Tuesday, May 23, 2017

life update

Things just got pretty crazy over here.

We are officially preparing our house to sell.

I vacillate between excited to find some financial freedom, sad because I love our house, and downright terrified that we are making a grave mistake.

The reality is, if I lose my part-time income (which - with a small startup is always possible), we will no longer be living within our means. Jon could and would absolutely find something part time if it came to that, but the point is that it hasn't and we don't particularly want him to have to do the retail grind at this moment in time. What's the point in having a great house in a better neighborhood if we are never there to enjoy it together?

So right now we are scrambling to get it showing ready with a hopeful list date of early June.

We'd LOVE to stay in the town we live in - the preschool is amazing and truly the thing I am most upset about potentially losing - but there's a decent chance we need to move a county over because property taxes here are just too high.

So, that's where we are. We are exhausted in every way, praying that we find something for less (quickly) that meets our most basic needs, and praying that we haven't made a terrible mistake.

A few things could happen:
-we could not get offers in the price range that would make sense for us to sell and downsize and therefore Jon will have to get a part-time job for a few years while we stay put
-we could get offers in the price range that would make it impossible for us not to sell

I've never pretended to know exactly what God thinks I should do. I've always trusted Him to open and close doors in a way that would be best for our family, but I don't know that God is telling me moving is the best choice right now. It feels like it's so, but I could also be letting fear rule my life. If you could just pray for us, we would really appreciate it right now.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

etta (26 weeks old)

At 26 weeks / 6 months old, Etta weighs 16 lb 9 oz (58%), is 26.77" tall (82%) and has a head circumference of 42.5cm (57%). She is sleeping leaps and bounds better (!!) still thanks to this book. In addition to her other foods, she has tried strawberry and pear and liked both just fine. Etta LOVES solid food and is definitely in her element when eating (so proud). Her rank of favorite people/things goes: jumperoo, Elden, eating, Edith, being outside, me, etc. (sorry Jon). We are doing baby-led weaning with Etta (more about that here, as well as the book we used to guide us) and it is going very well. Etta is a very happy little girl and brings us so much joy!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

easy and affordable DIY address numbers for steel doors

Our house's address used to be on our garage door. When we replaced the garage door late last year, the only place our address was located on was the mailbox, but just on one side and the color all but camouflaged with the faded post. We knew we needed to do something but I felt weird permanently affixing our address anywhere on our beautiful new exterior. I had purchased wooden numbers and wanted to paint them, but beyond that had no real plans.

Then Jon remembered we just bought a beautiful new steel entry door, which is magnetic. We bought these magnets, I used this spray paint (mostly because I was working on our new table and I wanted to spray paint ALL THE THINGS copper) and with a little hot glue and approximately 5 minutes we were done!
Step 1: paint your numbers (or buy ones like these)
Step 2: glue magnets to numbers
Step 3: hang up the numbers and revel in the awesome
Since this was a last-minute decision, I will likely go back to repaint them black so they contrast better against the door. I love that I didn't need to put holes in my brand new siding and how modern they look. If I ever dislike their presence I can take them down in a jiff with no permanent reminders of their presence. Win/win.

Friday, May 12, 2017

five on friday

{1} Thank you to those of you who commented on this post talking about whether or not I was going to leave blogging. I did some digging and found this blog printing service that allows you to print to pdf for less than $9. I can then save up to have them binded at a place like Office Max (or just keep the electronic version) so I don't break the bank! I ordered years 2011-2016 this morning so I can think about scaling back on the blog in terms of photos and whatnot. I may also start a separate private blog strictly for documenting the kids' lives for my own purposes (oooorrrrr just start a Google doc to make my life easier). I still haven't decided quite what this space will look like, but I am glad that losing everything I've written is no longer a concern.

{2} #whentoddlersselfie is probably my favorite cell phone find. A lot of the time Elden will ask to see my phone so he can ask Siri to show him pictures of {insert Power Rangers toys, Transformers toys, deep sea creatures, spooky shadows, etc. here}. I usually will find several of these once he is done with my phone. Cracks me up every time.

