It’s a BOY! A long overdue birth story of our sweet baby boy!

Birth story, labor and delivery, baby #3

If you remember (way long ago, how does time travel so fast?!) back a month now, I did a little guessing game on our surprise gender baby. Caleb and, now I’ll admit that we both 100% thought it was a girl. Oh BOY we’re we wrong…. again! Ha no more guessing for us.

I love birth stories! They are absolutely without question my favorite thing to read (and experience!). Even though this pregnancy and labor (and RECOVERY!) was definitely the most challenging, it’s our story and I love it ❤️

On December 26th, I was in serious cleaning and organizing mode. Not only did we accumulate a pile of stuff the day before, but I’m pretty sure I knew baby was coming. That evening after dinner, I did a thorough cleaning of the kitchen (minus the microwave, because pregnant brain). At one point, Caleb even asked if baby was coming that day because he knows me, ha! My response was “yes probably and I don’t want my mom to see a dirty kitchen” haha.

That night I had no contractions and felt pretty normal so it was quite the surprise when the next morning at 4:50 my water broke. Contrary to my other pregnancies, there were no contractions, pain, or sense of urgency. So, I cleaned up, got myself a little more ready, and then decided to wake up Caleb. His response to hearing my water break: “are you sure?” If he wasn’t half asleep and normally the most supportive person I know, I could’ve hit him for that comment as duh! Of course I was sure!

So he got up and got dressed as fast as he could, knowing how fast Harvey came, he didn’t want to wait any longer. I called my parents to come over and they were here within twenty minutes. I also called the hospital and given my past speedy deliveries, the nurse told me to come in immediately! Meanwhile I kept reassuring everyone there was no rush, if only I knew what was to come.

Our hospital is pretty close, so we were there a little before six and still no pain. The contractions existed, but since having Braxton-Hicks since week 15 there was very little difference. The triage nurse, measured me for a lowly 1 cm and gave me hospital garments so I could walk around and get baby moving. Since my water had broke, they couldn’t send me home so it was just a waiting and walking game.

Birth story, labor and delivery, baby #3
The upside to no rush was the opportunity for lots of pictures!

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e got settled in our labor room and once again laughed, talked, and made any last minute guesses!

Birth story, labor and delivery, baby #3
It’s a …! Tired pregnant mom. Oh wait.

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aption id=”attachment_3401″ align=”aligncenter” width=”776″]Birth story, labor and delivery, baby #3 I call this “Caleb’s power pregnancy stance”.[/caption]<

ix hours later I was still not in much pain, very little progress (like a 2), and bored and very cranky. We both have fully expected a baby in our arms at this point, not a 2.

Birth story, labor and delivery, baby #3
The lighting in our room was not the greatest.

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here was also a surprise sidenote visitor: my sister, Michelle, and Carson. Carson needed medication and usually can do it by himself, but with the day being a little out of routine, we guess he was a little nervous and needed Caleb’s help. So Caleb gave Carson his medicine intravenously and they wished us good luck!

By then the topic of pitocin came up and I was feeling very defeated. Comparison is so hard and yet all I did that morning was compare. I wanted a fast natural delivery. I wanted to meet our baby. I wanted to know if it was a boy or girl. I didn’t want pitocin. I didn’t want drugs. I definitely didn’t want an IV. Ick I hate them!

And sadly unbeknownst to me, this hospital (new to us) was much more “medical” and “policy focused” than I preferred and so with pressure from our Nurse Kevin and on call OB, the IV was attempted (3 Times!!) and the pitocin turned on. On the first attempt, the IV went in so badly I almost passed out in pain and the rest of my water broke. That explained why labor was so slow moving up to this point.

Thankfully by 2pm the contractions started to become more consistent and I felt like things were actually working. Although I was still eh about the pitocin, between that and my water fully breaking, labor finally moved forward. Within an hour, my whole mentality turned unpleasant.

Birth story, labor and delivery, baby #3
This was my mentality before the epidural.

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felt defeated. I was tired. I was hungry. I was in pain. I wanted the epidural. I felt for a long time like I failed. Thanks society. Another post for another day. But the great part was the anesthesiologist was my childhood BFF’s dad and he made me so comfortable (no pun intended!). We chatted about his daughter, also due any day; we chatted about our mutual friends; and our families. It made the whole process 100% times easier.

Once the epidural kicked in, Kevin asked if I cared if the pitocin went up. Since I was feeling good, I said “no, let’s get this baby out”.

Birth story, labor and delivery, baby #3
And happy Sam.

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ithin twenty minutes I had met a new Nurse Jill as it was shift change, she stepped outside to talk with Kevin and I told Caleb something is going on. I hurt bad. It was not the sensation of having to you know what, so I was really worried. Caleb walked out to grab her and Jill came in to check things out, and what I felt was a baby’s head! Ha. So much for knowing my own body.

Jill told me to hang in there while she got a hold of the doctor and I just felt wave after wave of extremely intense pressure. Not sure how other people experience epidurals, but my Docs goal was to not feel pain, but still feel what’s going on to help with pushing. Well he was right, no pain, but wow could I still feel lots! Those few minutes of “hanging in there” seemed to take forever!

With the on call OB present and the room prepped, I did a “practice push” and then it was go time! 13 minutes later I felt our squishy babe wiggle out and the relief and instant joy was and will always be the best feeling! The doctor said “there’s so much hair!” and then my most favorite moment was when baby was placed on my chest and I heard Caleb say “it’s a BOY!” and both of us burst out laughing with happiness and shock.

Birth story, labor and delivery, baby #3
Welcome to the world, Tucker!

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he next hour of bliss went by so quickly. Caleb got to cut the cord after it was done pulsating. Tucker came out sucking his fingers, so I latched him on right away and he was a happy champ, and then Caleb and I took turns holding and admiring our sweet boy! Then I ate because 24 hours since my last meal and mama was hangry.

Birth story, labor and delivery, baby #3
This is my absolute favorite picture. Caleb is so happy and proud holding his brand new little man & the clock in the back shows just how little Tuck really is.

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he first thing I said to Tucker as he was placed on me was “You were worth the wait”. After going back and forth about another baby for so long, then a really hard and long pregnancy, and a frustrating delivery, it was exactly true. He fixed all of those worries and anxieties the minute I held him. God knew we needed and wanted him. He makes our hearts swell and he is the perfect completion to our family 💙

Quick Facts:

  • Labor was almost exactly 12 hours from my water breaking at 4:50am to holding baby at 4:08pm.
  • 13 minutes and 3 contractions worth of pushing.
  • Caleb said during one of my breaks from pushing, the head was out, but not the shoulders so it was a sight to see! Haha, oh Caleb.
  • Kevin was our nurse for the entire labor process and missed delivering the baby by roughly 20 minutes!
  • I had no birth plan and went in with an open mind, knowing that each baby and each delivery is different. Although my hopes didn’t quite turn out, we were both healthy and happy so it was perfect.
  • Tuck decided to arrive at a pretty great time, too! Christmas was over, Kids were out of school with no activities we needed to worry about, Caleb had prepaid time off that weekend so he essentially got 2 full weeks home with only 24 hours vacation time used.
  • Our neighbor guessed the right date and happens to now be birthday buddies with his daughter! Big neighborhood parties ahead?!
  • My mom knew all along and never wavered it was a boy, pretty sure that was true of no one else.

Oh sweet Tuck, we are ever so glad you’re here and in our family! We couldn’t imagine life without you 💙 welcome home! We love love love you!

blog signature hand letteredpsst… I gotta give some major credit to Caleb here. Although it’s clear I love that man with all that I am, he continuously impresses me and loves me in ways I don’t always know I need. Yes I pushed the baby out, but walking with me, holding my hand, and keeping me sane and focused, and still laughing while in pain is a BIG job and for that I am incredibly thankful. Plus, he took sooo many pictures and it makes me so happy to look back at them and relive meeting our sweet baby over and over again. For my sanity (apparently I labor/deliver naked lots…)many were not posted here, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.The only regret I have is that there are not many pictures of Caleb those first few moments.

It’s time to meet this babe.

I’m officially the most pregnant I’ve ever been and if you ask anyone around me, I’m less than thrilled about this fact. Now, I FULLY realize a baby is a miracle and the most precious gift anyone could receive. I’ve seen the other side of it all and it isn’t pretty, I promise you. But neither is a really tired Mom, who sits around wondering if “today is the day”, attempting at crossing to dos off at work and home, all while still trying to help feed and take care of 4 kids and Christmas.

It also does NOT help that we ventured to the hospital at 2:00am this morning, because I was in pain and the nurse said no chances.

I was tired, in pain, and just praying it wasn’t a false alarm. Then that husband says “hey go take a picture by that tree” and so we do. This is what we get.

In my defense of being utterly inpatient, I was set up to be impatient the last few weeks, although I’m trying (ha!) to not be. See Jack was born at 35 weeks, Harvey was 37 weeks, and my doctor tried to convince me 2 weeks ago to just “hang in there till the 16th”… all of which those dates have come and gone. I fully expected a baby to already be here, snuggling in my arms, and someone else doing my job (“real life” perk).

So for all of those asking me when the baby is coming, I assure you I will let you know as soon as I know, but it turns out I’m not very good at knowing. See above.

I also had my 38 week check up today and my doctor predicts it’ll be post Christmas now, he sure changed his tune on that fast. Also, I’m BIG. Like real big. Like the doctor predicts 7 lbs 12 oz at the moment, which is 2 lbs bigger than Jack and 1 lb bigger than Harv so that’s something to look forward to pushing out.

All that’s left to do is give your guesses whether it’s a little girl or little boy!

Caleb was team girl the entire pregnancy, until this morning when I mentioned the baby is maybe just smart enough to stay in where it’s quiet and not chaotic, then he decided it must be a boy because he’s onto a good plan. Dads.

Carson, Jack and Harvey all think it’s a girl, some of it is just wishful thinking! Harvey also has been known to call himself a girl so he really has no clue. Don’t give him too much credit on this one.

Ava thinks it’s a boy, which I know is wishful thinking. Go figure, she cried when Harv was a boy and now wants another one. I guess we did too good job of convincing her that maybe being the only girl is a good thing. Oops.

I have my guess and it’s been the same throughout the majority of the pregnancy, but I also 100% thought Harv was a girl so I’m not going to make any claims.

Just for fun, here’s what all those wives tales say! Trista over at Classy Chaos did this and I loved it!

  • Carrying High or Low? Low – Boy.
  • Heartbeat? Fast – Girl.
  • Sweet or Salty? Both ha.
  • Ancient Chinese Calendar? – Girl
  • Acne? None – Boy.
  • Morning Sickness? I don’t think this one counts. I was awful sick with all pregnancies and apparently girls make you sicker, but those boys of mine sure weren’t fun either.
  • Pregnancy Glow? Only to the hubby (isn’t he sweet?) sooo Girl.
  • Hormonal? Um definitely. Girl.
  • Weight Gain? All belly. Boy.

Boy – 3

Girl – 5

2 inconclusive

So what do you think? Girl or boy?

Send good vibes and I can’t wait to share all of our special details of the babes arrival with you!

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A few thoughts on being MIA.

Hi all. It’s been eons. There’s been lots going on and I feel compelled to explain, both for you and really for me. You know, some sort of justification for disappearing.

First and foremost, I wanted to. Somewhere in my heart and mind, my mentality towards writing, blogging, and social media changed. I didn’t like how focused (to put that nicely) I’d become on getting the perfect picture or a perfectly written no-typos, SEO approved post that would appeal to all and the pressures of deadlines were all eh to me. I’m not sure I ever wanted this to be a “job”. I have one of those, and honest? It currently pays lots better. I started to lose sight of things I didn’t want to. Not my family, they’re too loud for that to happen 😉 but other things. My heart wasn’t in it, so I stopped.

But as I stepped away, it was evident I wasn’t alone in some of my feelings. Instagram changed how they display posts (which for those who do rely on it to help support their families) has been incredibly frustrating and scary and my heart goes out to you. But lots of bloggers burn out and I’ve seen it more and more lately. It’s a full time stressful “job” that many people aren’t aware of. Many become so focused on the followers/popularity it’s concerning how much of a “second idol” it becomes. I needed to breathe again. I needed out.

Bailey at braveloveblog said it beautifully; and when she stepped away it only reaffirmed my feelings. Most every blogger also knows about Young House Love‘s hiatus (FYI – do not claim one bit to be their caliber!!). Or most recently Stephanie over at Wife Mommy Me.

That social media world is a scary unrealistic place. I have been blessed with loads of confidence. Shyness yes, but confident nonetheless. In fact, Caleb has on more than one occasion compared me to Kanye. I’ll take that, ha! I’m proud of my confidence. I’m always going to do what’s best for me, Caleb, and my kids no matter what. I don’t need approval and I can rock those PJ pants at target like no body else. But social media can break that down realllll easy and I didn’t like it. Don’t even get me started on young people who don’t have that same confident self esteem.

So I stopped. Cold turkey.

And it was amazing! I had so much time and my to do’s got crossed off and I was happier, more patient, and just all around more chill.

Well then the second big thing around here this year happened: baby!

Yea, being pregnant, sick, tired and still trying to be a wife, mom to 4, and employee (because I still have that other job) pretty much took every ounce of time and energy from me.

Sure I missed some of the connections and friends, but lots I made intentional efforts to stay connected with. They’re my girls! The negativity and judgement was amazing to get rid of! Hey, even Kanye has his moments 😉

Then we moved. Into a giant fixer upper. While being 5 months pregnant. And new school schedules . So yea there’s just the straight up logistics of timing and making time for what I want. Which is currently cleaning and decorating this place. #priorities #familyfirstalways

Soooo what does this all mean? Honestly I have no idea. Some parts I do genuinely miss. Some parts are heaven sent they’re long gone. I have literally 50 some half written posts about a million happenings in life over the last 9 ish months. Will I ever do anything with them? Maybe. They’re my family’s memories and that’s what got me started in this anyway. But will it be the same for either of us? I don’t know friend, I just don’t know.

Some of you maybe have noticed I started posting over on Instagram again, yep I have. But nothing is “perfect” or “styled” or getting 100s of likes and I’m totally cool with that. They’re snippets of our life and important to me, so I want them together. It’s a start. It’s what I’m comfortable and happy with. For now. Maybe. Ah heck who knows.

It’s almost Christmas and I’m days away from another babe, so life is just magical right now and I don’t want to miss a moment.

So if we don’t talk before the holidays, I wish you all the joy and love and happiness this season!

Anybody else feeling funky lately?

Funky Feelings Winter Blues

Last week I mentioned there was a few reasons I’d been feeling funky lately. I also promised a good story about the police coming to the house, and well it’s not like it happens every day, so read on for the details!

// Knock at the Door //

Last summer we replaced our front door for very good reason – there was no window to see who was coming and it was old and drafty. Since having the door with a window it’s been a mixture of emotions whether it was actually a good idea to see everyone coming to the door. This was one of those times I was thankful and well, not all at the same time.

A few Saturdays back, I was cleaning the house as Harvey napped and Jack played on the xbox. It was Saturday and cleaning day, so I was still in my PJs. With no real plans, I never thought twice. Until the door knocked. Since we have a sign that is supposed to scare away visitors, I was already shocked by the situation. As I walked down the stairs, my heart stopped as the person I saw on the other side of the window was a Police Officer. My first thought literally went to my husband is dead, which given the circumstances of his job, it’s entirely possible this would occur.

I trembled (and attempted at covering myself – um PJs remember!) as I fumbled open the door. I somehow managed a “hello” as I’m still sure my heart wasn’t beating at this moment. He asked to speak to Caleb. As soon as the words came out of his mouth my fear went to confusion, because obviously he wasn’t dead but now why do the Police want my husband!?

A neighbor of Caleb’s Dad had called as both his cars were in the driveway but no one had seen or heard from him in weeks. Now, we knew he was going on vacation sometime in March for a week, but we also knew that the last few calls/check ins Caleb had made to him weren’t answered. As a man that lives on his own, Caleb and I have always been concerned there could be an issue.

// the outcome //

The Police needed Caleb’s help in locating his Dad and entering the house to check on him. After a few short minutes and a few phone numbers exchanged, Caleb was en route to his Dad’s house. At this point both of us were praying Caleb wouldn’t be finding his Dad on the floor. Thankfully, all was ok and there was information on the calendar about his travel plans and he would be returning that night.

Caleb did check in the next morning and told his Dad all about the previous days happenings. We know will make sure we always know his whereabouts in the future!

// Insurance Woes //

That same week, Caleb received an update at work through HR that our insurance provider and Children’s Hospitals and Clinics have broken their contract and will no longer be an in network hospital, as they can’t ageee on a fair price.

First of all, I get it. Both are a business trying to earn a profit and continue their company with longevity. Money is needed to make that to happen.

But, I’m so frustrated and scared. Caleb’s company provides one of the best plans in MN. Since we have, not just one, but TWO children with high need medical care, it’s important! They both have gone to Children’s since they were born (Jack even in utero!) and it’s all we know. To separate us from our doctors and medical care is the scariest thought.

Just as a reminder: Carson has severe Hemophilia (a bleeding disorder) and Jack was born with HLHS (essentially a half of a functioning heart). Serious business here.

// possible solutions //

  • New job (We’ll most likely pay tons more in premiums and benefits, and hope Children’s is in network).
  • Find new doctors (You have no idea how scary and worrisome that is, well unless you’ve been there.)
  • Pay out of network hospital and clinic charges (bling bling baby).
  • Hope, pray, plead, file grievances etc. until they compromise (We don’t ultimately have much control over this).

The news first dropped a few weeks back and since then I think we’ve both mentally come to terms with things. Everyone we’ve talked to said most likely it’ll all get sorted out and just be patient. Easier said than done people!

We have looked for other hospitals and clinics that can provide similar care. Thankfully, we do live in the state with one of the best hospitals in the country… and even have a friend that lives in the area to offer their house when we need to travel. We have been making plans to finish all the big medical care we knew we needed this year prior to July when the contract closes. We don’t want to switch and are hopeful we don’t need to either, but time will only tell.

