Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Midweek Date Night

Last night, Derek and I enjoyed a mid-week date night, which is something we rarely ever do! It was fun just to switch things up and do things differently. And the timing was perfect. Derek has a three day army drill this weekend and since he is missing a day of civilian work on Friday, he's working long days to make up the time!

So what we'd do? Well, pretty much what we do every date night-- dinner and a movie. But, it's our favorite thing to do, so it works for us!

First off, Dinner. Derek picked a new place and kept me in the dark until we pretty much pulled in the parking lot. And as we drove up, he said "It's a local, organic restaurant!" Of course, I was super impressed that he picked somewhere he knew I'd like for offering real (non-processed) food with natural ingredients! But inside I was secretly worried that I'd end up having to order a kale salad when all I wanted was a burger. Well, as it turns out-- I did get to order a burger. And cheese fries with crumbled bacon. It just happened to be a grass-fed, organic beef burger with an home-made egg bun. Real potatoes cooked in non-partially hydrogenated oil topped with real cheese and organic non-nitrate bacon.

And it was the best burger I've ever had. 

(Isn't my date such a hottie?)

And now about the movie. Last year, we payed for the AMC Stubs movie reward program. It did actually pay for itself after a few months because, like I mentioned, we see a lot of movies. Well, a local theater was recently renovated and the theater had an open-house of sorts for the local stubs members.

So the movie thing was pretty much the whole reason we even ventured out on a week night. And we had looked at the list of movies and had a three or four top pics. We couldn't get tickets in advance online, so it was really just a first come sort of thing. Divergent was sold out (sadness!) but then we realized that we could get in on the sneak preview of The Amazing Spiderman 2... which isn't even officially released until Friday!

I was feeling all sorts of cool felt all cool with a free movie, free popcorn, free drinks... and then it hit me-- we only got invited to this thing because we paid for a membership. Ha! But Who cares? It was cool. (And then suddenly I truly understood the concept and motivation behind every fraternity and sorority to ever have existed!) To be fair, not all AMC locations offer this sort of thing. It was just a one-time thing to debut the new seats and screens. Plus, the perks tallied up to to more than we paid for membership... so can we still be cool?

I mean, I'm looking pretty cool, right? 

(Are you judging me because you just saw a picture of the dinner I ordered and here I am with another drink and popcorn? Just remember that I'm growing a human. Are you???)

The movie didn't get over until after 10:30, which is basically the time I am crawling into bed these days, but it was such a fun thing to do! We watched the movie in 3D and that's something we never ever pay extra to do, and it was actually really cool! The movie was really good, too! Plus, it's practically the first movie of the forthcoming summer blockbusters- my favorite movie season!

And lastly, because I know that you are all just dying to know the history of AMC and cinema multiplexes... You'll be delighted to hear that AMC, headquartered in here in Kansas City, debuted their multiplex screen at Ward Parkway in the 1960s. It was the first of it's kind-- to offer two different movies on different screens at the same theater. The concept revolutionized the way we see movies today-- and it all started right here! If you're ever in town, you should make a trip to the downtown library to check out the replica theater they have in the basement, along with some cool old memorabilia and more detail on the cinema history!

Also, AMC just happens to be a really cool set of initials! :)


Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Results are In!

On Friday afternoon, we got to see our sweet baby! I just love ultrasounds! Though I guess I should clarify... when I said we got to see the baby, we got to see legs, feet, and a quick glimpse of the spine. You know the "typical" good ultrasound shot that's a profile-- well, that's how I wanted to reveal the gender-- with either a little bow on the head for a girl or maybe a top hat or bow tie for a boy. Well, it's a good thing I didn't spend money on an app because we didn't even get a profile shot-- and not a single glimpse of the face! The good news is that the doc wants to see the face and get a better shot of the heart, so we'll get another ultrasound at my next appointment. Hopefully I'll have cuter pics to share, but until then-- here are a few pics.

Despite being particularly stubborn for the ultrasound tech to see everything she needed to see, the baby was very generous with the gender shots. And as Belle would say, "It's a Minnie!" 

Poor Jackson was pretty disappointed. He held it together okay and was quickly distracted by Angry Bids racing that he didn't even care. The sweetest thing, though, is that this morning he collected all of the sonogram pictures and asked to take them to church to show his teachers in Sunday School. He's a proud big brother!

Isabelle is very happy. And she does think it's a Minnie. We've had conversations like, "Belle, it's a human baby. It won't be Minnie." "Is Minnie not a human?" "No sweetie, she's a pretend mouse!" So even though Belle is excited that we're having a girl, she may very well be very disappointed when she realizes that the baby won't have big black ears with a pink and black bow.

We're excited for another girl! We had a boy name picked out and so it would have been handy to not have to think about names-- but on the other hand.... all the cute clothes! I went shopping with my mother-in-law at a local consignment sale on Friday night and my mom scored a ton of super cute stuff over the weekend at roadside boutiques (which is merely the name my dad uses to make fun of garage sales, but I think it's fun!).

Only 22 more weeks until I get a new little dress up doll! I mean... I get to meet my sweet baby girl! :)


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gender Reveal Day!

Tomorrow is Gender Reveal day!!! I'm so excited. Somehow I feel like I've been dying to know for forever and then another part of me wonders how we are this far along already.  Everybody go ahead and pray that the baby is super active and not shy!

We are taking the kids to the appointment tomorrow. Jackson has actually asked to get to see an ultrasound after seeing pictures I've shown him from my pregnancy with him and with Belle and so I want him to have the opportunity. Belle probably couldn't care less and we will probably end up entertaining her with an ipad, but she'll be there too. Derek and I have both talked about how our only hope (besides the baby being cooperative) is that neither of the kids have a meltdown during the sonogram because one way or another, one of them will be disappointed. Jackson adamantly wants a brother, Isabelle desperately wants a sister who shall be named Minnie. 

More than just finding out the gender, I just love ultrasounds and getting to see the baby any chance I get. I haven't really noticed much movement lately, but I'm also still only 18 weeks, so it's nothing super alarming. But getting to hear the heartbeat and see our little baby always makes me feel relieved and I feel like I could just watch forever! Here's the last pic of baby #3 at six weeks:

cute, huh? 

Here are some gender predictions according to alternate (aka completely unreliable) sources:

  • Chinese Calendar: Girl 
  • Carrying Low: Boy
  • Heartbeat: Girl
  • Salty or Sweet Cravings: Boy 
  • Mood Swings: Girl
  • Morning Sickness: Boy

I feel it's important to note that the Chinese calendar has been wrong with both kids, so I feel as if it should automatically be predicted as a boy. Also, the salty and sweet cravings are kind of tricky because if choosing between the two, I definitely say salty. But in general, I just want bread. Not sure where that fits in!

Also, my dad has been a shockingly good predictor at guessing the gender. He hasn't given me an guess for this one, but I'll be sure to lock it in before we actually find out.

More exciting news is that tomorrow evening is the pre-sale of a local consignment sale and so I can't wait to go shopping for the baby right away!  I mean, isn't the whole point of finding out the gender so we can shop accordingly? :) Well, that and also plan sleeping arrangements and names. And mostly, so I can use proper pronouns without saying "it" or "him OR her".

Any guesses???


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! 



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