{3} Today is the 5-year anniversary of my Master's degree graduation ceremony. I was in my third trimester with Elden and as soon as I got my diploma I exited stage right because mama had to pee something fierce. I then texted my parents / sister / Jon to meet me out front because why sit through the rest of the ceremony when we could leave after the main event?! 

be gone, you!
{4} GARAGE SALES. It is no secret I have been wanting to live a more minimalist lifestyle and that I feel downright drowned in all the clutter. Next week is our community yard sale and I AM SO EXCITED. We already sold a huge extension ladder (or we will today, so long as the buyer shows up) that was taking up a ton of space in our garage. and we have oodles of things to sell next week. Anything that doesn't sell is getting donated because I do not want it to cross the threshold into my home ever again. 

{5} Rock hens. Sometimes I get sucked into the world of Etsy. This particular whirlwind helped me to stumble upon my newest favorite art form. I am presently eyeing the "ass kicken chicken." I can't make this stuff up - I am legitimately in love. Look at these family shadow boxes! I die!

Linking up with AmyKatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

on letting go of blogging

I recently read an article that has me--for lack of a better term--shook. It focused on how predators take photos of children that can be easily Photoshopped and then trade them around.

I'm not sure about you, but the thought of my kids' photos being manipulated for the sexual gratification of others makes me want to hide them away for all eternity.

My Facebook and Instagram pages are already locked down. I realized - what good does that do if anyone can still access a multitude of their photos on my blog?

I had also been forcing myself to try to post every day in an effort to monetize this blog just enough to pay for itself (there is an annual domain fee and then a monthly photo storage fee; all together it probably costs me somewhere around $46-$50 per year to keep it running).

Suddenly, I no longer enjoyed blogging all that much. I still love this space to document the kids' lives since a scrapbooker I am not. But for now, the fate of this blog is yet to be decided. I haven't forced myself to write anything this week besides Etta's weekly post. I feel so free. I've been in bed by 9:08 pm the past two nights and that has done my body great.

For now I have a few choices:
1. Privatize the blog so that only approved readers can access it; then I have the ability to keep the kids' photos on lockdown.
2. Stop blogging and delete this blog all together.
3. Strictly limit the amount of photos I include of the kids but blog about them / life anyway.
4. Act like everything is fine and continue on my merry little way.

I can tell you right now I will not be doing 4. I'm leaning towards 3, or a combination of 1-3. I know there are services where you can turn your blog into a scrapbook and I really don't want to lose all the photos of my pregnancies and the kids (this has served as my photo album so far) so I will explore that (but I'm sure it costs quite a bit of money so that may have to wait).

Monday, May 8, 2017

etta (25 weeks old)

So I totally missed week 24...sorry Baby Girl! At 25 weeks old we have officially (finally!) turned a corner on sleep and it is largely due to this book. Basically, we implemented a modified cry it out routine with Etta at bedtimes and that has taught her both how to soothe herself and that we will not spend her entire sleeping period holding or rocking her. It's hard to listen to her cry, but when we only do it in 15-minute intervals that makes it manageable. Etta is fully out of any clothing smaller than size 6M and has now eaten banana, sweet potato, cucumber, avocado, bell pepper and carrot. She seemed to enjoy all of it except for avocado. She still spends most of her happiest moments in her jumperoo and is working on her core muscles/sitting up. Now that we are sleeping we love her even more than we could have fathomed. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

five on friday

 {1} Our house is so close to being finished! All that needs to be sided is the back. We are also talking about ways to add a little snazz back to the second level because we are worried it looks a little plain. I've been toying around with shutters on Picmonkey to see how they would look (this is the direction we are leaning towards) but we're also trying to figure out if there is a way we can get window boxes to work.

 {2} It's no secret around here that four is a challenging age for us. Lately, we have been particularly discouraged by some of the choices Elden has made (defiance, yelling, not sharing, etc.) so when Elden's teacher emailed me the other day to tell me how well he handled a little boy in his class taking a toy he had been playing with... well, I cried. A lot. It gives me hope that we aren't screwing him up and that beneath that strong will is a tender heart.

