Thursday, December 24, 2015

merry Christmas!

From the cutest kids I ever laid eyes on:
(And from us, too:)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

gifted

In a season filled with gift giving I've found myself reflective of the non-physical gifts of those around me. This introspection was probably brought on by the fact that my knee-jerk reaction to my boss telling me not to worry about something was to respond, "you don't know me at all--worrying is the one thing I am good at!" and partially due to the fact that I am constantly noticing all the things Jon excels at (theology--I seriously think he has the potential to be an earth-changing theologian of our generation, cooking, singing/playing ukulele, loving our kids, being hot, essentially any hobby he picks up, etc.).

(If you haven't noticed in my writing or just from knowing me in general, I have a pretty poor view of myself and my capabilities.)

While I think it is important to be critical of one's self so that we constantly grow, I am critical of myself to a fault. I think I suck at my job. I think I am completely and unequivocally unattractive from a physical perspective. I constantly question my parenting and wifely abilities. I think I am incompetent and annoying*, loud and immature, a crappy Christian**, so on and so forth. 

In spite of my faults, I do my best to love my neighbors. To treat those around me with care and respect. To give a voice to the marginalized. To forgive those who have slighted me, be it actual or perceived.

But I can't extend the same grace to myself.

If pressed, I would say the only other thing I am good at is that I am empathetic and passionate about the issues that feel near to me. My heart aches for the hurting, the broken and the forgotten. I do what I can to help, but my help is oft contingent on my convenience and comfort level. 

In 2016 I want to be better at two things: saying yes when it's inconvenient and being kinder to myself. If I took the energy and passion I have for telling myself lies about how useless I am and redirected it towards doing something positive, perhaps I could learn to love myself a little bit and make an actual difference in the world. Perhaps by living my life more sacrificially I can better grasp--albeit never fully comprehend--the way Jesus loved sinful, unworthy me.

*this part is at least partially true 
**also at least partially true 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

life lately

Lately we have been spending a whole lot of time scrambling to remember and keep up with our commitments. I have been working part time at night/on weekends from home doing quality & compliance documentation for a friend with a medical device startup. It has been so fulfilling (I miss the BME at my main gig) but also quite the time constraint. That being said, we really needed the money between paying off Jon's hernia surgery + car problems that it has been a total blessing. 

As you may expect, I'm finding myself spread thin. The living room still isn't done (need to finish caulking and painting and putting up a few more pieces of molding) but we have had to shift gears to organizing the basement as we got the kids a playhouse for Christmas and it had become the spot after the move where random boxes filled with junk we never use had gone to die.

We are making significant headway in tossing a whole lot of stuff and rearranging the stuff we want to keep. I'm hoping to have it done by this weekend.

-- 

This has been an odd season of life for us. Jon and I want more kids. We always envisioned a larger family. Now that we are nearing the age Elden was when I got pregnant with Edith we find ourselves trying to make decisions regarding how we grow our family. I never felt like Edith was my last pregnancy. I certainly didn't cherish it and I believed we would go on to have at least one more biological kid. But I have been feeling an ever-increasing pull towards foster-to-adopt lately so we are conflicted. No decisions have been made either way and as of last night we are reconsidering doing anything within the next several months since we are so uncertain.

--

We are hosting my family for Christmas this year and have started to really finalize the menu. I can't wait to share more once we have it nailed down!

Friday, December 11, 2015

ten on ten

I started yesterday with full intentions to do the Ten on Ten. However, I only snapped 9 photos that didn't have our friends' kids in them (Thursday nights we usually have small group). Since I didn't ask any of their parent's permission to share the photos I decided to make this a nine on ten.

{1} we got a new car. There was a big debacle last week regarding my tire shredding on the turnpike and me spending two hours waiting for roadside assistance and crying my eyes out while doing my darnedest to resist the cookies on my passenger seat. When we took it in to be looked at (concerns for my rim) they found a smattering of things that needed addressed. The repairs were approximately a few hundred less than the value of my car, and since it was a 2004, we decided it was time. I wanted to buy used but the dealership ended up offering us a ridiculously awesome lease on a 2016 Hyundai. We plan on buying it when the lease is up in three years and in the meantime I am overwhelmed by all the fancy pants features.

{2} I addressed Christmas cards and got them in the mail for today's pickup. Apologies if you don't get one--I tried my best but I have been so stressed lately that I know I inevitably forgot people.

