Friday, November 25, 2016

"Look what I can do!" -God

God has the best sense of humor! Here I am. The woman who thought she'd never be able to experience pregnancy, who forced herself (and her poor husband) through years of fertility treatments to no avail...pregnant....AGAIN! This is a huge surprise. Although I guess it shouldn't be. We thought Evelyn and Little Dude were one time miracles. Little Dude for sure. This is now my third pregnancy. Apparently the fertility doctors were really wrong.

I noticed a few symptoms over a couple days but I was so sure it was something else. A cold...something. Then on October 13th (exactly one month after LD's first birthday) I couldn't get it out of my head that I should take a pregnancy test. After I put the kids down for their afternoon naps, I dug through the very back of the bathroom cabinets and finally found the other test from the box I bought last go-round. I double checked the expiration date and a few minutes later there were those two pink lines. Pretty sure I sat there, in my bathroom, in total shock for at least fifteen minutes just staring at the test. 

After the kids woke up I didn't have much time to dwell on the fact that I am pregnant. A fact I suspect will be a theme until I actually go into labor.. I did have enough time though to decide I wanted Squeaks to "tell" Josh. She's only two (three in January!!) so she doesn't really understand, but I thought it would be sweet, and maybe lighten the blow a bit for Josh. Ha!

Once Josh was home I waited for him to go to our bedroom and I pulled Squeaks aside. I handed her the positive pregnancy test, taped closed in case she decided to have a "hey-what's-this!?" moment, and told her to take it to daddy and yell "surprise!". She loves surprises so her face lit up and she immediately ran toward the bedroom. I had to run to keep up with her so I could see his face. I kind of wish I had filmed it. Priceless. He couldn't stop saying "you're joking, right?!" I had to tell him at least three times it was real. 

The shock dissipated ever so slightly and we both reassured the other that we were excited and happy, then immediately started discussing things like where he or she will sleep since we're out of bedrooms. We're probably going to have to get a new car. A third car seat just won't fit in our current car (that we bought when we were expecting LD. Ugh!). Then we both realized we will get to tell our families at Thanksgiving! On Evelyn's birthday!! I. Can. NOT. Wait!!! (Wrote this awhile ago. We told family yesterday! It was awesome. Post coming soon.)

While this is unexpected to say the least, it was by no means a mistake. Unplanned, for sure, but 100% meant to be. Every child is a gift from God! It totally blows me away that He is giving me another turn. Another blessing. Another life. I am so blessed!!

Over the next nine months, I would appreciate your prayers. Evelyn left uncertainty and fear burned into me, along with gratitude and love of course, but fear is winning right now. I don't want fear to win. I started my pregnancy with Little Dude determined to celebrate and enjoy every moment and this time will be no different. Pray for strength, wisdom, and peace. Let's do this!
Can't wait to meet our little tiebreaker!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Halloween 2016

Technical difficulties have kept me from posting the past week or so (technology hates me). For some reason uploading pictures just wouldn't happen. Well, I found a way around it. I had to email myself the photos for this post. Ha! Take that computer! 

Anyway...Halloween! It's never been my favorite holiday. It's my least favorite in fact. Not a fan of scary movies, spiders, bats, pumpkin-flavored-anything. But, having kids sure adds a fun element to it. 

Squeaks was a butterfly and Little Dude was a dinosaur. Both ridiculously cute. Halloween morning we joined some friends at a local retirement home for a toddler table-side trick or treat. We did this last year and it has been such a fun experience watching the kids with the older residents. The kids make their way around a long table collecting candy from each person. It's fun to watch how happy it makes all those involved. We don't give the kids sugar though so Squeaks enjoyed a granola bar while the other kids had some cookies. Since she doesn't even know what candy is and we call cookies "nasty pods" (half joke, half not), she didn't complain at all and was quite happy with her granola bar.

Later that evening we walked down to our church's harvest festival. Squeaks is old enough now that she understands how to play the games and she really loved the petting zoo and pony rides. This was her first pony ride in fact. Little Dude just couldn't stand staying in the stroller so we let him loose and he had a blast exploring with me following close behind him. He's getting pretty fast!

