiatus from the blog (albeit not planned or on purpose), I’m back to fill you in on all of the current ongoings of our lives.  As of today I can say that we are officially moved in to our new house!!  Let me define “moved in”…all of our belongings have now been transferred from the old house to the new house…many of our things are still in boxes or somewhat scattered about and unorganized.  I think a move “just down the street” somehow gives you a false idea that moving will somehow magically be different and easier than other types of long distance moving.  I’d like to strike the word “easier” from any further discussions about moving and just state for the record that while it might be less hard from a logistical standpoint to move down the street versus across the country it is still hard all the same.  Oh and something entirely new to the moving process for us…Ben!!  Throw a toddler in the mix of moving and it multiplies your workload all the more.   

Thankfully moving day was quite uneventful, but I would certainly call it organized chaos.  Looking  back I realized I didn’t snap a single picture from moving day.  Why you ask?  Probably because I ended up on babysitting duty (five kids…which was fine considering all of the help we had) but I don’t think I had a free moment or a free hand for that matter to snap any pictures.  I did manage to take a few of Ben climbing on boxes during the packing process.  I walked away for a moment and when I came back in the room there he was very excited and very proud of his fine accomplishment!!










So you might be wondering what we’ve been doing for the past month.  While I’d like to tell you that I’ve been sitting on the couch with my feet kicked up eating bonbons…it goes a little more something like this.

Third day of life at the new house – It was hot and getting hotter INSIDE.  After sitting in our house for two days in 82+ degree weather the air conditioner was finally fixed.  It turned out the unit was low on freon so in the midst of working extra hard to cool the house, it froze itself.  So just as I was feeling the nice breeze of our newly fixed air conditioner I heard a bubbling sound.  The bubbling got louder and LOUDER and LOUDER.  As I ran from one bathroom to another each toilet continued to bubble.  Then it occurred…a back-flow of sewer water began to bubble up into all of the bathtubs and showers.  In a panic I called Jake who just so happened to be at a conference down by the theme parks (that’s about an hour away compared to his typical ten-minute commute to the office).  So while explaining the situation to him over the phone I was also hurriedly prepping to scoop the poop.  Gloves on, buckets ready, nose plugged (it did not smell good, people)…and then it stopped!  A few hours later after the plumber had performed a “simple” routine of “snaking out” the “clean-out” we were in for some bad news.  I was informed that he’d be back the next day to dig up a portion of the front flower bed in order to replace the broken clean-out.  Apparently when the initial landscaping for the house was completed the clean-out was broken and in turn the roots from the plants had grown down the pipe clogging it up.

Fourth day of life at the new house – One hole, one dead plant and one new clean-out later…we were back in business to do our business.  (ha ha)  And while we’re on the topic of poop…

Not long after the sewer system was back up and running, Ben and Dakota were playing together in the family room.  A little while later Ben walked up to me in the kitchen and handed me a piece of something.  It was round and brown and I thought it was most likely just something Dakota brought in from outside like a piece of bark or pine cone.  I had one thing right…it was something Dakota brought in from outside.  Sure enough it was a piece of dog poop…poop that I was now holding in my hand, that was smeared down the side of Ben’s leg and across the tile floor.  Lovely!

Last but not least I’ve been feeling a little like we’ve moved into the forest.  We have a HUGE turtle (the size of a dinner plate…no joke) that comes to visit every morning.  Dakota barks because I won’t let him out to “play” with it and then Ben chimes in and barks along with Dakota. 









Also, the day before we moved in our neighbors informed us that they saw a bear in our backyard.  Yep, not a typo…a BEAR!  Apparently it is a frequent visitor!!  And for all of you wondering…we had our first bear sighting last night!!!  Dakota started barking and completely freaking out by the back sliding glass doors.  From the way he was acting I knew what he saw…the bear.  It came darting across our backyard and a few seconds later he was gone!  Now that we’ve seen him, I think a call to animal control is in order.  A bear is cute when you see him at the zoo, but somehow they become a lot less cute and more frightening when they make house calls!!    

On that note, I guess there’s just one last thing to say, “Welcome home Jake, Joanna, Ben and Dakota…Welcome home!”

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Filed under Ben, da Bear, Dakota, Friends, Orlando

Closing Day…Oh What a Day!

Closing Day...The Keys!!

Closing Day...The Keys!!

