Tuesday, December 31, 2013

new year.

as i explained last year around this time, i set new year's resolutions about every year. follow-through is the part i struggle with. but since i'm working to focus on progress, not perfection, resolutions still seem to be appropriate. these are all things i am working on anyway and have talked about here [at length, i know], so it's really more a summary of where i intend to focus my time and energy. so, in no particular order, here are my 2014 resolutions:

1. make God more a part of my everyday. i tend to compartmentalize God- i go to church and think about my faith then, i read devotions, pray (though mostly at mealtimes, if i am being honest), etc. but turning to God when i am frustrated with bennett, folding laundry, driving in my car, etc. or even thanking God for all He has blessed me with throughout the day just doesn't really occur to me. i want to be intentional about including God even in the mundane, routine parts of my life.

2. pay off debt and save money. we get our bills paid on time and have more than what we need, but rather than aggressively paying off debts and putting money away, "extra" often goes to straight to us... shopping, eating out, whatever. while some of that is fine, when we aren't saving what we could be or paying down money that we owe more quickly, it's just irresponsible. and now that i'm not bringing home a paycheck, we (ok, let's face it i) need to be even more disciplined about sticking to our budget and working toward our financial goals.

3. exercise regularly. i have a membership at the Y and am home with bennett now. no excuses not to get in a workout a few times a week. i want this to be about how it makes me feel, not the "results"- weight lost, calories burned, etc. it's just about moving more and feeling more energetic.

4. keep our house clean/organized. maintain, maintain, maintain. do a little bit each day to keep things in order and not let it get out of hand and become a source of unnecessary stress. simple as that, right?

5. ditch dieting and level out the ups and downs as it relates to food and my weight/appearance. see my recent posts for more details.

6. make date night a priority. there were far too many long periods of time that passed in 2013 when joe and i hadn't gotten out alone together on a date. it's easy to have happen- we ask people to babysit when we have something come up but rarely just for the sake of getting out together. but i think our relationship suffered from not having intentional time set aside to do something together- just the two of us. so, whether it's having a family member come hang with bennett (and soon to be baby boy #2), or hiring a babysitter, we want to make date night happen at least once a month.

and, oh yeah, 7. have a baby. can't forget that one...

while new year's resolutions may not be discussed in the bible, starting anew is. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!" that's what i want- transformation.

wishing you all a happy new year! 2014 is going to be a good one, i think!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

christmas celebrations.

it's christmas eve! with thanksgiving being so late this year, christmas really snuck up on me!

this weekend we celebrated christmas with joe's side of the family. jeffrey and robin and their 4 kids came up from sioux falls, south dakota. friday night was fun because the 6 of us (joe and his two brothers and the wives) we were able to hang out. joe's mom had jeff and robin's 4 kids up at her house and ben hung out with mike, meghan and landon for the evening. we went to eat at burger jones (yum!) and then went bowling and had a great time.

jake and allison stayed at our house friday night to make it a shorter drive to joe's parents' house in the morning. so saturday morning joe and jake took ben up to his parents' house and allison and i stayed at our house for a few hours so i could finish up some laundry and get some gift wrapping done. we headed up around lunchtime and spent the day and evening there.

sunday morning, joe and bennett and i hung out in the morning at our house. we headed up to jeff and sara's around 11. we had lunch and then put the kiddos down for a nap. joe and i stayed inside that afternoon with the little ones while everyone else went four-wheeling and played hockey. we had a yummy italian meal that evening and then all opened gifts. bennett loved playing with his cousins, eating marshmallows, and helping throw away gift wrap (who knew?). he had a tough time, though, with being gentle and had several incidents where we had to pull him away from the group for hitting the other kids. great... granted, jeff and robin's boys play rough and bennett probably had a tough time understanding the difference between playing and actually hitting. but still. not ideal. also bennett struggled when i was holding whitney (his youngest cousin, who is 3 months younger than him), and got a little aggressive with her because he was jealous. hopefully not a sign of coming attractions... ohhh toddlerhood...

yesterday, joe worked and i had my first "real" day as a full-time SAHM. i always had friday through sunday off, so this was my first day home when i would normally have been at work. bennett and i had a great day. we had a fun morning just playing around the house, went grocery shopping, and had lunch at red robin with mike, meghan and landon. bennett took almost a 3 hour nap and i got a little nap in there as well! bonus :-)

last night we did one of our traditions that we started for our family last year. we got hot chocolate (ben had milk) and drove around looking at christmas lights and listening to christmas music. it's one of those simple things that probably would seem lame to some people, but joe and i have already come to look forward to it. and it was fun listening to bennett chat in the back seat and say "ho ho ho" when he saw santas.

speaking of santa, we brought bennett to see santa last weekend. i honestly thought ben would be completely chill about it- he doesn't have much of a sense of "stranger danger" and is very open to new people. well, he liked santa from afar and even walked right up to him and looked at him. but then he lost it when we put him on santa's lap. 

i have to say, it was pretty adorable. as soon as he was done and i picked him up, he started saying "ho ho ho" and "bye bye!" i'm glad he isn't scarred for life or anything ;-)

it's so fun to start these traditions with our own family. one we carried over from mine is not putting baby jesus in the nativity until he's born on christmas. bennett loves the nativity and when we talk about baby jesus being born he says "cheese." i think jesus would be ok with the nickname. ben also likes to "moo" at the cow in the nativity.

today we are having a family day- blueberry french toast bake for breakfast, opening presents, last minute christmas shopping, then church at eaglebrook at 5. then we will head to my parents' house tonight and stay there. christmas morning will be a yummy breakfast (complete with our traditional gourmet pillsbury cinnamon rolls :). my sister-in-law works in the morning (she's a medical resident) but will be over around 11:30 or so and we will do presents then. the rest of the day will be just relaxing! we used to go to a movie every year, but now that we have bennett, that tradition has been put on hold for now.

it's the most wonderful time of the year, friends! enjoy your time with family and remember the reason that we celebrate.