All-in-all a fun day! 
My sweet little trick-or-treaters! Squeaks ran around our living room pretending to flap her wings. Little Dude looked so cute in his little dino suit (inherited from a friend who outgrew it). Do you recognize Squeaks' monster feet? LD borrowd them for the day.
Two left photos: Squeaks collecting candy. Top right: Enjoying hr granola bar "treat". Middle right: Little Dude exploring and being cute. Bottom right: All the kiddos so cute in their costumes.
  Look how happy she is!! Such a sweet girl. I'd totally buy her a pony if I could. The face!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Love Well

This past week a little girl  passed away. 

She was not a victim of a hate crime, gun violence, drug abuse, a drunk driver, or any other human action. She was a victim of a broken world. She passed away from a brain aneurysm. She was ten years old.

I do not know her family apart from the fact that I remember watching her dad on stage at our church when he was the worship minister. I only know of her passing because her dad and I have multiple Facebook friends in common. When his daughter was admitted to the hospital he took to Facebook to ask for prayer. He asked friends and family to show support for his daughter by filling the news feed with green hearts, her favorite color. Many of my friends shared his posts and I prayed along with countless others.

As I read his prayer request I could feel his strength and sadness. There were updates following that first post, and finally, the news that she was in the arms of her Heavenly Father. I cried, for a little girl I have never met, and a family I barely know. I wanted to run to my sleeping children, scoop them up, and never let them go.

As someone who has lost a child, I know there is no consolation, no phrase, act, or earthly gift that can heel that pain. Time fades it, but there is no cure until we are reunited in heaven. Because my daughter was stillborn, I know I can not even begin to comprehend the pain of loosing a grown child. 

With full knowledge of no good way to completely console this family, I would still like to say thank you. Thank you for renewing my hatred of my sin and my pursuit of Christ-like love. This little girls passing should have never happened. We live in a world plagued by imperfection as a result of sin. Our only saving grace is our salvation through Christ.

Romans 12:9
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

There are so many opportunities for hate in our world. Hatred of different nationalities, genders, social classes...the list is endless. We fight against the products of sin, but forget the cause. We are fallen and in need of Christ's love. Are guns an issue, or the hearts of their wielders? Would addiction kill so many if they were bathed in love by God's church? Hate crimes?...Inconceivable through the eyes of Christ's love.

1 Corinthians 15:57
"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

The next time you find yourself angry about crime, drug abuse, abortion,  and/or the world in general remember the root. Sin. Fight against sin. Fight to love. These are important topics, worthy of action. Take action with a heart of love. Fight knowing the ultimate outcome! God always wins!

1 John 4:19
"We love, because He first loved us."

The little girl no longer needs our prayers. She dances with her King. I on the other hand, will take all the prayer I can get. Pray that I love well. Pray that Christs church loves well. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

One Vs. Two

A friend once told me "Having one kid is like having one kid, and having two is like having twenty."


Last week it happened that Squeaks was at Nana's house and I had Little Dude to myself for a few hours. The boy and I ran errands with ease. I can't believe I ever thought running errands with just Squeaks was difficult. I took my time at Target while LD enjoyed his snack in the stroller and waved at everyone we passed (I love that our stroller can go from a single to a double easily). Then on the car ride home he fell asleep. I decided to do something I haven't been able to do since he was born. I went through a drive through, got a chocolate shake, turned the music down low, and just drove around till he woke up. Soooo relaxing!

They are never in the same mood at the same time. Never both eat well. Never both sleep well (Squeaks sleeps while Little Dude doesn't). One always wants what the other has and they both always want what I'm eating. It's the biggest challenge of my life and I'm loving it!!

From what I've learned so far, being a parent to two small children so close in age is a lot like playing chess. It's a strategy game. Who do you get out of the car seat first? If you give one food the other will want some. Who do you feed first? What do you do with the one year old when he's not tired, but you need to put the two year old down for nap? You have to be one step ahead of them at all times. Add in housework, laundry for four (two of which love dirt), meals for four, three times a day plus snacks, breastfeeding, cloth diapering (ya, we're back at it), and three dogs, my life is never boring. I feel like I have to have a daily plan. My husband walks out the door for work and the game begins.

