Listening

11 01 2016

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged, but all of my writing lately has been on paper. It has been constant – I carry my journal everywhere I go. I have a lot on my heart lately and have been filling my time so differently these days, surrounding myself with all the “good stuff” I can find in this season of life with two little boys – reading lots of scripture, listening to a lot of inspirational/inspiring Christian podcasts, reading encouraging books.

Over Christmas break, I set goals for myself this year, all under the word “Listen.” I’ve always been one to jump at chances, be spontaneous, work toward big dreams.

That hasn’t changed.

But I’m taking this year to slow down and listen. Listen to God. There are a lot of things up in the air right now that I just can’t answer on my own. And so I’m continually seeking God. I’ve been filling my “fringe hours” (if you haven’t read Jessica Turner’s book, you should!) so much more intentionally, and that’s where I’ve been able to make time for me – whether writing, journaling, practicing flute, reading, whatever. As an introvert, I need these outlets to refuel after a full day of being around people at work and before a marathon afternoon/evening caring for my family. And even though I thought blogging was one of my favorite outlets, when I sat down with God, I realized that He had other intentions for my time in this season.

Listening to God, listening for God. His presence is all around me, and in my heart.

Listening to my kids.

Listening to my husband and praying for him.

And so I’ll use this blog a lot less frequently now. I still hope to capture seasons of my life, milestones of my boys, fun races I’ve run, that sort of thing – at least for now – so today’s post is just going to be a day-in-the-life. I loved writing these last year both during my maternity leave in 2014 and then again when I went back to work in 2015, and I don’t want to miss out on recording these days while my boys are still young! It helps me to remember that this IS just a season, and a good one at that! Here goes –

Monday, January 11, 2016

5 AM: My alarm goes off. My plan is to run on the treadmill… and miracle of miracles, baby is still asleep, so I actually might be able to! There are a lot of mornings I set my alarm to run, but baby wakes up before I do, so I can’t.

Baby stirs. I wait 15 minutes while I get dressed to run, just in case. He’s still asleep. I eat a Zone bar and drink a purple Gatorade.

5:20 AM: Treadmill. I keep it simple – no RunKeeper app or playlist to fiddle with while I run. Just my FitBit and iHeartRadio station and bloglovin’ to catch up on blogs I read.

5:45 AM: Finish running. Make myself breakfast (whole wheat English muffin, sunny-side-up egg, cheese, and smoked ham. Water, pomegranate juice, coffee). I read “For the Love” by Jen HatMaker until my husband joins me for breakfast – I usually eat on the way out the door and he gets up around 4 AM, so this never happens! I put my book down and we talk about the upcoming day and end up looking at the wood samples we stained last night, trying to decide on a stain for the new farmhouse table we are building together.

Day in the Life 1-11-16 16:20 AM: shower, charge FitBit. Running super late. Usually I’m ready by 6:30 so that I can wake up E.

6:40 AM: Wake up my 3.5yo, E. We get ready together.

6:55 AM: Wake up my 15mo, S. I cannot believe he slept this long, although he was up late last night and is sick. I nurse him while sending E downstairs for breakfast #1 (they both will eat another breakfast at daycare). While I feed the baby, I brush his hair, clean up his face – he’s sick/draining/coughing a lot – log my morning for this blog post, and play around with FitBit settings. I’m participating in a Workweek Hustle with some random people I barely know.

We warm up my car and load our things – we now carry much less than we used to! The only thing not pictured are 2 bags of blankets and us!

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7:21 AM: We leave the house. I start to listen to a podcast but decide instead to talk to my kids on the way to school – there will be a lot of changes in their classes today!

7:35 AM: We arrive at daycare, where S starts in a new “transition” class! I barely have time to get him all set up, and I have to leave him crying as I get E settled and head back out to my car. So much mom guilt. Luckily I am not the one crying!

7:40 AM: Turn on podcast and listen until I get to work.

7:56 AM: Arrive at work with 4 minutes to spare. I live much closer to my new job, and it starts later each day, so 8 AM is a new luxury for me! Luckily there are still places to park. I head inside, where I already have someone on the phone waiting to talk to me. And so my day begins! After teaching my morning classes, I tear my office apart searching for my thumb drive. No luck – so I’ll check at home and in the car this afternoon.

11:30 AM: Lunch time! I still have loose ends to tie up, and lunch groups, so I don’t join my team for lunch. I spend about half my lunchtime finishing up “For the Love” so that I can return it to the library when we go tonight. Then I go online to reserve several books about trains for my little guy – a strategic maneuver so that the books are ready for me to pickup on the shelf when my hands are full of boys. And then I write in my journal as I reflect on Romans 12: 6-8 and pray.

