Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Officially Documented

The number one thing I love about my blog is the documentation of many events and stories from our lives. I'm able to keep up with most major events and activities on here with the occasional updates about the kiddos. This post is just a documentation of miscellaneous {and rather non-blog-worthy} aspects from our life in 2012, but yet together I like it as a snapshot of our life over the past year. 

{With the exception of Revolution, Sons of Anarchy, Amazing Race, and Survivor-- 
the rest were all watched courtesy of Netflix. It's better than cable any day!}

{We watch A LOT of movies, so for the sake of time and space we narrowed it down to our favorites 
...and meet the criteria for recommendation-to-parents-and/or-grandparents.} 

{This was the first year I started reading digital books! I still prefer an actual book,
 but I read several titles that I "checked out" from my library to my Nook.}

{If you're from Kansas City, then you can understand why the BBQ gets it's very own category!! 
If not, you need to come visit and you'll understand. It's the best BBQ you'll ever have.}

{Derek is pleased to have a car that actually runs plus it's the first car he's ever owned from the current century! And even though the car was used, I wasn't completely convinced that we needed an actual 2012 vehicle. But once I looked at it as "Jackson's first car" then it started to make more sense. We'll throw a bow on it in 2024 for his 16th birthday.}

{Poor Belle, she didn't go on many "individual" trips. Probably because she's sleeps about as good as
 a newborn with an ear infection if she's not in her own bed.... maybe next year!}

{Derek says he's not a fan of playing games, but he sure in an expert at those "unconventional" games!}

{And for the first year ever, all of our personal computers run on non-Windows operating systems. Derek's run on Linux and I converted to Mac this summer.}

What this post lacks in entertainment and cute photos of the kids, makes up for in "official documentation" so that in ten years we can look back and be all like, "O.M.Gee! Remember cell phones?! Pfft... that's so 2012! These days all of our communication devices implanted right into our bodies!" and "I can't even remember what it was like to have a car that didn't drive on it's own... let alone one that had a manual transmission! .... Life was so barbaric in 2012". :)

Happy New Years Folks!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas morning

I'm still recovering from my Christmas hangover {and doing my best to adjust to start working full time next week}, but I still wanted to share some of my favorite photos from our wonderful Christmas. I have so many great pics that I'm going to share just our Christmas morning pictures today and then the rest of the Christmas events and celebration photos tomorrow!

I feel as if I should mention that my kids slept in on Christmas morning... how long they would have slept is a mystery as it was my husband who insisted on waking the family up for presents! Like, he set an alarm. His motto "the more time you're awake on Christmas, the more time you have to celebrate the magical day." I don't stand a chance to ever sleep in on Christmas morning for the rest of my life. But that being said, I can appreciate his enthusiasm. 

I didn't snap any pictures, but we read the Christmas story from Luke before we got started. Belle wouldn't stay seated and Jackson was pretty distracted, so it wasn't a tender-loving moment, but we did it nonetheless! 

Christmas morning!

 Belle's Santa gift
{I scored this set off Craigslist for $10 this fall!}

Jackson's Santa gift
{I picked up this big matchbox city also this fall for $15!}

Both of the kids were so excited about the oranges in their stockings!

While I never want the focus to be just no gifts, I like to document some of the gifts just so I can look back and remember someday. So just for memories sake, here's a quick run down of Christmas presents. Both of the kids got some much needed new bath toys. Jackson got a Tag Reader, a winter hat with gloves, along with some Cars figurines, Mater and Francesco. Belle got a Repunzel doll with a matching dress up outfit and a Minnie mouse phone. The kids got me some new dish towels and a hot pad mitten. They picked out new pens for Derek and I got him a new computer monitor. And look at my awesome new necklace! To say I love it is simply an understatement! It easily goes down as one of my favorite Christmas presents.

Watching the kids on Christmas was so much fun this year! I got some great videos too. I consciously decided to only take pictures for a little bit, so I could be present and just enjoy the moment. But that also means that I didn't get any pictures of Derek and me. It's probably for the better, really... opening gifts was pre-shower and it wouldn't have been pretty! :)


Hanging up the SAHM hat

Christmas was fantastic. Everything I could have dreamt it to be and more. Like I said on Twitter yesterday, Nothing is sweeter than experiencing the joy of Christmas with young children! I'll try to get around to posting some pictures soon! :)

This Christmas has been particularly chaotic for me. Not so much in having actual things to do and cram into the schedule, but my mind has just been cluttered-- which has then left me cramming things in at the last minute because I completely forgot a lot of things! Lots of joy and happiness have been filling my heart and mind in the past few days and weeks, but also anxiety and stress.

