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10 Tiny Tidbits. Again.

It’s really a miracle this blog is still alive. Sometimes I log in and expect it to tell me they closed it due to inactivity. For as much as I want to write about our lives, our lives always get in the way of my writing. About a week ago, I got a Facebook reminder that two years ago I had posted a blog, “10 tiny tidbits,” so of course I read it. And my, how different life looked. There was an itty bitty baby, and a budding toddler, and only one dog! So since then (yes, a whole week to actually get to it) I have told myself that I can at the very least crank out 10 more tiny tidbits. Because Lord knows, in another two years life will again look drastically different, and I will enjoy reading the memories once again.

  1. Leah can read. She seems like the most logical place to start, no? What a big bug. These first born kids, I really don’t know how to handle them. I’m a second born, so I’m lazy, funny, and like to be spoiled. (Or something like that). Leah is first born to a T. Rules, learning, achieving. Oh my goodness, I can’t keep up. We work on work books together for fun. She loves to teach Quinn, you know, like the other day when she sat Quinn down and said, “Ok, Quinn it’s time to learn Spanish. Rojo is red.” And I die. But this reading thing, it kind of crept up on me. She has been wanting to read for a while now, and we practice sight words a lot, but it still caught me off guard. The first time I caught it, we were putting ornaments on the tree and she ran over to me and said, “mom! this one says, Leah, mom and dad!” And it did. And I stared at her. Now, she’s known how to recognize her name for quite a while, but to read mom and dad with it – made me smile real big. And since then it’s been kind of constant. “Mom! This says Joy!” “Mom, d-o-g, dog!” And on and on and on. And we’re not reading books, but she’s got the hang of phonics, and certainly has a memory, so we are well on our way – she neither one of us could be happier about it.
  2. Quinn is potty trained. I can’t brag on one without bragging on the other! This little Quinn Charlotte we have, she’s something special. Leah was so ahead of her age with a lot of things, that I made a conscious effort to remind myself to not expect the same twice. Boy, was I wrong. This little one is following right along without missing a beat. Take potty training. I have but one rule when it comes to potty training – and that is that you know that you cannot make a child go to the bathroom. For some God sent reason, I figured this out when Leah was a baby. So I bought her a potty when she was 1. I set it on the floor, and I let nature take it’s course, and by the time she was 22 months she was 100% potty trained. I took no credit, and I knew it would never happen again. Except it did. I bought Quinn a potty for her first birthday and by 24 months she was done. It was harder with Quinn, only because her mom is so lazy. I held on to diapers a little longer because taking two to the bathroom in Target just seemed so terrible. But one day we ran out of diapers, and I told myself I wasn’t buying them again. And I haven’t. (Except she does still wear a nighttime diaper). God love them both, they make my life easy.
  3. A new table. So we bought a new dining room table a few weeks ago, and it shouldn’t have been that big of a deal. But naturally, it was to me. Our last table was wonderful, and I knew we wouldn’t find one that had quite the same quality, but regardless, it had to go. Why? Because we couldn’t fit! Sure, the four of us could if we didn’t have too much food or any guests. But the second we wanted someone to join us for dinner we had to squish together and break out the folding chairs. And when we were shopping for tables and chairs, it dawned on me. Man, how lucky are we to have outgrown our first table. This little family we have over here is booming, and it makes my heart swell. This coming Christmas will be our 11th together, and for the first few we needed no table because we had the tables of our parents in our parent’s homes. Then the next few we needed our table, but without a leaf – table for 2. Then one Christmas we suddenly had a third seat and needed the leaf. Then for a while we got by with the leaf… until there were four. And then there was just no way around it. So now we have this beautiful long table with four (or 5) chairs and a bench for three and there is room to eat again. And someday grow again.
  4. The thought that won’t quit. Did you catch that up there ^^, that last line I threw in? “And someday grow again.” Man, we skated through 2015 enjoying this family of four we have. The thought of “this just feels nice” was the overpowering theme. We have our two girls, and our two boys, and it just kind of seemed like the perfect set. Until sometime a few months ago. When, wait a minute, is someone missing? I swear to you, just when I made up my mind I was done with diapers once and for all, Kyle told me I couldn’t sell our Pack and Play. (Insert emoji with the wide eyes). And he’s going to regret ever telling me that, because that will single handedly be the statement responsible for a new face in this family. We’re still not 100% sure, but our New Year’s resolution for 2015 was to not add a new face to the family. And we are not making that resolution for 2016.
  5. Food. Do you realize that on January 5th, a whole year will have gone by of us having changed our lives. Remember when we started 100 Days of Real Food? Are you sick of hearing about it yet? Well, sorry. It really was that big of a day. The turning point of dinner fights and cooking to cater to my 3 year old. And a year later… our lives are still better and I’m not sure I’ll ever forget how far we’ve come. Leah, the child for whom I made an additional meal every night gagged every time I said the word, “chicken.” And last night, after an unexpected meal change from grilled chicken to eggs and biscuits she actually complained. Eggs and biscuits used to be her favorite dinner! If I said chicken she said no. And last night I said, “I’m sorry sweetie, it’s just too late. I’ll make chicken tomorrow night.” (Insert all the wide eyed emojis). We also eat Salmon almost weekly, something NONE of us liked. And she tells me Roast is her favorite. I don’t even know her. But I’m pretty sure I love her more than I did a year ago. So my goal of fixing her gag reflex and making one meal for dinner was accomplished… and then blown out of the water. I could not be more proud of her. However, during our challenge we couldn’t have sugar and we couldn’t eat out. And while we still have not had a fast food meal (RIP Wendys) as a family, we have gone to sit down restaurants. And we had 100 too many ice cream cones over the summer. It’s give and take. We are still mostly on board, I’m still mostly cooking. I still don’t buy any “treats” for the house, but we have made a cookie or two, and have indulged while we’re out. I assume that will get worse over the next few weeks, but then I plan to reign us back in for the start of 2016.