// Winter Blues //

Little things have just been piling up and it always hits around the “winter blues” time of the year. Spring is attempting at making its preview, but not quite committing to winter being finished. There is definite research about happiness in winter and I believe being cooped all winter is not good for anyone, but it just seemed like extra things hit us in March (plus that flu! blah!). Luckily we’re working on solutions and the weather has been awesome lately, goodbye winter! Goodbye blues!

 

Any insurance thoughts or recommendations? We really would LOVE the input there! It’s a huge anxiety for me at the moment. I just want all our babies safe! Or have you experienced something similar and all turned out well! Positive vibes are appreciated too!

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Stop Telling Parents Boys Will Be Boys

boyswillbeboys

Please stop saying “Boys will be boys”. I don’t usually get fired up about many things, then again my hubby may feel different, but this –this is definitely something that gets to me.

Boys will be boys.

Blah.

First of all, I want to know what this actually means. Are you trying to tell me that little boys are jerks by nature? Or are you telling me that they’re wild uncontrollable little monsters? Or are you just trying to give your child an excuse on his lack of manners? Or maybe you’re trying to give someone an ounce of sympathy? Really. I’d like to know.

Because, I beg to differ on ALL of thee above. Being a #boymom I’ve been around the block enough to hear this a time or two. And every.single.time I die a little inside. Seriously. It’s killing me. Not for my lack of parenting or my husbands, I’m thrilled to report no one has ever said this to me in pity or shame. But for YOU. The parents out there with little girls.

Every time those words are uttered, we’re giving an excuse to our sons to be less than respectable gentlemen. We’re teaching them that it’s acceptable to be disrespectful and do as they please. We’re teaching them that by being a male, and male alone, it’s OK to do what they want.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but you don’t want that for your daughter. See. I’m raising my boys to be future boyfriends, husbands, and fathers. More specifically, YOUR daughters future boyfriends, husbands, and children’s father and I’m pretty sure you are expecting them to be gentlemen.

And honestly, I don’t want that for my boys. I love when we hear how nice my boys are and how they’re gentleman. It makes me proud. I know I’m doing something right for them and for YOU.

So, stop giving them an excuse.

STOP saying boys will be boys.

Because they won’t always be a “boy”. They will become men and I expect them to be respectful gentlemen.

If you really insist on helping me raise my sons, fine so be it, then remind them to close their mouths when they chew, to say excuse me, and tell them thank you when they hold the door for you. Because they will.

But for the life of me, don’t tell me boys will be boys when they make a mistake.

I fully know they will make a mistake. I live with them. They don’t need your permission or mine to make a mistake, they know it’s ok. They know it’s ok because my husband and I taught them it’s ok to learn from their mistakes. But we have never taught them they are excused from being decent human beings because they have .. well because they’re men.

I’m not saying that boys aren’t different than girls and that they don’t have more energy. Again, I live with them. They are completely different in lots of different ways. I love and honor those things. I’m telling you to stop freeing them from accountability, because they are boys. That is not acceptable no matter how old or what gender they may be.

Next time you hear someone say “well boys will be boys” I hope it fires you up just a little too. Our culture needs a change. Boys will grow up to be men. And with everything I am, I promise you mine will be gentlemen.

And if I don’t keep them in line, then their sister sure will.

So join me and put an end to “boys will be boys”.

How Do You Know When You’re Done Having Babies?

I had Jack when I was fairly young and with his heart defect, it was a lot to handle. I was finishing college, semi living in a hospital, and making deals with God daily. When we survived and passed that phase and life had settled down, it was nice and comfortable and the prospect of more babies was no where near my thought process. With a college degree, job hunting, house hunting, and raising a preschooler, I was busy. I wasn’t dating or even close to being married. I was done having babies and 100% cool with that.

Then I met Caleb. I knew on our first date I was going to marry him (just ignore the many many times I said “no” when he asked), and all of the sudden I wanted more babies with him. Yes plural – as in more than 1. He, on the other hand, was very ok to be done.

As our relationship grew and we discussed marriage, we decided that yes more kids would be good. We were not confident on its greatness, so ‘good’ was the only outcome of that conversation. We were out of that baby stage; the kids were 6, 8 and 9. We weren’t sure how adding another person to the mix would… well, mix. And honestly, we know babies are hard on marriages and as a new couple already tackling lots, it was scary.

But it didn’t stop us (obviously, we have Harv!). It wasn’t as easy as we ever thought though either. We both had kids previously, we assumed (well you know what they say there) that I’d get pregnant immediately and 9+ months later, we’d be parents together. I did get pregnant exactly when we planned, but after an early miscarriage that shocked both of us to our core, more attempts were put on the back burner.

Months later after mostly approval from my doctor, we found out I was pregnant. But we weren’t out of the woods yet. Having two children with serious medical conditions already, we knew we would be in for lots of appointments and check ups. I was good with it; it felt safe. Thankfully we got the all clear that Harv was and is a perfectly healthy little dude. Read more about his birth story here if you’re into that!

So where do we stand now? Well, that’s the problem. We don’t know. We both love babies, especially the playful and curious age that Harvey is right now. But we haven’t slept in 2 years and I’m not sure if I write well enough for you to understand this, but Harvey is a holy terror. He is crazy and exhausting and the absolute cutest little thing ever. Definition of parenthood right there.

I’ve read so many articles about how you know and I’ve asked millions of people and the answer is the same: You just know. Hmmm. I didn’t get that feeling then.

So, I’m asking you! How did you know? Maybe you are still deciding too! What have you considered? Are you ok with your decision? Bring on the info, I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. Serious, help a friend out!

pssst. Yes I know, Caleb and I should be making this decision ha! We do talk about it probably weekly. We do know that now is definitely not the right moment, but we are still unsure about the future and so yes, maybe you’ve thought about something we haven’t!

 

 

5 Friday Favorites | 23

Oh my gosh has this week been CRAZY. Sorry for being so MIA, but I can explain. First, it was the holidays and well ours extended from last Friday to Wednesday, so we were busy. Second, Harv came down with strep, seriously people. How an 18 month old gets strep even puzzled the docs. It’s extremely rare, but happens… to us. Go figure. It’s not enough that he’s been miserable, fevery, and not sleeping at all, but meeting tons of new people and traveling all week. Poor little dude. I’m really sorry. Last, Carson gets pink eye! Can’t catch a break around here. I’m really hoping our New Year is ringing in with healthy kids. Fingers crossed.

But for all the chaos on the negative side, there was so much chaos on the great side, too! This week for my favorites (the last FRIDAY of 2016!! – say what?!) I’m bringing you all our parties we attended and/or hosted. Enjoy the holiday round up!

one// Christmas Eve. Saturday started early with a visit to my parent’s for breakfast and coffee. Caleb was sleeping as he got home from work late and needed rest. I needed to drop off some presents they would be delivering that evening. We didn’t stay long, but it was a nice way to get in the holiday spirit. My Aunt & Uncle then stopped by to drop off a present for me (6 Rae Dunn Clay mugs!) and to visit, since we would’t be seeing them later. The rest of the afternoon was pretty low key which we were totally ok with. We knew the rest of the week would be crazy. My sister and nieces came over for our church’s Christmas Mass and dinner afterwards. Caleb picked up a variety of chicken breasts from the butcher earlier in the week, so I just popped them in the oven and made a few quick sides. It was a lovely evening. Minus the chaos of 4 kids running wild, extra at church, but hey it happens.

two// Christmas Day. Christmas Day was one full day of celebrating! The big boys woke up (after very very little sleep) first and once the pre-discussed wake up time occurred, woke up the rest of us. We were greeted with a Santa visit proven by half eaten cookies and strawberry milk (Jack’s offering ha!), full stockings, and new presents with special Santa wrap! The kids were all eyeing up the goods, but this year we added the pickle tradition so they went fast and furious looking for the pickle in the tree. Ava was the winner and granted the excitement of opening the first present. She was thrilled to say the least and mighty tired. After fast and furious unwrapping in a record under 30 minutes, the kids were all happily playing with toys, building houses, legos, and riding bikes. It was fantastic and fast. So fast I have like two pictures haha. Oops.

Once we all woke up a little more, we all had hot cocoa in my brand new  mugs (which I LOVE), a quick breakfast, and then got ready to head to Caleb’s Grandma’s house for caramel rolls. They are the absolute most delicious rolls I’ve ever eaten and I laughed when she told me she doesn’t even bake them from scratch anymore. Never would’ve guessed. She made 4 dozen, which sounds like a lot. However, by the time my family ate, she was down to 3. Grandma laughed and said that everyone needs to come earlier next year. Yep I guess eeks! Caleb’s Aunt also teased that as we headed out the door the house was empty again. Yes. We know. There’s lots of us.

After Grandma’s, we headed home. Harv needed a nap. The kids wanted to play. Caleb and I wanted quiet. It was a win – win – win. Until Harv woke up. Then we had a quick snack and headed to my parent’s for Christmas dinner. As soon as we arrived, we all decided to exchange gifts and open another round of Santa presents. There was 6 kids and lots of big boxes, so semi torturous otherwise. There was lots of happiness, laughter, and food. We played games, like who is the best Santa impression (Ava for the record) and tooting Christmas songs on mini recorders (I was not the best).

I wish this was focused better! Blah.
Then I convinced everyone we should do the #mannequinchallenge and it was super fun! We needed a million outtakes (more like 10 or so) but came up with two pretty good ones!

Take 1!

Take 2!

We headed home where we put the kids to bed, then planned on watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. But the DVD wasn’t working and isn’t on Netflix and neither of us wanted to fork over the $4 to rent it on iTunes so we opted for Big Bang Theory Reruns and assembling baby toys.

She’s so proud!
All in all it was a fantastic and blessed Christmas!

three// Monday Night. Friendsmas! We have a few family friends that we try to visit as often as possible, but it seems like it actually happens maybe 4-5 times a year. It is hard to get together with 3 families of 3+ kids each! We’re all so busy. But we planned it out weeks in advance to have dinner at our house AND Christmas PJs, but the PJ instigator opted out so just the rest of us were in PJs. (Love you Ang!) Our plan was Italian: homemade lasagna, different pastas and sauces, and my rosemary parmesan breadsticks. (Sorry we dropped the ball on the lobster mac – next time!). There was delicious cake and Christmas cookies for dessert. The kids all have friends around the same age, so it works out pretty great. We got all the kiddos lined up for a pic in the PJs and one of the Dads goes “huh, we’ve had this many kids here all night” hahaha guess we should pay attention more!

I love her face! Priceless. Definitely the big sister “Mom! I’m trying” look!
10 kids between 7 months and 6th grade! (With 1 missing!)
four// Tuesday Night. My college roommate and I still try to stay in touch, but we live a little over 2 hours apart and both her and Caleb have crazy work schedules so it isn’t always easy. Usually it ends up being a meet in the middle type deal once in the summer/spring and once in the winter. Well thankfully, it all worked out to see her and her husband again on Tuesday! We met at a Fuddruckers, which was a first for the majority and the kids loved it! Fancy burger toppings and shakes for the win. Plus Caleb and Carson both won really loud, oinking pigs from the those claw machines. Maybe not a win? Either way, the food was good and the company was even better!

five// Wednesday Night – Caleb’s family Christmas. Wednesday day was a little awful with trips to urgent care for Harv, a frantic grocery trip with a sick baby, a cranky mom and dad (because under 2 hours of sleep), but dinner and Christmas celebrations were perfect. Caleb made the prime rib perfectly, as well as his famous mashed potatoes, and I rounded off dinner with the rest. The big kids even put on a little presentation about the meaning of Christmas. They are so cute and make me so proud! Presents were exchanged and stories were shared. It was perfect. Caleb’s Mom and Step-Dad even made it in for the week from Florida. Harv even warmed up to people by the end of the night!

Um melt my heart. Seriously. This is perfect.
Fuzzy selfie, but I’m bound to prove I was present!
It was a busy week, filled with family, love, laughter, and lots of presents. But, I’m glad it’s over, I need sleep. I hope the last Friday of 2016 is absolutely fabulous for you! Look later this weekend for a few posts and BIG announcements!

Update: I am not pregnant, but thanks for all the love! 

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Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Heather // Andrea // Karli //

Week |end| Rewind 4

Well, contrary to expectations there was no giant blizzard on Friday. It was still frigid all weekend though, so our hibernation was in full effect! I even tested out buying diapers on Amazon Prime. I didn’t realize that there was none left in storage. Oops. So I took advantage of buying christmas presents and diapers! Seriously, it was great – free delivery, accepted coupons, and I stayed warm 🙂 Want more weekend updates? Check out last week’s here.

Let’s rewind though to Friday!

Friday, Harv and I tested out his new carseat while waiting in line to pick up Jack. I’m happy to report that he was in love with the giant beast! We hung out, played in the car while it snowed, and waited for Jack to come from school. Jack came out of school with the biggest gingerbread diorama I’ve ever seen! I knew they were making them in school, but this was nothing like I was prepared for. I was told milk carton gingerbread house. Not wooden platformed gingerbread diorama. When did this change in school!?

After the 3 minute drive home, we checked out the diorama (Harv may or may not have had a stage 5 meltdown for not eating the house) and then got ready for our night. I made the kids’ their favorite dinner and then we started making snickers candy fudge. Since it is a process, we started early and I knew I’d be committed to it all night. In between chilling layers, I got both boys showered/bathed, in Christmas jammies, and settled into blankets and pillows on the floor for a movie night. We opted for Paddington. It’s so cute how they cuddle into each other and I can breathe. Win win! After I got the boys to bed, I finished up the snickers, finished work, and watched some Gilmore Girls. Yep still going strong.

On Saturday, after Caleb shoveled and Jack played outside in the 4-5 inches we did have of snow, Caleb went to work and Jack and I went to town on baking. We started with the sugar cookie dough as it should chill first.


Side note, last Friday I mentioned the sugar cookie was my Great Grandma’s recipe and it was amazing. Well….. they are amazing, BUT it is not my Great Grandma’s! I lost my copy of her recipe, so I asked my sister to find the recipe and in the process my mother told her it was from an old bowling league friend. Say WHAT?! Talk about losing the sentimental value of the cookie. Sigh. How I never knew this before, God only knows. Moving on from that sadness.


Once the dough was in the fridge, we started on the peanut butter blossoms. They are fast, easy, and all the kids love them. It’s always a cookie on the list. As the blossoms cooked, we cut out the shapes for the sugar cookies. The Santa, Angel, and Reindeer, although cute, are also so hard to get to keep their shape, so Jack decided that the holly, Christmas tree, star, and snowman were the shapes of the day.

Harvey woke up from his nap just in time to see massive amounts of cookies on the counter (over 6 dozen). I’m pretty sure he considered it Baby Heaven.

I get asked a lot – the sugar cookies are white from white shortening. I like it better.

After the baking craze had settled down, Jack, Harvey, and I snuggled in for some hot cocoa and snuggles. Sorry Harv you can have hot cocoa one day. Just not today. Or tomorrow. Probably not the next day either.

My sister and my two nieces also decided to join the fun, so they came over for dinner, play time, and enjoy some of the peanut blossoms and snickers. They were gone fast! I’ll take it as a good sign. After bed time, I finished up a really exciting project I can’t wait to tell you about, but you’ll have to wait! Stay tuned, you’ll find out very soon 🙂

Sunday usually we head to church in the morning, run a few errands, and then spend the rest of the day doing something fun before the week begins and everyone is running in millions of different directions. With the weather colder than the Antarctic (yes I looked it up), I decided that it probably isn’t safe for the babe to be out, plus he’s been battling teething, a cold, and no sleep, so hanging around the house another day is good. The morning was spent finishing decorating cookies. I even planned the day before for Harv to participate in the decorating, so he had a few “leftover” dough cookies. There was more eating than decorating on his part.

While Harv napped, Jack and I tackled our last (thank goodness!) baked good, the one I looked forward to the most: the cranberry bliss bars. It was a new recipe, usually I’m hesitant when trying something new, but it turned out amazing! It was perfect and I’m unashamed to admit that I’ve eaten more than 1 (or 3).

The rest of the night was pretty blah and usual Sunday night business stuff: dinner, bathes/showers, packing up for school, etc.

had planned to finish up Christmas cards Sunday night to get them in the mail today, BUT I received this awesome (read: not awesome) email telling me that the last component of our cards I’ve been waiting on and expecting back on Saturday would still not arrive for days. So my apologies. Maybe they’ll arrive in your mailboxes by New Years.

Our holiday to do list is getting checked off very quickly! I even managed to do some online shopping and cross of all the kids last minute things. Win!

Happy Monday, 6 days and counting! Good luck with well the mondays and the others out there in a panic!

The Great Room Switcheroo | 2

An update on the bedroom switching is WAY overdue. As I looked back, I realized it’s been officially since August, but a mini update in September. It’s time.

First, let’s check in with Harvey and Jack. The room has made a few tweaks over the last few months. Harvey’s mobile was added and hung above his bed and a few other decorations on Jack’s side were rearranged. Nothing major in the design factor. More so, they’re getting along great. I’ve learned to have Jack get ready for bed (as in PJs, books, night lights etc ready) prior to me getting Harv down, so as not to wake Harv. Jack enjoys having Harvey with him and Harvey has completely adjusted to being in there. His naps are awesome, bed time not so much. I blame him, not the sharing bedroom factor. The age difference has been zero issue. We’ve been pretty lucky in that regard.

Caleb and my bedroom has seen some changes, as well. It’s nice having a grown up space again. Yes Harvey still sleeps with us at night … don’t ask … but it’s looking and feeling more like our own. There’s lots we still need & want to do (like paint a different color), but here is the most updated view.

masterbedroom2

masterbedroom

The other side of the room is empty, like literally. Ha. Without all the baby stuff, I’ve been contemplating what to do with all the newfound space. I’ll keep you posted, don’t worry. But for now, just keep your eyes this way.

