Giving Myself Grace

23 04 2015

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now. I’m at a point in my life where I have to realize that I can’t do it all. As much as I would love to feel like I’ve done my best work on everything I’m expected to do, I know that I can no longer hold myself to the standard I set for myself before I had kids-plural. Back when I had more flexibililty to take care of my pets, train to run a marathon, scrapbook, call people, and make handmade cards for every occasion. Handmade cards. I can’t even imagine.

I feel like I’m always running late these days. There are so many variables that could go wrong in the mornings that even if I think we’re on time, the baby needs a last-minute extra nursing session and then spits it up all over me just as we’re taking our 5th load out to the car before 7 AM. Julie nailed it this week with her post. Oh and then there’s this. YES.

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We have so many unfinished projects around the house. I have stuff I’ve bought that is still in the original packaging and sometimes it doesn’t even make it out of the Target bag. This has been my half-bathroom for days:

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And we’ve had the pallets for this nursery project in our YARD since before the baby was born. They’re still there. He is almost 7 months old.

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I have visions of a beautiful homemade farmhouse table. And homemade growth chart rulers. Projects that will have to wait until summer. Until then, I’ll stare at the hundreds of crumbs wedged between the inlaid glass and bamboo of our current dining room table that drive me CRAZY and just relish in the company around the table, my cozy family. They really are the best.

The pile of clothes in my closet that needs to be hand-washed drives me crazy. But I ran out of Woolite and who remembers to pick up Woolite??

I’d love to plant a(n edible) garden full of rich tomatoes and basil, but at this point, I’m finding grace in the tiny sunflower my son planted at school and brought home to me. As long as I’m remembering to wash my hands at the sink, I know it’s getting watered. That’s about all I can muster.

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My memory is terrible these days. It’s true. If I don’t write it down, consider it gone. I usually forget something at home, usually some part of my Medela pump – the ice pack, the bottles, even the SHIELDS the other day. The baby’s wet bag. This week I ate my salad with a spoon because that’s what I packed instead of a fork. I’m losing my mind. Blame nursing. A couple days ago I left our doggie bag of YUMMY EXPENSIVE leftovers in my car overnight. Perfectly good meal – into the trash. Just a smelly car to show for it.

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Recently I’ve been co-hosting a few family bridal showers, which I love doing; they’re right up my alley. Then I remember I don’t have the kind of time I’d like to devote to them because of my typical day. And then I’m called-out because I relied on Pinterest as a shortcut to creativity. But whatever, because I’ve learned that even when I use my own ideas, people will assume they came from Pinterest anyway. SHAKE IT OFF.

Sometimes I remember at 10:30 Sunday night that I need to write a preschool lesson for Monday morning and I HAVE to come crawling back to Pinterest. Or rob Peter to pay Paul – use part of next week’s lesson tomorrow.

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(I really do love Pinterest.)

Making the same recipe over and over for different events. How many times have we made Peanut Butter Fingers this season?

Let’s not even talk about marathon training. Lately, exercise consists of walking laps around the cafeteria during my 40 minutes of lunch duty. No, seriously. It’s dizzying.

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We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. I’ve tried hard not only to give myself grace, but also others. Like when my employer accidentally docked FIFTEEN extra days off my sick leave than they should have after my maternity leave. (PLUS docked my pay for them.) Oops! I showed them so much grace in the process of getting it corrected. Or when daycare left the baby’s lunch out all afternoon instead of refrigerating it. GRACE.

And 30 years of perfect dental history (minus 4 wisdom teeth out) shot after my 3rd pregnancy robbed me of my enamel and cost me 4 cavities in 6 months. Grace.

And Wednesdays, when I can’t possibly squeeze in an afternoon pumping session, and the empty bottles I bring home make me cry because I know I’ll have to dip into my precious freezer stash to get by for Thursday. Grace.

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See those shopping bags on the floor? Grace. A child who’s long-since outgrown his Rock n Play, but we haven’t made the switch to the crib yet, despite the pediatrician’s best pleads. Grace. A toddler who stumbles into our bed around 4 each morning after a solid night in his own bed and we don’t send him back – grace. IMG_2691

But then my little one wakes up from his first night in the Pack n Play and whimpers, and with a few touches of my palm to his back and warm kisses against his neck, he settles back down for a few seconds. They get my best, and that’s the best I can give.

I lean on my husband so much more these days, even though I know his plate is already busting at the seams. He gets up around 4 AM to start his day with a run and never slows til the kids are bathed, bottles washed, lunches packed.

I’m also remembering to seek the Holy Spirit amidst the busy-ness, because let’s face it – in a toddler world there is no quiet. In the car listening to Christian radio, in the dentist waiting room, during my lunch, while I tuck my toddler in at night.