I don't know how to play chess.

There are days (a lot of days) where nothing goes "according to plan" and they are great days! So I've decided to start the day with a plan, envision my next move, and be as prepared as I can be. Then when it all hits the fan, laugh, and reset the game board. 
When nap times happen to overlap, I don't clean. I sit. And eat chocolate.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Look Good Doin' It...

Is there anyone in the world who hasn't heard of LuLaRoe yet!? Or at least, any women who haven't heard? There might be some Siberia...who haven't been exposed to this awesomeness yet.

LuLaRoe is a clothing company, but to my friend Jessica it's a tool to help grow her family. LuLaRoe, like my beloved Usborne Books & More, is a direct sales company. It allows it's consultants freedom to be with their families and still run their own business. Jessica and her family have chosen LuLaRoe to fund their adoption from China. With four biological children and homeschooling thrown in the mix, I am super happy that Jessica and her family have found such a productive and flexible fundraising tool.

This isn't their first fundraiser either. Jessica is a talented seamstress and raised a good chuck of change making and selling adorable rice heating pads. I was also given the privilege of hosting a Cards For A Cause fundraiser for them. It has always bothered me (actually makes me pretty mad) that adoption is so expensive. I'm so excited to help Jessica and her family in any way I can. It's a big pill to swallow. International adoption is $40-$50k! I'd love it if you would go check out her LuLaRoe Facebook page and/or follow her on Instagram. If you are like many women I know, you are already part of multiple LuLa-groups on Facebook. Wouldn't it be great to support an awesome cause while looking super cute at the same time!? I now own five pairs of LuLaRoe leggings, I live in them, and I've only scratched the surface of the LuLaRoe world.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Sharing A Fun Event

I just registered for this free online conference and I thought I'd share it with you too. I don't get money, gifts, or anything for sharing this. Just the joy of passing on a fun event. One of my favorite mommy bloggers will be speaking (Erin Odom from The Humbled Homemaker). I enjoy her honesty and writing style, plus she gives great money saving tips. Her blog gave me the courage to dive into the cloth diapering world. 
I like that it's all online, so I can watch the presentations when I have time. I hope I can get to them ALL! 

Register HERE.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

3 Reasons to NOT Landscape Your Yard

Aside from the fact that it will save you money, it is my personal opinion that not landscaping your backyard makes total sense.

When Josh and I first moved into our house six years ago (whaaaa!?) we decided to redo the backyard. We had a new sprinkler system put in, had a few raised beds built, and new sod laid down. I was pretty proud of that backyard. One of the raised beds was waist-height, perfect for a vegetable garden. Josh mowed the grass weekly and we spent weekends pruning, pulling weeds, and laying down mulch. It turns out it was a waste of time, money, and energy. We really should have just left it in the state we found it (which really wasn't that bad). The grass is now patchy and best, and the raised beds are more weeds than anything else. Kids have happily consumed our time and resources.

Now, if gardening is your "thing", and you have the time/money to do it, go for it! If you have small children (or are considering having kids in the near future), don't bother. I know that sounds negative and defeatist, but hear me out. Here are three reasons to not landscape:
Yes, this is my yard. Un-mowed for three weeks and counting.
1. Kids love dirt! Nay, they need dirt! 
Especially little boys. I am learning this more and more every day. Not only is it actually healthy (read this), it's just plain good for the soul. Watch a kids face the next time they stick their chubby little hands into a pile of dirt. Pure amazement and joy. Piles of dirt, dirt from under the flower beds, wet dirt around the sprinkler heads. It's all fair game. Kids will dig it up.
Dirty hands, dirty knees, dirty bum. Dirt, dirt, dirt.
2. They will destroy it anyway.
Not in a malicious way. Not in a "Hey, something pretty! Let me step on it!" way. Just in a kids-being-kids way. Squeaks LOVES to pick every flower in the yard the second it blooms and bring me beautiful bouquets. How could I stop her!? And Little Dude gets the biggest thrill out of dumping buckets of rock from our planter beds onto the patio floor. No way I'd kill that joy for him!
A freshly picked bouquet and a patio full of rocks, these are signs of happy kids.
3. It will give you extra time and less stress.
Squeaks loves to blow wishes (dandelions). I almost hope they grow in our yard. She is so cute taking deep breaths and blowing as hard as she can. No pulling weeds! Digging is a favorite past time too. Anywhere the dirt is exposed between the patches of grass (thanks gophers) is fair game. If we had a perfectly manicured lawn and pruned planter beds, it would drive me crazy to see my kids take their shovels and "search for treasure". 