  6. The other thought that won’t quit. Goodness, I’ve been full of thoughts in 2015. Well, really just preoccupied with two. More babies and my babies. More specifically, my one baby. My oldest baby. And what in the world to do with her. Who knew that having a baby in July would be so tricky! I’m talking in regards to Kindergarten. Do you know that July babies basically get to choose what to do with their lives – and by that I mean, their parents have to choose what to do with their lives. About a year ago, it dawned on us that having this July baby meant we could send her to Kindergarten when she’s a young 5, OR a young 6. My first thought on the matter was, no way! I didn’t want it to be a matter of “holding her back” as if she wasn’t smart enough to start with the 5 year olds of the world. Slowly but surely, having talked a lot with Kyle, read a lot, prayed a lot, picked the brains of many ‘a teacher, and just plain watched my kid in her school environment, I think we’ve all but decided that she will start Kindergarten when she is 6. Her teacher this year is simply amazing, and talked to us some about it in the fall and wants to help us more in the spring, but mainly just told us to be grateful for the opportunity to choose… whichever way we end up going. When we look at it as an opportunity for an extra year of maturity, an extra year of physical growth, and extra year with no homework, an extra year of practice school, an extra year to break out of her shell – it really does seem like a bonus. And a “why the heck would we not.” Leah is on the shy side, and I will never fault her for that, but I will seek every advantage in the world to help her be successful (as I would do for any of our kids), and we both have come to the conclusion that this would be the first of many advantages we throw her way.
  7. The beach 2016. Ahhhh, our annual beach trip has been down-paymented. Don’t get me wrong, I am eagerly awaiting our first snowfall (like, c’mon already winter), but to have our beach vacation ready and waiting is a really awesome feeling. I know that once February rolls around I will be 112% over winter, and wanting nothing more than to hear waves. I am so grateful that we have been able to count on being on a beach for the past 5 Mays, this being the 6th.  And every year the kids get a little older, it gets a little more fun and stress free. Last year’s was most definitely the hardest with a sick Quinn. We actually left a day early because I just couldn’t do it anymore. For three nights in a row, I had woken up with a puking Quinn, changed sheets, changed her clothes, wiped her down, shuffled over suitcases in the dark, all while Leah and Kyle snored away. That fourth morning I woke up and just couldn’t do it anymore. We left at 2pm that afternoon and cried the whole way out. So this year, I really feel like we deserve a make up. And I am so excited to get it!
  8. I hate Santa. Okay, so I don’t actually hate him. But I don’t do much more than tolerate him. If I had my way, we wouldn’t do it at all. But Lord knows, you throw a kid in school, she’s gonna come home talking about him. (Eye roll emoji). And my sarcastic attitude towards him does not filter down to either of the kids, don’t feel bad for them. I play it up with the suit and the reindeer and the whole bit. But do you know where the buck stops in this house? “Be good, Santa’s watching.” Uh-uh. Can’t do it. Nope. I hate so much walking through Target and hearing, “Come over here, right now, Santa is watching! Do you want to get presents this year?!” Like, honestly. Are they for real? They are really going to take away their kids Christmas because they wouldn’t listen in the grocery store. To me it just seems so.rude. You make up this giant, elaborate story about this full-bellied guy who knows when you’re sleeping and gives all kinds of gifts and everyone is supposed to love him… but then you throw in if you’re not good you’re not getting anything? Can’t. Won’t. Rude. Do you know I caught Leah telling Quinn the other day, “Quinn you listen, Santa’s watching!” Can you imagine how much my blood boiled?! I said, having no regard for the way the rest of the children learn it, “no he’s not. You’re still getting gifts, Quinn.” Leah just stared at me. Ha. Whatever. In this house, you are good and well behaved because your parents expect it and because you are learning how to be a civilized member of society. You are good because there was a Savior who was born for you on Christmas day, and who FREELY gives you grace and the gift of salvation… even if you don’t listen all the time. He is the reason for the season, not some joker in a red suit. But yes, Ho Ho Ho, Chimneys, cookies, rudolph, etc etc etc. (Eye rolls times a million).
  9. The gym. So in August, I made a promise to Kyle. We had once before tried to have a gym membership, and you know how that goes. We went for a month and never again, yet paid for the entire year. So I really had to plead my case to him, but I really felt like I could do it this time. And I have! I have been at least 5 times a week, almost every week, since August. And I kind of love it. Now, my motivation is completely selfish. I get free childcare, 12 TVs, and time to myself. It’s basically a vacation every day. Not to mention, the kids love it. Some days I don’t want to go, and Quinn says, “Gym, mom? Gym?” over and over until I don’t even realize I’m there and running. I never wanted to be a runner, still don’t, but I do like that I can run now, and have gotten myself in pretty good shape over the past few months. But mainly, childcare.
  10. The boys. I can’t talk about 10 things in our lives right now without mentioning my boys! Some people don’t have kids, but have dogs and spoil them like kids. Some people have kids and dogs, but seem to treat the kids better. Well, we are neither of those. In this house, everyone is on the same playing field. Everyone goes to the doctor when they are sick, eats healthy, is told to “git” multiple times a day, and has to have manners. I love these boys so much, and even though Duncan is such a problem child with all of his baths and medicines and millions of dollars it takes to keep him alive, I’m so happy he’s ours. And Samson with his extra large body having no regard for anyone’s personal space, he makes me laugh all day long. They are quite a pair. Duncan is polite, but we call him our grumpy old man because he easily gets tired of Samson or the girls if they’re too loud. But I swear to you he knows if they’re sick before they do. He knows when any of us are sad or stressed and puts his big head on our laps to do anything he can to make us feel better. And Samson loves when the kids are on top of him, he wags his tail and I swear he smiles. The more attention he gets, the happier he is. He mistakes us pushing him away for us playing with him, and is always purposefully in the way. His anniversary with us is on the 20th, and I happen to think it’s been a really super fun year having two gigantic animals roaming around at all times.

