Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Random Facts about Me

As I sat down today to type this post I thought giving some random facts about myself might make for an interesting read. Here is what I can come up with:

1. I avoid going to the grocery store.

I would guess that I only go to the grocery store about 12 times per year. I know I have had a few years that would be much less than that. How do I do that? I plan ahead for almost all meals (or else we'd eat out a lot), purchase most of my fruits and vegetables through bountiful baskets, buy my chicken through co-ops, do freezer meals, and we buy our beef through a family member each year.

Recently, I have started occasionally using the grocery pick up services offered by some stores (like Hyvee). We don't live in the same town the Hyvee is in but if I am already headed that direction I place an online order and pick it up. This helps me stick to my grocery list and I never have to actually set foot in the store.

2. I love to read.

It gets harder to find time to read with children, but I do try to make this a priority. The current book I am working my way through is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. So far, it is so, so good.

I have a long list on my phone of books that I am recommended to read. I am slowly making my way through that list and adding to it as I go.

3. My husband and I have been together for a good chunk of my life.

I have dated my husband since high school. We will celebrate 8 years of marriage and 14 years since our first date in February. Wow! That's a lot of time and quite the commitment. It isn't always easy that's for sure. Add in several houses, 2 towns, 2 dogs, 2 kids, 4 college degrees, and several outside farm animals later and I couldn't have asked for a better life.

4. No opportunity to learn is turned down.

I love to learn and have a tendency to go full throttle when I am engaged in something new. I am currently very interested in minimalism and have been learning about this concept every where that I can. In no way do I think I could be a minimalist but, as someone who borders more on the hoarder side of the spectrum, I think there are some valuable tools and lifestyle choices I need to adopt. Immediately.

5. Our household is very frugal

We work hard to keep our cost of living as low as we possibly can. You can read more about what we do to save money here. To stay motivated, we talk about our goals frequently, use a budget, and follow several frugal blogs.

6. It takes me less than 30 minutes to get ready for my day

If we have no where to be, I most likely will stay in pajama/work out clothes all day. However, if I do have to go somewhere, my hair and makeup is done in less than 30 minutes. This is quite the change from before children. I can actually get myself and my 2 kids ready and out the door within 45 minutes when I have to, sometimes 30 mins if I move really, really fast.

7. I love coffee and I despise this fact.

For most of my life I was not a coffee drinker. Add in 1 baby and I became hooked very quickly. I love coffee but am not proud of that. It's not the coffee that is the problem but the extra stuff I love to add to it (hello, creamer). If I could change one thing about myself, it would probably be this, yet I seem to lack the motivation and energy to do so just yet.

8. I want my kids to know the quiet life.

This was a large part of why we jumped on the chance to move into the country. I grew up with my time completely scheduled (more like over scheduled) and was involved in every extracurricular I could be in. Sure, I loved all of that but challenges came for me as an adult. Suddenly I had an open schedule and had no idea what to do with my time or how to be alone. It was a good learning lesson but we would like to raise our children in a bit more slower paced life. There is something to be said about someone that knows how to sit in the quiet and be alone with themselves.

9. I have a masters degree in counseling.

I went to school to become a counselor. I enjoyed working on this career, but having children sidelined this for me. For now.

I still find this degree helpful as I interned at a children's behavioral clinic and learned many techniques that I implement with my children daily.

10. Ireland is on my bucket list.

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do! As with many things, traveling was pushed to the side when we had children. Some day though, we will pick up the pace with traveling again. When we do, Ireland is definitely on my dream list. Of all the places I have traveled before (a good chunk of the United States and many different locations in Mexico), home is my favorite places of them all.

There you have it. Some random facts I can think of off the top of my head. I would love to hear some details about you and your life! So give it to me, what are some facts about you? I don't care how random they are!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Winter Ice Storm

Earlier this week we prepared for our first ice storm of the year. We never know if we will lose electricity or not so we plan larger meals that are easy to eat (leftover roast, hard boiled eggs, supplies for sandwiches, oatmeal on hand, etc) just in case. Before the storm came though we decided to take the kids to the park despite the chilly temperatures.

