Sunday, December 25, 2016


Oh, did you think I was going to talk about me? I mean, that seems a bit awkward, no?

There is one final family member I would like to mention, however: Jesus Christ, since He's the reason we even have Christmas to celebrate. I'll be brief, but it would've been hard to do a 25 days of Christmas countdown on the family without Him. He is my Savior, my Redeemer, my perfect example, and my Brother - the absolute best family member I can ask for, and I'm really grateful to know Him. A number of years ago, I made a conscious decision to build my relationship with Him: I prayed to know Him more personally; I looked for Hum in my scripture study more; I focused on learning more about what the Atonement means to me and how I can better access it. Like all relationships, it took effort and time, and it's still a work in progress, but I can say I know and love my Savior so much more now than I did before. Jesus is the Christ, and I'm so glad to know that.

He truly is the Light of the world and the guiding light in my life - and I honestly believe "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." And I see His light shining through in all of my family members, which is why it was so easy and so fun to do this project I set for myself, because you all strengthen me so much as well.

So thanks for sticking through with me to the end of my goal. I've really loved getting a chance to look through all my photos and remember wonderful moments with you all and dwell on your special gifts and personalities. As I hope you could tell through this, I love you each individually and personally.

And I really love my Savior - I am so grateful Christ was born, and lived, and lives still. Merry Christmas, everyone!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Day 24: BRYNN

Baby Brynn, the Barlow that made this goal of mine even possible, being the 25th member to join our family, and giving me 24 people to talk about this December! The fact that she carries our surname as her middle name gives her special entitlement to this penultimate day.

Being not yet 1 year old even, we have yet to see all the personality that's waiting to explode out of this little one. But I think she is literally made up of smiles. That girl smiles all the time - and while I like to think she smiles most at me, I'm pretty sure anyone who's met her so far thinks the same thing about themselves. She's just a happy kid, and it's so fun to watch her grow and become more aware of her surroundings and think everything is so wonderful. Particularly her siblings.

She's also incredibly patient, happily receiving a lot of love and attention from her brothers and sister - and aunt - who like to get right up in her face. She is well-loved, and she returns it with rays of sunshine bursting out of her eyes and giggles full of rainbows. And she sticks out that tongue any chance she gets and it makes me laugh so hard.

Admittedly, my chances to get lots of pictures with her has been much fewer, due to her age, so I definitely stole that first photo from our resident professional photographer, Abby - I'm just assuming she's completely fine with my theft.

xoxo, BB!

Friday, December 23, 2016


It feels fitting to have Caleb follow Chris here, because he feels like such a mini-Chris in so many wonderful ways.

One of my very favorite things about Caleb is that, from a young age, he has looked up to the men in his life and decided to follow in their amazing footsteps. I feel like whenever he's heard a story about one of his grandpas, he internalizes it and applies the lessons to his life immediately. Watching him emulate his uncles and talk skateboarding with Zach or watch-making with Ben is seriously the best. He's so willing to listen and learn from his elders (male and female) and that's made him so much more mature than your average 16-year-old boy. Also, I particularly love that last time I visited, we worked on crossword puzzles almost every night (insert multiple heart-eyed emojis here) - that's got Grandpa Bill and mom written all over it; I can only imagine how much they would've loved that, too.

Caleb has such swagger and confidence, he's just so cool. Like, really. I've been telling my friends about how cool my nephew is for years now. Any boy that gets more manly when he wears pink has earned that title, you know? He's super talented and really ambitious with his interests. He was meant to live in the YouTube era; like, all those how-to videos were made for him. I really love watching him try new things and hearing about all the latest skills and projects he's worked on since the last time I saw him. He is the current Renaissance Man of the family, if you will.