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God gives me more grace than I deserve. This is one verse I read in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, the very chapter our minister asked us to read this week:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (NIV)





Five on Friday

17 04 2015

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Thanks for stopping by my little corner! I’m making this post brief bc it’s the second time I’ve had to type it after my computer froze last night.

one | My family won passes to see Home in theatres this weekend. E did SO well! He’s never watched a movie all the way through, but he came close with Home, falling asleep on his daddy’s lap 5 minutes before it ended. Sage snoozed in my lap (in the Boba 3G) for most of the movie but did watch 15 minutes of it fairly intently. Cute movie!!

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two | We had another breezy spring day recently, so we could finally use our sidewalk chalk paint in the driveway! The colors were so pretty!

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three | It’s been so nice to get back into a groove with our church Life Group after taking a winter hiatus with the new baby. The fellowship and adult discussions of Scripture add so much to our workweek. And it was so cute to see all the kids running all over the stage like they owned the place. Even this shy guy:

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four | i participated in my first “Workweek Hustle” challenge on FitBit this week with some teachers from another elementary school. It’s encouraging to feel accountable, and it’s surprising to see how many miles I walk just during a normal workday, especially when I feel tethered to nursing once I get home and am reunited with the baby! I really want to get back into a running rhythm soon, though. This was earlier in the week:

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five | I took Sage to his 6-month well visit with his pediatrician, and he came away diagnosed with a double ear infection, bronchiolitis (which he’s had for 5+ weeks now), and the possibility of asthma and an order for x-rays in 2 weeks if he’s still wheezing. After the appointment, I updated his stats in his baby book (50 percentile height, 99% head, and 78% weight) and FINALLY took the time to graph both boys’ growth in the books. I wish Emily Ley had come out with her new baby book 7 months ago!!

IMG_2656 IMG_2655Looking forward to a weekend full of events with the little ones while my husband works a craft show! Who could resist this lil fella??

IMG_2648 And maybe hanging the mirror (not pictured) I bought for the half-bathroom we renovated back in 2013! Target always nails it:

IMG_2641Happy Friday!! :)





Five on Friday

10 04 2015

Linking up for Five on Friday with DarciChristinaApril, and Natasha, and oh hey, Friday with Karli and Amy.

Summer is within reach, and I’m trying to prioritize our summer plans, many of which would require buying passes (pool, lake, amusement parks, admission to local events – so many choices!). Recently, I’ve chosen some thrifty habits that will help us save our pennies for what really matters!

one | Contests

I’ve always been lucky at contests – it’s how I won most of my cloth diaper stash, for example. When my midwife practice offered up 30 chances at family passes to a private screening of “Home” at our movie theatre, I tried my luck and won! With little ones at home, we never go to the movies. N-E-V-E-R. So this was a huge deal for us. It will be both boys’ first movie in a theatre. I still remember mine – Bambi! I also recently won a baby product at our local cloth diaper store and am hoping for more freebies at an upcoming cloth diaper event.

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two | Promos

I try to take advantage of promos when I can, like when JC Penney sends me “$10 off a $10 purchase” coupons. Our ice cream shop just offered free cones to anyone who entered their Easter coloring contest, so both boys came away with free ice cream. (I might have ordered a lemon gingersnap cone…A-MAZE.) Busch Gardens offers free passes to preschoolers (ages 3-5), so we snagged one for E; it’s good through September!

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three | Warranties

Sometimes when things break, I’m quick to replace them. But recently when my breastpump (which I got free through insurance!) malfunctioned, I called the company first before buying a spare part, and they had the new part airlifted to me by lunchtime the next day, free of charge. It never hurts to ask – especially politely! Companies want to support their products.

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four | DIY

I’m all abou DIYs when I can find the time. I even skipped the salon to attempt haircuts myself last week. Recently I made much of the decor for a bridal shower and returned what I didn’t use to the store afterward.

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five | Planning ahead

I don’t really have a knack for thinking of gifts spur-of-the-moment. But if I can collect things over time as I come across them, I can get good deals. The kids’ Easter baskets, for example. Almost everything was free.

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And here are the boys enjoying some of their favorite (free) activities. We are also big fans of our library and enjoyed their programming over spring break.

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Happy Friday!





Easter Sweets

6 04 2015

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We enjoyed a weekend spent with family, food, fellowship, worship, sweets, and lots and lots of eggs!

2015 Easter Basket Blog Hop

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My 2-year-old played SO hard with his cousins. Allll weekend. He would LOVE to have a big sister oh my WORD. He kept up with the big kids for the most part, but every so often he’d run upstairs crying for Mommy to kiss a boo-boo or wipe away a tear, then he’d scramble back down to the basement to play.