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3:40 PM: My “me” time is so sacred to me these days that when work is over, I rush out the door as quickly as I can, delaying only to search my car for my thumb drive. Small victory (or fail?) – it was in my purse (and not my school bag, where it should be). Who even knows these days. My husband found the baby’s socks in the downstairs kitchen trashcan instead of his laundry hamper upstairs the other day. 

3:45 PM: Home already! I am very intentional about my snacks this week and actually wrote out what I would have each day before going to the grocery store yesterday! Today is pomegranate juice, “healthy” popcorn, and yogurt-covered raisins – yum! I listen to a God-Centered Mom podcast as I tidy up a few things from breakfast, get some laundry organized and started, and JUST SIT ON THE COUCH for a few minutes thinking about the rest of the evening.

4:45 PM Realize I never made afternoon coffee and now it’s too late. I arrive at daycare to pickup my kids. I tend to wait until after they’ve gone outside on the playground with their friends to pick them up. It cuts out on what I call the “witching hour” meltdowns. No, thank you. The pickup process takes 15 minutes. We head straight to the library as promised – yesterday, I sat on the couch with my son and we planned out a fun activity for every afternoon this week, and he chose the library for Monday.

Last week was hard. Like, so so hard. I averaged about 4 hours of sleep per night, was in a bad mood, lost my ever-loving mind, and regretted how I handled things. So this week, I mapped out as much as I could on Sunday.

I am hoping to just run in the library and grab our books from the hold shelf so that the boys can play a bit, but they aren’t all ready, so I end up searching for them myself. Luckily, the boys are in great spirits thanks to the graham crackers I packed in my purse and a newfound shelf of books on street sweepers, fire trucks, and Curious George, so we stay at the library for 40 minutes before heading home.

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6 PM: Arrive home, switch out some laundry, lay out the boys’  clothes for bedtime and school tomorrow, and change from work clothes into warmer clothes (we’re determined to save on our energy bill!).

6:15 PM: Dinner. My husband grills ham sandwiches and slices apples to serve on E’s “Great Day” plate from the Emily Ley shop – a super-easy meal! Tomorrow will be my turn, but for tonight, I enjoy the extra time with the kids.

6:40 PM: clean up kitchen while E flips through a new library book on the couch and S does who even knows what.

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In the middle of dishes, E asks me to come read with him on the couch. I am there in a heartbeat – I’m trying not to let “tasks” come between these fleeting invitations! I also text a few friends/family. Especially Auntie, who just rode the Monorail at Disney!

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7:15 PM: S has a poopy diaper – he gets changed and into the bath! Thank you, hubby!

7:30 PM: I desperately need a haircut. I cut my own bangs right over my sink.

7:45 PM: E needs a haircut, too, so I work on his hair while my husband gets the baby into pajamas, reads more books with him, and gets some things ready for tomorrow. I set up a borrowed iPad for him to watch Thomas & Friends. He has only ever seen this iPad once before – the last time I cut his hair – and he calls it a “big phone.” So he asks for a “big phone” to watch Thomas and Elmo during the haircut. I get to a stopping point and leave the rest to my husband and his clippers. I take a “before” photo:

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8:17-8:39 PM: I nurse baby S to sleep while catching up with friends on Instagram/text while my husband gives E a second bath to get all the loose hair off his back. And baby S is OUT!! Small miracle, victory, whatever you want to call it – I’m usually in there with him til long after 10:30! His new “transition” class must have worn him out!

8:40 PM: Unheard of! I am almost overwhelmed with the idea of having a few extra hours tonight! First, I pack my lunch for Tuesday. It has to be a lunch I won’t need to heat up, because I’ll have more counseling small groups tomorrow during my lunch time with no access to a microwave.

8:48 PM: Put cloth diapers on their last rinse cycle

8:49 PM: Read 2 library books with E in his bunk bed and then turn him over to his Daddy, who will read more books and stay with him til he’s closer to falling asleep.

9:00 PM: change into my PJs and glasses… finally!

9:05-9:10PM: hang up cloth diapers, move baby’s clothes and diaper inserts to the dryer

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9:10-9:17PM: fold cloth diapers, pack S’s diaper bag for tomorrow. I read through the kids’ baby grams from school to see what they’re learning this week and what things they’ll need to bring in. I set several reminders with Siri for the end of the week (bring in show-n-tell items, take home and wash their school blankets, etc.). S’s baby gram also lists the yucky symptoms he had throughout the day, and his teacher noted that he coughed for all of nap time.😦

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Back upstairs, I get my school things ready for tomorrow and text with a friend. Then I start this blog post.