We’re homeowners again!!  Approximately six months ago we made an offer on a house in our neighborhood (it’s only eight houses down from where we currently live)!  And yes, you read that right…it’s been half a year since we made the offer.  The home was in pre-foreclosure status…also known as a short sale.  So we were not only negotiating with the seller but also with two lending institutions AND working with two Realtors.  Needless to say we’ve had quite the journey full of highs and lows.  I won’t go in to all of the details, but I will take this opportunity to share about closing day…it had plenty of it’s own highs and lows! 

So finally the glorious day (last Friday) had arrived.  My friend Katy watched Ben for me which was a HUGE help!!  I met Jake at the bank in order to pick up our down payment check.  After waiting for twenty-five minutes we were feeling the pressure to get on the road in order to make it in time for our 10:00 am closing…so we left…without the money.  I drove while Jake made several calls to the banks, title company and mortgage company.  I should note that during the phone call chaos Jake was informed by one person that we were on our way to the wrong location (after we had passed the exit) only to be told a few minutes later that she was wrong…we were headed to the right location.  Surprisingly enough we managed to arrive at the title company right on time (I was driving after all) with smiles on our faces.  Our Realtor (who has been wonderful through this entire process) was there waiting for us and the lady at the title company (I don’t know her official title…we’ll call her the “title lady”) was super nice.  So we drank coffee, ate cookies and signed a mountain of documents.  The title lady even let us use her computer to wire the down payment.  (It turned out our on-line banker forgot to put the approval order through the night before and we were told we had to put the order in by 11:30 am that morning in order to get a same day transfer.  We made it with about five minutes to spare!!)  As we were leaving we were told that the seller would be in to close at 1:00 pm that afternoon and then we’d receive the keys.  We were truly elated as we left the office.

At about 3:30 pm that afternoon Jake received a call from our Realtor.  We were informed that the seller was not pleased with some of the language in the closing documents and would not sign them.  The documents were being sent to his lawyer for review and the lawyers for the title company were being called in as well.  What?  Was this really happening?  We went from all smiles and cookies to “we’d advise you to contact a real estate attorney.”  By the time Jake got home from work that evening we were beat.  After dinner we took Ben for a ride in his wagon.  We just kept looking at each other and saying, “we’re speechless” and then we laughed.  We laughed at the absurdity of it all.  We laughed because we knew who was in control…clearly not us.  We felt like God was either protecting us from something or allowing our character to be tested.  So we left it there…in His hands and we went to bed.  We were exhausted!  The next morning we were both up early.  I jokingly asked if we’d heard from the Realtor yet and Jake checked his blackberry.  And there it was like a light shining from heaven illuminating one single e-mail on the screen.  The e-mail was from our Realtor (sent at 4 am) stating that the seller had agreed to sign the documents.  Hallelujah!

Here are some pics I snapped the day we got the keys!  The lot is on a cul-de-sac and the house is 3 bedroom, 3 bath w/ living room, dining room, family room, office, and three car garage.  With some fresh paint, a good cleaning and a little TLC on the yard (it hasn’t been watered in months)…the house should be back in tip top shape again soon!



Entry, Living Room, Dining Room

Entry, Living Room, Dining Room

Hallway to additional bedrooms/bathrooms/laundry/garage, Office

Hallway to additional Bedrooms/Bathrooms/Laundry/Garage, Office

Family room, Breakfast, Hallway to master, Kitchen

Family Room, Breakfast, Entry to Master, Kitchen


Filed under Ben, Dakota, Orlando, Projects

Happy Easter!!









It was a beautiful 83 degrees here today…just perfect for a fun afternoon outside to celebrate Easter.  After church and a nice big lunch we took some family photos in our backyard (thanks to our trusty camera tripod)!  Next up was an amazing…just what we needed…l-o-n-g two hour nap for Ben and me while Jake watched the last round of The Masters (no, Tiger didn’t win). 

Here are some of my favorite pics we took of Ben today!    



























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Filed under Ben, Dakota, Family, Holiday, Orlando

11 Months



I know, it’s crazy…11 months (and two weeks to be exact, but who’s counting)!  It seems like lately each time I look at Ben I say, “Wow, you look so BIG!!”  For example, it was a mere few weeks ago that Ben could stand up under the table without hitting his head, and now he’s too tall.  In honor of 11 months, I picked 11 things Ben LOVES to do right now.  Here’s what our little guy has been up to…he has been BUSY!!

Playing at the beach.  Click here to see him having fun in the sand.  On this particular day it was super cold and windy, but Ben didn’t seem to mind.  He cried when it was time to leave.