Do yourself a favor. Save your money and go sit in the dirt with your kids. It's so fun!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I had "a moment"

I'll call it "a moment", but we all know what it really was. A meltdown, an episode, a momma-is-gonna-lose-her-mind-soon-if-you-don't-stop-screaming...thingy.

We are in a time of transition. Little Dude is big enough and able to balance well enough to join sister in the bath in the evenings now. Up till now Josh and I were separating bath time. He'd take Squeaks and do bath time in our guest bathroom and I'd take little Dude to our master bath. A divide and conquer kind of scenario. This past week though, we've tried combining them. Both kids in one tub with one parent while the other parent gets PJs, pacifiers, diapers, and bedrooms ready for bed time. It looks great on paper. Josh and I get to alternate nights spent bent over the tub wrestling slippery toddlers and get a little extra cleaning up done around the house while the kids are in the tub with the other parent on watch. 

Kids are funny little creatures. They just love routine! So far on the nights where I do bath, Squeaks has flipped out because she's use to dad doing bath, and on the nights when Josh has done bath, Little Dude has totally lost it 'cause he's use to me always doing it. It has not gone smoothly to say the least.

This last Thursday night was the worst to-date. It was my night for bath and Squeaks immediately made her grievances known. Loudly. Little Dude was so tired (he's phasing out morning nap. Yay!) and just couldn't take it. He started to feed off his sisters unhappiness and before both kids were barely in the water we had full on meltdowns. 

I decided to join them. 

Total mom-fail.

They're screaming. I'm screaming. Our tiny guest bathroom was transformed into a tiny box of torture. Josh came to my rescue just in time to find me bent over the tub, Little Dude clutching at me, Squeaks clambering to get out of the water as I held her in with my free arm, all three of us in tears. Being the level-headed man that he is, Josh quickly formed a plan. He scooped LD up wrapped in a towel and told us to get out. Fine by me. Josh finished Squeaks' bath and I calmed LD and got him dressed. 

Deep breath.

Not much has improved over the last few nights. One child or the other is unhappy at bath time, but we plug away at it, and everyone eventually ends up clean. 

All of this reminds me of a conversation I recently had with another mom. When describing recent mothering difficulties the only way she could think to explain it was "it feels like being alone in a crowded room." 

I will be the first to admit, I want people to think I'm an awesome mom. I care. I care what people think of me. Plus, I actually DO want to be an awesome mom, not just look like one. Pressure from all sides! Why do I do this to myself? I am NOT alone. I know lots of other moms. Why must we all act like we've got it together? 

Raise your hand if you've had "a moment". 
Most days I feel like I just barely make it by the skin of my teeth. I wouldn't give it up for anything. Wouldn't change a single thing about either one of them. This job is no joke though. I know I'm not alone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Let's Learn Together!

We've formed a posse. A tiny learning posse.

It all started at music class. 

Practicing her rhythm at music class.
Squeaks and I began attending a small music class every Monday when I was still pregnant with Little Dude. It's super fun to get out of the house, watch her jump around and sing with other kids (or sometimes cling to my leg, depending on her mood) and make tons of noise playing a variety of instruments (she always loves that part). Over time we have made friends with the other kids and moms who attend each week and have enjoyed play dates, outings, and birthday parties as a group.