 {3} Edith is my little spitfire. She will slam her head into a corner and pop up to declare "I'm okay!" within seconds. She wants to be just like Elden which often means she tries to boss Elden around. This girl is going to be a leader, I can just feel it. 

{4} Miss Etta has been going to town on banana, sweet potato and cucumber lately. She loves to eat real food and be part of the action at the dinner table and has 0 patience for you taking time to prepare her food because she wants it now. The past couple of nights have only involved two wake-ups. I was also prescribed medication by my OBGYN to try to increase my milk supply so we can eliminate formula if things go well. Time will tell!

{5} I've been super discouraged by the lack of female empowerment material available to Christian women, especially ones that relate to marriage. This has been a topic of conversation between Jon and I for about a year now and I have finally had enough. I decided to reach out to Jon's classmate, Avery, to see if she would be willing to write something with me to help fill the gap. I firmly believe if you are writing any sort of Christian literature you should either personally be trained (i.e. have taken a college program) in Bible/theology or you should bring someone on board who is. Avery and I both believe that a big part of the reason women have been oppressed in religion (historically) is because people do not know how to interpret the Bible but think they do. I am here to humbly say I do not have the training to confidently interpret the Bible. Avery does. I am very very excited about this project.

Linking up with AmyKatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

inkly app review (and a free card!)

I recently had the opportunity to send a card through Inkly and let me tell you - I am hooked! Inkly is an app you download on your phone then completely customize a greeting card. The best part? They send it for you (via snail mail)!

Once the app was installed it was a totally easy and seamless process. In a nutshell, you:

1. Choose your card:

2. Add a photo to your card:

3. Add a handwritten (!!) message. This is probably one of my favorite parts of this service - you literally write out your message, take a photo of it, crop it, and your handwriting is in the card. 

4. Choose the recipient address, what time frame you would like it to arrive, and if you'd like to add a gift to go along with it:

Once that is all selected, you pay for it and you are done! I know the $4.46 might seem a bit steep to some, but it seems like most greeting cards you buy from the store are in the $3-$5 price range anyway. The fact that these are so customizable, personal, and get purchased and mailed with minimal effort makes the price comparable, if not better, to me. The user interface on this app is SO easy to follow so this will likely become my go-to when I mail a greeting card. If you haven't had a chance to try this service I definitely recommend it!

The best part? You can choose your first card for free - just pay postage! So download the app and give it a shot today!

linking up with Julie

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

etta (23 weeks old)

Mercy am I behind on these. On April 23, Etta turned 23 weeks old. She still does not sleep. She is still the cheeriest baby in the universe for getting so little sleep. Etta's newest favorite thing is her jumperoo and if you lack a doorway that can accommodate a Johnny jump-up I would recommend a jumperoo in a heartbeat. Etta has now tasted banana, sweet potato, grapes and watermelon, but I think the banana has probably been her favorite. She loves to cuddle and is a total sweetheart. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

tuesday outtakes #2

Welcome to the second link-up of Tuesday Outtakes! Mackensey and I host this on the first Tuesday of every month to encourage the blogging community to share the outtakes of their lives. It could be pictures that you took that didn't make the cut for one reason or another, a story about something that didn't go according to plan--whatever you want! I firmly believe that being open with our struggles can not only be a great encouragement to others, but also to ourselves because others can encourage us and offer tips that might help.

--

Brussels sprouts chips are one of our favorite snacks so I was going to post a little tutorial about how to make them. But then I got caught up in the episode of Friends we were watching and they burned... (we ate them anyway).

Edith is our sweet little middle. She is a spitfire but also so tender. She loves her little sister...
...unless her little sister needs my attention, like when I'm nursing her. I have been trying to find the balance to make sure Edith gets plenty of my time--and I actually think that she probably receives the most non-life-giving related attention out of all three--but it never seems to be enough. I struggle immensely with the guilt of not being able to give them all hours and hours of attention. I'm hoping it gets easier, but in the meantime I am just doing the best I can.

Join us with your April Outtakes!


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Monday, May 1, 2017

weekending

What a weekend! I took a half day on Friday because it was the end of our quarter at work and I was all caught up. I came home to some of the new siding up!

