Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Life As We Know It Lately...

I'm having a hard time remembering when life was a busy as it is right now…  It seems as if we have slipped into a routine of working days, whirlwind evenings, and weekends that are missing the downtime that we are used to.  I thought a little tour around my house might give you an idea…

We have a kitchen under construction…again.  I guess the counters and backsplash just didn't do the trick.  Hopefully the painter will be able to put this project to rest before the end of the week.  For whatever reason, having painting paper on my counters, no doors on my cabinets, and my drawers on my counter makes me feel…just like that…like my drawers are on the counter…if you know what I mean.

We finally finished a month-long project of painting our entry and all hallway trim white with gray walls.  I love it.  It was worth it.  Well, now that it is done, it was worth it.  Good thing I'm not writing this on one of the many nights I was complaining about having to work on it.

Despite the construction zone, traditions must be kept in tact and Christmas arrived at our house in regular style the day after Thanksgiving.

Haven't seen much of my feet lately.  I'm happy to report though, that I am still able to wear heels just fine.  Something has to draw attention other than this giant belly!  Visions of middle names swirl in my head every evening.  The first name is a lock, but for whatever reason we are just having a hard time committing to that middle name.  I need to come up with something to use when she gets in trouble!
Despite how crazy-busy we have been, I have tried so hard to keep my focus on family.  Dinners together in a jumbled up kitchen, shopping for adopt-a-family together, reading new books, cuddling on the couch, and tiny little hands on my belly, waiting for a kick from their sister.

I can see my kids changing before my eyes.  Myles is turning seven next week and he is a kid.  Literally, a school-aged kid with his own opinion on everything, his own way to do things, and his own little life he is living.  Jillian seems to have changed so much in the last three weeks or so, I find Ben and I making eye contact in agreed disbelief as we listen to her thoughts on whatever subject is the current hot topic on her mind.  She is so independent, responsible, and frankly we can see the "kindergarten shift" happening before our eyes.  Our little girl is ready for new adventures and I can't believe we are so close to those changes.

And…then I think about starting all over again with this tiny (actually not so tiny according to her last ultrasound) little girl.  It is scary and comforting all at the same time.  Scary that we are entering the baby phase all over again, this time with two active and vibrant older siblings.  Comforting that we have another new life to care for and watch as she goes through the stages that her siblings have discovered before her.  We are not done with those sweet baby days.  We have one more set of them to enjoy.  Luckily, Myles and Jillian couldn't be more excited for the baby's arrival.

I guess this post turned into a jumble of thoughts (what's new I guess).  My point is, as the holiday season is upon us, we are all busy.  I certainly don't recommend more than one home improvement project during this time of year, but either way…we all have extra things on our to-do list as we prepare for the holidays.  My goal this season is to enjoy every minute of the craziness.  Soak in all of our special traditions that make this season special in the first place.  I want to remember the reason for the season and make sure that my kids have their focus in the right place as we approach Christmas.  We may be crazy-busy, but we are crazy-good and I'm so thankful.  (Just please don't remind me that I need to bring all the baby clothes up from the basement to get ready…that can wait until after Christmas, right? :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday's Love and I'm Better Off Without Lists...

So... I almost forgot this blog address.  I guess things have just been so busy between working, raising two kids, growing another one, dance, football, soccer, you know...all the fun stuff.  Today, I received a note from the editor of a local magazine asking if she can use my photos that she found on my blog for the next issue.  Oh yeah... I have a BLOG!!  Guess I should write something there at some point in October...why not Tuesday the 29th?!  Perfect's TUESDAY!

Love List...

