Friday, November 13, 2015

Posts from Des Moines Moms Blog

Hi friends!

I hope you are following me over at Des Moines Moms Blog and supporting me as the Sponsorship Coordinator. I have two posts over there this week that I'm very proud of - starting a freezer meal group and my perspective of adoption as an adoptee. Two very different sides of the coin, but that's me - multifaceted!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

31 Things in October

31 Things I'm Grateful for in October

This month, by far, has to have been the easiest months to list things I have been thankful for!

1. The privilege and absolute delight of attending City Moms Blog Network's Sister Site Conference in Dallas. Not only was I kid free, the conference all spoke to all of my love languages: cool free stuff, awesome food but quality time with quality people. It was fantastic and one of the highlights of 2015.

2. Family helpers. My MIL came and helped with the kiddos the 2.5 days I was gone and my parents came and helped later in the month so Lance and I could go to another ISU football game.
3. Cooler fall temps.
4. Leaf walks with the kiddos.

5. Lucan got really good reports at his preschool parent-teacher conferences. His teacher is really sweet and like a fun grandma-type of lady. You can really tell she loves each of her students.
6. Pregnancy announcements in the form of answered prayers.
7. Glittery leaf decorations from Target.
8. Honeycrisp apples.
9. Seeing baby Gracie start to feed herself. Another question I'll be able to check off her well-child visit.

10. Apple crisp.
11. Watching my favorite trees turn red and orange.
12. Sleeping in.
13. Discovering the Jamie Ivey podcast. If you like girl talk, books and hearing about your favorite bloggers, this podcast is for you. I'm looking at you Andrea C. and Ally V.I.
14. Precious babies being born.
15. The book of Joshua. I'm in a Tuesday morning Bible study and while it's not exactly what I expected, it's exactly what I need. God has a way of working like that.
16. Wednesdays with friends. Wednesdays is no-preschool day so I'm always making a point to do something with a friend. It's good, but busy.

17. Trunk or treat.
18. Adorable kids in their adorable costumes. Mine included.

19. Reeses Peanut Butter pumpkins. Not the orange/white chocolate ones. Those are gross imposters.
20. Having family photos done. While it's always slightly stressful, it's always worth the stress for the memories captured.
21. Pumpkin sugar cookies. Not the best use of my precious nap time minutes, but delicious.
22. Having the wisdom of being the second-time mom. First-time mom Kara is slightly appalled at the things she's letting her second born get away with.
23. Discovering that I can reserve specific magazines (HGTV November 2015) at the library.
24. Hearing Lucan pray, unprompted and on his own before lunch.
25. Krispie Kream doughnuts.
26. WINNING a LilyJade bag.
27. Tailgating with friends.
28. Graphic tees
29. Keurig coffee. Best $50 I spent on maternity leave.
30. Good books.
31. Grace and forgiveness.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Gracelyn: 10 Month Update

As Dr. Gina pointed out, I'm behind in my updates. So as a nod to accountability, here goes Gracie's 10 month update (note: Gracie was 10 months old as of Oct 1).

10 months is a good age. Gracie is mobile as she's now crawling forwards and backwards. I'm not sure if there's anything cuter than seeing a wee one wiggle her little butt as she's crawling happily towards you. It's just really precious to see someone so happy to see you - happy enough to get where they are going on their own accord!

Sleeping: Same as 9 months - two naps and to bed around 7:30 PM every night. If we push it much past 8ish, it can be dicey. Lance hates that you are a belly sleeper. Ever since you learned to roll-over, it's been belly sleeping all the way. Halo's mantra of "back is best" is clearly not being observed in our household. Your bedtime ritual is thumb in mouth and clinging onto the ribbon blanket I once upon a time sewed for Lucan. He never took to it, so it's yours! Now that you aren't at daycare your naps are sooo much better. You are never going to be a rockstar napper like your brother, but since you were once only napping a total of 45 minutes total, I'll take it. You will even go down for a nap in the pack and plays at church nursery which is awesome-sauce. Your morning awake time varies from day to day - sometimes 6 AM (yuck) and sometimes as late at 8 AM. 

