January Review

Sometimes it feels like the days and months tick by and not much happens. When I take the time to look back, I am always blown away by how much, both big and small, has actually happened. January was a good start to the year for us. It started with a trip to LA, seeing old friends and going on a fun family adventure. The kids got a new cousin. Callum started cruising around holding on to things, and learned how to crawl up the stairs. Connor celebrated 100 days of school. Ian and I snuck out on a couple date nights. Life really is all those little moments that you forget about, but when you look back on them, they are so beautiful and precious. Enjoy this little recap video from our January.


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Throwing Me for a Loop

Third child in, and I am experiencing something I've never experienced before. About a week ago, Callum started standing up in his crib EVERY SINGLE TIME we would put him down. Because of this, he has been fighting sleep hard core. Before, I could put him down for naps awake and he would go to sleep. Not this past week. At night I take the freaking long time it takes to get him to sleep laying down. But, during the day is a different story. I usually don't have the time (up to an hour at times!) that it takes to do it before we are on to our next school run, homework time, etc. And it's made for a rough week. Callum gets over tired, clingy and cranky. I too feel over tired and stretched in every direction with getting him to sleep consuming so much of my time.

When this first started, I thought maybe this was a milestone I blocked out of my memory with Connor and Isla. But, after talking to other moms, it appears this doesn't happen to all babies. And the ones that it has happened with, the moms seem to give me a very knowing and compassionate look. So THEY KNOW. This wasn't even a club I knew that existed. And though I am now a member for life (hahaha, so dramatic!) I am hoping my initiation won't last too much longer. I mean, one has to question how long a kid will think it's super cool to stand before deciding to sleep!

But seriously, if anyone has gone through this and has any tips, I am all ears. At the moment I am holding Callum in his crib until he is calm, thus no longer trying to get up, then I sit next to the crib and put my hand through the slats and touch him until he falls asleep. Which, side note, those slats sure don't have much room between them! Needless to say, it's a process.

Oh parenting, it sure keeps you on your toes! But seriously, just look at that cheeky grin of Callum's in that first picture. It's what keeps me smiling, even in my seriously sleep deprived state...because he now also stands and screams every time he wakes in the night too.

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Parenting Differences

A few days ago I was basically told by a mom of one (who's dear child isn't even yet one year old) that I was not parenting right in a certain area. Now, I am sure this person didn't mean to knock another mom down so hard. I am guessing she is still new to the game and doesn't yet realize the party line of saying "what works for our family". Of course the reality is, she was also knocking how I have done things for my children on a milestone she has NOT YET COME TO with her child. So she literally has zero experience in this. Zero. Yet apparently I haven't done a good job.

I took this and let it eat me up inside. It hurt. I wanted to hurle all sorts of insults back at her. But I knew that wouldn't help. And I honestly don't think she realized how truly insulting she was being to me anyway. Well, after about a day of trying to talk myself off a cliff (of attacking her back, not of jumping), I remembered POOPCUPS. I actually couldn't remember exactly what the term was and googled "parent of one poop child under three" and found just what I was looking for. It provided me with some much needed laughter and some perspective. It also reminded me how guarded I need to be with my words to others.

Parenting is a serious gig. And very many of us put a lot of thought, research, prayer and tears into our parenting choices and decisions and to have those choices directly attacked is very personal and very hard to swallow. It really is what the mommy wars are all about. People not thinking or using the right wording when discussing other people's choices. This whole thing really serves as a good reminder to me to watch what I say and give grace to everyone...because no parent and no child is perfect.

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Discovery Cube LA

^^ This earth hologram was so neat. Isla ran circles around it for a few minutes. 

^^ They had the coolest interactive grocery store. The carts had a game on them and you went and found certain products. There were two different games to play and two different age levels for the games.

^^ Connor practicing his hockey goalie skills

Going back a couple weeks...the first week of the month, we went to LA for a few days. There is always a plethora of things to do down there, so I started looking into things we have never done before and decided that Discovery Cube looked pretty neat.

I have to say, I was pretty blown away by this place. It definitely isn't set up for little kids like Callum, but around age 4, I would say this place is amazing. There are so many interactive and random things to do. The entire hockey section was so cool. Then there was the grocery store, the garbage sorting game, the helicopter tours, etc, etc. This place really was amazing.

I've been to many children's museums in many different places. And though I wouldn't classify this as a true children's museum, since there really was no play areas for little kids (just that one picture of Callum was really the only time he was allowed down to play), it really is a cool place. It was super clean and there were just so many unique things to do. Both Connor and Isla really liked it.

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Loving enough to say no

Saying no in today's society seems to have such a negative connotation. But why? It really is a good thing, a healthy thing, to have boundaries in all aspects of our lives - relationships, food, posessions, etc. Yet, we seem to put on a pedestal the people that are yes folks and crucify the no ones. Of course, we like to act that we respect people's boundaries, but we don't. Each and every time we ask something of someone, not thinking of the sacrifices they will need to make to say yes to you, we are proving we don't respect people.

The truth is that in saying no, it gives us the freedom to say yes. Yes to the things that enrich us, encourage us and lift us up. All of this happens by learning to say no.