Payton had been begging to go to the park for about a month since we hadn't been there since October (before the cold weather came). My mom made the kids some blanket coats for Christmas and they are working great for traveling. You just throw the hood on them after you buckle them in. They are also the perfect addition for the kids when in the stroller. If Riley was cold, he would have let us know as he has a very low tolerance for being cold. He didn't make a peep the whole walk. Payton also started sleeping with her blanket coat at night because she loves it so much! You could purchase this similar Car Poncho from Amazon or look at pinterest for ideas of how to make one yourself.

It started to rain at our house that evening. The next day, we woke up to an ice covered wonderland. It was beautiful. My husband's work was cancelled for the day due to hazardous road conditions and I was relieved we could all enjoy it without risking our lives by driving around in it. I don't think my pictures nearly do the landscape justice but these are some shots I got of the storm:
Seriously, so pretty. I love the white, cold, and silence that being outside brings after a winter storm. Nature has so much to say when you take the time to listen. I'm always reminded of this during these times as I heard the trees crackle and pop from all the ice on them and the ice patches give a little as you glide across.

Back indoors, we had a pajama party with our Holiday Family Matching Pajama set and Payton wanted a few family pictures to remember the occasion.

She loves using a selfie stick. We spent the rest of our time baking, playing cars and restaurant, and reading our book collection over and over again.

After several days of being cooped up in the house, we were very excited to return to our regular schedule midweek. This was Payton's first week back at gymnastics and she was so excited to have her new gymnastics leotard on. With the cold weather, it was time for a Long Sleeved Leotard. She had a blast at class and has spent all of today teaching us gymnastics.

Yay for Friday! What are your weekend plans? My mom is coming to visit us and the kids have been bouncing off the walls in anticipation for her arrival!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

This post contains sponsored links from Amazon.

This post has been linked up with the following link up sites: Teaching What is goodModern mom blog, and Epic Mommy Adventures

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Preparing Your Toddler for Baby #2

The other day I flashed a glance at posts I have started but never finished. There were only about 11 of them, but each of them are posts I would still like to finish. Some day. Maybe.

Although it has been awhile since I was preparing for my second baby (who is now 18 months) this still seems to be a relevant question with friends and family members as they are preparing or planning for their next child. Adding another child to the mix will certainly mean a transition period for the entire family. Although your toddler may not completely understand what adding a sibling means, you can definitely prepare them for what is to come. The unknown is a lot scarier for us humans than the known. While you are planning for this transition yourself, be sure to take the time to prepare your babies as well.

Sibling rivalry and some struggle can still be expected with the addition of another child but could possibly be lessened if you have put in the prep work before baby. Here are some things to think about that may help you:

1. Read books about bringing home the new baby
There are so many books out there for children that focus on a new baby coming home. The picture below shows a few books I had in my own personal stash. We also went to the library and found additional books and read them frequently. These stories are a great starting point for children and can lead to some additional discussion about what it means to bring home your new baby.

The New Baby and The Berenstain Bears' New Baby were great books for my daughter to use as she prepared for the new baby.

2. Include them in anything you can
This is their baby, too, and they want to be involved and included as a family member. Even though they are young and it can be challenging, bring them to any and all appointments you can. My doctor was awesome and would let my daughter help measure my stomach and use the fetal heart doppler. We always celebrated that she found her baby's heart and she absolutely loved being that involved.

I also involved her in pulling out our totes of baby clothes and sorting them. Yes, this can be a challenge with an active, busy toddler but she absolutely loved showing me her favorite outfits and planning to dress her baby.

3. Let your child practice with a baby doll
Get your hands on a doll and let them start to practice holding a baby, changing a baby's diaper, feeding a baby, and putting a baby to sleep. Most likely, they won't be doing most of this when baby is here but this will help your child to understand what babies need.

4. Involve them in sharing the news
Again, this is their baby, too. They should play a huge role in helping to share the news. Whether it's announcing the pregnancy, announcing the gender, prepping the room for baby, and/or announcing the due date get them involved. Try to get them so excited about it that they really want to be involved. If they are really verbal, we would call the grandparents after every appointment and let our daughter give them the updates.

5. Have them take a sibling prep class
Our hospital offers classes specifically for preparing siblings for a new baby. Ask around and see if you can find something in your area. This will also give your child a chance to be around other children who are preparing for the same thing.

