Wednesday, February 24, 2016

little gifts [192 - 216]

On this blustery winter day, with winds howling outside and snow blowing over the earth it is easy to think of quite a few things I am blessed by. 

192. a bright pink hoodie keeping me warm and bright on this frigid day 

193. electricity and heat keeping our home warm 

194. hearing, "God will take care of me. God will keep me safe," sung in Emerson's room in the early hours of the morning as he hears the wind howling outside his window 

195. cozy clothes for the boys to stay warm in 

196. having a theme in my thankfulness ;) 

197. my sister asking me for sleep training advice [what?!] 

198. a sister to walk through the baby stages with

199. naps lasting longer than an hour 

200. 7:33pm. aka: bedtime. 

201. knowing there are at least 200 little things that have been a blessing to me 

202. baking and trying new things in the kitchen 

203. reading by lamplight 

204. perfectly formed flakes of snow swirling in the air 

205. a snow day. no work. just home with my little loves

206. a thrown together dinner that turned out to he healthy and good

207. my babe sleeping contently in my arms 

208. toddler arms wrapped around my legs, moving me to dance with him

209. a little voice singing hymns and asking me to sing along 

210. relentless love of a big brother towards his little brother 

211. seeing prayers answered 

212. knowing that trusting Him is hard, but so very good 

213. everything that this day is: tears, giggles, whining, playing, learning, thinking, giving, exhausting. A beautiful mess. 

214. little dimply hands reaching out for me

215. big, wet, open mouth, slobbery, tongue, and tooth-filled baby kisses right on the mouth

216. said dimply hands pulling my head towards his for said kiss. And another. And another. 

What are some blessings in your life right now? 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

bittersweet [a change]

If you've been around here for a while you probably know that I have the blessing of working at home. I get to spend my days with my little loves while also working and providing financial support for our family. It's pretty great. Sure there are rough days, but who doesn't have those? If you've been around for a while you'll also know that my job is babysitting. Since moving to Illinois I've been watching Bee during the school year as her mom is a teacher. It really couldn't have worked out better. She is just a few months younger than Emerson and they play so well together [most of the time ;]. They were both tiny babies when I started watching her and all they've really known is each other - every day Bee comes over in the morning and they play, run wild, read books, imagine, do puzzles, color, paint, squeal, laugh, cry, and talk all day long. It kind of makes my job easy [easier] since they are such good friends and play so well together. Although it can also make for some trying times because there are two of them and they're toddlers and sometimes things just don't go their way. But in general, it's good.

When they were babies [Emerson was six months and Bee was three months when she started here] it was a little crazy because they were both so entirely dependent on me for everything - food, clean diapers, play time, crafts, stories, "exercise"... anything and everything because they were babies. As they've gotten bigger they've become more independent. And now I just help them go potty, wash their hands, get their lunch ready, and make sure they don't bite the other's arm off or hit too hard if they disagree on something. And more, but you get the idea. It's been fun watching them grow up and it's crazy to think about how much they have grown and changed in the few years we've been here and I've been watching Bee. It's also crazy to watch Bee walk out to the car in the afternoons when her mom picks her up instead of being carried out in her baby carrier like when she was a little baby.

The plan was always for me to watch Bee until we moved or she started kindergarten, which ever came first [moving was our hope!]. At least, that was our plan. And I think it was her parent's plan too, until recently. Like I said, her mom is a teacher which is a huge blessing because it has allowed me to keep on the wonderful teacher/school year calendar [and have the same breaks as Landon]. And for other reasons too... But she's a teacher, and if you've ever taught or known a teacher I'm sure you know that a lot goes into teaching. It can be a hard and challenging job. It can also be pretty wonderful. Recently Bee's mom decided that her job wasn't so wonderful any more and made the decision to quit teaching and stay home with Bee. Can't say I blame her; it is after all the exact same thing I did when Emerson was born.

