Friday, December 12, 2014

Life Lately

I have a feeling from now on posts will look a lot like this. To be honest, I’ve started using Tumblr to share highlights of the girls with our families and I love that I can upload pictures from my phone a lot faster than writing a blog post. So as a result this blog is getting a bit neglected. And let’s be honest, it’s the best time of the year and there’s no way I’m missing out on that.

BUT we have been up to some fun things.

1. Elizabeth is potty-trained. Hallelujah! It was a very painless and easy transition. We realized she could hold it right when she turned two and we were visiting a splash pad. So she’s been ready for awhile but we held off due to the new sibling piece. Happy to say less than a handful of accidents later, we’re in the clear. Cue the happy dance that we only have one in diapers (sans nap/bedtime for E)

2. We are on the hunt for a mini-van. Cue the happy dance as well. I’m sure I will feel like I’ve really arrived into motherhood when I sit in the front seat and drive my happy crew around. That last part was sarcastic because if you drove along with us at certain times (thank goodness it’s not that often) you’d hear Elizabeth screaming “Be Quiet” to her sister who’s screaming her head off. The other day at a stop sign I got it on camera and it is the FUNNIEST thing ever. We’ve had to be careful though because that big sister picked up on its hilarity and loves to communicate like that. So now you hear all sorts of “That’s not a loving or kind way to speak to your sister” even though our minds are crying…yes, I wish I could yell that out! HA!

But mini-van. We’re stuck between going for the Town and Country because they’re nice and less $$ and a Toyota Sienna. Alex is certain it’s an “Apple vs. PC-drinking the Kool Aid” type of thing…saying people have been brainwashed by marketing to believe one is really better than the other. I don’t really care what we get as long as it has leather seats. I’m so over cloth with kids. I already told him I didn’t need to be there to test drive, hoping he begins to believe that as he would like to test drive with all 4 of us present. Um, you crazy? Did you not watch the screaming children video I just took. Ha!

3. I’m excited for Christmas and yes, I’m excited for all the gifts my children will receive. Obviously I’m fully aware that’s not what it’s about, but if they’re going to get things I’m glad they’re getting what they are. I rarely buy a toy. In fact I’m having a hard time thinking of toys I’ve bought this year, so I’m ready for some fresh new things for them to play with. Myself included. We do the whole 4 gift thing (want/need/wear/read) and even then she’s getting art supplies and puzzles. Because our kids are so young and our family sticks to our Amazon wish list, they get things we “need.” Most of the toys they are getting expand imaginative play and re-stock our art cabinet. I’m sure when they get a bit older I’ll be all over the experience/membership thing, but for right now we’re good stocking our playroom.

4. This season is going by so FAST. I just dressed our little peanut into 3-6 month clothing. Little Megs is so teeny. She weighed in at a hefty 11 pounds and just hit the 18% for height. I love how different kids can be! She’s been the greatest. Seriously. I’m sure it partially has to do with the fact that I’ve been here, done this before. I can actually figure her out. I can read her signs. It all seems so obvious this time around. She’s such a mellow kid unless she’s tired…both my kids were that way so we’re protecting sleep as much as possible, which isn’t really all that possible but somehow it’s working out. I’m dreading the day we transition to the crib. The rock n play is amazing.

5. We planned our vacation for the winter and I am so excited. I know there may be pangs of jealousy but winter hasn’t been that bad yet, has it? Probably has. Alex says he suffers from SAD and who am I to argue:) Orlando because it’s a direct flight and there’s golf and a resort with a pool. That’s all we need…and my mother to join us of course. Looking forward to doing life somewhere other than home for a week because let’s be honest, that’s all vacation looks like with little ones along.

6. We’ve had our Christmas tree up for some time now and I’m loving this season of Advent and Christmas with our littles. Elizabeth is totally into the tree and the songs and the baby Jesus. We’ve managed to read most of the days in Anne Voscamp’s new book and although they may be a bit over E’s head they’ve been great for my heart. And we’ve made some cookies and declared Friday nights as Christmas movie nights. On tonight is Frosty or Charlie Brown. Haven’t decided yet! It really is the best time of the year. But now we need some snow!

So there you have it a little peek into our life as of late.

How’s your advent/Christmas/Holiday season going thus far? Favorite traditions?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Monthly Meals…An Update

We are into our third month of monthly meal planning and I’m back with an update. I’ve had a few people ask how it’s been going and so I thought I would check back in. To be honest, I think this “spur of the moment, cook by the seat of my pants” girl is fully converted. I LOVE it.

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That last little phrase is one I really, honestly never thought I would udder. But as we’ve gone on I’ve realized a few things that happen as a result of my monthly meal plan.

