Friday, December 3, 2010

Thankful November- day 27-30

Our internet has been acting up over the last couple weeks, and I just haven't had the patience to blog knowing that I may get kicked off and have to start over, BUT I really wanted to finish these Thankful November posts, so here I am...on December 3rd. =)

Day 27: Today I'm thankful for yummy-smelling candles. Growing up, my mom always had a candle burning in the kitchen and as a "sensory" person, and one with a very sensitive nose, smell has always been part of what sets the mood in my home. The first thing I do most mornings, after turning on the coffeepot of course, is lighting whatever candle I have showcased in my kitchen. Right now it's a pine-scented one, since we have a fake tree I'm trying to convince myself it's real with the candle. =) I love making our home more inviting by making sure it smells nice with a candle.

Day 28: Today I'm thankful for my mom. She is one of my favorite people. She has taught me many things over the years and I've always looked up to her. She's fun to be around, driven, caring, among many others. She worked full-time when my brother and I were growing up and I still don't know how she managed a demanding career, kids, and home all at the same time...though I know my dad helped a lot. She's always looking for a fun way to make memories and I look forward to watching her relationship with Brynn develop over the years.

Day 29: Today I'm thankful for nice windows. In our condo, we had old aluminum windows that looked fine, but if we sat next to them, we would freeze! Especially in our bedroom where the only place to put the bed was under the window- there was always a draft all night long. When we bought this house, I was so relieved that new windows had recently been put in since they are expensive and we had so many other projects to spend money on. I seriously think about these windows every day. We have a great view from our house, but we also live REALLY close to the freeway- when we're inside and the windows are closed, you'd never know that. They keep the noise out and help keep our home toasty warm when it's supposed to be that way.

Day 30: Today I'm thankful for our church. We're not as involved as we could be, but the things that we are involved in are food for the soul and we love the people we have befriended through those experiences. Whether it's our small group, my mom's group, helping in the nursery, singing with the worship team, or going to service, I feel surrounded by loving people who share my desire to know the Lord more and serve others.

Now that this month of thankfulness has come to an end, I'm looking forward to spending the month of December focused on Advent, reaching out to those around me, baking A LOT and sharing those treats with my family and friends, and searching for ways to make this season be (as my dear friend Bree says) "more about presence and less about presents". I'm thankful we have Brynn to share Christmas with this year- next weekend we're planning a family date to go visit Santa- we'll see how that goes! =)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful November- day 26

Today I'm thankful for my old bible study group. My friend Christy started this group a last January, and there were 6 of us that meet twice a month to study together and share life together. The group started at a time in all our lives where we needed fellowship, encouragement, accountability...and that's exactly what we experienced, week after week. In the last year and a half, babies have been born, marriages strengthened, bonds forged, and for those things I'm so grateful.

Life has changed a bit and we're currently not meeting, but I think of these friends often and am thankful for things like Facebook and blogging to keep us connected with what's going on in our daily lives. I miss this group so much, but I know in many ways, good ways, we're not the group we were last January. I know that the Lord puts people and experiences in our lives at certain points for a reason, and the evenings I spent with these ladies is a testament to that fact. We may have all found different venues to fill the needs for fellowship that we had when the group began, or maybe we're all just too busy to add one more thing to the calendar, but I know we'll never be too busy to maintain our friendships in some way or another, we may not get the awesome weekly girl-time anymore, but I'll take the occasional play date or phone call anytime!

Each of these women have inspired me in different ways. Tiffany juggles an amazing amount of "life" each day and she truly, TRULY, enjoys and lives each moment to the fullest. I love hearing about all her adventures- she makes me want to go out there and do something, anything! Anne is never afraid to ask the hard questions and is one of the most humble people I know. Stephanie is never afraid to be honest, even when her opinion or experience is totally different from others. Nicole is full of joy, and I relate to her in many ways as a mother. Christy is always making something and one of these days I will get my sewing machine out and follow! =) She's also a great facilitator and led our group well.

I'm so thankful for this time in my life- these women have blessed me greatly and I can't imagine my walk without their input along the way!

Thankful November- day 25

Today I'm thankful for family. It's Thanksgiving and you know what that means- food and family. I'm so grateful that for many of our 7 years of marriage, Mark's parents have joined us at my parents' house, along with my mom's extended family, so that we haven't had to rotate holidays or rush around to eat 2 Thanksgivings. Everyone is together and it's crazy, but fun. Our families have been wonderful since Brynn has been with us, always wanting to help out, babysit, etc. Mark and I both grew up in the same town, which we live fairly close to now, so our parents and my brother are easily accessible. =) I feel like I have all the support I could ever want or need within our families, and they love us a lot. I'm so looking forward to Brynn growing up and getting to know her grandparents, her aunt and her uncle, and watching those relationships develop. There are different things that each family member will enjoy with her and teach her, and for that, I'm grateful. I've always been a person that likes some amount of space, and our families are good about respecting that =), but I sure can't imagine living far away from them, especially now that Brynn is here. It's wonderful that they see her on a weekly basis and are learning things about her, and us as parents, that they wouldn't if they were a state away. I'm so thankful for the support and encouragement our families provide and their presence in our lives.