So come August, our days will look a lot different. They will be filled with a lot more boy and a lot less little girl. There will be no more built in friend that comes to play with Emerson every day and keep him busy and running around all day. Sure, Oliver will be here and I know they'll become great playmates, but Oliver can't play pretend like Bee can [yet] and he can't run around [yet - though I know he wants to] and Oliver's parents can't pay me like Bee's do [cause well, I am Oliver's parent ;]. It will be a big change - both in our day to day activities and in our budget. I know I'll enjoy spending more time with just Emerson and Oliver and not have to worry about getting us all ready by a certain time to welcome Bee in the mornings, and I know it will give me a lot more freedom as far as going out and doing things is concerned - go to the park? sure! go run some errands? okay! go to a playdate? why not? go to the library story hour? of course! But it will be different and I know it will be a sad day when Bee doesn't come play every day, especially for Emerson who asks if she's coming every. single. day.

So there's that. It's been in the works for a little while now, but it's official now. A bittersweet change.

Friday, February 19, 2016

coffee, cookies, and yarn.

one. a coffee date
Last week I had plans to meet with one of the girls from my Bible study discussion group for coffee. But, then it snowed and plans changed. We decided to try again for tomorrow and hope for better weather. Only now, instead of a coffee date, it's turned into lunch. I'm not sure I remember the last time I met with someone of lunch free of children [or with children for that matter]. It will be really good to actually get a chance to talk with her outside of our group and get to know her better - and to eat a meal without getting up 37 times to get "somtin eldse" for certain little people I know or cut up their food for them. The last time I ate without helping someone? I really don't remember.

two. an afghan 
Recently I've been working on a baby afghan for a friend who just had her baby. It's a simple pattern and I'm not going to make the afghan too big, so it's a quick and fun project for me to work on. Right. The only problem? I keep falling asleep while working on it. Who does that?! I just want to work on it for a little chunk of time each day [after the boys go down for the night's really the only time I can], but then I'm just so tired I can hardly make one or two rows. Also, I'm not sure what it is, but I have a love affair with multi-colored yarn. It's my favorite to work with and I try and find a reason to use it every single time. Is that bad?

three.  a cookie date
This weekend I have a cookie date with big plans to finally try my hand at royal icing. I'm just a tad excited. I've always wanted to try it, and figured I ought to just finally give it a go. Here's to hoping they aren't a total flop. 

four. nap time
Today nap time has come to an early end, so so must this. Devastating news, I know. So I'm going to call it good and wish you all a happy weekend! 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

a few more confessions

Since I don't have too much going on these days, I thought it'd be fun to share a few confessions again today, because why not?  

I confess . . . 

// it seems like most of the time, Oliver and Emerson are better dressed than I am [unless Emerson picks out all of his own clothes and gets away with wearing them ... then not so much] 

// I'm really bad about using coupons. I have them, I intend to use them. But when I get to the register, I pretty much always forget to use them

// the other morning I had the day off, so I took the boys on a quick errand, came home put Oliver down for his morning nap, put a show on for Emerson and I to watch together ... and fell asleep. haha. 

// I really really don't like fixing dinner. I just don't. Add in the fact that it has become the witching hour and I loathe fixing dinner. 

// I can't just eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast. I have to have toast and/or fruit with it. 

// sometimes I wear the same pair of jeans for more days in a row than I can remember. whoops. Same goes for hoodies. 

// the whole sleep training thing... I just don't know. Let him cry? don't let him cry? how long should he cry for? blah blah blah... 

// this whole dairy free thing is actually kind of nice. Granted I miss cheese and all, but since I've had to figure out how to be diary free, I'm liking it and not missing the cheese so much. ...until I see a piece of pizza that is covered in a gooey layer of the melted goodness. 

Anyhow, that's all I've got for now. I'm linking up with Jess if you want to too. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

lemon poppy seed cookies :: a [dairy free] recipe

Sometimes I just need a cookie, ya know? I love chocolate chip cookies as much as the next person, but when you're dairy free it's a little more tricky to get those. Enter lemon poppy seed cookies. They aren't chocolate, not that I'm a huge lover of chocolate anyhow, but they are cookies and they are mighty tasty.

A little burst of fresh lemon zest. A little chewy. A little tiny crunch. Basically, the perfectly balanced cookie.

And so today I bring you the recipe for these little wonders. You're welcome.

1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
1 TBLS lemon zest [one big lemon]
1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBLS poppy seeds

Mix oil and sugar together. Add lemon zest and milk. Beat until smooth. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet [lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat for easy removal]. Bake at 350 for 8-11 minutes.