Eating: Sometimes I try and give you chunkier food then you prefer. And you let me know that you aren't a fan by fake coughing and choking. You are getting marginally better at feeding yourself. Marginally. You will occasionally stuff a puff in your mouth. I tried to feed you a dried apple. You choked and sputtered all over with that one. Still nursing, but that's dialing down. If I can figure out how to get you to take a sippy cup, we'll wean around one year. You eat just about anything pureed - applesauce, pears, peaches, prunes, carrots, peas, beans, squash, sweet potatoes, yogurt, bananas, smashed avocado. I gave you sliced strawberries. You must have thought they were poison so Lu ate them. 

Wearing: 9 month clothing and some 6 month stuff still. At some point I thought that it would a super idea to buy 4000 size two diapers on sale. You could probably be sized up to size three diapers, but because we have an entire box and one sleeve left of size two diapers we'll be stuffing you into them until the end. It's a rookie mistake and I should know better. 

Playtime: there aren't many toys in the house that weren't first Lucan's. But at your age, no one really cares about what "toys" really constitute. You spend a lot of time taking some brightly painted wooden numbers that belong to a Melissa and Doug clock in and out of a christmas tin. You also like to knock down Lucan's legos, magnatiles and blocks which really irritates him. Shredding paper is fun too so we have to be careful about what's left on the floor otherwise one of Lu's treasures gets destroyed.

Teeth: two on the bottom! This was a big deal. You are a pretty good teether, so I have nothing to complain about. 

Social: So serious. You are watchful and take everything in when we are out and about. Your family is your favorite. If I have to leave you are okay with dad, but if both of us are gone you get sad for a moment or two. If I leave the room or walk by you without picking you up, you whine until I do pick you up. It makes getting supper made really challenging. 

Physical: crawling like a champ. You like to touch things and really examine them. Especially my jewelry. You are pretty quiet overall, but you do a thing we all refer to as "the Gracie Growler" where you have this guttural sound you make which is pretty funny coming out a petite thing like you. You move things from hand to hand and are able to do pincher fingers to pick something up. But still not feeding yourself. You expect someone to put the food in your mouth for you. 

Nicknames: Gracie, Gracie Beth, Gracie Lu, Gracie Girl. A gal that I met from Louisiana commented that Gracie Beth is a very southern name. I like it. I think being southern is the equivalent to being a lady :)

The serious face.

Lucan doesn't get monthly updates so he doesn't really understand why I'm not taking pictures of him. I let him get in on the action at the end. It was homecoming and superhero day, hence the outfit and mask. 

Dressed in her ISU gear for the game against Iowa. ISU lost. There's always next year. 

Dressed in brother's hand me down jammies and playing with his dump truck.

A chinful of drool due to teething. 

It's not often she falls asleep on one of us, so we take the snuggles when we can get them.

Molly's babe, Hannah. Isn't she a cutie?

This is Lance's cousin Sarah. I think that Gracie was confused by the woman who looked sort of like her mom, but was clearly not her MOM. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Budget Changes & a Miss Money Bags Cash Wallet Review

Realistically, a budget is a flexible, ever-changing beast. Much like a toddler :) Now that I'm working from home and not in your typical 8-5 job, our budget has evolved too.

If I'm being honest, when I was working outside the home, I had a tendency to "treat" myself to a breakfast sandwich (because it was $1.65 for a bacon, egg and cheese on a biscuit) or to a cup of soup during lunch because I deserved it. Having an in-house cafeteria at work was kind of my kryptonite.

Now that I'm home, our budget has shifted. We no longer have the daycare expense (hello - second mortgage) but I don't have my weekly income either. My in-house cafeteria is MY KITCHEN. Meaning if I want something, I'm the one buying the food and cooking it. Trust me, breakfast sandwiches are less alluring when you have to make them yourself.

Because I don't have regular workplace chatter about upcoming trips or weekend plans, I'm hearing less about the cool things other people are doing. Honestly, that's a pro and con to being a home. I miss the slightly inane workplace aisle chatter. I'm less connected to all the cool things going on outside of my inner circle. I'm missing out on things but much of the time I don't even know it.