10:40 PM – finish writing this post. I realized I haven’t paid any attention to any of The Bachelor tonight, even though I had wanted to. And I haven’t added any pictures or edited this post. Another reason I haven’t been blogging!

11:15 PM: Baby is stirring. Post is done. I wake up my husband to ask about S wheezing. We listen over the baby monitor. He assures me that he gave him Zarbee’s Cough Syrup before bedtime. Bless him.

11:34 PM: Off to brush my teeth and read from the new library book I picked up today. Goodnight.

“The days are long, but the years are short.”  I wouldn’t trade this for anything.





ChristmasTown Dash 8k | Five Years Running

9 12 2015

Since participating in my school’s 5k last month, I’ve been able to squeeze out two last races in 2015. To stay on track, I made a schedule where I ran 3 days a week to get back into training.

First – a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning! I’ve run this one a few times before and love it because the course goes right past the house where my husband grew up. I actually trained for this one, so I shaved several minutes off my time and felt great afterward. It’s amazing what a little training will do! The t-shirts are always really cute, and all the proceeds benefit the local food bank. I just wish it was chip-timed – the gun time is really only accurate for the runners in the front.

We walked back to the house and enjoyed Thanksgiving with family. The weather was perfect, so we spent most of the day outside playing with our boys. They are always up for a tractor ride with Nana and Pops!

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Last weekend, for the 5th year in a row, I ran the Busch Gardens ChristmasTown Dash 8k (4.97 miles). The race beneficiary is the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, and Marines line the bridge over the Rhine River to support us runners. It’s pretty powerful. The woman who sang our National Anthem to start the race had one of the most powerful voices I’ve ever heard. My husband always runs this one, but he watched with the kids this time.

The race is just fun, too. It always has the best swag for the $35 registration fee – a long-sleeve tech shirt, a finisher medal which doubles as a sparkly Christmas ornament, a free Chick-fil-a grilled sandwich, 50% off ChristmasTown admission tickets, and a free ticket to come back to Busch Gardens in the spring. (I have now run 24.85 race miles through Busch Gardens – almost a marathon!)

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Raceday was sunny but 39 degrees F with NW winds of 3 mph, and there were 1784 finishers overall. I came in 997th – ha! My husband surprised me at the starting line with a set of hand warmers – I was so grateful for these, as I had opted to leave my running gloves in the car. I was also grateful for the steaming Gingerbread Latte I picked up after the race!

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The frustrating part of the race was when my RunKeeper app shut off, so my map and overall distance and time were all inaccurate. But the best part of the race was spotting my family along the route – they cheered me on from two places!

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The park was completely decorated for Christmas with more lights than any other display in North America. I ran the whole way through the park but was still able to enjoy the decorations.

I was also excited that they changed the course slightly to include more of the park (we spend a LOT of the course running through parking lots). When the race was over, I was given an adorable gingerbread man medal, banana, pretzels, water bottle, and a cup of hot chocolate. I ran into a friend that I haven’t seen in six years – the last time I saw her was at her baby shower, and her “baby” started kindergarten this year and ran the kids’ Fun Run!

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After the race, we spent time with family and enjoyed gallivanting around the Great Wolf Lodge on our way out of town, where a “quick visit” to see the giant Christmas tree became an unexpected visit with Santa!

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We only have one more chance to visit with Santa before Christmas is here!

Previous ChristmasTown race recaps:

This race is a tradition for sure, but now I need to find something new for the spring. I’m taking a break from running this week but I’m sure will come up with a plan soon! I hope you and your family are enjoying a blessed holiday season!





Traveling with Little Ones

8 11 2015

Last week, I had a work conference that took me to The Homestead Resort for 3 days. Last time I went, I traveled with a friend, and we had a great time, so this time, I invited my family along. It was a nice escape from our daily routine, but taking the kids out of that routine throws all of us off! The Homestead is pretty spectacular:

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First off, what should have been a 90-minute drive took us 3 hours. Our little guy screamed for the entire 3 hours, so we were forced to make pit stops in a few places, including a tiny diner halfway there. The boys were all keyed up and definitely entertained the workers – luckily, we were the only ones dining in. E kept swinging his corndog around, yelling about his “horndog.”

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Luckily when we arrived, the valet handled our car and luggage, and our room was ready with a nice Pack n Play already set up. Of course, I wish I could say this was the scene, but he didn’t go to sleep for several more hours:

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Even though it was late, we decided to explore the hotel and easily walked about 7000 steps just by looking around.

