Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hulk 6th Birthday Party

I got some of these Hulk ideas from Pinterest, the cupcakes are my original design, though!  After a chaotic all-boy party at the house last year, we decided to go ahead and celebrate Jason's 6th birthday at the park. It was a beautiful day and the kids had fun playing tag, sidewalk chalk, soccer, and baseball in between snacks, cupcakes and presents.

Happy birthday, Jason!
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sleeping In. Daily.

I don't know how the other kids do it!  Practicing sports so late, then waking up at the crack of dawn and being expected to function at school all day long.

Ryan is starting his first season of tackle football. He has practice late, two nights each week. He gets home around 9:30, eats a second dinner, spews  details about plays and hits and passes he caught that night, showers, then finally gets to bed around 10:30.

He has never been a kid who sleeps in, no matter how late he goes to bed, but when he turned 11, puberty started kicking in and he final…FINALLY…was able to fall back to sleep after waking up early in the morning.

Now, he stays up a little later, reading (I finally found him some lists of books that he has been enjoying!) and almost always sleeps past 7:00. On the mornings after football practice, he doesn't wake up until 8:30-9:00. 

Every time he wanders down the stairs that late with bed-head, I wonder how tired his teammates must be. They get up at 6am, take the bus to school and have already been bombarded with information from their first class long before Ryan's eyes open for the day. 

Just another reason that I'm grateful we are homeschooling. My kid can participate in sports AND get the amount of sleep his body needs!  Sometimes, it's the little things.
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Friday, September 25, 2015

A Little Redecorating

A few months ago, I posted that I unpacked the boxes and boxes of personal pictures that were taken off the walls when we put our house on the market. I've enjoyed having bare walls, less clutter, and more of a model home look all summer. 

But in the last few weeks, I started to MISS seeing the smiling faces of my family as I walk through the house. This pile just wasn't doing it justice.
I decided that I wanted to switch the pictures above my dining room table with the mirror in my front hall. These pictures were the last thing to find a home, and I ended up buying a clock (which our bedroom desperately needed) and hanging them over the armoire in my room. 
Before: Pictures in dining room
After: Pictures relocated to bedroom
Above the table in my front hall, I'd decided to do a gallery wall. I solicited help from a neighbor, who rearranged some photos on the floor until one "felt right". I just love how it turned out!
Before: Front hall table
During: Positioning everything on the floor.
After: Front hall gallery wall.
The next gallery wall I wanted to do was upstairs in our hall. I had a LOT of pictures to work with for this one and ended up making the arrangement myself, after going through 1,000 ideas on Pinterest.
During: Making it right on the floor
After: A few adjustments were made after this picture was taken, but you get the gist.
I set aside some pictures of just me and Mike to put in our room above his dresser and messed around with the arrangement quite a few times before just deciding to go with one of them.
One of the arrangements - I didn't like the two circle mirrors, so I switched it up.
After: Above Mike's dresser.
Overall, I'm really happy with how everything turned out. The upstairs wall is a bit more crowded than I pictured in my head, but it's fine. I actually started hanging in the middle (the undefined "line" about 1/3 of the way from the left) and realized that I started too far over, and had to pull out the nails and move everything about 3-4 inches to make it all fit. I'll just patch up the holes later! 

For now, I'm pleased with the results.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Staying Content as a Family of Five

Sad news…I'm no longer pregnant. As excited as we were about adding another sibling to our home, this one was not in God's plan. Our biggest prayer was for the health of the baby, and (although this was definitely not what we were hoping for) we truly believe that God answered our prayer.

It's been more than a week and my heart is healing. To be honest, I was sad the day that I went to the ER and found out there was no heartbeat in the ultrasound, but the next day I was feeling better, the cramping had stopped, and I thought I was doing well. 

The most annoying reminder has been my knee: the night I went to the ER, I passed out in my bathroom and fell into a crumpled heap onto the floor, landing wrong and twisting my knee. It still hurts to straighten it and I have to limp after sitting for an extended period of time. I'm hoping it will just go away.