These cookies couldn't be more simple to make. One of the best parts? They just get better with time. Bake a dozen, eat one or two, save the rest for later. As long as you store them in an air tight container, they'll last a while and maintain that perfect cookie texture - soft, chewy, crunchy. It really is like they just get better and better. They are one of two cookies that Landon says are almost better not fresh from the oven. Which is saying something.

They're a light and fresh cookie, prefect for Spring and Summer [or anytime really]. They've become one of my favorite cookies and I I love when I have some extra dough in the fridge so I can just plop some onto a cookie sheet for quick baking when I need a cookie.

And since I like to have the whole recipe together I thought you might too. Here you go:

1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
1 TBLS lemon zest
1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBLS poppy seeds

Mix oil and sugar together. Add lemon zest and milk. Beat until smooth. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet [lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat for easy removal]. Bake at 350 for 8-11 minutes.

If you're looking for a new cookie to try, trying to think of a cookie to make for your friend who happens to be dairy free [or vegan], look no further! These cookies are all you need!

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

little gifts {172 - 191}

172. falling into bed at the end of a busy day

173. watching Emerson sleep - so relaxed and worry free

174. reading books to my boys while they both sit in my lap

175. thick hand cream

176. a working car

177. a red radio flyer wagon

178. the warmth of sunshine on my face

179. holding Oliver close, especially after he's been crying

180. a morning out of the house

181. nap time

182. the feel of soft yarn slipping though my fingers

183. rhythmically working yarn through a hook to make a stitch ... and then another and another

184. scooby doo snacks in the car - and the fact that they're dairy free

185. the sound of Emerson squealing in delight at Oliver holding a sippy cup

186. the concentration on Oliver's face as he bangs said sippy cup on the table

187. coming downstairs to a clean kitchen

188. a freshly bathed baby boy

189. putting a diaper on baby boy without having to fight him to stay still and not wiggle away

190. the majesty of our Creator - His love and His grace

191. hope for the future

What are some blessings in your life as of late?


Monday, February 15, 2016

a little valentine's day

Not that our weekends are usually eventful, but it seems as though it's been a while since I've shared bits from our weekend. This weekend was especially low key. We spent the bulk of it at home and I didn't even get out for our usual grocery shopping trip on Saturday morning. 

Last week Landon went out of town [again] for a conference and he got back home on Friday afternoon. It was me and the boys on our own once again. After Bee went home, I got the boys ready to go pick him up at the airport. We got coats, blankets, snacks, and everything else we usually take with us when we go out. I got the boys buckled into the car and then sent a little text to let Landon know we were headed to get him; he had arrived a few hours earlier but was waiting for us to pick him up once Bee when home. Well, I turned the key to start the car and . . . it didn't start. click, click, click. I tried a few more times, but of course, the same thing happened each time. We weren't going anywhere. I was upset because I wanted to go get Landon and get out of the house for the first time in a week. But it wasn't going to happen. I called to tell Landon we couldn't get him. Thankfully, he was at the airport so there were taxis ready and waiting outside and he was able to get one to bring him home. Since the car wouldn't start we stayed in the rest of the night and planned for Landon to get it looked at in the morning.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, Landon asked one of our neighbors to jump our car. We figured it had to be the battery, and sure enough after a bit of time he was able to get it started. He took the grocery list with him and after going to a car shop to have it looked at he stopped to pick up our groceries. The boys and I spent the morning at home and once Landon got home we watched UK play.

During nap time I had a job interview of sorts. I babysit from my home and even though some days can be a challenge, I do love that I'm able to spend my days at home and I have a great kid, Bee, that comes and plays with Emerson all day every day. He loves her. She loves him. They've been play mates and best pals since they were seven and three months old, respectively. However there is the possibly of change for this upcoming school year and I met with a new mom and her little boy on Saturday. Oh man. Change....

Sunday morning Emerson immediately found the Valentine's gifts I had put out, so before Landon was even out of bed the gifts were opened. I love his excitement for holidays and gifts, it reminds me of my own :) Then we had a quick breakfast while watching the snow fall before heading to church. I had plans to meet with a friend for coffee that afternoon, but it kept snowing and snowing [yay!] and our car is just not great in the snow, so we had to reschedule and we spent the afternoon at home. Emerson had requested a "Balemtimes" cake so I whipped it up during nap time and we waited until after a dinner of oatmeal with fruit to enjoy it. haha. Happy Valentine's Day, right? ;) We did manage to get bundled up to go play in the snow for a little bit Sunday before dinner. It didn't last long because Oliver's a nugget and Emerson thought it was too cold outside. haha. But it was a sweet way to spend the afternoon just the same. I would share pictures, but I can't upload the ones I took until I delete some off my hard drive and we all know I have a problem with that. yikes...

