Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Quick Recap of Our Week

This has been a hard week for me in so many ways. I don't even know where to begin. Our toddler has had many accidents recently, despite going months with no potty accidents. I think she's sick but can't quite decide what she has (a cold, an ear infection, something viral). Maybe she's just growing. It's really hard to know.

Payton also decided to take a nose dive out of her brother's crib this week while her father was getting her ready for bed. He was sent into a panic thinking he was going to have to take her to the ER for a broken leg. Luckily, that wasn't the case but she is bruised badly and has been sore.

As I watch Payton growing so much cognitively, I can't help but feel so sad about how my baby really isn't much of a baby any more. How does time go so fast? Why can't we go back and restart?

Along with mentally struggling this week, Riley decided to spend a bit more time awake at night. I also added to this problem by going to bed later at night than normal. I feel physically exhausted and mentally drained. Thank goodness it's the weekend.

Despite all of this, I still have so much to be thankful for and appreciative of:

These are the moments that make life so worth while. A good laugh at snack time, a snowflake party complete with fairy wings, a sleeping baby, finding a stick that reaches "high up to the sky," a happy baby, a cuddly toddler, and outside play. These events lifted my spirits this week and reminded me of the greater purpose I'm serving.

And, in case you're wondering, yes, that wild, curly hair absolutely matches her personality! Isn't it gorgeous though?

Have a great Saturday!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Toddler Tales

Payton keeps us entertained always. I mean always. There is rarely a dull moment with a toddler around. I thought I'd share a few of the fun moments she brings to our household.

She always wants a "tweet," which means a treat. Bribing her with a treat works in our favor at the time. Double bonus, she views almost all foods as treats, including fruit.

Where she used to get dressed as soon as she woke up, she now begs to stay in pajamas but add a "tutu." A tutu equals any skirt. 

Notice the pajama bottoms? At least she's half dressed. This fairy outfit is a huge hit with her as well as a pair of wings (she badly wants to fly), a Minnie Mouse and Cinderella costume, and her actual tutus. Please note that she is practicing running in this picture. She practices every day now. 

I can't control the hair. I seriously can't. It gets fixed many times a day but between rolling on the floor and jumping on couches it's constantly in a state of messiness.

You will regularly find us in the kitchen, where we love to bake as much as we love to eat. Payton constantly asks to help and spends most of her time as our helping sidekick. 

And this is what we get when I let her dress herself:

Headbands, sun hats, and "tutus" galore.

What's life without a little flair anyways?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Beauty of Disney on a Thursday

With another snowstorm blowing through, we spent another day stuck indoors. I really wanted to shake things up but that can be hard after a long night of almost no sleep. I decided the best I could do was give in and turn on the tv. Sigh.

As I was scrolling through our dvr, I noticed we had Cinderella on there. Can I just say, I love a good Disney movie. Since Payton hadn't seen it yet, now was the perfect chance to introduce her. Payton, meet the wonderful world of Disney. Disney, meet the wonderful toddler, Payton. And, thus, their relationship begins.

I couldn't believe how sucked in she was. She danced through all of the songs. When Cinderella got her ball gown on, Payton ran to get her "tutu." 
She was just the sweetest to watch. As Cinderella lost her shoe, she went and grabbed her white shoes. She only put on one. Gosh, she picks up on so much these days.

Riley and I sure love to watch her and become a part of her world.
Isn't he so serious? He loves just taking us all in. Believe me, we keep him entertained.

So, another day is almost done for us and I just can't help but be thankful. Maybe being stuck indoors isn't that bad after all.

Happy Thursday! 

Soaking Up the Scenery

Although I am a city girl, I have found living in the country offers a sense of peace you can't find in town. Don't get me wrong, I have a soft spot for hearing traffic, people, animals, and a general sense of life when inside city limits, but sometimes the sound of nothing brings me a sense of peace. Maybe it's because I now chase two kids all day long. Call me crazy but kids seem to have a way of making one fight for every second of quiet that they can get.

And then, in the middle of the quiet moment I was taking for my own personal sanity, I captured the most beautiful moment. A moment of my daughter playing with my husband. The contentment that comes with knowing that while one child is safely playing with your spouse, the other is tucked in their bed taking a nap is overwhelming. It brings peace to my soul.