Loving (insert practically anything here) enough to say no.

my kids
my husband
my friends
my parents
my God

Though saying no can feel uncomfortable and more difficult in the moment than saying yes, it doesn't mean it's the wrong choice.

Saying no to my children's constant requests for things makes the yeses that much more exciting. Saying no to the constant, "Can you help...?" that come at us from school, church, friends, work, organizations, etc. frees up my time to say yes to those things when they truly matter to me, and not hold a grudge by doing something I don't really want to be doing. It also frees up my time to be a better mother to my children, wife to my husband and friend.

When we say yes to a request from someone, it generally comes at a price. Sure, that may not be a monetary price. But it costs time and energy. And by saying yes to one person, we may be then saying no to the very people or things we are truly wanting to say yes to.

Saying no to food that doesn't make me feel good, allows me to say yet to the many whole foods that don't wreak havoc on my digestive track. Saying no to the constant requests for things from my children allows me to teach them to be content. Saying no to the constant time wasters allows me to be there for my family in ways I am often needed most. I can go on and on.

It doesn't always have to be time wasters that I am saying no to. Saying no to things that are going to cause unneeded anxiety and stress in my life are also healthy things to say no to. Creating boundaries not only for my own health, but also the time and health of my family are important. Did you get that, they are important.

By saying no to certain things, I am saying to my children, to my husband, to my body, YES. I am saying I value you enough to say no. I value you enough to be present. To have time for you. To feed you (hello, self) to the best of my ability.

Learning to say no to the wrong things and yes to the right things (which are generally the things staring us right in the face and never asking) truly is an act of love.

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Our Bedroom

I never really liked our bedroom in our last house. I was practically embarrassed of it and never really showed it off. I closed the door when people came over and certainly never put pictures of it up on my blog. It was small, dark and had the most stained up carpet in it. When we moved out and that carpet was ripped out and those original hardwood floors refinished (not to mention the walls being painted), my heart jumped a bit. Alas, I never lived in it in that state. I lived in it how it was and I treated it how I felt. It became a dumping ground for anything and everything...before Callum came along and we had to make space for another roommate in that tiny room! 

Anyway, our bedroom in our new house is literally the opposite of our old. It is a true master bedroom. It has a bathroom attached. Something that we have for the first time in 13 years of marriage. And, I have to say, I totally love having our own bathroom. Anyway, this room is larger, brighter and has beautiful hardwood floors. Since moving in, we painted this room, added baseboards, installed a ceiling fan and got some furniture. Just in October we got "adult" dressers. Before, we had been using dressers from Ian's childhood. I also scored our headboard from craigslist. And we replaced the curtains that were in the bedroom when we bought the house. My newest addition to the bedroom is the house plant. And I totally love it. It makes me ridiculously happy. No joke. A house plant. I know, it doesn't make sense, but the plant actually makes me smile. Eventually I would like to find a big rug that would go under our bed, as well as night stands and some sort of fun (I'm picturing something hanging) lights for either side of our bed. Oh, and I have my eye on an industrial laundry hamper. 

In the mean time, enjoy what our room looks like now...I know I certainly do. I mean, I actually make my bed now because my room just brings me such joy. And, if I actually get the opportunity to nap (which rarely happens with three kids anyway!), I just mess up the bed. #nuffsaid


^^ How can you not smile looking at that beauty?!

^^ This picture man. Circa 2001. I had bleached my hair and was growing it out. But look how happy we were. We apparently didn't care about the hot mess that was on my head! Oh, and that heart shaped rock I picked up off the beach in Hawaii this last summer. 

^^ I literally fretted so much about what to hang over our bed. In the end, I went with two pictures of us, printed on wood. Which my brother made fun of because apparently he doesn't decorate his room full of pictures of himself...to each his own, I guess ;)

^^ My aunt got us this pillow as an anniversary present one year. I love personalized things, so totally dug it.

In case you want to see more of our home, here's a bit about how we found it, what our living room looked like (i've already rearranged it and changed some things) and Connor's room (before I decided to have Connor and Isla share a room). I'm one of those people that love's rearranging and changing things up, so our house is ever changing.

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Callum's first dentist appointment

Callum had his first dentist appointment last week. It happened to be on his 13 month "birthday". He still only had five teeth. The dentist said that all that really means is he will probably hold on to his baby molars much longer than other kids. But, she saw it as a good thing, given that it gives him more time to "practice" his brushing and flossing on non-permanent teeth. I have been taking the kids to the same pediatric dentist for years and this is the first time she has told me to plan for braces. Of course, I got a laugh out of that and made some comment about everyone having braces. Which is true. But, it's also true that Callum's bottom teeth are coming in both very crowded and very crooked. My bottom teeth were always much more of a problem than my top, so I can relate a bit. Other than that, she said his teeth look great. Her and her assistant seemed surprised that Callum immediately stopped crying after the exam and still liked them. Of course, that doesn't surprise me much, given his smiley and happy disposition.