I hope you all enjoyed your Valentine's weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

some confessions.

This Thursday I thought it'd be fun to join my sweet friend Jess for her new link up. I just have to say, the picture on her button has me all kinds of excited for Spring and flowers and warmer days.

- if I could get away with eating [and feeding Emerson] cereal for every meal of the day, I would. Cereal is good, quick, and easy. I especially like how little effort it requires.

- geese scare me to no end.

- sometimes I look at houses available on the market, even though I know we aren't moving any time soon [and don't even know where we're moving to when it comes time to move]. And sometimes, I happen to fall in love with a house and wish we could move. right. now.

- I'm really bad about remembering to wash our towels on a regular basis. One day? One week? More? We're clean when we use them, right?

- every now and then, after laying Oliver down for a nap, I'm tempted to stay upstairs for just a little bit longer than I need to, just because I don't want to deal with the little people.

- dinner time comes super early so bedtime can get here sooner. Emerson in bed at 7? Yes, please.

- I wish I could bake goods [cookies, cakes, breads] from my home and sell them to people as a source of income. Buy my cookies and cakes, people.

- when I'm fixing dinner, I wish we lived next door [or within minutes] of Landon's parents/family so they could entertain the boys while I cook. Hearing your baby scream while you have your hands covered in raw chicken salmonella is not my idea of a nice evening.

- the pictures on my computer need to be backed up, yet it's something I put off and off . . .

- exercise is lacking in my life [and has been for a while now]. Once I was able to wear my pre pregnancy clothes I kind of stopped caring as much. But, the abs really need work. Finding the motivation to actually do some crunches [or something] is so difficult though.

- this is the first time I've actually watched The Bachelor, and I must say, I like it and all the drama. Now I get what my friends were always talking about. The drama. The girls. Oh the fun. haha. I
never realized what I was missing out on until now.

 . . .

We'll call that good for today ;) You can link up with Jess here if you want to share some of your confessions. Or in the comments - I'd love to hear what some of yours are.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Oliver / 8 month update

Happy eight months to you! You continue to bring so much joy, laughter, and sweetness to our home. We all love you so very much and are so very thankful for you!

Right now, you love putting anything and everything into your mouth. Whatever you can get your little hands on goes straight to your mouth. There are a few things/toys you favor more than others: the llama [as seen in above picture], your bottle of lotion, a teething ring, and a teething monkey. You'll take anything else, but those are your favorites.

You love to be where I am, or at least in a room with other people. If you are left in the room by yourself for even a moment, you are not a happy camper. Not that it happens often any more, what with you being on the move and all. You are definitely a mama's boy. The other night Daddy got you out of bed and held you while I switched the laundry over [cause, yeah, you sleep in the laundry room.... we're awesome like that :} ]. When I got back in the room where you were sitting with Daddy, he told me that the whole time I was switching the laundry over you were craning your neck to see me. Then when that got you no where you basically turned your whole body so you'd be facing the door until I came back in. Silly boy. Not that I mind, I love that you love me and I know one day you will favor your daddy over me. As much as you like to be with me, you have done pretty well with going to your Bible class and to the nursery on Sundays. Hopefully that will continue.

You are learning so much these days and study whatever is nearby. Sometimes a toy or book might be across the room and I'll watch as your eyes study it and then as you finally roll your way over to get your little hands on said object. Rolling is still your main mode of getting around, though I know those days are extremely numbered. Boy, you want to crawl so badly! You'll get yourself up on your hands and knees and sometimes rock your body back and forth. Sometimes you'll manage to reach one little arm out, but then you collapse on the floor. It doesn't deter you at all, you're back at it within seconds, trying to get your limbs to move where you want to go. I know one day [very very very soon] you will be crawling all over the place and life as we know it will not be the same.