-making dinner is less stressful (note I didn’t say NOT stressful. It’s witching hour, y’all)

-we save money (because I’m not buying things haphazardly and then wasting them)

-we waste less food (our refrigerator is SO empty at the end of the month…it’s great!)

-it still allows for flexibility (we keep at least two days/week open)

-you grocery shop less (this one actually makes me sad because I adore grocery shopping but with two littles in the cold winter, it’s actually a bonus)

The first month we planned our menu for the month was the month following Meghan’s birth. We were blessed by so many incredible people and were brought so many delicious meals that I only had to make a handful of things. The bonus was that many of the meals could be postponed until November. So we’ve now successfully finished our first month and I just did the shopping for December. Yesterday the girls and I hit up Costco and Target for our staples and monthly needs. After this one big shop of the month I tend to run to the store once a week to replenish things like milk and get other things that may have been missed.

I’ve found that by spending a couple of hours before the month begins to plan the menu and walk through our kitchen with my master grocery list, circling what we need, has been so helpful. I have a list of 45 or so of our favorite meals documented that I pull our menu from. That way we  start each month with a stocked kitchen, meaning any meal on the menu for the month can for the most part be swapped for another (unless some random ingredient is needed). Plus it allows for me to plan our menu with grouped items. For example, if I have the menu planned out I am far more likely to reuse a leftover or ingredient and remake it into something else because I’ve purposefully planned a meal that sounds good. Also we have a leftover night planned into our week…usually Wednesday or Thursday. We are not huge leftover fans in general so whatever I make Monday/Tuesday is usually what is up for grabs later. I plan for this. Tonight I made this amazing Potato Leek Soup paired with a salad. Wednesday it will get paired with paninis and then be gone. Makes me feel better especially if I don’t want to or can’t eat it for lunch the next day. And the menu is posted in one of our cabinet doors so I can always reference it.

Since I’m usually an impromptu cook and we like to randomly go out as a family I worried that we would waste food. But I’ve found the opposite to be true. Because there are so many options for the month and we have two nights that I don’t plan meals for we can easily move and rotate depending on our moods. I’ve already swapped things because we had the ingredients or didn’t have them. It’s super flexible.

Also did I mention I’m less stressed during the most stressful part of the day. Seriously. I used to try and menu plan by the week but to be honest, it was just more of a headache because we’d miss meals, waste food, etc. Not too mention that every week I had to sit down and plan things out. Now I only have to do it once, I have most of the ingredients in the house for almost all of the meals, and the recipes I’ve been using are our favorites and are pretty tame in terms of prep/execution. I’m pretty certain Alex has enjoyed knowing that dinner is on the table, usually hot, and I’m not calling him to pick something up on the way home.

So there you have it. I’m a monthly meal planner convert.

And I LOVE it!

Monday, November 24, 2014

thoughts on my birthday

Today I spent the beginning of my 34th year putting up our Christmas tree. I think this is a first for me on my birthday…a head start due to Thanksgiving travel and Advent starting the day after we return.

And it was quite possibly one of the better birthday’s I’ve had of late. My amazing mother in law had taken care of Elizabeth a few times over the course of the past week including yesterday afternoon so Alex and I could do just what I wanted. Run errands. Seriously. I chose in good conscience to run errands with my husband coffee in hand. And to be honest, I can’t recall the last time we did that. Window shopped, sipped coffee, did a few returns and bought a few fun things. It was fantastic.

I’m tempted to write “that’s what life has become…running errands as a birthday wish” all full of fun sarcasm and yet I wrote it and deleted because it’s not true. I was reminded this morning as I awoke to silence and the heard the littles awake, how much I’ve wanted this life. This life where on your birthday you run errands because the days are so full loving on littles.

I’ll be honest…the almost full day break, the sleepover, and the afternoon alone with my husband gave me plenty of time away from those girls but my heart ached for them to return. That’s the way it is as a mommy.

And so, on the eve of my birthday I sat on the counter with Elizabeth sharing a bowl of pasta because I hadn’t eaten dinner far later than she should have been awake. And we spent today making a royal holiday mess in our house because we had to examine and talk about every thing we brought out of the boxes. And I’m so glad I chose to slow down today.

To enjoy all those little stops and starts without any agenda for the day other than getting Chipotle for lunch because we have no food in our house. And God showered grace upon me because Meghan slept the entire time at the restaurant, our newly potty trained 2 year old told me she had to use the bathroom and we made it in time, and our lunch was delicious, not too mention the company in which it was eaten was fantastic. I mean how can you not love a 2 year old that looks at her half of the burrito bowl and says, “chipotle, get in my belly.” (side note…a burrito bowl with a tortilla on the side is the best bang for your buck. I love burritos but the bowls are easier for e to eat so it’s a win, win.)