{3} this one has a hard time understanding we can't (won't) buy him a toy or treat at every store we go to. We keep explaining that Santa is coming soon and he doesn't need gifts. I have even tried to explain to him how fortunate he is by way of pointing out some kids don't even have parents (I'm such a Deb) but it's not clicking. I'm seriously considering trying to find a place we can volunteer at with him to try to open his eyes to the many injustices of the world. But I also don't want to kill his childhood innocence. Any suggestions on making him less spoiled (seriously we have not been buying him things everywhere we go so I'm not sure why he feels so entitled) are welcome and appreciated.

{4} this girl. She has us laughing throughout the day and is into everything. She says no one second then yes the next but she doesn't mean it. She hasn't been eating much lately--doesn't even want new foods--and we think it's because she is cutting approximately 6-8 teeth right now. 

{5} this relationship is very much hot and cold. There are moments they are so sweet to each other and then moments where it's WW3 over some unnamed and usually ignored toy. Generally speaking, though, when one of them is upset (so long as the cause is not the sibling) the other is right there trying to make it better (Elden) or make sure we are paying attention to make it better (Edith). 

{6} as of this past weekend I am down 4.4 pounds on Weight Watchers! I know weight loss at that rate is not necessarily healthy nor sustainable and I expect it to level off to 1-2 pounds per week now that the water weight is seemingly gone. I have been so good about keeping up with this diet and a few of my pants already feel a bit better.

{7} this popped up on my timehop as 8 years ago. Disregard my abuse of filters. It's really hard for me to believe that at the end of next year Jon and I will have dated (unofficially) for a decade. Times were so much simpler!!

{8} at small group it was a Christmas pajama party for the littles. There was cookie decorating. This kid was quite happy. We got to see 90% of our people and it made our hearts swell. One thing I really love about our group is we all have relatively similar styles of parenting and we are all cool with other parents intervening and correcting our cherubs if they are doing something they shouldn't be/we don't notice. This really is a village and we are so grateful for it.

{9} the last time this happened is unknown. Edith definitely enjoyed herself at group!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

weight watchers

Thanksgiving was the day I realized something needed to be done about my weight.

I tried on three pairs of pants that morning--pre-feast--and none of them fit. Even though I was thisclose to slapping on a pair of ratty pajama pants and calling it a loss, I suffered through some much too tight but zippable jeans.

I had planned on starting a diet that day (then the next, then the next, then the next) but you know how it goes. Until I stepped on a scale on Sunday night.

20 pounds over my typical healthy weight. Enough was enough.

I had huge success with Weight Watchers after Jon and I got married and decided to try again as I was familiar with the program, really liked it and could get an app for $4 to keep track of my daily points. Yesterday was my first day and even though I was quite hungry (it's amazing what a difference my actual serving size and the recommended serving sizes were...) I felt better about myself. I passed on donuts when I saw one was 11 points and I drank more water. 

My goal is to lose twenty pounds. I want my clothes to fit better and to feel better about how I look. More importantly, I want to be healthy for my family. I'm publishing this with the hopes that "outing" myself will keep me more accountable. I've found some awesome recipes I'm excited to try and I think meal planning--which will be critical to keeping me on track--will also help us be more accountable on our grocery budget. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas cards {2015}

Between Black Friday sales and a $10 off card we got when we moved, we decided to use Shutterfly for our Christmas cards again this year!

We are so happy with how they turned out and we saved so much money that it was totally worth it. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christmas card pic 2015

It was a battle to get this picture and there was a whole lot of Photoshop magic involved, but we did it!

It was everything I envisioned. Thanks for taking it, Dad! (And of course thanks to my Mom for sewing the logs!)

Monday, November 16, 2015

blind faith

With Christmas fast approaching and Elden at an age where he can comprehend the notion of Santa, Jon and I have been at somewhat of a crossroads deciding how to handle the aforementioned bearded wonder.