And because I'm subsisting on a steady stream of tee shirts and target shorts, my fashion IQ has also decreased. I've tried to implement a fall capsule wardrobe but I really am not digging it. Said fall capsule wardrobe is squashing my inner creative shopping fun. That's a post for another day. But online shopping is always tempting as well as building up my graphic tee collection. Because I can legitimately wear cute graphic tees everyday and no one thinks it's inappropriate for a work from home mom.

But our household food consumption is up overall because I've become consciously aware of the fact that if I don't buy fruit and vegetables, Lucan won't be eating any. Yesterday I also bought him animal crackers because he "really, really needed them." Yet once we got home, the box went unopened in our overflowing pantry.

K-cup budget is up too. I need coffee. And creamer. I could tell you I miss work coffee but that's a big fat lie.

Weirdly, hand soap expense is up too. What is it about preschoolers and their incessant need for at least 3 pumps of soap? And like I've previously mentioned I've become a paper product nazi. Lu is only allowed one napkin per day, maybe two if we're having soup. I make him put his tissue in his pocket if I feel like there's room for more snot in it.

We eat a chick-fil-a a lot more. Mostly because they have a play area and I have lots of coupons. But overall I eat out less per week because eating out means that I'm taking Lucan out to eat too #nothankyou

And there's less Target wandering too because between dropping Lu off for preschool and trying eke out a morning nap, there's just no time for that.

Our healthcare expenses have evolved too now that Lance is carrying all of us on his plan. Yikes, insurance is not cheap. We're also trying to plan for taxes better too since I'm considered an independent contractor and don't have taxes being pulled out ahead of time. Lance is happy that the Traverse has gotten to stay parked in our garage too as he's been driving the LHS back and forth to work. That car never dies.

This month has been an expense doozie: we had to pay to have our furnace/air conditioner serviced (because overly hot Kara is a crabby Kara and as I've reminded Lance "happy wife, happy life") and now we need to replace a car tire (not my fault, first time ever!) Last month I convinced Lance to spring for an expensive tri-membership (Blank Park Zoo, Science Center, Living History Farms) so that was an expense too. Life is just full of expenses.

We are still doing a cash budget because it's good accountability. I'm loving the handmade, colorful cash envelope wallet from Becky at Miss Money Bags.

Love the bright happy colors which makes parting with my money so much easier (lie).

Miss MoneyBags 1

The large wooden button is really nice too. It's kind of a statement piece. 

And while it might be hard to see from my photos, the fabrics have gold threads interspersed through them. Super pretty.

Best of all it's functional and so much more practical then using ACTUAL paper envelopes. That just begs for me to lose them. It would be really hard to lose this handy cash wallet. Becky thought of everything here - there's slots for credit cards/business cards/ IDs as well as a zippered pouch for change. It's a one-stop cash wallet shop!

Sturdy and colorful. Each "envelope" has a spot to label which category you are spending out of. I highly suggest that if you are looking for a different way to store your hard-earned cash, you check out Becky's Miss Money Bags etsy store. So great! You can also connect with Becky on Instagram too!

I received my cash envelope in exchange for my review. Opinions are all my own. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Gracelyn: 9 Month Update

A cuter baby never lived - said every mom. I know I felt the same way about Lucan, but I really do believe that my kids are exceptionally cute. Of course, I'm exceptionally biased. I know that if I only comment about how adorable Gracie is, I'll give her some sort of feminist complex about a woman's value only being in her appearance, but for now I'm going to go with it. My baby is adorable. 

Sleeping: Two naps and to bed around 7:30 PM every night. Naps can be a little sketchy, especially the morning nap because I try not to let our lives be dictated around nap schedules. Because we have a set "routine" on preschool mornings (Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri), I have to make sure that you sweet sister are up by 7:40ish to nurse and be out the door no later than 7:58 AM. As a result, most mornings you are ready for a nap by 9:30ish. This translates to a couple of errands in the morning before a quick nap, another nursing session and then back in the car to pick up Lu from preschool. Afternoon nap tends to be a bit longer, which is great because it ensures me some time to get a few things done while I pray for the golden unicorn - "two kids napping at the same time."

