Third Trimester

A few weeks ago I hit 28 weeks pregnant – this ushers in the – dun dun duunnnn- third trimester. This is a time that is both exciting because it means you are so much closer to meeting that little peanut, but it also means you still AREN’T done. Third trimester is a time that is often fraught with uncomfortableness, extra emotionalness, tiredness, sleepless nights, and nothing to wear. Now add to that two toddlers (3 and 17 months) and you have a real recipe for grouchiness. Which is what I have been lately – a real grump. I try keeping myself active and eating healthy to ward off the hangry variety of orneriness, but lack of daytime naps, either from my 3 year old or from the 17 month old, also leave me with no extra sleep during the day. And when your nighttime sleep is riddled with back aches and crazy vivid stress dreams – uhm like giving birth to six BOYS all at the same time – you really are running on next to nothing. And coffee. But not too much because you know…you’re pregnant.

Add to this, the fact that I have been battling with allergies that leave me sneezing all day, an activity which is no good for pregnant ladies. Not to give TMI but  when you’re pregnant and you sneeze….a little pee comes out. And when that sneezing is successive violent ah-choos, it often means many changes of clothes. Or in reality loads of extra laundry because you actually only have four outfits that still fit you. As I was lamenting this to Dean, he, of course, offered the most sympathetic response of, “well good thing we bought the big thing of laundry detergent.”

Enter tears. Random “why am I even crying about this” tears. So yeah. Third trimester….yaaaay……

But other than laundry and sleepiness, here’s a bit of what my life looks like right now:

Reading: this fascinating book about birds and how birds are actually really intelligent, which somehow meshed really well with this book, which outlines some thoughts on where our society is headed and why. And then I have this fun juvenile fiction by Neil Gaiman that I’m working on.

Listening: to some of the podcasts from our church in Phoenix because I miss the preaching there. Otherwise, Alexa has a rotating classical music and Frozen soundtrack repertoire.

Wearing: ALLLLL the sweaters because it was chilly here for a few weeks, but it has warmed up again, so now my two pairs of maternity shorts are on constant rotation. I can’t wait to wear a few of the pieces I bought for those chillier post-partum days. I snagged these booties, which are SUPER comfortable. And Abercrombie did some re-branding and they have a number of cute pieces including this ruffle shirt, this cardigan (you have never felt something softer) and this adorable pull-over. Wait for a good sale and than snatch a few of these for yourself. On my face I stick with this blush duo and this lipstick.

Cooking: Staying home has allowed me to make healthier food for lunch and dinner. A few of my recent favorite foods have been these zucchini chips and the zucchini recipe below. I am always looking for easy crock-pot meals, so if you have favorites send them my way!Zucchini bread recipe

Making: New friends. Or trying to. I am having a ladies wine and spa night in attempt to make some friends here.

Wanting: This bag for Christmas. It looks so yummy and magical.

Watching: Gilmore Girls (which whether Dean would admit or not, he loves). And we are finishing up the Walking Dead before re-watching Stranger Things in preparation for the new season that starts in October.

Enjoying: Seeing my children become better and better friends. There is still lots of arguing, but there are also kisses and sharing and snuggles. It’s beautiful.

Wishing: Britton could talk and go potty on the toilet already. Actually I’d just take the first thing if I had to. I can’t take the endless pointing, grunting, and whining anymore!

Waiting: to finding out whether we are having a girl or a boy!

 

Needing: more naps. And time not with my children.

Hoping: I find some cute new glasses that aren’t a butt-load of money, and that don’t make me look like I belong shut up in a dusty library.

Loving: all the beautiful paint work and gardening my mom has helped me with.

Playing: outside mostly. Riding bikes and digging in the dirt. But also playing lots of dress-up, trains, and coloring or painting. Charlotte is really into making pictures for everyone in our family.

 

Thinking: How grateful I am to stay home, but how some days this life is rough.

Attempting: to transition Britton to one longer nap a day. Some days are successful and others are quite disastrous.

Feeling: happy that my sister has moved back to the states from Costa Rica. I am excited to be more in each other’s lives again.

Shopping: at Aldi. Like a boss. Carrying around my quarter and saving all the dolla’s.

 

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Look at that hair. It’s crazy right?