Bringing a new baby home can bring on so many emotions, both good and bad! Offer your child as much support as you can as your family prepares to start another chapter.

Congrats to you and your newest addition! I hope you found this helpful! If you are reading through this and are preparing for your first child or are looking for a quick, easy read, check out this book for some additional information:

This post contains sponsored links from Amazon.

This post has been linked up with the following link up sites: Teaching What is goodModern mom blog, and Epic Mommy Adventures

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Update: Riley is 18 Months

I can't help but shed a few tears as my littlest little is 18 months today. Yes, it goes by fast. With two kids it seems to go by even faster. I'm snuggling my two babies as much as possible these days for I am fully aware of how quickly this time will pass me.

Riley, you are 18 months and continue to bring so much balance to our lives! You spend most of your days with 2 bossy females and you are the most go with the flow personality I know (it comes from your father). Your patience continues to surprise me as you are ordered around constantly by your bossy sister, who happens to be your most favorite person in the whole world.

Let's take a look at Riley's stats!

Age:  18 months
 Stats: No idea on the weight and height. Mom fail as usual on that end. You are in size 18 month and some 2t clothes. We are getting very close to your 18 month clothes being put away all together though.

Nicknames: Riley Bug, Buggy, Baby Riley. Not sure these will ever change.

Milestones: You are really increasing your verbal skills. You started to say "cereal" today and you sometimes put together short sentences like, "I said stop," "no thank you," "yes, sissy," and "yes, please." You are working on jumping and are starting to get your feet off the floor a bit as you spring through the air. You also want to master a somersault and catch chickens like your sister so, so badly. As we work on counting skills with your sister, you will sometimes say one through three perfectly. 

Riley still struggles with sleep (as mentioned in this post yesterday). He is the best napper though!

Favorite things: Riley's favorites include: food, trucks, books, balls, bath time, naps (still with the paci, sigh), playing follow the leader, and playing any game that includes dumping and throwing. Needless to say, toys are constantly dumped and we are working on throwing only appropriate items and not hitting anyone. 

Riley could easily take 2 long baths each day and tries to request them both in the morning and at night. He almost always has a ball with him. 

Signature moves: Turning his head to the side when his answer is no and saying "mama" on repeat until he is picked up. He would prefer to spend his hold day being held. Riley is a dancing fool (just like his sister) and dances constantly, especially when he's excited. We frequently witness him dancing when someone comes to get him out of his crib, when he gets to take a bath, and when he's getting a preferred food (bananas, cheerios, hot dogs). He's also very in to sporting his sister's accessories (hats, sunglasses, necklaces, and bracelets).

I can't end this section without mentioning that he is also known for constantly having a bruise from a trip or fall. There's almost always a bruise on some part of his face. Currently, he has a bruise on his forehead from falling while dancing right into the wall where it comes to a point in a corner. I seem to be making a daily call to my mother or husband to conference with them on a fall Riley has had and decide whether he should go to the ER or not. So far, no ER trips but I feel like my days are numbered on that.

Here's a quick movie I put together of some recent videos I have:

Riley, thank you for being you. We love you so, so much and can't wait to see how you continue to grow and change as your personality sprouts up even more!

This post has been linked up with Modest monday link upNourishing Joy link upWhat Joy is Mine link upEpic Mommy's link upOur simple homestead link upteaching what is good link upthis toddler life link upcreative kids link up, and the Chicken's chick link up.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Day in Our Life

By far, my most favorite posts to read by other bloggers are posts that look at their typical daily schedules. I just love to see how others live their lives, schedule their time, and what their priorities are. Since it has been over a year since my last day in the life post it is definitely time for an update.

We now have an 18 month old (almost but it's official tomorrow) and a 3 1/2 year old. I think I have been waiting until I had a "normal" schedule to do another post but that day never has really come. I'm learning that with 2 active littles there may never be a consistent normal. We continue to ebb and flow and change to meet our children's needs constantly. Nonetheless, I want a screenshot of this period of my life, so let's get to it:

Night: I have to start with this because how our night goes seems to directly impact what our day looks like. Riley has hit an 18 month sleep regression, is teething, and is still getting over a cold so there's not much sleep happening here with him. He's up every 1-3 hours at night lately. Payton was sleeping all night with no issues but since Monte had his appendix removed she started getting up once each night. His surgery definitely scared her.