But beyond his many physical talents and skills, I just really like watching him love others. He takes after his mom and is so quick to serve someone in need, giving his all to help without complaint. He and Max have a great brotherly relationship with each other as the only boys, and I see a particularly unique relationship with each of his sisters, which can be hard to get in a large family. But watching him with Chloe is exceptionally heartwarming to me because I see how much she looks up to him and how much they bond in their activities - like doing push-ups together! I just think the world of Caleb because I know that one of his ways of emulating his elders is by being worthy of emulation by his juniors, as well. He's a great influence on his siblings and I love watching him become a man equal to his dad, his uncles, his grandfathers, and his great-grandfathers.

xoxo, CCB!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Day 22: CHRIS

Oh man. THIS GUY. What do I say about the brother who lets me visit whenever I call needing a last-minute escape from my life; who requests a slow-motion video be taken of him eating delicious mango strips; who calls me every Sunday for a quick chat and leaves a message hoping everything is well because he often can only call while I'm at church.

Well, I can say we share the same smile and a major love for deep-fried oreos, and I've got maybe 7 pictures of separate oreo obsessions to prove it.

But I can also say Chris has been the best 3rd parent I could ever ask for. He's always taken such good care of me and makes time for me whenever - whether by taking me in when the parents excluded me from their trips, or when I just really need the Walworth County Fair in my life. Whether I feel like going for a run, or I really don't but he forces me to go with him anyway. Whether I have some interesting thought I need to share with someone, or I have exciting news to share, or I have nothing going on at all. Or, like, if I decide to move to DC by myself and ask to stop by Wisconsin along the way, and he volunteers to let me stop for a bit, and then take me the rest of the journey himself, move me in to my new place, and do all the sightseeing possible with me right away. One time, he had an extended layover at Dulles airport, so he took a cab 30 minutes that morning to meet me for breakfast before I had to go to work, then he cabbed straight back over to the airport - what a guy!

Chris makes me feel like everything I do is awesome, he's such a great cheerleader to have by your side. But it helps that he's always been such a wonderful role model as well, so really, when I'm doing something he thinks is great, it's usually because I'm just living my life the way I see him live his - and awesome things are bound to come from that.

But very little makes me feel better than when he expresses how much he loves having his kids be around me - he makes me be my best by just assuming my best is the normal and viewing me as my best. He is so fun to watch be a dad to those kids - I love seeing what close and unique relationships he has with each one, and I love seeing how, though he travels a lot for work, he still somehow manages to be incredibly present in their lives. They all consider him their friend, knowing that, with all his responsibilities and commitments, they are his #1 priority. As I feel with all my siblings, I just think he's the best.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Day 21: JAZLYN

Ok, this little nut is a hard one to crack - or she was for me, last time I saw her. Which made it so much more exciting every time she let me hold her or sit by her or smile at her without turning away and running to her dad. But she really really loves her dad, and it was adorable to watch him make her laugh - which, can I say, her giggle is so addicting. She's got this kind of guttural, vibrating giggle that doesn't quite escape her mouth with her pacifier in, until she's laughing really hard and can't contain it anymore. I was just watching a video I took of her laughing at something, and I melted.

Jazlyn loves her family, and I think that's the best. Watching her totter after Zoey is so sweet to me, and she seriously only has eyes for her mom and dad, which is also the best (when I'm able to not be completely jealous about it). One thing that can distract her, however, is a darling animal, and when I saw her in March, I took full advantage of Aunt Marcy's dog to get in her good graces. And she just babbled and babbled to that pup, smiling at me and at him and at me and at him. After that, I think we were good friends.

I feel like J is the rough and tumble kind - she just gets up and goes and does what she wants. Being with her in March was so fun because (when she was incredibly upset that Zach would dare lock her out of the bathroom) she would just go and wander around the basement and do whatever she felt like doing. And sometimes she'd look at me and invite me to play with her - I felt like such a star and would follow her everywhere. We played a little piano, we played in the nook under the basement stairs, we played with stuffed animals. And she would just glance at me with this look of "hey - you still in for this game? Cuz I'm having fun, but I'm not going to smile about it until we're having A LOT of fun, so let's just see where this goes." At least, that's what I took that look to mean...