A good friend reminded me today about how grand this life I’m living is. Just four short years ago I truly believed I’d never be a mommy. And now this. Mess and chaos and chocolate ice cream dripping down chins. Discipline mixed in when things don’t go quite right.

This was a random array of thoughts, but I don’t want to forget today. Because it was one of the best birthday weeks, not to mention actual birthday, I’ve ever had.

I’m going to blink and before I know it more years will pass…just as I was reminded when I posted a picture from my 21st birthday 13 years ago on my sisters facebook page. 13 years ago. So much has changed and yet it feels just like yesterday.

blink and life passes by.

andrea, don’t let the minor things get in the way of embracing those littles and loving them fully. you’re going to blink and life is going to pass you by. put your phone down. don’t worry about capturing the perfect shot. just take it all in. observe and treasure. and join right in.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Why Meghan?

Evelyn.  Catherine.  Isla.  Adelaide.  Meghan. 


Names leading the way throughout the process of naming our girl. This time around choosing a name for our second daughter proved far more difficult than we imagined. Almost everything we liked the first time around, wasn’t a great option this time.

We did a similar post on Elizabeth’s name and I thought it would be nice to have a similar post for Meghan.

We are very aware that once upon a time, not so long ago, Megan was a VERY poplar name. Thankfully the number of women Alex and I know with the name is not that many. So when we began paging through the name books, Meghan was an early contender that caught our attention. We had some criteria that we used for Elizabeth and most of them hold true for Meghan as well. Here they are:


1. Traditional & easy to pronounce & spell (our last name dictated this point)
2. Has nickname potential but we like the given, full name
3. Can stand the test of time…not childish or juvenile
4. Has meaning
5. Not a family name

Meghan actually has been around for quite awhile as a pet name for Margaret but only has become popular in the mid-20th century. We loved that it was traditional, easy to pronounce and spell (although she’ll probably always have to say Megan with an “h”!) and is NOT at all common for babies right now. When we named Elizabeth her name was around 40 or 50 on the top 100, the year she was born her name moved to the top 15:/ Meghan is so far down the list that I’m sure it won’t make a come back any time soon.

Like Elizabeth, Meghan has some British ties. While this was not a prerequisite since we love Great Britain, we love that our kids hold some tie to that love as well. Meghan is a popular welsh name.

Meghan definitely has nickname potential…we call Elizabeth “lizzie mae” from time to time and we have definitely started calling Meghan “meggie joy.” Liz and Meg seem like great names for sisters to have:)

As far as meaning, well Meghan for the most part means “pearl.” And she is our pearl of joy. I take it one step further and think about what comes to mind when I think of pearl. For me a pearl is something rare, precious and unexpected because not every oyster has a pearl. For us, Meghan is our rare, precious, and unexpected joy because she came as a very much desired surprise.

And of course, for us Meghan is not a family name.

I love hearing how others go about naming their kids. It’s fascinating and I’m incredibly curious.

So, how do you go about naming your kids?


I love hearing how parents come to name their kiddos…any criteria you have in naming babies?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Recently I’ve Been…

 

Making: Cotton ball snowmen and lots of warm apple cider. I love apple cider and Costco has some of the best for just $3.99. Elizabeth is really into crafts so we’ve had lots of fun creating and coloring. Yesterday we spent part of the afternoon gluing cotton balls to paper…always amazes me how the simplest crafts can make the littles so happy. Between play-doh and paint our new little art space gets quite a work out. I can’t wait for her to open her arts and crafts box for Christmas!

Cooking: Scrambled eggs? That’s Elizabeth’s favorite breakfast and if we don’t offer it she’ll barely eat anything. But as for our family, well…the amazing kindness of new and old friends was incredible. We had meals a couple of times a week for the past month or so, so I’m just getting back in the groove. Last night we roasted a chicken and today Elizabeth is at a Nana sleepover so I’m thinking we won’t be cooking much.

Drinking:  Apple cider and Lime La Croix. And the occasional glass of red wine.

Reading:  Mountains of library books and the Read-Aloud Bible Stories by Lindvall. In my attempt to make Bible reading an everyday occurrence these books are great. Wishing I had time to read fiction or anything that wasn’t mail or child-oriented, but it will come.

Wanting: To not wish these days away. I’m not a “baby” person so this time has been a bit stressful for me but I don’t want them gone. Trying my darndest to breathe in every moment as I know she’s our last.

