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 décor. 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!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Gracelyn: Seven Months


Seven months old means we’ve officially passed the scary six month SIDs mark. Yes, that doesn’t mean I’m letting you sleep on your stomach with a blanket over your face but there’s overall less paranoia.

Sleeping.  All wise parents will tell you that it’s going to better for everyone if you phase out sleep props sooner rather than later. Yes, I know. I KNOW. It’s my second child and I should know better, but Gracelyn is still sleeping in the rock and play. She sleeps better and longer and I’m just not willing to deal with 4 am if I don’t have to. For example, I made the adult decision to put her to bed in her crib last night. She woke up at 5:45 AM. Lance ran into her room and put her in her rock and play and she went back to sleep. We have her nap in her crib but we’re still putting her down at the night in the rock and play. I know. Please stop shaking your head at me. 

I’ve been nursing her before bedtime and then putting her down awake around 7:30 PM. Around this age we phased out Lu’s dream feed but I don’t think little miss is ready. I’m ready to be done with going to bed after 11:15 pm every night, but these are the sacrifices we make! Getting Gracie to finally accept and eat solids has been the key to her sleeping at night.

Eating. We are still sending three, three ounce bottles to daycare. Solid food is going much better this past month. Here are the things in your present diet: pears, applesauce, avocado, bananas, oatmeal, blueberries, yogurt, peas, roasted carrots, and squash. I tried, unsuccessfully, to get you to eat fried rice. You’re Asian! You should love rice! Lance predicted that it wouldn’t go well. We are just doing an evening meal but I’m sure enough we’ll introduce lunch too. Add on another 30 minutes to mealtimes. 

Wearing. 3-6 month clothes. My darling peanut, you have the most adorable chunky baby legs that appear to just be growing sideways and not longer. 

Milestones. Language: you are getting more generous with your smiles and your laughs. Big brother is still the funniest person in the household. You also appear to have found your voice. Sometimes when you nurse you make the oddest grunting noises. You have to lift your voice to be heard over that brother of yours. I don't blame you, I have to lift my voice too!
Social: Selfishly, I think I'm still your favorite. I'm not discouraging it. Object permanence seems to becoming a thing. I used to be able to hand you off with no repercussions but you will occasionally get sad when you don't recognize a mommy or daddy face. You get a lot kisses from everyone. We love your squishy face.

Physical: after much time spent hanging out on your side, you finally rolled over. Both ways! One day it just happened. You had been laying on the floor and then I heard you squawking and lo and behold, you were on your belly! Since then we have to pay attention to make sure you don't roll off of things - case in point, you rolled off the couch under daddy's watch. You love to throw your legs against the changing pad - just like Lu.

Your thumb is your source of comfort. I get mixed reactions from people about it but I'm not going to sweat it. If it makes you happy, great. You don't have much hair yet. At this point Lu had already had two haircuts, so I'm not sure why God does this to little girls and boys. 






Saturday, August 15, 2015

Gracelyn: 6 Months

Six Months – half a year gone already! You are really just a chill little thing. Such a sweetie always watching and seeing what crazy things your brother is up to.

Sleeping. Is there such a thing as a six month sleep regression? Gracelyn your parents are tired, tired, tired. Please stop getting up two times at night. Please? Sleep is so tricky because you don’t nap very well at daycare and 4 out of 5 times you fall asleep in your car seat on the way home. I mean, I don’t blame you – one 50 minute nap wouldn’t cut it for me either. I feel so unaccustomed to this continual sleep deprivation because if you are getting up two times a night, each of us takes a turn. On the weekends you’ll take one good nap during the day, like around two hours. Sometimes I try for the mythical “both kids sleeping so mom gets a nap too.” Like I said, mythical. You seem to have an uncanny knack for knowing when I want to nap. For the most part, you don’t like being put down for naps or to bed at night. You wail and make me feel very, very tired and like I don’t know what I’m doing. But isn’t that being a parent – as feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing? We are half swaddling you. You get very upset if you don’t have your thumb to suck. Is thumb sucking hereditary?

Eating. We are still sending three, three ounce bottles to daycare. You cry quite profusely if your tummy is feeling empty. We started solid foods too, very gradually. Having you as a second child makes me realize there’s not a lot that your brother did that I can count on you doing too. Lu loved eating solids and I think that attributed to his better sleep habits. Gracie, you are so-so on food. I started off giving you avocado. You gave me a look like I was trying to poison you. Homemade applesauce was only marginally better. I proceeded to oatmeal which you promptly drooled out the side of your mouth. #notwinning.  I’ve been trying top you off at your dream feed with a bottle too in hopes of getting you to sleep at night. It’s not working.

Wearing. 3-6 month clothes but some 0-3 month leggings. You have short little legs girly. Similar to your momma. I’m still squeezing you into size 1 diapers. Only two more giant sleeves of size one diapers left. Opps. I sewed my first baby headband for you and made myself a matching scarf. Twinsies!