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It was a late night followed by an early morning, as I went to early sessions and listened to the keynote speaker of the conference the next day. All of my sessions were SO good this year! I came away with lots of practical ideas and freebies. Meanwhile, my husband spent lots of quality time with the boys – lots of snacking, napping, and trips to the playground and the Village.

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I thought our evenings would be full of dining out, downtime to explore the hotel and the town, a swim in the heated pool or a trip to the gym, but there never ended up being time for that. The conference schedule kept me busy, with receptions lasting until 9 PM. When we did have a break, it would only be for a few minutes here and there. I don’t think we got much sleep because of the boys, and then we would start all over again the next day.

Well, we attempted to dine out twice, but Sage cried almost the whole time both nights.

The second night, we ate at the Casino, right on the property.

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On the third night, just before leaving the resort, we ate at Le Cochon d’Or (The Golden Pig) in the village of Hot Springs. I was late to our dinner reservation because my session ran over, but my family was seated right there in the window and I was able to snap a pic of this happy scene before all the meltdowns started.

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I kept it simple with a French onion soup because I knew the kids weren’t going to last long in there – YUM! So hot and cheesy!

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One of my favorite places in the hotel was the Christmas shop. I picked out this year’s ornament and took lots of pictures of E with the gorgeous tree. At the end of November, The Homestead will ceremoniously bring a real tree into the grand lobby.

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I’m so glad that I was able to show my husband The Homestead, and I’m thankful that he was able to spend real quality time with the kids, but I wouldn’t call it a “vacation” by any means! It was pretty stressful for me to find a balance between being a mommy, spending time with my husband, and still attending all my sessions.

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Back into Running

7 11 2015

Seeing as this is a running blog, I should probably update about my recent running ventures.

There haven’t been many.

Life with 2 little ones plus my full-time job keeps me on my toes so much that I only sleep about 4-5 hours a night, and those are almost always interrupted by one or both of the boys waking up. It’s much harder for me to carve time for running, way harder than it was with one child, but I also know that getting back into a habit of running will ultimately give me so much more energy in the long run. (Long run.) It’s important that I take care of me, too!

So this fall/winter, I’m making myself start over again. You won’t find me running a marathon this January, but I’m planning to start with a few 5ks and work my way back up. I have to be careful with my heart and with dehydration while I’m still nursing my 13-month-old, but I’ve done it before and know that I can.

This fall, I helped with the after-school running program at my elementary school, and I also served on the Fun Run committee, helping to pull off planning our school’s very first 5k and one mile Fun Run race this morning. In spite of the rain, it was such an awesome, energy-pumping family event, and we had an awesome turnout. My husband even won a 2nd place medal! I took things slowly and steadily and was proud that I finished, even on our school’s muddy, HILLY cross county course and with NO training.

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Next up, we have a Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning and my favorite 5-miler through Busch Gardens in December.

I also need to be more careful about eating. The holidays can be so tempting, that stretch from Halloween to New Year’s, but when I run, I reach for healthy foods, so I think getting back into a training schedule will help curb the sweets.

This past year, my husband and I dared each other to give up donuts for a whole year (we both got really sick after eating at a donut shop and pretty much wrote off donuts then and there). So far, we’re 11 months in and it has actually been pretty easy. I love the accountability piece by doing it together and the awareness this little experiment has raised in how often I am around donuts. I am offered a free donut almost DAILY. It is insane – I never noticed before. Almost every single day at my work there is some reason or another that a box of donuts is floating around, but it’s been so easy just to say, “no thank you.” Next year, we’ll probably add something else to our “no donuts” rule… maybe soda or fast food.

What motivates you to jumpstart a healthy habit again?





Outpouring of Love

25 10 2015

Mother Teresa quote

This weekend, I was so incredibly blessed to be a very small part of what has been and what will continue to be an amazing journey for a special family that I know.

I’ve always been fascinated with adoption and foster care. My husband is actually one of ten children, six of whom were adopted. Most of my 4th year research in college was on Attachment Theory, and my undergrad degree was in Psychology. Last year I followed the blog of a woman who served as a surrogate to carry another couple’s baby when they couldn’t. This time, however, my small opportunity was none of these things.

There’s a quote, “You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” This always makes me think of a gift I received that I’ll never be able to repay or even say thank you for. When I was 17 years old, I was the recipient of another person’s bone – actually, a cadaver’s bone – which was drilled into my spine, fusing my lumbar and sacrum together. For years, that isolated bone glowed on my x-rays until it was in my body long enough to dull to match my own, with bone grafted from my hip fusing it into place.