Recently we have added learning activities to our repertoire of mom skills. I've been semi-homeschooling Squeaks for a few weeks, just taking it slow, maybe 30-40 min a day. The last few weeks we've gotten to add some friends! Squeaks best friend, we'll call her Tinkerbell (maybe Tink for short) has joined us for a few fun letter C and E activities (her mamma was out of town for D, but that's the awesome flexibility of homeschool!). We made "Very Hungry Caterpillars" from egg cartons, read the book together, and "fed" our caterpillars all while counting, learning colors, and building listening skills. (I got the idea here.)
Squeaks and Tink making their caterpillars. It was fun to watch them paint and then "feed" their caterpillars just like in the book.
This last week we had two more friends join us and we played an exciting game of Eye Spy (a mini lesson on the five senses to go with the letter E). They loved it! It was a bit of a twist on the traditional version of the game where someone has to guess the specific object you're looking at. Instead we asked the littles to find any object in the room that matched certain criteria; soft, round, red, etc. It was a blast! 
Here's a link to the game sheet I made. We put a little star sticker in the box when each kiddo found an object matching the description.

This Friday, for the letter F, we have plans to visit a local farm! 
Our learning posse, before the posse formed, at story time at the library this last February.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The End Of An Era

We have taken our last monthly chalkboard picture. I am sad...ever so slightly relieved...but mostly sad. I have loved doing these, and I am so glad our kids have them to look back on!
All displayed in our living room. My heart is full!


It came and went so fast I have a little whiplash! Our Little Dude is ONE!! *stands mouth gaping open in pure astonishment*

We had an absolutely lovely day at Disneyland on his actual birth day. We went on rides, we people-watched (a favorite pastime of mine), and we even got to spend quite a bit of time with a few characters! We happened to be in the right place at the right time when Chip, Dale, and Goofy came out. They literally walked right up to the kids and started playing together! It was so fun!! Squeaks loved it and gave lots of hugs. Little Dude even got to play a little peekaboo with Dale!
Yesterday was LD's party and it went great. I was a bit hard on myself at first because I had grand plans for the decorations, but time just didn't allow for about half of it to happen. Oh well. I still think it turned out perfect and everyone seemed to have a great time. I know I did! The kids loved the bounce house, Little Dude had a blast ripping open presents and smashing his little cake, and I couldn't have asked for more heart warming blessing letters from the grandparents. Good memories, good food, amazing friends and family, and a sweet, wonderful, happy little birthday boy!  
 A few of the decorations I made. Love his monthly picture display!
 I used this recipe for his cake and this one for the frosting. He smeared it around more than he ate it, but he enjoyed what he did eat.  I tried it and it was super yummy!
He went straight from cake-smashing into a quick bath. He loved ripping wrapping paper and Squeaks helped too. Squeaks with Punkin' (so grown up!).
 Bounce house fun with dad, Uncle Caleb, and Squeaks' best friend. (I'll call her Tinkerbell. Her mamma knows why *wink*)
The worlds' best Nana even got in the bounce house with Squeaks! Little Dude was so tired at the end of the party.
Our sweet boy is growing so fast!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Little Man

Mini Man

Little Dude

I am convinced that this little boy was born with full mental knowledge of what he's capable of, just not the physical ability to carry it out yet. He is so determined. So motivated. Never. Stops. Moving.

Tomorrow he turns one. It feels like he went from birth to unstoppable-force-of-nature in no time flat. He is...THE Little Dude.

For his actual birth day we will follow tradition and celebrate at Disneyland just like we did for Squeaks' first birthday. His party will be on Saturday. Planes, trains, and automobiles theme for the Mini Man in constant motion. There will be family, friends, food, and fun. I am especially looking forward to the blessing letters read by Josh, myself, and the grandparents. Another tradition from Squeaks' first as well. Can't wait! Now excuse me while I go cry.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Grandparents Day

I have no doubt in my mind that my kids have the best grandparents in the world. Go ahead, challenge me. I dare you. 

Now that truth has been established, I can begin to properly brag. 

While my parents and Josh's parents have extremely different grandparenting styles, both are equally loved, needed, and effective. 

My parents have a laid-back mellow vibe, preferring music, conversation, arts and crafts, and theological foundation-laying. I value their contributions to our kids' growth. I can count on them to be both engaging and effective in their interactions with our kids. In a way I feel their time spent together is a kind of training. Not to say my parents aren't fun because they most definitely are. We all had a blast together in Tahoe in July and Gaga gives one heck of a "horsey ride" (Gaga being the horsey as Squeaks spurs her on). And just like her book-lovin' mamma, Squeaks can count on Gaga to read endless numbers of stories. I think though my parents would describe themselves as more future-focused. I love that they encourage character-building. They help me focus on my children as more than tiny humans, but as contributing members of our society. The day my mom, Squeaks, and I can sit and discuss C.S. Lewis or textual criticism will be a happy one. With the way Squeaks soaks up information I doubt it will be too long. 