So, not much sleep at night is happening but both children seem to be playing catch up by sleeping in each morning. I can't complain about that! There's always coffee to help me fake it 'til I make it as well.

6AM: Monte's alarms start going off for him to go to work. Since I've had a night of almost no sleep, I fall back asleep.

8:30AM: Payton wakes up and comes to get me up. We sit and rock in the living room and she tells me about her dreams and plans for the day. She sometimes sits with me until brother gets up or we will play quietly with toys (cars, pretend restaurant, and babies are her favorite at this time). Sometimes she will convince me to let her watch a show and "rest."

9AM: Riley wakes up. He has been getting up about this time for about a week but before that he was getting up at about 6:30AM. I think he's up so much as night he just can't help but sleep a bit longer. He wakes up happy and wanting to see "sissy."

I get breakfast going and feed the kids. Most breakfasts are super easy like pancakes (from my freezer batch), oatmeal, cereal, and/or toast. Each meal is typically loaded with fruit and both kids almost always have a banana with this meal. Some days both kids help me make meals and other days they don't. Today they sit together and wait patiently.
As you can probably see, both kids are definitely still getting over a cold. Payton looks a bit under the weather.

9:30AM: We finish up eating and the kids decide to color while I get started on chores. Today, I gave them a newspaper ad because Payton wanted to make a grocery list.

I then feed the chickens and our outside cats (Riley joins me but Payton waits at the door for us to return), start a load of laundry, and then start on picking up the kitchen. This is what I have to start the day with:

Beautiful kitchen right? Okay, we don't like it either. It's original to the house and we plan to remodel it but are still figuring out exactly what we want to do. Until then, it stays as it is.

It would probably be in my best interest to clean the kitchen before I go to bed but that just doesn't happen. I would rather relax with my husband. Instead, I give myself about 15 minutes to dedicate to cleaning in the morning.

This is as good as it gets but, for us, it's good enough for us. I'm trying to worry less about the cleaning and focus on just enjoying the time I've been gifted on what matters.

10AM: By now, I've got most of my morning chores done and I will play with the children. I let them lead the way in what we do. Payton is really enjoying having pretend weddings and birthdays, dancing, practicing gymnastics, driving trucks around, and playing library right now. Riley will follow suit with whatever she wants. He also almost always has a ball (or 5) that he's throwing around the house by this time.

I love their bonding, but seriously, they can be a little dangerous.

11AM: Despite sleeping in, Riley is already asking for a nap (yes, he asks for a nap, something his sister would NEVER do). I like to hold him off as long as possible so I convince the kids to make lunch. We typically have leftovers. Today we just make a loaded chef salad. We work on counting with Payton as we eat lunch.

11:30AM-12PM: Somewhere during this time Riley finishes eating and requests his nap again. I clean him, change his diaper, and get him ready to take a nap. He hugs and kisses Payton and we go to lay him down. I rock him for a few minutes before laying him down in his crib. Payton finishes her meal and listens to children's nursery rhymes during this time.

Once Riley is asleep, this becomes a great time to spend quality time with Payton. Lately, I will pull down toys and games she has that Riley isn't old enough for yet like Candyland, toys with little pieces, and painting. Today, we walk to get the mail together and then she asks me to rock her before she starts quiet time. This cold we've all had is definitely slowing us down.

12:30PM: Payton starts quiet time. She must lay down but is allowed to look at books and has a few quiet toys with her.

During this time, I do whatever is needed. If I haven't gotten much sleep the night before I will also lay down. Today, I fold a load of laundry and catch up on some shows I have recorded.

1:30PM: Payton gets up and requests we play cars. I play cars with her until her brother wakes from his nap.

2PM: Riley wakes up. Both kids are always asking for snack at this time. They eat snack and then ask to bake something. We get started on brownies.

This is basically another free period where I try to do whatever the kids want to do. If we could get outside, we would but our winters are too cold to go out for long periods of time. We change up the rooms of the house we are in and find plenty of things to do in each area.

3:30PM: Monte normally comes home and the kids are ecstatic to see daddy and show him the surprise they made him. From here, our day will go by very quickly and become quite a blur. I don't know how that always happens, but it does.

