Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Book Club: A Man Called Ove

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine invited me to join a book club. In my new quest to get out of the house and be with other people more, I said yes. I've never been part of a book club before. I love reading but don't often talk about what I'm reading. I was excited (I love when others tell me what books to read!) and a little nervous (because this was a new group and a new thing for me). My first time meeting with these women was last night and it was a lot of fun.

The book we read was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bakman. I probably wouldn't have picked this up on my own, so I'm glad they chose it to read. I really enjoyed the story. It takes place in Sweden and and shares Ove's story as he nears the end of us life . . . by his own choosing.

The author does an excellent job of connecting his past experiences to his present state and develops the character very well. He is a "curmudgeonly" man who can't seem to find joy in anything anymore -- you know the type -- the person who grumbles under his breath that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself, and everyone is an idiot, and everything is always wrong.

I don't want to give anything away because it is written in a somewhat suspenseful way, but it had a very pleasing ending and gave me much to think about. The relationships he develops near the end of his life are interesting and gave me pause in how I cultivate my own relationships (or don't) and how I treat people that are different than myself. I also couldn't help but wonder how often I let a relationship slip by me because I'm often too in my head to notice the other person. I may need to write more on that topic later. Relationships in general have been on my heart lately.

If you read the book, I hope you'll tell me what you think! (Leave a comment!)

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Never Unfriended"

I was given an opportunity to get an advanced copy of Lisa-Jo Baker's newest book Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships. I've reached the half-way mark but couldn't wait to tell you about it for two reasons.

The first is that it is a heart-hitting book, one I needed during this season of Lent (and one I had time for since I'm not on Facebook everyday). I needed the reminder to focus my attention on the people right in front of me and not on the screen. And how to do it! And this book did both. If you want to deepen your friendships and learn how to be a better friend, then this book is for you!

The second reason I couldn't wait to tell you about it is because the author, Lisa-Jo is offering a really fun gift to those that pre-order before the release date (April 4). And Amazon has the book on sale right now! So for $10 you can get a hardcopy of the book as well as the cutest little note cards and a hanger to display them! So don't wait!

Find out more here:
And order the book here.

**I did receive the book for free but do not receive any rewards/money for any books sold.
Just sharing my thoughts on a great book I had the privilege to read early!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Some Days

Yesterday was one of those days. So crazy you have to write it down so you remember the chaos you survived.

It was 4:30 when I received a text that Chris was coming home (early, which made my day!) and I wanted to get the house picked up and dinner started. Stephen had been occupying himself with his favorite baby farm animal book and William was in the bathroom. I picked up some dirty clothes and made my way to the bathroom just in time to hear William squeal/cry "Mommy! I tipped the potty over! Ah!"

I opened the door to find him sprawled on the floor with his training potty emptied of it's contents and my rug soaking wet and covered in . . . well, poop. Yuck. The screams had attracted Stephen's attention so he happily crawled right into the chaos and I quickly scooped him up and put him in another room. Then proceeded to clean up William and the rest of the mess. By far one of the biggest to date.

I had to do the laundry right then and there. I couldn't have the rug just laying around, even if I did try to wash it in the sink. So, I put the boys in the bedroom and hauled the load downstairs to the laundry area. From there, I could hear that William had come out of the apartment and was calling for me. This scared me because Stephen is crawling and could follow him--down the stairs. So, I ran back up and told him to close the door, I'd be back in two minutes.

Well, he didn't listen and came out again. So I finished up as fast as I could and ran back upstairs to hear him crying. He had torn a page in his pop-up Train book. He was devastated. I said I would try to fix it. As I said this, I looked up and saw Stephen putting something in his mouth. Ah! He found the Light-Bright I had left on the floor earlier. I dug six pieces out of his mouth and cleaned up the other 30 he had spilled on the floor, praying he hadn't actually swallowed any.