"and there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. but the angel said to them, 'do not be afraid. i bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. today in the town of david a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. this will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'"
-luke 2:8-12

feeling celebrated.

i had my last day at work on thursday and it was a great day. it was definitely sad to say goodbye; i had a fantastic group of coworkers who are supportive and encouraging and fun. i also worked for a great company run by great people. it's rare to find a work environment where you feel valued and cared for like i felt at family innovations.

my coworkers had a big potluck breakfast for me, complete with cub doughnuts (my favorite!). they all wrote sweet notes in a card and gave me a big balloon, knowing bennett would love to play with it. i also got emails and notes from the directors who weren't able to make it to the breakfast as well as a number of other coworkers from different office locations. the owner of the company came to the breakfast and told me that i'm welcome back anytime. i felt truly honored by everyone's thoughtfulness and kindness.

my sadness to leave, however, didn't make me question my decision to leave to be with my kiddos. 

"there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." -ecclesiastes 3:1

this verse perfectly describes where i am at; my season for a career is over (at least for now) and my season to pour my energy into my family is here. i have a true sense that this is where i'm meant to be and my heart is full of gratitude that joe and i were able to make this choice both personally and financially. i'm so blessed. (i'll try my best to remember that on days when bennett has spit food out of his mouth for the hundredth time and had multiple meltdowns about diaper changes and putting on his winter hat...)

my first day of "retirement," as i like to call it, was very productive. i was able to get caught up on laundry and get the house put together, since joe's older brother, jeffrey, and his wife, robin, were coming over that night. joe was home for a good part of the day, so he helped a bunch, which made things so much easier. it has felt good to just have to work on maintaining the house over the last few days, rather than having an overwhelming amount of work to do.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


i got the book i was talking about recently, made to crave, and began reading it late last week. it's one of those books that i think i'll need to re-read a number of times before it truly sinks in. there are questions to reflect on at the end of each chapter, which i've opted to skip for now since i'm doing the online bible study starting next month. but i wanted to read through the book and start really absorbing and thinking about the concepts it teaches.

so far i've really connected with it and felt like i am onto something new here. it's always been all or nothing for me: strict dietary restraint or an eating free-for-all. middle ground is scary and unfamiliar. how can i achieve success if i'm not a slave to hard and fast rules? how can i stick to hard and fast rules long-term? i'd waffle back and forth between the two questions, my eating and exercise habits following closely behind. made to crave talks about self-discipline and sacrificial living, even in the areas of food, health and fitness, as a spiritual practice. this requires giving up control and allowing God to guide my steps, leaning on Him when i'm feeling discouraged, turning to Him in the midst of struggle or temptation. sounds easy in theory, but in practice it's another story. i've held tight to my control of this issue for as long as i can remember. i am fearful of what could happen should i truly loosen my grip and allow God to transform me.

the truth is, though, there's freedom in letting go of control. i've read a lot (outside of just made to crave) about ditching the diet mentality and focusing, instead, on enjoying all things in moderation. rebelling against the black and white thinking that accompanies dieting.

a blog post from "the rebel dietitian" really helped me to see how rather than fighting against food and my body, i can embrace both in a positive way and learn to find balance and make peace with myself:
"i encourage you to REBEL against the diet mentality and embrace your love for food. instead of tracking calories, track your hunger level and mood before and after all meals. identify trends and ask yourself why am i eating? am i really hungry? am i stressed, bored, happy? what do i really want to eat right now?"
honestly, i've never been much of a rebel. i'm a good rule follower and don't like to disappoint anyone by missing the bar set for me. i gravitate toward rules, control, order. when those rules don't work, i search for a new set of rules to ascribe to that will bring me success as long as i'm "obedient." the problem is, life happens and it doesn't fit perfectly into whatever dietary regimen i'm currently clinging to. i eat out, celebrate holidays, crave chocolate. and i enjoy those things, or at least i have at times. my body, food and weight issues have all too often robbed me of the joy meant to be found in gatherings of family and friends, celebrating holidays and trying new restaurants. i'm really rethinking my rigid view that the only way to find freedom from food and body issues and success in weight loss is deprivation and control.

i know that this is going to be a journey. it's basically retraining the way i think about (and have thought about, for most of my life) myself and food. but i am feeling encouraged that this could actually be the difference-maker. it could be what's been missing in my [mostly fruitless] previous attempts at kicking this issue once and for all. it's scary to say that, because i don't want to be disappointed. but that's the black and white thinking still... my measure of success needs to be in progress, not perfection. like i said, this is going to be a journey. but it's one i'm feeling truly ready to embark upon.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

last day.

well, friends, my last day of work is tomorrow. i am not sure it will really sink in until after the holidays, though. we will be busy and have time with family for at least a week or so before i really have a chance to realize i'm not going back to the office. it's like when you graduate college and it doesn't totally set in that you're done until school starts again in the fall but you don't.

joe brought me an edible arrangement to the office as a "retirement" gift :)
as excited as i am to be done working and to get to focus the bulk of my energy on being a mom and wife, i must admit i am nervous, too. i mean, with the exception of my 8 weeks of maternity leave, i have been a [nearly] full time working mom. as inefficient as i have often felt, i know how to be a mom who works full time. i know how to manage life around my 8-4 monday through thursday work schedule. i know how to binge-clean and marathon laundry loads on the weekends. i don't know how to be a stay-at-home-mom. i don't know how to do a little everyday to keep things clean and organized. i don't know how to balance the responsibilities of household chores and entertaining a toddler day-to-day. i don't know how to be intentional about taking "me-time."

bennett has been in full time daycare for nearly all his life as well, so this will be a major adjustment for him too. he's used to being around other kids all day. i'm convinced that's a major reason why he's such a social kid. how can i be sure he is getting his social needs (which i would imagine are higher now based on what he's used to) met?