Sometimes, I just get lucky enough to capture these said moments. I tuck these minutes away as reminders of how beautiful life can be, in the country, surrounded by the sounds that only a toddler child can make. A sound of my family that I have created.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Toddler Activities: Learning to Pour

I have several friends on Facebook who are always (and I mean always) putting up pictures of their toddlers doing Pinterest worthy activities. I won't lie, I used to struggle with seeing these pictures. I have many days where I'm just lucky to get through the day doing the bare minimum.

Eventually, I came to a point where I enjoy seeing the pictures of my friends being so productive. They inspire me for moments when I do have time to throw together a little activity for my toddler, and they save me time searching on Pinterest. 

We had a free afternoon a few days ago so I decided it was time to work on Payton's pouring skills, which were almost nonexistent since I still do pouring tasks for her. I laid out a waterproof mat and grabbed a handful of towels to prepare for the cleanup this project would require. We have several containers and water pitchers that work perfectly for pouring water and I just added in a few of her play toy cups for her to pour the water in. 

To make it a little extra fun, I added food coloring to the water so she could see several colors. They all ended up mixed together but she had so much fun watching them mix.

This activity took 5 minutes to throw together and my daughter played for almost an hour! She had so much fun. It worked well inside but would make an even better outside activity. And guess what? I underestimated her pouring abilities. She may actually get to start practicing this skill more in the kitchen now.

What toddler activities have you done recently?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Our 6 Month Old

Today, our baby boy turns 6 months. He has definitely grown like a weed in the last few months and I'm amazed at how much bigger he is than his sister was at this age. He is definitely the most patient baby and that bodes well for him in this family.

Age: 6 months

Stats: I'm actually not entirely sure how much he weighs. I'm thinking about 20 pounds. I also don't know his length. I will post an update after his next appointment.

Nicknames: little boy, big guy, and baby. He is always "baby" to Payton. We actually mostly use Riley.

Milestones: He sits up by himself unattended, for the most part. We continue sitting with him as he does fall over occasionally. He loves to babble talk, blow bubbles, and laugh.

He is sitting in his high chair and has had his first food (oats and breastmilk). He so far isn't a fan of food... yet. 

Riley sleeps well most nights, with only getting up once typically. He is still swaddled with his arms out. He is also still in the bassinet. We tried the crib one night but getting out of bed 100 times to put a pacifier in his mouth didn't work well for me. We are hoping to make the transition to the crib soon.

Favorite things: Riley loves bouncing in the exersaucer and exploring all toys with his mouth. He definitely loves his big sister, possibly more than his mama. He lights up whenever she is around. He kicks like crazy trying to move and keep up with her. It won't be long...

Signature moves: Moving his arms and legs like crazy. At night, he flaps his arms so they hit the sides of his bassinet. He is quite the splasher in the bath tub. He loves to arch himself around to try and see the tv or his sister playing. He must have something in his hands at all times. Chucking his pacifier across the room and then screaming for it to come back to him is also a fun game. Recently, Riley has started to spit constantly and he's decided he loves the sound/feeling.

The most notable move he has is when his sister's baby dolls are being handed to him. He reaches for those babies, holds their hands, squeals in delight, and loves them like crazy. It is such a sight to see.
Riley, you bring so much to our family. We look forward to watching you continue to grow. We love you more than words could ever say.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Go To The Library

If you have been following me for awhile, you already know I love libraries. My love has only deepened since having my kids. First, they offer free activities there and the option to continue the fun at home. For kids, ours has a play area, story time, puzzles, and computer games. My daughter loves to bring home new (to her) books and "moos" (movies) to watch. I love that the movies have to go back before I'm forced to watch them for the 395th time.

My daughter has also increased relationships with other children her own age, learned to patiently listen to stories being read, and has deepened her relationships with the librarians. They address her by name and want to know her. I have loved watching her grow at the library.

Today, after story time, one of my daughter's favorite librarians introduced her to the computer games. This was something I have avoided because I knew it would make it very challenging for me to get her to leave. Of course, she loved playing Dora with help from the librarian. My days at the library will never be the same...
The library holds a special place in my heart and will now also hold very special memories for me as I've watched my children learn and grow within these four walls.