My in-laws have an embrace-the-moment, Disneylandesque vibe to their grandparenting style. They fill my kids' childhood with play and adventure. I can count on them for random trips to the store where handfuls of books and knickknacks are purchased because they were at Squeaks' eye level. They are unfailingly generous and supportive. They keep our wishes at heart (no sugar, as little TV as possible, manners always necessary) and are still able to make "Nana and Papa's house" a magical place. Because I am my parents' child, the "play and pretend" style of my in-laws reminds me to play and pretend too. A necessity. This is not to say my in-laws are all fun and no structure. I know they will never steer my children down the wrong path. Prayers are said, Bible stories are read, and the blessing of wisdom is imparted. When all is said and done, it's an awesome thing to watch a grown woman in her fifties lay on the living room floor and make faces with my eleven-month old or silly sounds with my two year old. 

Very different styles, both absolutely needed. They are two halves to our grandparenting whole. Valued and loved. I have no doubt in my mind that any one of them would do anything for our kids. ANYTHING! We are blessed.
Squeaks held by Papa, Nana, Nana Sue (great-grandma), Little Dude held by Gaga, and Grampy

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Our Calendar Wall: Learning The Weather

I've added the last finishing touches to our homeschool wall and I LOVE IT!! I'm super happy with how this turned out and I think it's going to be a great tool for helping Squeaks learn.
In my ideal world I'd have a designated homeschool room, but you work with what you've got. I think this little corner of our hallway wall is so cute and fun!

The last finishing touches include a weather wheel  and a cork board to display the letter and number we're learning about. If I had to pick one last thing to add it would be a little poster showing the different shapes. I've run out of wall space though, and I'd rather not have my entire kitchen/dining area/hallway taken over with kid related items. It's spreading everyday! That's another post though, cause I have thoughts on kid/adult friendly spaces and keeping them separate. But I digress. 

Click here for a link to the weather wheel. Living in Southern California means we probably won't get to use the "snowy" spot often, but maybe we can go visit the snow and use it on those days. I actually made the cork board too. My crafty self has leftover supplies from previous projects just coming out my ears! I already had a roll of cork and the perfect size little wood plaque to glue it to. Didn't have to buy a thing! I get my craft-hoarding tendencies from my mother (love you mom!).

Now excuse me while I go stare proudly at the corner of my hallway wall.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Our Calendar Wall: The Seasons

Once I get started it's hard to stop!! The creative juices are flowing and I'm on a total crafty/homeschool high. But really, if you're gonna do something, do it all the way! 

Another fun learning tool for you! A fun little "seasons" chart! I laminated mine, cause...why not!? It also makes the little arrow nice and sturdy for little two-year-old fingers to spin. It also makes it easier to stick to the wall.

We have a cute little "Seasons" song to go with it too (find it on my Pinterest board). Just wish we had more difference between the seasons here in CA. It will still be just to talk about the holidays in each season. I think this is going to help Squeaks understand parts of the year a lot better.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Our Calendar Wall: Learning Months

Squeaks and I have started a morning tradition of talking about the calendar. We discuss the days of the week, the date, the month, seasons, weather, and the current letter we're learning about (this week is the letter c). 

I was noticing that she was starting to grasp the days of the week thanks to this awesome days-of-the-week wheel I found (FREE! I opened mine in good-ol' "paint" to add color). When I would ask her what month we are in though, she'd give me a bit of a "what the heck are you talking about?" look. So to Pinterest I went!
There are TONS of months-of-the-year printables on Pinterest, and I actually found one I really liked, but it cost more money than I was willing to spend. I will be the first to admit that my OCD, hyper-organized self is totally geeking-out on school supplies so I've spent my max. DIY it is!! 

No biggie cause I love making school supplies even MORE than I love buying them. And now I will share the fruits of my labor with you! Enjoy this super cute (in my humble opinion) months-of-the-year banner!