Thankful November- day 24

Me (5 months preggo) and Mallorie, heading out to our high school reunion

Today I'm thankful for old friends. I love my new friends and my in-between friends, too...a lot, but this day I'm super thankful for the old ones. =) There are a few friends that I have had in my life for a loooooooong time. I'll call out one in particular-

Mallorie, or BooBoo, as she's affectionately called by her family and a few others. Mallorie and I met when we were about 4 years old. Her mom ran a fabulous daycare out of her home and it was basically my home-away-from-home, as it was for many of the other kiddos there, I'm sure. Growing up we had many adventures- rescuing worms from gutters and missing the bus, dressing up in poodle skirts and dancing to the "Footlose" soundtrack, letting her older sisters do makeovers on us and then taking pictures of the gorgeous (read: hidious) results, lots and LOTS of stretchpants...I don't think either of us wore a pair of jeans until junior high...playing make-believe time travel games by jumping into a hole in their backyard, the list goes on and we got older and I no longer went to daycare anymore, we still spent a lot of time together at school and beyond. Mallorie has always been a rock in my life. She's one of those friends that I can just "pick up" with right where we left off, since we don't see each other in person often. She's a brilliant physician and has always been one step ahead of me (and most people) in the brains department, she's gorgeous and has the most unbelievable eyelashes I've ever seen, she's super compassionate, a wonderful listener, puts others first, and totally committed and involved with her 9 brothers and sisters and their families (which is a feat in itself keeping up with all those happenings!).

She is, in many ways, my "constant". She knows me well, she knows who I have always been, what I have changed to become who I am today, and most parts in-between. I have watched her excel at many things and be challenged by others. To me, she is one of the people in my life that embodies the word "integrity" the most. She has never done anything to taint her character, she has always been sure of who she is and has never wavered from the path she is on, morally speaking, anyway. What you see is what you get with Mallorie, and I have always appreciated that so much. Even in the midst of high school peer pressure and stupidness, she managed to be herself and people loved her for that...well, the eyelashes didn't hurt, either. =) She has a beautiful singing voice and has always impressed me with how she keeps up her piano that still true, BooBoo? =)

I think of Mallorie often, as she's in another state and we have a hard time catching each other on the phone with our crazy schedules. There are times, though, when I think of her and I really, I mean REALLY miss her. I long to have a a sleepover, stay up really late and talk like we used to, and eat a lot of Twizzlers.

When Mark and I returned home from our honeymoon, we walked into our bedroom to find that someone (Mallorie) had decorated our bedroom with fun pictures of us (me and Mark, not me and Mallorie- though, that would have been fun, too), flowers, and candles. It was such a thoughtful thing to do and a fun surprise to welcome the newlyweds home! That summer, Mallorie was home from school and I have the greatest memories of that time. We both had pretty flexible schedules for several weeks and we spent several days one week at her sister's house, hanging out on the couch watching the REAL Pride and Prejudice...the hours-long BBC version. One of the best memories I have of spending time with my fabulous friend.

I could go on and on about Mallorie, but this post has to end at some point.

BooBoo- I hope we always stay the best of friends, no matter the distance or experiences that separate us- I admire you so much for who you are and who you've always been. Thank you for being the sister I always wanted, but could never convince my brother he was. =) You are the absolute BEST and I love you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful November- catching up

Whew! What a week it has been! Can't believe I haven't blogged at all- we've been busy and Mark has come down with a bad cold, so I've been spending lots of time taking care of my little family. Each day, though, I've been noticing so many more things I'm thankful for, and I credit this project for that.

This past week, I'm thankful for:

Swimming lessons- I've been taking Brynn to swim lessons for the past couple months and it's one of my favorite times with her. Fun, fun time to be with my baby girl and being SO proud of how well she's doing! I am using the same company that both of the families I nannied for used, so I am pretty familiar with the progression of the lessons and how to hold Brynn while doing all the things we do in the water. I think one of the reasons she's doing so well is that I'm confident with what I'm doing. It's kinda intimidating to think about dunking your baby under water, letting go of her for a second, letting her sit on the edge of the pool while walking away (attended by the teacher, of course)...anyway, it has helped me knowing all the procedures beforehand. Brynn is AMAZING in the water! So much so that last week, even after missing the 3 previous weeks due to illness/being out of town, her teacher said she's doing so well that she can move to the higher level in the next session! It's so fun to be with her in the pool, bonding with such a fun activity!

My (our) health- All 3 of us have had bad colds over the last month, and boy, being sick and taking care of a sick baby is hard! The span of time where both Brynn and I were sick made me so thankful for my otherwise healthy body and made me think about how much of a blessing it is to be in good health. It's easy for me to take care of people- I love to do it, it's in my nature. It's so hard to do that when I'm also feeling yucky and I realize that now Brynn is here, it's even more essential to do what I can to stay healthy for her, and to keep my family as healthy as possible. That means continuing to feed them nutritious food, lots of water and supplements and making sure we all get the sleep we need.

Mark's job- With the crazy snow this week, I'm SO grateful that Mark has a job where he can work from home when needed and that he doesn't feel pressured to try and brave the roads when it's not safe. We can see the freeway from our house and many times over the last few days I've gazed at the drivers out there, praying they get to where they're going without incident. I'm also so grateful for Mark having a job that he really enjoys. Sure, there are ups and downs, but since he's been at his job almost 7 years, the group of people he works with have become good friends and he has many great opportunities for his future there- I'm so excited to see what comes down the pipe this next year!

Our Small Group- Last fall, some friends at church asked us to join a small group they were starting. Now, after more than a year, Thursdays have become one of our most anticipated days of the week because we get to laugh and "get real" with these guys. We're in a very fun time right now- with one couple having a 3 year old, us having Brynn, and the other 3 couples pregnant with their first babies. How awesome to be raising our first babies together and all at the same time!

Our generator- When we bought this house, a generator came with it. I've never thought about how great owning one of these things can be, but we've used it over the last few years and it's especially great now with a baby to think of, knowing she can stay warm at night if the power goes out. Also, since we don't have a fireplace or a gas cooktop, we'd really be freezing if not for the generator!