i know that the biggest thing, for both of us, will be to find ways to get connected with people and activities outside the house. bennett and i have gone to a friday ECFE music class through our school district, and we are going to continue that through the winter and spring (although i am sure we will miss a few when baby boy makes his debut in late-march). bennett's daycare group has gone to story time at our local library each monday morning that ben has loved, so we will continue attending that. i am on a wait list to join BSF (bible study fellowship) at a church nearby and will hopefully start that soon. BSF has a fantastic kids program for bennett to be involved in while i have my bible study group.  i plan to eventually join a MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) group, though that may wait until next fall. finally, i hope to make it to the Y more regularly since i can go during the day, and bennett will be able to play with other kiddos there during my workout time. it's not perfect, and we will have to see how that all feels once we get into the routine, but i think those activities will keep us busy enough and help us connect with other moms and kids in the area.

besides developing a sense of community and connectedness, a big piece will be to give myself the time and freedom to figure it out, rather than expecting myself to be super-SAHM right away (or ever, for that matter!). i tend to struggle with perfectionism and beat myself up when i can't meet my own unrealistic expectations. i want to fully embrace this new role and not immediately become disheartened that i don't measure up to whatever picture i have in my head of how this should go. not only is this uncharted territory for me, but i'm also pregnant and nearing my 3rd trimester. my energy levels just aren't where they would be otherwise. that's not an excuse- it's a fact. giving myself grace is a struggle that spans most areas of my life, and this is likely to be yet another example. i trust that God will be by my side in this journey, giving me the energy, patience, wisdom, and peace i'll need just when i need it.

i am ready to take on both the joys and the challenges of being a SAHM and i feel so blessed that my long-standing dream to do so has become a reality. after all, who wouldn't want more time with this sweet face?

loving bath time these days

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


we have lots of changes coming up in the near future in our family and the reality of them is starting to set in. i only have 3 days of work left. 3 days. that's 24 work hours. and then i'm done. it's kind of crazy to think about, actually. it's something i've wanted since i had bennett but it just wasn't feasible for us financially until now. and now that it's here (in 3 days, in case i didn't mention!), it's a little surreal. i know we'll all have a little adjustment period and that it'll take a while to find our new normal. and then, let's face it, baby boy will come along in late-march and we'll have to adjust again and find another new normal. but we'll cross that bridge when we get there...

for now, i'm really looking forward to having the time to run our household more efficiently. working [nearly] full time leaves very little time for necessary things like cooking meals, cleaning, and laundry. let alone projects around the house, books i want to read, activities i want to do with bennett... so many things fall by the wayside, especially since i've been pregnant this time around. i rush home from work (after picking up bennett and a stop at the grocery store, more often than not), then scramble to get something on the table for dinner. by the time we make it through dinner, a little playtime, bath, and bedtime, i'm spent and ready for bed myself.

joe's work schedule has been completely insane for a while now and he's had to travel quite a bit more in the last month or so than usual. it's a great thing that he's busy and i'm thankful that his job is going to be able to single-handedly support our family and allow me to stay home with our kids. but it definitely adds stress for both of us and has made things that much more chaotic recently. joe feels disconnected from us at home and is exhausted from running from one place to another and traveling here and there. i feel overloaded by trying to do everything on my own at home- getting myself and ben ready and out the door each morning, working all day, picking up ben and getting dinner on the table, bath and bedtime routine, up in the night if ben cries, etc. etc. being a "single mom" is no easy feat.

laundry gets done a single load at a time and it's a miracle if it actually gets folded. lately it seems like a win if we at least have clean clothes to pull out of the dryer for the day.

dishes sit clean in the dishwasher until we finally get around to doing the dirty dishes that have collected in the sink and all over the counters for an embarrassing amount of time.

our house is decorated for the holidays more with half-emptied storage bins of christmas decorations than with the decorations themselves. not to mention the fall decorations that are sitting ready to be put away in a corner somewhere.

mail, receipts, coupons, etc. are strewn all over the counters.

it's not pretty. obviously. it stresses me out to just write all that, but honestly, that's been our reality for a while. there just simply isn't enough time and energy in the day. but the accumulation of half-completed projects, unfolded laundry, and expired coupons only add more stress and exhaustion to all of our lives. it seems like we're just treading water and somehow managing to make it through on most days.

i'm sure everyone has seasons of life like this and ultimately a messy house isn't the end of the world.

but i'm just really looking forward to actually having the time to accomplish things that will reduce the stress in our household. i have no doubt that it will be challenging to get things done as a stay at home mom; i'm positive it's no cake walk. but, there's no question that being home during the day will allow me to slow life down a bit. i'll be able to [calmly] get dinner together during bennett's afternoon nap instead of trying to throw something together while he's hungry, crabby, and pulling at my leg. i'll be able to do a load of laundry and have it dry (and, gasp, maybe even folded?) before i'm collapsing into bed for the night. rather than letting things get out of control and then having to binge-clean for a whole saturday (or just not doing it at all), i can maintain.


i'll have time to do a little at a time and keep things (hopefully) from getting completely crazy.

i wasn't in church 2 weekends ago, but i did listen to the message online. it's interesting how God manages to find a way to meet you right where you're at... naturally, the message was about stress. jason strand, the pastor, emphasized slowing down and finding ways to create margin and space in our lives. he also said that likely the areas causing us the most stress are where we have an opportunity to trust God more. finally, he said that stress is inevitable and that we need to look for God in our stress. in fact, His grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in our times of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

for so many reasons this message really hit home for me. i really want to be intentional, especially as i make this transition from the working world to being a stay-at-home-mom, about creating margin in our lives and looking for God in my stress. God knows what i need when i need it and if i seek Him first, he will take care of the rest.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

made to crave.

i feel like i've had a lot of "God moments" lately. you know, where something ironically pops up that perfectly fits the situation you're in and seems like it's meant just for you. some people i suppose attribute these things to coincidence or chance, but i just don't buy it.