My beauty of a three year old has this delicious curly golden blonde hair that is IMPOSSIBLE to brush. Honestly, I have just stopped trying to brush through it most days. The only time it gets a comb through is when she takes a bath (note: we don’t give our kids a bath every day because…uhm…who has time for that??). This stuff makes it so much easier to comb through the rat’s nest that her luscious locks become after a day or two of play. Just look at it!IMG_6194

And that’s not even her WORST day.

Curly hair can be so much fun, but it can also be a lot to manage. Curly hair gets tangled and matted more easily, and it is often drier and coarser than straight hair. So how do we get back that tigger-like bounce that makes curly hair so delightful? What’s our secret? It’s the Beautycounter kids line!

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The Not a Knot conditioner makes that crazy mess into soft, shin hair.

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This is just after applying some and working it through her hair with my fingers only. Already there is such a difference! And you really don’t have use very much product. We have had our same bottle for 8 months or so and it is still like half full.

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This is after combing it through! This only took a few minutes. Even Charlotte remarks on how soft her hair feels, and she’s only three. 🙂

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I also love their Daily Shampoo and Conditioner for adults. I have struggled to find something that really hydrates my very dry and slightly coarse hair (my hair also used to be curly, although due to age and/or pregnancy it mostly refuses to curl anymore). I have also had trouble for much of my life with a scalp that is very dry and dandruff prone. This shampoo and conditioner leave my hair silky smooth and shiny, something my hair has NEVER been. And most of my scalp issues have gone away. Nothing but my prescription shampoo would do that before. Like the kidscounter products, a little goes a looong way. And my husband can use them too, so there are fewer products lining our bathtub these days.

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I am so glad to have found something that is safe and really works!

Ways to Play

When I was a teacher, parents would ask me all the time, “What more can we be doing for our child?” The truth is, I think, many parents start asking this question long before their child is even in school. In certain parts of the country parents apply to pre-schools the moment they find out they are pregnant because otherwise they won’t get in to those elite places of learning. Education is important to almost everyone. And getting your kid off to the right start can be overwhelming and exhausting.

Personally, the more I have taught – whether its teaching 30 kids in my classroom or my own children – the more I believe in the power of good parents and good parenting and less I believe in overly structured, hyper-academic pre-kindergarten programs. I believe more in meaningful play, being active in your child’s life and development, and teaching them basic logic skills than in fancy kindergarten prep programs.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I just thought I’d share some things that we do with our littles that I think will pay off in the end – I mean our oldest is only three, so…..clearly I’m expert here….. 🙂

  1. Reading. Any good doctor or teacher will tell you that one of the most valuable things you can ever do for your child is to read to them and talk to them. And by talk to them, I mean like. a. person. Use complex vocabulary. Don’t dull down your speech, at least not too much. If they don’t understand your choice of words, explain and use synonyms and analogies. The research supports the fact that children who come from vocabulary-rich homes are more successful learners and readers. Take your child to the library. Read to them every day, even if  its only for a few minutes.  Your child and their future teachers will thank you. IMG_6052
  2. Do puzzles. Two of the things I found most difficult to teach my fourth graders were basic logic and problem-solving skills – to see how pieces are related or fit together and what to do when you are stuck. Puzzles (of all types!) help teach these things. They teach sequence, visual-spatial reasoning, along with logic and problem-solving skills. But don’t just toss them a puzzle, actually teach them strategies to solve it. We taught Charlotte to do puzzles by looking at the shape of the piece, the colors and details of the picture then to find one with matching colors, or to look at images on the border of the puzzle (if it is a wooden frame puzzle). We started this early, and she now can do a 50-piece puzzle by herself. IMG_4443
  3. Make up simple games. Two of our favorite games are “where’s our car?” and “where’s our house?” This is a simple game where you ask, “Is that our car?” or “Is that one our house?” or “Is our house blue?” while pointing to different vehicles and buildings. Truly the possibilities for the questions you could ask are endless. The point of the game is that they would learn to identify your particular vehicle and house. Not only does this cause them to have to evaluate each house and car you pass by it see if it is similar or different from yours, it also has the added benefit of helping them know what you drive and where you live – you know… in case stuff happens. I just came up with this one day while in the parking lot as a tactic to stop the whining and crying, but I think it was one of my more random genius moments….if I do say so myself.
  4. Incorporate basic math into what you do every day. This one I learned from my math friend Kristan. At the dinner table, she would have her girls count how many green beans they had left, and then challenge them to eat three more. She would then have them count how many green beans they had left.  It got them thinking about numbers and doing subtraction and addition with just simple everyday objects, and it is something we have tried to do as well. It is also the perfect distraction for those whiny “I’m alllllll duuuuun” moments. There are so many possibilities for this and it works great out in public places, counting stairs, people, tiles on the floor – you name it, and it can be counted!
  5. Help them understand something new by making analogies and making connections between different areas of life. For example, while sweeping the floors I might say, “It is just like when Mrs. Tittlemouse went around cleaning and sweeping her house” or “We are just like Cinderella when she had to do all her chores.” This takes some skill on your part at times, but I have found it to be super useful both when I was formally teaching and now when trying to help my own children grasp something new. I might reference a past common experience, a movie or show, or a book. Having done this so many times, Charlotte can now make her own connections between things, often surprising me with the details she remembers from books we read or outings we take.