We sit down and have a small brownie each. Since there is another adult around, I typically try to sneak off and take a shower at this time. I know, it's very late in the day, but that's just how it goes. The kids always have lots to show and tell their daddy so they spend a good chunk of time talking with him and wrestling around with him.

4:45PM: This hasn't changed in any day of our life posts I have ever done. Dinner is started. Since having Payton, she demands to eat at 5:30 (actually 5 most days but we push that out as far as we can). As I'm about to start spaghetti, my mother calls and offers to buy pizza for us tonight. I don't want this to sound like this is normal as this, in fact, may be the first time I can think of that my mother has done this. In any case, we jump on the offer and celebrate not having to cook tonight.

5PM: We load the kids up and head to town to pick up the pizza my mom has graciously offered to get for us. We come back home and eat. I take a quick video of the kids thanking my mother for the meal.

We would have loved to have her there as well but she lives a little over 3 hours away from us. This was quite a treat for us.

After eating, we clean up and then spend some time with the kids. Again, we are doing whatever the kids choose to do. Isn't that how it is with most parents? Please, tell me it is.

6:45PM: We start a bath for the kids. Payton refuses to take a bath tonight, which has been normal lately. We make her take one every other day so tonight she gets out of it. She sits on the ledge of the tub and reads stories to her brother while he bathes. It's very sweet to watch.

7:30PM: Kids are put to bed. This has been the same since their birth. Riley has recently had a hard time with going to sleep so what used to be 10 minutes to get him to bed is now more like 45 minutes. I'm hoping this is a quick stage and he will be back to the regular swing of things soon.

8PM: By this time both kids are typically asleep. Monte and I watch some tv, get on our phones, and discuss the day. With Riley getting up between 10 & 11PM, I head to bed by 9 so I can get a little bit of sleep before the craziness of the night starts.

This is somewhat of a typical week for us. We continue to go to our local library one morning each week for story time. Payton is also in gymnastics one afternoon each week. I also take the kids to visit an adopted grandparent in the nursing home once a week. I continue to try to keep our lives as quiet and slow as possible so my kids can grow and play as they need to.

I'm sure our daily schedule will continue to grow and change as the children continue to grow. I'm excited to see what is to come!

What does your typical day look like?

This post has been linked up with Modest monday link upNourishing Joy link upWhat Joy is Mine link upEpic Mommy's link up, Our simple homestead link upteaching what is good link up, this toddler life link up, creative kids link up, and the Chicken's chick link up.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016: Our Year in Review

As I am figuring out how to put videos together, I thought I would try my hand at putting together a video of our 2016. This was a lot of WORK. I thought it would be easier, but I'm telling you I had many hours of footage to sort through. I think my new year resolution this year should be to not record EVERYTHING. I wish I were kidding. I seriously don't know why I think I needed that much footage.

Anyways, we kicked off 2016 with a (almost) 6 month old baby and a 2 1/2 year old. We ended the year with an (almost) 18 month old toddler and a 3 1/2 year old preschooler. This was a great time for a video that goes through a year as you can see so many changes in both our children.

Here are some of the highlights (both the good and the bad) of our year:

1) We had a snowstorm at the first of the year. We were unable to leave our house (and thus work for the hubby was cancelled) for 2 days. We had the fireplace going, watched lots of tv, ate snow ice cream, made snow angels, danced 'til we dropped, and sled outside on repeat.

2) Our "farm" grew exploded. As our kitten that wandered into our lives grew up, she had her first litter of babies. Payton and I got to watch the birth of the kittens while Riley took his morning nap (and the hubby worked). This was a beautiful gift for our household, especially since she wandered out of our lives about 3 months afterwards. We have no idea what happened to her but at the end of the year, we are left with 3 of her 5 babies. Although we haven't asked for outdoor cats at our house, since moving to the country, we have had so many make their way into our little homestead. We are thankful for each one and the time we are given with them.

3) We added chickens (thus exploding #2 above). I was very hesitant but the kids have loved having chickens. There has been so much excitement between raising these sweet animals to collecting eggs. Payton loves sharing her eggs with friends as they leave from visiting our house. We had quite the learning curve with building our own coop and chicken runs. What's next for us? I don't know but I have a feeling this won't be the end of animals. Only time will tell.