Milestones. Social: everyone says what a good baby you are. It’s true, unless you aren’t feeling well, you are a happy little baby. You had your first ear infection after battling a cold for weeks. People always tell me “oh ear infections are nothing. But it certainly is something when you have working parents who have to take vacation time to stay home with a sick kiddo. You have the best smiles, especially for brother.

Physical: you don’t appear to be any closer to rolling over. Okay… You love sucking your thumb; it is your main source of comfort. Up until this point you’ve slept primarily, at home, in your rock and play. We’re trying to get you to sleep happily in your crib, but it’s not easy. You have just the sweetest, fuzziest head. Lucan had twice the amount of hair you do at his age. Even for being petite you have adorable leg rolls. Language: bubbles. I’m not sure if it counts for language, but it’s your baby language. Your face is sometimes covered in spit. It’s pretty funny.

Height: 2 ft, 0.5 inches, 2nd percentile
Weight: 14 lb. 12 oz, 16th percentile
Head: 43 cm, 60th percentile

And finally, a poop update! At six months of age, you are starting to get on a better poop cycle. Like every two days! We did have to give you a suppository after we first started solids, but ever since then poop has been better. (I know everyone was dying to know!)



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

When God Answers Prayer


The secret prayer of my heart for the last four years has been for God to provide some way for me to stay home with our kiddos. If you would have asked me in everyday conversation if I wanted to stay home I would have shrugged off an answer and said “sure, maybe. I don’t know.”  I didn’t allow myself to dwell on the possibility because it was just mostly a silent hope. 

It took having our first child for me to have a reality check that our lifestyle did not match the life we wanted to have for our family. But at that point we were too far in to be able to change things. Lance was the only person who really knew that I was no longer finding fulfillment in working full-time. It took major commitment to paying off our debt (minus the house, I always feel compelled to add that so people know we still are paying off our house) to be in a place where I am able to walk away from my 9-5 job. Four years, one major budget overhaul, two children, one bout of unemployment and two jobs later, life is about to take another radical turn. I’m leaving the full-time corporate world and starting my dream job. I’m going to work for Des Moines Moms Blog as the Sponsorship Coordinator and will start the challenge of being a work from home mom. 

Truly, this job is a God-thing. I feel like the phrase “God-thing” can be a cop-out but in this instance it really is a God-thing.  I was approached by Des Moines Moms Blog with this position because I had been on their hearts and minds. I had applied to be a contributing writer and they really only knew me through the blog and a through a mutual friend. The timing was perfect. We had just made the final payment on my student loans and were ready to explore the possibility of me finding part-time work and staying home with the kiddos. I had applied for a part-time job earlier that I thought would have been a good fit too, but it had some aspects that we would have had to figure out. But it wasn’t the job God wanted for me and He didn’t grant it to me. At the time I was disappointed but I accepted this wasn’t where God wanted me. Then this job came along and it truly was God’s hand at work.  I can’t imagine a better fit – being able to write, use my marketing knowledge and spend time with my family. God’s perfect plan.

So we are taking this leap of faith and we are going to see where this is going to go. Both Lance and I are nervous (any new job or big lifestyle change is heart stopping!) but we're hopeful. Hopeful, cautious and thankful. Thankful to be given this opportunity.

 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Top Ten Reasons Why Having a New Baby is AWESOME!



1.       Obviously newborn cuddles. Obviously.
2.       Still a little chubby? No problem, you just had a baby!
3.       Do you need to excuse yourself from a mind-numbing conversation? Sorry, I need to check on my baby now. I think I hear her crying.
4.       Late everywhere? Oh, diaper blowout just as we were leaving …
5.       Need a nap? NO ONE should fault a new mom for needing an afternoon nap.
6.       Compliments about how cute your child is. (I know that vanity is not healthy. But sometimes when everything else in your life is upside down, a stranger’s exclamation over how adorable your daughter is helps)
7.       Husband wonders why supper’s not ready...baby was crying and had to be held!
8.       Stupid, obvious mistake at work? Baby doesn’t sleep. My brain is filled with cotton.
9.       Need to disappear for 45 minutes around 7:30 PM? Just give the excuse that you need to feed the baby, rock them and put them down to sleep. Never mind the fact that it takes approximately 15 minutes to do that. Spend the next half an hour hiding from your spouse. No one opens a closed door when it comes to baby’s bedtime routine.
10.   Rocking the two day old hair? Showering can be somewhat sporadic with a new baby. Haters are only allowed to hate if you are obviously smelly from ten feet away.