Eating: I'm still getting you up around 10:30PM to nurse once more even though month after month I say that I'm going to stop. Each grandma asks about that too. I know. But it's hard to feel like I should drop a nursing session when you are such a tiny peanut still!
We nurse around 5 times a day. Solid food is your friend. At 8 months we implemented a schedule of prunes every other day and it has greatly improved your digestive system. We typically feed you 6 ounces of food at lunch and anywhere between 6-8 ounces for supper again. I've done a mix of store bought food and homemade baby food, really whatever I have time for.
You aren't interested in feeding yourself. Period. I'm sure that some would say you are "lazy" but I'm just going to accept it and be fine. You'll feed yourself at some point. There is no baby-led weaning in this house.

Wearing: 9 month clothing and some 6 month stuff still. Baby girl has short legs so they don't seem to be outgrowing pants all the fast.

Milestones: No 9 month shots! Wohoo! But you do babble and you are starting to pivot, roll and do what we affectionately call the "butt wiggle." The butt wiggle entails you getting up on all fours and trying to unsuccessfully crawl. People ask me if you are starting to walk and I very promptly tell them NO! You are barely crawling. You also scoot - but only backwards. If that counts, then yes, you are crawling. When I change your diaper, you delight in being diaperless. You throw your legs into the air and kick, kick, kick. Lucan spazs out when you roll around on your changing pad and he thinks you are going to fall off. Thumb sucking seems to be dissipating a bit. I like to think it's because I'm there for you and as a result, you don't have to self-soothe as much because you aren't at daycare. This could be wishful thinking, but I'm going with it. You very much love your tag blanket I made for Lu - it's your lovie.

Social: Some mom anxiety. I've started dropping you off at the nursery for Bible Study and surprisingly, you do very well. You spend a lot of time looking at the other babies and being very watchful and observant. I just think that might be your personality. You are quite ticklish so if someone does fish nibbles on your back or anywhere really, you giggle madly. Baby giggles are simply the best. They really are.

Physical: Your peach-fuzz hair is growing longer. Not really thicker, I'm being truthful with myself, but definitely longer. I can really tell this around your ears after I've taken one of your headbands off. It's all flat and wonky.
No teeth.

Height: 2 ft, 2.25 inches (6th% percentile)
Weight: 16 lb, 1 oz. (14th% percentile)
Head: 44 cm (51st% percentile)

Fascinated by her Bannor Toys Tree Rattle. 

Standard solemn expression.

Little smiles :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

True Confessions from a Work from Home Mom

1. Holy crap, I'm exhausted. This is way harder then sitting in my cube.
2. My employer is demanding and mouthy. Apparently they didn't get the memo that I'm entitled to a peaceful lunch break in which they have to leave me alone.
3. My house is totally destroyed. Like seriously messier than it's ever been. NO ONE warned me that being home meant that my house was going to be infinitely messier because we would be home making messes all of the time.  
4. I'm famished and thirsty. There is no time for silly things like food and hydration.
5. I had to negotiate with Lucan in order to be able to watch 30 minutes of tv that is NOT PBS kids. (I think there might be power issues here)
6. Somewhere I became the paper product nazi. "Lucan you can't have another napkin. One per meal." "Nope, you aren't done with that Kleenex. Put it in your pocket and use it again later." "This is how you properly use toilet paper to wipe your butt." (Good gravy. It sounds just as ridiculous typing it here as it does when I listen to myself saying it.)
7. I get nothing done. Really. I know that Lance has these expectations (and I had the same expectations) that laundry would be done and put away on a regular basis and that our bathrooms would be cleaned more frequently too. I get it, I would think these things would happen too. But if I work on cleaning the house, my actual DMMB (Des Moines Moms Blog) work doesn't get touched. If I work on work stuff, the house implodes. It would probably help if Gracie would nap for longer then an hour.
8. Sometimes I just need a little time for me. But inevitably I feel bad that I'm not cleaning or doing work. I need a lesson in balance.
9. People think that I'm a stay-at-home-mom now. Not so. Somewhere during the day I have to get work done. Except now I have no daycare or quiet time to get my work actually done.
10. Lance comes home, takes one look around and asks me if I had a nice nap. It takes everything in me not to want to hit him.