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    This beautiful chalk drawing is “Scary witch queen” from Snow White. 

  6. Get them outside. Let me your kids just play outside as much as possible. And then take walks with them and learn the names of the trees and flowers around where you live. Take home leaves and draw them or make a nature sketch book and take it with you on your walks. This is something Charlotte Mason talks a lot about in educating children, and I think she’s right on about really slowing down to observe and understand the natural world around us.FullSizeRender 27FullSizeRender 26

There are so many more things you can do as well. What are some of your favorite “games” to play or ways to teach your child?

House Update: Living Room

We have now been living in Bloomington for a month. And in that month much has changed in our house. Of course, this is all thanks to the free labor of our parents, most specifically Dean’s dad and my mom. Each time they come over they work on some little project to help us get just a little more settled in.

So while there are many more parts of the house that still need those finishing touches, I thought I would share some before and after pictures of the one room that is mostly put together: the living room.

Here are some before pictures: The walls were a dark brown, even darker than it appears in these pictures, and the house was pretty dusty and dirty.

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And here is what we have done so far:

We lightened the wall color with white, specifically Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace (sounds sophisticated right?). We bought this couch from IKEA, and went with mostly light colors because the wood of the floor and trim is so dark. We also tried to make the room look taller and brighter with these airy  curtains, also from IKEA. I even convinced Dean to let me paint the top of that round table this blush color.

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Most of the pillows and blankets my mom picked up from Goodwill (did you know that Target donates BRAND NEW things to some Goodwills?). And she gifted us the grey Eddie Bauer wingback rocking chair, which she found new in the box for $150 at Goodwill. It will be the perfect place to sit and nurse the baby. And its ability to swivel lets me turn around and see the kids even if they are in another room. It is also the perfect chair to do that creepy someone-walked-in-and-you-turn-around-slowly-in-your-big-chair villain move.

It took a lot of looking to find a rug I liked, but then I walked into HomeGoods and voila! The perfect rug for only $99. We also happened to find the perfect little side table at HomeGoods to go by the chaise part of the couch so that you can lounge and have a place to put your drink.

There are still a few things to be done in this room, including hanging a lamp in the corner above the chaise lounge, and recovering the small brown cube that’s currently in the corner for a little added seating and foot resting. We also have to install hooks by the door to hang the jackets and coats that are now a necessary part of our lives. #welcometocoldweather

Next up in our projects in the dining room, but here is a preview of one of my favorite corners in that room. IMG_6204This chair and the others will be re-covered, the walls painted, the dining room table painted, and a gallery wall put up!

Beautiful New Endeavors

This last week has been so pleasant weather wise. I have been taking advantage of the cool weather by taking the kids on walks each morning. We bundle up in blankets and get out the double stroller and just walk around the neighborhoods and go to a park. It gets us out of the house, into fresh air, and gets me exercising a little (something I have been horrible at the last two pregnancies). It’s also given me a little quiet time to pray and think.

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Britton is determined to climb UP the slide. 

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Charlotte worked meticulously on this sandcastle, scouring for more and more acorns to add for detail. 

One thing I have been thinking about is doing something for myself – to have a little business or project that I work on that is not just taking care of those two beautiful children I have + the one I’m growing. Enter in: Beautycounter.

