Category Archives: birthday

The grown-up 4 year old

Today, the lovely Mylin Hadassah celebrates being 4 years old

This one, I cannot believe.  4 is so old.  I truly miss the days of it being just me and her around the house – just the girls.  I didn’t realize how precious of a gift that time was!

We chose the meaning behind her name, Mylin (a family name), to mean ‘Heart’s desire.’  To think back to her birth story and our lives transforming from a couple into a family brings a lump in my throat and also a smile to my face.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE those first few hazey, drunk-with-love days of having a brand new baby.  If for no other reason, I will keep having more out of the sheer addiction to how sweet it is to have those who are so fresh from God, so near to us.  Mylin ushered that entire love into our lives.

Olson's firth month 002 February and airplane 007 February and airplane 008 February and airplane 052 February and airplane 068 Snow and March 021 Momiversary 019 IMG_20140526_170341608 IMG_20140609_124635095 strawberries with grandma IMG_20140615_153331228 IMG_20140619_094529609 IMG_20140620_084718855 IMG_20140624_165613076(these pictures are just of the last 5 months…look how much she has grown up!)

Mylin, God chose you to be the big sister for very specific reasons.  He knew you would be the best at it!  We are so thankful for your mature manner of handling responsibility,  your growing humility, and your love for all things ‘BABY’ – especially your 2 brothers!  You keep us on our toes and make us hit the ground running many days – but we would never want to experience a day without you.  We are so grateful and honored to be your parents.  What a privilege and opportunity 🙂  We love you!


It can’t be true!

Our little baby boy is TWO (although, in all of these pictures, he is ONE still)

stinker picture taker! 047 Lake fun! 004 Lake fun! 011 IMG_20140503_093550260 IMG_20140503_102825023 IMG_20140505_191718598 IMG_20140507_170207373 IMG_20140507_181018136 IMG_20140511_185043827 IMG_20140512_125817724 IMG_20140513_130157708 IMG_20140513_155044462 IMG_20140519_120918328  IMG_20140523_094205133

Sweet Sully – we love you so much! You have brought us unexplainable joy since the moment you were born.  Your gorgeous smile lights up our lives all day, every day.  You are known and recognized for your easy-going smile and happy disposition (even strangers in gas stations comment on it!).  We are so thankful God chose us to be your parents and Mylin and Olson are the luckiest to get to have you as their brother.

We love you, buddy!


Quite a celebration

Finally, I’ve had enough energy and time (at the same time ) to post the pictures from Sullivan’s birthday!

First, our announcement as our guests arrived:

(disclaimer: this was really cute in person – it’s hard to capture in pictures…but this was the message and art – courtesy of Joel – on our sidewalk as our family walked up to the front door!) 053  057



(notice my inflated stick-belly and the words BABY! with an arrow – needless-to-say – all my siblings were shocked! And excited)

On w/Mr. One Year Old:

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Aunt Roni did an A-MA-ZING job with this cake! We are so thankful that she shares her talents with us!

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It wouldn’t be a family picture if someone wasn’t posing at the right time with the right expression


Out of the 10 (soon to be 11) Merkle grandkids – the 6 bigs were having a hilarious time playing on the hammock


And our sweet, sweet, Virginia – she got Sullivan the CUTEST stuffed kitten – he went crazy when he opened it, grabbing it and throwing himself on top of it and rubbing his face against the fur 🙂

Plus, I got some great shots of them together on this special day

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Yay! Slightly better family picture…


Bushie (Grandma Kari) made this one-of-a-kind onesie to celebrate Sul’s big day!  Check out her Etsy shop HERE to order something of your own 🙂 047 051And to end the Sullivan post……..a picture he isn’t even in……just all the gals – we’re usually only all together 2 times a year – what a special treat that the Alabama family could swing by on their way to Illinois for our big event!

We love you, little one-year-old!

Since that big day you’ve gotten 3 more teeth, starting standing, AND started walking!  What else do you have in store for us?!