Okay, kids are safe. Now, I can start dinner. And then Stephen got stuck underneath the chair William was standing on and I just had to call it a day. It was only 5 o'clock.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Two Boys, One Room and a Quiet Night

Last month, we started sleep training our baby who was nine months at the time. He made the decision easy for me because a) after not sleeping well for nine months I was exhausted and b) he had stopped nursing. This was enough motivation for me to think that he was ready. At this point he had been waking up once or twice a night for a feed.

But how do we do this when we have a three year old in the room? I didn't want to interrupt his sleep with a screaming baby. I also didn't want to disrupt his routine. I had asked others and was told they get used to it and not to worry so much about it. We found a balance and decided to move Stephen to the bedroom and William along with his bed to the living room for a week.

At first, William hated this idea. He cried and fussed and refused to drop the subject. His current phrase is "I don't like that idea." But Chris, who knows his son so well, made a game out of it and made it a fun adventure and then there were magically no more tears. In their place were bright excited eyes and an eager little boy who from that moment on looked forward to sleeping in this new spot.

Stephen adjusted fairly well too. He did wake up a number of times the first couple of nights and cried for a while, but not nearly as long as we were expecting. Maybe 20 minuets at the most (if I remember correctly). And by the end of the week if he woke up, we only heard him cry for a few seconds before he went back to sleep.

Then came the tricky part. Putting William back in the room! Again William "didn't like that idea." But after some discussion and a game of making signs of where the boys were going to sleep and putting a sign on the wall that said "The Brothers' Room." He seemed okay with it. (I had suggested the sign say "The Boys Room" but William came up with "The Brothers' Room" and so it was). We put Stephen down first and then about 30 minutes later ushered William into the room "quiet, quiet" like and basically hoped for the best. William usually sings and talks to himself for a while so we knew this would be weird. He still did his usual self-calming but Stephen didn't really seem to respond. I sitting to the baby monitor so stressed and angry that William wasn't being quiet but in the end, Stephen didn't care. Only I did.

There have been a handful (maybe two handfuls?) of frustrating moments where the boys wake each other up; especially with these never-ending coughs. Stephen doesn't sleep as late as we'd like, but that took a while for William to get used to. But overall, it seems to be working out okay.  Chris and I are enjoying having our living space back and even watched a TV show together to celebrate! (oh the life!)

Coming back from Vegas has brought some bad habits back into play, such as a 4 a.m. feed and needing to be rocked to sleep more often, but I know we'll get over this hurdle soon enough. At least I hope we do!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Baby B2: Ten Months Old

Ten months down and only two more to go until we get to party! I can't believe my little guy is ten months old already. He is measuring 28.5 inches tall and weighs 17 pounds 14 ounces. It seems like yesterday he was five months old--not nursing, not sleeping and crying all the time. And now?

He's moving all the time. Seriously, after a week spent in Las Vegas with a few older cousins he came home cruising like no body's business. And he loves reaching for things above his head. Drawers and cupboards are to be opened and contents studied. We look around and wonder how things got so un-baby proofed in the last three years! He is seriously into everything.

He makes a lot of happy sounds these days. Sometimes he tries to tell us stories or sing along with our songs and he loves giggling. He is very ticklish!

About a month ago we started sleep training at night. I'll write more on that later since it is it's own process, but I will tell you that for the most part, it has been successful. Prior to our Vegas trip, he was sleeping through the night without a feed for about a week. During our trip however, we ended up giving him a bottle between 2 and 4 a.m. and now back at home we're re-training to get him back to waking up between 5:30-6 without a feed. Just like his brother, he is an early riser.

(Bha. Look at that face!)

 He loves to eat. I feel like if I offered food all day long he would eat it. He loves feeding himself finger foods: baked, diced sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, green beans, bananas, avocado and baby friendly pancakes. We continue with some purees too and try to offer what we are eating if we can. I'm a bit nervous to offer dairy yet. I've been told he is old enough to give it another try, but I'm hesitant. I just hate the pain he goes through when it doesn't agree with him.