The best thing is J is still little and growing, and her personality is becoming more and more expanded all the time, so there's still so much to learn about her, and I'm so excited to see the talents and interests and joys that will develop in her!

xoxo Jaz!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


This is the typical seating arrangement when I visit Abby's house - Greg nestled in VERY close, both arms wrapped around my one arm, making me feel both quite loved and slightly claustrophobic. Thank goodness he doesn't mind getting accidentally elbowed in the stomach every once in a while. The best is when Abby and I are playing Super Mario bros - this arrangement somewhat lessens my range of motion, but he just giggles and tightens his grip :)

Greg Bryan is the biggest cheeser - for pictures, for dinner conversation, for dancing, for anything. He's so funny to me, I love making him take pictures with me, and I think his stuttering laugh is hilarious. His little voice is darling - I love that he loves dinosaurs, and I'm always happy to hear him talk about his interests. I think he will always be 4-5 years old in my mind (sorry GB). Like his other siblings, he's super helpful - you ask him to get something for you and he pops right up, runs as fast as he can to retrieve said 'thing,' races back to you, says, "here you go!" and then goes right back to whatever he was doing. Sometimes when he does drag a bit, you can tease him a little, and that little mopey frown gets pulled at the corners and try as he might, that smile can't be held back. And he makes you want to help him as well with his sweet way of asking for something, or kind of, sort of, not really asking for something but mentioning that it's been a long time since something happened and hint hint, smile smile, giggle. I love his joy when you accept the request and head off on a fun adventure.

He also got his dad's sense of hat style, and he wears a cardigan like a boss, so he's got a good fashion future ahead of him.

Greg has been a darling youngest sibling for a number of years now - his sweet friendship with Will is so precious to me, watching them play games and imagine together. And he and Ellee have always had a special relationship as well, as she has doted on him and he's been willing to be her doll and tag-along as well. But watching him become an older brother to Brynn has been so great - he's so sweet and tender with her, and he's continued to be his very helpful self with whatever she might need - sure, sometimes the burp cloth lands on top of her instead of next to her in his haste to return to a game - but seeing him go over and kiss her little forehead before rushing off to some next thing is so adorable! Never grow up, GB, stay my little guy forever please!


Monday, December 19, 2016

Day 19: LAURA

Laura! Hey girl!

From day 1, Laura has always treated me like a friend rather than a little sister. I lived with Ben and Laura for 3 months when I was a freshman in college, and it was seriously such a blast - I really loved that time being with them. Laura helped hone my scrapbooking skills during that time, and I will say my best scrapbook pages came from then, even as I continued in that hobby for a few more years after. We watched Alias together and it's still the only time I've been able to watch a whole season of the Bachelor - and it was so fun! I mean, Laura is just fun, she makes even the simplest things really exciting! She lives with an enthusiasm that spreads to the people around her, and she adds so much to any outing.

She also has trusted me with her kids multiple times while they were little - which is really a pretty big deal to me. I was still youngish when she entrusted little Emilie to my daytime care in Iowa. And later, she gave me guardianship for a week over Emilie and baby Claire when she had to go run girls camp in New York. Both times, she gave me the chance to come to an unknown city, hang out with my family, and help keep her kidlets happy and healthy. I think back about those times as really important to my confidence in being an adult and learning how to manage for myself and others. So she's really been important to my education in being a grown-up, and I'm grateful for that.

I think my favorite thing about Laura is that we're probably really different in a lot of ways - so she brings such a different perspective, it reminds me that life can be really great in all sorts of different ways. She's really ambitious and confident that she can do anything she puts her mind to; she's really friendly and outgoing and makes such strong, lasting friendships; she's really brave and willing to try something new or difficult or unknown. These are all things I don't understand, so I'm really grateful she's been able to show me how great life can be living with these qualities. To be honest, Laura kind of fascinates me - I live life in a way where a lot of things happen to me and I kind of roll with the outcomes and see what I can make of the result; Laura takes life by the horns and makes of it what she wants - and when life doesn't quite play along, she adjusts and takes the resulting life by the horns again and makes of it what she can. I guess I just feel like she lives life purposely. And luckily, she includes me in that purpose - and it's really a very fun ride for me. Can't wait for that 8-hour road trip coming up, we're singing ALL the songs!

xoxo LB!