Fast forward a decade…

My older son was just a few weeks old when I returned to work from maternity leave, so I pumped twice a day there (and sometimes at home before I left) for a year to supply enough milk for him to have at daycare. I’ll be honest, it was hard. Finding a private place was absolutely non-existent in the 1970s-built-pod-school where I taught. Remembering to bring all the pump parts, freezer packs, cooler, bottle tops, tubing, power cord, wetbags – I felt like every day I forgot one component of the pump. And I never had teacher coverage while I pumped, since my schedule was so inconsistent, so there were days I barely came home with any milk. Other days, I came home with plenty for the next day – it just depended on my water intake and what time(s) I was able to pump that day. My heart had many episodes of tachycardia while nursing both my children, and I’ll be paying off cardiology bills for the next year.

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Woke up in the middle of the night engorged. This was all from one side. Ouch!!

I nursed E until he was 18 months and weaned him when my husband and I needed to travel out of town for a week without him.

I was also pregnant with my second son before this trip. When he was born, I was able to stay home with him until he was 13 weeks old. Once at daycare, he crushed bottles of my expressed milk like a champ until he was about 10 months old. I spent the summer at home with him, and when I went back to work in August, he refused bottles of any kind. No interest whatsoever. It didn’t matter who was holding the bottle, or what brand, or what temperature. Which left me with a freezer full of the precious liquid gold that I had pumped and so carefully frozen. Now at 13 months, he still nurses when we’re at home  (and all throughout the night, every night), but if I’m not there, he won’t take my milk in bottle form.

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Truth. Or left it out on the counter overnight. 

When he was 10 months old, I began researching how and where to donate my excess milk. After calling local hospitals, I found that a lot of them actually had enough frozen breastmilk to support their NICU babies, so I was given phone numbers to call to locate hospitals all over the country who might accept my milk. The process of testing the milk and testing myself would be extensive, not to mention packaging and shipping the frozen milk, but it would be worth it.

I had just started the process of milk donation when I learned that God had a different plan for my milk.

A mutual friend of mine, after years of prayer dedicated to adopting a child, got a call that a newborn was ready to come home. That sentence took me only a moment to type but represents a lifetime of prayer for this little baby. In getting together the things she would need for her new baby, she put out a request for any moms who had breastmilk to spare.

I did! A total of 144.5 ounces. To put it in perspective, it’s almost $1500 dollars’ worth of “liquid gold” and over 35 pumping sessions. It equates to 18+ hours of pumping, although with 2 sides at once, it was more like 9 hours, give or take. But double that to include the time it took to wash all the teeny tiny pump parts and Medela bottles and caps every night, dry them, and pack them to do it all over the next day. And then washing the wetbags I used to transport all the wet bottles and pump parts. My husband washed every single bottle and pump part, by hand, every evening. (Thank you!) I carefully measured and labeled each bag for future use.

Yesterday, I studied the Medela guidelines for thawing frozen breastmilk and checked the date on all of my milk. To my amazement, not a single drop of the 144.5 ounces was expired. I had pumped every bit of it in the last six months. Even more amazingly, the “oldest” frozen milk I had will start expiring in about 2 weeks, so I was running out of time to find a place to accept it.

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I know this baby is going to be supported in big ways and always with an abundance of love. I am so incredibly honored that I got to help with such a specific need – I told the baby’s mommy that I felt like I just donated an organ and am praying it’s a match – that the baby will accept this same precious milk that continues to sustain my own little boy as he nurses. This new little baby was born on my son’s due date, exactly 12 months later. We serve a most amazing God whose timing is always spot-on.

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Family arrived with a cooler today to transport the milk to its new home. :)

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

NICU baby





Brew of the Day

19 10 2015

For the first time in years, we found ourselves with a free October weekend! October is usually filled with celebrations of fall – festivals, craft shows, races, and out-of-town trips, but we ended up having the whole weekend to explore the peak of foliage in our town. Normally, I would have been running my favorite half marathon, the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. But sadly, the race featured a great white on their medal this year, and alas, I have a huge phobia of all things sh*rk – it’s no joke. So no trip, no race. Getting over endless sickness made us also postpone plans with friends to make our annual trek to what would have been a cold, crowded, windy apple orchard.

Instead, I stumbled across an ad for a local craft festival that featured all things vintage, handmade, and shabby chic – of course we had to check it out! (We loved their brick-and-mortar store, too!) From there, we walked around downtown, checking out a beer shop, grabbing a coffee, and poking in lots of small local businesses. It was so nice to chat with the owners of each shop – from boutique baby clothes to fair trade stores. So much better than big-box stores!

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E always insists on “coffee water” whenever I get coffee anywhere. It’s just free water in a to-go cup but I’m sure moms of toddlers everywhere are giving him the sidelong.