Before I tell you more about how I learned about this company and why I have decided to get involved, let me tell you that I have NEVER been that girl who loved lotions or makeup or anything. Beauty products have also been overwhelming to me – there are so many and so many colors and they are so expensive. Just walking into an Ulta or Sephora makes me feel dizzy. Not to mention even when I do decide to purchase something, I literally have no idea what to do with it. Most of my makeup skills I learned from my younger sister (major #bigsisterfail on my part) who has always been more competent when it came to putting on eyeshadow than I have.

With that said, joining a beauty company was hardly the thing I thought I would ever do, and yet… here I am. So why? Well, a year ago my college friend Christine posted about a company called Beautycounter and shared why she loved their products. Beautycounter is a skincare and makeup company whose mission it is to create safer skincare products. They have a list 1500 items long of things they will NEVER put into their products. We think so much about what we put into our minds and our bodies, but what about what we put on our skin? I hadn’t really thought about that until I got pregnant for the first time. As new parents, we wanted to do everything right. So we researched what I couldn’t eat and drink and wear. And let me just say that being pregnant for most of the last 4 years has really heightened my awareness about how many things are not safe. I changed to more natural deodorants and shampoos and body washes because our skin is our largest organ and it absorbs everything we put on it. Then when we did finally welcome our first-born into this world, we continued to try to be aware and intentional about the products we brought into her life, and we have continued this every since. That’s where Beautycounter fits in. Beautycounter offered something different. Beautiful products that are clean. Safe. Things I didn’t have to worry about putting on my children or using while pregnant or the inevitable situation of my children somehow getting into lotions and make-up regardless, it seems, of where I put them.

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These are some of my favorite products: Nourishing Cream Exfoliator (leaves my skin so soft), Countermatch facial lotion, face oil (it’s not as scary as it sounds), rejuvenating eye cream, lip sheers, and Nourishing Rosewater Mist. 

Another thing I love about their products is how naturally glowing my skin looks, even with make up on. My dress-twirling, pink and sparkles obsessed three-year-old girl watches EVERYTHING I do. She wants to put make up on and look beautiful like mama. So I started to think, what does she see when she watches me? Someone who looks totally different than when I first wake up? I know that are so many uses of make up, but that isn’t the message I wanted to send her. I want her to see me. I want her to think of her mama as someone with natural beauty, even if there is a little make-up added in there. I want her to see that make up should only enhance what is already there, and I feel that the products I use from Beautycounter really do that.

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I finally bought a REAL make up brush and I love it. These are also two of my favorite lip sheers – I am eager to try more colors. I love the lip sheers because they are so soft and hydrating and they have a slight vanilla flavor. I also love the bronzer/blush duo. It is just the right amount of color on my skin. 

So I have joined this company. Not to push make up on people, but to share why it is important to think about what goes on your skin everyday. It has certainly changed my life as I think about all the chemicals in each lotion, shampoo, and body wash that touches me and my beautiful babes.

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Maybe my favorite products ever (well besides their every day shampoo and conditioner for adults). These gets the tangles of our Charlotte’s hair like nobody’s business. Seriously she goes from a tornado of knots to silky, soft curls. 

It is all part of a greater mission to be healthy and to help teach my children what being healthy and beautiful means.

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Parenting Out the Don’ts

We parents (and teachers) often spend much of our day using the words “don’t,” “no,” or “stop.” Some days – those really special ones – we use all of those words all in one sentence. But these words often leave me feeling like I all I did all day was nag at my children  (or *cough* husband).  They leave me feeling like a failure and like my children are bad. Don’t get me wrong I know my children are sinful like myself, and I know that sometimes these words are necessary – like when your three-year old is dragging your 15 month old across the floor by the collar of his shirt (not that this has ever happened at our house…) – but many days I feel like I use them too often.

You see, our brains are geared towards finding the negative. Pointing out what is wrong is the easy thing to do. Much research shows this to be true. It is why we are fixated on negative news. It also why we feel that the world is such a dangerous place, even though statistics shows otherwise.    We have more safety precautions, technology, and medicine then ever before, and yet we focus on all the bad things. Yep no more dying of bubonic plague or savage barbarian tribes or dysentery (unless you still play Oregon Trail). But I digress….