The top part of the banner folds over the string and gets taped down. I just used twine and a couple of 3M hooks to hang mine. It's a bit longer than I intended it to be. I wanted it to fit on a small piece of wall at the front of our hallway. I'm happy with how it turned out though. I wrote "What month is it?" on a large clothes pin to clip to our current month. I think this is going to be a great tool to help Squeaks learn!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Lundy and Tahoe

A few weeks back we had our first vacation as a family of four! Over the past few years my parents have rented a cabin on lake Tahoe from some friends of theirs and this year we were able to join them. For many weeks prior we reminded them, "You remember we have two small children right? You know one of them doesn't sleep through the night, right? You know they are attention hogs, right?". Being the awesome Gaga and Grampy that they are though, they were excited to have us along and we were excited to get to spend the week with them!

We decided to split the nine hour drive into two days, you know, for sanity's-sake. About five hours in we stopped at Lundy lake, a spot that holds special meaning to my husband. At least six or seven of his childhood summers involved a trip to Lundy with his grandpa and uncle. It was fun to watch him remember and experience this beautiful place with our kids, even if it was for just one night.

Day two, more driving, and finally Tahoe! We were so excited and blessed to find out that our little cabin for the week had recently been upgraded with beautiful new floors. These are the things you get excited about when you have a crawling child who is an expert at finding every little crumb, so the lovely easy-to-clean laminate floors made my vacation a little easier.

Within an hour of arriving we were down by the water. Our cabin came equipped with new floors AND a private beach! Score! What a beautiful lake! The kids loved collecting rocks (or in LD's case, throwing them, but not far) and Squeaks had a blast on the nearby playground. Especially since it had a "twirly slide".

Over the next week, we enjoyed walks along the Truckee River, nature walks, good beer and food at a few local spots, live jazz on the beach, and the Truckee farmer's market. While vacationing with two small children isn't entirely a vacation, it was so fun to watch them experience new things and have so much fun they literally passed out (although Little Dude still didn't sleep through the night. Oh well.)

We had a wonderful time and look forward to making this a yearly trip.
Splitting the drive up into two days made things a lot easier. The kids both fell asleep just as we were leaving which made for an easy first hour. Squeaks got pampered with her own personal tray, movies on the iPad, and snacks. Little Dude held up about as well as you can expect a ten month old to. The drive home we did all in one day. By hour eight in the car I wanted to tuck and roll from the moving vehicle, but we did it! It was a fantastic first vacation as a family of four!
Our stop at Lundy Lake was only one night but it was well worth it to see my husband relive happy childhood memories. The spot where he and his grandpa and uncle would camp has since overgrown but the lake itself is just as beautiful and secluded as always. I tried to get a picture of all four of us together. I succeeded in a super cute photo of everyone except myself. Ha! I need longer arms. I can't bring myself to buy a selfie stick. Just the name bugs me much less the concept. So for now, I look weird and everyone else looks great. Two thumbs up.
We arrived at our Tahoe cabin mid day with plenty of time to walk down to our private beach. Squeaks loved walking with Gaga and Grampy and both kids had loads of fun sifting through the smooth piles of rocks on the lake shore. As a mom of little people I almost prefer these smooth rock beaches. No sand in diapers!...Don'tcha just hate it when sand gets in your diaper?! I know it makes me cranky. ;)
Our main event for the next day was a gorgeous walk along the Truckee River. Josh and my dad enjoyed some man time while my mom and I kept the kids and went exploring. We found literally the most perfect spot along the river with a little shallow spot for Squeaks to wade into the water. Little Dude and I relaxed on the shore...well, maybe not relaxed. He kept things interesting by occasionally attempting to go head first into the water. Most of the time though we enjoyed sitting in the grass watching groups of people rafting down the river. It was just perfect.
 There isn't an inch of this lake that isn't gorgeous. A nature walk the next day ended at the beach with our feet in the water. Little Dude fell asleep in his carrier on my back and slept the whole walk. He woke up super sweaty but happy. It was fun to watch Squeaks explore. She was very insistent that we were going to see monkeys and lions on our walk through the woods. She loved seeing the big pine cones, super tall trees, and elaborate spider webs.
The park just next to our private beach was a huge hit the entire trip. The picture on the left is proof of Squeaks first time swinging by her arms. She was very proud of herself and it gave her courage to attempt other "big-kid" obstacles on the playground (with Gaga spotting her). She felt very accomplished and grown up by the end of our stay. As she should. She played hard and slept like a rock every night. One happy kid.
 While in Tahoe we enjoyed some local breweries. Fifty/Fifty is one of Josh's and my dad's favorites. A little place in Truckee called Mellow Fellow was also very nice. Both super family friendly and relaxed. Little Dude even enjoyed a quick nap in his stroller while we sat and talked. 
Squeaks got her first purse while at the Truckee farmers market and also got to accompany a piano player on the sidewalk. His piano was covered in signatures and he let Squeaks add hers! She was very excited.
Little Dude and I got to enjoy some alone time at the beach for awhile too. He thought the small waves that the boats made were a little scary at first but soon he was splashing us both. A very sweet lady with her family offered to take our picture (bottom left). 
Our last day included a jazz concert on Kings beach. We enjoyed live music, fantastic people-watching, and a visit with our cousin Stephanie who lives in Tahoe (lucky lady). Squeaks made friends with a very sweet little girl and Little Dude sampled his first fist full of wet sand (and made multiple attempts to go back for seconds). Both kids loved the water and got plenty dirty. Fun had by all!