He still needs me. <3

It reminded me of this Mama-Mommy-Mom post I just read.

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My sister was so sweet to fill eggs specifically for the babies – with treasures like baby puffs, grippy socks, and bath toys! E methodically combed the perimeter of Great-Grandma’s backyard during the egg hunt while everyone else ran amok- he was so proud of his loot and happily traded eggs with his cousins all afternoon.

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We hope that you had a sunny, safe, and blessed Easter.





Braids and Bows

4 04 2015

When I was little, I got it in my head somehow that I’d never be a good Mommy unless I could French braid hair. So I locked myself in my room with my dog-eared copy of “Braids and Bows” (1992 edition) and my Felicity American Girl doll and didn’t come out until I could successfully French braid Felicity’s hair and my own hair.

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Somewhere in the next 20 years, I realized that being able to French braid has zero impact on my ability as a mom.

If only I knew then that I’d have two boys. I don’t know much about boy hair. I’ve relied on hairdressers for my toddler until this week, when I realized I couldn’t get him in for a haircut before Easter. So I turned to Youtube, where I learn ALL the important life skills. Like how to cut toddler hair. I watched this tutorial video (the one boy I could find who has hair like my son’s) and this adorable boy, made the trip to Sally Beauty, and set up shop at 7:30 AM.

I had coffee and a gameplan. And if all went well, I’d Youtube how to cut my own bangs. Since I didn’t snag myself an appointment, either.

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First, we washed and blow-dried his hair. Even though the tutorial suggested to save the bath for after the haircut, he needed one.

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We put on his cape and gave him some candy and an old phone – I quickly swapped the candy cane for a lollipop before I started cutting (sticky… loose hair… near-fail).

IMG_2429IMG_2431IMG_2433It’s so curly that it was hard to see what I was doing, but it also made it easy to hide imperfections. :) Even still, I handed him over to his dad to neaten up the back with clippers (set at 7/8ths).
IMG_2439While I was at it, I watched a few videos about how to cut bangs (here and here) and decided to try my luck with my own hair. First, I straightened my old bangs as much as I could and figured out what I needed to cut.

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I practiced by cutting them longer than I’d ultimately want them, and once I figured it all out, I started over and made them shorter. When I finished cutting the length at an angle, I added texture by feathering them as I saw in the video. Easy enough – I can’t believe I’ve never tried that before!

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Now I can relax knowing that I won’t have to cart two kids with me to the salon anytime someone just needs a trim!

If I could talk to 10-year-old me, I’d reassure her that to be a good Mommy, I wouldn’t need Braids and Bows, or even this Youtube deal on a place called the internet… I’d just need lots of love, long-lashed butterfly kisses, and coffee.





Easter Basket Blog Hop and a Confession

2 04 2015

easter egg blog hop logo - the good life blog

Linking up with Darci for my second annual Easter basket blog hop! This one is a special one, since it’s Sage’s first Easter! Both boys have gotten spring pictures taken and had an Easter party at school complete with an indoor egg hunt (roundup?) due to frosty, rainy temps.

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Photos courtesy of their daycare Facebook page:

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And now, for the baskets! I try to be pretty thrifty, so most things have a story of where they came from. Oh, and no Easter grass! Not in our house!

For our 2 (almost 3) year old: Brand new gray Toms (Instagram score), a free book “Pretend” (Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program), Pez and scented bubbles (Target), a Crayola art smock and Silly Putty (free with Staples ink rewards), a kazoo and pinwheel (recent party favors we got at a museum), ring pop and stuffed bunny (both from his class Easter egg hunt), gold coins (extra from a recent bridal shower gift), tan shoes (free with JC Penney coupon/clearance sale), 4 crayons (restaurant kids meal), and tiny bubble bottles (Halloween). There might be a few other prizes down in the bottom of the basket.

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For our 6 month old – a basket full of almost all hand-me-downs! I did buy the bear PJs new (free with a JC Penney coupon) and the colorful egg stackers from a friend:

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And a confession: In last year’s blog hop linkup, I mentioned that “I also went to Michaels and bought just one more basket to match our family set of gingham baskets – a green one to match E’s! We won’t use it until next year, but I wanted to get it just in case Michaels discontinues them or something.”

I lied.

We actually bought a pink basket! Because at the time, we had been told Baby #2 was a girl, and I wasn’t ready to reveal the gender!

So it was back to Michaels again this year and bought a green basket for our BOY. I guess I could have just made a new liner, but the basket only costs a couple dollars after discounts.