Monday, July 6, 2015

How to take 2 hours to eat supper in 31 easy steps



I totally get why my friend Erika can eat her supper in 4 minutes flat. It’s because she has three kids and if she doesn’t eat fast, she’s not going to get to eat. Here are 31 easy steps to take two hours to eat supper:

  1. Be a naturally a slow eater.
  2. Have this weird food thing where you  refuse to eat anything until everything on my plate is exactly how you like it.
  3. Have one child. Automatically tack on an extra 45 minutes.
  4. Cut your child’s food into minuscule pieces otherwise your oldest child will try and take a bite the size of their face.
  5. Blow on their food. It’s too hot.
  6. Eat one bite of your own food. Retrieve sippy cup that was accidentally knocked off the table.
  7. Try and convince your child that kale is delicious! Not poison.
  8. Give your husband a dirty look when he mutters under his breath that kale actually is poison.
  9. Have a second child. Tack on another 45 minutes.
  10. Get your eldest more milk, a glass of water and juice. Because sometimes you’re really thirsty.
  11. Realize that your food has gotten seriously cold.
  12. Reheat it in the microwave for two minutes.
  13. Start feeding your youngest the delicious homemade pear sauce you made for her. Watch her drool it out the side of her mouth.
  14. Hand your eldest child a napkin as he’s spilled all over himself.
  15. Oh! My food’s done reheating, retrieve it from the microwave.
  16. Spoon another bite of pear sauce into your daughter’s mouth. Get excited when it appears like she’s actually eating and enjoying it!
  17. Ack! Your own food is REALLY hot now. Must wait for it to cool.
  18. Sigh when you realize she’s actually just chipmunking it in her cheeks to spit back at you in one momentous blow.
  19. Get up to get your husband’s seconds on the soup. Because everyone eats soup year-round.  
  20. Eat another bite of your own food now that it’s cooled down.
  21. Slice up a pear for your eldest because if you start with fruit, he won’t eat anything else.
  22. Force feed your daughter another bite of pears. Spoon the pear dribble back into her mouth.  
  23. Your son has announced his need to use the restroom. Get up to move the stool so he can wash his hands.
  24. Eat another bite of food.
  25. Mom: 2 Daughter: 1. #winning
  26. Eat another bite of food in relative quiet.
  27. Realize that your son has been gone for a really long time … and go to investigate.  Stop him just in the nick of time from throwing copious amounts of toilet paper in the toilet.
  28. The come to the realization that he has poop EVERYWHERE. Spray him off in the shower as damage control.
  29. Finish his bath. Remember that his sister also needs a bath. Retrieve her and give both of them a bath.
  30. PJs & lotion.
  31. Finish eating your ice cold supper. But consider it a win as both kids are bathed and in pjs by 7:30 PM!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

We’re Still Living in Our Starter Home




We’ve lived in our first home for 9 years today. Weird, I know. We celebrated our first anniversary by closing on our home and moving in. When we bought the house we were 23 years-old, had zero children and big plans for conquering the world. It was our STARTER home. I figured we’d live there five, seven years tops. There was a period of time where we helping handfuls of friends move every year. Many of our friends are in their second or even their third house. Their houses are beautiful. They are spacious, light and airy. They have smart storage options, sturdy beams and large functional kitchens. They have room to spread out and they enjoy it. If I’m brutally honest with myself, I’m more than just a little jealous. For a while this jealously grew in a knot in my stomach. By nature, I love having people over and hosting them over a meal. Hospitality is my spiritual gift. But the size of my living room and kitchen was holding me back from using that God-given gift. My own pride and self-love was crushing God. How’s that for honesty? 

You see, our house is fine. It’s perfectly functional and according to Lance the best feature is that we can afford it. 

Needs versus Want

Yes, I WANT a bigger house with sparkling countertops and storage as far as the eye can see. However, do we NEED a bigger home? Yes and no. With two more occupants added our space; we are definitely feeling a little snug. However it’s nothing that a good purge couldn’t help. (It doesn’t help that I refuse to let go of my old Spanish worksheets from college and Lance won’t get rid of 2007 phonebooks.) I would love a second bathroom (we have 1.5 presently) but we’re doing fine without it.

Our Budget Says Otherwise

In our past aggressive budgeting, our current mortgage payment was exactly what we could afford. We’re still pinching pennies and saving for that next great adventure. There’s freedom in knowing that our mortgage is not going to keep us awake at night with worry.
HomeGoods Store isn’t Tempting
When it comes to home décor, there’s really nothing I need. I hate dusting around knickknacks so I don’t buy them. Our starter home doesn’t have room for any more stuff as it is. (Yes, Lance you can quote me on that)

We Know How Everything Works

All our appliances are original with the house. Lance is the king of fixing things so nothing ever dies. Yes, I will throw a party when I can get rid of the world’s loudest dishwasher and the fridge that mysteriously has a hole in the top. But for now, the dishwasher washes things reasonably well and the fridge keeps everything at the right temperature. 

As always, my budget reflections are not meant to make anyone feel bad about their own lives or choices. If you have a large lovely house, good for you, well done! Your house is perfect (for you)!