That should about catch everyone up to speed. In summary, we are a reading, potty training, dog loving, baby considering, Santa hating, kindergarten deciding, gym going, kinda healthy eating, beach longing, big table fitting family! Enjoy your holidays, everyone!

 

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Growing Up Quinn.

So last night Kyle and I couldn’t get Quinn to sleep. Every time I put her back in her pack and play set up in our room, she would cry within 30 seconds. And then I’d groggily walk back to her, pick her up, and nestle her in the bend of my elbow – and almost with a smile on her face, she’d go right back to sleep. Kyle would try to sneak her out of my arms and put her back down so that we all could get some rest, but it didn’t matter how careful he was – she was going to wake up. She was going to cry for the bend in my elbow to place her tiny little head. Her swaddled little body was only going to sleep nestled next to her mama, after all, the previous 10 months of nights she slept right beneath my heartbeat, I’m not sure why I expected last night to be any different.

Except it wasn’t last night, it was almost two years ago. Our first night home.

I’m struggling, ya’ll. I don’t know what it is with these second babies, but there’s something different. You have experience on your side the second time around, so you don’t have to spend so much time worrying; there’s lots more to enjoy. You also don’t have to spend as much time trying to get to the ‘next level,’ because you know that level is coming quickly whether you want it or not. And most often with the second, you don’t. Time slow down has never been spoken louder than watching a second baby grow up. Quinnie growing up is giving me all the feels. Every last one of them. I’m laughing at her because I’m learning she’s quite hilarious – already with a clever wit, that one! I’m crying at her because not only is she sleeping in a toddler bed, she loves her new Minnie bed, and has been caught talking to her Minnie pillow. I’m smiling at her as she goes before her big sister, “Dwess, Ye-ya?” showing off her dress to seek approval from the only opinion she cares about in this house. I’m angry with her as she learns appropriate behavior… and that hitting is not on that list. I’m staring at her, in awe of how much she has learned just as an observer in this crazy house. I’m annoyed with her, in her attempt to fill every silent moment with noise, shouting to me in the car, “mom! whereareyou?!” over and over and over until she comes up with something better to say. I’m blessed by her, to have nightly prayers be extended until every family member (down to the dogs) is covered in prayer per her request. I’m occupied by her, having every moment she’s awake be blanketed with, “watch me.” I’m hugged by her, literally, metaphorically, physically, mentally… she is still my koala… whether it is snuggles on the couch or her sweet little voice doing incredible things to my heart – she is one constant hug.

She is a new Quinn these days. Not to be lost in the big milestones of her big sister, she creates her own hilarity and drama just so no one will forget she’s here. And we don’t. She is a little rough around the edges. While she is snuggly and cozy, there’s a side of her that we are uncovering a little more every day. Where Leah is our “sugar,” Quinn is our “spice.” Not afraid to voice her opinion or willing to accept a no, she will fight for what she wants. There was the time I fought with her for a solid 15 minutes to pick up TWO cards of a board game and put them in a box. She says no and means it, and I’m still not sure how to get around that. I need to read books. She yells not mommy or mama through the house, but, “Ma!” like the little Italian that she is. She is now, and has always been, intense. I blogged about it while she was still in my belly; I just knew there was a layer to her that was going to give me trouble. She is Quinn, hear her roar.

The moments are coming more and more with her as we approach her second birthday. The ones where I stare at her in wonder on how we already got to the point where she’s wearing underwear and asking me for exactly what she wants. How we got to the point where she climbs in her bed and goes to sleep without needing me to bounce her on the exercise ball until my legs are numb. The point where she thanks me for buckling her into her car seat, tells me her finger hurts, or that she wants to eat. The point where I don’t have to puree food or even chop it in a million pieces, after all, she can walk around the house gnawing on a carrot. I was doing a little closet organizing today, and was shaking my head back and forth the entire time. You see, I went to the basement to get out Leah’s tub of 3T clothes to fill Quinn’s closet (because, ya, she’s that big). And it wouldn’t have been too big of a deal, except for these 3T clothes that I was unloading are the very same 3T clothes Leah was wearing prior too, during, and after Quinn’s arrival into our family. And now Quinn is wearing them.