I also want to remove the shelf that we hung for Harvey and put up some of our wedding photos and memorabilia, but I have commitment issues so the shelf stays for now.

I’ve mentioned it many times, but we officially moved Ava into her room after yikes are you ready for this? almost 2 years. Yep that’s a long renovation. After a leaky shower where moisture and mold spread all over the bathroom and her bedroom, we (ha! Caleb.) gutted and redid the whole thing. He raised the drop ceiling to regular height, added in an actual ceiling (goodbye ceiling tiles!) rewired, sheet rocked, mudded, etc. etc. etc. It was a project. That man continues to amaze me each day. Updates scheduled to post next week, stay tuned! I can’t wait to share it all with you!

She is loving having her own space again and we actually all enjoy being in there! We’ve been reading nightly Christmas books in there! Carson’s room also got a great cleaning after moving Ava and all her stuff out. It was needed desperately. So far they’ve been adjusting just fine without each other. I was a little worried about Carson since he enjoyed having Ava in there with him. He has big plans though for all the room now. Oh boy. That’s a little scary.

So we currently stand with a 4 bedroom house again! Carson in his own room, Ava in her own room and Jack and Harvey sharing and it’s all working out pretty perfectly. I feel like we are finally settling into this house nicely.

I even sorted the last move in box this last week! Yep 3 years later. I can officially say we’re moved in! Ha.

Come back next week for Ava’s official room reveal!

Week |end| Rewind 2

The next few weekends we are jam packed with all sorts of fun things, so I decided to keep up with the Week |end| Rewinds for a while! Usually, our weekends are filled with homework, chores, and errands so kind of blah catch up from the chaotic week. Don’t worry after the holiday season, the regular scheduled programming will return!

Missed last week’s? Check it out here.

Friday, Jack had off of school so the weekend started on Thursday! Thursday was Fire Truck Santa day in my parent’s neighborhood. Read more about it here. Friday morning I had a few meetings, so Caleb spent the morning hanging out with the boys. After my meetings, we decided to head out for lunch and get gyros. I’m addicted now. We haven’t had them at home for a while, I should make them again.

After lunch, Caleb had to go into work for the weekend, so Jack and I did some homework and laundry while we waited for Harvey to wake from his nap. Then the three of us headed out shopping for Christmas outfits. It was an adventure. I needed to find something fancy, but also something they’ll actually wear. Boys.

AND I needed something purple for Jack to wear to match his grade level at Church. PURPLE?! Yes people, purple. For a boy. I found a purplish (emphasis on ISH) zip up hoodie at Old Navy. Yes it’s not dressy, but there was NOTHING purple and dressy. He has khaki dress pants, some nice plain button ups, so I figured I could pull something together. Purple. Geesh.

Saturday, Harv woke up early 5:00am early. Oofta 18 month sleep regression is strong with this one. After lounging for a while, I got the boys dressed in their fancy clothes, woke up Caleb, and frantically tried to get us all out the door by 9:30. I failed by the way ha. It was 9:47am to be exact. Not that I was counting. Then Harv fell asleep in the car (that’s what happens when you wake up 2 hours early).

All the fuss for Breakfast with Santa! One of my favorite things of the season! My Dad’s work has a great event where they have breakfast, crafts, activities, games, and the absolute best Santa you’ve ever seen. I don’t even know how many years we’ve been now, but it’s so awesome having the same sweet old man for the kids to talk to and take pictures with. The morning was perfect, minus Harv not really liking Santa. Better luck next year. Either way, checking this off our holiday bucket list. Enjoy the photo dump!

familychristmasbreakfast

Please, Daddy, no.
jackharvsanta
Harv wasn’t into Santa. Maybe you can tell.
neices
I call this: perfection.
prettiestpresent
Fancy “present” hair. Prettiest little present I know!

family

cousins

Decorating cookies!
Decorating cookies!

 

After breakfast, we headed home, Harv took a nap while I cleaned (yep I guess some things never change on the weekend). Then my sister and nieces headed over for a dinner and play date. My kids need to up their sharing game.

Sunday I woke up with a cold of the worst kind. I plowed through like any parent does and got the kids up and ready for the day, then brought Jack to my parent’s house for a play date. He was spoiled with playing in the freshly fallen snow with them, brunch out, holiday cookie baking, and so much more as usual.

While Jack was gone, Harv and I caught up on a last minute errand I completely forgot about. Ava is student of the week this week and was so excited because for the first time in her school career, the teacher gave her enough time to make her poster at both houses. That girl was beaming. It made me happy and sad all at the same time. Anyway she needs pictures of her family and so we ran to get some printed of our family.

I also snuck in some extra time working on photo books for the kids while Harvey napped. After nap we met Jack and my parents at the local community center for Ice Skating with Santa. It was a blast!

He really was fascinated by this adventure. #donttouchtheglass #rebel
He really was fascinated by this adventure. #donttouchtheglass #rebel
Santa lost some weight. Must be the skating.
Santa lost some weight. Must be the skating.

Santa came by to wave and hang around Harvey for a while through the glass. He was not ok with it, until he waved “bye” then all was right in the world again. Hmm. Santa is not doing so good on this one.

These two had so much fun!
These two had so much fun!

Hope you had a fantastic weekend! Do anything fun? Anything you can cross of your holiday list? Bring on Monday!

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Week|end| Rewind

The weekend really started for us last Tuesday, as the kids had Wednesday off from school. We just relaxed that night since our day had been a little abnormal; we had our nieces over for a morning play and lunch date! Harv was thrilled to have the extra company. He really misses the big kids while they’re at school.

Wednesday though became pretty hectic real fast as we had a big snowfall overnight and the baby was sick, fevery, and cranky as heck when we woke up. So Caleb bundled Harv up to go Minute Clinic – word of advice, they don’t accept patients under 18 months. Grr. Appointment made for later in the day with a pediatrician. While I taught my morning classes and Caleb was off with Harv, those 3 sweet big kids of ours shoveled the driveway. It wasn’t perfect, but it was so amazing. They really know how to pull it together. They even told me that they knew I was busy and that Harv would probably need extra care, so they just wanted to help. Melt my heart.

My poor sick baby.
My poor sick baby.

After the busy morning and Harvey’s appointment (left ear infection), we settled in for some extra family time as the kids would be leaving early to spend Thanksgiving with their Mom. We made pizza and let them have root beer for lunch, which never happens. Carson was so sweet again, he was so thankful! He really is maturing into a great kid and a great leader for the other kids. Sure he has his moments, but he’s been really focused in on gratitude and appreciation lately. Sure makes us feel good and like we’re doing something right!

That night we had planned a date night weeks ago. As a graduation present, my sister offered to watch the gang so Caleb and I could get in some quality time. Well we realized that we weren’t prepared for December 1st and Harvey was so cranky and Mom-needy, that we ended up running errands with the baby in tow. Not really date-ish, but we found husband and wife time later when we picked up sushi to go and had a family room picnic on the floor watching The Princess Bride. It ended up being a great day, even though it started a little off.

sushi
Yum. I need more again.

Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had a fantastic day with family and friends! Our day started with a big family breakfast of homemade monkey bread, bacon, sausage, eggs, and orange juice. We watched the Macy’s Parade and then Face Time’d Caleb’s Mom in Florida to say hi. After that the kids went to their Mom’s this year. After the kids were picked up, Caleb, Jack, Harvey and I packed up and headed to Caleb’s Grandma’s for a visit. We headed home after about an hour so the sick babe could get a nap in before we went to my Mom’s for dinner.

While Harvey napped, Jack and I watched a little of the Vikings game and I taught him the basics of football. It was funny. He has never been interested ever but was really curious that day. Harv woke up shortly after and was still uber tired and cranky so we snuggled and both fell asleep. Oops! Guess it was needed.

Once at my Mom’s, we celebrated with my whole family! My sister and her husband were able to travel in from Kansas. My Mom and Dad had a delicious Thanksgiving meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing (or dressing? Which do you say?!), cranberry sauce, jello bundt cake thing, crescent rolls, and green bean casserole. Yum! I ate way too much dinner and am not really a dessert person so I finished my meal with candy cane ice cream (bring on Christmas!), but Caleb had apple pie and pumpkin roll. There was also chocolate pecan pie, too!

Helping roll crescent rolls!
Helping roll crescent rolls!

After dinner, we played hide and go seek in the dark with everyone, but my dad, someone had to do the dishes and watch the pup. It was so much fun! The little kids were so into it and the grown up were too 😉 I will admit that my hiding partner was not so good. We were found early on in each game. Thanks Harv, thanks. We also got in a few rounds of pictionary and charades.

In the past I was a huge Black Friday shopper. Got up at 2, grabbed coffee, waited in lines, etc. The whole deal. But once it started encroaching on Thanksgiving and my family started to grow, I lost my enthusiasm. So Friday started with sleeping in and coffee from the coffee shop at 8:00am. Caleb and I both found motivation though, because he spent the day working on final touches of Ava’s room (she’s all moved in now, pics coming soon!) and I purged, cleaned, and reorganized our crawl space. I happily had our mini van full of things to donate and will have another load now that Ava is moved in and I can clean and organize the playroom and my office space.

I swear it's 100% cleaner than it looks right here. Hahaha.
I swear it’s 100% cleaner than it looks right here. Hahaha.

Saturday was spent all about Christmas! Harv and I set out early to actually deliver the load of things to donate and to go pick out a new Christmas tree. Since I have awful allergies to anything that’s green, we have an artificial tree and last year it went capoot. I was thrilled to see Michael’s have a 7 ft pre lit (yellow lights) tree for $39! Crazy deal. We got there early for the Saturday door buster only to find it out it was a pencil tree (not listed in the ad) and it was sold out anyway. So we met Jack and Caleb at Home Depot and settled on a 7 ft pre lit with yellow lights NOT pencil on sale for $79. Either way it was a great deal and I’m one happy mama. The house is almost all decorated! I have a few things let to DIY and get settled, but it’s definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

He was in absolute AWE the entire time I built it. Now I'm wrangling ornaments daily.
He was in absolute AWE the entire time I built it. Now I’m wrangling ornaments daily.
A teeny sneak peek!
A teeny sneak peek!

We spend Sunday finishing up the decorating and styling of Ava’s room and running errands. I don’t think Caleb or I sat down all weekend. We used every ounce of time we had to plow through our to do list and we came out on top! Such an awesome feeling! Now if only that girl would get home so we could surprise her! She has no idea. I’ll let you know how it all went shortly!

I hope you had a fantastic long weekend that was filled with family, friends, and stuffed bellies. Happy Monday!

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Do I like being a Step-Mom?

I need to start a while back, before I can answer that. A couple Saturdays ago, it was 70 degrees in MN in November and with the reality of snow not too far off, the little boys and I decided it was the perfect time to venture to the “big” park one last time for the year. Skipping all outside chores that really could and still should be finished. Oops.

Unfortunately we were not alone in that thinking. The park was full of kids, parents, and a stray albino turkey. Yes. People were petting it and my children were mad that I was not letting them. Go figure. After playing for over an hour, I convinced Jack that Harv needed a break and I needed quiet, so we went for a walk through the trails. Along the way, we checked out the army tank, the Veteran’s memorial, and a bunch of teenagers jumping the fence to skateboard in the unfilled pools. Really world?! I was hoping for a quiet day at the park.

As we headed back to the car, they saw the park and asked to go back. Well, Jack asked nicely and Harvey just pointed and screamed. So we headed back. It didn’t take me long to realize that Carson and Ava’s Aunt, Uncle, and 2 cousins had now join the masses. Let me be a little clearer: from their Mom’s side. Meaning, Caleb’s ex-wife’s family. I’ve met them once. Years ago now at Carson & Ava’s Baptism. I didn’t think they’d recognize me, but I smiled anyway. I barely recognized them. More so I knew it was them because the kids. We hear lots about their cousins 🙂 As far as I know, they didn’t recognize me.

I text Caleb and he responds with “Do you still like being a Step-Mom?”. Whoa hold up stop the train.

Little did that Man know the conversation he was going to get after that question. I get this question a lot, “do I like being a Step-Mom?”. Like a real lot. I’m going to answer this as truthfully and honestly as possible. And then please stop asking, because it’s messy. K? Thanks 🙂

The simple answer is yes.

The other simple answer is no.

The complicated answer is I’m a fraud.

I was a Mom long before I was a Step-Mom. I love being a Mom, I really do. I know 100% for a fact it is one of my biggest purposes in life. The love that I have for my little people is immense. The natural nurturing carries over into my students. Any parent & teacher will easily admit that having children makes you a better teacher and being a teacher makes you a better parent.

The yes I love being a Step-Mom, is because I love the “Mom” part. I love that Caleb trusted me enough to risk his kids (for the record, I don’t consider myself a risk ha I’m pretty safe actually) with a new relationship. I love that I have 2 more people to help grow, mold, love and yes even worry about and get grumpy with. I love that my heart had the chance to grow. I love watching softball games, volleyball games, helping with homework projects, sharing a favorite color, listening to trombone practice, attending new badge cermeonies. I love being a wife to Caleb. That is all the easy-simple-yes I love being a step-MOM.

The no though? That’s a little different. That is a little hairer. That’s the “step” part. It isn’t fun having your husband’s ex-wife come to your house weekly, to call in the middle of dinner, to miss the kids when they’re away on the weekend, to have zero legal rights, to worry if something happened to Caleb, would I lose the kids too? Those early days, weeks, months were HARD. It was an adjustment for all of us. It was learning to play a new game, to trust Caleb, to learn from Caleb, and to do lots and lots of reading. None of that is over. Nor will some of it ever be. I’ve just learned to handle my emotions, to find a place that I’m safe with, and that Caleb is comfortable with. Would it be easier not to? Sure. Maybe. I guess I don’t know. I don’t live that life. But I wouldn’t trade Caleb, or Carson, or Ava for it either.

Ok so I mentioned before there are 3 answers, the yes – being a mom rocks. The no – court and decrees can suck. But the fraud. Yea. Let’s talk about that.

I’m a fraud. 

I am a Step-Mom. Have been now officially for 2 years, 8 Months, and 7 days. (Not that I’m counting or anything). I have loved the kids and been a part of their life for longer though. Not much longer, but still longer. In that time I have only felt like a Step-Mom once. Yes. Once.

It was at Carson’s last birthday party. The boys were eating dessert at the table and I was cleaning up in the family room. I don’t remember what they were talking about, but Carson’s best friend said “Oh no, that’s Carson’s Step-Mom”. Bam. There it was. Never heard it before. Not like that. Not to define who I was. Let me be clear, the boy was NOT being mean. I was not offended at all. It was weird, it was like “oh yea, I am” moment. I think it even hit Caleb a little because he looked at me like huh.

I know they have a Mom. They see her every weekend. They talk to her most nights during the week. I know I’m not their Mom. Nor do I try to be. They have one. I’m their “Sam”. Someone they talk to, get help with homework from, hang out, are fed by, etc. but I’m not their Mom.

It makes me feel like a fraud sometimes. I’m not their Mom. But I don’t feel like a Step-Mom either, because I was a Mom first. So where do I fit? I know where I fit within the confines of our home and the 6 people we share it with. But to the rest of the world? I don’t fit into one of those nice and tidy categories. It’s just not who I am. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes I feel like it’s easier to hide that I’m a Step-Mom. And sometimes I feel like it’s easier to hide that I’m a Mom too.

The answers are messy. They aren’t perfect. They are definitely not black and white. And the answer changes depending on which part of the phrase “Step Mom” I’m experiencing (the Step part or the Mom part).

When it comes to it, I love them. That’s all that matters.

So to answer do I like being a Step-Mom? Yep. I would never trade the people I love. You wouldn’t trade being a Mom, even through the hard days. I know it. Don’t expect me to give up then either.

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Friday, no favorites. 

You guys. I need to be real. Usually I’m all puppy dogs and rainbows. But this week was AWFUL. 

The funny thing is that I’m seeing it all around. Political beliefs or outcomes aside. There must be something in the air, because I know I’m not alone. 

The week has just been compounding day after day. I’ve been battling all week the tummy bug that Harv had last week. Seriously I can’t shake it! The nausea has just been lingering. And no, I’m not pregnant. Pinky promise. Then Caleb caught it too. So we’ve both been operating our chaos at like 80%. 

Then Harv decided that not just once, but twice, (AND in a row!) that 12-3AM parties were a good idea this week. I assure you he was wrong. The sleep deprived sick mom (me. in case you were unsure) also decided 3AM was a good time for a marital dispute. I assure you I was wrong, too.

Work has been draining every ounce of me too. My team is all new this year and sadly we just don’t mesh. It makes it hard on so many levels. I obviously hit my breaking point, because at some point (no idea when it’s all been a blur) Caleb told me to quit. Although I’m a work at home teacher (read: small paycheck), we need the income. His plan was for him to work two jobs. People. This was after the 3AM fight. Yep, I’m blessed. Also, don’t worry I’m still employed. For now. 

Then I forgot to take dinner out of the freezer on Monday. So we ordered pizza which should be good but it isn’t when dinner is an hour late, kids are hungry, mom is hangry, and there isn’t enough. Oops. 

Blah. 

Then perfectionism hit. Not mine. Ava’s. That girl is awesome when it comes to school, but her expectations are so high and she’s so hard on herself. The combo ended in disaster when she wasn’t happy with the first draft. Or the second. Or the third. Lord help her see how talented she is and give her grace to feel good about it. 

As I finally started to think we may all live another day, Jack comes home and tells me his teacher wants me to call. But he doesn’t know why. Oh boy. Not what I wanted or needed to hear. Thankfully it was just to help him with some math. We’re so torn with him. We believe school is important and don’t want him behind. But I want him to be a kid and to have family time. Ugh. Where is the balance!? 

But life isn’t all bad. It never is. Last weekend before the junk hit, my sister and I took all the kids to craft show and lunch. It was a blast! 