  • Last week we had conferences for both kids.  I love hearing about our little people and their days at school.  This year, my very favorite part was actually when I got home.  Jillian, very intently, asked me, "Is their anything Mrs. M said I should work on?"  She cracks me up.  What four-year-old seeks out constructive criticism?  I guess Jillian does.
  • This past weekend was the Mother-Son Dance.  Look how cute my date was!
  • We are continuously answering questions about how thing are going to be once our new baby girl arrives.  The kids want to have as must prep information as they can and each day they manage to come up with new questions about how our life is going to change.  Today's latest?  Myles and Jillian BOTH want the baby's name to be Madeline.  Ben and I have decided on her name already, but we will not be telling the kids anytime soon, because we both know that my mother-in-law will be trying to get it out of them.  Anyway, Myles declared tonight that he will call her Madeline no matter what we name her.
  • Thursday I will be taking the day off to work to do all things Halloween with the kids.  I can't wait.  I bought a headband with a huge spider in it.  I figure, it won't be long before something like that will embarrass my kids at school.  This year though, they are excited for me to come...wearing it. 
  • I love our new reading schedule with Myles.  Every night, he goes to bed 15 minutes early, but he can read for a half hour...actually going to bed 15 minutes later.  His love of reading is so fun to see and I love to look in on him pouring through chapter books engrossed in a world far beyond his bed.

I'm Better Off Without List...

  • How rusty my writing skills are right now.  Wow...  A month and a half later and I am squeaking along tonight.
  • The Victoria's Secret commercial that just grazed my TV screen.  Seriously, there should be a pregnancy block that you can put on TVs.  I would also probably block those Wendy's commercials with those pretzel buns that make me gag every time I see one.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This Mother's Little Black Book.

Last night Ben went down to the basement to do something and came up with a black notebook.  We used it as a communication notebook anytime anyone watched Myles when he was a little guy.  I remember Ben making fun of me for saving it (and many other little things like it that he must have missed).  It was so fun to read.  Page by page Myles looked through it and read things about his daily life as a 12 month old.  It was awesome.  It also reminded me how wonderful our nanny was for so many years of his life.  From age one to five, one day a week she would come and play, teach, and love him like her own little brother or nephew.  Then, of course, Jillian joined our family and she loved and cared for her just like Myles.  Priceless.  Anyway, I am totally diverging from my point...if I ever have one.

Look at this note.  I wrote one every week.  Like a baby manual, you can read through each daily novel for his quirky habits lately, what I was worried about, or what I prescribed for him to eat that day.  Every detail was accounted for...and if it wasn't in this week's note, check back a few weeks, I bet there is something about what you are wondering.  Neurotic.

Eventually, the notes turned to condensed handwritten versions of the initial night-before typed manuals.  I actually can remember stressing one night at 11pm, because I had not typed instructions yet.  By the time Jillian came along, the hand-written version was absolutely fine with me.  She was younger, but I had relaxed.

With both kids, I remember stressing about various things throughout their baby year.  Both kids hated drinking from a bottle and I would worry they were starving on my days away for work.  That was always my biggest stress.  Yet, throughout those baby years, there was always something for me to worry about.  Shots.  Solid foods.  Accidents.  You know, mom worries.

Do I still worry about my kids?  Of course.  In some ways, it is different though.  They are strong.  They are their own little people.  Now my worries focus more on keeping them safe and helping them be everything that they can be.

As I prepare for number three, I wonder if I will go back to my neurotic ways, or if I will be able to relax and enjoy my last baby experience .  I certainly have relaxed throughout the last six, almost seven years.  It is not for lack of love or care.  It must simply be attributed to experience in my "role".  Like a job that you have been in for a few years.  You know what you are doing.  Confident.  You have handled so many situations previously.

This time around, I also have little witnesses.  Myles and Jillian, who I know will be eager and willing helpers around the baby.  I want them to be comfortable.  I want Jillian to watch her mother, mothering a baby.  They learn so much from watching...more than I could ever tell her.  I want Myles to learn about caring for a baby.  Someday, I hope a wife will appreciate his baby appreciation.

So, my roll with the punches.  To try and not let the neurotic version of myself go into overdrive.  We'll see how it goes.

Monday, September 9, 2013

School Talks.

I've sure been missing all of you lately.  Just when I think I'm done being all sorts of BLEH, I get sick again.  Isn't this all supposed to be done by now?!?  My belly button is flat and tending towards protruding already.  Enough with the "morning" sickness!!  :)

First day of First Grade.
Anyway, we have been loving this back to school season.  Who doesn't love sharpened pencils (hello??  Did you see they were selling them already sharpened this year?!?), new lunchboxes, crayons, markers, pencil boxes, and new friends to greet each morning.