He has six teeth now. I can't tell if there is another one coming in or not. The drool would indicate it's on the way!

I've stopped giving him breastmilk. My supply has always been too low, but it got to the point where what I pumped just didn't add up to enough to warrant the time spent pumping. Every mom needs to make that decision on her own. For me, it was getting less than 5 ounces a day. He drinks 5 ounces per feeding of formula and it was taking me 3+ sessions to pump that much. That was one bottle a day and then it decreased even more. And I just had to stop. I didn't reach my goal of nursing
him for a year, but we had a rough road and I'm glad I could do what I did for as long as I did.

I've really enjoyed this little guy these last few months. He seems to be a very curious and friendly boy and from what I can tell will be full of adventures in the future.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Could this be it?!

Our application is in. We have a number. The lottery is a week from today. Could this really happen?!

I've mentioned before that we were hoping to get some help from the city for housing, by way of down payment assistance or a below-market rate condo. I also mentioned that funds were no longer available for the down payment assistance option a few months ago.

But, after I left my job in January we realized that our income now fit within the bracket for the below-market rate housing! Chris got busy applying and after submitting a three-inch stack of paperwork (that could not be filed electronically) we were given our number and told to wait until March 23.

The waiting is the hardest part and I'm getting a little stir crazy! I'm trying to keep my hopes high (but not too high, you know?). My heart beats faster when I think that this could really happen! Chris reminds me that if God wants to provide a home for us via a lottery, he can do that, even if it sounds crazy. If he has another way, he'll show us that when the time comes. We need to keep our trust in Him. There are only six two-bedrooms open and most likely hundreds of applicants. But God doesn't really concern himself with the odds does he?

I want to have faith and hope that our number will be drawn, that our family will be provided for (blessed, really). Will you pray with us? Will you pray for the lottery next Thursday? That the numbers drawn would be for the right families. And maybe that would include us?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Fifth Trip to Vegas

Last week all four of us flew to Las Vegas, NV to spend a week with my parents who were there for a convention. My sister and her two children also joined us! We rented a townhouse through AirBnB which in my opinion was the way to go with kids. Staying in a hotel near the strip just didn't appeal to me with young kids (even though it would have been much more convenient for my dad who had convention activities at Mandalay Bay each day). The place we rented had space for everyone, a great kitchen to cook in, and even toys for the kids! There was also a park just a few blocks away.

Our flights were fairly uneventful. It was only 90 minutes long! Chris came with us but could only stay the weekend so I returned with the kids on my own which went well as could be expected. It was easier than I originally anticipated because my parents were also flying out at the same time and were able to help me with my luggage, carseats, stroller and kids. And a sweet lady sat next to me who has three kids of her own. She loved babies and was super chill about Stephen's flailing in my lap. William refused to drink water when we were descending so his ears were giving him trouble for the last 15 minutes or so. Thankfully our neighbors were friendly and tried to help me tell him how to pop them.

So, what did we do in Vegas for a week? How about a photo-dump?
Most importantly we soaked up as much time with family as we could. Cousin's played together, babies napped (sometimes), and the moms attempted to do normal things like shower, eat and relax a bit.

Grandpa and Stephen!

three of the four kids in one spot!

We went to the park and played.

One morning we did venture out to the strip with all the kids. We hit up the Circus at Circus Circus and the kids got to see a clown, an acrobat and a unicycle show. They also got to play carnival games. Preschoolers and carnival games are pretty entertaining (but a total waste of money). 

Then we went to the Bellagio to see the water show, but misread the website and got there three hours early. We had to head home for naps. We still enjoyed the scenery and the warm weather.

Later in the week we headed back there with my mom and got to see the show (because I was sure William would love it... he didn't) and meet Mickey & Minnie Mouse (he loved that). 