My brother- I've beat him up over the years, and then he beat me up when he grew a little bigger, we've said terrible things each to other, forgiven each other, made each other laugh A LOT. I love having a sibling to lean on, talk to, de-brief life with. He has grown pretty wise over the years, and can handle my crazy-woman talk when needed. He's a great uncle, fun to be around, smart, talented...the list goes on. =)

Facebook- Yep, I said it. Most of the time, I have mostly distain for Facebook, but one of the things it is good for is encouragement. I've been struggling with what to do with Brynn's nighttime sleeping habits lately, and it has been great to get some insight from friends that I see and don't see often, hear about what they're doing, and report back what I've tried and how it's going. I really appreciate it- I'd love to have long phone conversations or coffee dates with those friends instead of writing messages over FB, but sometimes that's just not possible, so in those moments I'm grateful that I can write a quick little message, run off and tend to what I need to around the house, and come back to see what my friends have to say.

I'm loving this little exercise in thankfulness- I may be behind in blogging each day, but I'm definitely basking in every little moment of my day that I might otherwise have taken for granted, and I'm hoping I can keep my mind focused in this way throughout the year, even if I'm not writing it down every day!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thankful November- day 16

Today I'm thankful for the here and now.

Contentment is something I've struggled with, on and off, for years. I doubt I'm the only one. =) We live in such a fast-paced, get to the next step, life will be better when culture and it sometimes gets the best of me. Mark has always been the one to ground me, especially early in our marriage when I really struggled with being okay with where life had me at that time, what "stuff" I did or didn't have, what I looked like, etc. Through the years, I've come a long way. That's not to say that I don't still struggle with contentment, it's just that now the spotlight illuminates other things that weren't there before.

Pregnancy and parenting have been great phases for me to learn contentment. When I was pregnant, my inbox was full of all those "what to expect next" emails, my nightstand stacked high with the same sort of books. Of course I devoured it all, since it was my first pregnancy, but I also tried to appreciate the experience every single step of the way. Even the 24 hour nausea I had in the beginning. Life's best reason for feeling sick. =) I reminded myself, and still do now, that I may not have the gift of being pregnant again (I hope that's not true!) and to not wish it all away just so I could be more comfortable/meet my baby/ look like myself again...well, that part still really hasn't happened yet. =)

Parenting, so far, is the same. People all around bombard you with "just wait til the next phase" mantras that are meant well, of course, and I'm sure I say those same things to my friends who have babes younger than mine. Think of all I'd miss if I was constantly waiting for the next phase to begin...her tiny fingers feeling the pasta pieces I put out for her, taking foooooorrrrreeeeevvvveeerrrrr to eat meals because she can now feed herself and she has to feel each thing on her tray, really explore it, before she even thinks about putting it in her mouth. Sure, I could feed her myself or I could wish that she was older and could eat even better on her own and not make such a mess, but think of all the little moments I'd miss...instead of wishing those moments away, we take pictures of them to try and capture the "right now" of Brynn.

In other areas of my life, I'm feeling more whole than I ever have. I'm understanding more every day about this new "full-time homemaker/mama" role of mine, and how to really embrace it. I'm okay with the sacrifices we choose to make in order to keep me in that role and be good stewards of what we have. My friendships are deep and meaningful. My marriage is not perfect, but it's strong, full of lots of fun and love. My body is...well...a bit different than it used to be, but every time I see the few faded stretch marks on my belly...

I feel joy.

Yesterday Mark said that as he was leaving work, he thought how nice it is to anticipate going home to a warm house, a wife that loves him and is happy he's home, and a little girl who crawls to the door and squeals with delight when he walks in...that everyone should have that. My heart is full knowing he feels that way.

It's easy to talk about contentment when I feel as though I'm in a season of "plenty" and not "want", but I truly hope I can get to a place of contentment even when life is hard. For now, I'm so grateful for where God has me in life- I could live in these moments forever. =)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thankful November- day 15

On the heels of yesterday's post, today I'm thankful for menu planning. It's something I've started doing in the last year or so and, if I'm on top of it every week, it's makes life so much less stressful. My mom is an excellent cook, and growing up what I observed about her cooking is that she really didn't plan too much in advance for the weekly stuff (sorry mom if you're reading this and you actually did, but I'm about to give you a compliment so just hang on...) but instead she would buy a bunch of good-looking food at the store and create meals all week with what we had in the house. This always really amazed me and I'm proud to say that both my brother and I have a knack for this type of cooking after watching mom come up with some pretty amazing meals with sometimes meager or strange food in the fridge. =) She definitely plans for special occasions and also planned out wonderful meals on the weekends, but because she taught full-time while we were growing up, I know she was tired during the week and maybe the extra chore of planning each day's meal was too much. Hmm...I don't know, actually, I should ask her about that.

And I digress...I started menu planning because I realized that at the end of each week, I always had unused produce in my fridge that wasn't getting used, or I would buy something that looked good but wasn't able to figure out how to cook a meal around that particular ingredient, usually some weird seasonal vegetable. =) Anyway, I found that if I used the Internet to help create meals, I could do it pretty quickly a la the explained technique in yesterday's post. Now I'm able to prep dinner while Brynn is napping, or, when I finally get around to making it, usually after she's gone to bed, I'm not sitting in front of the fridge wondering what the heck I'm going to make when it's already 7:00pm.

I typically plan one meal that will have leftovers for a day and one day that is a "free day" where I don't have to cook and we get takeout or eat with friends. Here is this week's menu, along with links for the new recipes I'm trying this time around:

- it's a "bean-heavy" week. We've been trying to eat less meat and beans are an easy way to pack on the protein.