Myles has had many new adventures, including riding the bus to school, a desk that actually opens, and another wonderful teacher to help mold his eager love of learning again this year.

Open house day at Preschool
Today Jillian started her final year of preschool.  She woke up with a confident smile and was ready for the day.  Ready to see some of her old friends, make new friends, and do the things that Jillian does.

Bus waiting buddies

Everyday that I pick the kids up from school there is a battle...who gets to tell all about their day first.  Today was no different, but Jillian took the first spotlight, since it was her first day.  I heard all about the friends she sits by, who pushed who, who finished their lunch last, and how thirsty (read in an exasperated voice) she was on the ride home.  She didn't write her name on the sign in sheet because it wasn't out yet today...her show and tell day will be Monday...and her hair is up because she got too hot with it down.  You know, all of the important details.  I love hearing each and every one of them.  I'm not with her during her day, but her full descriptive account helps me feel that I was. First day of preschool...a success.

Everyday, in between meetings, spreadsheets, and emails, I glance at the clock and think about where Myles is and what he is doing... I wonder if Jillian liked the note in her lunch today... I am hopeful that they ate their lunches, made new friends, and that they were a good friend to someone that needed it....oh yeah, and that they learned something.  No matter where I am, they are always on my mind.  So, when I get the full download in the car about who Myles played with on the playground and how his teacher was "yapping at these kids that were not being good in class today" on the way home, my heart is questions answered.  We are back together after a long day.  Content.

Riding her bike to pick up Myles at the bus stop.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Not To Say To A Pregnant Lady...

Here are a few of my favorite gem comments and questions over the last few weeks.  I thought I would share so you all can enjoy!  I'm so glad I can always find humor in things and it doesn't bother me.  I flourish in their realization of the awkwardness in the comments.  So fun!

1.  Are you pregnant?  Oh good.  I was telling (as she proceeds to list out people's names) that I thought your boobs and butt were a lot bigger.  (Wonderful.  I'm so glad I know that now.  TIP: If you wouldn't typically talk to a women about her body parts before she was pregnant, probably shouldn't afterwards either.)
2.  How old is your youngest?  It must have been a mistake then, right? (Uhhh, noooo.)
3.  Are you sure you aren't further along than you think you are?  (Nope, but thanks for insinuating that I am already huge.)
4.  Are you pregnant?  Oh good.  I was hoping you wouldn't just let yourself go like that.  (Oh, are you pregnant then?  HeeHee!)
5.  When is your due date?  February.  Oh, so May huh....  Didn't you and Ben go out of town sometime in May?  (Let's see appropriate to try and guess when a child may have been conceived.  And no, we didn't go out of town in May.)
6.  Are you sure you are not having twins? (I must look like I am because I have been asked this a dozen times.)
7.  Why would you want another baby when your kids are finally the age that they are self sufficient?
8.  Does it bother you that with the age gap in your children, this one will practically be an only child?  (At six and four, I'm sure Myles and Jillian will grow up alongside this baby just fine.  Not to mention, what is wrong with an only child?)
9.  Why would you try and wear those heels when you are pregnant? (Because I like them?)
10.  A kid at Jillian's school ran up to me and asked, "Where is your baby?"  Jillian answered for me pointing to my stomach... "Right there in that fat."
11.  And my favorite awkward moment from the last time I was pregnant...just for nostalgia's sake...  A male coworker put his hand on my belly.  I put my hand on his.  His response, "Point taken."

Any favorites you have experienced?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday's Love and I'm Better Off Without Lists...First Trimester Edition

I am so happy and thankful to say that this winter it will be baby booties and swaddling blankets over here at our house.  I am pregnant.  I thought today would be the perfect time to share my loves about the first trimester, as well as those lovely things I could have done without.

Love List...