Growing up, Santa was a deeply magical thing for me. My school district had a cooperative where first graders would write letters to Santa and the creative writing classes at the high school would respond. One student was Santa and the other high schoolers would pick an elf to write on Santa's behalf. Pretty cool, right? Not for my mom. Most first graders got their response and were satisfied. I got my response and embarked on a 4-year journey of writing to Apollo Noel (my elf, if that wasn't clear) all. year. long. My mom had to do the heavy lifting and respond to every last letter. She even had to come up with a solution when I had the genius (not to toot my own horn but come on it was BRILLIANT) idea to send my little camera to Apollo Noel so that she could take pictures of the North Pole for me. (The solution was to tell me the North Pole was magical and wouldn't show up on film. Luckily my mom is an artist and was able to "draw a self portrait so you know what I [Apollo Noel] look like.") I had a blind faith that Santa and the whole gamut (Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc.) were real. Kids would tell me otherwise and I would be outraged at their disbelief as I had the facts! Santa would track ash from the fireplace all over our first floor! I conversed with an elf regularly! There would be reindeer prints outside our house Christmas morning! (Yes, my mom went through GREAT LENGTHS to make Christmas magical). Even when they finally told me the truth (I believed in Santa until right before Christmas in 5th grade) I didn't understand. To tell me, my mom read me a book about St. Nicholas and at the end... he died. Looking back I can't help but laugh at the comedy of the situation. By then she was sobbing and asked if I understood and I said, "yes, when he died Santa replaced him!" Suffice to say, she was mostly inconsolable and my dad had to do the dirty work and straight up tell me it had all been a lie. And to be honest (please don't be upset, mom!) I felt betrayed. I felt SO STUPID for believing so blindly for so long. And all my peers who I had told off! I quietly asked if the other fictional characters were real ("no.") Along with that I questioned God ("He's real!"). It was hard.

Jon, on the other hand, grew up being told Santa was real but my understanding is that around first grade  he put two and two together and figured out on his own that it was a farce. Suffice to say, he doesn't have any real longing to tell our kids about Santa.

I am so torn. Adult me is okay with being deceived because that time really was so magical and wonderful and I know why my parents did it. The biggest part, though, was the innocence. I can't turn on the tv now without being bombarded with the depravity and ugliness of the world. I live in a near constant state of fear for the well being of my children. I try so hard not to entertain the bad thoughts, but how is that even possible when society has made it its mission to destroy itself? I long for the days when my biggest concern was when I would hear from Apollo Noel next. But man... the betrayal I felt when I found out the truth. That hurt. So where is the line? I don't want to straight up lie to my kid, but he is pretty smart and wants to know everything. 

For now we are treading the waters lightly. We have told him about Santa but I don't plan on going to the great lengths my parents did. My hope is he won't straight up ask if Santa is real for a few years because Jon and I have mostly decided we will answer that question truthfully.
 
For now, seeing the wonder in Elden's eyes when he saw mall Santa ("is he really breathing!?" - dodged a bullet on that one) was enough. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

happy birthday

Dear Jon,

Last night we stood in our kitchen eating peanut butter apples after the kids had gone to bed and reflected over our lives and how crazy it is that we are adulting.

You made me laugh in the same ways you did nine years ago when our story was just beginning.

I looked at you and the voice inside my head couldn't stop screaming how lucky I was. 
28 years ago you were born into a loving family. They helped you become the man you are. You work so hard to raise our babies and be an outstanding partner to me and I've gotta say--you are rocking it. 
I know I don't say it nearly enough: thank you. Thank you for continuing to say "yes" to loving us so well every day. Thank you for listening to Elden and asking him questions and for challenging him. Thank you for being an example for Edith of how a partner and father should be and for making her laugh the way you do.

We love you more than we could ever describe. Happy, happy birthday.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

living room progress

We are so close to being done! We mostly just have to do the baseboards and trim around the garage and pantry doors. I'm hoping to knock the baseboards out sometime this weekend. We are also in the market for an area rug and some art for above the couch, then I have aspirations to make some end tables for the couch out of some reclaimed wood I got from a coworker. Jon and I are obsessed with this room. The big difference between this and what we did at the old house is we are taking our time to really plan out what we want/what our vision is, and we are spending a bit more on achieving that goal since we plan on being here for a long time. This room is definitely my new favorite in the house!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Edith's 1st birthday party

We had Edith's party last Saturday and it was the most perfect day. The weather was in the low 60s and sunny, both kids took well timed naps so they weren't grouch monsters, and it was just a lovely / relatively low key party.

We didn't really have a theme except the colors were pink and gold. We decided to do a chicken nacho bar since that permitted our friends with food allergies / vegetarians options without us having to go all out on alternatives. We bought rotisserie chickens from Costco and shredded them, Jon's mom made rice and beans, and we had tortilla chips, Mexican cheese, lettuce, onions, salsa, black beans, jalapeños, and sour cream. We also got a veggie tray from Costco and my mom brought fruit skewers. It was a pretty easy thing to prep and everyone raved about it!
My mom also made Edith's smash cake. However, being the lady that she is, Edith was completely unwilling to do any actual smashing.
The main cake was from our favorite little bakery and was so cute:
As of now, this is the only picture I have of Edith in her party dress, but I'm hoping to steal some pictures from my dad when he posts them:
It was the perfect day and I am so grateful for everyone who came to celebrate our precious girl.

happy halloween!