Always pointing out the negative in myself or in my children doesn’t always help them to understand what I DO want. Instead of saying, “don’t take things from others,” I have been trying to say, “please leave the toys in his hands.” Sometimes this turn of phrase can be tricky and not helpful either, but I feel like the overall message makes me feel less naggy.

Oftentimes though, it isn’t as much about turning these negative phrases into positive ones as it is about simply pointing out when they ARE doing what I want. Do you ever feel like you only speak to your children when they are being bad? I do. What about the moments that they act kind or share or listen right away? I am trying to be better at narrating those moments for my kids. I want them to know – “hey, you did good there!” I want to show them that being sweet and kind and obedient has just as many pay-outs (in terms of attention gotten) as being mean and disobedient. I found this method to be true when I was a teacher as well. The more I pointed out to my students what I wanted by saying things like, ” thank you so-and-so for being ready right away” or “I see so-and-so is sitting attentively” etc. the more they seemed to do that behavior. This seemed to help most of those students who were just slightly off-task get back on track, while also praising the behavior of those students who really deserved it. In the long run it also helped build up in them the behavior that I was looking for.

Now, before you get all “behavior modification” blah blah blah on me, I want to say that I think the biggest change this method elicited was that it changed my own heart and attitude. I started focusing less on the negative and more on the positive. I started to see that things were not always going wrong. That most of my students were doing what I wanted and acting virtuously most of the time. It completely changed my outlook on the day. I stopped feeling so much like a failure as a person and as a teacher, and started feeling more like “I got this!” That confidence only boosted my future interactions with them as I saw them more as people and less as small creatures to boss around (don’t tell me you don’t think this sometimes in your mind). I was more open, and more comfortable with them and myself. I let my hair down a little, so to speak, and that had boundless positive effects. I attribute this conscious effort on my part, and many many prayers throughout the day, surrendering to God my complete inability to do it on my own, as the reasons for my feeling of success last year.

Now, I just need to apply some of those tactics at home, a place where there isn’t constant feedback or evaluations or accountability. Home is a place where it is just me, my kids, and God. It is so much more humbling in a way because it really makes me stretch into the farthest realms of what integrity means. To be at all successful, I need to be more intentional about having some quiet time with the Lord to get my own heart right. Then I need to fight my very natural instincts to correct, correct, correct, and boss, boss, boss. I want to need to be the first example of what forgiveness, kindness, and humbleness means to my children, and the only way to do that is to go to the source Himself. And then point it out in them.

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One Week In

 

We have now lived in Bloomington for a little over a week – and what a week it has been! On top of the emotional up and down that is moving across the country and leaving your job, we also had multiple days of a stomach bug. Britton dealt with his right before and right after traveling (thank God nothing happened ON the plane). Charlotte waited to christen our new house. It was quite a couple of days.

As a person of routine and schedule, one of the more frustrating parts of travel and moving is the schedules that get disrupted. Naps were lost and bed times were pushed back. It took the kids about a week, but I think they have finally adjusted to the time difference, so we are now able to actually start some routines here. Even something like grocery shopping is challenging when the stores you have to shop at are not the same ones you had before. Having to learn the set up and options available while dealing with two often hungry and whining children is not one’s ideal shopping time. So far we have checked out HyVee (it’s a little pricey, but has TONS and TONS of options – and Ah-MAAAAA-Zing donuts), and Aldi. I grew up with Aldi, but it is so different now.

But before we get too heavy into starting new routines here, we have tried to spend some time exploring our new town. Moving from a city with millions to a town of 130,000 or so (that’s Bloomington and Normal together) makes this place feel so small. Dare I say po-dunk even, at times. But also small-town in the best of ways. Like people are so friendly here, and our neighbors have already come over and talked to us several times. The boys across the street just wander over to our porch in between their nerf gun fights and bike riding escapades. There are also so many other differences between here and Arizona. First, there are – trees! and bugs…. and lots of old houses! No more adobe and terra cotta roofs for us.

In fact just down the street from us is an original brick cobblestone street that is chalk-full of all the Victorian wood-sided scalloped trimmed houses you could ever want and in a schema of colors that would put Baskin Robbins to shame: historic pink, purple, blue, yellow, mint green. It’s a veritable rainbow of house colors around here. And the front porches? Nearly every house has one, accompanied, of course, with the necessary front porch swing.