  • The pure joy of seeing that second line on the pregnancy test.  After a miscarriage, I will be honest, it is a joy that is mixed with fears.  Many fears.  Yet, the thought of another child is still full of triumph and hope.
  • The sound of a nurse calling with a happy tone in her voice.  She had good news.  Great test results.
  • Making it past the date in the pregnancy that I lost the last baby.  I love that little one in Heaven and I always will.
  • Despite the fact that I have been sick for seven weeks the majority of each day, that ill feeling is on my love list...since it indicates I have a growing baby. (Yet, I will now officially use it as my explanation for my lack of posts through June and July.)
  • Seeing an adorable little peanut on an early ultrasound with a flashing little heartbeat on the screen.
  • The excitement and joy my kids expressed with the news.  Since then, they have continued questions and discussions about it.  My favorite?  Listening to Myles tell Jillian how it is going to be.  "You know, I've done this already when you were born.  I remember it."
  • A husband that has been so helpful and understanding as nausea has overridden each passing week.
  • Dreaming of tiny fingers and toes.
  • I had a doctors appointment at 11 weeks.  She put the fetal doppler on my belly and immediately found the sounds of the most beautiful little heartbeat.  It brought tears to my eyes, and relief to Ben's.
  • Myles and Jillian are both begging to have the baby sleep in their room.  As an indication of their love and excitement, it warms my heart.
  • Today, sitting at my desk I felt the first little tapping from inside.  Such a welcome and familiar feeling.  Amazing.
  • Talking through names with Ben.  
  • New and exciting seem to come in waves in our family.  Along with the plans to welcome a new baby, I have accepted a new role as Lean Manager at my office and Ben and Josh (his business partner) will open the doors to their second insurance office.

I'm Better Off Without List...
  • A nightly ritual of taking a pill, immediately puking it up into my hand, and then looking down at it knowing I still need to take it.
  • Gaining weight eating food that sounds gross anyway, but you know you will probably feel a little better if you eat something.
  • The growing number of clothes that don't fit, but I refuse to take out of my closet and replace with maternity clothes.  I literally get maternity clothes out of a bin, while my walk in closet remains full of clothes that don't fit.  Not real efficient...huh?
  • I haven't been all that emotional...but I will admit that I cried yesterday when Ben helped me.  Completely irrational.
  • Motion sickness bracelets at work.  I looked like an idiot and I don't think they worked anyway.
  • My butt always manages to outgrow my belly.  Looks like this pregnancy will be no different.
  • I'm gonna need a bigger car...and my resistance against a minivan is getting harder and harder to maintain.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesday's Love and I'm Better Off Without Lists...

You thought I would never post again...didn't you?  Surprise!

Love List...
  • Tonight after dinner Jillian and I did something I can honestly say we have never done before.  We grabbed her pillow and a few assorted princesses from her room and headed into my room to cuddle and watch TV.  It was awesome.  I can't tell you how many times she checked to see if I was sleeping.  Try laying in a bed after a long day all cuddled with a cute little girl watching cartoons and not close your eyes.  It's a true challenge.
  • These past few weeks while I have been missing all of you...we have been visiting zoos, trampoline parks, beach towns, pottery painting studios...playing laser tag, in the sand, the lake, and the boat...bowling, fishing...visiting with family from near and far...and having a darn good time.  I love summer.
  • This weekend we are headed to Chicago as a family.  We go this weekend every year (sometimes with and sometimes without kids).  Our anniversary weekend.  The kids are so excited and we are looking forward to the fun!
  • Going to bed that first night with clean sheets.
  • Myles wrote an adorable story tonight about a squirrel in space. "Squirrel Pearl In Space" to be exact.  I hope I have a budding writer on my hands.
  • Tonight, I got to talk to my sister for a half hour, followed by a conversation with my Mom for another half hour.  Love it.
  • Watching Jillian's little hands painting her favorite color pink on her pottery yesterday at a studio.  She was nervous and wanted help, but she moved her little fingers with precision and she completed a masterpiece.  My favorite part of watching Myles paint?  His pottery selection.  He chose a trophy an wrote "#1 Myles" on it.  He said, "Well, if you can't earn a trophy, you can always make one!!"  Awesome.
  • Michigan cherries.  I seriously love them.  Too bad I left $11 worth sitting on my desk on Friday to come back to the office today to find a furry, moldy mess.  So sad.

