Sunday, April 19, 2015

Shooting for one post every month

Since I haven't been the best at keeping up with the blog regularly, but I do still use it as a way to share the photos I take with my good camera, I think I'm lowering my own expectations to try to write a new post once a month. I may be able to handle that. And because I'm feeling ambitious, I'm going to do April's today. (It's better to get stuff done earlier rather than later, right? Says she who is ALWAYS late.)

Anyway, April shenanigans included Easter, Winnie's third birthday non-party (no presents, no party hats, just friends and cupcakes), and Jillian's two-month photos (taken twice because I wasn't a fan of the first batch).


So I'll go ahead and confess that we don't do the Easter bunny...or Santa for that matter. We've told our girls they are pretend and while very fun to think about, Easter and Christmas are celebrations about Jesus Christ and not an oversized rabbit with candy or a fat dude giving out presents. But I'm not a complete parental scrooge, so we did do Easter baskets filled with no candy (because you do NOT want to be around Winnie on candy - think crazed wind-up toy that at any moment explodes into tantrum-y screaming) but lots of Easter books (about Christ), art supplies, and puzzles.

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Later, Kevin was so exhausted from the activities that he and Jillian fell asleep on the couch together.

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Next up, Jillian at 2 months old.

Like I said before, I took these twice because the first batch wasn't my favorite. However, I got some candids of Winnie (who always wants her picture taken) and Jillian that crack me up.

This one is nice.

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These next two make me laugh.

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Here's the second attempt:

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And the obligatory "TAKE MY PHOTO NOW TOO, MOMMY!" photo:

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Finally, Winnie's third birthday. We had a non-party at our house. I made cupcakes with pink frosting (because pink is currently her favorite color) and we invited some friends of hers and their parents over to eat the 4 dozen cupcakes I made.

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And there ya have it. Nothing else much is going on in April other than us hanging outside and enjoying the weather (while Kevin works on improving our backyard and making it more kid-friendly).

One more photo just because this photo is such a good representation of Winnie in every day life. A mess. A goofball. Bursting with personality. And love. And one heck of a tantrum thrower.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

She came in like a lion, but once out she's a lamb.

This is probably the face you're making right now due to your shock that I've actually updated my blog.

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I'll do a brief overview of January, February, and March (since March is almost over as it is).

We started January off properly with confetti poppers on New Year's morning. Eden loved them. Winnie thought they were loud.

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February brought us our first visit to Philly with the girls, lots of snow, and our third baby!

We took them to the see the Philly LDS temple being built in the heart of center city. And of course, for ice cream at Franklin's Fountain (my second home in Philly).

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On February 9, our third baby, a little girl (eventually) named Jillian was born in the wee morning hours at home in our basement in a birth pool.

This is our midwife weighing her about an hour after she was born.

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The girls' first time meeting her the next morning:

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Winnie LOVES her baby sister. Wants to hold her constantly. Kisses her all the time. Jillian's the last person she wants to hug right before she goes to sleep each night.

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Eden loves being a big sister and being in charge. She's very helpful. "Mommy, the baby's crying!" is a sentence I hear all the time. She always wants to look at her when her eyes are open. "Are her eyes open, Momma? I want to see if her eyes are open. Look! They're open! They're open!"

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Winnie is quite generous. Case in point:

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That's her thumb. Who needs a pacifier when you can suck on your older sister's thumb? Pre-slobbered and everything.

Sometimes it's tiring being the oldest sister.

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Sleeping babies are great.

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Then a week after Jillian was born, we started having family visitors for three weeks straight.

Here are all the grandchildren of Kevin's parents. I have provided all the grandchildren for my parents.

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And finally here is Jillian at one month old. Today she's already almost 7 weeks old. I'm going to try to take monthly photos like I kind of did with Winnie. Who knows if I'll actually follow through?

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Taking posing suggestions from her helpful older sisters:

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Jillian is a great baby. Sleeps lots. Eats lots. Grows lots. Doesn't cry lots. Toots lots. We love her.

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Friday, January 02, 2015

So glad it's not 2014 anymore

So I know it's always nice to start a new year off fresh and look forward to all things that can change or improve. And yes, I am definitely looking forward to that. But really I'm just glad 2014 is over. It wasn't a bad year. Just really stressful. So I'm embracing 2015 with more gusto than usual because I KNOW this year will be better than last year.

In the interest of proving that 2014 wasn't completely stressful, here's a recap of the last two weeks of the year.

Kevin and I celebrated our 9th anniversary together in Philadelphia. If you follow my Instagram feed, you will know that all we did was eat. It was awesome. We basically looked for things to do to keep us busy in between eating every two hours. Best vacation ever.

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Reading Terminal Market was cool.

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There was an Amish donut/bakery place inside that had a gazillion donuts. They were quite tasty.

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We watched the giant Christmas tree and light show in Macy's and heard the world's largest organ play.

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And we ate. And ate some more. Every vacation should be this tasty.