Lest I sound ungrateful (because I know that I sound ungrateful) I am completely thankful for the opportunity to work from home part-time and be there during the day with my children. I know that positions like this are golden unicorns and only come through fervent prayer and luck. I have the nicest and most understanding employers. But this is a reality check that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence. In actuality, the grass is more like spray painted astro-turf that was used to cover up the decidedly dead grass underneath. I digress.

This is the job that I've prayed for for four years. But just like anything you hope for, it's never all it's cracked up to be.

Friday, September 11, 2015

8 Month Update - Gracelyn

Eight months old means you are right in the midst of my favorite age - you have (somewhat) of a schedule and you are sleeping more but you don't move much and aren't too vocal about your opinions of life :) I'm savoring it here folks!

Sleeping.  We are still doing a dream feed around 10:30 or so and then you'll sleep through the night until 7 AM or so. We've got to cut this dream feed out, but kay-sa-rah-sa-rah. August was my first full month of being home so we worked on improving naps. At daycare you were napping a total of like an hour a day, which is completely unacceptable for this mom who works from home and depends on a little quiet time each day to get things done! We're slowly improving but it's taking time. We try and squeeze in a morning nap if we aren't out and about and then an afternoon nap around the same time as Lu. The "both kids napping" is like the mythical unicorn. You know it's out there, but it's almost impossible to find. There were several times we'd be coming home from a busy morning out and Gracie would fall asleep in the car for 10 minutes and then refuse to nap at home. Life was NOT okay. We're averaging about 2 -3 hours of naps a day. Sister does not nap like her brother who still will pass out for 2 hours in the afternoon. Someone missed the sleep memo. 

Eating. Little Miss is eating solid foods at lunch and at supper. She really likes her purees and will pretend to cough and choke on the foods that she doesn't. Such a faker. I'm nursing her about 4-5 times a day. 

Wearing. Upgraded to some 6-9 month clothing. It's about time. Sister has some cute thigh rolls. Thigh rolls are only acceptable at this age. Not adult age.

Milestones. Language: You like to chat and let us know when things are not all right with the world. For example, you seriously lift your voice when you've decided nap time is over. I try and let you sit a bit in your crib to ensure that nap time is indeed over (very wishful thinking) but you start hollering like 50 seconds after nap is done. So much so that I have to run into your room for fear that you're going to wake Lu up. It's a good thing he sleeps well because YOU are a sleep goddess. You like to say "da da da da." Where's "ma ma ma ma" ? Lots of bubble blowing.

Social: I'm your favorite. I'm just going to say it. Lance always says you perk up and start to look around when you hear my voice but don't see my face. You get a lot kisses from everyone because of those big brown eyes. When we went to the State Fair people exclaimed over you a lot. Not that I blame them, I would too. 

Physical: rolling like a homie. Getting up on all fours and doing a lot of butt wiggles. No forwards crawling, but pivoting and getting stuck in corners. Soon enough. You are kind of a wuss. If you even slightly get bumped on something, you wail. 

No teeth. 

Lots of jumping in the bouncer. She is LOUD and loves it.

Sis is still lacking in the hair department. Her baby fuzz is growing out, slowly but surely. She's rockin the headbands though!

Sleeping ballerina.

Serious face.

A little teeny tiny grin :)

8 Months on August 1, 2015!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ways I've Ruined my Children

Everyday I think that I’ve ruined my child.

I don’t think there is any job that comes with more self-doubt or criticism then being a mom. With the exception of being the POTUS (President of the United States – Lance asked me what that meant so it occurred to me that it’s not just a standard acronym that everyone knows) or some other world leader, I don’t think there is a job that has more of a personal stake.

Today’s self-doubt? My oldest is four and has yet to participate in any organized sport or some sort of musical endeavor. I have friends whose children have been dribbling soccer balls as long as they have been walking. Clearly my child will suffer the social repercussions of not participating in a group sport at the age of four.