So run, do not walk, to your nearest library. You won't regret going.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Breath of Fresh Air

Since getting snow at the beginning of the week and low temperatures, we haven't spent much time outside. Actually, we haven't really left the house this week at all. Payton also got sick mid-week adding to our list of reasons to stay inside. Talk about being couch potatoes.

Eventually though, we became stir crazy. Payton was starting to feel more like herself so we bundled up and headed outside to play for a bit. A breath of fresh air and burning off some energy never felt so good!
Someone is learning how to make snow angels.
I think we only made it about 20 minutes before we felt like icicles and headed inside for hot chocolate. It was a good break from being stuck inside though. Don't worry, our baby boy didn't come out with us. It was too cold for him.
He patiently waited for us to come back to him and his daddy and laughed as we told him all about our outside adventures. Payton loved explaining to him what snow is, how to sled, and showing him what a snow angel looks like. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Starting Up a Daycare

It's been a few years now since I became a part time employee and turned my focus to raising my precious babies. As we ended 2015 with putting a lump sum payment on our mortgage, I'm finding inspiration to keep the momentum going for 2016. 

As many ideas to increase our family's income spring to mind, one that really pops out (and comes to my mind frequently over the years) is starting a daycare. This would certainly require being available at most hours of the day and wouldn't be the easiest option. My easiest path would be to increase my part time hours with the job I currently have. The struggle with this is finding the time to sit down at the computer. With only a few hours of having a sitter come over each week and 2 kids needing me constantly makes getting any time logged a real struggle. 

Why a daycare? I love kids and having my own children has helped me to better understand how much I love being around children. Viewing life through their eyes is the best. Also, my children would be participative at this day job. 

So I may not actually be moving forward with this idea just yet, but I am going to continue exploring this idea. Minus the pay, aren't I practically running a daycare as it is?
So, I'm hoping to increase my financial contribution for my family this year, I'm just still trying to figure out how I'm going to do that. 

Any ideas?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Reflection on 2015 and thoughts on 2016

The 2015 was a good year for our household. We went from a family of 3 to a family of 4. Our bundle of joy has brought so much more to our family than we could have imagined.
We also added 2 cats, by accident. Both wandered into our backyard as kittens, about a month apart, and we kept after no one claimed. They have made the perfect addition to our little family.

We actually survived several family road trips with less issues than the year before. Traveling with littles is, um, challenging to say the least.
When I quit working full time (now work extremely part time), I made a promise to my family to continue to find ways to cut down our expenses. This was a good year for that, with most of our savings made in the kitchen. I converted to freezer meal planning, learned to make more food items from scratch (bread, hot cocoa, oatmeal, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and tomato sauce). We also continued to throw any extra money towards our mortgage and we are starting to really feel the progress. We still have a ways to go though, with anticipated pay off to be in 2020.

Thoughts on 2016:

In the past, I have loved making resolutions and want to share a few goals for 2016. My first and foremost being that I want to give up coffee. Since having my daughter, I found coffee to help me keep up with her. I have had periods of time where I went without coffee and I personally feel better overall when I'm not relying on coffee. Last month, I was drinking 1 cup a day and then I transitioned to only having coffee when I felt too tired to go on. My hope is that when I run out of coffee I won't feel the need to buy more. 

Despite traveling going well in 2015, we are contemplating staying home for the holidays in 2016. We think it may be time to start our own holiday traditions as a family. Of course, everyone is welcome to join us in our home if they want.

The last major goal I have for our household is to focus on a diet change. We eat almost all meals at home and I make most foods from scratch, but I have noticed some foods (homemade bread, brownies, cakes) are adding a bit to our waistlines. At the beginning of the year we were eating much healthier than we ended the year, so I'm planning to stay on the healthy track this time around. This goal is getting kicked into high gear this month as I take a clean eating course.

Finding time to exercise is just as challenging. With 2 kids, it's hard to find the time and energy. I don't think getting up before the kids (I see bloggers getting this in at 5:30am) is right for me. I'm currently working out with my kids in the mornings and plan to keep that up as long as it continues to work.

Bring in 2016!

What are your resolutions for this year?

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