Simple Pleasures: Birthday edition

September 27th: 28 years old.
I had more simple pleasures that day than I can count…but I did take a picture of a few…
Simple pleasures: Birthday edition
Getting told ‘Happy Birthday’ by Joel just after midnight
Joel taking the day off work!
AND granting me 3 wishes (uh, hello – PERFECT simple gift idea!)
October Baby – I am so excited to watch!
Spending the morning playing:
Having one of my favorite people came over to surprise me!!!
Mom staying at our house for about an hour and a half while Joel and I go to the State Park for a walk

Finding some yummy mushrooms (hairy manes) that we fried up for dinner that night!
(don’t worry – Joel’s a mushroom hunter enthusist and knows what is edible and what is deadly)

Surprise lunch from one of my favorite restaurants: Tyeger’s! 
Family pictures

Joel building Mylin a fun fort

(how cute is she in her Hello Kitty shirt and skinny jeans?!)
Trying to get pictures of my little buddy smiling – but the light of my camera flash was too intriguing!

Ending the night watching episodes of FRIENDS and lounging – a perfect day together!!!
Then on Saturday we got to go out to celebrate!
Simple pleasures of our date:
‘The Tile’ at Club Soda
A Sundae at DeBrands (my ‘wish #3’)
(wish #1 – getting a blanket out of car for me to sit on since swing on deck was wet…wish #2 – to hug and kiss and compliment me in abundance all day)
Home early to put our babies to bed and relax!
Thanks, honey – for knowing how to make me feel special and making sure it happens!
I love you!

Birthday party/Birthday girl

On Monday our sweet Mylin Hadassah turned 2!
Here’s a recap in pictures of her small party with family and her celebration on her special day!

 I love how you can tell she just woke up!!! (surprise – her castle was full of balloons!!!)

Birthday pancakes – WITH sprinkles!

While we didn’t get an official picture – this does happen to have Mylin with all of my brother David’s family – Uncle David, Aunt Jayna, new baby cousin Elliot, and cousins Glenn and Luke

Joel and Mylin with his forever best friend from birth, Trent, and his daughter, Gabriella

Happy Birthday morning playing outside on our new used slide/swingset!!!

So excited about her present from us!
A packnplay, bouncer, carseat, high chair, and baby backpack for her doll – which I totally found at a garage sale for $5 – score!
Yep, that’s a matching outfit her and ‘Shelby’ are wearing – compliments of Grandma!

Ending the fun day with a birthday bike ride with dad!

We are blessed.


Sullivan Joel Draper!
June 2nd
8lbs 6oz 21 inches long
We had a rough beginning (more to come on that story later)

But we all got to come home together!

Thank you, God, for your perfect timing, plan, and provision!
We LOVE Your gift to us!

Family weekend away in Indy

Last weekend Joel, Mylin, and I got to spend a looong weekend together!
It started with Joel taking Friday off work and strolling Mylin to the library for Wee Read (infant/toddler library time)
What a fun daddy!!!

Then we packed up and drove to Indy and checked in just before Mylin’s naptime – newsflash: Mylin did not actually nap, but cried and played off and on in her pack-n-play for 2 hours…
Then we went to Squealers – a local BBQ joint – it was DELICIOUS!

That night at the hotel Mylin and Joel spent a lot of time reading – though I couldn’t get either of them to cooperate for a picture…

After Mylin went to sleep we stayed up and watched March Madness and worked on a presentation over the topic ‘Communication’ that I was going to present to our MomLife group that next week
It was SO great to just lounge and spend time together talking for hours 🙂
The next morning we packed up early and headed to the Children’s Museum with my brother, David, his wife, Jayna, their boys, Glenn & Luke (and soon to be #3 brother – due in April!)

That afternoon we went to an indoor water park to celebrate Luke turning 4 and then we all went out for pizza before crashing back in the hotel
Another night of lounging and basketball and the ‘feel’ of vacation being away from home!
We got home late morning Sunday and spent the rest of the day relaxing together still – what a refreshing weekend!
It was so fun to get away as a family – probably our last time away from home, all together, before baby is due to arrive in about 10 weeks!
What do you find is the best way to travel with young ones and get them to sleep well?
We always get a suite now, so we can have a door that separately bedroom/living room so we can be up while Mylin sleeps…
Any other ideas?!