DID YOU HEAR THAT?!

Just look:

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Do you see those jammies Leah has on… I put them in Quinn’s drawer today. So there. Now you understand, now we can all cry together.

What I mean to say is, Quinn is growing. She is changing and evolving at a rate I’m not at all comfortable with, but that I love at the same time. I feel like I leave her in the dust sometimes as the second baby, and that she just has to fall in line. Leah will always being doing the “new thing” first. But Quinn is incredible in her own right. She talks more than Leah ever did at this age. She is learning more than I want her to just by observing. She is funny and snuggly and stubborn and perfect. I can’t believe she is closer to two than to a newborn; I promised I wouldn’t let time go so quickly the second time around. But that’s the thing with babies, it all goes so fast. And you have to learn to just sit back and let it happen and enjoy all the little moments in the middle. Because you’re fighting them for sleep one minute and fighting them to pick up after themselves the next. You don’t know how they could possibly fit in clothes so tiny one minute, and then filling their closet with clothes that couldn’t possibly fit them the next.

I love you, Quinn bug. I love that you love to have your nails painted, that your favorite color is green, and that you need all the condiments on your plate at all times. I love that your blankie is your instant calm, and that Samson sitting on it will cause WWIII. I love watching you be the little sister. I love when you say, “sure,” and I hope I never forget how it sounds. I love that your favorite part about church is the Cheerios. I love that you know exactly how to make us laugh and that you’ll do it when you’re in trouble just to see if we’ll crack. You are my sunshine… with a little bit of thunder and lightening. Keep growing, babydoll, I’ll keep watching.

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Winding Down.

Oh, hey. Remember when I blogged?

Let’s try that again.

It has been a summer, has it not? I’ve got a pretty good love/hate relationship going with the summer of 2015. I hate it because it seems to be either raining or 178 degrees with 400% humidity. I hate it because I miss some of the routines we were accustomed to May 9th and earlier. I hate it because fall (my favorite) is so close, yet I know, still so far. And I hate it because I’ve got some sort of poison ivy thing on my chin/neck that has no known origin and is really cramping my style the past few days.

However, I can’t complain to terribly much, because I also find myself loving it. I’m loving not having a schedule most of the time. I’m loving my big four year old who is transforming herself into a wonderful little girl more and more every sweaty day. I’m loving my little 21 month old who is blowing my mind with an entirely new skill set developed just this summer. I’m loving spending lots of time at the pool, flip flops, painted toes, thunderstorms, hosing down the dogs, family summer outings, BBQs, and baseball in the backyard.

You see, it’s been a very strange summer. It just kind of feels like this is life now. Summer of 2011, I was waiting for Leah and then begging her little newborn self to sleep. Summer of 2012 we were house hunting and moving. Summer 2013 I was waiting for Quinn and waddling around with Leah. Summer of 2014 I had a new crawler and a ‘I can do it myself but if you don’t help me I’ll probably die’ three year old. But the summer of 2015… things have really come together for us. We have arrived.

For one, Leah is proficient in the pool. Back in May, she could tread water and move herself slightly where she wanted to go. She could also spin in circles with water up to her chin (she calls it the “chicken spin”). By the end of June, she started doing some serious under water dog paddling. By the end of July I was not allowed to help her do anything. And with 3 days until the pools close… she is running and jumping into the water, popping back up and swimming back to the side to do it all over again. Of all the milestones, this may be my favorite. One, I don’t have to worry about her drowning. And two, it’s like a flashback of myself. I lived for swimming growing up, and Leah is the exact same. I love love love watching her in the water, her smiles are everything. And Quinn is not far behind. She doesn’t like me to hold her in the water anymore, so I let go, she goes under, I grab her, and she pops up smiling. Over and over and over. We have been water logged this summer, and I am one step closer to being able to sit at the side of the pool and tan while they act like maniacs together.

For two, Quinn is not the baby that she once was. This time last year she was 6,7,8 and 9 months old. And yes, we had passed the newborn stage, but she still couldn’t be trusted alone for very long. She learned to crawl last summer, so that brought on a whole new set of baby challenges. We put up a baby gate. We constantly had to know her exact whereabouts. This summer, though, the baby gate came down and the undies came out! This little baby impresses the pants off me (or herself, I guess). I constantly underestimate what she is capable of or what she learns just through watching her big sister. This morning she counted to 10. She talks non stop and is so very polite. She’s gone potty in public restrooms. She can climb the ladder on the playset and slide down while I watch from the patio with a cup of coffee. She knows some letters, all colors, takes her pants off, sets the table, and drinks with cups without lids. She is still a snuggle bug, but her independence is emerging, and I love to watch what she is capable of.

Do you see where I’m going with this – I love the summer of 2015, because my kids are basically like real people. I don’t have to treat them like babies for the first time since 2011. We can pick up and go somewhere if we need to. We can all walk the zoo together. I can easily take two to the pool. Leah can get herself dressed, hair brushed, teeth brushed, shoes on, buckled in the car... without assistance. I can throw them outside with the dogs while I stay inside and make them lunch. I hear conversations such as, “Quinn do you wanna go up in the playroom?” “Sure.” “Okay, c’mon.” And I don’t have to have anything to do with it. We can push bedtimes, and nap times, and meal times, cause darnit, we just don’t want to stop having fun!