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After a full day of gallivanting and an impromptu family photo shoot in the woods, we stumbled upon a pumpkin sale benefitting the church that does so much outreach for my school community – we decided to spring for one of their pumpkins this year instead of a wagon-full from another local patch. Our pumpkin came from New Mexico!

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My husband and I both returned home remarking that Saturday had been one of the best days we’ve ever had!

Despite our week of sickness and sleepless nights, we didn’t want to miss out on a single gorgeous fall day (fall is so fleeting!!), so after church Sunday, we headed out on a scenic drive, stopping only for fresh kettle corn and breathtaking overlooks. We originally wanted to hike, but we were just too tired.

We visited my favorite trees on our way out of town.

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Gosh, my boys have changed since the last time these trees were red:

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We continued our scenic drive and climbed all over the mountain rocks! I took pictures in every possible light.

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Fall-themed blogs are my favorite kind to read – thanks for cozying up to read along with me!





Pumpkin Scales, Pig Races, and Pink Skies | Very 1st Field Trip!

14 10 2015

Despite a little one at home whose temperature was flirting with the 104-degree mark, I took a personal day from work to accompany my 3-year-old on his very first field trip. The trip was to our favorite farm, but I still wanted to be there to catch all the sweet moments! As a teacher, I won’t always be able to do this, but this milestone was really important to me and was so worth forking over one of only 2 precious personal days we get each year.

But first, a look-back: last year’s and this year’s trip to the farm:

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The morning sky promised a perfect fall day on the farm:

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Listening intently to his favorite preschool teacher, clutching the brown bag lunch he wouldn’t let me hold.

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Digging for potatoes and exploring the new kiddie play area!

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10-14-15 pumpkin patch

He found the best vantage point on the hayride up to the pumpkin patch!

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The entire class rode the carousel twice… it was a long ride… and fast…

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Front row seats for the pig races.

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Finally getting to eat his lunch. We capped off the day with a zillion trips down the 40-foot underground slide, everyone’s favorite attraction.🙂

And just like last year, he slept in the car all the way back.





Juggling Act Lately

13 10 2015

Maybe it’s life with two who are getting just a little older, maybe it’s just the busy-ness of fun fall activities, but we have been go-go-go lately, with sickness to boot. So yes, this blog post is all over the place, too. Just like my thoughts these days.

Home

On the homefront, the children’s clothing app where I sell my kids’ outgrown clothing featured my shop last week (yay!), so I gained about 250 new followers and had lots and lots of sales! A lot to manage, even with a shipping scale at home. My friend’s shop was also featured, so we teamed up to do a giveaway, which brought in a lot more followers and sales. I’ve been busy packaging up items to send to sweet little fellas all over the country!

My husband has also been diligent with his business, participating in lots of fall craft shows and sales, so he’s usually off doing that in the wee hours of the morning, when he’s not running. It works out well when the baby is up with teething pains from 3-6 AM each day after nursing with me all night.

My family attempted our first mini photo session with a professional photographer, which went by too quickly for my liking, so we hung around the farm an extra 2 hours so that I could take more photos of my own at our own pace and more my style – less props, more letting the kids play while I followed them around. The day was gorgeous, and the setting was breathtaking. I spent forever trying to coordinate outfits for 4 different people and finally went to Target the night before to purchase some last-minute items, another reason I wanted to take pictures while we were all dressed at the same time!

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Our neighbors hosted an Octoberfest celebration for the neighborhood after we got home from pictures, so we stopped by and met some new faces.

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We recently had a hurricane, and my yard flooded – we were so fortunate that the only thing we lost was our garden, which was nearing the end of its season, anyway.

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E’s curly red hair was really starting to look completely unkempt, so I attempted to cut it but am not sure if I made it better or worse. I finally got mine cut, too, by someone legit.

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We took our son to his 12-month “well-baby” checkup Monday, but he was actually very sick.  The doctor was concerned that he might have pneumonia because of the way his voice was catching when he breathed, but she monitored him for 3 hours and determined it was more likely an ear infection and upper respiratory infection, topped off with a 103.6 fever that is STILL going strong at over 103 even tonight.

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Parent-teacher conferences at the boys’ preschool are tomorrow. plus we have all kinds of appointments in the next week – eye doctor, dentist, chiropractor, the works – and a new friend from church (whom we’ve never met) is coming over Friday to learn more about cloth diapers. I’m exhausted just thinking about getting everyone where they need to be while still putting in all my hours at work. On top of it all, I’m sick, too and barely have any voice left for teaching! I’m sure my immune system is down – I blame severe lack of sleep, a lotta nursing, a whole lotta coffee, not enough water, and not enough time to eat real meals today. I’ve been putting lemon EOs in my water and using Thieves EO for my whole family.