We also met my family for dinner this week at our local favorite. Kids made their own pizzas to be fired and built their own sundaes. Grown ups enjoyed pizza flatbreads, beers, and giant warm cookies. It was the sanity break we all needed. 

Harv also stole and enjoyed his first sucker. #itsthelittlethings


Thanks for letting me vent. I hope your week went better! Plans this weekend? I’m going to sleep. 

5 Friday Favorites | 17

Some weeks fly by, because they’re filled with wonderful activities and so much fun, they’re just gone before you know it! Some weeks seem like they’re never.going.to.end. Sadly, we were the latter this week and I’m thrilled for some quiet this weekend. We’ve been so busy lately every weekend in good ways, but it’ll be nice to slow down. Anyway, this past week tested every ounce of Caleb and my parenting abilities. And sanity. Lots of sanity testing.

Tuesday, Jack was home sick, the jury is still out on whether he was actually sick or not. Carson also forgot his homework at school, so come Wednesday both boys had tons of homework which is their absolutely least favorite thing so it meant happy happy things for Caleb and me (please note the extreme sarcasm). Carson was up till  8:30 doing his homework when he got home at 3:00pm. Yep it was awful. Don’t worry we fed him.

The stomach bug also hit Harv bad so over the last 24+ hours, Caleb and I have perfected our vomit catching abilities. Gross, I know. Thankfully, I think Harv is back to about 80% now. However, his sleep schedule has been off all week so the lucky little dude got to snack and watch Game 7 with us. I’ll admit as soon as Harv crashed out at the 9th inning, so did Mama. Luckily, Caleb (and the rest of the media world) filled me in come the next morning. Way to go Cubs!

It’s Friday though and we’ve got plans to attend Caleb’s alma mater’s craft show this weekend, so I’m pretty thrilled to check out the crafts, makers, and continue (yes continue – read more here) the Christmas shopping! I’m ready to check in on our favorites!

one// Halloween! We met my sister and her two kiddos at my parents house to go trick or treating. And although Harv was completely less than thrilled to wear his costume at home, when he saw the other kids, he was accepting. By the time Grandpa dropped in a few pieces of candy, we thought he was sold. We headed to the neighbors across the street, neighbors we know well, and Harv melted down. Big tears, the quivering lip, the full deal. But he stood his ground, tears and all, determined to get the candy. After the first house though, he was sold. He wouldn’t let anyone touch his bucket. The weather actually got nicer as the night went on, so it was a great night!

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Super girl, Freddy Faz Bear, A Cupcake, and a Cheesin Gnome
harveygnome
Why thank you Grandpa, I accept.

Since, the kids were with their Mom for Halloween, we didn’t get to see them until late that night when Caleb picked them. But their Mom sent this over the next day.

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two// Last weekend. Yep the whole weekend was awesome! Caleb took off Saturday, which makes Friday and Sunday not so bad. Ava had a volleyball tournament we went to on Saturday morning bright and early and her team won 5 out of the 6 games they played. Her serving was on point! Seriously, she’s doing great! After that, we headed over to a local meat market, which has apparently since moved, but we stumbled upon their neighborhood business trick or treating. Even though the boys didn’t have costumes on, we were greeted with directions and candy. Win win! Now that we were on the right path again, we picked up the most delicious local meat, you know, the kind served with genuine love and desire to serve good food. It once again sparked the conversation of why we continue to shop at the local supermarket. Then we came home, all of us crashed out for a nap and got up to go to an engagement party for Caleb’s cousin. It was a perfect day full of family, fun, and adventure!

 

three// Harvey in a garbage can. No we’re not rednecks. And hey! I stand corrected (read the bottom here). But we were raking up leaves and it was too cute not to! Plus he saw me squishing down the leaves to pack more in, so he wanted at it too.

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And yes, it was like 65 degrees out this day, it was awesome for November 1st!

four// Sushi bowls. This week while waiting for Jack in the pick up line, Harvey and I were checking out a local You Tuber (Kitty Cotten) who recently vlogged about making her favorite: sushi bowls. Caleb and I love sushi, but I have yet to perfect -heck even really put in a good effort- to make sushi, but this sounded easy and delicious so I convinced him I’d make two dinners on Wednesday, one for us and one for the kids full well knowing they probably wouldn’t eat it. Well. They tried it, but we discovered they don’t like seaweed and avocados. But they love rice. Duh Sam. Nothing new there.

ingredients

Anyway, it was SUPER easy to make. I used our rice cooker to make the rice (sushi rice is best) with some rice vinegar. I then chopped julienne style, cucumbers and carrots, cubed the avocado and the fresh tuna.

sushibowl

I then placed a big scoop of rice in the middle and placed the ingredients around the sides. Sprinkled on toasted sesame seeds and seaweed. And topped with a little chipotle mayo and soy sauce. **the chipotle mayo was eh.

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The kids mini sushi bowl, minus the tuna.

five// Dates with Jack and Harvey. I used to “date” Jack all the time before Caleb and I met. Then we started dating as family and then our dates changed. None of that is bad. Let me be very clear. I’m thrilled to have Caleb join in our fun, but I also miss the time with Jack. I think part of it has been our change with Harvey needing more, Jack is more involved in school, and wants to do different things when he’s home and I just feel him pulling away. Yes I realize it’s probably 100% natural, he’s growing up and becoming his own, so I’m probably actually doing good things, right?

I’m not ready though and I don’t think he is either, so I’ve started to make plans the three of us can all enjoy together, even if it’s just a few hours on Sunday. A walk through the woods a while back, trips to park, and most recently the bookstore. It hasn’t been about money or what we’re doing. Just time. Together. Away from chores, homework, and hum drum of daily life. It’s been awesome. I wish I could do the same for Caleb and Carson and Ava, but timing and schedules makes it really hard. I’ll find a balance, but for now, I’m enjoying the little boys.

 

What about you? What are your favorites from the week? Hopefully your week went better than ours!

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Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Heather // Andrea // Karli //

October Goals Update

Happy November! Halloween was so much fun with the kids, look for more pics later this week, but Harvey definitely took to the whole process after the first house. He also refuses to let anyone else hold his candy bucket. Let’s look back at how the month of October has gone – busy and fast I can tell you that! Want to read September? Check it out here.

goal 1: be more positive with the children & encourage their growth.

I’ve really enjoyed writing and working with the kids on some projects for the blog, you can see them here and here. They’re also all doing big things in their life, so that’s been fun attending and being a part of. Carson was the narrator at his Boy Scouts meeting last week, which meant leading the procession and Pledge of Allegiance. Ava did a big project and spent tons of time working on it and was chosen to present it in front of the Church today! Unfortunately, I can’t escape work, so Harv and Caleb will be our honorary attendees. Jack is doing really well in school lately, it doesn’t always come easy for him, but he works hard and homework together has made huge progress. It’s been great!

goal 2: be more creative and allow time for the projects we have and want to have.

I’ve been working on our Christmas theme, gifts, cards, etc. Plus I made both Jack and Harvey’s costumes. My hands have been working hard and it’s been awesome!

goal 3: dates. more dates.

Ok this may not count to anyone else, but it does to us, so it counts. We love, like seriously love, the show Blindspot and were devastated when we found out they moved from Mondays at 9pm (when we had zero to do besides watch TV) to Wednesdays at 7pm when we’re at Volleyball, or Church classes, and we are definitely not watching that kind of show with the kids still awake. So yes huge bummer.

Until… drum roll! I discovered we can watch old episodes on our Apple TV like a week or two late for free! Bam. We now watch each episode and make an effort to have nothing to do besides hang out with each other, cuddling on the couch, watching TV. Yes I realize it’s not the greatest activity, but we love it and we talk all day long so there’s that. Plus it’s hilarious. We’ve figured out exactly how long each commercial break is and there is a timer at the top so we run around stealing time in those 80-90 second intervals. It’s great. And… we live under a rock (the same rock) so we aren’t worried about spoilers.

We also got to go to Pumpkin Fest together, with no kids. It was awesome! Read more here.

goal 4: finish grad school. 

Complete read here.

goal 5: document life more. it all goes so fast. 

I’ve been blogging on a better schedule, both for enjoyment and sanity. I’m still plugging away on making photo books for the kids. This month I was a little behind, but I’m getting there! It’ll get done before December 20th or so help me.

goal 6: find and stick to a prayer schedule.

I finally am calling this a success. Harvey has been a little better sleeper so I’ve been able to get into a routine of praying before bed and in the morning when I wake up. It’s been nice. I’ve also been talking with Caleb about working time in for all of us to spend an evening in prayer together. A few years ago, we attempted at hosting a prayer night complete with family, friends, and snacks, but it only lasted 2 months in a row. I want to focus our energy again in that direction.

And our Fall bucket list! Lots is getting crossed off!

 

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This makes us look wildly productive this Month! We managed to sneak in some time at the pumpkin patch and corn pit (read more here!). I successfully made both Jack and Harv’s costumes, although it was on Friday and Saturday so definitely not more than week before Halloween #procrastinatorsunite. We carved (and painted) pumpkins last week, before the kids left for their Mom’s house. Jack painted a pumpkin, then decided he hated it, so I washed the pumpkin and then gutted the whole thing so he could just carve it. Yep he decorated two pumpkins. Oi. And yes we attended the Pumpkin Patch! Yay for productivity and awesome months!

I will be honest I doubt the rest will get crossed off, but you never know!

Alright, bring on Christmas!

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Happy Halloween!

From our gnome to yours, we wish you the spookiest and safest Halloween! 

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Jack is “Freddy Faz Bear” #boymom
He was less than thrilled with the hat. Let's hope he keeps it on tonight!
Harv was less than thrilled with the hat. Let’s hope he keeps it on tonight! Pictures were fast and furious since the hat stayed on for like 2.2 minutes.
Now he's happy.
Now he’s happy. Go figure.

This year, Carson and Ava are with their Mom for the holiday. Ava is a tsum tsum Minnie Mouse and Carson is a Ghostbuster. Hopefully we’ll get a few pics!

Happy Halloween! Can’t wait to see all your pics of your costumes and kids’ costumes!

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A Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Fall is my favorite time of the year, that really should be no surprise if you’ve been following along at all to our blog. However, I’ve never, yes never, been to an official pumpkin patch until this year. Hear me out, before you gasp too loud.

My mother enjoys gardening and always grew us our own pumpkins in the backyard and as soon as they started to grow we always got to pick our own out and watch it as the season changed. As we got older, she would still grow us pumpkins then send them on over to wherever we lived. Yea pretty sweet deal. But it also meant never needing to go somewhere to pick them, well besides the backyard. I don’t think that really counts.

Then 2 years ago when Jack started at a new school they had a fundraiser at a local family farm in October to pick pumpkins (as in there they all are nicely lined up, you can just grab one type deal). We’ve attended each year, until this year, when we couldn’t fit it in the schedule. Again, no picking involved. Well, from the line up. But I really wanted the kind where I break it off the vine myself!

So when the kids had time off, I convinced Caleb this was the year to actually go out to a pumpkin farm into the fields and pick our own and oh.my.gosh this will forever be a new tradition. It made us all so happy!

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Ava has some skills. She should do this more often.

Side-note. MN gets a bad rap for all our snow and cold and yes it’s not fun, but all the bad is 100% outweighed by FOUR legitimate seasons with Fall topping out as thee most beautiful. The weather is crisp, the trees really are in full Autumn colors of reds, oranges, yellows, and the sweetest hints of the goodbye greens. Throw in our 10,000 lakes and rolling hills and it really is God’s country. When we pulled up to the farm, I was in Heaven.

Dehn’s Farm really came through on the beautiful MN Fall! Plus they had all sorts of activities: a corn pit, a corn maze, bounce houses, hay rides, treats to buy, a little Halloween boutique, and of course pumpkins to actually go and pick!

Harvey was sooo not into the corn pit at first. He did not like the sinking and was definitely unsure of what I made him sit in, but it did not take long watching the big kids for him to realize it was the greatest thing ever! He was only ok with leaving with the promise of cows and a hay ride. Ok not really on the hay ride, it was the cows.

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harvey

moreharv
Success! A smile.

Carson, Ava and Jack all loved the corn pit far more than Caleb and I ever would’ve realized! They also took advantage of the bounce house and slide. They really wanted to do the corn maze, but the evenings get dark so fast now it just wasn’t in the books for us this time around.

ava
She would’ve stayed here the whole time I bet.

We did sneak in a hay ride with these three goofy kiddos. It makes me sad how fast they are growing and how little they let me take pictures of them any more. Time. All so bittersweet.

bigkids

After a few more bounces and trips down the slide, it was time we picked out pumpkins!

wagon
He’s in the “I do it” phase. Oh joy.

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harveyspumpkin
Sitting on a pumpkin definitely qualifies as a claim.

After we chose what was left, because really it’s only a week and half till Halloween, we paid and bolted for the warm car! Love me some auto start. It was the perfect evening!

Are you a pumpkin patcher or are you a grocery store buyer? Both have their plusses! And both require some pumpkin skills (and timing!). Happy last week before Halloween!

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5 Friday Favorites | 15

It has been a fantastic week all the way around! The weather was beautiful and even though the crisp temps are coming, the sun and warmth is really trying to hang in there. The kids had their fall break Wednesday to Friday, so we all got caught up on errands, house projects, and family time. It was perfect! My favorites this week are full of family and fall!

one// Lake walks. Last Sunday, the weather was gorgeous for MN this time of year and the boys and I were antsy so I packed up the stroller, camera, a couple sweatshirts and we took a walk around the lake near our house. Between the beautiful fall colors and Harv’s giggles of delight and Jack running off all sorts of energy it was a perfect afternoon. Then we headed to my parents for dinner and cousin time! Sunday’s have been extra hard lately missing Caleb and Carson and Ava, but we’ve been making the best of it by staying busy!

jackandharv
Could they be any cuter?

two// Pumpkin patch. Full post coming soon, but here’s a sneak peek of our whole family trip to the farm!

hayride

three// Harvey sleeping. Ok, so I’ve ranted and complained a lot about his awful sleeping. But alas! I think we’ve finally started to hit a turning point! This week we unhappily decided he’s really been showing signs of dropping another nap (he was taking 3 still at the beginning of the summer!). This means from 3 in June to 2 by August to only 1 now, it was less than appealing. But! He’s still getting the same amount of sleep it’s just all in 1 nap now, which is good and bad. You know how that goes. Great for a 2+ hour time frame to be productive but bummer because no morning nap means no showers sometimes. Anyway, it’s helped him sleep better at night, so I call that a win! Let’s hope it continues. Mama (and Dada) need their sleep.

harvsleeping

four// Wall hangings. Ok so back here I told you how I fell in love with this shop, so much I gave some prints away. What I didn’t tell you was that it was sitting on my night stand waiting to be hung….until yesterday! I added our family initials to balance it out and incorporate some of the farm rustic style. As a blended family, I know it’s important to honor both families so I bought a W and a K from a local maker and ta da! I’m loving it.

sign

color
This coloring is actually better. Our walls are a light gray. #loveournest

five// Scarves. I love scarves! Caleb knows this and happily surprises me with them pretty much whenever. A while back I told him I have a lot and maybe I’m good for a while. Babe, are you listening? I take it back. I need these, one of each color! Please and thanks ♥

scarves

The colors! The cuff! They’re infinity! They’re also made in MN so yea, even local! Love them! Find them here.

 

What are your plans for the weekend? Have you managed to fit in a family pumpkin patch trip or maybe an apple orchard? Whatever it may be, I hope it’s fantastic!

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Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Heather // Andrea // Karli //

Harvey Update | 15 Months

It’s been a while since I’ve updated on the Harvey happenings. Let’s be real, I talk about him daily BUT I haven’t like officially updated on all the awesomeness he is these days!

Plus we just recently went in for a check up so all his stats are up to date.

stats//

height = 2 feet 8 inches tall (70%)

weight = 23 pounds 15 ounces ( 67%)

head circumference = 19.25 inches (95%)

Haha babe I love you, but you got a big head and it isn’t from momma.

size clothes = 18-24 months

8 teeth (possibly more coming?? he’s been an extra cranky man lately)

favorites// 

food – anything we give him. But really, he loves his sweets (he is seriously Caleb’s mini), strawberries, mozzarella cheese, fresh garden veggies, blueberries, blueberry yogurt, pretzel goldfish and like I said anything we give him or he sees the big kids eating.

toys – he really isn’t into toys anymore. He’s definitely into the exploring and climbing (yikes! Never had a climber before) stage. That all said, he loves any phone, tablet, or TV remote. Sigh. He also loves playing with Ava’s American Girl doll toys. They’re mini and so realistic and he loves them. He really really wants Mom to let him play with markers and my work computer, too. Won’t happen buddy.

books – an Elmo seek and find hand me down from Jack, “I love you through and through”, or My Truck is Stuck. All of which Grandma (my Mom) has picked out, by chance. (not sponsored – they are just legit his faves. I also have them memorized now, you know just in case.)

My Truck is Stuck in all it's glory.
My Truck is Stuck in all it’s glory.

puppies and babies – I realize probably everyone does, but Harv is in LOVE with these. He gets 100% thrilled with life when he comes in contact of them, at a very safe distance mind you.

school – he loves his little baby school! Caleb said the second time they went, he marched right in like he knew what to do.

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So cute! Not going to lie, I wish I was there, but also glad that Caleb and him get one on one time. See next…

I’ve always been the favorite until recently. Now he’s turning pretty quickly to being a Daddy’s boy. Dad does much cooler things than Mom, I guess.

dislikes//

coming in from outside. empty snack pouches. driving in the car and riding in his car seat. sitting down in the bath tub. mom trying to wean him. the baby gate. sleeping.

happenings//

He can say momma, daddy, ja, hi, puppy (well it’s not entirely understandable, but I know, so I count it). He can sign “more”, “all done”, and there used to be more but they don’t happen as frequent.