i've written plenty of times before about the struggle i've experienced with insecurity about my weight and appearance. and i've mentioned that pregnancy has really only exacerbated the issue since weight gain is inevitable. for someone who's been on a seemingly never-ending quest to lose weight and achieve a certain body ideal, weight gain (pregnant or otherwise) is a major trigger for feeling like a failure. and during pregnancy, i don't have the same unrestricted access to my go-to strategies for gaining a sense of control.

after stewing in this for a while now and dabbling in (but never fully committing to) methods to control or manage my weight gain, i've really started to evaluate the heart of the matter. why is this such a struggle for me? why does it matter so much to me? is this really how i have to live my life- constantly engulfed with critical self-talk, hating what i see in the mirror, a slave to the scale?

clearly the answer is no, but something keeps me coming back for more. i'm getting something out of this cycle, so i stay in it despite recognizing that it's not healthy for me. i think what i've determined is that ultimately it's the sense of control that keeps me coming back. it's a false sense of control, because it really doesn't work and isn't a lasting solution to the problem. but i get a rush from the sense of control i gain when i develop a new strategy: a new diet plan, a new exercise regimen, a fresh start on a monday morning. letting go of that control is scary. it's uncharted territory for me.

ok, so back to the "God moment." i was looking online yesterday for christian books on this topic of weight and self-image and came across one called made to crave by lysa terkeurst. i thought it looked interesting, but ultimately opted not to order it and went on with my day.

last night, my friend katie came over. we hadn't seen each other and had the opportunity to really catch up in quite a while, so it was really nice to connect with her. while she was over, we spent a lot of time discussing God and how He wants us to be free of this battle with insecurity and yo-yo dieting. katie and i have been close since high school and have always been able to relate to and support/challenge one another both in this struggle with body image and in our faith. having the opportunity to verbalize what's been stirring around in my head with someone who i know truly gets it was really cathartic and i felt encouraged to begin to seek God for true freedom.

then, this morning i received the proverbs 31 ministries daily devotional in my email as i do each morning. i opened it and read through it. then something at the bottom of the page caught my eye. the author of the day's devotional was lysa terkeurst and there was a blurb about her book, made to crave. on top of that, there was a link to sign up for a free online Bible study of made to crave starting in january. i couldn't believe it- i know God led me to that for a purpose. without hesitation i signed up for the bible study and ordered the book.

i'm so excited to start and to learn how to let go of my need for control and my unhealthy focus on weight and outward appearance. i'm praying that God will use this study to help me turn to Him and ask Him boldly to conquer this stronghold in me. i came across a verse written on a note card on my desk yesterday that had spoken to me early last spring when we began our house hunting adventure. another unlikely "coincidence" that i came across the note card yesterday.
"let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." -hebrews 4:16
i intend to.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


i'll be honest. for me, thanksgiving hasn't typically involved a lot of contemplation of what i am thankful for. it's been more about where we're going, what we're eating, when i'm napping, and what time the packers are playing (at least every other year, that is). i'm not even really a big thanksgiving person as it is. i'm not crazy about thanksgiving food- i mean, it's fine, but i certainly don't look forward to it for months or weeks ahead of time. a lot of times it ends up feeling like a whole lot of time and work for a decent meal that lasts 20 minutes.

last year we didn't even really "do" thanksgiving. bennett was 4 months old and didn't believe in naps longer than 20 minutes, i was fried from working full time and caring for a newborn, joe had been traveling quite a bit, and bennett came down with fifth's disease (a bad virus). the combination just about put me over the edge and i begged joe to let us just stay home for thanksgiving and recharge. he agreed and we spent the weekend at home. not an ounce of turkey in sight. and i was thankful.

now, i understand i sound like a huge scrooge. or whatever the thanksgiving version of a scrooge is. pilgrim? but thanksgiving has never had that magical holiday feeling for me. thanksgiving just feels like a pleasant obstacle you have to get past to get to christmas, the REAL holiday.

now that i'm a mom (to a child who now likes nice, long afternoon naps), i think i'm becoming more sentimental and thanksgiving is starting to mean a little more to me. i mean, how often do i really take the time to reflect on all the blessings in my life and how thankful i am for this life? not nearly often enough, that's for sure. i spend significantly more time worrying, nitpicking, and feeling frustrated about the everyday details than being thankful for the big picture.

"above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. and let the peace that comes from christ rule in your hearts. for as members of one body you are called to live in peace. and always be thankful. let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts." -colossians 3:14-16

i want to live a life of gratitude for the immeasurable blessings i've been given...

i have a wonderful, supportive, generous, fun family. we all have our quirks and get on each others' nerves at times, but we love each other and truly enjoy spending time together.

i have an amazing husband who loves and supports me unconditionally and works selflessly and joyfully to provide for our family. i'm thankful for his servant heart and his positive outlook on life even in the midst of hardship.

we have a precious, healthy, happy son who makes us laugh every single day. he's feisty and strong-willed, and while i let that frustrate me far too often, i'm thankful that he is just who he was made to be and love him for his determination and spunk.

we're expecting another sweet boy and my pregnancy has been relatively smooth sailing thus far. i'm thankful that God has blessed joe and i with the responsibility of parenthood and for equipping us with all we need to fulfill that responsibility and bring him glory through it.

i'm thankful for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom shortly (12 days of work left!). i know this new job will come with many, many challenges, but i'm thankful that i'll be able to spend each day watching my kids grow and learn.

i'm thankful for our home. it's even more than i had hoped for when we started our home search, and i feel so blessed to have such a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood where we can raise our family.

happy thanksgiving, everyone. take time to be thankful today, and every day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

baby boy nursery.

joe and i decided to do a whale nursery for this little baby boy. when we had bennett, i was very anti-theme for his nursery. i didn't want it to feel gimmicky or cheesy. and it turned out super cute. BUT i wouldn't say it felt very baby-ish. this time, i'm more open to a "theme" and letting it be what it is: a nursery.

bennett's nursery was red and gray. several months ago i bought these cute bumper pads for his crib from pottery barn kids, thinking we'd we'd use them when we moved to the new house.