Even now, with your love or rolling around and checking out different places and things in the room, you have gotten to where you do not like hanging out in the bouncer while I fix meals. You do not like it at all, and oh how you let it be known. I hate that you cry, but sometimes when my hands messy from getting dinner ready, I just can't get you. The other night your cries were so desperate that I brought your pack n play into the kitchen so you could at least roll around a little bit and play with your toys while I got dinner ready. Our kitchen is tiny. But desperate times call for desperate measures. After a while of realizing that I wasn't going to hold you, you played happily in your pack n play while I finished dinner.

Speaking of food ... you are eating lunch and dinner with us now. For lunch you usually eat one jar [about four ounces] of fruits or veggies and for dinner you usually have two jars of food. I try and give you a good balance of fruits and veggies, but sometimes it's more of one than the other. You don't eat a lot of cereal, but you've had it and you'll eat it. You've had strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mango, green beans [which you hate], peas, carrots, prunes [thank goodness for prunes - they sure help your tummy], squash, and a bunch of other things I can't remember. I try to be diligent about introducing new things to you one at a time and writing down what I give you, but sometimes I forget to do that and then I can't remember if you've had blackberries yet or not. Fruits are your favor, and you like squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots, but the green veggies? Not so much. haha. You've eaten breakfast with us a few times and we'll start giving you breakfast more consistently here soon.

You're still nursing. Right now it's four times a day about every four hours, which is usually around 8, 12, 4, and 7:30. We've stopped nursing in the night when you wake up, but if you wake up around 4 or 5 I'll nurse you then and you'll sleep until 7 or so [usually].

Sleep has been pretty inconsistent lately. You've gotten better about taking consistent naps; one in the morning around 9:30 that's usually two hours long [give or take] and one in the afternoon around 1:40 that's usually one to two hours long. It really just depends. But now you at least stay asleep and get a nice little nap in which makes this mama pretty happy. Your afternoon nap coincides with your brother's nap and it's nice when you actually both sleep during that time [cause, sometimes that doesn't happen ... ]. You usually go down for the night around 7:40 or so, earlier if we can get you bathed and fed before then. You're pretty sleepy by 7 so I try and get you to bed as close to that as I can. You have gotten better about staying asleep after falling asleep and being in your bed [thank you!], but you still wake occasionally in the night. The past week or so you've been waking a lot and not wanting to sleep in your own bed. I think it's because you've been sick, you're cutting another tooth, and because you want so badly to crawl. But you know, it's not terrible, and I know this phase won't last forever. Right?

As far as some stats go: you're still wearing size 3 Pamper's Swaddlers and we still love them the most. You're still wearing size six month clothing with a few 3-6 months as well. Shoe size? I'm not sure, but I know I have a pair of 6-9 month shoes and they swamp your tiny feet. You don't wear shoes much, just lots of socks and slippers, so it doesn't really matter. I'm not sure what you weigh right now, but I'd venture to say anywhere from 17-20 pounds. And I have no clue how long you are. You have seven teeth and you like to bite! Thankfully it's not always when you're nursing? I think we've nipped that in the bud. You're working on an cutting another tooth - I see it just wanting to pop through, so basically you have a little mouth full of teeth. It's makes for a cute little smile and a painful bite.

You're still a happy little guy and you love to play, talk, and read [eat] books. It seems like you may have started to get a little more fussy lately though, but that's usually only when you don't have my full attention [ie. when I'm fixing a meal]. You're learning how to use your little voice with squeals, screeches, and other little sounds. Your Bible class teachers still tell me you are the happiest baby there and just so chill; it's nice to know you are a happy guy even when we're not at home. One of your favorite people is your big brother, you love watching him and laughing at his antics, he loves laughing at you and your antics as well. Sometimes he's a little rough with you, but he always means well and just wants to give you all the things [unless it's something he really wants, haha].

It is such a joy to watch you grow, learn, and develop. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you bring so much love and laughter into our home. You are loved so very much, Oliver. I pray that you will always know that and that you will always know the love of Christ. My prayer for you is that you will always seek after and obey Him. Turn your eyes to Him and He will keep your paths straight. Oh how I pray this truth over you. You are a blessing little one and I love you so very much! Thanks for making me your mama and letting me love all over you and kiss and squish your sweet little baby body!