One afternoon Harv and I were coloring together downstairs and when it was time to head up stairs, I notice purple crayon the wall. (Not intentionally there, for the record, just a scratch from carrying and walking to close). Anyway, full well knowing I’m staring at the culprit. I asked Harv who did this and his response?! “Ja” yep already blaming his big brother, Jack.

He loves vacuuming. As a baby, I’d strap him into one of our many wraps and wear him around the house during nap time while I vacuumed. Sometimes, I’ll still put him in the Ergo just for fun. When he’s not in the carrier though, he follows me around the house making vacuum noises and laughing and giggling. Crazy kid.

Sweeping is up there too.
Sweeping is up there too.

Like I mentioned above, he’s into the climbing. And oh my gosh, you cannot take your eyes off of him. I discovered such shenanigans as I was putting laundry away, turned around and there he was trying to jump up and down on the ottoman of his rocker. Oi kid!

The first Wednesday of the month means tornado warning tests around here. Well Caleb and him were eating lunch and when he heard the siren he decided he needed to contribute and is now a professional siren maker. Yay?

When Caleb works the weekend, I see very little of him awake and the boys see even less. So we started recording a good night message so Harvey could “call him” before bed and listen to Daddy say good night. Well as Caleb was recording it on my phone, Harv started picking his nose (seriously guys this habit.is.awful) so now the recording says “Harv stop picking your nose” at the end. So every time he hears the recording he giggles and sticks his finger up there. Yep I know I could re-record it, but I don’t think about it until bedtime.  #momfail

His relationship with the big kids is ever changing, too. Ava taught him to blow kisses and it melts my heart! Seriously, those two. Carson and Harv have been having a hard time with Carson leaving to their Mom’s on Thursday nights. This will be hard to explain and we really didn’t think it would occur so fast. I’ll keep you posted on that situation. And well Jack and him they have this extreme love and hate pick on relationship. They can go to BFF snuggling on the coach to Harvey attacking him. So there’s that.

That pretty much sums up our little wild man currently. Oh do we all love him and the excitement he brings to our life!

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Want more?! Check out my Insta, you know, for daily doses of Harv.

 

 

Year in Review | Blogtember #28

Days away from October, the end of Blogtember, and Ava’s Silver Birthday! Today’s prompt is 5 pictures that represent your year, and I’m straying a little and doing 6. I just couldn’t squeeze all our life into only 5 pictures!

one// House Renovations. The biggest thing Caleb has been working on this year is Ava’s room and the bathroom remodel. It has been a HUGE undertaking for anyone, let alone 1 person, while still working full time and still working hard to be full time Dad, too. He’s my hero.

reno

two// Graduation. Seriously, any family that is supporting one person while going back to school. I commend you. It’s a HUGE undertaking for every single person. I’m lucky beyond belief that my people love me enough to have let me do this. Also. It’s done so there’s that.

grad

three// Harv’s monthly pictures. Being a year and keeping track of it all has been fun and exciting to see him grow. Each month I took a picture like 600 pictures of him on his personalized blanket my Mom and I made then edited the pic to include all the little details I never wanted to forget. That was a lot of time, effort, and love.

harveymonth

four// Harv turned one. That was big. Enough said. Maybe next year he’ll actually eat (or even smash, please buddy?! I’ll take anything!) his cake.

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five// Kids Activities. I chose Carson’s cub scout pictures, because he graduates to Boy Scouts this year. It’s a big deal! We are so proud of all that he has accomplished with scouts. Jack also did swimming, track, and working on faith formation classes. Ava started volleyball and softball. So fun to see them grow more into themselves!

cubscout

Six// Two Years of Marriage! And lots of cooking with my Chef. This picture represents our love of cooking together and Caleb’s amazing skills in the kitchen. I’m not ashamed to admit, his food won my heart. Ok not entirely, but a super bonus! The apron was also our second wedding present this year (traditional gifts are cotton), so we totally have matching wedding color themed aprons ♥!

chef

 

What would your year look like? Any big announcements or big moves? Or was yours quiet and filled with contentment? Our year has been mostly quiet, and I love it. It’s been nice.

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Collection of My Favorite Posts | Blogtember #19 

It’s Monday! A new week with more hope for work than the last, Caleb is home from work now, and after school we’ll have all the kids together again. Looking like a great (and busy) week ahead! Also, Harvey is 15 months today. How did this happen?!

Anyway, I’ll deal with my sorrows of an aging baby later. Today we’ll be taking a glimpse into history by my visiting some of my favorite posts! (I’m slightly uncomfortable with like self advertising here, but I do think you’ll enjoy them and if you’re new you’ll get a better idea of who we are!)

I love reading birth stories! I pretty much have decided I have a mini obsession with labor and delivery. I love them because every single one is so emotional, raw, and open. Telling this beautiful story of a little miracle. I do realize not all end in happiness. But, I feel connected to those families too, because I’ve walked down that dark path as well. Each story is as unique as the family telling it and I love the beauty in that. Ok, go read Harv’s.

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As a crafter and DIYer wannabe, I love new projects. I love them even more when I try them and they exceed my expectations! Earlier this year, Jack and I (more the latter) worked on a mobile for over Harvey’s crib and I still stare at lovingly. What started out as wish for a confetti style mobile turned into origami birds and I’m oh so glad it did! Find the tutorial here.

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Holidays are the best and I totally try to pack in as much as possible. The last big holiday we celebrated with all 6 of us was the 4th of July, complete with Harv’s first parade, swimming at my parent’s house, fancy kid drinks, a naked cake, and fireworks. Want the recipe? Check it out here!

fourthofjuly

The last one is a recent, maybe you’ve seen it, but I’ve collected some of my favorite things to give to you! It started out as ‘I just wanted to thank all of you for being so supportive and awesome’ deal, then some of the companies added more to my order! How awesome for you. Enter here! I don’t want you to miss out.

So those are my favorite posts I’ve written, but reader favorites are much different!

What do you like reading about when you find a new blog? Certain topics? Certain styles? Would love to hear!

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The Kids Behind the Blog | September 2016

I decided to link up (twice today!)with a few great Mamas and give you a chance to get to know the “kids behind the blog”. I write lots about our day to day happenings, but I figured this would give you all a chance to get to know them!

Each month I will ask my kiddos a handful of questions that the TKBTB hosts provide and then share those answers with us in a link-up post the second Wednesday of each month. Simple enough, right? Let’s get to it!

kids

 

Question 1:// What is your favorite sport? Why?

Carson: I don’t like sports, but if I have to choose then soccer.

Ava: Softball, because I can hit the ball really far.

Jack: Track, I like to run.

{Harvey: He’s 1 year old, he won’t be partaking 😉 }

 

Question 2:// If someone gave you a million dollars, what would you buy?

Carson: I would donate most to charity and my family. Then I’d buy groceries.

Ava: I want a fitbit flex, an expensive car with a big bow, lots of school supplies, a new fancy expensive bat, more bedroom decor and a trip to Florida to visit Grandma.

Jack: I would save for college, give to charity, and then buy a really cool car.

 

Question 3:// Tell me 3 things that kids do better than parents.

Carson: Understand kids, buy presents for my friends, and I don’t know what else.

Ava: Handwriting, driving, and decorating.

Jack: Magic, crying, and snuggling. Kids are great at snuggling.

 

Question 4:// What is your favorite thing to do in the fall?

Carson: Leaf Jumping

Ava: School

Jack: Leaf Jumping and getting ready for Christmas!

 

Question 5:// Share 3 things about yourself.

Carson: I like magic, I have a great sense of humor, and I’m very intelligent.

Ava: I’m good at batting, building forts, and I have the best cursive.

Jack: I’m good at roblox (video game), playing in forts, and being a big brother.

 

Ok so my thoughts on all this? First of all, I’m a little worried about Ava’s spending habits. We’ll have to work on that for her (and our) future! Secondly, kids are great snugglers, and I love it! Ava is spot on about the handwriting business ha. Also, Jack is a fantastic brother! And yes, Carson is very smart, but humility is good, too.

Hope you enjoyed September’s Kids Behind the Blog! Catch ya again in October!

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Linked to:// Stephanie // Crystal // Beth // Meghan // Jess //

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A Day in the Life of      |     Blogtember #10

Today’s prompt is a day in the life of! So I’ll just be using my app and updating as the day goes. All raw unedited reality! Just the way I like it. So keep stopping back as the day goes! 

6:00am – Harvey wakes up and we play a game of negotiations as I beg for more sleep. Rather quickly I get out of bed, as Caleb who got home from work at 2am needs his sleep. 


Ignore the malicious mosquito attacked face. 

7:00am Breakfast. Harvey is the epitome of hangry. Jack wakes up and reads for a while. 


Yogurt mess. A new habit. Grr. 

8:00am I have changed diapers, got the boys dressed, cleaned up breakfast, and started laundry. I try to keep them quiet so Caleb can sleep but I lose this battle every Saturday. 



Always my helper pushing the buttons!  

9:00am We spend the rest of the morning, before Caleb wakes up and Harvey’s nap playing downstairs. Since he is sleeping, I’ll clip Harvey’s nails (my absolute least favorite thing about parenting- doesn’t help my record is 0 for 2 on kids being hurt but that’s a post for another day) and finish up any quiet chores. 

10:00am I spent nap getting ready for the day and now Caleb and Harv are awake so the day will begin! 

11:00am Caleb is off to work now. His schedule is flexible and he slept later than normal. After Caleb left I got the boys a morning snack since we’ll be eating later than normal, too. 


12:00 pm finished up vacuuming and heading out for the church carnival! 


2:00pm The carnival was a blast! It was the first time going since we switched churches so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Kids games were free, every kid won something (I’m torn about, yes it’s fun but do they really need more stuff?). We had hamburgers and walking tacos (tacos in a bag) and homemade cherry pie! It was amazing. We checked out the silent auction, farmers market/craft fair, and Harv got a tat. In the same spot, quite possibly same outfit, as Jack’s first! It was a great afternoon, now home for Harvey’s nap and finish laundry. Also, it was chilly out so fall is definitely in the air!!

4:00pm While Harvey napped, I finished cleaning the house, did some more laundry then hung out with Jack. However, Harvey woke up and needed some extra cuddles so that’s where I got stuck for the last while 😉 

5-8:00 pm This time is always the craziest around here. I made dinner, which was buffalo chicken pasta (regular fettuccine) for the kids and corn. With Harv taking a later nap, we decided to bring Caleb dinner at work. I packed it all up (in my fave 31 thermal!) and off we went. Once home, we cleaned up toys, did baths/showers and books before bed. Both will be sleeping by 8:30pm. 



8:30-10:30pm I’m signing off for the night! I’ll be cleaning up the kitchen, getting life ready for the next day, and preparing my work for my students on Monday! Then getting some much needed sleep & praying Harv sleeps better now that 2 teeth have poked through. 


Sweet dreams!

Summer Faves | Blogtember #3

Today’s prompt, from Bailey’s challenge, is a list of summer favorites, but for all my usual readers, pretty sure that’s all you’ve heard all summer. Meaning: boring. So for those of you that are new readers, skim and scam and scroll on down to the pics (with links) to my favorite moments this summer.

BUT! for the rest of you we’re traveling back in time, to one of my favorite summers yet – the summer of 2013 (when Caleb and I introduced our mini families to each other!).

It was amazing and the kids all still talk about it! We went and did pretty much everything and made apparently the absolute worst (and funnest!) blended families make: we had too much fun and not enough reality. Yep. Paying for that now, but hey! We still do fun things, just with chores and housework now, too.

Anyway… back to the memories ♥ Carson was 7 and just finished first grade, Ava was 6 and just finished Kindergarten, and Jack was 5 just finished pre-school.

Jack was in t-ball that year, so we spent lots of Monday and Wednesday nights at the ball fields. Carson liked reading in a chair, so Ava would soak up all the attention from me and Caleb (smart girl).

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We made tons of trips to beaches all over! Never to the same one twice. Too many to enjoy and we tried hitting both family favorites so everyone felt included.

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We went on our first camping trip together and it was perfect. Great weather, tons to do, delicious food, but best of all was the swimming and attempted fishing (with hands and a mini net).

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We loved hitting up the bowling alley in the afternoons. In MN (maybe other places too??) you can get 2 free games of bowling everyday in the summer for kids. We did NOT go every day, but we definitely participated on the deal.

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Caleb also let me take Ava and Jack on a special date to go paint pottery! It was the first time he’d ever let anyone (besides his Mom – hi Nancy!) take the kids. I felt pretty honored and then a little concerned, because…really Jack?

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We took the whole day and just walked around Saint Paul doing every tourist thing possible with the kids. Every museum, out to lunch, walking, parks, seeing a giant potato – you know, normal things. Super fun, but this is what we got at the end of the night:

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I seriously cannot even begin to tell you how this is STILL so much each of their personalities.

It was a perfect summer full of adventure, new bonds, and growing love. It was the start of our almost perfect little family.

Before you take off to spend this last Saturday of summer (for us Minnesotaners who start school on Tuesday), check out this summer’s favorite moments!

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Fourth of July
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Harvey turns one!
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Kansas visiting my sister!

From the bottom of my heart, I hope you had a totally awesome summer too! What was your favorite memory of the summer?

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Introductions | Blogtember #1

Hello everyone! As a reminder I’m participating in Brave Love Blog’s Blogtember Challenge. A new specific post every day in September. Talk about Challenge! Since it is September – happy September! – it is time to (re)introduce myself.

  • My name is Sam (short for Samantha).
  • I’m 29 years old and only 5 feet tall and look like I’m 12. I’m finally started to see the young looking factor as a positive.
  • I am married to Caleb for 2 1/2 years now. He is the most amazing person on my planet. He also happens to be 9 1/2 years older than me.

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  • I have 4 children. 2 are my own & 2 are my (step) children.
  • Carson is 11 (as of yesterday), Ava is 9, Jack is 8 and Harvey is 14 1/2 months. Yes I use months.
  • Jack (my son) has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (a heart defect) and Carson (Caleb’s son) has Hemophilia. Both have been and are a big part of our family life.
  • I am an online teacher, which means I work from home. I teach middle school and high school Math. I love my job! I get to be home with Caleb and Harvey during the day. I get to help with getting kids on and off busses and drop off/pick up from school. I can rearrange my schedule to attend field trips and I still get to teach. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
  • My children are very busy – meaning I’m very busy with softball, volleyball, boy scouts, swimming, faith formation classes, track in addition to the regular school, homework, and day to day shenanigans.
  • I love crafts, DIY projects, watching Caleb renovate our house (& help when I’m not doing or driving to anything mentioned in the previous bullet) and newly lettering & calligraphy! Especially embossing. I will emboss everything.
  • I love to bake and decorate cakes & cupcakes. I enjoy cooking, but Caleb is the better chef so I’ll stick to the sweets.
  • My blog is my “me” time & I love writing. Who knew? I also love all the wonderful friends and people I’ve met!

 

It’s nice to meet any new names/faces around here! Tell me a little about yourself! I love to know who’s reading ♥

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Minecraft Party

It’s no surprise with the Minecraft crazed kids I currently have, that Carson wanted a Minecraft theme for his birthday party last week. I know the kids play, I’ve watched them play, monitored etc. but still don’t get it. Maybe just not my thing. Either way, I set out weeks ago to learn everything I could to make it perfect for him. With all the thank yous and hugs we got, I think we succeeded!

*This is a very long post. If you really want my best party tips – skim and head straight to the bottom!

I first picked out a color theme, which is pretty standard for Minecraft: black and green. Within that though, I focused even more and stuck with a Minecraft Creeper (I did deter from this slightly).

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With a little help and info from Jack and Ava (Carson wanted it to be surprise like) and lots of searching on pinterest, I came up with a few ideas that were fun and fit perfectly!

  • A creeper head piñata and creeper goodie bags.
  • A Minecraft birthday cake (straight out of the game).
  • Poisonous Potion (green punch)
  • Various green and black decorations

The first thing was the invitations. Since time totally escaped me after Kansas, there wasn’t much time to make/order online themed invitations. So, we just headed over to Target and Carson picked out his favorite. Not really my favorite thing to do, but it was practical and necessary at that moment.

Once the invites were out, I focused on the piñata and treat bags. I probably could’ve found a piñata online somewhere, but I know they are easy to make and with minecraft made out of blocks I knew the shape was simple.

1.) I started with a diaper box. We have lots hanging around and again simple box shape. I filled the box with the candy and goodies. I also looped a heavy duty string through the inside of the box via the handle cut outs. Then I used packaging tape to seal it all in.

I only had teal chevron tape. Guess it was extra fancy! Clear will do just fine.
I only had teal chevron tape. Guess it was extra fancy! Clear will do just fine.

2.) Then I picked out the color of tissue paper I needed. I used black for the face and two different greens so it appeared more pixel-y (that’s a word) like the images in the game. I wanted them in small strips, so I cut the tissue paper in half 3 times, then strips from there.

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The strips were about 1 in x 3.5 in long.

3.) Then I drew on the creeper face, which I had become a pro at by this point. I then used a mixture of Elmer’s School Glue and water. There isn’t any hard rule about proportions, because I can tell you I did it 3 or 4 times and each mixture was different and they all worked. Then I just brushed on the glue/water mixture and squished the tissue paper on.

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The technique was kind of a take one side glue it on and then smash the rest down. I wanted it to have texture but not too fluffy. I made a creeper head on two of the sides, that way as it swung around it still was visible.

4.) After each head was finished, I literally just went to town splattering glue and squishing on tissue paper. It was so NOT technical at this point. Definite Sam style free for all.

After about 2 hours of work total (if you need to go faster, blow dryers are awesome!) I was finished and pretty thrilled with the result!

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Don’t forget or lose the string! You’ll need it to hang the piñata!

5.) Then I sent it off to Caleb for hanging and I put the final touch of a few streamers on the bottom just for extra fun!

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Once the piñata was finished, I knew the kids would need something to put all the goodies into, so I picked up lime green bags and did some crafting.

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It was nothing fancy. I did a creeper head on one side and I embossed the kids’ names in black on the other. It would be easier to keep track of whose was whose. Plus – embossing is awesome.