Thursday, October 29, 2015

edith: 1 year old

 
age: 1 year old
stats: 21 lb. 2 oz. (71%), 29.72" tall (71%) and currently has 8 teeth
firsts: birthday, wedding, hotel stay
milestones: working on running and jumping
goings-on: Edith has been really into raw carrots, celery and snap peas, along with any other food item she can get her hands on lately. She has preferred time with me and gets quite upset when I have to leave for work (unless she is distracted by breakfast). Edith is also obsessed with my childhood cabbage patch doll and now enthusiastically says "doll!" if she can't find it. She is usually a really happy and opinionated girl and I can't believe she isn't technically a baby anymore...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

a weekend with Sally

About two weeks ago I got a text message from one of my dearest and oldest friends, Sally.

She lives in Atlanta and got a cheap fare alert for flights to Akron this past weekend and wanted to know if we were free.

Sally hadn't met Edith yet and we always miss her so we said absolutely come! It was perfect because the first time she met Elden was a week before his first birthday when we drove to D.C. and stayed with her family (aka my second family) for a weekend (she and her awesome boyfriend, Sharm, flew back for the visit). 

I took the day off Friday and Elden and I picked her up at the airport in the morning. The visit itself was pretty low key--we mostly hung around the house, took her to a few restaurants and did some shopping. Sally helped so much with Edith's party and the kids loved having her--Elden even asked me if she could lay with him before bed the one night instead of me 😭. On Saturday night once the kids were in bed I took her to the "fancy" grocery store (it has childcare, a cafe with a pizza oven, etc.) and picked up a pizza, wine and appetizers so we could continue to watch The Goldbergs on Hulu and stuff our faces.

This visit did my soul so much good. Sally and I had met at camp the summer of 1999 and instantly hit it off. Since she lived in Virginia we would take turns flying to each other's house during the rest of the year, so usually we would get to see each other three times during the year (camp being one of them). When I was in high school I got to go with her family to Emerald Isle a few summers and those are some petty fond memories. Sally and Jon were conspiring ways to convince me to move to Atlanta (Jon would love to do grad school at Emory's School of Theology) but for now I think we will just have to visit.
Sally, thank you so much for coming, loving our babies so well, and being such a big help for the party! I am so glad I got to spend some time with you and we miss you like crazy! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

edith jane: one year old


To our sweet baby girl,

On this day one year ago, you joined our family on the outside and have brought us such joy ever since. You are so sweet--especially when your beloved big brother is crying--but also so strong and independent. You know what you want and you are not afraid to demonstrate your displeasure if things do not go your way.

You have 8 teeth, your favorite foods are cuties and yogurt, and you are basically able to run. 

You make the funniest snorting/smiling face when you are excited and you are now developing the same love for books Elden has. Whenever you wake up before Elden you are so happy to go with us to get him when he wakes up. You are curious, brave, friendly, but at times reserved. You try to figure out how everything around you works, and I daresay we may have an engineer on our hands.

Your daddy and I are so beyond thrilled to call you our daughter. We love you always and forever.

love flash mob

One year ago today, I had the privilege of laboring and delivering my baby in a well stocked hospital with highly trained and respectful staff, preceded by nine months of prenatal care and proceeded by several weeks of postnatal care.

We entered a gate [to the Haitian hospital] flanked by armed guards, parked our ambulance, and entered a hospital that felt like a prison. We walked over slippery concrete floors and through suffocating heat, but no warmth. We went into the maternity rooms to see lines of sheet-less mattresses on metal frames. Women were laid on the beds in various stages of labor. One was in active labor, two had babies laid out next to them on the dirty mattresses, one was silently crying because she had just lost her baby. I saw no doctors while we were there, no nurses. There was no one to explain to these women what was happening to their bodies or to their babies. And there was no one to serve them. If a patient needs food, the family has to bring it. If a woman needs water, her family has to bring it. If an IV or medication of any kind is needed—the families already living in unimaginable poverty must find a pharmacy, buy an IV or medicine, and bring it to the hospital. So the women just go without. They go without food, water, and medicine. So many hurting women, so many new babies—and it was so quiet. We heard no moaning, no crying from the mamas or even from the babies. It turns out there is no reason to cry if there is no hope of help.

My privilege is not a privilege that Haitian women experience.

Haiti has the highest rate of maternal and infant mortality in the Western Hemisphere. Two out of 3 childbirths in Haiti occur without a skilled birth attendant. One in 83 Haitian women will die as a result of childbirth.