This year, we’ll spend Easter with my family. I love knowing that our church family, as well as the boys’ school, are helping us to teach them about God’s love for us.

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Sugar and Spice | Bridal Shower DIY

31 03 2015

I remember a summer when my husband and I attended 13 weddings. In recent years, I’ve mostly attended baby showers, but 5 weddings this year means it’s back to the bridal shower circuit!

For the first shower, we based the decor around the couple’s wedding colors – purple and teal – with hints of Mason jars and wine. We used purple and blue Mason jars wrapped in ribbon as utensil cups, pen holders, kabob displays, and table centerpieces.
I filled six of the jars with roses crafted from coffee filters. The roses were so simple to dye and shape around drinking straws but looked so life-like!
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Using free paint chip cards, I made confetti for the tables and added purple doilies. The tablecloths were leftover from a work event, and I found teal burlap runners at WalMart. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law fashioned favors by filling 4-oz Mason jars with Easter M&Ms and Hershey Kisses.
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For the drink table, I designed this “SIP SIP hooray” art similar to one I spied on Pinterest.

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For the wine-loving couple, I created wine bottle advice jars. My husband and I emptied four wine bottles and removed the labels. I found scalloped cardstock stickers and labeled them “1 year anniversary,” “5 year anniversary,” “10 year anniversary,” and “20 year anniversary.” I picked up a mini chalkboard easel from Michaels and wrote on it with chalk pens borrowed from a fellow teacher. Guests could write advice for any year, roll up the paper, tie it with teal Baker’s twine, and drop it in the appropriate wine bottle.

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Bridal shower - 1My husband and toddler used the helium tank at our local car dealership for the balloons, even stuffing some balloons inside clear balloons for pops of color.
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The couple registered using HoneyFund.com, so I purchased an excursion for their honeymoon and gave the money to them in the form of gold US dollars (mixed with chocolate coins) nestled in a chocolate box.

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Gifts were recorded on a keepsake list I designed and printed on cardstock.
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Using scrapbook paper, I die-cut larger circles and attached them to Baker’s twine to make 2 garlands.

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My in-laws made all the food and served fruit kabobs, popcorn, veggies, cake pops, and flower cookies.
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For dessert, I used a recipe for Peanut Butter Fingers borrowed from a coworker and actually delegated that task to my husband when I got overwhelmed between shower planning and several huge projects at work. I’ve made them for several occasions now.

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We had lots of shower games, from toilet paper-fashioned wedding dresses to a cake-guessing game. I brought an easy estimation game. We filled a giant wine glass and wine carafe with corks – some of the corks were mine (we write the date and occasion on all our corks), and I got the rest from our friend who is the head chef of a local winery.
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Peanut Butter Fingers – I can’t take any credit for this recipe, since I borrowed it from my friend at work! :)

Peanut Butter Fingers

Base

½ cup margarine ⅓ cup peanut butter

½ cup sugar ½ tsp. each baking soda, salt, vanilla

½ cup packed brown sugar 1 cup flour

1 egg 1 cup quick oats

Icing

powdered sugar (play around with amount)

¼ cup peanut butter

3-4 tablespoons milk

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream butter and sugars, add egg, peanut butter, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.  Add flour and oatmeal.  Mix well. (Batter will be stiff.)  Spread in a greased 9X13 pan.  Bake 18-20 minutes.  Don’t over bake – just lightly brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Let stand while you make the icing.  For the icing: mix peanut butter, powdered sugar, and milk.  If it’s runny, add more sugar; if it’s too thick, add more milk.  Spread melted chocolate chips and top with PB icing.  Let the chocolate cool before spreading the icing or they’ll mix (tastes the same either way).

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Time to start planning the next bridal shower. I can’t believe how much longer preparations take with 2 little ones at home!





Sage | 6 months

28 03 2015

Sage | 6 months

Sage 6 months monthly onesie

I can’t believe half a year has gone by since the night labor began as I was about to collapse into bed after a long day at work, 2 days past my due date. We welcomed you into the world in the wee hours of the next morning and held off on sharing the news for several hours until we knew our families would be awake, savoring those first precious, quiet hours getting to know you.

We’ve been taking it slowly ever since. We’re not in a rush to meet milestones, but you have been growing steadily, passing the 18-lb mark. You enjoy being in walkers and rolling around on blankets, and we even put you in a stroller for the first time a couple days ago so we could stroll around the neighborhood  in the gorgeous spring weather. We were back to snow today, so you loved staying inside with Mommy and playing with your feet, nursing and giggling with Brother, while Daddy went for a long run and then a hike with our church group.