Next Wednesday I will trade in my Stay At Home Mom hat for a new Working Mom hat. 

Granted, it's a working-for-free hat as it's my internship for grad school. {And in fact, I am actually PAYING to for the college credits and PAYING for childcare.} But nonetheless, it's happening. My kids will be going to full-time childcare while I will be interning and going to class.

I never expected myself to be here, really. I wrote last year about being "just" a mom and I found total contentment {and complete joy} in doing just that. This new season is right around the corner; I'm excited. I keep reminding myself of that. But it is SO hard to know I will not be around with/for my kids full time. Tears well up even just typing it!

I've been putting off this paper work because I just want to write out every little thing about how to care for my kids-- please make sure the kids eat their veggies for lunch first. Jackson likes to snuggle after his nap. Belle would be happy to sit on your lap all day to read books-- as if I feel like I won't ever be able to snuggle or read to my kids again. It's completely ridiculous how irrational this whole ordeal has made me!

There is a ton of positive aspects to this new change-- I'll be GRADUATING in July. I will be getting to MAKE A DIFFERENCE as a therapist at a homeless and substance abuse center in our city. My kids will get to play with several other kids and have awesome structure in a way that I am plain terrible at providing. Oh, and I couldn't be happier with the kids' teacher, Ms Beth! As soon as I decided to take on this full time endeavor, she was my first contact to see if she had any openings and I am thankful beyond belief that she did!

All that being said, I am still in fact, very sad about leaving the kids. The reality didn't even set in until last week when I went to finalize the details for childcare. Up until that point, this whole plan was just something "in the future"... only now it's, like next week.

I know in my head that everything will be fine, just as everyone keeps telling me. But I am still incredibly anxious and sad. Mostly, I'm anxious about how the kids will adjust {especially that Jackson has cried on more than one occasion specifically saying that he just wants to stay home and doesn't want to go to school.} But, I know they'll have a ton of fun. Plus, I really think the structure will be great for him.

I'm sad just because I really do LOVE being at home with my kids-- even on crazy days. I love going to the park, story time, playdates with friends. I love the flexibility to play in the snow or swim in the pool; to visit Daddy at work and lunch with Great Grandpa. Truthfully, I find great fulfillment in staying home with my kids. Staying at home wasn't every Option B, but rather something I have always planned and wanted to do. So, my sadness is really just a sorrow for what will be missed {mostly on my part because my kids probably won't care}.

In short,

  • Good news: I'll be GRADUATING in July. NO MORE SCHOOL!
  • Good news: I will finally be doing what I've been studying to do for five years now.
  • Bad news: The kids will be going to full time childcare instead of staying home with me.
  • Good news: I couldn't be happier with our childcare provider.
  • Good news: This is only a seven month plan here. I will be at home with my kids again. 
  • Bad news: I'm an emotional mess. 
  • Good news: Once the new schedule begins, the anxiety of the unknown will fade and we can work on finding a new normal.
  • Good news: I've been getting a lot of my "want to get done" list because for some reason, I feel like I will never have time to do anything ever again.
  • Bad news: That's still six days away... six more emotional days coming up
  • Good news: My husband is AWESOME. He's been a total support from start to finish with my school and he's been a champ with dealing with all the crying {because normally, I rarely cry. But these days, just one thought about, "no summer reading programs this year" and I'm a mess.}
  • Good news: I am surrounded by positive and encouraging family and friends from all over. Really, I hope y'all have as great of friends as I do. 
  • Good news: My mother-in-law has told me that my house will stay cleaner because the kids won't have as much time to tear it apart! :)
  • Good news: I have an entire new wardrobe because yoga pants and sweatshirts {acceptable mom attire} aren't acceptable in the "real world". 
  • Good news: I am more concerned about the transition of not being a stay at home mom than I am about being a mental healthcare provider to homeless men with substance abuse addictions. I guess that means I'm ready!! 
Of course, the positives outweigh the negatives. It's a shame the emotions with negatives are just so prevalent! It's a conscious choice to focus on the good and I need to be doing that more.

I welcome any and all advice on being a working mom and/or ways to get the most out of time with the kids in the evenings! I also covet prayers for my kids as this will be a big transition for them, especially Jackson. I'd love prayers for the rest of this week-- for it to go smooth and for us to enjoy our time together!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Friends!