It doesn’t get much better in those regards. But it all comes to an end in just one week because…

Back to School.

We met with Leah’s teacher last week and got her year book pictures taken – I guess it’s really happening! I was so excited to send her to school last year, and I think I’m even more excited this year. Her teacher is nothing short of fantastic, 2 for 2. She loves going to her school, and this year she will get to walk into her classroom and see some of her best buddies from last year!

This is a big year for all of us – with a July birthday baby we get to decide if we’re going to let her be one of the youngest in her class or one of the oldest; this year will determine is she will graduate class of 2029 or 2030! (How weird is that?!) One thing I love about her school is that for these special summer birthday kids they have a special Pre 3/4 class – for the really old 3s and the really young 4s. So if we decide to keep her in preschool another year and send her to Kindergarten when she’s a young 6, she won’t have to repeat a class, she’ll simply go to the Pre-4 class next year. Or if we determine she’s ready for kindergarten in all areas we can go ahead and send her as a young 5. I don’t know, this is when parenting becomes a pretty big deal, guys! Scary. Kyle and I are praying for lots of wisdom this year 🙂

As much as I have enjoyed this summer and it’s casual nature, I’m excited to be winding down this week. I’m excited to get back into eating really well (Oh my goodness with the ice cream cones!). I’m excited for earlier bedtimes. I’m excited for a reason to get dressed in the mornings. I have not enjoyed the weather this summer, but I have certainly enjoyed playing with my kids and their dad. It has been one I hope to remember. For now, we begin our descent towards cool weather and pumpkins. School bells will be ringing in just a weeks time.

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Happiness, reimagined.

“…The kicking and moving, however, oh my goodness. She really doesn’t stop. I’ve heard they are supposed to sleep, but I think I got one that doesn’t sleep. She is a mover and a shaker through and through. And throw her dad’s voice in the mix and she might as well just kick her way out of my stomach. She’s already his biggest fan. She gets me from every angle, all day and night. I even wake up to a foot in the ribs every once in a while. I think my insides are bruised. She will either be a soccer player or a gymnast, I have no doubt.”

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The above quote was from my old blog site, where I documented every ounce of pregnancy with Leah. She was my first, I know, but she was just astonishing to me. I was talking to my friend Ginny the other day about being able to peg the personality of Leah from inside the womb. She honestly, honestly never stopped. I felt her for the first time at 14 weeks and 6 days. I hope I always remember it, four solid thuds from the inside as I was watching TV. And almost four years later, she still hasn’t stopped. When she gets bored, she runs outside with the dogs. When she wants to play a game… it’s almost always chase. When she wants to “dance,” she actually means run. And while I foreshadowed her activeness to a T, she’s also thrown me some curveballs.

Almost this time four years ago, there was a dim light on in a hospital room and Leah and I were finally getting acquainted. Our visitors were gone, Kyle was sleeping, the nurses finally stopped messing with me, and the anesthesia had worn off. Just me and my bug, and she made eye contact with me. It was no less than midnight and I laughed at her being awake. And I promised her big, curious eyes that I would do whatever I had to give her happiness.

I just didn’t realize what happiness would mean to Leah.

Before she came around, I had some rules. I would never have a sticky kid. I would never have a mismatched kid in public. I would never let my kids wear that tacky Disney character clothing. My kids would have pottery barn catalog rooms. I think you can see where this is going…

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Leah took those plans I had and made a mockery out of my ill-conceived parenting ideas. What a stick-in-the-mud I would have been if I actually adhered to those rules. My idea of joy has been reimagined because of this little girl. She taught me that seeing her happy because she was dressed in Cinderella jammies, underneath a Cinderella comforter, with a Cinderella plastered to the wall beside her would do more for my soul than a pottery barn catalog room ever could. That walking through Target with her wearing a dress, a skirt, a cardigan, tights, and shoes on the wrong feet would boost my self esteem, probably more than hers. And that letting her play with my make up and hair products not only makes her day, the end result of that playtime makes mine.

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Ya, that’s eye shadow all over her forehead.

She asked me the other day why I was laughing at her. And I quickly corrected her, “oh, honey, I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing because of you. You make me so happy.” And it’s so true. She makes me laugh SO much every day. To hear the things she thinks, the games she creates, the words she rhymes, the mothering she does to her little sister, the imagination she has… I wish I could bottle it all up and sell it to make the world a happier place. But I can’t, so I will leave you with a few of my recent favorite pictures and quotes:

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“Mommy, I’m gonna wear this for dinner.”

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“C’mon, Quinn, it’s time to be princesses now.”

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“Alright, daddy, first we have to walk on our tip-toes. Then we hold our pants up like this. Then we walk in a circle for 50 minutes.”

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“Gasp! QUINN! You found a clue!” (It was a leaf).

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“C’mon, mom, can you just take my picture with the dogs. I’m huggin dem.”

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“Do you like to eat your strawberries like this sometimes, mommy?”