Playing with Dakota.  Ben enjoys using Dakota as an obstacle to crawl over as seen here.  He also can’t wait to get outside each day to play in the grass and throw the ball to Dakota.  Ben will often cry if Dakota gets to go outside and he doesn’t.  He is also learning the concept of fetch.  Often times we’ll throw the ball, but Dakota doesn’t fetch (after all he isn’t a Retriever) so Ben will go get it for him and hold it out for Dakota to grab.  Sometimes Dakota will take the ball from Ben and when he doesn’t give it back, Ben will burst into tears.  He just can’t understand why Dakota won’t share.










Playing with his bouncy ball each morning.  It is so fun to watch him learn what words and phrases mean.  We can tell him to “find the ball” and he’ll go searching around the room until he finds it.

Sounding out the noise that a horse makes.  Jake and my dad both LOVE to tell/show Ben the sound that a horse makes.  They both make a neighing sound followed by the razzing of their lips and shaking of their heads so that their checks ripple.  One day I asked Ben what a horse says and he did this:

Playing in his room.  One afternoon I heard the pitter patter of Ben crawling down the hallway from the living room/playroom to his bedroom.  I waited for a second and then followed behind to see what he was up to.  As shown in the clip below, he wedged himself between the crib and chair and then dug through his basket of books.  I’m glad he seems to like his room (and books) so much!

Eating spinach lasagna, chicken, cottage cheese, grilled cheese, bananas, peaches, yogurt, Cheerios and black beans (not all together).  He is also more than willing to offer us a drink from his sippy cup and tries to feed us his food.  He has started clapping after we say “Amen” when we pray before each meal too.  We are in the process of teaching him how to say “all done” in sign language when he’s finished eating meals.

Saying “dog” and “bath”.  Dog often sounds like “d” and bath like “b-th.”  We have a little chant we use when it’s bath time.  It goes a little sumin’ like this, “B-A-T-H…Bath, Bath, Bath”.  I stole that from the Jets.  Jake and I went to see the Jaguars play the Jets about a year ago in Jacksonville.  As luck would have it, we had the privledge of sitting behind what I believe was the most obnoxious Jets fan in the entire stadium.  I am pretty sure I heard the chant, J-E-T-S…Jets, Jets, Jets about a million and one times.  Since then, it has been a little number I can’t seem to forget.  When Ben hears the water begin to run he will often perk up and start crawling toward the bathroom.  

Pushing toys in circles…around the island, around the couch, and around the wall in the living room.  Plus, he loves to knock down really tall towers in one single blow!

Doing his version of a happy dance.  This involves turning his head really fast from side to side with a really big grin on his face!  This video was taken after his bath one night.  We’re not kidding when we say there is something about taking a bath that makes this kid hyper!

Laughing.  Laughing when he’s being tickled and often just laughing because we’re laughing.

Waving “goodbye” to dada from the front porch each morning as he leaves for work.  I saved this one for last because it is one of my favorite things we do right now.  When Jake tells us goodbye in the morning Ben will start waving immediately.  Jake goes through the garage and we head out the front door to watch from the porch.  We wave from the time Jake gets into the 4Runner until he drives out of sight.  It is very sweet!


Filed under Beach, Ben, Dakota, Orlando

Dog Sitting
















Last week Ben was asked to dog sit by his little buddies, Kendall and Kali, that live in our neighborhood.  They received a miniature schnauzer puppy named Pepper for Christmas.  Kendall and Kali have taken care of Dakota for us many many times and we were happy to return the favor!   I think Ben was pretty thrilled that he was actually the bigger of the two!  However, truth be told, Pepper was a little hyper and I’m not sure if Ben knew quite what to think of her (as evidenced by second picture above).  After all, he is used to playing with Dakota…a very calm dog.  Dakota has quite the (good) reputation in our neighborhood.  Before Kendall and Kali got their dog they used to have their parents call our house and ask if they could come over and play with Dakota.  Right after we moved into the neighborhood the kids next door, Andrew and Ally, asked if they could adopt Dakota because they loved him so much.  When pleading her case as to why they were qualified to adopt him, Ally stated very matter-of-factly, “We even have dog food.”  It was very cute!  Needless to say, they didn’t get to adopt Dakota but they did end up getting a dog of their own, Mojo…a pug.  He and Dakota are pretty good buddies.  

Back to dog sitting…while Jake was walking, feeding and playing with Pepper, Ben and I took advantage of the big backyard and fun playground equipment.  Ben had a blast soaring high on the swing, zipping down the slide and crawling around in the grass (one of his favorite things to do these days).  Here’s him in action:

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Filed under Ben, Dakota, Friends, Orlando