Harper Nursery Bedding Collection

i'd never had bumpers in his crib (except those dumb breathable ones) because i was semi-paranoid about SIDS, but they look so cute that i wanted to put them in after bennett was out of the "danger zone." well, bumpers don't look as cute when you have to lower the crib all the way down so your baby can't fall out when he's standing up. so we never put in the bumpers. but i didn't return them either. they're gray and white, very gender neutral, so i figured we could use them for baby #2 whenever the time came (and i'm still semi-paranoid so as soon as this babe looks like he might be thinking about rolling over i'll probably take them out).

i love navy. if everything i owned- clothes, decor, etc.- could be navy, it would. i mean, i guess i'm a grown up so i'm allowed, but it'd be weird if EVERYTHING was navy. i digress... so when i came across this bedding at the land of nod, incorporating the gray we already have going (bumpers, sheets, and the walls) and my favorite color navy, i immediately sent the link to joe. he approved. as if he had a choice...


we're not quite sure yet what we're going to do about sleeping arrangements once the new babe comes along. i'm not opposed to getting bennett into a big boy bed before then, but i'm just not sure he'll be ready yet and i don't want to push him. at the same time, i'm not crazy about spending a bunch of money on a second crib... a few weeks ago at bennett's swim lesson i was talking to another mom who is also expecting her second baby this spring. she said that her sister-in-law is looking to get rid of their crib (which converts to a toddler bed) and that she'd ask her about selling it to us. i just emailed her to follow up about it today so we'll see what happens. otherwise, i guess we'll have to figure something else out! either way, i think we'll revamp (for the 3rd time, mind you!) our bedroom's dresser with some paint and use it as a changing table for the new baby. we'll let bennett keep his current crib and dresser/changing table when he moves to his new bedroom downstairs.

joe and i are probably going to be getting a new bedroom set for our room and our current dresser would look cute painted navy (perhaps something similar to this one i found on pinterest?)

Navy changing table

we never bought a nice bedroom set for ourselves, instead opting for a hand-me-down from his parents. we're ready for our grown up bedroom set, so joe suggested we look for a black friday deal. don't have to tell me twice! i want a king, but after measuring and silently contemplating whether being able to walk around each side was really necessary (apparently it is), we decided a king is just not going to work. so we'll stick with a queen and a sleeping bag on the floor for joe.

anyway, back to the baby room.

we have a super comfy glider in bennett's room, but it's red, so that's not exactly fitting with our color scheme this time around. fortunately for us the previous owners of our house left a glider that they weren't going to use. it's a white wooden glider with denim cushions. a little '80s, but whatev. i think if my mom i recovered the cushions it could be super cute.

Gray Minky Dot Fabric
maybe something cozy like this?
i also found this adorable pillow on etsy. something like this would be cute on the glider.

Whale Pillow/ Light Gray/ Whale Cushion/ Decor/ Nursery/ Baby Gift/ Kids Room/ Children's Decor/ Decoration/ Nap Pillow/ Modern Nursery

as for the walls, there are a couple bookshelves hanging in there now that we'll leave. i want to do something with the baby's name over the crib, like we did with bennett's. over the dresser/changing table though, i'm thinking a gallery wall of some kind.

Rock a Bye Baby

well, that's about as far as we've made it. no shopping, no actual work done. we have our work cut out for us after the holidays, that's for sure. we're not only having to get a nursery put together for the new baby, but we're also needing to put a room together for bennett. now i need to find some inspiration for bennett's "big boy" room (excuse me while i lose it over how fast he's growing up...).

Monday, November 18, 2013

restaurants with a toddler.

over the past few months, i've become increasingly more stressed when we go out to a restaurant with bennett. sometimes he does great, but more often that not lately it's a disaster and we're both in tears by the end of the meal (if we even make it that far- i've taken my meal to-go more than once).

bennett is a busy 16 month old. he doesn't like to sit still for long. restaurants like panera, noodles, chipotle, etc. are ideal because the food comes out relatively quickly and we can usually distract him long enough to get through the short waiting period. sit-down restaurants are the big challenge. waiting for a table, waiting to order, waiting for your food, waiting for the bill, it can sometimes end up being close to an hour and a half before we're out of there. it's just too long for our active boy. not to mention that most times we go out it's for dinner in the evening, which is easily his hardest time of the day. he's usually tired at that point, worn out from his day, hungry and crabby. our usual distraction tactics (toys, snacks, books, etc.) just aren't effective. he wants what he wants and he wants it now. books and toys are thrown, he freaks out like we're torturing him when we try to sit him in the highchair, and it's overall a stressful experience for everyone.

now, i know that i have a "spirited" child. we've known that bennett is feisty and strong-willed from the beginning. he is not easily swayed from what he wants and he makes it known to everyone when he's not getting his way. part of this is that he's a toddler, and part of this is that he's bennett. i make a lot of attempts to avoid going out to dinner, mostly by inviting friends and family to have dinner at our house instead of going out. bennett is happier that way and i enjoy my time with friends and family far more when i'm not stressed that my child is going to melt down at any moment. but there are times when going out to eat is inevitable, and it's honestly something i like to do so i don't want to avoid it completely. and, let's face it, he's gotta learn eventually.

i'm just not sure what to do to make restaurant dining more relaxing and less tense. i'm sure part of it is just his age and it will get better with time. also, i need to work on not letting his mood/behavior get me all worked up because i'm sure my anxiety/frustration just makes matters worse. there's no way he doesn't notice that and respond to it. what can really be expected of him at his age? i'm not sure it's age-appropriate to expect a 16 month old to sit pleasantly at the table for an hour or more. but i also don't want to teach him that freaking out gets him out of his highchair and/or "reward" him with more toys and snacks to calm him down. at what point is it distraction and at what point is it rewarding negative behavior?

man, parenting is hard... any tips that have worked for you to help making eating out a pleasant experience for everyone?

why the y.