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At work

My husband and I are missing all kinds of work this week – I took off early Monday for the baby’s well visit, took a half day today for our preschooler’s field trip, and I will miss again tomorrow to stay home with our sick baby. Meanwhile, my husband already has missed two days of work being at home with him this week.

My school has had some festive fall programs in the evenings. Last week (before all this sickness!), our family literacy night was a huge success. Students came and picked up a free bagged dinner, which they ate on blankets while visiting 4 different storytelling tents. Afterward, they attended an assembly while their parents attended a workshop, then came back together again to pick up free books and make s’mores over fire pits. Afterward, they viewed Saturn through a telescope! The literacy night inspired me to take my family to a seasonal book fair, but I was too sick to walk around, so we didn’t stay long.

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Tonight was also my school’s Spirit Night at Chick-fil-a, so I just got home from facepainting for 2 hours.

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I have so many posts I want to write about – hopefully they’ll come soon! Blogging has just not been a priority lately:

  • My latest Stitch Fix.

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But instead, I think I’ll go fill my empty tank with food, infused EO water, and what bit of sleep I can catch before someone wakes up crying or needing their next dose of meds!





Normal Day Treasures

6 10 2015

normal day

The sun is back. It’s been a long time since we have caught even a ray of it! Today can pretty much be chalked up to a perfect “normal” day. I thought a lot about how grateful I am to have a generally positive attitude, as I was pulled in a million different directions at work while my sons were away from me at daycare. I began to look for the treasures hidden in the day, reflecting on each one as its own silver lining. I hope to collect these thoughts later in my journal of blessings (inspired by Ann Voskamp).

The fog settling over the valley was so pretty during my drive to work this morning. Stumbling over my words as I tried to explain fog to my 3-year-old.

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My 12-month-old waving goodbye to me from the comfort of his teacher’s arms. A tear-free transition. Finally.

Arriving to work 10 minutes early and using the time to walk a prayer circle behind the school. Still in awe that I get to work in such a beautiful place.

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And feeling blessed that at my new job, I get to be a full-blown counselor. Almost 100% of my time is spent directly with students individually, in small groups, and in the classroom (I log my hours in NoteCounselor after school every day). When I’m not directly with students, I’m talking to their parents or conferencing with their teachers, also direct hours. It makes for busy days, and my principal has begun to exclaim, “You came back!” after some of the most eventful days.

Getting a handwritten card from my principal, just thanking me for being at the school and being a positive light.

Having one of the most respected teachers in the school, the one who never speaks when I teach in her classroom, seek me out in my office later just to say, “Thank you. You have such a calm and soothing voice for the kids, you talk to them in such a way that they have no choice but to want to follow your directions.”

Me: an awe-struck puddle on the floor.

Missing lunch to facilitate the toughest small group of them all, and seeing the boys’ tough exteriors begin to crack as they slowly trust each other. Finding a pocket of 10 minutes afterward to eat a bowl of hot soup and a full-size Hershey bar.

At car rider duty, a parent sincerely telling me, “It’s so nice to see a smiling face every single day. Thank you.”

Staying after school to coach a running club, running alongside a new coworker who is exactly my pace, and finding out we grew up in the same hometown.

My 3-year-old, after spotting me at daycare, running toward the gate with open arms, not yet too cool for such affection over Mommy or for falling head over heels to hug me.

Finding a free book for the boys in our mailbox: “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat.”

Wolfing down leftover Greek dinner my husband made last night before leaving the house one last time for the evening.

Driving through my favorite canopy of trees today…

…six different times.

The first and sixth trips with cups of hot coffee.

Opting to let my hairdresser straighten my hair before I left. (I ALWAYS leave the salon with wet curly hair.) Laughing with her about the 3 wiry white hairs I found on my head this week.

Teaching my 3-year-old how to play a board game before bed. How to roll a die. How to take turns and play fairly.

Watching his excitement as he taught his daddy how to play the same game while I watched, nursing the baby to sleep.

Trying on pretty Stitch Fix items, debating what to keep and what to send back.

Finding quiet time to blog and do laundry.

Grateful for my decision to cloth diaper as I hung them to dry. Looking forward to having a new friend over next week who wants to learn about cloth diapers.

Thinking about the 5 cute little cloth diaper pails, lined up all in a row at daycare.

Being able to answer my toddler when he asked, “Mommy, are you coming to the pumpkin patch with me and my class?”

“Yes, Mommy is coming.”

I’d rearrange the world for you. 