Heartline is a ministry with skilled midwives and early childhood education classes that is working desperately to keep babies with their mamas, thereby reducing number of orphans and empowering Haitian women.

Glennon has started a love flash mob to support the expansion of respectful and loving care for our Haitian sisters. Would you consider joining with me to support this amazing organization? 

Monday, October 19, 2015

the paint fairies

While we were at the wedding, we had the great fortune of being paid a visit by the painting fairies.
Oh my gosh, I am obsessed. Jon and I talked at length about the floors last night. We know there is almost no way we can get them in by Edith's party so we opted to focus on other parts of the room in the meantime. Our goal is to paint/put up the crown molding and replace all of the outlets/light switches the rest of the week. We are also redoing all the trim--including around the garage and pantry doors--but that obviously needs to wait until the floors are in too. The good news is we are finally in the home stretch and we are so thrilled by the results. Huge thanks to Jon's parents and brother for painting in our absence!!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

wedding

This weekend we went to the wedding of two of Jon's college friends. It was about 2.5 hours away so we elected to stay at a hotel Saturday night. We were curious how the kids would do since they were both running without naps and and had never been to a wedding before.

They were tired, grouchy and uncooperative.

Until the music came on.

They started playing music while Elden and I were in the bathroom--pre entree and post salad--and homeboy darted to the dance floor as soon as we came back in.

Our normally shy kid danced for seriously an hour. It was a battle to get him to return to the table to eat. Soon his little sister joined him and also danced like a maniac. We finally called it on their behalf and took them up to the room, but not before Elden and I hit up the photo booth.
We got a king suite so Elden was on a pull out couch in the living area and Edith had her pack n play in our room. We are all sick so it was a rough night if for no other reason than that but it still wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Elden loved the pool and Edith and I had some serious hotel room cuddles.
It was a good weekend and I know Jon was really happy to see his friends.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

lessons in skim coating

Lesson 1: it's horrible and avoid it at all costs.

Just kidding. Except I'm not. Thursday night Jon and I stayed up reallllly late sanding the walls in the living room in a mad dash to get this room as ready as possible for Edith's party. We have learned quite a few lessons from this experience that I figured I would share in case you ever find yourselves in a similarly unfortunate circumstance.

First, prime the walls to help avoid bubbling when you add the wet drywall compound.

Second, I highly recommend buying premixed drywall compound, diluting it with water to the consistency of mayonnaise and rolling it on with a 1/2" nap roller. This is best done in teams of 2 so you can have one person rolling it and one person coming behind to smooth it. This is particularly important in second and third coats as the compound dries FAST. I had read somewhere to use a squeegee trowel but we couldn't find any in stores anywhere and didn't want to wait for one to be shipped to us so a regular drywall trowel worked just fine. 

I should add that you probably want to spackle any holes and sand down the spackling before you do your first drywall coat. 

Third, edge last and just use the premixed (i.e. undiluted) drywall compound for that. 

Fourth, when it comes time to sand your top coat, you should wet sand! To do so, basically take a damp car washing sponge and rub it vertically or horizontally to smooth the walls. This is less physically demanding and I cannot emphasize the time you save in cleanup. Dust doesn't get everywhere and the walls still look smooth. 

Fifth, curse at this project and swear you will never ever undertake such a task again.

We had gotten two different estimates to have the walls professionally skim coated. The first was around $550 and the second $850. Even though this was tedious and a definite learning curve, we found a rhythm after about two days and it went much quicker than we feared it would take when day 1 was abysmal. Now all that's left to do in our living room is paint the walls, fireplace and patio door trim; rip out / replace the remaining trim; rip out the carpet; add crown molding; install the laminate floors.

We should be done in a week, right!? 😖

Friday, October 16, 2015

edith: 50 and 51 weeks old


Even though the perfectionist in me is screaming at my lack of continuing Edith's typical weekly update style, lack of time must prevail. Edith is a week shy of 1 and is quickly developing the tenperament of a toddler. She throws tantrums and quite a display of theatrics if she perceives you have wronged her. Edith basically runs after her brother now and LOVES shoes. Her favorite foods are apples, salami and cheese. Edith is in 12M and 18M clothes, rocks size 5 shoes and size 4 diapers. She sleeps from about 7 pm - 6 am every day and seems to be cutting out her morning nap.  Edith has almost entirely weaned herself and would much rather eat "real" food. She loves waving "hi" frantically at just about anyone who crosses her path, dancing to Elvis, and wagging her finger at you/smiling if you tell her no. This past year has been such a joy for us!