Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter and Birthday Celebrations

This post could alternatively be titled, "The post with a kazillion pictures." It was really nice having my birthday so close to the holiday weekend because we got to spend so much time with family! The weather was amazing for all of our outside festivities and so it was just a great weekend. A perfect weekend, actually!

Jackson had his Easter egg hunt at school last week. I volunteered with my a few other parents to hide a couple hundred eggs for the morning preschool class. I love being able to participate with his school activities!

Jackson had so much fun hunting for eggs at school that he wanted to do more hunting at home, even though I told him all of the eggs would be empty. The kids loved it. And after they all searched for eggs took turns hiding. This is Belle hiding her eggs for me. Don't you love it?

Friday evening, we enjoyed a nice dinner on the patio at McAlister's Deli. There were three families outside, including ours, and we all had boys who ended up playing together on the steps and ledges of the patio. As we were leaving, I called out to Jackson that it was time to leave and both other boys looked up, too. Can you believe that all of the boys playing together had the same name? 

We ventured to a new park by accident after dinner and it was awesome. This will have it's own blog post sometime. We had a ton of fun and Jackson has been asking to go back ever since!

Saturday morning, the kids and I dyed eggs and headed off to the Easter egg hunt at church. Jackson was too fast and too busy to take fun photos of him hunting! :)

Belle was so excited to examine the contents of her eggs. She loved finding tootsie rolls, but was very disappointed when she found one with lose change. Oh, to be three! :)

We drove up to my parents house after naps. We did more egg hunting and enjoyed another meal outside. Have I mentioned that I love eating-outside weather? Dad grilled a steak, tilapia, and shrimp and Mom made her delicious oven potatoes, green bean casserole, and so many other tasty things for my birthday dinner. My tummy just growled thinking about it. Can it be my birthday again??

We played Phase 10 that night. I love playing games. 

 These two don't share my love for games, but they willingly participated. They weren't cooperating for a picture though and this is my dad saying, "This better not end up on the internet!" Oops? :)

Here's our official Easter 2014 picture. The kiddos got new flip flops from Grammy while we were at their house on Saturday night. Both insisted on wearing them on Sunday morning and I couldn't really think of a reason why they shouldn't, so here they are in their Sunday Best with their new shoes. 

 Here are the outtakes. My poor kids, they have no personality. Kidding of course! I love some of these as much as the proper picture!

We enjoyed Easter lunch over at my in-laws house and hung out there most of the day. Derek's Aunt Dixie and I shared a birthday cake, which was very tasty. 

My birthday was Monday and I took the kiddos to visit Derek's office for a picnic lunch. If you're counting, that's three outdoor meals in four days. LOVE IT! :)

Know what the kids loved? Derek's office. And who could blame them? I mean, with basketball hoops, a giant slide, video games, foosball and ping pong tables, and an entire dodgeball court... they have been practically asking to go to work with Daddy ever since. Derek did show us some of the big servers and other technical nerd stuff, but.... it's all pretty much over my head and so I just nod along. :)

One of our babysitters messaged me last week to ask if I'd like her to come watch the kiddos for a bit on my birthday. Of course I took her up on the offer and left to get a pedicure. It was so relaxing and quiet! The perfect gift! We went to dinner with Derek's side of the family that night at Olive Garden. Oh man, I love their salad and breadsticks. It was so yummy and the company was great! 

What a fun weekend! I've had a few extra naps this week to recover! 


Monday, April 21, 2014


Today is my birthday-- the big 3-0. THIRTY! Practically ancient. :) I always kind of expected turning 30 would be like it was for the gang on Friends. All of them a bit reluctant and sad to be leaving their 20s behind. But even if I tried, I don't think I could be sad about where I am at 30. I suppose it might be different if people didn't assume I'm still in high school, but it happens on occasion. If anything, it's a bit more fun the older I get to reveal my age to those pesky people who inquire about my upcoming high school graduation. Seriously, this happens to me.

Birthdays are a big point of reflection and as I approached this big milestone, I couldn't help but ponder if I am satisfied with how I've lived my first thirty years. And without a doubt, I can say I am totally satisfied! There have been times when I have felt overwhelmed and in over my head with our schedule and busy lives, but I can say without a doubt that I have lived SO much during my thirty years and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Without trying to be all braggy and making this all about me-- I want to share some of what I have crammed into these thirty years. 