Monday- Bean and Zucchini Enchiladas

Tuesday- BBQ Chili (may I just say this is THE BEST chili ever. Seriously- I've been making it for years and it's always a favorite!)

Ingredients For 12 Servings:

  • 1 T. oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ c. chili powder
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 can (16 ounces) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 c. ketchup
  • 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • ¼ c. molasses
  • ¼ c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. dry mustard
  • 2 cans (15 ¼ ounces) dark-red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cans (15 ½ ounces each) pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannelloni beans, drained
  • cilantro


  • Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. (I just use my pasta pot!)
  • Add meat, onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin; cook over medium high heat, stirring to break up meat, until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in tomato, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire and mustard; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in kidney, pinto, and cannelloni beans; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes to blend flavors.
  • Serve with cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese for garnishes and corn bread on the side.

Wednesday- Chili Leftovers (no complaints!)

Thursday- Black Eyed Pea Cakes

Friday- Spinach, Mushroom and Onion Calzones

Saturday- dinner at friend's house

Sunday- free day

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thankful November- day 14

Today I'm thankful for a service that makes my life easier.

I've been buying groceries through Amazonfresh for a few months now and I just love it. I would say the prices are like shopping at QFC, so not the cheapest around, but there's a sidebar that tallies up everything I have in my cart so I can keep an eye on how much I'm spending in order to stay within our budget, and so far it hasn't been a problem. I actually think I shop smarter now and buy less junk because I'm so mindful of everything I'm putting in my cart. Before Brynn was born, grocery shopping was one of my favorite errands. I would stop for coffee first and stroll through the store casually, putting together delicious meals for the week as I went and not worrying if I forgot something, since I could just turn my cart around and go allllllllllll the way back to the other side of the store if needed.

Now, as a mama, grocery shopping is not one of my favorite errands. For me, it takes some concentration (which may sounds silly), and I've tried everything to make it easier, like compartmentalizing my list into categories so I'm not zipping from one side of the store to the other searching for something. A friend told me about Amazonfresh and I decided to give it a try.

I've developed a pretty stream-lined system- Sunday evenings I sit down and open 3 tabs in my internet browser. One is for Cooking Light, which is where many of my weekly recipes come from, though I do use that tab to search other food websites as well, the 2nd tab is an email addressed to myself with each day of the week listed- I type out what I'm going to prepare for dinner next to the appropriate day and if I'm using a new recipe I found online, I paste the link into my email. The 3rd tab is for Amazonfresh, where I can easily and quickly search for the things my family eats every week, as well as special items from the online recipes I've found. It takes me about 30-45 minutes, depending on how many new recipes I'm looking up, but it has saved me so much time! I can then choose whatever day and time in the next week I want my groceries delivered, and they come right to my door without me having to be there. Another great part is that there are no bags to deal with, I just open the tubs and put my groceries away. It's awesome. It was especially great when Brynn and I were both sick last week and a trip to the grocery store was needed but definitely the last thing on my list!

So, as I end this post and begin my weekly menu planning/ grocery shopping, I'm grateful to be able to do so from the comfort of my own home at whatever time of day I want. Here's to making things easier!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thankful November- day 13

Today I'm thankful for my daughter, Brynn.

She is such a blessing to me. I still, almost 9 months after her birth, have to remind myself sometimes that she is MY daughter. She lives in MY house. Motherhood is an experience I've always dreamed of and it has fulfilled me more than I imagined. It's magical the way Brynn needs and wants me, how she reaches for and crawls to me. How she squeals with delight when I walk in to her room in the morning and after naps. She is such an amazing baby, and I know all mothers think that of their children, which is a wonderful thing. Brynn is so smart and interested in the world around her. I can hardly wait until the "why" questions begin because of the things I imagine she'll ask about. =)

I love that I've been able to nurse her. My friend Tiffany told me she thinks nursing is "the perfect bridge between pregnancy and your baby being outside of the womb". Her words have stuck with me and I think of them each time I sit down to nurse Brynn. She is right. I would say that the time is even more precious to me now than ever, because of how busy she is all day long. Nursing is the one time she sits still and I can just gaze at her in wonder. I love the snuggly-ness of our time together and even though I would LOOOOOOOOVE for her to be sleeping all the way through the night, I do still treasure our once-a-night-unless-she's-sick-or-teething-then-it's-2-or-3-times-a-night nursing sessions. When she's finished, she often just looks at me and smiles and giggles. Heart be melted.

Motherhood has changed me in many ways. Some of these changes I'm grateful for, and some I'm looking forward to/hoping to grow through. I'm grateful for Brynn's health, for her sweet personality and curiosity about the world around her. I'm reminded daily that many mamas in this world are heartbroken because they have lost their babies before or after birth, have terribly ill children, or have damaged relationships with them. I hope that Brynn and I will have a wonderful relationship through the years and I realize that means I will have to grow in some ways as she also grows. Being a mother makes me think of how grateful I am for my own mom and how well she has always loved me.

I replay over and over, many times weekly, the moment Brynn was laid on my chest. I waited so many years for that sweet moment. Years of trying to prepare every part of our lives, praying that the Lord would bless us with a child to raise and love, trusting Him through my pregnancy, labor and delivery...nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced then...the moment I literally felt a new life emerge into this world from my body, the moment her slimy, wriggly body was laid on mine. The moment she calmed and looked right into my eyes.

The moment I became a mother.

Thankful November- day 12

Today I'm thankful for my home.

view of the backyard and garage...

