Ellis is One!!

Where has the time gone?

This little peanut is one year old TODAY:

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If life goes fast with the first child, it flies with the second!

At one year, Ellis is walking with push toys, standing alone for seconds, has cut four teeth and is adding curls to her hair with each day!

I love this girl so much. She is so dainty and sweet with an undeniably curious side. I catch her doing so many things her brother never would have at this age–dragging toilet paper across the bathroom, trying bugs and slugs (and anything else she can find outside), climbing chairs, couches, and stairs like a pro, and making a beeline to the sound of running bath water. You can find her with her thumb in her mouth at any given moment, and she has the cutest vocabulary of babble.

Though today is the day we mark one year with our Ellis girl, last Saturday morning was when we celebrated. We had family over for a pancake party. The pancakes were yummy, the weather was gorgeous, and the girl was adorable. It was a sweet celebration.

The grub, including strawberries, bananas, chocolate chips, sprinkles, pecans, and coconut toppings.

The grub, including: strawberries, bananas, chocolate chips, sprinkles, pecans, and coconut toppings

The photo collage

The photo collage

The birthday girl seated in her place of honor.

The birthday girl seated in her place of honor

Hanging outside with cousins Lily and Wyatt

Hanging outside with cousins Lily and Wyatt

Watching in wonderas cousin Sierra opens her gifts

Watching in wonder as cousin Sierra opens her gifts for her

Enjoying her new Music Parade

Enjoying her new Music Parade

So proud to push baby in her stoller

So proud to push baby in her stoller

We are grateful God placed us with you, little girl! Happy Birthday!!

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Filed under Ellis Rose, holidays

When Things Don’t Go As Planned (aka Parenthood)

Let me tell you about a trip that didn’t go as planned. I believe this is what they call life.

Last week, our family packed up and headed to Memphis for a few days.

The hubs had a work training there, which meant all of his travel-related expenses work were compensated. And when we realized that my days off coincided with his training days, we thought we could take advantage of an opportunity for a cheap, mini-vacay.

I’d never been to Memphis, so I had fun looking into the free or cheap kid-friendly attractions. I was a little nervous about exploring a city with just myself and my two little ones, but I was getting excited about it. About a week before we were supposed to leave, we learned that his company paired him with a roommate–someone from a branch in Florida. Big bummer. The hotel was our largest expense. So, we debated it and decided we’d still go. I found a good deal on Hotwire.

We got there around 10pm on Monday night. The kids were in pretty good spirits, but a bit over tired seeing as it was hours after bed time. To make a long story short, the crib they promised us (twice) wasn’t available and the girl wouldn’t sleep. So, we packed up and moved hotels after midnight. It was about as much fun as it sounds.

Ellis slept pretty horribly for the majority of the trip. She was cutting a tooth. Our neighbors next door asked if we were the ones with the baby crying all night.

To make matters worse, I developed mastitis on Tuesday (uncommon at this point in the game, I know) and felt like I had the flu. I was definitely questioning if we made the “right” decision in coming.

I share all of this for two reasons. One, this is life with young kids (as every other parent can attest). I knew the trip wouldn’t be easy, but I underestimated how challenging it would be with two little wild cards. Everything is just a little trickier where kids are involved. After talking about it, we realize we need to adjust to the phase we’re in and see this trip as a way to pick up a few tricks for the next time around.

More importantly, though, this trip served as a microcosm of what parenthood is for me: learning to let go and trust Jesus. I’m not in control of my life the way I think I am. I like to stick to the plan and know the path ahead. But, there are so many extenuating circumstances over which I have no control. And in the midst of my stress and fear there is an invitation to be perfectly cared for and walk minute by minute, trusting. I am making progress. I’m not there yet.

Memphis wasn’t all bad. I think Liam had fun. The new hotel was a better location and fit for our time there. The kids slept beautifully the last night we were there. We had some great local food even though we didn’t manage to get to most of the places on my list. It was all provision for what we really needed.

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Pictures include our time at The Memphis Firehouse Museum, Shelby Farms Park, The Memphis Zoo, and some sweet sibling love 😉

 

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Filed under being a parent, faith, personal thoughts, travel

Liam is 3!!

Last week, our son had his 3rd birthday.

Can you say, WHAA?!