 

 

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And if ice-cream shop hues of houses aren’t your thing, there’s always brick. And more brick. Additionally each house comes with it’s own tree lined side-walk, of which Charlotte commented the other day that we were “in a deep forest.” Only a kid who has grown up in a desert landscape with very few trees thinks that a sidewalk with a few overhanging trees is a “deep forest.”

Also on the list of things we have tried so far:

-The beautiful bike path – The Constitution Trail – that is literally at the end of our street. It has no shortage of shade, flowers (an herb garden even) and historic markers – most historic markers around here have something, if not EVERYTHING, to do with good ‘ole Abe Lincoln.

– We found this wonderful park today on historic Franklin Square. It is small, which works for me because I can see them from anywhere in the park. We will be visiting often since it is only a few blocks away.

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This park even comes with its own castle! Not really. 

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We even met a furry friend at the park – can you spot the caterpillar?

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– An ice-cream shop in Normal called Emacks and Bolios. It was delish! No really. You can get a sundae with two scoops, unlimited toppings, fudge, whipped cream and a cherry for like 5 bucks. And the ice cream is guuuuud. I tried the Chocolate Addiction and Espresso flavors. And their fudge was on fleek for sure.

Our town even has those cute free library boxes around. This one is right on our street.

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Next on the list:

  • The zoo
  • The County Fair – which is this week
  • The Discovery Museum
  • The State Farm park (yeah, they have their own park, which you can only go to if you work at or have a spouse that works at State Farm). It has pools, spas, splash pads and more!
  • The David Davis Mansion – I’m not sure who this person is, but their are road markers directing you how to get there.
  • More parks!

In between those activities, we will continue to settle in and spend lots of time looking out all our beautiful windows contemplating all sorts of high-minded things I’m sure. Or…. just neighbor watching. Britton’s already got this activity down-pat.

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This Old House

We found a place to live! We are more than excited to finally have a place that we like down in Bloomington/Normal, IL. For those of you who have NO idea where that is, you are not alone. You can find it here.

After looking at townhouse and regular houses, some that had too few bathrooms, some that had no yard (a major thing I missed about living in the Mid-West), some that were at the top of our price point, we finally found something we think will work for us for time. Our goal is to rent for just a few more years and be saving up to buy a house in that time frame. This will give us time to figure our where we want to live and the schools we want our children to attend.

So here some pictures of the place:

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Now moving on in….

I love the hardwood floors, which are original (the house was built in 1904). There are also nice architectural features like the built in cabinets and the beams in the dining room. The rooms are a little dark for my taste, so we are going to brighten them up with some fresh white paint and some flowy white curtains.

Living Room:

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Dining Room:

How can you not love the French doors, and set in ceiling and that window seat? It just needs a soft cushion and some pillows, and you will be able to find me there any day of the week.

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The owners are replacing the countertops in the kitchen. There is also no dishwasher, which is a bummer since I got used to less hand washing while living out here, but the built-ins are nice.

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This downstairs room will be used a a playroom for the kids because it is the only room on the first floor. It will also be given some lovely white paint. There is a bathroom downstairs as well.

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Moving upstairs now…..

There are three bedrooms upstairs as well as a half-bath.

 

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I will have to learn how to live with stairs again. 

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This is the room we will use as the Master

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A look from within the room

 

The kiddos will get their own rooms for a little while at least. The baby will sleep in a bassinet in our room while it is little. During that time Britton and Charlotte will get to have separate rooms, then I think we will try to combine them into one room and keep the smaller room as a nursery.

This is the larger room that will be Charlotte’s:

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This is the smaller room that will be Britton’s: 9b8a5ed9b912cd6e29ca38b1051b7d3cl-m18r

 

Overall, there are lots of things we love about the house and many that are not our ideal, but we are going to make the house work for us for a couple of years until we are ready to buy something else.

Now for the fun part….. DECORATING!

The Stress of it All

I turned my keys into school the other day. This action marked the end of the equipment I had to turn in and check list of “to-dos” that I had to accomplish before I could officially leave the school. And while perhaps that day should have been filled with lots of emotion  – it wasn’t. No, the weekend before, when I actually had to move all of my stuff out of the room, disassembling the classroom I had carefully crafted and the only classroom I’ve ever known – that was the day it really hit me. Moving became real. Leaving my career became real.