We've lived in this home for 3.5 years and have had so much fun remodeling and putting our stamp on this place. This house is way more than we deserve in every aspect and I'm so grateful that we get to call it ours for now. One of my favorite things about this house is that it has an awesome landing upstairs. I've always loved homes with landings and this one almost feels like another room because it's so spacious. There's a little spot for a table to display things on and plenty of room for more people to walk around up there at once. The other thing that is amazing about this house is the storage...there's almost too much! There are huge closets everywhere, a huge basement, and a 3-car garage with a wood shed and a tool shed attached. We have a great view of the lake, Seattle, and the sunsets here are incredible.

All these things are great, but really what I love best about our home is that it is OUR home. When I walk in, I feel at ease. It smells like home. It's warm and cozy. It's where we brought our first baby home to live.

I am so grateful to the Lord for blessing us with such a beautiful home to begin our years as a family of three. Friends are always welcomed with a drink and something tasty to eat! =)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful November- day 11

Today I'm thankful for the veterans of our country's military that have given their service, and many their lives, to protect the nation they love. I have known several veterans, including my own dad, and I'm always amazed at the stories they have to share about their time in the service and the fact that they so willingly gave so many years of their life to protect us, knowing that it may well cost them their lives. This is the greatest country in the world, in my opinion, and I can't say that in my lifetime I may ever have the opportunity to do anything as brave as what military servicemen/women do every single day. I'm also thankful for the men and women currently serving in the military and their families, for I know the support they are given by their families makes their jobs easier to do. If you know any veterans, let them know today how much they are appreciated. I, for one, am off to give my dad a call! =)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thankful November- day 10

Today I'm thankful for playtime with Brynn. I sometimes take for granted how well and how long she can play by herself, at least at this point. I'm able to run around while she plays and get things done, or fold a pile of laundry while I sit with her and watch her play. I remind myself daily to scrap all those chores and play with her, which I do, many times daily. It's so fun to watch her discover new ways to play with her toys, for instance, she has one of those tubs with shape cut-outs and the shapes that go with them. For a long time, if I put the shapes into the tub, she wouldn't reach in to get them, but she'd just bang on the tub instead. =) Then one day last week, she started reaching into the tub to get the shapes and now it's one of her most-loved activities- reaching into that tub, or any tub/bowl, and picking out the things that are inside. I'm amazed at how her little mind works- how did she decide that day that it was the day to try something new? So magical to have the pleasure of watching my baby girl grow and change through play.

Thankful November- day 9

Today I'm thankful for insurance. It's something I think of often and I realize it is a luxury, especially to have the added benefit of no co-pays...which probably will change at some point, but for now, it's been amazing. I've never had to make a choice about going to the doctor, dentist, etc. If I need to go, I go. I know there are many people out there that have to make a choice between seeing a doctor and buying groceries or other essentials. This makes me sad, and insurance is definitely something I don't ever want to take for granted.

Thankful November- day 8

Catching up after being sick with a cold and the internet connection being spotty. Today I'm thankful for fun family adventures with just my little family of 3. We were able to have a getaway to the coast last month, spending time at Kalaloch (thank goodness it was only 1 night, accomodations were gross!) and Seabrook (LOOOOOOOVED this place!). It was so fun to plan this trip and enjoy time with just Mark and Brynn, not having to share them with anyone. =) Sure, I love my extended family, but sometimes it's nice to just relax with the people I live with. I am also grateful to be able to travel in the off-season since I'm not teaching this year- less people and better rates!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thankful November- day 7

Today I'm thankful for our neighbor, T (I want to respect his privacy since I didn't tell him I was going to be writing this). Not only is he a great neighbor and friend, but he could probably fill his portfolio with all the projects he's done around our house in the 3 years we've lived here. I know Mark would echo me in saying that we are SO grateful for T's help with all the remodeling we've done. Finding a good, honest, reliable, reasonable contractor these days is a difficult task; there are so many horror stories out there! So far, there hasn't been a job that T hasn't been able to take on, and yet, when there is something he's not sure about, he's honest and says it's not his area of work, which we appreciate! He takes such pride in his work and our house is gorgeous because of it.

T's list of credits in our house include: installing new sub-floor/hardwood flooring in the main area of our house (which was NOT an easy feat since our house was built in 1943 and like many old houses, has "weird" stuff to work with!), changing the layout of some of the cabinetry in our kitchen, knocking out a wall between the kitchen/dining room, doing trim work throughout the house, closing up a door that used to be in an upstairs bedroom, several other little things, and he's currently working on a pergola/covered porch out back that is replacing an old rotting deck that, you guessed it, he demoed. Basically, he's become a vital part of any and all of our home projects and will continue to be, no matter where we live!

Thankful November- day 6

This should have been posted yesterday, but alas, I woke up with Brynn's cold yesterday and I took a nap instead of blogging. =)

I'm thankful today for Brynn's daily routine. I know it will change a bit as she grows, but it helps our days run so much more smoothly because her days are somewhat predictable. When she was about 3-4 months old, I started trying to get her on somewhat of a schedule. Before then it wouldn't have worked since she slept so much of the time. I'm definitely someone that appreciates a predicted routine (probably the teacher in me). I have friends who's kids take naps at different times every day, go to bed at different times each night and snack throughout the day instead of having meals- they are happy and healthy and it works just fine for them. For me, I need to know what time every day I can expect a break to get housework done, and also what time I'm "off-duty" in the evenings. Mark has commented to me many times how much he loves our evenings together. It's almost like "date-night" every night since Brynn goes to bed at 7. We then have time to eat dinner together and watch a show or two, or just talk. Now, of course, there are one or two nights every week when Brynn doesn't go down as easily as usual, or wakes up several times before we even go to bed. But generally, she does great.