I had publicly announced this pregnancy on Facebook (by posting the video of when I told the kids…which was hilarious) so I had to publicly UNannounce the news. It was the fastest way to avoid running into people around town and have them ask me how I'm feeling, if we know what we're having, etc.

The outpouring of more than 300 comments, dozens of private messages and texts, flowers, Edible Arrangement fruit bouquets, sympathy cards, and meals from neighbors…it was all quite unexpected. The love and empathy I felt was absolutely overwhelming. Reading through the comments, hearing about others' personal experiences with miscarriages (I even learned that one friend lost twins at 22 weeks) - it was all very emotional. I was a wreck for the better part of two days. 

Jason's sweet comments didn't help. At least once daily I heard things like: 

(while hugging my stomach) "Good bye, Baby! I can't wait to meet you in heaven someday!"

"Mom, I wish we were still having a baby."

"I really wanted to be a big brother."

"That little baby is so cute, Mom!  I said I wanted a baby brother, but I kind of also wanted a baby sister."

He even randomly walks up and kisses my stomach, then walks away. It's really sweet.

One night, I was praying with him at bedtime and instead of holding his hands, for some reason I pulled him in for a hug. I was praying about the baby and he started hugging me really tight. I lost it. He pulled back to see why I stopped praying and said, "Are you crying because your heart is broken about the baby? If you don't want to cry, you probably shouldn't talk about the baby."

A few days ago, my OB/GYN called to say that my blood work had come back and my levels were still showing that I was pregnant. I had a little glimmer of hope that maybe there was a mistake and I hadn't miscarried…? After all, my doctor's office was taking the word of the ER doctor, but hadn't actually seen any of the paperwork. They had me come in the next day for another ultrasound and, sure enough, there was nothing there. 

As I was going back out to the waiting room, the ultrasound tech sweetly said, "I'm so sorry for your loss," and my eyes filled with tears. And they wouldn't stop. I just sat in the waiting room, unable to stop crying while a dozen or more pregnant women stared at me. 

That day was the last of my hard days. Physically, my body is still healing, but I'm finally recovering, emotionally. It wasn't this difficult with my first miscarriage 12 years ago. 

One Facebook friend commented on my un-announcement saying, "We've had four miscarriages and it never gets any easier. I'll bet my kids are showing yours around in heaven!" That visual has made me smile every time I think about it.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gaining Independence

These kids of mine are getting too big, too fast. 

Ryan came home from church a couple of weeks ago announcing that he signed himself up to serve as a puppeteer in the 2 year old building during the weekend services. Well okay, then!  He asked me every day for a week if they'd called with details. "What about today? Have they called yet? Will you tell me when they call?" 

This week, they finally called. He ended up switching to serve in a different area (because of a conflict with the practice night) and this week was his first practice.

Knowing that he wouldn't be at church this weekend, I suggested that he wait until next week to start practicing, but Ryan wouldn't have it. 

At 5:20, he came inside and reminded me that I needed to drop him off. Now. 

The problem was that Kaylin had just put muffins in the oven and I added some Pumpkin Butter Oat Bars to the oven, too. I quickly began listing instructions for testing the muffins with a toothpick, when to take out the bars, and how to start making the biscuits I had planned on making with dinner. 

For the record, until this point, Kaylin and Jason had never stayed home alone together. 

As Ryan and I raced to church, he was beaming. I dropped him off and he waved as he got out of the van, then turned around to wave again before heading into the building. He was so. proud. Grinning from ear to ear. I almost got teary-eyed!

When I returned home, it was Kaylin's turn to beam. The biscuit dough was mixed, the muffins and bars were cooling on the counter, and she was also grinning from ear to ear. Jason was happily watching a tv show and my sweet baby girl could not be more proud that she was given so much responsibility. 
It's hard to believe my kids are growing up. I love that they are slowly transforming into a version of the adults they will be someday.
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Monday, August 31, 2015

We're Expanding Our Home by TWO FEET!

So…we have a big announcement...