For Christmas we stayed at home and enjoyed being together as a family.

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We tried a new idea this year where Kevin and I only exchanged stockings with a $25 limit on the contents and the girls both got four gifts and a stocking. It was one of the least stressful Christmas present years ever. Definitely doing this again.

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Eden got some games, a car pillow, sprinkles (yes, sprinkles - they were her favorite gift) and shaving cream to play with the in bathtub.

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Winnie got shaving cream, bubble bath, colored candy dots (those ended up being her favorite), a new backpack for church (which I sewed on Christmas Eve - nothing like last minute prep), and a puzzle.

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Later that day, the sister missionaries from our church came over to use our computer to talk with their families. When the sister "mishies" come over, it's like a holiday for the girls.

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Then last weekend we met up with Kevin's brother Pat and his family, who live near Pittsburgh, at Hershey Park and hung out there for the day. The girls had a blast hanging out with their older cousin, Emma, who is 6.

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And so that was our 2014. Oh, except for our white elephant party we had on Dec. 31. That was fun, too. No children were there. It was awesome.

Here's to a fantastic 2015 - and a quick, easy, healthy last month of pregnancy!

Friday, December 05, 2014

Christmas blessings

Time just a-flies by. It's already December and time for 2015 to come roaring in. And only a month after 2015 starts, we'll have number five join our family. I can't believe that's only about 9 weeks away.


In an effort to curb my own ugly bah-hum-bugginess that has been festering all summer and fall, I've tried really hard to bring the Spirit back into our house. With a 90% completed kitchen and no more giant house projects looming over our heads, we have been able to resume normal-ish daily life and my heart bursts with joy over that simple fact.

I've started (a very relaxed effort at) homeschooling Eden, since I know I will be pulling her out of preschool in January because I know my motivation for gathering three children, including an infant, into a car that is surrounded by snow and blustery temperatures will be nonexistent. So we've started doing our own math and reading and handwriting curriculum. She seems to enjoy it. I do most of the time. I'm excited to keep going with it and we'll see how committed I am at the end of the school year.

For Christmas this year, we are doing the Elf on the Shelf thing, BUT I hated how last year it was so focused on Santa and presents. I want my children to understand why we celebrate Christmas and not to hurriedly embrace the materialism and "Santa-centered-ness" that is the social norm. But the elf is fun! So Kevin and I decided to make Dorothy (our elf, named about Elmo's pet fish) a service elf who brings ideas for daily service and reports to God through prayer each night about how well the girls did with their service activity for that day.

In an effort to keep myself accountable to this activity, I was thinking about writing a post every few days about our activities and how they go over, successes or failures that they may turn out to be. Then I wanted to share some of the daily blessings we have received because of our efforts. This won't be daily, but I do want to share because it is very important to Share the Gift during this time of year.

We started on December 2 (hey, I'm nothing if not consistently tardy).
Service activity #1: Buy a CVS gift card and give it to a random person in the store.
This was relatively simple except that I was trying to coupon and buy a bunch of stuff for another service activity later so my hands were kind of full. Eden paid the cashier and Winnie chose the person to give the card to. The lady was holding a dog and had no clue what was happening. But we just said Merry Christmas and left. I included a Christmas card that basically said "Enjoy this random act of kindness and pass it on."

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(Girls with the CVS receipt and Dorothy's instructions for the next activity)

Service activity #2: Donate supplies needed by the library.
This was easy. I just gathered the art supplies they were requesting and dropped them off. The girls were too excited to be at the library and play with the books that they had no clue I dropped off the donation.

Service activity #3: Bake goodies for people at Daddy's work.
Well, yesterday our gas was shut off for 12 hours so we had to delay this one until today. But the girls helped make the goodie (pretzel toffee) and then we went to his work and we all walked around delivering the treats to people at their desks. Eden had a blast as the delivery person. I think this activity was the best one so far because the girls were the most involved and understood what they were doing.

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(On our way to deliver goodies to Daddy's work)

Service activity #4: Donate old blankets and linens to a pet shelter.
We haven't done this yet because we are a day behind and did the previous activity today. But we will probably double up tomorrow or the next day.

I've found that these have been small but I have noticed their presence more and more.
*I've had three nights of no acid reflux, thus much better sleep, compared to the previous month.
*Mornings have gone more smoothly and the girls have been in good moods.
*I received a sizable refund from a purchase I made back in April from a company I didn't think I'd get the refund from.
*I got to talk with a friend for an hour on the phone that really lifted my spirits and made me feel so much better about life.
*The girls have done their morning and evening routines every single day this week without missing anything.
*Even with the gas off all day yesterday (meaning no heat or cooking anything in the oven or stove), we had a great day. Normally this type of inconvenience would annoy me and put me in a funk.

There have been other small blessings, but these are the ones I remember today. I truly believe blessing others with service brings blessings back into one's own life. So here's to hoping the motivation to keep serving keeps coming and we can keep the true meaning of Christmas in the front of our minds.