Looking: so forward to seeing my family for Thanksgiving and enjoying the holidays as a family. I love this time of year and it always brings me a lot of joy.

Playing: Tea party with Elizabeth (the girl could pour coffee and bring me tea for hours!) and Motown on Pandora. Seriously Motown always puts a smile on my face and I love dancing along with Elizabeth.

Sewing: Ha…no time for that:)

Contemplating: This new season of life. I knew when we moved churches last Winter that it would impact my friendships. But honestly the change that accompanies moving churches and meeting new people has been one of the hardest things of these early days with two. I really have missed my friends, my good friends, because we all have new schedules and the times we had cemented in to see each other (Bible study and Small group) just are not a part of our routine anymore. It’s life and seasons change, but oh how I miss them. All that said, the new friends I’ve met have been so loving and gracious so that has been a blessing.

Enjoying: the silence when it happens and solo time with each of our girls. Snuggling with Elizabeth when Meghan is sleeping and vice versa are life giving to me. It’s been a bit harder for me honestly to bond with Meghan but I know the days are still early and it will come, especially as she continues to grow.

Liking: the change of seasons and the fact that Christmas is on the horizon. I’m also loving watching both girls grow. With the arrival of Meghan it seems Elizabeth just totally grew up. And most days I like the rhythm of our life. Oh and how great my back feels after an adjustment at the Chiropractor…nursing and carrying babies and all that goes along with it is no joke.

Wondering: How moms with more kids do it. Some days I look around at our mess of a house and wonder when I’ll get back into a groove and get my act together. And then I remember just to keep giving myself grace…it’ll come.

Hoping: That one day all the clothes in my closet will fit again and I will be able to wear more than one pair of pants that I just bought in an entirely different size. Slow and steady…just being honest.

Marveling:  still at the fact that we have two girls. This is our life and we’ve said it to each other so often that our family now feels entirely complete. God definitely has a way of working all things for good.

Needing: the sermons our Pastor has been preaching on relational intelligence. Seriously…I’ve got so much work to do on being a better friend, not putting my foot in my mouth, etc.  A good season of being refined.

Wearing: Whatever I can find that fits and looks semi-decent. And loving scarves…perfect for nursing and make me look semi-presentable.

Following: my niece and nephews on Instagram and daily laugh out loud at what they are posting. Makes me feel so near them even though they are 5 hours away.

Smelling: The cinnamon scent of Thieves because we’ve been applying it liberally to keep colds away. Still loving our oils and hoping they continue to help ward of the sickies.

Noticing:  The amount of time I spend on my phone and am trying to desperately remedy that.

There you have it, a glimpse into our day and our life. Here’s the best of the best pictures from Meghan's dedication this past weekend. Seriously…one day we’ll all look at the camera!

(and yes, I purposefully dressed us all to coordinate. It’s a sickness I tell you!)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It’s on Sunday’s I remember…

“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand…”

Those years past I didn’t know what He was doing. He called us out, asked us to walk in faith, our infertility and loss a mystery. And yet, even as He called us out and walked with us, He allowed our faith to stand.

And it’s on Sunday’s I remember you most often. As I stand in worship at church, thinking and heart swelling, that we are singing in unison. You and me. Though I never touched you, never smelled your newborn scent, never sang to you…it doesn’t really matter, because when I open my mouth in praise I know I join you in the heavenly chorus.

“…Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now…”

The Lord created you both with purpose and He took you both home with a purpose. That I am sure of. And I know had you come, your sisters would not have. And had you not first made me a mother, I may have never mustered up enough hope to think He could create life again. His grace abounded when He gave you to us, even just for mere days. His hand overflowed with blessing and though my feet began to slip and I feared it would never happen again, the Lord you stand before and worship never failed your mother when He took you home.

He was faithful. I look at those pregnancy tests that told me I was a mother when the lines intersected and I think of you and who you would look like and my heart overflows with thankfulness that He showed His goodness when He gave us you. To think, I am the mother of four children; two in front of me and two I can only hope to meet.

“…Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.”

When your daddy and I began trying for babies we asked the Lord for children because we knew we needed sanctifying and because we wanted to raise up children for the Lord. Little did we know that in praying and asking those things, we would walk a road neither of us could have imagined. Years of treatment and uncertainty, two babies lost too soon, and then two babies given to life here on earth. When He called us to walk the road of parenthood, He took us deeper and our faith was made ever stronger.

And though I would love to stroke your cheek and kiss your soft head and tuck you in and give you a name, I wouldn’t take back the years the Lord gave us in knowing Him more. Because I know that where you are is where you were created to be.