I am not doing baby-led weaning in any form. I make purees for my little and thought I was finally doing something right because I was making food for her. Now I’m fairly convinced that she’ll never feed herself or eat “real” food.

We don’t always brush my eldest’s teeth in the morning. I just don’t have the time. Yes, I know.

He also knows the order of the PBS kid show lineup.

Just the other day he asked me when he is going to get to take swim lessons. Crap.

I can’t bear to her my daughter cry, so every time she cries, I pick her up. Yep, I’ve ruined her.

Lucan told me last time at Chick-fil-A that we eat there a lot. To his point, we did eat there twice that week.

He also told me tonight that “supper smelled funky.” To his point, yes, fish sauce does smell a bit. He also likes my MIL’s cooking better than my own. This is probably due to the fact that she doesn’t hide zucchini in her spaghetti sauce.

I fall more on the path of helicopter parent than free-range parent. If you read enough articles, helicopter parenting with MOST DEFINITELY ruin a child. Looking at who I am with baby #2, I acknowledge that I’m definitely more relaxed this time around but by no means am I a chill mom. Yes, I worry that my hovering will ruin both of them but it outweighs my fear of them being taken out of my backyard while I’m not watching.

My point is that motherhood is hard. There’s no instruction manual. There are more moments I care to admit that I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m second guessing myself. The only thing I can do is follow my instincts and ask everyday for God to cover all the mistakes I’m making with His grace.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lucan's 4th Birthday - Construction Party!

Themed parties are fun. To date, we've had: a crabby party, a Hungry Caterpillar party, a milk and cookies party and now a construction equipment party. Yes, they're work but because we don't do much throughout the year I don't feel bad about throwing Lucan a cute birthday party. Besides, you only have one birthday a year and you deserve to be celebrated!
Thanks to my friend Molly, this was by far the easiest party I've thrown for Lu so far. She gave me the digital printable files and lent me the construction tape wreath and signs. I utilized Lu's construction toys as decorations and did a party first for me: tackled the cake instead of buying one. I priced themed cakes and just had a hard time justifying spending $50+ on one. My momma threw me a bone and baked the cakes for me and then I (along with Lance who I proceeded to tell he was doing everything WRONG) decorated the cake the night before.
I also had party bags for all of the kiddos which contained a swirly straw, silly string and some other little party favors. But it appears I forgot to take a picture of that!

This will probably be the last time we have the main birthday party at my parents' house. I imagine Lu will want to have a friends' party at some point and we'll have to have that in Des Moines. It's been nice having them at my folks' house because then I don't have to clean!
Molly's caution tape wreath. Lu told me "mommy what a pretty spring wreath!"

Dirt and Worms. Because if you are having a construction party and will be digging, of course you'll encounter dirt and worms!

I placed Lu's construction toys randomly around to be used as d├ęcor. No heavy lifting on my part :)

Molly's "Happy Birthday" sign. Again, thank goodness for Molly.

My mom was a bargain shopper and found plates, hats, napkins and party blowers on clearance for me at Wal-Mart. Yay mom!

This cake was a hot chocolately mess. But because it was a "dump" cake that was okay. We layered chocolate cake with LOTS of chocolate frosting and added crushed oreos as dirt pieces and cut up snickers and mini kit kats as bricks. We also used malt balls as rocks. The finishing touch were the mini construction diggers we placed on to complete our construction site.

Lots of chocolate.

Construction bears AKA teddy grams.

I cleaned out Lu's dump truck and poured chex mix into it to act like it was dumping it into the bowl.

I called the chex mix "nuts and bolts." There were ZERO nuts in it. Details.

Molly's signs.

Singing happy birthday and eyeing the lit candles.

Successful blowing of the candles.

My mom also found a construction table cloth for the present table.

Lu loves Paw Patrol. I think if I would have left it up to him, his party theme would have been Paw Patrol themed.

Happy birthday buddy!

We are lucky to celebrate Lu's birthday every year and make it special for him!