“I hope most of all that we just laugh with her. That’s what we do most of all now anyways, and I hope that doesn’t change. I think we will. I think we’ll laugh watching each other try to do this, I think we’ll laugh at Leah as she grows up (not in a mean way), and I think she’ll laugh at us. I don’t want to take any of it too seriously. Everything won’t always go perfect or according to our plan, but I think we’ll have a good handle on it. I know we’re ready to see her and hold her, but I’m starting to think we’re finally ready to give our best shot at raising her!”

Another excerpt of a blog I wrote a month before she was born.

Thank you for giving us so many new reasons to laugh, buggie.

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Chapter 5.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. I seem to go through phases of just getting completely caught up in the little moments I have over here, and feeling completely grateful. This is one of those phases, and I have been consumed by thoughts of the past and thoughts of the future… at the same time. My brain is in overdrive. I think it’s because this year Kyle and I will celebrate a decade together. And in a month, 5 years of marriage. I think either of those are feat any way you slice’em. Not because he’s so horrible, but because we’ve done a lot of life together. Some things of life could have certainly gotten in the way of making it to this point, but we committed to not let them. And it feels nice to be able to fall back on that commitment when we need to. We’ve had big plans since we started dating in 2005, and plenty of time to change and adapt. Certainly not everything has gone according to plan (enter: Leah), but for the most part my life now is every bit how I saw it 10 years ago. So in all of my looking back and looking ahead, I have decided to organize our decade with chapters.

I’d call the first, Chapter One. Because, duh. The beginning of it all. Catching awkward glances at the college dining hall, but not really wanting to be the crazy girl that interrupts his lunch with the baseball team. Calling us “official” the day he turned 20. Sitting in sleet watching him pitch… and then all the other people pitch when it wasn’t his day. College formals. Going to his house (now this very home I’m typing in) and meeting his friends and family. Taking him to mine. Realizing how smart he was. Going to watch a scary movie with my eyes closed the entire time, because I just couldn’t tell him how scared I was. Pretending to like Cardinals baseball until one day I decided that I actually did! Dreaming up houses and babies and puppies. Getting the phone call that he failed one of his big exams, and sitting silent except for tears. Career searching. Wedding planning. We started Chapter One as carefree as could be. Just a couple of college kids who liked each other. And we ended Chapter One as real people making a contribution to society. And I had a shiny ring on my finger. It was a Chapter One to a tee. Filled with introductions, set backs, and powering through.

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Chapter Two I think would be really fun. I mean, it was really fun. It started with a wedding. A wedding that didn’t really change anything except for my last name (RIP to my other, really good last name). Traveling to a foreign land together (St. Lucia). This would be the chapter of us learning to live with each other. Renting our first apartment. Kissing each other goodbye to go to work each morning. Starting to collect things that resembled a life together. And oh yes, waking that new husband up at 6:30am one morning to tell him I was pregnant with his first born. And then sitting in silence with him. Taking walks on cool fall evenings trying to figure out how to adjust our life as two to a life with three. Collecting baby gadgets. Watching softball games. Growing a belly. Celebrating one year of marriage, and realizing that it would be the only anniversary we get sans kids, and even that, not entirely. Waiting for labor together. Checking into a hospital together, hands shaking. Hearing the first cry of our first born. Welcoming her home. Raising an infant. Going on family vacations. Buying her a new home. Buying her a puppy. It was a Chapter full of immense responsibility and growth as a couple and a family.

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Our Chapter Three would be stressful. It would start as we decided to give Leah a sister. Assuming it would be as easy as our first surprise, but learning quickly it would not go as planned. It would be me crying a lot and Kyle learning more than he ever wanted to about the female reproductive cycle. But we were fortunate, and it worked with time. Next up, we’d buy a minivan. I would grow a baby and raise a toddler.. and a puppy. I would throw up on myself in my car (thanks, Quinn). Kyle would study and study. We would acquire more and more baby gadgets. We would take our first family plane ride. Kyle would start preparing for the last big exam. I would start preparing for life with two. We would try to find routine amongst the stresses of preparing for family of four status AND life or death as far as Kyle’s career was concerned. It would be a short chapter, and there would be really good times, but it would be heavy. But the very last page would be maybe the happiest in the book. Kyle would take and feel confident in his test. The weight of the world would be lifted. We would leave our house on November 1st, at 5:30am, drive to the hospital, and hear another perfect cry at 8:19am. Life would start… again.

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My Chapter Four would start the second we walked in the house with a car seat full of new baby. That’s when life really got real. I’ve talked about before, how a lot of times I just feel like I’m playing house sometimes. In a good way, but it just doesn’t seem like this should all be mine. But the second we entered the house, life became more real than it ever had before. What a crazy chapter Chapter Four was. For about fifteen months we learned how to manage two babies and still like each other. We settled into this role of being parents perhaps more than we ever did with just one. It takes a lot to raise two little people, and we spent Chapter Four learning what worked and what did not. We found rhythm and routine. We found out Kyle passed his last exam and was d.o.n.e. We celebrated the first born turning three and entering into little girlness. We went to Disney World. We celebrated an amazing year that Quinn had. We got her a puppy. We did some really good and fun things, but mainly Chapter Four was a chapter of living. Of being a family. Figuring out how to do this thing, and trying to do it well. It would be overwhelmingly happy, with a light dusting of stress. 🙂

