Monday, October 10, 2011

Sprayground with Friends!

Have you been to Lynchburg's sprayground yet? If you have little ones, it's a really fun (and free!) place to check out when the weather is hot. We've only made it out once, but I already want to go back next summer!

Abel, Chase, and I met my sweet friend Crystal there with her two little ones, Michael and Meghan, for a picnic lunch. Michael is the same baby I had the joy of caring for when he was a newborn, the year before Abel was born.

Michael then, just a few weeks old

Michael now, 2.5 years old

The sprayground is a slab of cement with spraying fountains all over it. There is also a structure in the middle with a dump bucket that spills out when it's full. Abel was apprehensive at first, but Michael, Meghan, and Chase all jumped right in and loved it from the start.

Meghan, enjoying the spray

Meghan with one of the smaller fountains

Taking a break and hiding her face in Mama's skirts

At only about 10 months, she was definitely more fearless than Abel!

The sprayground had been pretty empty, and even more folks left at lunchtime . Since we packed our lunch, we just took a little break to eat. It was hard convincing the kids that they should come over to the blanket. But that was just a sign that they were enjoying it!

Abel at our picnic blanket wearing the awesome swim diaper I bought from my friend Cassy of LoveMuffin Goods. She's wonderful, and I highly recommend her stuff!

After lunch, it was just about empty. Since school was out for the summer, there were some older kids playing in the morning. But after lunchtime, the boys felt free to wander around the sprayground a little more.

Chase pausing for a picture

With my little man. Love him!

Crystal enjoying her kiddos

Fearless Meghan, at it again! She was headed right for that spray :)

Chase and Abel- I'm pretty sure they think they're brothers

That's just one of the fun things we did this summer. I'm so thankful for these precious days with Abel and our sweet friends!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Abel Makes Me Giggle

Abel and I were out shopping recently when I decided to try a few things on in the fitting room. When Abel saw me changing, he began yelling, "Bath! Mama, bath!" I tried explaining to him that I was just trying on a shirt, not taking a bath. So he asked, "Mama, shower?"

At Walmart a few days later, Abel and I were perusing the aisles when I realized I needed to use the bathroom. I told Abel that's where we were headed, and that we'd finish shopping in a bit. As I drove him in the cart through the store he squeaked, "Potty Mama!" over and over.

Maybe I should stop taking him shopping? He's embarrassing, but so funny!

Abel loves to have me snuggle in his bed. If I walk down the hall near our bedrooms he usually asks, "Bed Mama?" and then runs to his bed. He looks at me, pats it, and sits himself down on one side. Then he will look at me again and say, "Other side bed, Mama." When I lay down all curled up on his toddler bed, he begins giving me his blankets , saying "Blankie, Mama" with each one. This morning we did this little routine, and I was all snug in his bed. Then Abel climbed out of bed and asks, "Dada bed?" So I sent him in the other room to get Reed, who then squishes in to join me in Abel's (toddler) bed. We both fell asleep, and woke up periodically to Abel giving us his other lovies: "Mama, woof-woof" and "Dada, baby." He tucked them in with us, then went back to playing in his room. At one point Abel climbed up with us in his bed, but then left us alone to sleep. I think this may be my new favorite game!

If you need a morale boost, come to our house and use the bathroom. When Abel hears the flush, he will run into the bathroom and say, "Yay Mama/Dada! Pee-pee potty!" It makes you feel pretty good about yourself. More recently, he will also congratulate you on using the shower. When the water cuts off, he throws the shower curtain back and claps while shouting, "Yay! Shower!"

He is such a sweet little guy! I am so thankful to witness all of these little moments. I know he won't remember them, but experiencing his precious personality every day is a gift that I will always treasure. Thank you God for these moments!

Friday, September 23, 2011

20 Months of Abel

20 month old Abel

I cannot believe that my baby is less than 4 months away from TWO! And that just a month after that, he will be a big brother! When I was pregnant with Abel, the end of my pregnancy flew by quickly since it came right after the busy holiday season. I don't know why it didn't dawn on me then that the last few months of every year would fly by for the same reason!

Abel's last check up was at 18 months, but at home he's weighing in at about 21.5 lbs which is still solidly in the less than third percentile. He is still sleeping through the night, usually getting a solid 11+ hours. Unfortunately in the past two weeks or so, he's been having nights where he won't go down very easily. I think he knows Mama and Daddy are still up, and wants to play! We switched him to a big boy bed about 2.5 months ago, and it was so easy. One night he was in the crib, the next night he was in the bed. Maybe God took pity on me since it took Abel a solid 13 months to start sleeping through the night! Abel never even gets out of bed, but rather sits up in the middle of his bed, waiting for us to come get him.