I love being able to plan my day around Brynn's naps and when we'll need to be home, rather than hoping she'll nap in the car while we're out and about. We've been on several little vacations since Brynn was born and though she always did great with shorter naps at different times and later bedtimes, she was so happy to get home and back into her schedule. Since she can't talk yet, it helps when she's fussy to be able to at least intelligently guess what she needs based on what time it is.

It helps Mark and anyone else who takes care of Brynn to know what her day usually entails. I typed up a schedule (per Mark's request) and put it on the fridge. It's become very handy when I leave her with someone because I don't have to write out a little note every time someone else watches Brynn. For our family, a routine helps us run smoothly and for that, I am thankful!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thankful November- day 4 and 5

I skipped posting on day 4...Brynn has a really bad cold and I've been up all night the last several nights with her since she won't go to sleep unless I'm holding her and then it took about 3 tries of putting her down, her waking back up immediately, and me repeating the holding and trying to put down before she would actually stay asleep...and even then it would only be for about 45 minutes before she would wake up and we'd have to repeat the whole process again.

I feel so bad for her because this is her first sickness and just by looking at her you can tell she's thinking, "What is happening to me?! Why can't I breathe?! What is this nasty stuff constantly oozing out of my nose?!"

So, to combine days (again), today I'm doubly grateful for the fact that I am able to be at home with Brynn full-time. I know that for some mamas, this is not an option, and for other mamas, they are better moms because they choose to work outside the home. I LOVE teaching, and I'm happy that I was able to begin my career before Brynn joined out family, and I anticipate re-joining the work force once Brynn (and hopefully other babes) are in school. I remember feeling a bit weird on my last day of work, but now that my days are full of baby smooches, poop, sleep/eat schedules, snot, spit-up, laundry, dishes, meal-planning, scrubbing toilets, and putting forth effort daily into making our house a home, I feel I'm right where the Lord wants me. It's a job like any other in that I can do a good job and stay on top of things, or I can do a crappy job and have a disorganized, flustered life. Maybe some can operate that way, not me. =) The added element is that there is this little person who needs me 24 hours a day, though I'd love that she DIDN'T need me between the hours of 7pm-7am...the girl had YET to sleep through the night! I underestimated how emotionally taxing this job would be...there is so much that is on my mind and heart surrounding Brynn, our families, friends, our marriage...and yet I know that that is part of how God designed parenthood- all these things bubble to the surface that cause me to really think about who I am and who I want to be.

Especially these last few days, as Brynn has been sick and needing me so much more than usual, I'm SO thankful that amid these sleepless nights and busy days taking care of a sick baby, I haven't also had to deal with writing sub plans and worrying about how my class is doing and feeling guilty that I'm not at school and feeling guilty that I can't be at home all the time.

We made some serious changes over the last few years to prepare for a responsible life on one-income, and that means many sacrifices. I'm so glad to be in the position where we have to think about the money we spend, because I think it builds character and makes us ever-so-grateful for the blessings we don't deserve that we've been given anyway, as well as setting the background for some pretty good conversations down the road when Brynn is older. Being at home also means I'm more accountable for how I spend my free time when Brynn is napping. Sure, I get in my fair share of Gilmore Girls when I just need a break, but I have taken on new responsibilities around our home and when I use my time well, I feel as accomplished as after a long day at school. I'm thankful for the work I have here at home. Work is good for me and I love sitting down with a pencil and paper and planning the next cleaning/organizing/homemaking project I'm going to tackle during naptime.

There's NO right way to do this mothering thing, and I give serious props to all the moms, including my own, who work full-time both in and outside their homes. What works for one family doesn't work for everyone, but today I am beyond grateful that my job right now is to take care of my daughter and our home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thankful November- day 3

Today I'm thankful for really GOOD decaf coffee. I know that unless you're in a coffeehouse or fabulous restaurant, this is a bit of an oxymoron, but I've searched high and low over the last year and a half to find a great decaf coffee to enjoy at home. When I found out I was pregnant, I stopped drinking regular coffee and have never started again since I'm still nursing. Like many first-time moms, a bit of paranoia set in about drinking regular coffee and having a baby that was strung out on caffeine and would never sleep. =) I know there are many mamas who drink regular coffee and their babes sleep just fine, but like I said...paranoia. =)

Anyway, after trying many watery, bitter, and mostly flavorless decaf blends, my favorite has become the "Green Mountain/ Newman's Own Organics" brand. It is robust, super flavorful, so much so that I can even drink it black. Yeah. It's that good.

I love waking up to the smell of coffee brewing, and just the taste of coffee perks me up, (no pun intended), so no caffeine needed. Another great thing is that sometimes I don't have time for coffee before running out the door in the morning and I don't miss those "I NEED coffee" headaches at all!

So this morning, as my coffeemaker filled my home with the aroma of freshly ground beans, I thought about how much I love love love GOOD decaf coffee.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thankful November... (day 1 and 2)

This month, I'm joining some of my friends by blogging each day about something I'm thankful for. Our society has become so focused on the wrong things, and especially this time of year- consumerism abounds, does it not? This is a chance to take a moment each day and pay attention to all the blessings that I have in my life, and there are MANY! Join me, if you like. Find a journal you have around, or just use some sticky notes (good idea, Bree!) and record your blessings. How amazing will you feel at the end of the month when you have all these "grateful-for" notes staring back at you? What wonderful reminders to focus outward, not inward, as people. Of course, I've started a day late because of a very busy Monday, but I think the subject of this post is worth 2 days of thankfulness. =)