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And then Chapter Five. This one hasn’t been written, but it’s certainly in draft form. As all good chapters do, it started with a bang. The symbol clashing sound that has shaken things up around here. And it happened at 10:30pm. Falling asleep, I turned over to Kyle, “have you ever thought about stopping with two kids?” “What??” I have impeccable timing with giant, life changing events, I know. 6:30am, “wake up, Kyle, we’re going to have a baby!” And then at 10:30 at night, “hey, let’s abandon everything we’ve ever said and stop with what we’ve got.” I’m positive this is my best trait. But seriously, that little question has at the forefront of everything we’ve talked about since that night. I mean, we have really good kids. They are super cute. They are healthy and perfect and manageable. There is one for each of us. I had two really awesome pregnancies with two uncomplicated births. Is there really a reason to press our luck on all of that? A lot of times I will look at a picture of all four (two humans, two dogs) and think that they are the kids we should have. That somehow Samson completed the set. Nothing more to talk about. They are a good looking group. Of course, Kyle likes the budget a lot better with two. We could go to Disney World a LOT more with two kids as opposed to the four that we intended. After Leah was born, my brain almost instantly went to baby number two. I needed another one in my belly, another one to nurse, another one to cuddle, and a sibling for the first. I couldn’t get started soon enough. And then we got her. And she, along with Leah, is everything I could have ever wanted. And suddenly, my mind doesn’t jump ahead. I am thoroughly enjoying my present. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I don’t feel like I’m missing something. Everyone seems to be present and accounted for… for now. I’m not saying we will can the idea all together, I am still a sucker for a pregnant belly and a fresh baby, believe me. The “for now” still rings loud in my ears. The pro and con list is growing in both directions. It’s a weird thing, to try to make a family. And to try and realize when you have it. Sometimes I wish it was all laid out ahead of time, but I guess figuring out for yourselves is part of the fun of it. What I do know is that whatever it is we have right now has got me over the moon with joy and beaming with pride at every turn. And that’s a really good feeling.

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So I’m left full of wonder with what Chapter Six will look like? I’ve never been much for reading books, I “spark noted” my way through high school and college. Skimming and picking out the good stuff is kind of my thing. It’s been something else to live this one page for page. Luckily, it has had enough in it to keep me entertained. 🙂

 

Disclaimer: We fully understand that this type of “decision” means that I will be pregnant next month. 🙂

 

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Friday Funnies.

I don’t know, do you need a laugh today? I know I do. Or a bottle of Tequila. Leah’s been battling with what we learned today is a sinus infection all week which means… crazy high fevers, no sleeping, crying, etc. I’m drained. But laughing is a good remedy for all things, right? Let’s just start at the doctor’s office today. That seems most appropriate.

Doctor: What was the fever?

Me: 104.6.

Doctor: Ok, where was that?

Me: In her bedroom?

Doctor: (Laughs) I mean, under her arm, tongue, ear…

Me: Oh, ear.

You guys, I’m tired.

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Me: Quinnie! If you don’t stop making that noise, I’m gonna blow a casket!

Kyle: A gasket?

Me: Whatever.

Don’t correct me when I’m threatening the children.

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Leah: “mommy, mommy, can I have an idea?!”

Me: Nope. Sorry. No one gets any ideas today.

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While Quinn is growing up, we talk a lot with Leah about, “when you were a baby you couldn’t say many words…” Or whatever the situation demands. Or sometimes, “when daddy was a little boy… when mommy was little… when Dunkie was little…” The results of those small history lessons are proving to be very effective.

“Mommy, did you know when I was a little boy, I liked to play soccer.”

I don’t even know what to say sometimes.

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My sister. God love her. After reading my blog yesterday, I get this text…

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Man, it made me laugh.

However, please do not feel required to send me your grocery shopping lists. I care what we eat, I do not care what you eat.

The end.

Here’s to a weekend filled with sleeeeeeeep!

 

 

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Still Chugging.

Oh boy, oh boy.

Remember when we dove head first into real food? Or at least I shoved my family off a diving board and then dove in after them. 🙂 Well, my friends, we are still at it! Can we get a sticker or something over here!? We are 73 days in (I had to go back and count) and chugging right along.

Now, the official name of the game we set out to do was 100 Days of Real Food. But I have tampered with it some along the way, and we are settling nicely into a Lifestyle of 98% Real Food. And I kinda like the name better. Some of you have probably already stopped reading, I know. I promise you I will not turn into a food blogger, a food hater, or a food judger. But this is kind of a turning point in our family, and I’d like to have these little blogs along the way so that I can yell at myself in 5 years if we have somehow reverted, or if I can look back with pride and say, hey, that’s when we changed our lives.

When we started this, you’ll recall, it was mainly for this beach body competition we’re doing with family. But I also mentioned that I wanted it to stick around. I think everyone knows that some foods are just better than others, that’s not some hidden secret. Figuring out just what exactly is better is the tricky part, and the part we’re still learning. But I had some main goals I wanted to see if we could put a dent in. 73 days ago, I wanted Leah to stop gagging so much. I wanted my own diet to not consist of 79% sugar (or something). I wanted Quinn to only expand her already darling little tastebuds. I wanted to see Kyle get the amount of protein he constantly told me he wanted (he’s a carnivore for sure). I wanted to cook lots of new things. I wanted to cook only one dinner for all four of us. I wanted to go really hard for a while and just see what would happen.