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them,'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people . Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.' --- Luke 2:9-11


Friday, December 21, 2012

Our Christmas Card

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the Christmas cards! I love sending them, I love getting them, and I love seeing all the family pictures! Most of my cards have been mailed and delivered so now I want to share it here!

{photo credit: Dani Gillihan Photography}

Our card is pretty basic, but I love how it turned out!

I hesitate to share my secret of our frugal Christmas cards because I don't want to come across too stringy! But, in reality, I love to send out as many cards as possible and I just can't make it happen when we spend a lot on cards. So this is less about saving money, but more about getting more cards for the same price! 

I stumbled across this gem of information by accident last year-- Walmart has 4x6 envelopes for greeting cards and all you have to do is ask. They were nice envelopes this year too, with lining and everything!

So basically I just added a frame to a family photo using Picasa and had them printed using the 1 hour photo lab at Walmart for 19¢ a piece. They simply gave me the envelopes when I asked. I printed about 100 and it was just a little more than $20 after tax. Fortunately, I didn't have to mail most of them! I was able to hand them out at Bible Study and MOPS. And our church has a great fundraiser where the children's department collects and delivers the cards to our church friends! 

So, that's my Christmas card secret. I love how they turned out and I've gotten lots of compliments! Hopefully none of you are heartbroken that the card you received cost less than a quarter!! Maybe when we don't have to buy diapers and pay for grad school we'll be able to send out "real" cards! :)

Merry Christmas! 


Thursday, December 20, 2012


Jackson has been soooo anxious to get some snow. Me too, actually. As much as I've enjoyed the 60 degree weather that has been popping up lately, Christmas is just more Christmasy when it's white outside! Jackson was SO excited to see the snow out the window this morning. He said, "What the HECK?! Mom, can you believe this?!?"

He was ready to go play outside as soon as he got out of bed. I managed to get him to wait a couple of hours so it could warm up a little bit, but we were out before 11:00 this morning. Both of the kids were SO full of joy to be out in the snow!

The first thing Jackson did was to pick up a pile of snow and throw it at me. 

But I convinced him to throw the snow up in the air instead. :)

This was Belle's first "real" snow. Last year we only got one little dusting of snow in January! She is a definite fan!

The kids had fun digging up snow and making footprints all over the snow. But the favorite activity was making snow angels! I'm not even sure exactly how Jackson knew how to make one, but he was a professional! Belle, well, not so much. As soon as she saw Jackson laying down, she wanted to do the same. But when I told her to move her arms, she just wiggled them in the air. I wish I could've gotten it on video.

It was so funny watching Belle walk around in her coat. If you've ever been to a Royals game and watched the hotdogs race, then you've seen Belle running around with her coat; it was like she couldn't bend at the waist. She'd just fall over and roll around like a log. I hope it snows more this winter so we can play in the snow some more. I loved their excitement!

Lastly, I'll share a video I took of the kids this morning when they were so excited first see the snow. It took a completely different turn than I expected...


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Choosing Joy

Despite having a million things I've been wanting to blog about lately, I haven't really been able to make it happen. My heart and mind have been so preoccupied with the events of last Friday and so I feel I should address it, but at the same time, I don't really have anything to say, or anything new at least. It's all anyone can talk about; it's all been said. But this has weighed so heavy on my heart, I don't feel I should blog about anything until I address it.

My heart was broken into a million tiny pieces. Honestly, I kept waiting for the headlines to change. But it didn't. I don't understand. No one does. The slaughter of children, the intentional slaughter. This is beyond thinkable. Evil, pure evil. 

The best thing I've done for myself it to keep the TV off. I haven't read news reports since the initial headlines came out. I don't need to know details-- method of entry, the thoughts of the children as they waited in terror, number of guns shots, guns used, dates and times of funerals. Honestly, I don't think any of the public needs to know. But, it sells. Unfortunately, stories like this are profitable. I chose to give the true victims their space; to respect their grieving. I chose to spend my time focusing on the things I have control over in my life-- to hug my children, to teach them to love others, to do my part in making the world a better and safer place. I can't allow myself to get sucked into this story that it takes away from living the life I still have to live. Worry and fear will defeat me. Evil cannot win.

Evil doesn't win. 

The first person ever born on this earth was the first murderer. And ever since that time, evil has infiltrated our world flooding our history books with stories of death and destruction. Evil still doesn't win. God defeated Satan before our life even began. The only battle left is the one in which Satan is trying to follow him. There is a hope in Christ. All things good, all things pure, all things holy come from Christ. I find my peace in knowing this is not my home. My home is in Heaven with Christ Jesus along with all other believers. 