I'm Better Off Without List...
  • The upper 60s to low 70s late September weather that has been keeping us from the beach lately!
  • Cracking my iPad screen while changing the cover.  Seriously, I am not that strong.  How in the world could that happen?!?
  • Waking up at 2 a.m. to the sound of a dog puking.
  • Pants.  They are really overrated.  I'm all dresses over here lately.  Maybe it's because it is all that Jillian ever wants to wear...

Monday, July 15, 2013

This Weekend.

For quite a while, Ben's wonderful sister and brother-in law, have been talking about having our kids up to stay with them in Grand Rapids for the weekend.  A couple months ago, they set the date for this past weekend.  I'll be honest...I wasn't necessarily counting the time down.  I love my kids and I feel like I already don't see them enough, so the idea of spending a weekend away from them when I am already away from them far too much during the week was tough for me.  I had threatened Brooke that she might just see me hiding behind the pinball machine at Craig's Cruisers...watching them from afar.  Not at all because I didn't trust them, but just because I would miss them.

I'm guessing Brooke took this as some sort of hint, and found a last minute travel deal and forwarded it to Ben.  So...on Friday afternoon, we dropped the kids off in Grand Rapids...on our way to Mackinac Island.  Pretty awesome sister-in-law, huh?

We had an amazing weekend.  I have a serious love for Michigan.  You know, when I was younger I always assumed that I would move away to some other better state in our country.  After years of travel for fun and for work...I really realized...the grass isn't always greener somewhere else.  This state of ours is pretty darn amazing.  I'm in love with it and every time I get the chance to wander through this awesome state, I take it.  This weekend was no different.  Wanna see a few pics?

There is one way to Mackinac Island.  Over the water. can leave from either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace to reach the Island by ferry.  So...we left from St. Ignace, which is part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  You know why?  You have to go over the Mackinac Bridge to get there!  It may be 15 minutes longer to drive.  Well worth it.
Here is another view of the bridge, from the ferry.
Our Bed and Breakfast for the weekend.  It was beautiful.
Our transportation for the weekend.  No cars on Mackinac.  Bike, walk, or horse-drawn carriage.  Your choice.
We took a bike ride around the Island (about an 8 mile trek).  It was my favorite part of the weekend.  The views were amazing.
My favorite guy.
Arch Rock.
We visited The Grand Hotel.
It's like the saying, "When in Rome."  In this case, it's "When in Mackinac...sit on the porch at the Grand Hotel and drink Big Porch Ale and Lemonade."
It's the largest porch in the United States, you know.  If Bell's names a beer after it, it must be famous.
 We even found an executive putt putt course with 18 pins and real greens to conquer.  He beat me.
The whole weekend together was wonderful.  I missed my kids like crazy, but I loved our time together.  That's what it's all about.  Love.

Oh - and back to that amazing sister and brother...yeah.  Well, I was getting wonderful texts with photos like these of my kids having fun.  So cool.  They made memories to last a lifetime too.
Hope your weekend was fab.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Fourth in Photos

We had an amazing day yesterday...celebrating our great Nation's Independence Day.  It was...simply put...perfect.  We began our day at the Richland Parade.  I've told you before how much I love my town and all it takes is the Fourth of July parade to get me gushing again.  People line the streets of our downtown area in anticipation of the parade.  Friends and family get together to watch.  Last year, Jillian and I were in the parade, but this year...she decided it might be more fun to watch...and catch candy.
So, of course, our very favorite parade entrant included our very favorite guys...

 ...And the whole AAA Gull Road gang.
 After catching more candy than Jillian received on Halloween, and cheering on our friends in so many different floats, it was on to several beach parties for the day.  We had a blast.  I won't mention jumping in the water in a dress to help Jillian when a few too many waves were sweeping her into the dock...

The evening ended in the most perfect way.  On a boat, listening to live music from a party, while we waited to watch the fireworks from the water.  My wonderful mother-in-law brought salted caramels and snacks.  Perfection, I tell you.
The sunset was beautiful.
 Not sure how this could be the best picture of Ben and I...but it was. 
And a few blurry iPhone shots of the fun.
 Hope your Fourth was perfect, too.