And from there I have entered the whirlwind, roller coaster, fire hose (yes it can be ALL of these metaphors) of emotions and things to do so that we can before we move. Starting with a house. Let me tell you, finding a place to rent that suits the needs of our family, that we can actually afford, and that isn’t awful looking, in a town that is not the rental-type of town has been frustrating. We think we may finally have found something (I will share once we have things more finalized), but this ushered in another surge of emotions.

Is it just me or do other women get themselves into a convoluted, spiraling circle of crazy thoughts? For me this feeling of finalization in leaving my job has made being at home with the kids harder some days. Especially when they don’t nap or sleep at night. Some days I feel awful because I feel like I don’t like them, and then that makes me not like myself for not liking them, which in turn, probably adds to the curtness and impatience towards them that makes me not like them. Being an introvert and a parent doesn’t help either – an issue I found equally as challenging while being a teacher. I often had to “waste” my prep periods at school to just sit and do nothing and re-charge. At home that is harder to do. I find myself emotionally drained from being so needed all day. Britton wakes up at night sometimes, so I put him in bed with me, then he is up at 5:00 – sometimes earlier – and it is off to the races…..the crying races that is. You know the ones where they are either switching off whining and crying or even…..crying simultaneously. And I think…how do I add a third to this chaos???

So sometimes we try to go out and leave this house and start our day over again.  Of course, we would just go play outside but we live in Arizona where it has literally been 120 degrees outside. This makes us unable to step outside after 10:00, let alone venture off to the death-trap that people in other states call a playground. The other day, we went to our all-time favorite store: Target. But this did not help because do you know what they already have set up at Target? School supplies. Yes. Wonderful, beautiful, shiny, new markers and crayons and binders and….. sigh. I love school supplies. So this made me miss teaching and miss the fact that I won’t be setting up a classroom this year. So of course this lead me to start looking into the schools near the house we want to rent in Bloomington. Never mind the fact that our oldest child is barely three. But my research was disappointing. I was less than impressed with the supposedly “Grade A” school. Coming from a wonderful school like Great Hearts, it is hard to go back to a regular public school. It is often all standardized testing scores and PARCC (Common Core), and computer reading programs and Halloween parades (and don’t even get me started on their funding issues). Not that there is anything wrong with any of these things (okay, I am really not a fan of Common Core, and Illinois really does need some  real re-vamping to their funding, budgeting, and pension issues), but I know it won’t be the same type or caliber of education that I fell in love with at Hillsdale and was able to practice at Great Hearts. So then I consider homeschooling. Until I remember the whole crying issue/not liking my own children sometimes conundrum, and I think about trying add actually TEACHING them something to all of that, and it all seems to be crumbling down.

One would think you could escape some of this by simply laying down and taking a rest for a while, but it has all followed me into my dreams. Dreams about teaching where nothing is prepared and my math sprints are just Halloween coloring sheets, and I don’t know the schedule for the day and the students are all out of control. And others where my children turn into zombies and eat me. And so there seems to be no respite for all my stress.

So we are going to build into our schedule a time each week where I can get away from everyone – go to the library or Starbucks or ANYWHERE by. my. self. and just have some quiet alone time. To recharge. To allow absence to make my heart grow fond again. And to de-stress a little. In the mean time, maybe send some extra coffee. Or earplugs. Or both. Maybe you should have a therapist deliver them just to cover all the bases.

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See they are cute and not crying sometimes. 

Growing pains and joys

Today marks two weeks of being a stay-at-home-mom. Two weeks. Only two weeks? While I have stayed at home each summer prior to this one, this one feels different because I know it isn’t going to end. And that, my friends, feels so daunting right now. I mean only two weeks? Hasn’t it been like two years? It feels like two years, or two months or two million hours? Yes, clearly I am adjusting well. These last two weeks have already been such a humbly and frustrating experience for me. One in which I have learned more about myself than my children. Here are some updates on our life right now.