On Saturday, we put in a new front door. We chose this door and wasted no time painting it coral!
My mom put up some frosted contact paper on the door's windows to give us privacy but still let the light in. We are so happy with the color choice of the door and I can't wait to share the finished product of our new exterior!

On Saturday night, one of my oldest friends, Ina, came into town from Columbus to go with me to see one of my favorite bands (Mayday Parade).
Mayday Parade didn't go on until 10:30 and Ina died laughing when I told her I needed to get pop before we left because otherwise I probably wouldn't stay awake during their set! They played their first album in full and it was SO GOOD. I would see them again in a heartbeat. HUGE thanks to Jon who basically had to hold Etta the entire time we were gone because she was not sleeping. Also, I stayed awake! So it was a win/win.

On Sunday we went to church. Sunday afternoon was spent with Jon's family to celebrate his brother's birthday. It was a great weekend!

Linking up with Biana.

Friday, April 28, 2017

five on friday

 {1} This $17 sandbox has been a HUGE hit the past few days. The kids can't get enough of it and I am still super excited about the price tag.

{2} Honey Hut! Our local Honey Hut closes for the winter because Ohio, but it is open and we got to enjoy it in the van last night!

 {3} Every day Edith grows more independent and it has me all kinds of happy. Edith will start preschool in the fall of 2018 and even though it's more than a year away she talks about it often.

{4} Siding replacement. As of yesterday, all the siding was removed from the front and chimney sides of the house and halfway off the other side of the house. I'm hoping tomorrow we will be able to see what it looks like with some of the new siding up but in the meantime the house looks dramatically different.


{5} Make sure to come back on Tuesday to join Mackensey and me for our second Tuesday Outtakes link-up!

Linking up with AmyKatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

thoughts on relationships

I love my Timehop app because it reminds me of a lot of adorable things the kids did/said on that day in previous years and gives me pictures of my cherubic children--a departure from their present twonager and fournager selves. I also loathe Timehop with every fiber of my being because I read a lot of my Facebook statuses from when I was in my late teens/very early twenties and I cringe a thousand cringes. 
Jon and I started dating when I was 18 and he was 19. Beacons of maturity! Adults! Except now that I'm rounding third base on my twenties I see the crap I posted and I realize that I was just a child (I bet Jon's and my parents are collectively agreeing with me), as evidenced by my super emo Facebook statuses whenever there was trouble in paradise. Also, here's a fun scientific fact for you: new studies have shown the brain doesn't reach full maturity until somewhere around age 25. You bet your face I've placed that little nugget of knowledge straight into the memory bank to be beckoned when my own children attempt to assert their 'adulthood.' You are both welcomed and encouraged to do likewise with your spawns.

Jon and started dating (unofficially) in late November/early December 2006. We made it official in February 2007. In March, Jon moved to Arizona for an audio engineering program, where he remained through November. That August, I moved to Chicago for college. Super long distance relationship + newish relationship + both of us in new cities hanging out with people the other doesn't know + youngish couple + both in first serious relationship and new at adulting does not a happy relationship make. There were a whole lot of ups but way more downs. There were breaks along the way (does anyone else hear Ross Gellar yelling "we were on a break!" when they read about relationship breaks? No? Just me?) and at one point I think we were both pretty sure we weren't going to end up together. We managed to work through it all and decided we were worth fighting for, and in June 2010 we promised to fight for one another for the rest of our lives. It's all been rainbows and unicorns ever since.
Our first major marital fight happened as we crossed the threshold into our apartment from our honeymoon. The first year challenged us in ways I never could have dreamed of. Some pretty big issues (more here and here) have plagued us throughout our nearly 7-year marriage. As time has passed, we have either a) become so worn down by our children that we've lost all will to fight, b) grown and matured further and figured out how to fight fair, c) figured out how to communicate more effectively, d) found a place of unequivocal comfort with one another (not in a bad way!) and/or e) all of the above. We don't fight nearly as frequently as we used to, and generally speaking, when we do fight now it isn't anywhere near as explosive as it was during our relationship infancy. I'm pretty confident saying that Jon and I are comfortable, but still really happy with one another. It is far from easy--relationships take so much work, energy, and patience--but I would have said "I do" all over again if I went back in time. Jon is a partner in the truest sense--he contributes to the household equally (if not more since he's the stay at home parent) and he parents equally. When Etta is up all night, Jon is up half the night (again, sometimes more) with her. My only hesitation regarding leaving the kids with Jon so I can do something fun is that I think it's wildly unfair to him since he never really gets a break from his 'job.' 