Today I'm thankful for Mark. Of course I'm thankful for him every day, but last night I experienced a moment with him that made me fall in love with him all over again. Brynn was having a hard time settling down to sleep...okay, she was screaming. We're not a "cry-it-out" family, but I do give Brynn 5-10 minutes to try and calm herself down before I intervene. I'm usually the one to put Brynn down for the night and go in if she needs to be soothed. Mark just hasn't had too much luck being able to settle her down and honestly, it has always been easier and faster if I just go in and give her a quick snuggle to help her calm down. I know this has always been kinda tough for Mark, feeling like he doesn't quite know how to help Brynn in this way. Anyway, last night, I put her down, she cried, and since I had started making dinner, Mark offered to go help Brynn. It hadn't been 10 minutes yet, but Mark felt like he wanted to go to her. Pretty soon, I heard her stop crying. He was upstairs for a while and when he came down, he walked into the kitchen and had tears in his eyes and said, "I did it". He had snuggled with her for a long time and she fell asleep. For me, it was incredible to witness this moment he was experiencing as a daddy and how it was impacting him. He felt like he helped, like he was capable, like he had something to offer, like he knew what Brynn needed. Since I am the one taking care of Brynn all day, I have experienced many of these "I did it" moments, but to watch Mark experience this brought me so much joy and I've been smiling inside all day today as I remember last night.

Mark and Brynn snuggling while out for a walk, September 2010

Mark and I have been married 7.5 years. When we met, we fell for each other quickly. He is the only man I've ever loved and I would never change that. He has come to know me well, the good and the bad. He challenges me, encourages me, tells me several times a day how beautiful I am and how much he loves me. I remember before we got married, my dad told me that we wouldn't truly know what "love" is for a while. He was right. On my wedding day I was "in love" with Mark, but through the years, I have grown to absolutely "love" Mark. And then there are moments like last night when, after watching Mark comfort our baby, I fall "in love" with him all over again. Mark is committed to me and our family, he loves the Lord and works to seek after him daily. He's funny AND thinks I'm funny and we laugh together a lot. He is smart and loves to research things. If he has a question about something, it's pretty much a guarantee that he'll be found on the computer at some point "Googling" for the answer. He loves our family and friends and would be content to have our house full of people all the time. He helps me with home tasks even when I don't ask and surprises me with things like flowers or chocolates often.

Mark dipping Brynn's feet into the Pacific Ocean for the 1st time, October 2010

I would lay my life down for this man, and I am so grateful that the Lord introduced us so early in life, that we have already shared 7.5 years of marriage, that we have been gifted a precious baby girl to raise together, and that we have many years ahead of us to grow as people and a couple.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moms n' Tots

Our church has a fantastic program called "Moms n' Tots" that meets every other Tuesday. The moms have fellowship time with a delicious spread of food (what church event would be complete without grub, right?), listen to a speaker, and then break into discussion groups to reflect on what the theme of the day is. The kids have their own program and the volunteers who work with them are wonderful.

I was really nervous about leaving Brynn in the nursery since she' such a mama's girl and Moms n' Tots is during her am nap time, so I signed up to help in the nursery on my "off" week- we went last week and she did great, but I was still nervous to leave her for the first time today. I put her down for a nap and walked out of the doors of the nursery, shedding a few tears and listening to the nursery volunteers cheer me on. The time with the other moms was amazing- the woman who spoke was a seasoned mother and truly blessed us all with her words.

I always think it's crazy how the Lord works in our lives- last week I was at a baby shower for a former co-worker and one of the ladies I used to teach with asked if I knew a woman at our church that she used to have as a student- guess who is my discussion group leader for MnT? THAT woman. Also, there's a young mom in our church who has been battling a brain tumor. I've never met her, but I've been praying for her and her family since our local newspaper wrote an article about her. Guess who is is my discussion group? THAT woman. Some people may see these little things as coincidences, but I know better. The Lord is going to be working in me this year and somehow these women will be involved. I can't wait to see what He's planning!

When I returned to the nursery, Brynn was flapping her arms and legs in excitement to see me. She slept for an hour and a half there and the report was that she did great and had fun playing the rest of the time.

I find that with each new step I take in motherhood, I cringe with a bit of anxiety because I wonder how Brynn and I will cope. I feel more confident with each milestone that we pass together and it's never as bad as I anticipate. I know the Lord has much in store for me in this adventure of being a mama and I know some of it will feel easy and some of it will stretch me in ways I didn't know were possible.

Loving this adventure SO much.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall fun

Loving that it is finally fall, cherishing my days with Brynn, started swim lessons (she LOVES it!), Moms n' Tots at church (tomorrow is the first day of Brynn in the nursery without me- hoping she does okay!), lots of fun with family and friends, working on organizing and decorating projects while Brynn naps, enjoying the evenings with Mark after Brynn is in bed, and altogether just truly relishing in the reality that is my life right now- love love love it. I'm so grateful for what the Lord has given me and every time I look at Brynn, my heart feels as if it will burst!

The pictures with Brynn holding the pink hippo are from a series I took- she was obsessed with this toy one day and I just think her little expressions are so funny!

She turned 7 months old on the 17th and is doing great. Sitting on her own, starting to "creep" backwards, rolling over all the time, talking ("bop" has been her word of choice lately).

I have to document the fact that I'm pretty sure Brynn can read my mind...we went to a wedding last night that started at 7pm (Brynn's bedtime). The crowd that was gathered there would have been upset if we didn't bring her, so I said to Mark on Saturday, "I wish Brynn would sleep in tomorrow morning so I can shift her naps to prepare her to stay up a little later than normal). Guess what she did? Slept in on Sunday and took her naps exactly when I hoped she would! This doesn't happen often since she's a girl who loves her routine: up at 7, nap from 9-11am, nap from 1-3/4pm, bed at 7pm. She definitely won the "Best Baby" award for that! She's done this a few times before and so I'm convinced she can anticipate what I'm thinking. =)

What a good girl.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Summer fun

I've been absent from this space for what feels like too long...