It’s hard to believe time can fly so fast. We’re three years into this journey, and he has made such a mark. Life has forever changed because of our sweet kid. He is such a happy, observant, creative Goose. He is a kind and caring big brother. He is so affectionate to each person in his family, loves snuggles (and wrestling, of course), and gives fantastic compliments out of nowhere (he told me this morning that I am his best favorite mom in the world). Liam is super imaginative and can have fun with anything. His language skills have grown in leaps and bounds this year, and it is so fun to listen to his ever-expanding vocabulary. My mother-in-law has commented on how well he conjugates 😉

He is one cool kid, and we are SO proud.

This year, we had a  “3” party. He’s been looking forward to turning three for quite a while (there were a few months when he thought he was 3 instead of  2), so it seemed appropriate and simple.

We had a family get together at our house with food, balloons and streamers, and cake (having friends at the birthdays may enter the equation next year).

Displayed pictures from the previous year

Pictures from his 3rd year of life

Cantaloupe and honey dew cut into 3's with a cookie cutter

Cantaloupe and honey dew cut into 3’s with a cookie cutter

Liam and cousin Sierra playing with his new work bench

Liam and cousin Sierra playing with his new work bench

Exploring with binoculars

Exploring with binoculars

The birthday cake masterpiece! Chocolate bundt cakes with cool whip and chopped peanut butter cups

The birthday cake masterpiece! Chocolate bundt cakes with cool whip and chopped peanut butter cups

Blowing out the candles

Blowing out the candles

His less-than-interested photo op

His less-than-interested photo op expression

The annual kissing cheeks  picture :)

The annual kissing cheeks picture 🙂

Previous birthday kissing pictures can be found here and here.

I let myself get so stressed about not making an awesome, go-all-out party with homemade everything, but at the party he announced it was “the best birthday I ever had”. It was a reminder to me check who I am really throwing these parties for. Cut yourself some slack, Mamas 🙂

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Filed under holidays, Liam Knox

Making Room for More (and Other Secrets for Living in Small Spaces)

Our den has morphed yet again!

I know it seems like we’re changing things in there every other week–and trust me, that is not my personality–but we had an amazing offer come our way, and we just couldn’t pass it up!

A few weeks ago, some friends of ours mentioned that they were getting rid of their couch and matching love seat since they were getting an upgrade. They are really nice and neutral and in great shape, even after years of use.  The best part? They were offering to give them for FREE!

We knew we wanted them (partially as a longer-term investment in seating space) but had to figure out a way to make it work.

Adding furniture to our house means something’s gotta go. So, the desk moved to the dining room and the bookshelf/console in front of the dining room window went to the attic, ready to sell.

DSCN0592Now, the dining room window looks like this:

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photo 5The desk feels a little casual for the space (good thing we have a casual house!), but I really think it was the best option.

Then, we just played furniture Tetris, and here is where everything landed:

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Our house is SMALL (1,200 sq feet), and with two children, it is feeling increasingly so. Just as I described our space challenge in the kids’ room, the same goes for every room in our house.

And that got me thinking that I would share a few tips that I’ve picked up from living in a home with limited space:

1. EVERYTHING must have a place

I think this is one of the most important things for organizing any space. That folding chair, the mug on the counter, the craft supplies…where do they live? The kids get a new toy at Christmas? Make it fit into the room’s plan. Having a place–on purpose–for each thing in your home makes clean up a ton easier (and quicker!), especially if everyone in your house knows where that place is.

2. Purge

Keep the mentality of “spring cleaning” year round. If you live in a small house, this is a necessity. We have small (and few) closets in this old ranch, so we have to make them count. It’s not helpful to have those full of things that I don’t really need.

3. Rethink the current set up often, especially when something new is introduced

Rearrange. Keep things fluid in your set up. This is a newer concept for me. We got a new couch and love seat. So, what was gonna go? Technically, we may have been able to cram an extra sofa in without losing anything in the room, but we like that we still feel like it breathes a little bit.

4. Scale furniture to the size of the room

The longer we live in this house, the harder this is. But, it’s helpful to not have too much or too big of furniture pieces in a small room. A huge armoire overwhelms the space and dwarfs the room. Keep things to scale.