Before his 18 month check up, Reed and I counted and realized that Abel said well over 40 words. Now, his vocabulary has exploded even more! He frequently talks in 2 word sentences at home, though he is usually still very shy in front of strangers. Abel adores babies, iced passion tea from Starbucks, Elmo, searching for the choo-choo when we drive on Wards Rd., watching the rain from our front door, the vacuum, and wrestling with Daddy. He also loves to color now, and calls all crayons "chalk". His favorite foods are bananas, Greek yogurt, waffles, strawberries, pizza, crackers, and quesadillas. And the occasional fry. By "favorite foods" I mean "literally the only foods he eats". We'll work on it when I feel good enough to cook regularly again.

I love how snuggily my little guy is. He loves to cuddle. If Abel spots Reed and I nestled on the couch, he drops whatever he is doing to come join us. He pulls himself up on the couch and climbs over the two of us until he finds a good spot. Then he'll say, "I, Mama!" and "I, Dada!" over and over again. In Abel-speak, this means I love you. He's so sweet! Just a bit ago, when I settled Abel in for his nap, he called out to me from his room. I walked in to find him sitting up in the middle of his bed. As I got closer, he laid down, scooted to the side and said to me, "Bed? Other side? Mama?" so of course I joined him for a snuggle.

Abel is such a joy! I am trying my best to soak up this last bit of one on one time before the new baby joins us. This time with my Abel is so precious and so fleeting, but we're enjoying every minute of it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Autumn and New Couches

When we moved into this house year ago (can't believe it's been a year!) I began looking for a new couch and love seat. We bought our first set off of Craigslist when we moved to our second apartment, and I was ready for a change. The old set was not super comfy, the fabric was scratchy, and while I was thankful that the color was neutral and didn't stick out, I didn't love it.
I knew I wanted microfiber, because it can be spot cleaned and it's soft. I also knew I wanted brown or some kind of neutral tan. We certainly weren't buying new, so I returned to watching Craigslist for this new set too. Finally, I found a set that looked brand new (was only 2 year old, and owned by a single woman so it didn't get a lot of use) for only $350. Similar sets, even on Craigslist, have been selling for over $600. The woman's fiance even delivered it for us!
After having a few days with the new set, I love it even more. It's so cozy, just in time for fall. I set up my autumn decor the night the furniture was delivered, and I'm in love with the living room now!
Sorry that the color in these pictures is a little off... I need to get Reed to adjust the camera settings. The room looks better in person!

I bought a basket labeled "Harvest" for all of Abel's fall/Thanksgiving books. He has quite a collection! I'm reusing the coffee filter wreath from last year; I think it held up well! A pumpkin, set of pilgrims, and leaves stuck in my garland round out the mantel.

Abel's Thanksgiving play sets: the Mayflower, and feast table with Native Americans and Pilgrims.

I was overwhelmed by cuteness with I realized this mama had a baby on her back! Abel loves it too, and likes to kiss it and feed the baby the pumpkin.

Other side of the living room. You can't really tell, but I have fall vinyl decals on the mirror, and little pumpkins in the cubbies to the right. There's also a pilgrim couple next to the stereo, and a painting of fall leaves by a talented friend of mine. The comfy couch is a great addition! Love it!

These next two pictures are totally random. I bought a baby carrier for the new baby, and wanted to learn how to wear it. So to practice, I grabbed the nearest baby-size thing-- my 22 lb 20 month old. He loved it! Of course, many moms still wear their babies at this age, so it's really not too strange for him to be in there. But I haven't worn Abel since he could walk, because that's how he prefers to get around now.

As soon as I took him out, he said, "More? More baby? More baby?" He really liked being carried like a baby. So, I tried the newborn hold on him, hahaha:

He was very content in there! When I sat down with him still wrapped up, my sweet little boy just about fell asleep.

Other than pregnancy-related migraines making their presence known, that's about all that's going on over here. I'm so thankful for this beautiful time of year, and all the yummy Starbucks drinks that go with it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pickles and other Confessions

I just ate nearly a whole jar of pickles. Not just any pickles, but these bad boys:

Reed likes to argue that Claussen's aren't really pickles since they're not shelf stable. I think I hear all about his pickle theory every time I eat or buy them. I don't really care what they are, but all other pickle type products are inferior.