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The party was scheduled to start later in the evening for 2 reasons. First, it was a Wednesday night (we have to follow parenting time schedules) and since it was a weeknight we knew most of the parents worked. The agenda was as follows:

6:00pm Arrive

6:15pm Dinner

6:45pm Piñata

7:00pm Cake & Presents

7:30pm Movie

9:00pm Games

10:00pm Lights Out

11:00pm Pray they’re sleeping.

This didn’t leave much room for other “game like” activities. So I got off easy! Meaning once I finished the piñata and treat bags, I moved onto the food set up.

I googled Minecraft icons and paired them up with a simple font to make food cards. foodcardsbefore

I had the green card stock all ready, so I just printed, cut out glued and folded.

foodcardsafter

Dinner was ordered pizza (easy), apples, carrots, cantaloupe, and cheese bread.  To drink there was water, milk, or poisonous potion.

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punch

To make the Poisonous Potion (Green Punch):

1.) Use limeade concentrate, but do NOT make to the instructions. Typically you add about 4 containers of water. I only added 1. But I used two concentrates so I actually added 2 containers of water (and by container I mean the thing the concentrate comes in, I’m sure there is some fancy name for it.)

2.) Then I added lime sherbet. I bought the largest container I could and I used a little over half of it. I mashed it around it until it was a thick liquid mess. Literally. It didn’t look good at this point.

3.) Then I added lemon lime soda until the container was full. With the combination of ice cream and carbonation, it did have lots of foam at the top. Watch how quickly you pour the soda! Stir some more and enjoy!

*Everyone said this was the best punch I’d ever made so there’s that!

For dessert, I made a Minecraft birthday cake. It was not a design like Minecraft, it was the actual cake that is in the game. I will admit I was 100% let down by my normal abilities. That being said, Carson was thrilled so it was all good.

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I was also a little afraid that a 8×8 square cake would not be enough for everyone, so at the last minute I made 12 cupcakes too. The kids were determined I needed to make them like Chica’s cupcake (five nights at freddy’s – don’t get me started. This is not allowed.) so I did.

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I was told, chocolate cake, pink frosting, eyes and a candle. So I made this. Now you google it. Hmmm. Yep very different.

I also have 3 boys of my own, so I know how they eat. Even with dinner, treats from a piñata, I knew we needed snacks. With the movie, I bought a couple bags of popcorn and pretzel crisps. I didn’t want anything super messy, lots of prep needed, or too sugary. I wanted them to sleep.

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The last thing I needed to prepare was the decorations. I kept them simple and within our family traditions. You always get a special chair with balloons and the chalkboard is about you. Other than that, I stayed with green and black and didn’t go crazy. Pretty sure 11 year old boys don’t care about decorations.

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decorations

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That was the planning and preparing! The party? It was perfect. The food was good and the kids ate lots, the piñata was fun and everyone got a turn, the kids played outside for a while, and they went to bed later than I wanted but earlier than I prepared for! Breakfast the next morning was easy with donut holes, make your own yogurt parfaits, bacon, orange juice and milk. Then Caleb brought the kids home. The boys all said they had fun and were very polite. It went perfectly 🙂

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caketime

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He was way into this whole party business.

If you’ve made it all the way through, high five that one! You rock. I’m impressed.

I promised some fast tips though so here we go!

  • Make sure to be very clear on invitations. I always try to include everything possible so parents are at ease and in the know. It’s what I’d want for my kids, so I try to reciprocate that.
  • ASK about food allergies. There is always always always at least one.
  • Keep in mind your audience. At each project, I kept thinking they’re 11 year old boys. Perfectionism and too crafty – they aren’t going to notice.
  • Diaper boxes are virtually indestructible. Husbands will be required to busting the piñata open. This is good & bad. Everyone gets a turn. Kids want candy.
  • Boys eat a lot. Plan for it.
  • Serving cake, cupcakes, & ice cream but still wanting to be present and in the moment is hard, sooo use the individual ice cream cups. No need to be standing there scooping ice cream. Super easy. Favorite hack ever. Worth every penny.
  • If you plan on using electronic devices, have the wi-fi password ready to go. Or change it to something simple they can type in themselves…
  • Daughters should stay away from the guests. This is helpful to know for our future. That was a learning experience. Little kid crushes. Oi. Not ready.
  •  It’s a birthday! No matter what happens, kids will be excited and have fun!

Any more tips? Anything we should’ve done different? Love to hear your thoughts! There’s always another party not too far off in this family!

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Pssst! This Thursday (September 1st) I’ll be joining Brave Love Blog for her Blogtember Challenge! Blogging a specific post everyday. Now I know this is out of my usual posting schedule & calendar soooo I’ll be posting some days, twice a day to get both my normal and the new posts in for the month. Happy extra reading! AND wish me luck! It is definitely a challenge!

Final Summer Hurrah!

We still have another official week of summer, but volleyball has started, we have 2 birthdays to celebrate this week, 2 open houses to attend, and Carson and Ava are with their Mom for Labor Day weekend so our last hurrah had to be last week – which we jumped on!

I mentioned last week that we went hiking. Caleb has been working so hard on Ava’s room and the fall is super busy work and activity wise for me and the kids, so I just wanted to get out of town even for a short while. With Carson’s birthday party the night before, we knew we had limited time so we decided to stay semi close and head to Taylor’s Falls, MN (about a hour away). We went to Interstate Park and actually went to both the MN and WI sides of the St. Croix River. Both were beautiful but the WI side was over double the cost to attend. Go figure.

Anyway, I packed a picnic lunch, we drove East and enjoyed some quiet family time outdoors. We ate the picnic lunch outside, then went hiking and exploring on the bluffs. It was beautiful! But shocking too. There was almost zero restraints from some of the cliffs. Freaked Caleb and I out a little. We were super cautious with the kids. As usual, Harvey road on my back and Caleb carried the gear (#gocargopants).

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Like I said, zero restraints…
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Something was more fun than a picture.
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The arrow is pointing to my husband after he decided it would be fun to disappear for a while. Insert eye roll.

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Harvey was ready for a nap, oh about an hour before this picture.

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The “baked oven” cave. The kids did not want to go down it. So Caleb and I did (and thus Harvey too).

After hiking for a few hours, Harvey was getting fussy hungry and antsy to get out of the carrier. So we headed across the bridge to WI and their half of Interstate Park and went swimming. I rested on a blanket while Harvey napped and the Caleb watched the kids go swimming. It was a teeny lake off the bluffs and it felt completely hidden. Besides the 6 of us, there was 1 other person so in our normal habits we took over. Sigh. Sorry random person.

Once Harvey woke up, the kids changed, and we headed out for a dinner in town and then drove home. It was a perfect summer day. Nothing is better than being outside with my people in some of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see ♥

I hope you had the chance to enjoy a few wonderful summer days before they disappear to school and schedules!

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Pssst! This Thursday (September 1st) I’ll be joining Brave Love Blog for her Blogtember Challenge! Blogging a specific post everyday. Now I know this is out of my usual posting schedule & calendar soooo I’ll be posting some days, twice a day to get both my normal and the new posts in for the month. Happy extra reading! AND wish me luck! It is definitely a challenge!

Single Parenting vs. Married Parenting

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion (ok, read: I get asked ALL.THE.TIME) which is easier: being a single parent or being a married parent. I’ve been both and in opposite order than most. The people that ask are also usually the ones that have their own answer already so typically they’re surprised by my response. Why they ask me then, only Heaven knows.

Anyway, my answer? Neither.

You can’t just add up the pros and the cons of each and magically come up with the perfect solution to the problem. Somedays being a single parent rocks. Somedays I plead with the world to not take Caleb away. Literally. Please let me keep him forever. Do you hear that?! Ok, thanks. Just making sure.

I started my adult life as a single mom. Now yes I had help, tremendous amounts of help, so I never really felt certain aspects that I know other single parents do. But Caleb did, so I like to think I have some expertise on the topic.

Being a single parent** means you make all the decisions when you have your child (I have full custody of Jack- but Caleb has joint). I named him exactly what I wanted, I chose what school he went to, the style of clothes he wore, the activities he participated in, etc. That is great. No one to try and work to find a compromise. You just do what you see fit and off you go. Want to go away for the weekend? Ok, enjoy! Want to do pizza for dinner? Sounds perfect! ….You get the idea.

So little! He's 4 here, yikes! Half his life ago.
So little! He’s 4 here, yikes! Half his life ago.

Another pro for single parenting is you get them all to yourself! Selfish. Yes. Probably. But I loved all the time we spent together, the dates we went on, hearing about all the best & worst parts of his day.

But the downsides can be hard. You show up to family functions- well single. Unless you have a great support system, you don’t get a break. It can be exhausting. Round the clock. No break. Constant children. No one to even talk to about the struggle or worries. Sitting in a hospital room alone, can easily bring any person down real fast. Trust me, I had lots of those days and nights. Money, that’s another whole post in itself. Money is scary when it’s just you providing for a little person.

Being a married parent? Well that is awesome, too! There’s always someone that has your back and can help with the loads of work that come with parenting. I have never doubted Caleb’s intentions with our family or his desire to be 100% present. He’s amazing and I’m lucky to parent with him every day.

But…. it isn’t all rainbows and puppy dogs either. Things have settled down into a nice rhythm now, but it wasn’t always that way. When we first started dating and knew we were serious about us becoming a family, there were so many conversations about “how do you do this” or “what do you think about that” and “how do we make this work when you do it this way and I do it that way”. It was so hard. Both of us were used to do just doing our thing and the kids were each used to doing it that parent’s way. The no need to ask someone about something? Gone.

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Another oldie! So little. Our first summer together.

Now. Not every family may do this, but we base our parenting off mutual respect for each previous familial situation. We need to. We needed to honor where our kids came from and who they are as people. As young as they were, we didn’t want to rock the boat.

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They had their moments of bickering, but they’re all still pretty close.

That was all before Harvey. Since Harv has come we are still working on the “how do you do this” conversations and learning to balance having a baby around and still honoring those previous life experiences, but still finding compromises. And I know I can take a shower or run to the store when I need, that’s a pretty great bonus 😉

There isn’t a really good answer. My reasoning may be different, but I’m sure others agree (unless their spouse was a thumbs down, well then rock on single parents!). I’ll still take married parenting any day though, because I’m not giving up Caleb.

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**FYI I was a single parent that was not previously married. I did not co-parent Jack. After years being with Caleb, I have a different view on co-parenting and being single while co-parenting. Trust me it’s not the same type of single parenting. You may be single, but you are not a single parent. There are lots of different rules in the co-parenting game.

Back to School Means Back to Work, too

Since as far back as I can remember, back to school has been my favorite time of the year. Seasons start to change & I love fall. Schools supplies are my jam. Plus the excitement of a new school, new beginning, new students is way better and more celebratory in my book than New Years Day (until I met Caleb).

As an online teacher who works from home, summers are pretty easy going. Quite possibly extra easy going since I don’t have a classroom to take down or set up, I don’t have supplies I need to order and prep, and so many other little tasks along the way. The majority of my work days are spent in my little section of the downstairs playroom, but right before the school year starts we always have a few days in the office for professional development, meetings, and just to reorient ourselves with one another. You think I’m kidding. (I’m not. I work with them daily but see them once a year. It’s helpful to have a refresher.)

Anyway, we had our meetings last week and I WAS NOT looking forward to starting school, work, or being there at all. I’m not sure what really had me so pessimistic about all of it, but I was. Summer seemed so short, we were busy with softball, remodeling, camps, and the like that I feel like we didn’t do summery things. I like hanging out with my little tribe all the time, I didn’t really want school to start and be without them. Plus Harv has been away from me less hours than I have fingers, so I knew it was going to be hard on both of us (jk he’s been teething I was pretty thrilled for the break).

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Teething baby = lots of toothbrush chewing & a way too long of a hug goodbye.

Well day one  went pretty well. It was a really long day and then I rushed home so Caleb could rush to get to Ava’s softball games on time. Harv was pretty clingy and refused to go to bed that night as I’m pretty sure it was punishment for leaving. However, we had so many awesome presentations & an awesome BBQ for lunch so those were a plus. They also gave us these sweet little gifts, how cute are they?!

"It's refreshing to have a great teacher like you!"
“It’s refreshing to have a great teacher like you!”

Day two was a different story, though. Work again was great, we had this amazing presentation by one of our regional staff members and she recommended reading Grit by Angela Duckworth. I just started it and am loving it! Cannot wait to implement it with my students, my own babies, and honestly, myself. Check it out!

But when I got home, Harvey was super clingy. Like stage 5. He didn’t let me put him down all that night and all the way to Thursday night. He was determined that this leaving business of mine would be no more, which was kind of a bummer, because I was hoping these days would give him a bump in the direction of weaning. Nope. Just made him want more. Bummer. On to Plan B.

All in all, we survived. Caleb was awesome at being stay at home daddy as always. Harvey survived and is thankfully back to normal. I am rejuvenated and ready to get started on tons of new ideas for the school year. I think I just needed a swift kick and some great inspiration to get me going.

Plus, I finally have all the kids school supplies bought, organized, and labelled (don’t worry my hand is only half falling off). The last two items just came in the mail this week and they are my favorite! The idea of Pack-It lunch boxes rules. Jack is 100% cold lunch kid and I have never felt comfortable sending food to school with just a teeny ice pack. With Pack-It, you freeze the whole lunch bag and it stays cold for up to 10 hours! Yep, life saver. I can breathe. Plus they come in awesome patterns, the price is reasonable, and they fold up so they don’t take up precious freezer space. I’m sold. These are the boys’! They each picked their own.

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Carson is the camouflage and Jack is the construction signs. No brainer for each of them.

You can check out what other cool designs they have here! (Not sponsored, just love them!)

I’m ready. The kids are almost all ready (we still need to do some clothes shopping-talk about never ending). Bring it on September!

Hopefully you have/had a great back to school! We definitely are later than other schools/states.

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The Great Room Switcheroo | 1

We are in the middle of a huge bedroom rearranging situation. Caleb is in overdrive to finish Ava’s remodel before school starts and get her out of Carson’s room. I’ve been preparing to cut the umbilical cord and get Harvey into Jack’s room from being in our room. So the house is pretty much in complete disarray.

Jack and I have been preparing both physically and mentally for Harvey to move in. We first started by cleaning and purging Jack’s room to actually make room for a crib, rocker with ottoman and dresser space in Jack’s dressers. Knowing it wouldn’t be enough space for all of both of their things, Caleb and I began talking about new furniture. We settled on a half closed, half open book shelf. I wanted some hidden space for all the crap stuff they hoard, but also some space for pictures and other items.

So over the weekend Jack and I went to town assembling the bookshelf and rearranging his room. I was so thrilled to get the bookshelf up! I love it, exactly the style I’ve been heading towards more and more lately.

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I am beyond thrilled the old, completely falling apart armoire thing is gone! Now there is lots of space to move Harv in and reconfigure all the wall hangings.

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It’s ready for Harvey!

As Jack and I have been working, we’ve also been having lots of talks about what sharing a room will look like, especially given that Harvey is still so young. Jack is pretty excited and I think a little naive about the situation. It’s probably best for all of us!

Ok, where we stand now:

  • Move Harvey’s crib, rocking chair & ottoman in.
  • Once all that is in, bring in clothes and curtains and sound machine (Harvey needs his room to be just right to sleep! No jumping too fast or I’ll regret it later)
  • Decide on art, pictures, and wall hangings – which will stay, go, and where they will be placed.

Optimisms:

  • Jack is excited and keeps asking when Harv will actually come in.
  • They will bond. Lots.
  • Harv is only really next door, possibly closer to me than when he is in our room!
  • Caleb and I will sleep better, Harvey will sleep better, and Jack will still sleep soundly through it all no matter how it really goes.
  • Caleb and I can go back to reading books, magazines, talking etc before bed actually in our bed instead of “shhhh don’t wake the baby!” all the time. That’ll be nice.
  • It’s only till we move houses.

Pessimisms:

  • Harvey and Jack will never sleep and be up all night playing.
  • Mom guilt is code red on kids sharing rooms. (Don’t even talk about Carson & Ava sharing)
  • Am I really ready for my baby to grow up and move out of our room???
  • I may get less sleep.

That’s where we leave off, for now. Still things to do and ultimately make the Harvey switch, but it’s progress and the little boys are embracing it all pretty well. I’m hopeful that it’ll be a positive change for the 4 of us, but worried it’ll blow up in our face. Never know though! With that, wish us luck, give us tips and share your sibling room stories! Please. It may ease my mind!

Also, Ava and Carson room switch will be fantastic! Zero concerns there. Can’t wait for that girl to enjoy her gorg room!!

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Opposite work shifts is really hard.

Caleb and I have always worked opposite shifts since the day I met him. You can read more about it here and here. In fact, beyond him being at my school on his days off, our first date was a phone date while he was on break. It isn’t easy dating (or being married to) someone who is gone every time you’re free. Or vice versa. His schedule is hard on both of us. I know we aren’t alone in this.

He misses everything while working. Family parties, trips to the pool, church, some holidays. If it happens on Friday, Saturday or Sunday consider his rsvp a big ole sad no. He’s working, we’re playing. Or I say no because it’s hard being places sometimes without him. It can be lonely, but it can also be filled with guilt. Unless he has vacation time, which is pretty much accounted for by January. So…..it sucks.

In the early days, we made it work great! Late night Friday dates to Denny’s at 3am? Sure! Lunch dates in the middle of the week? Perfect. Bringing lunch to his work on break? Yep tons. Caleb was home for the big kids (Harvey wasn’t born at this time) to help with appointments, getting on and off the bus, and pretty much managing Monday through Thursday. Plus our parenting time is Monday -Thursday or Friday depending on the week (meaning his schedule was set for his kids before we met). Also, we had the summer time together. I didn’t work and he was off 4 days a week! Talk about awesome.