We drove to the Las Vegas Historical Museum to take in their affordable and family friendly entertainment. They had an aquarium with small sharks (and new baby sharks), sting rays, turtles and a few others; and a kids interactive area which was awesome. They had a few exhibits that were lost on the kids - Egyptians and the Rain Forest and then this huge prehistoric dinosaur exhibit with animatronic T-Rex and Triceratops. This really scared William. He wouldn't even walk into the room without me carrying him and he nearly strangled me as he clung to my neck. I thought he would have especially loved this (and it's why we came!) but he was fearful that they would eat him. Maybe we can try again when he's a little older?

William loves playing dinosaur and after every nap comes of out of his room stomping as hard as he can and roaring saying "I'm a Dinosaur!" But these looked a little too real.

He loved all the other animals they had on display and actually stood still for a second when I said "Let me take your photo by the buffalo!" My big guy doesn't look so big anymore!

My sister and her two children had to leave mid-week so I took them to the airport and helped her get through security. She totally could have rocked that by herself, but I was glad for the one-on-one time with her and a chance to help. I rarely feel like I get to be an Aunt - I'm usually too busy with my own kids but that afternoon I felt like I could love on them a little extra!

On our last night we picked up my dad from the convention and drove to the Silverton Hotel where they had a "mermaid" in their aquarium. Again, I thought William would have loved this but he seemed indifferent and refused to go near her. Later, in retelling our adventures he exclaimed "We got to see the little mermaid!" So apparently he didn't mind it that much! Stephen seemed very entertained!

The Bass Pro Shop also provided an aquarium and animals to admire!

It was a full week. I'm so glad William and Stephen were able to play with their cousins. Stephen seemed much more active while with them. He started cruising and even climbed a flight of stairs! I wasn't at all prepared for that. And now that we are home he is always on the go exploring everything with even more ambition. 

My time was also spent driving my dad to and from the convention. The kids made sure I was awake plenty early for his 7:00 a.m. breakfast meetings and it gave me an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with my dad. 

We had a fun week and are so thankful we got to go! Before we arrived I was a little nervous about what we would do with all the kids but it turned out just fine! There was plenty to do -- but being together was the best part.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Leaving Facebook for Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. In recent years, I haven't been too concerned with "giving up" something or fasting for this season. But lately, I have needed to make a change in the way I use my time and keep my focus on my real life priorities. Since leaving my job, I have found myself reaching for my phone almost without thinking, checking my newsfeed, scanning for something to read... in my quiet moments but also while one or both of my boys are requesting my attention. This was getting out of control. Now was the perfect time.

On Monday, I removed the Facebook app from my phone. And thats when I realized just how addicted I was. I had picked up my phone multiple times to check my feed before I realized why I couldn't find it. Nearly ever hour! Today was my first day without using it on my computer too. Which is typically my biggest nap-time distraction. I can't say this is "hard" because its just a mental/habit change. I can't say I miss it yet. But I can tell a difference. And I can tell in the next two months I will have a great opportunity to be more intentional with my family and friends in real life.

I will miss out on your announcements and status updates (unless you just text them to me!) but to be honest, I need a break from the ads, the suggested posts, sponsored links and even the adorable baby photos (I do so love the two newest boys on my feed!).

On this first day of "fasting" - breaking from Facebook and the habit I've formed to scroll mindlessly instead of intentionally focus on the life before me - has been interesting. Three times I thought of status updates I should type . . . but couldn't. (Even though I rarely update my status!) Curious what I wanted to say?

"Enjoying a sweet "summer" day with friends in the park. Glad for the break in the rain."

"That moment when you your toddler wets the bed during nap time and the washer in the building is broken."

"RSV, will you L-E-A-V-E" -- cause I think we have it again.

Things could get complicated too because there are several groups I'm a part of on Facebook that I really want to participate in. But they can wait too. It's just for a time. Hopefully I'll come back with a better handle on how I want to use my time and my mind.