However, I must admit, that I can only eat a pickle that has had it's ends cut off. I use to only cut off the vine end (thanks for that quirk, mom) but have recently taken it to the next level and began cutting off the other end, too. Reed usually eats my ends, possibly just to spite me, since I'm not even sure he likes pickles (or, as he calls them, seasoned cucumbers).

The pickle also must be dried off with a napkin so that very little external moisture remains. I'm serious. In the show Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray once says that the pickle is the perfect snack, because it is both a food and a drink.

This disgusts me. My pickles/flavored cucumbers must only be a food.

In other confessional news, I realized that during the day I only go to the bathroom in the dark with the door open. If I close the door, or turn on the light, Abel will stop whatever he's doing to stand at the door and scream. He gets so mad that when I come out, he continues his tantrum. It's just not worth it. I came up with the no door/no lights thing after I got tired of him coming in with me, and trying to throw toilet paper into the toilet while it was in use. Oh well, at least there is a window in there, so it's not too dark!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fall 2011 Front Door Wreath

Last fall, the coffee filter wreath ruled blog land. Everyone I knew and didn't know posted their own version, with different color filters and dyed or painted filters. Then coffee filter wreath's little sister, cupcake liner wreath, made her debut around Valentine's day on many blogs. I even tried to make a few of the coffee filter version myself:

The fall 2010 mantel I threw together right after we moved in, featuring my unbleached coffee filter wreath.

My 2010 Christmas mantel, featuring a wreath made of bleached filters that had been dipped in red and green paint.

Even though it's early in the autumn season, I'm already seeing a new trend. Ragamuffin wreaths have already taken over Pinterest, and I know they'll soon take over the decorating blogs! I'm jumping on the bandwagon, and here is my first attempt:

Most people begin with a wire hanger, but I didn't have one. So instead I made a wreath form out of foil that I rolled up.

I bought remnant fabric from Joanne's, and my total was under 4 bucks. I cut them into strips about 1.5-2" thick, and 5-7" long.

Once all the strips were cut, I began tying them onto my foil.

My goal was to totally cover the foil with my fabric strips.

Once all four colors were tied on and the foil was totally covered, I used some leather cord to hang the wreath on my front door. I love the finished product!

If you're in need of some wreath-y inspiration, check out all of the other wreaths posted over at The Nester's "You Made A Wreath Out Of What?!" linky party.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

15 Week Survey

How far along are you? 15 weeks today!

How big is Baby? The average baby at this stage is 4 inches and 2.5 ounces, about the size of a naval orange.

Weight Gain? I've lost 2 lbs so far :)

Gender? I wish I knew!

Maternity Clothes? Yes, in pants for sure. Most of my tops aren't, but I'll need the extra length soon. I wear lots of long length tanks under my shirts now.

Stretch Marks? It's such a mess on my tummy from bruises (from the injections I have to take) and previous stretch marks (from Abel) who knows what's new :)

Sleep? I'm waking up a lot at night.

Symptoms? Headaches are taking over the nausea now. I still (since about week 5) have had both, but in the earlier months the nausea is worse... they're beginning to trade off.

Movement? I've been feeling flutters since 12 weeks. Not too often, and they're not super strong, but they're there :)

Food Cravings? Ugh, no

Labor Signs? Thankfully, no. Let's keep it that way.

Belly Button in or out? Still in

What I miss? It's hard for me to accept the fact that I can't do all the things I usually do. I haven't cooked in a very long time, and my poor husband is surviving on quesadillas (the one thing he can make). I'm ready to be able to cook again.

What I am looking forward to? Feeling baby move more often, finding out the gender.

Best moment of the week? I told Abel there was a baby in my belly, and he ran to bring me a Cabbage Patch doll.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mama Confessions

Do you sometimes lie to your kids?
Oh! You want one of these cookies/candies I was trying to hide from you? That was the last one.

Maybe cheat on your cleaning a bit?
If I re-run the washer/dryer/dishwasher I won't have to unload it yet AND can still feel like I'm accomplishing something.

Let your kids watch more TV than you say you do?
If I play the same movie twice in a row, it only counts as once. Really, I've done the math.

If you answered "Yes!" to any of these questions, you might want to follow along when I post my own Mama Confessions. Just trying to keep it real!

This week, I would like to confess to my readers that:

I hid the good Cabbage Patch dolls so the kids that were over wouldn't mess them up. And by "good" I mean "my." Hey, my mom had her own box of Crayola's we weren't allowed to touch and only she could color with. And I have my own Cabbage Patch Kid(s).