But that got exhausting. We’re old. 3am dates? I’d rather be sleeping. Our kids got busy weekday nights – so less family time. So we needed a new plan. Cue my job. After I left my brick and mortar school, I was offered a job working from home. We felt like it was the perfect path for us. Online teaching sounded perfect and I could be home more with Caleb on his days off. And I could now lessen his house work duties and be home for the kids more. Win win win!

This worked great!…. for a year. Then Harv was born. He never slept, I was home alone with him and Jack pretty much all weekend but portions of the night (when Caleb needed to be sleeping for work), Jack changed schools putting us on different schedules than Carson and Ava, sports and activities took over our week nights and well, I lost it. I wanted and needed my family, particularly Caleb, back.

So we needed to change something. We can’t change our parenting time. We promised choosing to have Harvey wouldn’t negatively impact the big kids so activities were to stay. My job was already as flexible as possible without changing my pay scale, which we aren’t ready for. That all meant, looking into changing Caleb’s job. So that weekend he applied for a night shift (we’re talking 10pm-6am) Sunday evening to Friday morning. He can’t get on days, not enough seniority and we knew second shift would be a complete disaster. Yes, he’d be able to sleep with us all night, but he’d miss 100% of everything from the minute the kids got off the bus till the moment they went to bed. Plus I wanted him to be more present in the family – not less. So full night shift was the solution, or so we thought.

As we waited to hear about the job, we both started realizing that what we have has its downsides. Lots and they can be really trying on us, but his boss, company and insurance are super awesome. And the hours are probably what’s best for right now. We don’t have to do daycare, he only drives 3 days a week not 5, no traffic, I could go on. Which means it’ll be hard for a while but we are also doing the best we can for our kids and for our marriage. Bonus! That man of mine would do anything for me, each other, and the kids. That’s a pretty solid feeling.

The point? Life has its trials and tribulations but having the right person to walk through them with will make it worthwhile. Not always easier, but always worth it.

Also this:

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Pssst! Want to hear the exact opposite feelings? Check out this post from a mom that works the crap shift.

Harvey’s First Trip to the Zoo

I decided to be adventurous and brave the weekend crowds. Usually I avoid, because I can and its great for the sanity. However, Harv has been teething like crazy & frustrated with my current lack of ability to decipher his “words”.  So, I was going insane.

We needed to escape (crowds seemed more appealing than a day at home with Harvey again) & since Harvey loves animals. Like seriously. All of them. He can bark like a dog, this funny snort like a pig, ee (??) like a monkey, and more. I’m not sure where this innate love of animals came from, but it’s certainly not me or Caleb. It was only natural that at some point he’d attend the zoo.

I was shocked when we got there and he was completely quiet the entire time. I’m still debating if he was in such awe it left him speechless or if he was meh about it all. He literally was next to (with like those 3 inch glass walls between) a giant gorilla eating lunch and he just looked at it all “been there done that, move along mama”. Say what?!

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Amused or bored? What’s your vote?

The tigers seemed to intrigue him the most, maybe because they were clearly visible and the most active…?

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Anyway. He wasn’t cranky, I stayed sane, and Jack had fun, which is what matters anyway. Plus it was on our summer bucket it list and since summer is winding down (3 weeks?! Ahh…) it was great to cross it off!

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Plus we had dip’n’dots and everyone loves those 😉

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Trying to escape pictures already.

Hope you all had a great weekend! Happy Monday!

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Camp Odayin – Camp for Kids with Heart Disease

Jack has hypo plastic left heart syndrome. He was born with a heart anomaly & happily and healthily lives to tell the tale. Mostly. He has zero recollection of any it besides stories and pictures and books I’ve told him. But he is happy and healthy.

**If you want to know more about what he actually has, you can check this out. Maybe one day I’ll feel brave enough to talk about those rough early days of motherhood and his life. Today is not the day.

Anyway, to honor those kiddos in the zipper club (google it!) there is a camp program dedicated to them. Camp Odayin. I first was told about Camp Odayin when Jack was in utero. Pretty sure I didn’t think twice about it. First of all, he’s not born and I’m supposed to be planning for him to go to summer camp as a kid? Huh. Really. Second, I honestly wasn’t sure he’d live to be around for summer camp as a kid. Didn’t want to count my chickens before they hatched.

Well, thankfully Jack has attended not one, but two! summer camps through Camp Odayin. So far Jack has only attended day camp, which is just for the morning till lunch for 5 days. Next year though, he’ll attend overnight camp with the “big” kids. Camp is filled with arts n crafts, animal discovery, books, songs, and games! Some is educational, some is just plain ole fun (like hunting for gummy worms in whipped cream…without using your hands!). Plus the camp “counselors” are 100% volunteer nurses & doctors to ensure the kiddos are safe. Cue sigh of relief.

The only part about camp that Caleb and I dislike is the timing and distance combination. It’s about an hour away plus traffic to drop him off and it’s only 3 hours long. Driving back and forth to drop off/pick up is ridiculous, so we wait. But that means trying to kill 3 hours. While Jack had a blast, we took turns on days driving and running errands, catching up on to do lists, and wandering around target. Lots of wandering. Harv and I also went for a walk one day when the weather was nice. The last day each year is a talent show, so my parents came with and occupied the gap with breakfast out and a trip to Gertens, which was perfect. (Thanks again Mom- tell Dad, too!)

And…. the pics – they are in zero order and not the greatest (I didn’t take any!). But they’re his memories and something we’re all pretty proud of!

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He’s a little unsure #cityboy
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Finger painting with pudding

 

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He got a gummy worm. It’s not puke. #ipromise

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Hunting for ….something. In typical Jack fashion, he relayed the info to Caleb & once was sufficient.
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Water games!
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So many amazing people around MN donate stuff to heart kids! Stuffed animals was one gift.
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Working with clay & his buddies!

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Fleece blankets was another gift. Seriously the generosity and love for these kids is so awesome!

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Selfies & photobombs with the volunteer counselors. Jenny & Jason

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Small group this year!

Have a fantastic Thursday! #justonemoreday

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9 Ways to Create a Bad Sleeper

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll continue to say it. Harv is an awful sleeper. I screwed him up. I am not an expert (ha, far from it) when it comes to getting babies to sleep, so today I’m sharing my best ways to create a bad sleeper, because I’m apparently really good at that.

 

  1. Hold them all the time. Love them and snuggle them and soak in all that new babyness. As much as you can. All day and all night. That way they get used to only sleeping with you. No one or nothing else. Continue this for 12-13+ months.
  2. Nurse on demand. Don’t say no. If they want, offer it.
  3. Wear them- very silimiar to #1. Bring them with you everywhere. They’ll feel safe and loved and never want to leave your side.
  4. Attempt putting them to sleep in a crib, bassinet, swing, etc. Give up and co-sleep. Refer  to #1.
  5. Follow a very strict sleeping routine. Baths, books, sleep machine, fan, swaddle, nurse. Rock. Walk around. Nurse some more. Plead for your life. And possibly your sanity.
  6. More naps. Sleep begets sleep right?
  7. 2 AM parties that include nursing, diaper changes, snacks, and tv just to stay awake while the little one plays.
  8. Wear them out. Play with them, take them outside, do all the things! They’ll get tired… eventually…or so I’m told. I have yet to see this happen.
  9. Pray to the sleep gods. I don’t believe they exist. It didn’t work.

There you have it. All the things we do to try and get Harvey to sleep better. He still doesn’t. He still wakes up every 1-2 hours at night. (Yes, you heard right. He’s 1 and still wakes that often.) Takes 30-40 minute naps. And loves his early early morning wake up calls.

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In our defense, he was one of those colicky babies that had reflux so bad he projectile vomited every day – all day. So maybe it wasn’t quite my fault, entirely.

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Oh and p.s. I did all of these with Jack and he can fall asleep in under 5 minutes, sleeps 10-11 hours a day, and sleeps super soundly.

*also note the hint of sarcasm. Lots of these are actually really good ways to get your baby to sleep. The thing is baby’s can be hard, they are individuals, and there isn’t always one method that works for everyone. Hang in there, sleep will come I promise! I have 3 that are on normal sleep schedules and don’t keep us up all night long. Our daily mantra is “it will get better” and we repeat it like 600+ times a day.

Kansas 2016

Well we survived! Ha. But really. The actual driving part wasn’t nearly as bad as Caleb and I prepared ourselves for. In fact, I’d almost call Harv a champ. I guess if you set your bar low enough, anyone can achieve champ status 😉 **Prepare yourself. There are lots of pics! I spared you on the 500+ I took though. Don’t worry.

We got up at 3:00am (May We were tired), got Harv ready, got the kids ready, and packed the last cooler. Caleb had packed the car the night before to make the morning a little bit smoother. By about 4:15am we were smooth sailing. The kids were all awake but all sleepy. We thought for sure they would’ve slept, but no such luck. We made a quick stop for breakfast about 7 and by 8:30 Harv showed his true colors. We pulled over for a quick nursing sesh and eventually he fell asleep. Then the rest of the trip was great! We arrived at my sisters a little later than desired, but we were there and everyone was pretty happy.

The first day, was a half day, so we went to Deanna Rose’s Farmstead. Both my sister and I had done some research on fun things to do and both came up with this. She’d been there prior, but it was new to us and definitely more than expected. There were animals, outdoor exhibits, mining, educational things, play grounds, and a cute old style town! It was a blast but it was a scorcher for Kansas that day, so like extra bad for us Minnesota folk. By the end of the day Harv was soaked. Ick.

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Very informative rope
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He asked. I did not force the dunce cap upon him 😉
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They planned this. It only took like 10 tries to get it right!
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He.was.so.hot.
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Aww love them. Jack was off feeding goats or something. Too busy!
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Ma! Did you need me?
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Intense focus for these two – always!

After the farmstead, we went home for a delicious variety of pastas and DQ ice cream cake (the birthday celebrations just kept going!).

On Monday, we went to Science City and Union Station, Harvey’s for lunch, and then a Royals game at night. We planned on going to the planetarium, however it was closed and we didn’t know it. That’s ok though, we’d been to Science City with Jack once, and knew it was fun. Plus Carson and Ava had never been, so it was great either way.

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Making bird toys. He was pretty proud & I was pretty impressed.

 

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Tornado wind simulator. It was crazy!

 

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Yep. We do things like this.

 

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We all went on the sky bike except Jack. This is not Carson or Jack’s deal, but Carson will usually try to brave it out. Jack was like nope nope and nope. Caleb was adventurous and started to rock it back and forth. You can kind of tell in the pictures. My thrill seeker.

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Can’t pass up having lunch at Harvey’s 😉

 

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Heading to the Royals game! Jack and Ava may have stuck out like sore thumbs. Just maybe.

 

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Gorgeous night game.

Tuesday we went to the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank, swimming at their community pool, and then out for BBQ. Yum. We could’ve eaten BBQ every day. MN BBQ is no where near the same. We may have also stopped at the BBQ store and bought a few  (read: tons) bottles of sauce and dry rub to bring home!

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Everyone also got to take home a bag of old shredded money. The kids did not care that it was old and shredded, all they cared about was the fact they were holding $165 at one time. Ha. Kids.

Wednesday we spent the whole day at Schlitterbahn, the best waterpark ever. Ok I don’t know about that, but we love it! AND it has the tallest water slide in the world, that Caleb has gone on not once now, but twice. Like I said, thrill seeker. Why he married scaredy ole me I’ll never know.

Tired. Hungry. Wet. And oh so old. How?! When? Ugh.
Tired. Hungry. Wet. And oh so old. How?! When? Ugh.

Knowing we were leaving Thursday, we left it pretty open. We wanted to pack and clean up after ourselves. Yes, my sister said it wasn’t necessary. But there’s 6 of us and a week’s worth of living does quite a bit of damage…so Caleb and I both deemed it necessary. We also knew the kids were wiped and with Caleb driving overnight and working the next day, rest was A-ok. That all being said, we went hiking at the Ernie Miller Nature Center, swimming again at the community pool, and then had a pizza dinner with my favorite cakes! So still pretty packed. Pretty sure hiking was my favorite part of the whole week. Nothing but the kids, Caleb, and the outdoors? Perfection.

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This one makes me laugh. Poor Harv. Trying to see it all!
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The kids thought it was the coolest thing that this bridge was made in MN and we were in KS. So clearly, we needed a picture.

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Harv was so into the snakes and the aquarium. He totally is my animal loving kiddo.

The ride back was even better than the ride down. Harv fell asleep before we got to Missouri (which is like 20 minutes away from my sister’s house) and stayed asleep for a good two hours. Then he was up for like 2, a rest stop, another nursing sesh and some pleading to the sleep gods, and then finally success and he slept all the way home. It was awesome. Caleb was a trooper. Staying up till 3am and getting up for work and bringing the kids to golf at 9am. Bless his heart ♥ I think he’s finally back to normal sleep now.

The trip was amazing and I was teary eyed leaving. I miss my sister, but thankful knowing her and her husband are coming up to MN in just a few weeks!

If you’re still reading, I’m impressed and high five to you! Have a great week and enjoy those last bits of summer!

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Update: our hearts go out to the family of little Caleb. We cannot fathom the hurt they are experiencing right now. His death on the waterslide was a complete tragedy and hits home for us too much. All our love, thoughts, and prayers to those who know and love him. ♥

Traveling with the Big Kids

Last week I talked about our family road trip to visit my sister and brother in law in Kansas and the essentials we are preparing for baby Harv. This week I bring you the older kids edition. They need just as much stuff it seems, but the bonus is they can help pack!

The essentials we have for Carson (almost 11), Ava (almost 10) and Jack (8) are very different than a baby and definitely not essential to their survival. Although it is essential for Caleb and mine!

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KidEssentials

  1. Chargers, chargers, and chargers. If you allow electronics in your family, yes we do within reason, then you can’t forget the charger. This goes for grown ups too! I always seem to forget mine. Our kids have Amazon Fire’s. We love them. They have parental control, the ability to limit access unless you read and/or play outside (totally cool!), and automatic curfews. Even though we set rules, the tablet itself allows the rules to stick. Each kiddo also has their own color so no mixing them up. Perfect.
  2. Books! Each one of our kiddos brings a book, or two, or three +. We have them read in the car and at night before bed so having a few around is always good. Carson is into mine crafting and spy stuff lately. Jack is way into the “I survived” series. And well Ava who knows. She rotates lots and will pick up anything from a “Babysitter’s Club” graphic novel to a how to nail art design.
  3. Art Supplies. This is mostly Ava, but there will be lots to make up for the boy’s bringing none. She is into adult coloring books lately! So fun; I love picking them out with her!
  4. Pillows. Since we are planning on getting up super early (like 4 am) so Harv will hopefully sleep in the car lots, the kids will be exhausted too. I’m loving this flashy pattern pillow! I can assure you this is not in our house, but I wish it were. Also, neck pillows. Yep. They rock. This fox pillow is adorable! However the site isn’t in English. Good luck 😉
  5. Food. It’s 7 hours and we’ll stop for breakfast, but snacks. They always need snacks. Since we aren’t the biggest fans of eating in the car. I’ll pack some snacks in my 31 thermal and we’ll stop at a park later in the morning, let the kids get out and escape for a while. Good for everyone, but Caleb. He’d be much happier driving all the way. I don’t blame him.
  6. Ear buds! This should go hand in hand with chargers. I don’t want to listen to Stampy on Minecraft for 7 hours. Ok not really 7 hours, but you know. 5 minutes. Each kiddo has their own that coordinates with the color of their tablet.
  7. Movies. I went out a bought a couple cheapo ($3.75/$5.00) movies for the car ride. Oldies but goodies! The van has a DVD player built right in with 2 screens. We used to have 2 headsets, but who knows what happened there. So it’s an everyone listens type deal now.
  8. Reading lights. Since we’re leaving at 4AM we’re really hoping they just sleep till the sun comes up but on the way back we’re leaving between 7-8PM so it’ll be getting dark and they won’t be ready to sleep. We have lights in the van, but I think they’re too distracting for Caleb (yep backseat driver here!). I like the ones that attach right on the books.

There’s always more things, like clothes and blankets, but these 8 things will get us through the long trip and still keep our sanity!

What are your sanity savers?! Would love to hear!

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psst! this is not a sponsored post. We just love this stuff and wanted to pass along the info!

My Birthday Weekend!

This weekend we celebrated my 29th birthday! It was my actual 29th birthday, too (not again, it was the first time). It was a fantastic weekend; I’m blessed and spoiled in all the right ways!

Friday, my parents took Jack to the cabin for the day and Caleb was able to go in early. That meant it was just Harv and I! I took advantage of this by doing some serious deep cleaning. It may not have been the best celebration, but I was thrilled when I was done. I’ve been on a big cleaning kick lately, sorting rooms, purging, and donating. It was great to get some of it done with a quiet house.

On Saturday, Jack, Harv and I went on an “adventure”, according to Jack. We went to Nothing Bundt Cakes. Yum. Only the most delicious thing ever. Free birthday bundlets, but one wasn’t enough so we grabbed two more for sharing! Then we went to a farmer’s market for some fresh fruit and veggies. $.50 for the biggest zucchini I’d ever seen. Look at that baby!

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I love when the kids help pick out things that I know they’ll eat and are fresh and ready to go. Sadly we have yet to indulge in it. Also picked up some raspberries. After Harv’s nap, my sister invited us over for chicken fajitas at her house for dinner. Even though her and I were the only takers, they were delicious and the cousins always have a blast.

Sunday, my actual birthday, Caleb had off! With it being a weekend, that means he usually works & Carson and Ava are at their mom’s, so typically we celebrate during the week. However, since Caleb took the day off, we celebrated some on my birthday and then again on Monday when the kids returned. Parties for days 😉

Caleb planned out a fantastic day. Starbucks to start the morning. The first coffee I’ve had in 13 months. Needless to say it was aaaaamazing. Check out our dairy free days to know why. Then he went on a mission to make my cake/pie. This year was a surprise dessert – here is the recipe. Knowing I’m not a huge chocolate person, he went for sweet with a Lucky Charms pie!