Me: Staying at home is nice. I know, I just said it’s awful, but my house is clean. No really, it’s clean. Like I got down on my hands and knees to scrub the floor in the like the first time ever, although I won’t mention what this exercise taught about me the grout on our kitchen floor. My laundry is done. Books are being read. I get to drink all of my coffee in the morning. Breakfast gets eaten. It’s nice. But also hard. I have learned that while I worked so hard at trying to become more patient in my teaching career, I really lose it at home. Don’t get me wrong, I am still plugging away at it, but it is so much harder here. Why is it always harder to be patient with our loved ones than with strangers or people more in the periphery of our life? I have also learned that staying at home brings out the introvert in me. I just want to sit and read books and have everyone leave me alone. But then, the extrovert that often pushes her way around inside is yelling, “why are you doing this to me? Where are the people? You can’t keep me in here!” So we venture out, and I often regret it because naps aren’t had and children throw temper tantrums, and the introvert says in her Eeyore-ish way, “See, we should have just stayed home. Nothing good ever comes of going out.” Sometimes, I feel that going out becomes more about me escaping, although I justify it as “an outing for the kids.”

Charlotte, my first born, and my mini-me in most every way, ends up getting the brunt of what I have learned is often my brutal perfectionism. I have been starting to notice just how nit-picky I am. Too much noise bothers me. Too much movement bothers me. That’s not where those toys go. Why have those things been sitting on the floor for all of three seconds? It’s rough on both of us. And so it isn’t any wonder to me that my stubborn, willful, opinionated daughter, who also happens to be a three-year old, fights back and says “no” to all the control I put over her. Saaaay whhaaat? Now, now, I know you are all so surprised to find that I have a child like this. I can imagine it wouldn’t surprise you to hear that there is perhaps an unhealthy amount of the words “no” and “stop” around here. So, I’ve decided that I need to go back and read this because this girl need some breathing space from my control. I know because I would. My goal is to let it go a little – something I should know by now, since I hear the *bleeping* song every. three.seconds. I need to enjoy them more. I want to be aware of how playful and happy I am really being around them, so that I don’t feel like I am just grumpy and nagging. #difficultlifegoals.

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Charlotte: She is a fierce little thing. She knows what she wants. She loves all things pink, sparkly, and Disney. She wants to wear dresses each and every day, and insists that they twirl. She is still baby enough that she wants to be held and snuggled and carried around at times, but she is also independent enough to insist upon buckling herself into the carseat, picking out her own clothes, and getting out her own food. Three is also such a wonderful age in many ways. She sings songs all the time, most of the time from the movie Frozen, but other favorites include: The Star-Spangled Banner, Jesus Loves Me, and lots of other little tunes she learned at school. She also pretends now. She cooks me pretend food, and gets her bags to pretend to go to the grandmas’ houses. She pretends to be the mommy – okay, no this one she sassily tells me she IS sometimes. I just tell her that if she’s the mommy, then she has to change all the poopy diapers. That usually quiets her down a little. She makes little houses out of blocks for her ponies and acts things out with them. She “reads” books to herself. When we aren’t power-struggling with each other, she is really rather pleasant.

 

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Britton:  Gah! Could this kid be cuter? I mean look at the guy. Those blue eyes. That round head. Those eyelashes. Why DO boys often get better eyelashes than us girls? This boy has my heart. He walks (yes, he walks now!) over to me, smile on his face, and plows into me to give me hugs. All. The. Dang. Time. It is wonderful. He loves to snuggle and give kisses. And just sit by you (sometimes, at least). Because Charlotte is so movement oriented, having a kid that just sits is, well…sigh…it’s nice. He loves his sister so much, and wants to do all the things she is doing, something she often finds frustrating. But sometimes they actually do play nicely together. Besides giving hugs and following Charlotte around, his other major passion is food. The kid can EEEAT. Any time you are eating, expect to be feeding him.

Dean: Is doing his best to adjust to the fact that now when he gets home, I need a break from those sweet darling kiddos. He will take them outside or play in another room with them, just to give me a small break. He also watches them for a good portion of time on the weekends. On the job front, he has had several interviews, which have gone well, but we still haven’t heard back yet. So we are waiting. We know we want to move, it is just a matter of when. He always seems to handle all this stress better than I do, and is not as put off by the clutter, chaos and mess that children are at times, as I am.

Overall, I am glad it is Friday, and that I have another week to try again. Only…let’s do the weekend first eh?