Of course, fast forward a week and Callum is super sick and not his happy self at all. It's actually really sad. He never just cries all the time and that's how the past couple days have been. I have heard people referring to the sickness as "the plague" and I am starting to understand why. The poor guy is miserable. Here's to hoping he is on the mend soon...and that no one else in our house gets it!

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Splish, splash

With the only bathroom being downstairs in our new house, and all the bedrooms being upstairs, we had kind of abandoned bath time after we moved. The kids happily switched to showers and Callum just hung on the shower floor with whoever happened to be showering at the time. Or Callum was also treated to a sink bath, if dinner got too messy. But, with it being winter, the shower floor got a bit cold and we seem to have taken up bath time again.

I have to admit, I forgot the joy of watching a little one in the bath. Callum is past the stage where I literally have to sit there ready to rescue him at any moment. In fact, he is currently in the sit-stand-sit-stand-sit-stand stage. I thought it would give me a heart attack, but he actually handles all the up and down really well. Not to mention, he seems so incredibly pleased with himself and laughs with joy each time.

It's so fun rediscovering the joy of the various stages of babyhood. The bath phase really is a good one. Kids love em and moms love the break! Of course, with three kids to bathe, bath time for each kid doesn't last as long as say when Connor was little...oh man, I remember him having some super long baths...like so long that I had to add hot water. Like I said, kids love em and moms love the break.

P.S. Don't mind the booger in the first two pictures. Callum was just so full of joy, so I was too busy capturing the moment to wipe the boog from his nose. 

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4th Annual Christmas Card Challenge Winners

I feel like every year the cards keep getting better and better. And I totally love it. We got so many creative and fun cards this year. We got beautiful, fancy cards. We got funny photos, beautiful photos. We got a lot with handwritten notes this year, which I really enjoyed. In fact, I was inspired to keep the back of our card blank this year, so I could write notes on there. Sure, I didn't do notes to everyone, but it was fun writing little notes to those we don't see very often. We got so many amazing cards this year, I actually thought about adding categories...but I didn't. Now, without further ado, the 2016 winners:

First to arrive:

My friend Heidi is always great about getting her cards out early. She has won in this category a few times now. Her card always arrives before I have even ordered mine! 

Best handwritten note:

To be fair, I don't think anyone could have topped this card. Just seeing the envelope made me giddy with excitement. That Amber is such a dear and special person to me. Her whole family is. But I will say, people really upped their game this year with handwritten notes. It even inspired me to write some notes on some of my cards. 

Besto photo:

It's hard to top a photo that makes you laugh. 

Best update:

Their update included highs and lows for each family member. Not only were the highs and lows witty and funny, but when getting a sister was listed on both categories for one of the kids, I was hooked. 

Best overall:

I picked all my favorite cards and had Ian help me pick the winner in this category. I had several picked out and all for very different reasons. Alas, I went with this one because I loved all the pictures they included. And the sense of adventure this family has is palpable. 

Now for the moment everyone, or possibly no one except my cousin, has been waiting for...who will take home a bag of coffee...

Best overall!!! Our friends who aren't even on social media...so won't know they've won until they find me creepily staring in their windows with a bag of coffee in my hands. Hopefully they won't shun me forever for putting them on the internet for all the world to see. Either way, they won coffee, so they should be happy ;)

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Can I be honest for a minute? The day after Christmas I nearly had an anxiety attack from all the stuff that found its way into our house over the two previous days. Though I am not a minimalist, I don't like clutter. And though I am not an amazing organizer, I like things to have a "home" within my home. Instead, I was met with great piles of things that needed to work their way somewhere into our home.

For Christmas my kids got an unrealistic amount of stuff. It blew my mind. It also obviously blew theirs. Not only did they never ask to watch tv on Christmas, but also in the days that followed, they asked every single person we saw if they got them a present. So. Incredibly. Embarassing. And if someone did happen to get them A present, they responded with "Only one?"

Here I spend so much time and energy trying to keep our home peaceful. And I also tried so hard to keep Christmas as least materialistic as possible (each kid gets three gifts from us - wear, play, read) yet that's exactly where it went. And there I was, on December 26th, feeling so incredibly overwhelmed with all the stuff we had gotten and trying to find homes for it all.

I took the kids to the playroom and had each kid pick five toys to get rid of. It literally didn't even make a dent. That's embarrassing to me. Especially embarrassing because I don't want to be that person, that family, that places an extreme value on things, stuff. And I almost feel like it's being forced on me. As if I say not, I'm the bad mom or the mean person not allowing people to "bless" my children.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful, I really don't. But when stuff becomes overwhelming, when it becomes anxiety inducing, what is one to do? I really don't have an answer. Obviously a more thorough purge in sin order. But what's hard is figuring out what toys are most logical to get rid of. Is it the ones that take up the most room? The ones that are the least sentimental? Or maybe the ones that are the most annoying?! Because, in the interest of honesty, my children claim all their toys to be their favorite and too special to part with. But now that we are in January, and the kids are headed back to school, I am sensing a major purge and reorganization of the kids stuff coming my way...which, incidentally, I swear the kids have so much more stuff than Ian and I.

How do you part with kids clutter/cherished items in your home? Do you involve them in the process?

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