A few examples of space-saving techniques in our house:

store wrapping paper above the door frame in a       closet

store wrapping paper above the door frame in a closet

use a kitchen magnetic knife strip to store bobby pins, safety pins, etc.

use a kitchen magnetic knife strip to store bobby pins, safety pins, etc.

hang command hooks inside closets for bag storage

hang command hooks inside closets for bag storage

add shelves to small bathroom closets to maximize storage

add shelves to small bathroom closets to maximize storage

add dresser to children's bedroom closet when there's no space in the room

add dresser to children’s bedroom closet when there’s no space in the room

Does anyone have contributing ideas? Please share! And happy spring cleaning! 🙂

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Filed under home improvements, personal thoughts

A Family Valentine Affair

{I’m a week late with this post, but I figure I’d still post–both for documenting reasons and to give ideas for those planning Valentine activities a year in advance 😉 }

This year was the first time we included the kiddos in our Valentine’s day plans. I don’t know whether it will become a tradition or not, but it seemed like a good choice given that it can be a difficult night to find a babysitter, most restaurants are booked up with reservations, and Liam’s interest in parties and holidays is piquing.

The beautiful flowers that Daddy and Liam picked out for their girls.

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I tried my hand at some heart-shaped food:

photo 1Homemade pizza with pepperoni cut in little hearts. The boy enjoyed decorating the pizza.

photo 2My heart carrots were pretty successful (using a vegetable peeler) but the hard boiled eggs didn’t quite work (I missed the point about folding the “mold” in half).
photo 4I can tell you that the highlight of someone’s night was heart-shaped Rice Krispy Treats. To be honest, this was Liam’s sole focus and it turned the dinner into a less-than-desirable event. Turns out, toddlers and sugar are not a great recipe!

The best part of the night was the impromptu dance party that followed dinner. For those of you with small kids, let me just tell you that the Raffi Pandora station makes for a fun time. 🙂

I’m not one for crafting all kinds of cutesy things, but I’m learning because it’s exciting to the little ones. All in all, a good first attempt, I think.

 

 

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Filed under being a parent, holidays

Finding Relief from Myself

As I am *mostly* on the other side of a really tough season, I thought I’d share a lesson learned from the challenge of the last year-ish.

I am what you might call introspective.

In my normal state of mind, it’s easy for me to over think things and analyze. I mean it. I think…a lot…about lots of different things. And I believe that is part of what makes me, me. It can have some good to it.

But when I was in the thick of my post-partum depression, it was bad. I would do and do and do all day without time for my precious thoughts. Then, at night, I couldn’t fall asleep- even though I was sleep deprived and physically exhausted- because my mind was making up for lost time. As I’ve shared before, I am also a fixer. I want to find every little thing wrong with me and weed it out (preferably as quickly as possible), which encouraged me to get lost deep in thought. I even started to understand the appeal of drug use as an escape.

It can easily turn into a pretty nasty cycle of dissect, analyze, judge, and criticize some more.

Sometimes I would get in these grooves and just want to shake my head until I could start again with a clean slate. But, I felt it was okay to participate in this cycle because I wanted to be wise. I wanted to be thoughtful about my actions. I wanted to be Christlike. That’s good, right?

Well, I let it get out of control. I was spending way too much time looking at myself.

Psalm 61:2 says, Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I”

I’m realizing that I can pray for God to lift me out of that cycle of me, myself, and I. I can be freed up to look at something else.

It was also around that time that someone in my bible study spoke about Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s “For every look at self, take ten looks at Christ.” I’m challenged by that. I know my life is nothing near those proportions, and I want to experience it.

So, I guess I’ve learned that it’s not up to me to find and fix everything that needs fixing. If I ask Him to search me, He is faithful to do it.

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Filed under faith, personal thoughts

Mud Room Space

As promised, I’m back with the improvements we’ve made to our den by the back door! For Christmas, we received a hat rack and shoe bench we’d been eyeing at IKEA from Jonathan’s parents.

If you’ll remember, here’s how sad our entryway was before:

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Needless to say, it didn’t take long before we were assembling those babies! And here’s how she looks:

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*Note the increasingly permanent set up for our modem and router on Jonathan’s box drum

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DSCN0884I’m so pleased with how it has matured the space. We really thought about making our own coat rack from a pallet, and I’m glad we didn’t. This will be something that will last us (maybe even go with us to our next house).

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One thing is  for sure, this room has come a long way since we moved in 2.5 years ago!

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Filed under DIY projects, home improvements