There are a ton of things that I have done that I am proud of:
  • Graduations--high school, college, graduate school
  • Being a mother to 2 (and a half) kiddos
  • Owning a home that we fixed up (with help, of course!)
  • Spending time serving others with my family, my church, and friends
 Me and my two babies

A couple before pics of the house when we bought it

There are a ton of places I have lived:
  • Five states, seven cities, even more houses by the time I started 8th grade
  • In the middle of nowhere
  • In the city
  • a summer in Myrtle Beach
  • a summer in Colorado Springs
  • Springfield -- I heart my college town
  • Kansas City -- I love my city!
Myrtle Beach

 The Springfield Fork

There are a ton of places I have traveled:
  • A European tour, 7 countries in two weeks during high school
  • A month in China during a summer in college
  • College road trips: Disney World and Dr. Pepper Museum
  • Vacations with Derek in Florida, Colorado, California, & Texas
  • Thanksgiving in San Diego, a summer missionary reunion in Baton Rouge, visited a high school BFF in Chicago, explored NYC with my college roomie
  • And of course, visiting the Biltmore mansion right after the movie Richie Rich was released

I've had a ton of adventures:
  • White water rafting in Colorado Mountains
  • Zip-lining across the mountains in Switzerland
  • Hiked the 14,000 foot Mount Democrat in Colorado 
  • Riding the rides and coasters on top of the Stratosphere hotel in Vegas 
  • Beating a boy in a nail-biting race at a little kid race track in North Carolina (epic)

Never again. (I'm in blue in the front with my sister)

I've had a ton of really unique and exciting experiences-- some major, some small:
  • Being an army wife
  • Hosting a foreign exchange student
  • Loving and caring for five kiddos in my home, other than  my own (not all at once!)
  • Attending a presidential campaign rally
  • Winning prizes on the radio station more times that odds say I should
  • Meeting my favorite author! 
  • Seeing some of my favorite bands in concert!
  • I routinely enjoy book club, date nights, and playing games
  • In middle school, I was once in a chess club, on a swim team, ski team, and on a gymnastics team, With the exception of skiing, I was terrible.
  • Also, I once started a fire by rubbing two sticks together, made flies to go fly fishing, and cooked a pizza in a cardboard oven (using coals) while the oven never caught on fire.
Derek's AIT graduation

Julie's Graduation

Meeting my favorite author, Meg Cabot

I have had the best group of friends in high school. Another great group of friends in college. And I am still surrounded by a great group of friends. I have a wonderful family that we really enjoy spending time with on a regular basis! I have worked so many jobs that I have enjoyed in the past and now I am working my dream job as a therapist.

With some of my besties from college! Love this pic.

I married my best friend. We have cute kids. And we have a happy (most of the time) family! I have been so incredibly blessed and I'm thrilled with these first thirty years.

Of course, the best thing I have ever done in my thirty years is to love God and follow him. My desire is to honor, obey, and serve him and though I am far from perfection, He continues to bless my life. My worst days are when I tend to focus on me and my selfishness and so I try to spend time and effort serving and being a blessing to others. 

As I approach my thirties, I am more confident in who I am and who I want to be than ever before. All of my accomplishments, travels, experiences-- they have all shaped me into who I am today. It's made me open-minded, accepting, and understanding person, which I feel are some of my best traits. Of course, I'm also more aware of my not-so-great strengths and while I am always trying to become more patient and more organized, I can accept who I am and not want to be anyone else!

I am very much looking forward to what will come during my 30s, 40s, and on and on! I love being on the go and trying new experiences and so I'm sure they will continue to be just as jam packed. I mean, if I'm only going to have one life, I am going to cram it full!!! There are three major things I wish I could have added to my list of completed by thirty, but they'll be on the list someday.
  1. Attend the Price is Right. Ideally, I'd win a car. Also, I have already designed my shirt
  2. Be debt free. Here's looking at you student loans... 
  3. Live, even if temporarily, in a big city like NYC or somewhere in Europe. No car, tiny apartment. Lots of things to see and do!

I'm off having a great day with my peeps and this evening I'm going to be enjoying Olive Garden's delicious breadsticks and salad with my nearest and dearest. Yum! Can't wait!!! 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

For all of my family who read this just to look at pictures of the kiddos-- this post is for you! Here's the latest from my instgram feed from the past several months. (Are you on instagram? Let's be friends!)

Poor second chid had to entertain herself during big brother's basketball practice. Good think we could put our ancient early generation ipod brick to work! It's full of Frozen music, of course.

 I've finally been able to cash in on child labor this year-- actual productive help from the kiddos! It's wonderful. Also-- we hate this tree.

I titled this, "Threenager". Also, this is the first picture that when I see it, I actually see how much she looks like me (like people always tell me!).

A few weekends ago, Derek and I enjoyed a great date night. A nice steak dinner and Captain America! 

We got invited to a Royals game the next day and my M-I-L watched the kiddos again! Two dates, two days in a row! We're so spoiled. The weather was great and we won! 