Baby’s 1st Birthday | Bushels of Fun

2 10 2015

So my little man turned ONE this week! And he took his first steps today! September has all-new meaning for me because of his birthday, and I thought a fall-themed party would be the perfect kickoff for my most favorite season.

Confession. I kept his party (relatively) simpler than his brother’s 1st birthday party (recaps here and here), especially now that we are a family of four with an all-new routine with my new job and the kids’ new daycare. It has been quite an adjustment. Invites were electronic, party shopping happened the day before, and we didn’t have time to crank out many of the dishes we had planned. But in the end, none of that mattered – Sage had a blast, and E keeps asking, “when can we go back to Sage’s party?”

The decor

I went for a “Bushels of Fun” apple theme using red and green. The homemade Happy Birthday banner was still up from E’s birthday (oops), so I just replaced the pictures of dump trucks and tractors with apple bushels. I blew up 30 red and green balloons the morning of the party while nursing Sage. Great way to almost make yourself pass out, I tell ya. I drew cute apple faces on the balloons and strung some around the house and scattered the others on the floor. Simple!

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Our dining room table was already decorated for fall, so all I had to add was real apples to the pumpkin basket and this year’s handprints to our pumpkins – the boys add a handprint to their white pumpkins each year. We bought them at Michael’s and found the decorative candy apples at HomeGoods.

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I framed a fall printable I found on a Five on Friday blog, hung a fall bucket list artwork that I designed last year, and taped up Sage’s monthly picture collage. I put a pumpkin and a basket of favors by the door, which I forgot to hand out to our guests as they left!! We did get to send home balloons with the kids, though!

The food

We served 3-ingredient crockpot meatballs, homemade pretzel rolls, apple turnovers, Carolina Charm’s best pumpkin dip (served with ginger snaps, apple slices, and Nilla Wafers), macaroni muffins (better in theory than in execution), a fresh veggie tray, fresh apple cider, cake, and ice cream cups. Probably other fancies I’m forgetting, but the kitchen was very hectic in the last 30 minutes before the party – it’s all a blur! I completely forgot to take a picture of the counter-full of food, but I did manage to grab a pic of the dip before it was gone!

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The games

We bobbed for apples using tongs and butterfly nets! I saw the butterfly nets for $7.99 each at our toy story but then found them for $1 at Dollar Tree. If I could do it again, I’d buy a net for each child and let them keep them! It was rainy and wet outside, so we stayed on the back patio under our canopy. (That canopy has since gone the way of the wind after an unanticipated flash flood two days after the party!) The kids took turns transferring apples from one bucket of water to another. After the party, we let E bob for apples a few more times before pajama time.

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The presents

Our friends and family were over-the-top generous with their gifts, and thank-you notes are on my to-do list this rainy weekend, I promise! My sister was so sweet with the present she sent! She wrapped the shipping box and filled it with GLITTER RAINBOW TISSUE PAPER and all kinds of toddler goodies! We took our time opening her present with breakfast – such a fun way to start a birthday!

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Lucky kid!

We had Sage’s silhouette cut at our local toy store just in time for his party by the same man who did E’s 2 years ago. Once again, he was spot-on! We also gave Sage a set of wooden Hape blocks that we found during Target’s deep toy clearance sale last summer, along with a handful of fall books. E gave him a pack of Squigs that we’ll use for traveling and going out to eat.

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The cake

I wanted something that would be easy to pass out to our friends and family, so we went with cupcakes and ice cream cups. But I just couldn’t resist making a smash cake for our little sweet tooth. This was NOT his first rodeo with cake by ANY means, but we’ve never put a whole cake in front of him. He did not disappoint!

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I made cupcakes (spice and chocolate) into apple shapes by baking them with tin foil balls tucked behind the wrappers. (You could also use marbles to create the same effect.) My sweet husband dug all the green gum drops out of the bulk candy bin at the grocery store, and I cut them into thirds using cooking scissors.

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I left a whole gum drop on the smash cake to make a large leaf. I used pretzel sticks for the apple stems. I used Carolina Charm’s tips for icing cupcakes (this tutorial has been a lifesaver for SO many parties!). After finishing Sage’s smash cake, it needed a little something, so I added a face with black gel icing and red sprinkles for cheeks.

Sage’s cake turned out smaller than I had planned after it broke in half while I was assembling it, but it ended up being the perfect size for his high chair tray. And honestly, it only stayed upright for a couple minutes, anyway…

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And then it just exploded.

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And he started kneading the cake like dough.

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It was almost therapeutic to watch.

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The face of a kid who LOVED his birthday.

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Loved it! We marked his height on his new growth chart ruler, bobbed for more apples, and then it was off to bed for the birthday boy!








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