I returned to work when you were 13 weeks old, and I can’t believe I’ve now been back at work longer than I stayed home with you. The last 3 months at work have FLOWN!

You gobble up rice cereal, banana Mum-Mums (rice rusks), and Stage 1 purées, but you still prefer mama’s milk. You drink 20 oz of my expressed milk at daycare each day. You like your Wubba pacifier okay, but you prefer sucking on the side of your hand.

You generally sleep 8:30 PM-5 AM with 15 minute catnaps here and there throughout the day.

If you’re not being held, you have to be propped up where you can see everyone or you get unsettled. But you don’t cry about much.

I’ve caught you and E laughing together in the car and when he thinks I’m not listening, and it is the sweetest thing. You are just as much a gift to him as you are to your parents!

I wear you everywhere in my carrier still, but I’ll be excited the day you can stand on your own – you are getting heavy!! You’re wearing 9 month, 12 month, and 12-18 month clothing, depending on the brand.

With blonde hair, you favor your daddy, but for now you still have my blue eyes. You don’t have any teeth, but you charm us with  your dimples! You’re a little too top-heavy to sit on your own for very long, but it will come and soon you will be thrilled to see everything!

You’ve started chattering a lot more, saying “hey,” “hi,” and “Da-Da,” which I think was a fluke utterance but maybe…?

You could probably sit still to watch an entire movie, unlike anyone else in our family, and you love music. Bouncing and flying are your favorites, even though they make you spit up, but you hate being startled! You still drool constantly and spit up almost every time I feed you. Your most favorite thing of all is to spend time with us, for which I am so thankful.

Sage - 6 month onesie collage

Your birth story

Months 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |





Weekending | Out of Hibernation

23 03 2015

Our spring weekends are suddenly booked and filled with all things spring – from bridal showers and weddings, to hikes and church happenings. This weekend was an excellent start to kicking off spring.

On Thursday, we participated in a local consignment sale of baby clothes and toys. I was able to buy many spring clothes and shoes in the next size up (nothing more than $4) for both boys while selling lots of their old baby stuff we no longer need.

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I also took advantage of Target’s dress sale for a few upcoming spring weddings. I tried on about 14 dresses but stuck with two.

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Saturday morning, I got in a run and then spent some time in Michaels collecting what I needed to decorate for a bridal shower this weekend. They now have an entire aisle dedicated to chalkboard art!

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That afternoon, we visited the library and drove to a giant playground to enjoy the stunning spring weather. E has been begging me to go back to the library for awhile now – he really misses the puppets, guitars, and cookies from storytime, and I feel sooo guilty that I work and can’t take him now! Maternity leave was such a priceless gift.

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IMG_2187Baby Sage is coming up on his half birthday, so we tried him on his first solid food (other than ice cream). Much unlike his brother, he gobbled up every bit of 2 servings of rice cereal. He grabbed the spoon from me and shoved it in his mouth and then went for the bowl! Poor thing doesn’t know peas and squash are next on the menu.

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We spent time in worship at church on Sunday then headed out to spend time with my husband’s family. We hung out, celebrated several birthdays, and worked on bridal shower plans. E’s favorite part was riding the tractor with Pops.

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While my husband and I got competitive at darts, the cousins engineered some Chuggington tracks together.

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Our visit ended abruptly with a family emergency, so we headed home late and were thrown back into the workweek.

Is it Friday again yet??





Five on Friday

20 03 2015

Linking up for Five on Friday with DarciChristinaApril, and Natasha, and oh hey, Friday with Karli and Amy.

one | We spent time with friends this weekend, and had the most gorgeous scenic drive to their house!

IMG_2061 two | We took a second road trip to my in-laws’ to work on plans for an upcoming bridal shower. While we were there, we scoped out the next big DIY project on our plates… or should I say, under them.

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My in-laws live near a Trader Joe’s, so I picked up some treats for my coworkers after we finally submitted the yearbook we designed!

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three | St. Patrick’s Day was a fun day to dress up and reminisce about the time I spent gallivanting around Ireland with my college roomie.

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That same day, I dropped off 115 baby items to sell at a local kids’ consignment sale that sets up shop twice a year. While out and about, I redeemed some freebies at the mall and tried on a few jackets for spring. (I was taking pictures to compare jackets from 3 different stores – I don’t usually take mirror selfies!) It was sooo weird to be shopping sans kids, like a dream. I would have pinched myself, but I was wearing green.

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four | School pictures came back! While I only bought their class group photos and none of the ones pictured below, a couple of their poses were cute!

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five | As Sage gets old enough to really interact more and more with his big brother, I’m so grateful that I wanted them close together in age. I love that E loves having a baby brother.

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