4) Riley grew. Through this year he started crawling, walking, and talking. He communicates so well with us. The stage of watching your child transition from baby to full-blown toddler is bittersweet, mind-blowing, and overwhelming. The tears fall just thinking about it.

5) Payton Ruth explored and learned and then learned some more. This girl has hit many cognitive and verbal milestones it's unbelievable. My favorite moment from this year was when Payton told me she was playing "carnastics." This was a combination of her cars learning gymnastics. She could very well be a teacher some day as she loves to teach her toys and brother everything she knows. We watched her learn to catch a chicken, ride a bike, say her full name, swim, and count to 10 (for the most part).

6) We danced. Not a day has gone by that this house hasn't danced like nobody's watching. Since my camera seems to always be on record, you can about guarantee it's likely that someone will be watching. I do hope my children never lose the ability to let loose and dance.

7) We put 1,000 miles on our side road. As you can see in the video, we have a private side road as part of our property with a circle loop to our garage. This road will forever be my most favorite part of our country home. We are out there almost every day of the year walking, running, playing, singing, dancing, and living life. I could possibly live in this house forever because of my attachment to this road.

8. Garden fail. We normally have a big garden but this year it just didn't happen. We got busy. We didn't make it a priority. By the time we did go to start a garden it was too late in the year. We planted only tomatoes (normally those go over well) and didn't have a good harvest with those. Our apple trees and cherry tree also didn't produce as well as they have in the past. On the other hand, our pear tree did the best its done since we moved here.

9. Our acreage lost most of its shade/border trees. The trees we had were full grown and beautiful. They gave us so much privacy. Unfortunately, they got sick (I can't recall what exactly happened) and they had to be taken down. Our views changed greatly. We are now very exposed. We will be planting new tree lines in the spring but those will be baby trees. It will be many, many years before we have privacy again.

10. Our first and second trip to the ER. It took 7 years of marriage and one 3 year old before we went to the emergency room for the first time. This trip was for a severe cut our daughter got on her leg when outside helping her dad. It wasn't as bad as we thought as no stitches were needed, but it was better to be safe than sorry. The glue they used worked great and she was left with no scarring. Right before the end of the year, we made our 2nd trip to the ER with Monte. He ended up having to have his appendix removed and stayed overnight at the hospital.

2016 was a year full of so many ups and downs. I am a bit sad to see it go, but I am looking forward to what this next year will bring. I am still contemplating resolutions.

What was your favorite part of 2016? I would love to read your reviews of 2016. Will you be making resolutions for 2017?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Appendectomy and an extended holiday

We finished 2016 with a bit of a scare at our house. What we thought was some phantom pain my husband was experiencing ended up being an emergency appendectomy procedure. Of course, this was all part of a late evening ER trip, several tests ran, surgery immediately following, and a hospital stay. Although routine, surgery has a way of making you realize how quickly your life can change. One minute, I'm watching my children dance to Mickey Mouse's hot dog song and the next my husband is telling me his pain is so unbearable he has to go to the ER now (we had a doctor appointment scheduled for the next morning). Life shouldn't be taken for granted.

There will always be challenges for our household when it comes to not living close to family (a little over 3 hours of driving gets us to our first relative). The hubby had to go to the ER on his own while I did bedtime routine frantically. When I got the kids to bed, I was lucky to get a good friend to come over so I could join Monte at the hospital. I was there while they prepped for surgery and then I rushed back home to relieve my friend. My mom had packed in 5 minutes of hearing the news so after she arrived late that night after making the 3.5 hours trip. I flew back to the hospital to see Monte post-surgery. I was very thankful for a nurse that texted me updates during the time I was away from the hospital. It was hard to not be there for the whole process and for Monte to spend some time without his support system but when balancing kids that's sometimes how it goes.

The next morning Monte was released to go home and heal. He is limited in what he can do and he can't return to work until after his appointment on Friday. We are enjoying having him around at the house for another week and feel like our holiday has been extended. We are trying to keep things as quiet as possible around here while Monte heals and works towards getting back on his feet.

Happy New Year! I hope your holiday wasn't as wild as ours was or that if it was wild it was wild in other ways than ours was! 😉

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