Speaking of Cabbage Patch Dolls, did you see these that were auctioned off for charity during the last presidential election? They make me giggle!

Also this week, I was pretty excited when one of the kids spilled their drink all over the floor in the living room. That meant that, after I wiped up the drink spill, at least one part of my floor was clean. Same goes for when my husband split his toe open and got blood everywhere. More clean floor spots!

And finally, to Reed. Thank you for pretending to believe me when I say, "I'm going to take the fastest shower ever and can you just get Abel's dinner ready and I'll feed him when I get out?" In reality you know that not only will you be giving him dinner, you'll probably be getting him ready for bed, too. And I love that you love me anyways and give me that few minutes in peace without complaining. Also, I'm very sorry you cut your toe.

Join in next week for more Mama Confessions! Do you have anything you'd like to get off your chest?

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm Back!

So sorry I disappeared for three months with no warning. Thanks to those who noticed!

I typically blog during they boys' three hour nap time, which works out great for me. But this summer I also cared for school aged Sophie, who gave up naps long ago. But she started 1st grade today, and right now the boys are sleeping. So here I am!

I've been taking pictures to keep you up to date on all the happenings around here from this summer. Most of the posts to come will be summer re-caps. We celebrated the 4th of July, moved Abel to a big boy bed, visited the spray ground with friends, went to Chuck E. Cheese for the first time, and took Abel to the beach!

Also, in case you don't know me in real life, Reed and I were thrilled to announce this summer that we're expecting baby number two sometime in February! We are still slowly pursuing domestic adoption, and pray that baby #3 will join us via that route, but we decided to have another biologically to fill in the time gap. Domestic adoption through the foster care system is slow moving, and we didn't want Abel to go much longer as an only child.

In other summer news, Abel is pretty allergic to mosquito bites:

It's good to be back!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Decorating the Living Room and a Mirror Makeover

For those of you who have been to my house in the past month or so, this post will be old news. I'm a little late sharing these pictures! But if you haven't been over in a while, or want to check out my mirror makeover, stick around.

We first moved into the parsonage in September (October? Sometime last fall). Since then, the main wall in my living room has been decorated three different ways.

First, I used shadow boxes:

I've now moved them to the office on a smaller wall so they don't get lost in all that space. A few of my Willow Tree people live in them now.

For my second attempt in decorating this space, I cut styrofoam into rectangles (about the size of that middle shadow box above) which I then covered in cute fabrics. There were four of them which I hung in a row above the couch using Command strips. I loved this, and was planning on leaving it. Maybe that's why I don't have any pictures, since I didn't think it would come down any time soon.

Then a friend from church gave me this beauty:

I was so excited and knew just what to do with it!

First, I took off the stickers and painted it brown:

Yes, I paint on my living room floor. Without putting anything down. Thankfully, all the paint I spilled kinda matched my carpet, so I could just rub it in a little. Can't even tell :)

Then, I took green sea glass (from A. C. Moore, not the sea) and hot glued like crazy! The final project looks like this:

Love it! Since the mirror was from a friend and I already had the paint, the whole project just cost the price of the sea glass and mirror hanger- only about $8.00 after coupons.

I also wanted to make a book nook in the corner of the living room. It started out looking like this:

This arrangement was never meant to be permanent, I just wanted to share a shot of the "before." After buying bean bags and a carpet from Wal-Mart, hanging a few shelves I'd used at our apartment, and bringing in a bookshelf from Abel's room, now it looks like this:

Abel loves to get out his little books and sit in the bean bag chair! They are a big hit with both Abel and the 2 year old I watch. I also love that the top of the book shelf can be used as place to put drinks for people sitting on the couch.

With the addition of a side table I bought from my church's yard sale, I now love this side of my living room. It's such a good feeling to walk in the front door and love what you see!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Simple Homemaking Monday- a new link-up!

For a little while, I was joining in on the link-up party Menu Plan Monday to share my meals for the week. But when I switched to monthly meal planning (which is going much better than weekly planning!) and once a month shopping due to sharing a car, I stopped participating.

A blogger I love and have been reading along with for a few year now is hosting a new link up party that I am excited to join!

The purpose of Simple Homemaking Monday is "... to exhort one another and share little things we ourselves are doing or trying to do that point us toward a simple and abundant life as a Christian homemaker, wife, and mother." I love that she says "little things" because so often it is just a simple little thing that makes our homes more beautiful and welcoming, a refuge from this world, and a place that strangers and friends find comfort and love.