i joined the YMCA last wednesday. i'd been a gym member previously but got out of the habit of going, so naturally i stopped paying for it. the gym just wasn't that close to our townhouse and i didn't like the childcare there (they were always rude to me and i never could get the protocol right- always scolded for not doing or bringing this or that...) so i never wanted to go when joe wasn't available to stay with bennett.

since we moved to shoreview, we've talked about joining a gym again. joe and i have both felt like we needed to get active again, and with me being pregnant i have even more incentive to workout since it's good for the baby and helps with increasing energy and limiting unnecessary weight gain. originally we'd discussed joining the community center. bennett has done 2 sessions of swim lessons there and it's less than a mile from our house. it has an indoor waterpark and an indoor playground, which would be great for me to bring bennett to when i start [SOON!] staying home full time.

when i started looking into it further, however, there were some things i didn't like. first, the group fitness classes are not included in the membership cost. the membership fees are pretty low so paying for the classes on top of that wouldn't be the end of the world, but i didn't love that it wasn't a one-shot deal. childcare also isn't included in the membership fee. while it's only $1 per hour per child, again it's an additional cost to think about each time i go. finally, the biggest thing that swayed me away from a community center membership is that you can't bring kids to the childcare center until they're 6 months old. since we have a new baby on the way, i don't want to have to wait until he's 6 months old before i can go to the gym without securing my own childcare. i would far rather workout during the day than wait until the evening when joe is home because by then, i'm spent. also, i'm sure there will be days when that hour or two at the gym will be a very welcome break from my soon-to-be 2 under 2 :) even if i only go to get a shower!

the biggest things i liked about the community center are the indoor waterpark and indoor playground. i saw on the website, though, that you can buy a 10 pack of day passes for $46, or pay $5 per visit. i figured this would be a good way to still be able to utilize those fun spots for bennett without committing to a full membership, and it's relatively inexpensive.

so, i started looking into options at other gyms. lifetime fitness is probably a 10-15 minute drive from our house. however, because the closest club to us is the highest "level" of lifetime's clubs, the monthly membership fee was rather hefty. our insurance plan doesn't offer any health club discounts, so we'll be footing the whole thing on our own and i just couldn't justify the cost there.

so, that led me to the YMCA. our closest Y is less than 10 minutes from our house and i found it to be a good compromise financially between the stripped down membership at the community center and the expensive monthly fee at lifetime. everything is included- group fitness classes, childcare, etc. and you can bring kids as young as 6 weeks to the childcare center. they have an indoor and outdoor pool and you have access to all the YMCAs in the twin cities.

joe is now an individual member at the community center, as he wouldn't use any of the amenities (primarily group fitness classes) that i was looking for in a gym. and joe could bring bennett to the childcare on the rare occasion he'd workout at a time when i wasn't home to be with ben or when the new baby comes and i want to spend some [likely rare] one-on-one time with him. i joined the Y so i can utilize the classes and childcare starting at 6 weeks postpartum. i went to yoga on saturday morning and felt great afterwards. and i apparently lost my mind and went to a spinning class monday night. it was intense but it did feel good (minus the soreness thanks to the tiny seat- ouch!). i'm 
really enjoying being active again so far and look forward to having the gym as an option for getting out of the house this winter.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


last week was kind of a rough week. joe worked early mornings (out the door before my alarm even went off every morning) and several late nights. plus he was gone all night friday and all day saturday for the state podiatry conference. we'd been in sioux falls the weekend before visiting joe's older brother and his family so we started off the week feeling a little out of sorts as it was. on top of that, bennett has been exceedingly crabby lately, so dealing with him by myself was a challenge.

i know i've been more emotional lately (hello, hormones!), but honestly this last week really had me questioning whether or not i could handle two kids. i was also questioning whether or not i have what it takes to be a stay at home mom. it's hard not to feel like a failure when your child is crying and melting down most of the day and nothing you do seems to make it better. how do you not take that personally after a while? and when you don't have much of a break it's easy for patience to wear thin and emotions to run high.

i tried to meet my mom for dinner one of the nights joe was working and that resulted in ben having a meltdown in granite city and having to take my food to go and head home in tears. our attempt at a nice saturday morning trip to the library resulted in another meltdown and carrying a crying, squirming child out to the car within minutes of arriving.

what bothers me when looking back over our tough week was that there were some highlights i mostly ignored, instead choosing to dwell on (stew in) the hard moments. bennett and i had a BLAST together at music class on friday morning. he participated more consistently throughout the class than he ever has before and seemed to really love his time there. ben was so snuggly and sweet all week, constantly giving me hugs and kisses. we had a very successful trip to target (no small feat with a 16 month old, i assure you) where i was able to get all the groceries i needed while bennett rode happily in the cart. he took great naps all weekend and i was able to get some rest in, too.

holding hands with my little man
saturday morning cartoons with his best buddy, george
coy smile
(don't mind the mess in the background...)
on sunday i finally discovered why bennett has been excessively fussy! sure enough, a little tooth is working on pushing its way through. if it's anything like the first time we went through a teething spell, there are a few more teeth coming in too and we have a ways to go til he's back to his normal self. if you're not a parent it might be hard to understand, but i felt unbelievably relieved to see that little tooth. i was able to explain his mood with something other than "i guess my child hates me." i know that might sound dramatic, and it is. but seriously, any mom would be lying if she said she didn't have that irrational thought- albeit subconscious- now and again.

it's so easy to focus on the hard times, the challenges, the "failures." it's easy to feel defeated, frustrated, and burned out. there's a level of mommy guilt that inevitably comes with the territory. whether it's feeling guilty for being a working mom, guilty for not breastfeeding your child for a year+, guilty for not throwing the perfect pinterest-inspired birthday party, guilty for wanting (and taking) "me time," guilty for letting your child watch a little too much tv, guilty for hiding his favorite book because you can't bring yourself to read it one. more. time. (wait, no. i wouldn't do that.)... the list goes on. at some point i believe every mom wonders, "do i have what it takes?"

in short, the answer is a resounding YES. if you have a child, God has called you to parenthood. when God calls us to something, He also gifts us and equips us to handle the challenges that accompany that calling. the series at our church this fall was called "labeled" (you can listen to all the messages in the series here) and talked about getting rid of the labels we're given by ourselves or the world and embracing the labels that God gives us: chosen, blessed, strong, alive, filled, gifted, new, protected. i need to remember that no matter what kind of day or week i have as a mom, God has chosen me to be a mom. He's chosen me to be a mom to this feisty, strong-willed boy in particular. and He has given me all i need to fulfill that calling and bring Him glory through it. instead of doubting myself and dwelling on my frustrations, i need to turn to Him and ask Him to fill me with his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). the best part is that He will. i just have to stop long enough to ask.