And only good things have happened! I can’t brag on us enough as a family. We have been at this for 73 days and have been to a restaurant ONCE as a family. (Once the girls got a pizza with their cousins, and once Kyle and I went out). That means I have cooked 71 times in 73 days! Can I have the biggest sticker, PLEASE? We actually have had maybe 3 leftover nights, as well, but still… that’s eating food I cooked previously, so it totally counts as cooking. It is so bad that now Leah comes down in the mornings and says, “what’s in the oven for me?” There is almost always some sort of bread, muffins, or oatmeal dish that is stuffed with all kinds of hidden treasures to be absorbed by her little body. I think I have become a better cook in 73 days, Lord knows I have had enough practice.

So how are the rest of my goals? Well, I am the most proud of a certain three year old who is just blowing my mind. Remember when I was so happy that she ate a carrot – well the other day she told me she LIKED carrots. And usually, as Kyle is my witness, she will eat a carrot FIRST at dinner. And she is SO proud of herself. For a while, it was, “Leah, eat one bite of your carrot, please.” Then it was, “Leah, eat your carrot. Leah eat your carrot. Leah, eat your carrot.” Now, it’s, “Mommy, don’t see!” And she wants to eat her carrot and then surprise me that it’s all gone. And the gagging? Well, it’s pretty much non existent. I certainly haven’t seen it in a while. We had some rough patches along the way, but now, she can eat her meat like it’s no big deal. And I realize for a lot of you, eating a piece of chicken is no big deal, but it WAS a big deal for Leah. And now it’s not. We just talk and eat dinner, the same dinner- and it’s pretty amazing. She has said to me, “you know, mom, I like this chicken.” And I die.

Kyle has also shocked me with some of his quotes. “Why don’t you ever give me many peas and corn?” “Uhhh, cause I didn’t think you wanted many?” “I do, I like them.” You guys, he likes peas and corn! I took that quote and ran with it. Now, it’s not uncommon to find more than one vegetable side on a plate. He also frequently compliments my salmon and chicken nuggets.

Salmon.

Something NONE of us had eaten. But when you have to cook every single night rain or shine, you have to get creative. I didn’t even know how to buy it at first. I’m learning. And I’m learning that it tastes pretty good! That has been the most fun part for me. Finding new things, and learning how to cook with new ingredients. My shopping list has transitioned a little over the past three months. I’m now buying brown eggs that are from cage free, antibiotic free, happy chickens. Because, if you watch a documentary on chickens and eggs… it will terrify you. So I pay a little more for my happy eggs, and spend a little less by buying Folgers coffee instead of Starbucks. We have also learned to LOVE Friday nights around here… for that is PIZZA NIGHT. And goodness knows… Leah is ready and waiting at the table at 5 sharp. In the beginning Pizza night was a saving grace from a hard week of gagging through dinner. Now it is a celebration of a weeks worth of healthy eating… with more healthy eating. This is a tradition that will stick for as long as I can keep girls home on a Friday night. One of our (Quinn’s) favorite treats around here is popcorn! This was a fun experiment we had early on. They both thought it was the funniest thing to watch the popcorn jump out of the pan. Microwaved popcorn is one of the biggest sins as far as real food goes, but I’m pretty glad we tried the alternative, because it is always a fun night when it’s popcorn night. Homemade ice cream, popsicles, granola bars, and pop tarts have all been such delightful, fun little treats to keep us on the course. I’m still not buying all organic, but things are evolving in one way or another as we go. I have added pretzels (made with simple ingredients, but yes, white flour) back into my list, but have also started paying more for peanut butter that’s only made with peanuts. It’s been a lot of give and take, finding what works for the long haul.

We’re kind of at a crossroads of sorts right now. We went 100% to get us out of the gagging phase. We tried really hard to get vegetables onto the nightly routine. We fought through some serious battles, but I believe we’ve transitioned over to the bright side. Now we’re at a point where I have to keep us from going back, but also let us live a little. We went to a restaurant for the first time two nights ago… and then followed up with frozen yogurt because I REALLY wanted it. And it was a good decision, but the day after Leah was a MESS. And I’m not exaggerating, Kyle was speechless. And I do believe it has a direct correlation to the amount of sugar/crazy ingredients she enjoyed the night before. So yes, we will live a little… but not much. Cause no one cares to repeat the grand meltdown of 2015.

So from here we will keep chugging. We will keep making choices that we believe are good for our family. I will keep finding ways to shove a carrot in Leah’s mouth because I don’t want her to ever forget that she likes them. We will keep popping popcorn to make Quinn the happiest little goof on the planet. I will stand firm and unashamed of my no artificial colors stance, but I will let some white flour slip here and there. I will continue to cook… and cook and cook. Night after night after night. But I will enjoy the family dinner conversation that is evolving just like our taste buds. I have lost 13lbs and 6in and Kyle has lost 20(something)lbs and 5in, and we just feel good. We are working out, and have both gained abs! I don’t even know what to do with mine, but I certainly keep checking on them. 🙂

I am proud of us for sticking with it for 73 days, and I’m excited to keep chugging.

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Kyle: “So, what are these, whole wheat eggs?”

It’s been a journey, guys.

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