This promise of victory doesn't take the hurt away from the dozens of families missing their loved ones from this senseless act or any other difficult situation. But it offers a hope in this world of hurt, and a peace to the people who ask. 

It seems frivolous to continue to blog about silly little things like my kids eating their pizza weird and showcasing their latest pieces of artwork. But, I won't stop. I want my blog space to be a happy place. I enjoy documenting the journey of our family. And I won't deny that all parenting moments are perfect, but even in those moments, there is still joy to be found {somewhere... even it it's really deep!!!}. Sharing these stories and photos brings joy to me and it brings joy to my family, who constantly remind me that they enjoy reading the lastest posts. And I love the 'online' friendships I've made in the process, even though I feel kind of like a loser just saying that. {I have friends in real life too!!}.

To fully live life is to enjoy the little moments and that's what I'll continue to do. For me right now, that means getting so excited for my kids when they see a firetruck in the parking lot at the grocery store that I drive away leaving my food in the cart, still in middle of the parking lot! I chose joy and I hope that you do too!

Regular programming will commence shortly. :)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Art projects just aren't my thing as a stay-at-home mom. I rarely dig out materials to have the kids lose interest in .2 seconds. Not to say that it never happens. Recently I've made a very distinct effort to do more artsy crafty activities with the kiddos. That being said, it has also led to the accumulation of papers around the house-- and I cherish those papers, I do. However, many of them have found their way to the recycle bin after being displayed on the fridge for awhile. But not without me taking some photos first! 
September 19 @ MOPS

I printed this off and Jackson completed this work sheet on September 19th. His only challenges were the letters that are similar to others (d/b; p/q). Not bad for a then 3 year old!

Jackson traced most of the dinosaur and drew his head and tail. I snapped this photo on October 8, so he worked on it around that time. 

Jackson enjoyed making this rainbow in October too. {He mainly enjoyed eating fruit loops as he worked}.

Notice the bite missing?! That's because little sister pulled it off the fridge and was trying to eat some of the fruit loops as well. Mind you, this was nearly a week after later. Gross.

This is Jackson's first attempt at writing his name with no help from me! Dry erase boards are genius.

I think i already shared this photo maybe, but I love it. It's a project from MOPS last Spring. The kids took off their shoes, traced, cut and then glued them. on the opposite side. Miss Deborah just loved how Jackson insisted that his dinosaur participate and she traced and cut the dinosaur's feet too. 

This is from the library today- December 11. Drawing tracks and smoke is about as interested as Jackson gets with crayons. 

And lastly, the next projects are ones we worked on this week. I'm a little bit proud for coming up with these on a whim-- the tree one especially because I even made Christmas tree cookies and so it was like an entire "themed" afternoon. Seriously, it was like an out of body experience. But anyway...

I cut simple shapes for the tree, trunk, star and presents. And then I used a whole punch, placed a ton of glue dots on the tree and the kids went to town. I kept adding more and more dots! So simple, but the kids enjoyed it-- and it's a pretty Christmas tree!

And lastly-- this activity is GENIUS. I'm telling you {it's the brainchild of a stressed out Mommy because it's too cold to play outside and the kids have too much energy!} I like these abstract pieces and it was amazing how much it helped with the crazy afternoon energies!

Let me tell you-- this lasted 40 minutes. Seriously. 

  1. First, I got out all my scrap pieces of construction paper from other projects. I let Jackson practice cutting, a skill I know they test for pre-k. He loves to use scissors (kid ones definitely!) and it was good practice too! Eventually, he got bored. 
  2. So I began to think how to expand the project. And I remembered that one time the librarian at storytime told us that tearing paper was a great way to practice fine motor skills. So then the kids tore into smaller pieces! 
  3. Eventually we ended up with a million pieces of construction paper all over the table (and floor). The dots of glue were a hit earlier in the week, so I tried it again. I did about 6 dots at at time. And Jackson was completely into the project... carefully selecting his pieces. Belle enjoyed it too! It's rare for Jackson to ever care that anything is colorful (he colors with black, 5 seconds top) and he was so proud of all of these colors. 

So not only was this a long (worth the effort of getting out materials and cleaning up mess) project, but the kids also practiced good skills! It entertained my not-interested-in-art son and it was a great way to utilize my construction paper scraps. And we have some pretty new artwork for the fridge. Win, Win, Win, Win!


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