Monday, November 11, 2013

it's a...

it was hard to get up and get going this morning... mondays are tough- ESPECIALLY after a nice, long weekend! we had our 20 week ultrasound on thursday morning so i took the whole day off, meaning it's been 4 days since i last worked. (by the way- the countdown is on! just 6 more weeks of work!)

it was so fun to see our little one on the screen on thursday! our babe was VERY active and the ultrasound tech commented that she hadn't seen a baby that active in a long time! everything looked great on the ultrasound except one of the kidneys had a little too much fluid in it. they like it to measure at 4 mm or less, and one of the kidneys was at 5.1 mm. the other was within normal limits measuring at 3.8mm. apparently this is one of 20+ markers for downs syndrome. however, our baby didn't have any of the other markers and the OB assured us that the odds of downs syndrome only increased from 1/700 to 1.5/700 based on this. she also said this is probably the most common thing that comes up on ultrasounds that they recheck. we'll have another ultrasound at either 28 or 32 weeks to see if the fluid measures within normal levels at that point. they also may do an ultrasound on the baby after birth to check the fluid levels again. i'd be lying if i said it didn't make me a little nervous, but our doctor was very insistent that this is likely a non-issue and that we shouldn't be overly concerned.

also, there is a gender component related to fluid in the kidneys, as it's much more common in BOYS. we're having another little BOY! :) we are so excited that bennett will have a little brother and that they'll be so close in age (21 months apart).

we have chosen a name for baby boy #2! we were going back and forth on two names and couldn't decide. joe told me to just pick one of the two. i had wanted to order a christmas stocking for this baby that matches the rest of ours, so i ordered one and had it monogrammed with his name. joe will find out which of the two names i chose when the stocking arrives! we'll probably share the name at that point, since we already decided on it. only a little longer, mom and dad ;-)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

beyond the external.

i find myself struggling a lot with my feelings surrounding my body during this pregnancy. honestly, feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction with my appearance have plagued me most of my life, and pregnancy is no different. in fact, i think they're somewhat exacerbated in pregnancy. i've never been what i would consider extremely overweight or anything. i'd probably be considered average more often than not. but the real issue for me is emotional. the ideal body has always seemed unattainable to me. in many ways, it probably is. let's face it, i'm 5'8" and have a larger frame. i'm never going to be considered "petite" and i'm certainly never going to weigh 110 lbs.

the problem really lies in the fact that it's not really about my weight. i mean, in my head it is. but when i think over the years of fluctuating weight, i don't think the nagging feeling that i was unattractive and fat ever really went away, whether i was at my highest weight or my lowest. if those feelings truly went away with losing weight, then i'd have more hope that i could kick these feelings. but obviously this issue goes beyond the external.

it's a vicious cycle- i try to eat healthy, but inevitably life gets in the way, i eat things i "shouldn't" or eat more than i need and i let it derail me. my feelings of failure and frustration lead me to continue eating poorly and the cycle continues.  i've been stuck in this cycle for as long as i can remember. it's not healthy for me physically or emotionally, and i know that but i guess i don't know how to change it.

this has been even that much harder in pregnancy when i'm supposed to be gaining weight. even though i know you gain weight when you're pregnant, actually seeing the number creep up on the scale is disheartening. when you start out at a weight you're not happy with as it is, it makes things that much more difficult. i want to keep a tight reign on my weight gain, but to a certain point it's out of my control. it's not just gaining body fat. my blood supply is drastically increasing, the baby is growing, the placenta is growing, and all kinds of other crazy things are happening. when you're not pregnant, weight gain is usually a direct reflection of your actions (diet and exercise). when you're pregnant, that's only a part of the equation. but i've "trained" myself over years and years to see an increasing number on the scale as failure and a decreasing number as success. it's not easy to dismiss those deeply ingrained beliefs just because i'm pregnant.

19 weeks
we find out on thursday if we're having a boy or a girl. i will truly be so excited either way- it really doesn't matter to me. i want to hear that the baby is growing strong and healthy, just as he or she should be, and that's honestly all i care about. but i do have to admit i'm somewhat fearful of having a girl. not only because i've already had a boy and feel like i have a better handle on how to be a mom to a boy, but also because i'm afraid to pass along my issues with body image and weight on to a daughter. not that boys are immune to it, but i think it's far more common struggle for girls. blame pop culture, blame genetics, blame whatever. i think it's just a fact that girls are more prone to issues with food, weight and appearance. and i don't want my daughter to feel about herself and her appearance the way i often feel about myself and my appearance.

jennifer polimino writes "pray for your baby," a website that sends weekly emails that correspond with each week of your pregnancy and encourage you to pray for your growing babe. i read this in the email from week 17 and it definitely struck a chord.

Dear Lord, as my baby continues to grow, I pray that he/she will gain the right amount of weight, including the healthy amount of body fat. Help me to eat in a healthy way and exercise on a regular basis so I don't put my baby in jeopardy of having diabetes or other obesity-related health issues. Give me the strength to avoid junk foods and excessive sugar and fat.

Lord, help me to concentrate on good health and not become obsessed with body weight and body image. I know my self-worth comes from You, and not from the way I look. Please help me with that, and help me pass on to my child only good attitudes about his/her appearance and his/her weight. Protect my child from eating disorders and a poor self-image.