It was a wonderful week spent with family and we look forward to many more trips like this. Although traveling with little people can be quite challenging (packing our car with the required gear was like a game of Tetris), it's most definitely worth it. On to the next adventure!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Wise Choices Chart

Squeaks is most definitely not what you would call a difficult kid. In fact she's amazingly compliant and well behaved. She is two and a half though, and it has become helpful to have a visual aid when discussing behavior. 

As I searched for a tool, something to point to and discuss consequences, I wasn't unable to find many options that emphasized wisdom and not just goodness. There is, in my opinion, a difference between making wise choices and making good choices. I want my children to strive for Godly wisdom, not just being "good people". 

Any-who, couldn't find what I wanted, so I made it. Should there be other moms and dads that might find this useful, I'm sharing.

I laminated ours and we use a small clothespin with Squeaks name on it to keep her place on the chart. An "outstanding" day receives a special sticker (most of the time "good job" does too), and each step underneath has a consequence. Toy taken away, time out, etc. I shared this with a few friends on Facebook and one wise mamma added an extra bit of awesomeness by allowing her littles the chance to work their way back up the chart by helping others. Great display of God's grace and compassion.

Print and enjoy! Wise choices chart.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Like The Wind

"Squeaks, you wanna go for a walk after dinner?"

As we walk around our block, past our church, past other families on evening strolls, Squeaks is impatient to reach the point at which she is released from her stroller. 

"Can we race Daddy?" 

As we approach the part of our walk where we can safely let her out, her feet start to kick, and if she wasn't buckled in, she would slide herself out from under the stroller tray keeping her in her seat. The stroller stops, Dad unbuckles her, and....SHE'S OFF!!

Like the wind! Curls bouncing, chubby little legs going as fast as she can will them, and sometimes, in times of need, need for extra speed, her arms fly behind her in an attempt to become more aerodynamic. Daddy follows close by, feigning inability to keep up.
"Out of my way Daddy!"

Little dude watches longingly from his stroller seat.
"Look how fast sister is!? Soon Little Man, soon."

She stops suddenly. "We're at a street Dad!" (The corner of the block is a good twenty yards away.)
"Not quite Love, but you can hold my hand."

Across the street and she's off again. Like the wind! Curls bouncing, chubby legs a blur. 

Another sudden stop. This time to inspect a spider web. No spider. He must be away visiting friends. Look! A yellow rose! *deep inhale* "Smells pretty."

And she's off! Wind in her hair, pink Converse pounding the sidewalk. 
"Where are the wishes?" (Dandelions.)
"It must not be the season for wishes my Love."
Disappointed pause, then again, off like the wind!
But wait! There! A single wish in our yard!
We're home. Squeaks blows her wish, and like the wind, she's off to bath and bed time.

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