Jackson performed with kids choir at church a few Sundays ago. He sang AND he participated with the motions!!! I was so shocked. I mean, no spit bubbles or angry face! The video I have is great and he made the entire congregation laugh. 

Belle has been checking the progress of the daffodils ever since they first shot up. We've observed the closed blooms and she was super thrilled when they fully bloomed. She said, "I want to look at them forever!" Me too! I love spring flowers!!!

During a nice day last week, we walked to our favorite train spot! I can barely believe that it's been THREE years that we've been going on this walk. Kids still love it! :)

This special smile is reserved for the happy boy who finally got to wear shorts to school last week! (Not pictured: the tears that came this week when it SNOWED and I made him wear jeans.) This boy is ready for spring to come and stay!

I didn't post my a belly pic with my post last week, so I made sure to take a pic this weekend. Ya know, when I was actually showered and in real clothes! :) 

While Derek was dutifully serving our country at drill last weekend, I traveled down to Springfield with my family to visit my sister. The weather was a beautiful 80° so we took a hike! 

We visited Incredible Pizza, too and Papa Johne helped him win some tickets while giving him pointers on how to shoot a rifle. Jackson earned a ton of tickets and picked out a dozen little army men. Belle just wanted a piece of candy. (of course!)

Meet Pinkalicious, though if she heard me call her that, she'd protest, "I am not pinkalicious! I am BELLE!!!" She's pink from head to toe almost every day. And the other day when she wore blue, she cried. Good thing we have lots and lots of pink.

Lastly, this dude cooked dinner tonight! How cute is he in his camo hat and Captain America apron? Also, he's always shirtless these days.  I'm telling you, this kid was made for summer. 

Somedays I actually feel as if I don't do a good job of getting enough pictures of the kiddos. It's laughable, right? Can I blame pregnancy hormones? Well, I do still feel legitimately guilty that I have yet to get Belle's two year pictures professional done. Or her three year. Sorry sweetie! At least I have cute pictures of you checking out daffodils! 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

16 weeks

Tuesdays are so fun for me! I love getting my pregnancy emails and app reminders on my phone each week to tell me how far along I am and all about the baby! I'm not particularly interested in taking a picture today, so instead here's a picture of the baby's little hand (compared to the average nine month hand).

How far along?: 16 weeks
How big is your baby?: 4.5 inches, about the size of an avacado
Total weight gain?: 4 pounds, ish
Sex: I am SO anxious to find out. Our sono appointment is scheduled at the end of the month
Maternity clothes: Yes, lots of them. My pregnancy emails keep telling me that "I won't need maternity clothes yet" but I've been sporting some since nine weeks! I can still wear a few non-maternity pieces, but not many. 
Stretch marks: None yet! Hoping it stays that way.
Movement: I've been feeling little flutters this week. So fun! I wouldn't have thought it was the baby, but it happened right after my OB appointment last week and it was in the same spot we heard the baby heartbeat.
Sleep: No major complaints. Unless you count my 5 year old climbing in bed and sleeping thisclose to me all night. I can still sleep on my stomach (kind of, anyway) and I'm not taking it for granted.  
Best moment this week: Feeling baby move, for sure!
Food cravings: No hardcore cravings yet... but I haven't been planning well for taking lunch or dinner when I work and if I get to hungry, I just have to go to the closest fast food place. I try so hard to plan, but by the time I get the kids out the door (with their lunches!) I have forgotten about me! 
Labor signs: Definitely not
Belly button in or out: In
What I miss: Nothing really.
What I'm looking forward to: Finding out the gender for sure. I have probably three outfits each that I have from Jackson and Belle... so I have a lot of shopping to do. We'll find out what we're having right in time for garage sale season! :)


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Touch-a-truck and Chuck E. Cheese

Last Saturday, after I spent the morning running a 5k, we still had a day full of fun ahead of us! Our neighboring community hosted a Touch-a-Truck event, which is exactly as it sounds.

The kids climbed...

test drove...


climbed some more...

climbed higher...

And explored almost every inch!

The kids literally touched every vehicle there that day!

As cool as the kids thought it was, Derek and I enjoyed it, too! 

Later that afternoon, I took Jackson to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. It was actually pretty convenient because Jackson has been asking and asking to go to an arcade lately! The party was looong but only because there were at least six other parties going on at the same time, in the same room and they coordinate all of the festivities between all of the groups. Man, it was a crazy house! But Jackson had a great time. 

Jackson earned over 100 tickets from the arcade games. He picked out two crazy straws to bring home and to share one with Belle! I loved some one on one time with my little fella! 



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