If you are single and looking for a serious relationship, my advice to you would be this:
-find someone who you know will be equally committed to helping with housework and parenting - these are huge and I am absolutely floored by the number of married women I know who are basically flying this aspect of their lives solo.
-talk about all the really big important stuff (religion, whether you want children or to get married, how you plan to raise/discipline your children, how you plan on sharing holidays between your families, etc.) and do not count on one another changing dramatically on their stance - if there are fundamental differences that you cannot work out now you will not be able to magically work it out once you get married.
-find someone who is truly in it for the long haul. Trust takes a crazy long time to develop. One of the reasons I think our fights have gotten less explosive now is I have finally reached a point where I trust Jon to not leave me at the drop of a hat (not that he ever would before, I just have a lot of trust issues so I needed to work this out on my own) so I am less inclined to push those buttons and test his limits (again, a me issue). When Jon told me he loved me for the first time and I questioned him on it, he explained love as more of an action than a feeling--when he told me he loved me he told me he was committing to loving me and only me. If you think a relationship isn't meant to be merely because you have to put some work into it, you will never find a long-term relationship.

Linking up with Annie.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

what's up wednesday

Linking up with JessiMelSheaffer, and Shay!


What we're eating this week:

Since I'm currently dairy-free we have not been eating cheese and I have the sads. This stir fry is helping to ease the pain:

Our all-time favorite stir fry

We also made this recipe yesterday for dinner and it was great.

Hoping to make this lo mein (modified to be vegetarian) tonight.

What I'm reminiscing about:

I can't believe how much Edith has changed in a year. It's rocking my world in a big way.

What I'm loving:

This special buy from Aldi.
The weather!

What we've been up to:

Our house is being re-sided starting today! We also replaced the front window and got a new window treatment for it:

What I'm dreading:

The only thing I don't enjoy about gardening is trying to keep up with the weeds and fighting things like Japanese beetles. I'm hoping to stay on top of it this summer so it doesn't get too out of hand, but with three young kids I'm not hedging my bets.

What I'm working on:
This parenting hack for a $20 sandbox.

What I'm excited about:

Our big neighborhood yard sale is in May and I can't wait to purge so many things from our house. We already have piles of sales items all over the place and they get larger every day. I want to feel like I can breathe again!

What I'm watching/reading:

We started Bill Nye Saves the World last night. I admittedly only half watched it so it may not have been as captivating as I had hoped...

What I'm listening to:


What I'm wearing:

Skinny jeans, Toms or Chucks, and t-shirts.

What I'm doing:

Honestly? Running on survival mode. I cut out dairy and we switched Etta to Alimentum, but she went on a formula strike and was refusing it. I took her back to the pediatrician yesterday to see if he had any insight (saw our regular ped this time) and he said Alimentum tastes horrible. He recommended dialing it back to a non-hypoallergenic one for a few weeks to see what happens. The good news is she took the new formula no problem. The bad news is she wakes up every 45-60 minutes at night because of it.

What I'm looking forward to next month:

Consistent sleep (I hope).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

parenting hack: DIY covered sandbox for less than $20

When we first moved into our house I made a sand table out of some pressure treated wood and a covered plastic bin. The sand table was easily one of the most played with toys and treasured by both big kids. Sadly, the sand table met its demise when Elden leaned against it and it broke. We had been scouring the internet for a replacement sandbox but everything we liked was over $100. Since the plastic storage bin worked so well we figured why not make a sandbox out of the same thing?

We have plans to dig out a spot in the ground to make these "in-ground" sandboxes with pavers placed around them. For now these were a HUGE hit and for the price tag you couldn't beat it. In case you were curious, I used these storage bins and this sand.