WHAT!?!?! I know. We're shocked, too. Even I had come to terms with the fact that we were going to forever be a family of five.

Last week, we officially saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound, so it's suddenly very real. I was on my way to getting back in shape, I had started jogging, I was eating really clean, and now I'm the thinnest I'll be for at least 18 months. (*sigh*)

But the prize at the end is worth it.

I just turned 39 last week. My body was doing such weird things this past year, I actually wondered if I was going through early menopause. No joke!  According to my doctor, I have nothing to worry about, women have perfect, healthy babies well into their early 40s. But my friends are all VERY done having babies, so I may as well be 55…that's how old I feel starting over with a baby and diapers and sleepless nights and infant seats and strollers and diaper bags and…all of it.

The kids could not be more excited. Jason, especially!  He can't wait to be a big brother and has already made two great suggestions if it's a boy: Chester and Darth Vader. Kaylin likes Claire for a girl. She tells me almost every day. They are all loving the week-by-week pregnancy app on my phone. The baby is currently the size of a blueberry…I hear about it all the time.

I've been feeling pretty blah, especially in the afternoons. It's not "we're having a girl" nauseous, I'm really pretty sure this is a boy. I remember crazy sickness and nausea with the hormones that Kaylin brought through my body. Of course, that's just speculation.

This time around is going to be very different. I am in a place of simplicity in my life and I really don't want tons of STUFF. We'll be just fine with a crib, some onesies, and a package of diapers, right?  ;) The big kids are enough entertainment for the kid, so who needs rattles and toys! Because we are completely starting over. I don't have a single thing left after getting rid of it all a couple of years ago.

Expect to hear a lot more from me now that I'm pregnant. Lots of thoughts and experiences that I'll want to document for later.
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Sunday, August 30, 2015

{4 Ingredient} Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

These do not fall under the "clean eating" category, but they are definitely fast, easy, and delicious, not to mention gluten free. 

I found the recipe on Pinterest and Ryan (quite literally) made them 3 minutes later. My pictures aren't nearly as impressive because they were baked by an 11 year old, but do not let these little lumps of goodness fool you. They are fantastic!
4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

1 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup chocolate chips

- Preheat oven to to 350*.

- Combine ingredients in a medium bowl, until dough forms. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar (optional). Flatten slightly with your hand or a fork.

- Bake 6-8 minutes.

- Yields about 3 dozen cookies.
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Decluttering Tip: Only Display Photos That You LOVE

I have a confession: my house still looks like a model home. Since we took it off the market earlier this summer, I dreaded unpacking the boxes of personal pictures, so they sat in the boxes. And sat. And sat. 

I finally unpacked the boxes, but I haven't gone through and re-hung the pictures throughout my house. Part of me wants to trim down the number of photos I display and part of me wants to rethink my decorating strategy altogether. So they are piled up in stacks in my bedroom. It's an eyesore, for sure.
I was thinking the other day about which photos I want to put back out in our home. In our downstairs bathroom, there are two personal pictures. One of them is on a table that I look at every time I do my business. This picture genuinely makes me happy. 

I remember the day we had this photo shoot - Kaylin was struggling to warm up to the photographer, but as soon as we started walking around and swinging Ryan with a "1…2…3", everyone lightened up. My favorite part of this picture is an almost-two year old Kaylin putting her arms in the air too, pretending she was the one flying through the air. I just love this picture. 
Then there's the one above the toilet on a little shelf. I stuck this up there because I needed to fill the space and I do NOT love it. A friend offered to take pictures of my family while the kids all had chicken pox, so she had to use a million filters to make their skin look normal. The kids didn't feel well, so they weren't cooperating that day, and this was the only decent picture we could capture of the three of them together. I felt obligated to display it, at the time, but that was more than four years ago…why is it still out? It just never occurred to me to take it down, I guess.
I am finally ready to get our personal pictures back up on the walls of our home, but I have made the decision to ONLY display the ones that bring me joy every time I see them. If we were to have moved to Dallas, I wouldn't display photos that I didn't love!  So why do that, now that we're staying???
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