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Not a birthday around here unless you have a pic with your cake! (no cakes were harmed in the taking of this picture)

He spent all morning working on it. Bless his heart ♥

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The kids were a little unsure, but I thought it was great and I know he worked hard just for me. We all decided though that the marshmallows on the top weren’t quite what we expected. All in all I was happy.

After church, lunch, and Harv’s nap we made a pitstop at the home improvement store then on to my parent’s house. We swam, played, ate a fabulous dinner, and had another mini party. So many blessings! It was the first time in a while I really “played” in the pool. Usually I’m baby watching or tired or my hair looks too good (vain I know, but really it’s a lot of work!).

Homemade party hats by my niece!
Homemade party hats by my niece! Harv was in love and refused to take it off! I accepted non-perfect hair.
This pic cracks me up. Even though Jack is totally fuzzy it's because as Harvey and I were practicing blowing candles, Jack runs in and poof! out it went! Ha. Boys.
This pic cracks me up. Even though Jack is totally fuzzy it’s because as Harvey and I were practicing blowing candles, Jack runs in and poof! out it went! Ha. Boys. Not sure how he blew it out so far away but it did. Go lungs!
And for memory sake, a picture of me "blowing out" said non lit candle.
And for memory sake, a picture of me “blowing out” said non lit candle.

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After all the Sunday partying, we went home, put the babes to bed and rented a movie on iTunes. It was a perfect, well almost perfect, day. Just missing Carson and Ava. But when they returned on Monday, the birthday shenanigans continued and we opened presents they picked out for me and my Godmother and Uncle stopped over as well. Feeling the love all around ♥

I’m pretty proud of the last 9 years of my life and I’m looking forward to a great year to close out my 20s. I’m also super looking forward to my 30th birthday as I’ve been promised a island getaway with no babies!

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Traveling with a Baby

In the next few weeks, we will be taking a 7 hour + stops road trip to visit my sister in Kansas! Words cannot express the excitement around here. The kids love my sister and brother in law, love visiting their unbelievable home, the two dogs, and they know we always jam the week full of all sorts of fun things. Caleb and I are pretty excited, except we’re also deathly afraid of the car ride. OK, maybe that’s a little excessive but seriously. We’re worried. Harv is not a traveling baby. Like, at all.

As we prepare to head out, I rounded up a few of our must haves when traveling with a baby.

BabyEssentials

 

  1. Harv needs a place to sleep, even though he sleeps with Caleb and I pretty much nightly. He still naps in a crib. We have a Graco Pack n Play. It came with all the bells and whistles – changing station complete with diaper and wipe holder, basinette attachment, lights, sounds and vibration machine, mobile etc etc etc. He needs zip of that these days -praise the Lord (it’s a ton to pack). Now we just use the crib part itself. Fold it up, stuff it in the carrier and off we go!
  2. Food. Ha. We plan on buying groceries once we get there for the week, but if you have a picky eater or are particular about what you feed babe, they may not have the same brands or flavors. Best be on the safe and prepared side! We love Plum Organics and those pouches are awesome!
  3. Toys. With a 7 hour trip we plan to be as smart about driving and naps as possible, but we also know that it’s going to be long and will get very boring for Harv. We’ve started investing (yes, investing!) in new toys to make it easier on all of us.
  4. Baby Carrier. If you haven’t started wearing your baby yet, try it, it’s amazing! I’ve used all sorts of brands and styles, but currently I’m loving our Ergo. So is Harv. If he sees it laying around the house, he gets all excited! Soooo cute. Knowing we will be walking around site seeing, a carrier makes it all easier. As much as I love our Ergo, I really have been eyeing up those Tula Toddlers but haven’t taken the bait yet.
  5. Sun Protection. Seeing as we are heading South and the weather is supposed to be hot hot hot, protection is a must. Harv knows that he must wear a hat at all times if he’s outdoors. If he takes it off, we go in. It’s annoying but he’s learning and leaves it on most the time. I like the brim hats so it protects his ears, eyes, and chubby neck. The aviators are just adorable and matching mine 😉 I also love Neutrogena Baby Free Sunscreen. It has sooo many benefits! First of all it is not greasy and the ingredients are natural – double score! It also is water resistant. A must when we are outside! Highly recommend.
  6. Diapers and wipes. This may be a duh moment, but until you’ve forgotten them, it needs to go on the list. We are Pampers people all the way. I would love to be more green and do the clothe diaper deal, but flinging poop into a toilet and washing them clean? Sorry, gotta pass on that one. I’ll recycle extra or something.
  7. Blankie. Can’t forget the blanket! Yes these are his favorite. What about all the expensive hand made blankets I made? Forget about it! Go for the $8/piece light weight but has the oh so coveted silk tags. Yep that was the deal breaker. Taggies. Get Harv’s favorite here!
  8. Umbrella Stroller. We don’t own one, so we’re borrowing one from my sister. Thanks Michelle! We have a really nice big one that we use on a day to day basis, but with trunk space being prime real estate – we needed something smaller.

If that wasn’t enough to remember to pack, here’s a bonus!

*** The baby! You weren’t going to forget, were you? I certainly wasn’t.

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Bad selfies for the win. Well babe is cute. Mom needs to up her game.

Any essentials you bring that I forgot? Let me know and I’ll throw it in the bag!

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P.s. this is not sponsored. We just love the stuff we use and wanted to share the info!

29 Reasons I Feel Old Lately

Tomorrow is my birthday! Yep, another year blessed. I will be turning 29 years old. To ring in the the last year of my 20s on a positive note, let’s go through the 29 reasons I feel old! Come on, it’ll be fun!

In no particular order….

  1. 4 children. Thankfully I have no gray hairs from them, yet.
  2. 2 degrees – totaling 23 years in a formal education institution.
  3. I legitimately love my minivan.
  4. I’m more excited about house decor and projects than the makeup I’m wearing. *
  5. Showers are a luxury.*
  6. Friday nights consist of laundry, children’s books, and baby snuggles.
  7. I have a retirement account that I contribute to each paycheck.
  8. I wish I could go to bed at 9 PM and take a nap daily.
  9. I enjoy watching the evening news.
  10. I do my own taxes (well and Caleb’s, we file joint).
  11. My vacation days at work are spent at my kids’ schools doing volunteer work or chaperoning field trips.
  12. When I shop, it’s new clothes for the kids. *
  13. I find dishes and folding laundry soothing.
  14. I enjoy cooking fancy meals (according to the kids).
  15. We use a paper checkbook.
  16. When we double date – it’s with a family. A family double date.
  17. We’ve started having “talks” with our big kids. Yikes. That one’s scary.
  18. We have more afternoon dates than we do at night.
  19. People come to me for advice on life, parenting, marriage, etc.
  20. I have more apps on my phone for our utility services than games.
  21. Speaking of apps, snapchat?! What. Yea. I thought I was young and cool. Pass. Let’s not even talk about Pokemon Go.
  22. Most of my friends are the Moms of my kids.
  23. We have a plan and budget for everything.
  24. My middle school and high school students use slang I’ve never heard of. They’re happy to teach it to me though.
  25. I cry at Disney movies.
  26. I know pretty much every in and out about health insurance and I’ve never worked a day in that field in my life.
  27. I cannot go to bed unless the house is tidied up and all the pillows fluffed. Maybe that’s not old. Maybe that’s just my Mom coming out in me 😉 love you Mom!
  28. I’ve been counting down the days till our driveway is resurfaced. Soo excited! (t-minus 5 days)
  29. I know my credit score off hand.

There you go – all 29 reasons why I’m feeling old.

I also could easily list 29 reasons why I don’t feel old enough to claim half of the responsibilities I do and some may seem like a negative to you – snapchat? Huh maybe one day. But I love my life and I’m proud of where I stand today. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve accomplished a lot in my “adulting” years and am looking forward to a quiet last year in my 20s! Bring on the celebrations 🙂

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* Seriously though, I promise I’m not a slump.

Birthday Wishes!

In honor of my upcoming birthday, check out a few of things on my wish list!
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Leather handbag
$33 – newchic.com

Robert Welch kitchen dining
$25 – selfridges.com

1.) As I continue to work on my lettering practice, I’ve fallen in love with the dual brush pens ♥ but they can be pretty chunky to write with so I also requested the fudenosuke hard and soft tips to test those out, too!

2.) A new bag/diaper bag is a must have around here. First, Harv’s water exploded in my other bag (thankfully just water, but it’s seen better days..). Second, with our upcoming trip I want a cross body for hands free access. Combine baby wearing and cross body bags means the perfect combo to still hold Caleb’s hand or help the other ones out!

3.) I used to wear watches 24 hours a day, then I relied on my phone for the time, then the kids. I think it’s time for another watch. The casual grey with the more feminine rose gold is giving me all the heart eyes!

4.) Harv got a good whack at my old glasses and at the rate in which I lose or break sunglasses I never pay more than $20 a pair. These fit perfect with my current love with the rose gold!

5.) I bake. A LOT. And yet one of these does not exist in my household. Yes, we had one at our wedding and I’m pretty sure it’s still at the venue till this day..oh well. I love the sleek and modern lines of this one!

Counting down the days till I hit my last year in my twenties! Eeks.

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6 Ways to Stay Sane With Kids

Being a parent is hard. It does not matter whether you’re a mom or dad, single parent, step parent or whatever else category you fit into, it’s a tough job. It pulls on all your emotions at one point or another. Every stage challenges a parent for various reasons.

Caleb and I fit most of the parenting categories. We both have been single parents; both currently step parents; and together we deal with co-parenting. We also have kiddos in different stages of life.  And me, being a middle school/high school teacher, have seen it all.

So how do we stay sane? Because we do, most days, and not just that: We LOVE our children and enjoy being around them.

1.) Change perspective. Children can be crazy, both in the good and bad sense of the word. But they are little and do not always know what they are really doing. If you start to look at the world through their eyes, you’ll be amazed at how much more patient and calm you can be. Poop flying across the bedroom could send anyone on high alert, but stopping for a moment and trying to see what they see will change your emotions. Yes this happened! I could’ve let a loose cannon go, but then I realized Harv accidentally got his hand stuck on the diaper sticker and was trying to free himself. Do you blame him? Nope. I know he doesn’t like stickers. He was afraid, confused, and did all he knew how.

2.) Laugh. This isn’t new. Kids are hilarious! Even when they are being naughty, they still can be funny. Laugh at them – just be warned, don’t actually laugh at them, it can be damaging to their egos and self worth & don’t do it in front of them when they really need to see right from wrong. You’ll lose all your authority at that moment.

3.) Take five. Seriously. Some times 5 minutes or less is all you need to recoup from the chaos. So take it! If you have someone else around, great, have them watch the kids and walk away. Mommy and Daddy time outs are the best. IF you don’t have someone else around, find a way to take 5. A baby will be ok in a crib or rocker, little kids can play in a safe environment, even just step into a different room for a minute is refreshing. It may not completely reset yourself, but it will help bring your sanity back. **disclaimer, if the baby is crying and you’re anything like me (who can’t destress while listening). Putting him down isn’t going to actually help. Well then, good luck with that.

4.) Change environments. If their mood is blah and it’s turning to cranky too fast, move. That’s it. Move. If you’re inside, go out. If you’re upstairs, go down. You get the idea. Try playing in a new room – parent’s rooms are thee best – most kids aren’t allowed to play in there, so use that to your advantage! Read in a book in bed or play cards/puzzles on the floor. It’ll be such a novelty, the blah mood will change.

5.) If you can’t beat them, join them! Sometimes the chaos is just too much and there is singing, and screaming, and crying and everyone is running in every which way. Instead of going crazy from the chaos, embrace it! Turn on some music and dance, go outside and play tag, increase your energy and theirs will level off – I promise! Works every time. Also works for the older ones, because then you “scare” them and they’ll calm down and run away. Ha. Seriously though.

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6.) Make time for yourself. This is not an “in the moment” tip. This is ongoing. Creating time for yourself and for your marriage is extremely vital to being a sane person. It is not selfish. It’s needed for everyone. You will feel so much better and more refreshed when you make an effort to do things that will rejuvenate yourself. For everyone, what it takes will be different. For Caleb and I – it’s working on our house to do list. We feel so much better when we know we are productive and working on our goal to move. It makes us better, happier, and more patient. The kids win when we are in that mood!

There you go, that’s it! Our best tips. Have any more to add to the list? I’d love to know your sure fire ways to stay sane!

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Fourth of July 2016

We were so blessed with thee absolute best Fourth of July this year! With Carson & Ava on a rotating schedule, Caleb working last year, and Harv being only 2 weeks old – last year was a bust and Jack has been so kind to remind me of that all last month. Traditions can be hard with so many moving pieces in our life, but we made the best of it and it was so much fun!

The first thing we did was to head to the big parade in Forest Lake. If you are in the twin cities, it is worth the drive. It is about 2 hours long, tons of floats, lots of candy, and lots of music. The parade kicks off with a mini old time air plane smoke show, which Harvey was soooo into. Even though the weather was perfect for parade watching, we didn’t last the whole 2 hours.

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Harvey and Caleb may have even made it into the local paper! We’ll be on the look out.

After the parade, we headed home so Harvey could get in a nap before heading to our next adventure. Just like typical Harv, it was short so we headed out sooner than desired. We went to my parent’s house for swimming, games, and a BBQ. I made special drinks for the kids from a picture on pinterest and following along with the greatest cake trend EVER (I don’t like frosting) – naked cake!

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The kids’ drinks were super easy.

1.) Start with a blue liquid – hawaiian punch, gatorade, powerade, blue raspberry koolaid. Whatever you fancy! We used hawaiian punch.

2.) Add lemon lime soda so it can get fizzy. We used about 2/3 juice to 1/3 sparkling soda.

3.) Plop in a dollop of ice cream – mixed with the soda will become a float.

4.) Add in the red fish and a straw.

That’s it! And they were gone faster than you can say Happy Fourth of July!

Like I mentioned already, there were games, lots of swimming, delicious food, and mostly kid friendly fireworks and firecrackers to play with. It was a perfect afternoon with my family!

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And because it isn’t our family without a nowhere near perfect picture:

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Well, Ava and Jack look great!

After the party we went home for a rest for the big kids and mini bedtime for the babe. We got everyone up and went to fireworks – my favorite part of the holiday! Carson, Ava, and Jack snuggled on a blanket munching on snacks, all half asleep while Harv giggled, pointed, jumped up and down in glee the whole time. Caleb and I took turns keeping up with him.

I could repeat this again and again, it was a perfect day and it was evident by the exhausted kiddos the next morning.

Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth with family, friends, and fireworks!

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Big Party for a Little Man

This post contains links to outside sources. I was in no way shape or form paid to sponsor these items. We just used the products and they worked great for us, so we wanted to provide the info for you! 

Last week we celebrated Harv’s first birthday with a cactus party! It was so much fun to plan and celebrate with all of our family. I love planning parties, down to all the little details!

The first thing I did was to make our own invitations. I currently am loving all things cactus and watercolor, so a cactus themed fiesta was the way to go! I didn’t want it to be too Cinco de Mayo (which a lot of fiesta decorations focus in on) and I also didn’t want it to be too babyish. There are only a few birthdays these days I get to have most control over, so I had to capitalize! I turned to creativemarket.com for inspiration and was not let down. I downloaded these images and started designing the invitation. I kept it simple & straightforward and used card stock I already owned; free is always good.

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Once I had the invitation designed, we focused everything around fiesta, cacti, and the color green.

To eat, Caleb made our family favorite – home-made Chipotle – seriously the best recipes here! We have not tried the guac recipe, but the rest are on point! If we let them, all the kids would eat the rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ok not really, but you get the idea! For desserts, yes plural! I made birthday cake pops, coated in lime green with chocolate sprinkles to look like cacti pokes. I also made and decorated, with help from Jack, cactus shaped sugar cookies, cutter was bought here. Then I made 4 cakes. Yep, you heard right. 4. I made one 9″ 2 layer round cake for guests. I made one 3″ round cake for Harv to smash that was identical to the larger one. Lastly, I made two 3″ round cakes for my Dad and Father in Law, since Harv’s birthday fell on Father’s day! I designed by cakes using a picture from pinterest – a petal design ombre but instead of blue like the pic I used green with our theme.

To decorate, I made an “all about Harvey” board – which now the rest of the kiddos want at their parties each year ha! Green pom poms, an “uno” banner for the high chair, green and yellow balloons, a special huge cactus balloon and a cactus runner, made by my Mom. I know how to sew, I really do. She taught me, but I don’t own a sewing machine and she is faster and I’m busy. She also used the fabric from the runner to make Harv a special “1” shirt for the party.

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My favorite decoration though, was the wall of crepe paper and baby pictures, which I don’t even have a picture of! I alternated kelly green and lime green crepe paper to form a backdrop. Then I used twine and mini clothespins to hold up his weekly & monthly baby pictures from 1 week old all the way to 11 months. It was Harv’s favorite thing too; he loves babies! He had zero clue it was himself. Ha.

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For his gift from Caleb and I, we made him a wood busy board with all the things he loves: light switches, locks, lights, & door stops, etc. Fast, easy, and he was not lacking in the toy department.

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Even though it was on Father’s Day, the food was a little behind (we celebrated Caleb a little too long), Harv refused to touch his cake, and it was a scorcher, we had a blast and officially have a happy toddler! #momcries

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Seriously. Never going to get all 6 looking at once. Still love ’em.

Happy official summer now!

 

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Happy 1st Birthday

Our dear wild child, Harv,

This has been the fastest year of our life! It is unbelievable you are 1 today! You bring so much joy and love to all of us we’re thrilled you chose us to be your family.

Not every day is perfect, in fact until recently you’d love to have a mini party with mom every 2 am. Some days Dad got to join in, too. In case you didn’t realize it, we’re too old for that now. Your sleep schedule is nothing to brag about and you’ve got this crazy temper when you don’t get this way. Terrible twos are very frightening for Daddy and me.