A few months ago, I read The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer which encouraged me to pursue different types of art and beauty in the home, and to sharpen the homemaking skills I already practiced. The chapter on flower arrangements was particularly eye opening for me, as I had previously thought that buying flowers was a waste of money. Why spend money on something that will die a few days later? But Schaeffer explained that while we shouldn't be wasteful or spend our money frivolously, we also have been created to appreciate beauty, and that the Creator made flowers beautiful, which brings Himself glory. She says,

"If you have been afraid that your love of beautiful flowers and the flickering flame of the candle is somehow less spiritual than living in starkness and ugliness, remember that He who created you to be creative gave you the things with which to make beauty and gave you the sensitivity to appreciate and respond to His creation."

Lately I have tried to be more intentional about pursuing and enjoying beauty in my home as a reflection of the the beauty all around us in creation, and as an extremely imperfect shadow of the beauty of God.

"One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple."
Psalm 27:4

"Splendor and majesty are before him,
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary."
Psalm 96:6

This week,we have been enjoying a very simple thing of beauty in our home. I rescued a few glass jars from the trash, peeled off their labels, and gave them a makeover with hot glue and various crafts bits I already had (leather cord, buttons, ribbon). Then Reed picked up a bunch of flowers for me when he went on a Wal-Mart run. The results have been making me smile all week:

in the office/guest room

in the living room

How do you bring beauty to your home?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bloody Noses, Toothbrushes, and an Adoption Update

Abel caught the driveway with his face the other day while playing outside, received his first big boy boo boo:

His nose bled a lot, but he really wasn't that upset. I was sadder than Abel was! That night, he was mostly just red on his nose and forehead. It actually looked worse the next morning.

Until I took this picture, I didn't know he still had pizza in his mouth from dinner over an hour before! My little chipmunk :)

This was the next morning.

In addition to putting manly looking cuts on his face, Abel has also been very in love with his toothbrush. He had one with trains on it, and carried it around all the time. So I bought him an Elmo one, and if he could have I think he would have given me a 'mom of the year' award when I presented him with that thing. He has been 'drawing' on the chalkboard wall with his wet toothbrush (gag), sharing it with Chase (super gag), and brushed off a shoe with it (extreme gag). That's all good for his immune system, right? He even stuck it in his overalls so he could walk around with it. Not the pocket, inside the actual overalls like this:

Now that I think about it, I read somewhere that some kids like toothbrushes for teething. His doc said his molars are coming in, and he has stopped chewing on his fingers in favor of the brush.

This picture was pre- boo boo. Aunt Sherry, do you recognize the shirt he's wearing? :)

I posted this picture because he just looks like such a big boy to me here! Something about the little boy jammies, just sanding there with his sippy cup <3 I sure do love him. As ready as I am for the next one, it's moments (and pictures) like this that make me so very thankful for this one on one time I have with my Abel. I know that once we have another our relationship and family will change a lot, and I am trying to be aware of this special time I have with my firstborn rather than being impatient about having another. I've said before, if I were the boss of my life, I'd be on number 4 by now :) But instead of being sad about the children I don't have right now, I am choosing to cherish the precious one I do have! I am very content and fulfilled. I love being Abel's mom! I am thankful to God for forcing me to pause and focus on my son, thankful for teaching me to be content and to find satisfaction in Him (God).

Please pray for Reed and I as we make decisions regarding the future of our family!

On a related note, the DePaul adoption/foster agency called me back. The social worker was very informative and helpful. Bottom line, she said that we would most likely be waiting years for a young child if we did not want to foster first, but just to adopt a child out of the system (foster parents get first pick). As of right now, we are planning on taking the certification and training classes offered this summer. From there we will have background checks and home studies. We will then be placed on a waiting list until a child comes through for us, renewing our certification with a new home study every year.

There are several big decisions that await us! We know that God will bring us our next child in His timing and we are praying that it will be obvious to us what step we should take next to add to our family. It's no secret that Reed and I love children, and would both love to have a sibling for Abel soon. He loves his buddy Chase, and I would love to give him a life long buddy! I am trying day by day to trust in God, and to trust the leadership of my husband. I am praying for wisdom for Reed, and patience for myself! I am so very thankful that God is reshaping my very impatient and aggressive heart with "the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" (1 Peter 3:4). I can feel a major difference in my desires and attitude, which I can only hope is glorifying to God and a blessing to my husband!

Thank you all so much for praying for us and encouraging us along in our journey!