It's been difficult for me to update this little blog because I've been going through some "mama stuff" lately and I haven't been able to decide whether to share that here or just keep things light and airy. I suppose I choose the third option, which is just not write anything. =)

Not to go into anything too deeply, but I will say that this whole experience of motherhood, nothing surrounding the care of Brynn has ever been much of a challenge for me...obviously, she's only 6.5 months old and I have a long way to go...what has been challenging is everything, my emotions, expectations I've putting on myself, letting go of Brynn...I'm blessed with many wise mama friends in my life and I'm so grateful for the encouragement they provide, even when I seem to hang on to the same struggles, week after week.

What I've realized during the last 6.5 months is that stepping into motherhood is just like starting a new job- I can't expect to be perfect at every aspect of it from the get-go, or ever for that matter. It will take time to fit into my new role- a lifetime, probably...and I shouldn't be so hard on myself when my timing of being ready for certain things doesn't match up with other people's wants or desires. So, that's the dark stuff. =)

Amid all of that, I have never been so content in my whole life. I love my days with Brynn and being able to soak in every stage she is growing through...and yes, I meant "growing", not "going". teehee. I'm amazed at hoe much she loves me, I mean REALLY loves me. She's always happy to see me, thinks I'm ridiculously funny, and is such a snuggle bug. Mark and I look at her every day and have to pinch each other to believe that she is really ours.

The last few weeks have been busy with a wedding at Semiahmoo that Mark and I were both in (his cousin's- super fun, beautiful weather, awesome time with family, amazing location!), lots of playdates, planning fall projects and taking a million pictures of Brynn!

This was the first week of school and I've been thinking about what I was doing last year at this time, greeting new students with their crisp new clothes and backpacks full of sharpened pencils, and explaining to every parent that inquired (which was every parent) what my plan for the year was since I was obviously pregnant. I do love teaching, but I wouldn't trade that huge paycheck (ha!) for what my days include now!

Brynn turned 6 months old in August- she's 14 lbs, 4.5 oz, 26 inches long, takes 2 great naps every day, eats 3 meals of solid food, sits up on her own, is so happy and smiley and giggly all the time- we sure do love her!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

4th of July fun!

We had LOTS of fun this past weekend at our family cabins in Spokane. The weather wasn't great, but we were able to: have great chats with extended family, take naps with Brynn instead of doing chores, enjoy a mostly "media-fee" 5 days, eating delicious creations from my brother, who has become quite the bbq master, and relish in the fact that Brynn will now be able to enjoy this place that I have enjoyed since I was her age! So fun!

Brynn has now chowed down on several fruits and veggies and the girl loves to eat- she almost snarls as she tries to catch the spoon in her mouth before it quite reaches her.

Mark enjoyed playing around with the camera and captured some awesome night shots- he is so talented!

On the way home, we experienced the biggest, and I mean biggest, poop in the history of poops. I was all over Brynn, head to toe, all over the car seat AND even went ALLLLLLLLL the way down to the car seat base! How does that even happen?! Super gross and definitely a two-person job to clean up...and then we had the 6-hour drive home. =) Brynn must have been on a blow-out spree because that night when we arrived home, she had pooped again, and then the next day as I was walking through the store with her in the front pack, I realized she had pooped all over herself and it was all over the baby bjorn and my shirt. Awesome. Of course, as I had just begun my grocery shopping, I had to keep going...clearly I have my priorities straight: food first, poop second.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

busy busy!

Things have been a bit crazy around here lately and with a full summer of little vacations and wedding events for Mark's cousin (we're both in the wedding party), I'm learning quickly how to balance everything in this new role of mine. Brynn continues to amaze us with her constant cuteness and we can hardly believe that she turned 4 months old on the 17th. We've been doing some sleep training with her since Friday (another post altogether)- she's doing really well and it's been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders because it will be much easier to leave her with others now that she can put herself to sleep on her own.

We started solid foods last week- her pediatrician recommended skipping rice cereal and moving on to a fiber-rich veggie since her poopin' schedule suggests the cereal could make her constipated. Sweet peas were her first bite and I've been amazed that she's been eating all we've been giving her and not just swirling it around in her mouth and spitting it out. She likes to eat, just like her parents! =) I received the Beaba Babycook for a gift and I can't wait to start putting it to use with all the awesome summer produce starting to become available!

Definitely feeling the itch of needing to commit to an exercise routine- feelin' reeeeeaaaal squishy lately. I had to stop running a few years ago because of a back issue that I suspect had more to do with me wearing high heels every day. Now that I don't do that anymore, I'm hoping to try running again with some success.

We tore down our upstairs deck and closed off the door that used to lead to it from one of our bedrooms upstairs- it was starting to rot and a future kid-bedroom with a door to a 2nd story deck didn't seem like the best idea. That's our awesome "can do it all" neighbor in the picture. He's great.

The photo of Mark and Brynn in the Bjorn is from a little hike we went on a few weeks ago- there are some fun little trails close to us that are perfect for the spontaneous "wanna go for a hike?" line that comes from our mouths often. Mark is totally addicted to the Bjorn- he loves wearing it. I don't blame him- Brynn is so sweet and content when she's in there...she loves to look around and hold hands while she's being carried in that thing.

We celebrated our 7th anniversary on the 28th- hard to believe it's been that long! Since we got married before the digital age, none of our pictures are super accessible, so not as easy to post on here- but just imagine us thinner, tanner, and still going gaga over each other and that's pretty much what we looked like back then. =)