Empower us, as a family, to live a healthy lifestyle. Empower us to be good testimonies of Your love, forgiveness and life-changing power. I pray that we would shine from an inner glow of Your Holy Spirit, and that it would attract people to You.

Dear God, please continue to bless and guide my baby's development. I thank You for Your love and protection.

In Jesus' name. Amen.

if that doesn't get to the heart of what i'm going through, i don't know what does. that is my prayer and i'm committing to praying that prayer throughout the remainder of this pregnancy. i need to lean on God to help me with this struggle both now and as i raise my kids.

Monday, November 4, 2013

recent kitchen adventures.

in an effort to spend less money and overall be healthier as a family, i have been cooking a lot more lately. i don't want ben growing up thinking dinner is takeout every night! my parents really made family dinner a priority (much to my brother's and my annoyance) and i really appreciate that looking back. i want family dinner to be a non-negotiable in our house. if we can't do it when we're completely in control while bennett is little, it sure won't be easy when school activities, homework and friends are thrown into the mix.

it's hard to continue coming up with ideas for dinner each night. i have a few tried and true recipes i tend to fall back on (mainly tacos and lasagna!), but beyond that i tend to draw a blank. i really can't wait to be a stay at home mom and read cookbooks and watch food network all day in between restful naps (only interrupted once in a while by the maid).

wait, what? that's not what it's going to be like? huh, i'll need to rethink this...

in all seriousness, though, working [almost] full time doesn't leave much time for planning or for actually cooking the meals. i am looking forward to having a little more time to prep and not feel like i walk in the door and instantly have to start frantically getting dinner together. bennett is ready to eat promptly at all.the.time o'clock so time is of the essence and we are always moments away from a meltdown right before dinner.

anyway, here are a few of the successful meals i've made over the past couple of weeks...

chili- the pioneer woman
i didn't do the frito pie part (although i did put tons of fritos in mine). i just made the chili. and i omitted the cornmeal mixture because it sounded weird and i didn't feel like getting out more stuff from the cupboard.

cheeseburger soup- taste of home
yep, it has velveeta in it. which makes it awesome. and processed. oh well.

mexican chicken spaghetti- the pioneer woman
umm, this recipe calls for 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. enough said. except that next time i would do even less cayenne or omit it entirely. ben was not a fan of the "kick." so pretty much it wouldn't be mexican. and i used egg noodles instead so it's not even spaghetti. the title really gives nothing away.

salmon with balsamic glaze and sauteed veggies- giada
i used salmon my parents had given us from their trip to alaska. how very green and sustainable of me, you say? well thank you. unfortunately bennett felt that the salmon would be put to better use in george's tummy. my mom, a salmon hater herself, probably would've agreed.

crockpot beef stroganoff- somewhere on pinterest
i skipped the mushrooms because i don't like them. regardless, joe and bennett both devoured this! let's face it: so did i.

white chocolate bread pudding- thank you google
just yum.

and because no post would be complete without them, here's some recent pics...

saturday breakfast at OPH
YUM! syrup everywhere...
nightly bubble guppies
cute baby belly :)
my little monkey in his halloween costume!
bennett and his friend, landon,
as curious george and the man in the yellow hat

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

the windy city.

a couple weeks ago, joe and i headed to chicago for the weekend with joe's younger brother jake and his wife allison. it was the first time we've left bennett for that long, so we struggled a bit (though bennett didn't at all!).

we set out around 6:30am friday morning. the drive was pretty uneventful and we made it to geneva (a suburb outside of chicago) by around 12:30. we walked around geneva for a couple hours and then took the train into the city. then we got checked into our hotel, casually got upgraded to a suite for no reason, and relaxed for a while before heading to giordano's for deep dish chicago pizza. AMAZING. sooo worth the hour and a half wait.

we were pretty tired from traveling all day so we headed back to the hotel. obviously a little while later our sweet tooths (teeth?) came a'calling and we sent the boys out for takeout dessert from the fancy steakhouse near our hotel. classy dessert party on our hotel room floor.

we got up the next morning and hit up the donut shop attached to our hotel, glazed and infused. (are you sensing the theme of the weekend?) my personal favorite had to have been the crunchy pb&j.

all weighed down for the day, we set off to explore michigan ave. and do some shopping. joe and i went on a little lunch date by ourselves. we went to a restaurant called howell's and hood just off michigan. they had great pub food and a cool atmosphere. joe and i walked around a while and got joe some new shoes at puma. he felt very hip after that.

we met back up with jake and allison and headed to millennium park to walk around and see the bean.

we then headed back to the hotel, exhausted from lots of walking! we rested for a bit and then got ready to go to dinner. we'd made reservations at tavern on rush, where joe and i had been for our anniversary a couple years ago. it was just as delicious as we remembered! the lobster bisque was amazing and we all left stuffed to the brim!

we got to meet up with my friend julie who moved to chicago several months ago to be near family. she's an OB/GYN resident and works crazy hours, so it was nice to be able to see her even just for an hour! we grabbed cheesecake at the cheesecake factory and caught up.

sunday morning we took a short walk to meli cafe and juice bar for a delicious breakfast. yes, we probably each gained 10 lbs this weekend. don't judge. it was worth it.

we headed back to the hotel and got packed up. unfortunately we didn't realize the train back to geneva was only running every two hours and we missed the morning one, so we had to wait until 12:40 to head out. traffic on the drive home was terrible thanks to construction and some accidents, so we didn't make it home til late and our little buddy was already sleeping!

bennett had a great weekend with grammy and papa. he even got to see uncle ryan and auntie jeanie!

snuggles and milk with papa in the morning

fun with papa at the park!
playing with a new clifford puppet...
...and a pool noodle he found in the neighbor's garage
we sure missed bennett but we had a fun weekend away and loved having the one-on-one time with jake and allison. we are so thankful for our great relationship with them!