And it’s on Sunday’s I am with you again. As I sing out in praise I know my voice is joining yours as we worship our Savior together. You and me. He has not left me without a chance to be with you, for in worship our hearts are knit together. The only difference is that you are standing face to face with Him who has given and has taken away.

So it’s on Sunday’s I remember you.

{in remembrance of the two babies the Lord gave us for a short time in honor of October 15th…Infant Loss Awareness Day.}

**lyrics from Hillsong’s Oceans**

Monday, October 13, 2014

2.5 Weeks In

She’s 2.5 weeks old already. We weighed her yesterday on our scale at home and it said 8 pounds even. It’s already beginning…the number of times I’ll say this time is going too fast. And I feel even more it’s good to make note of the days before they pass too quickly and my sleep deprived mind forgets. I made notes in Elizabeth’s early days and they are still some of my favorite to look back on.

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A Look Back at your First Week

9/25/14 – You were born at 5:55 pm

9/26/14 – after just 36 or so hours after checking in to the hospital we brought you home.

9/27/14 – we took our very first, very short walk around the block.

9/28/14 – your first time to the park that is literally less than 1/4 mile from our house

9/29/14 – first trip to the pediatrician’s office

9/30/14 – first trip to Target as a family of 4

10/1/14 – first trip to storytime at the library

10/2/14 – first time to BSF (One week old!)

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Meghan at 2.5 weeks

Your first week home was a bit of a blur. Grandma came to help the day that we all came home from the hospital and just 24 hours after arriving she slipped on a step and broke her ankle. Mommy took her to the ER while daddy stayed home with you girls. After all that crazy she stayed for a couple more days and snuggled you up.

At 2.5 weeks old, you are just starting to wake up a bit. Up until now, you would eat and then fall right back asleep and now we are able to see your beautiful eyes a bit more often, thankfully not that often at night! You continue to be a textbook baby…Elizabeth was textbook with a bit of grumpy and we have yet to see the grumpy come out in you. Although it’s still early and I KNOW this will all change probably daily or weekly until you are older, but as of now you are a sweet and content baby. Especially with a sister who loves to cuddle you and squeeze you up. You rarely cry unless you have a gassy tummy or need help going back to sleep. At night you are sleeping longer stretches, longest was almost 5 hours. Usually you wake 3 times in the night, 3-4 hours from your last feeding so mommy is actually getting some good stretches of sleep.

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Mommy at 2.5 weeks

This time around Mommy was a bit smarter. We all learned a valuable lesson the first time around with your sister and so I have been really diligent about making sure I am not over-doing it. It may seem given the list of firsts during your first week that we did a lot but I can assure you that we did not.

After Elizabeth was born, I didn’t know how to just sit and relax. Because she slept so much and I felt pretty good, I jumped right back into life full force and as a result ended up struggling with PPD and being really frustrated towards Alex. I kept our house, went about errands, and resented the fact that he didn’t help more. Before Meghan came we talked a lot about how things would look. We enlisted my mother to come and stay for a bit (although that looked much different than expected) and we worked far more as a team. After a couple of days home it became evident that my day would go much easier if we did something that was regular and consistent for Elizabeth. She was acting up a bit and as soon as we started to go out a bit more it ended. I really think she was just bored.

This time around I should also mention that recovery was far easier. I didn’t tear and didn’t need any stitches and so my soreness was quite decreased. Nursing came easily to Meghan and I and so that didn’t take a lot of learning either. Other than our short walks or short trips out for an hour or two in the mornings, I’ve been laying low at home. And that means for the most part our house is a mess (for us). It’s a phase but we’re giving each other grace this time around and both pitching in because we know the payoff of me taking it a bit easy is worth it.

We still head out most mornings to do an activity or we just stay home and play downstairs. I shower every other day it seems so far and take naps most afternoons. Thankfully I’ve been getting some good stretches of sleep at night and rest in during the day. I’ve realized it takes a bit more planning and prep at night to get out for activities, but it seems having done this once before definitely helps. I know what to expect (for the most part), I know when to rest (for the most part) and I know when to let things go.

As far as postpartum depression goes, I’m really trying to only do what I can and let things go which is really hard for this German girl. I want to do everything myself…obviously help is appreciated! Alex has been amazing again this time around and so helpful. It has really helped that his schedule has been a bit flexible allowing for us to have man to man coverage for outings and just extra hands for cuddling and hugs. We’ve been trying very intentionally to have special time for Elizabeth…which is easier right now while the baby still sleeps quite a bit.

One day we will climb out of this mess but right now it’s a mess I’m delighted to make.