Thursday, July 25, 2013

birthday party recap.

nothing like a birthday party post two weeks after the party... these pictures, unlike most, were taken on our nice camera rather than my iphone. and obviously i didn't get around to uploading these until now. better late than never!

i chose a circus theme for bennett's big day. i initially wanted to do a whale theme, but i found cuter circus invites so i quickly changed gears. side note: party city was completely worthless and didn't have a darn circus-themed item in the store. isn't circus kind of a classic party theme for kids? not every kid is going to have a thomas the train or spiderman party. although let's face it, thomas will probably be bennett's chosen theme for next year. i digress.

fortunately, i hit the jackpot at michaels. until then i'd started to worry that the circus theme was an antiquated idea. as it turns out, though, it's just that the circus is just too cool for party city. the michaels dollar aisle was full of great circus-themed finds, so i picked up most of the party goods from there. and also target. because what can't you buy at target? (besides circus party stuff, of course.) thank goodness for pinterest and blogs, too. after perusing the internet and pinterest posts, i felt both reassured in my circus idea and also completely inadequate as a parent all at the same time. that's just what pinterest does. anyway, this blog post was the inspiration for bennett's party (or, more realistically, i made a solid effort at a knock-off version of this party).

regardless of whether the party was pinterest-perfect (i assure you, it was not), i think it turned out cute and everyone had a good time, which was the whole point. here's some pictures from the day...

uncle jake and cousin martin (missing afternoon nap was tough on marty)
from left: cousin taylor (5), bennett, cousin charlie (6), cousin martin (3), landon (almost 2)
charlie and bennett
taylor, bennett, charlie
joe and taylor
bennett and papa
my little buddy "clownin' around"
uncle jake and auntie allison
martin, taylor, charlie
me and my mama

check out that handprint
SO big!
wash it down with a little milk

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

chaos and frustration.

so, our townhouse (and our new house, for that matter) has turned into a complete disaster area. it's a MESS. anyone who knows me knows that i'm not exactly the cleanest person on the planet, so when i am bothered by the state our house is in, that's saying something. i mean, i get that we're moving and that things are going to be a little chaotic, but this is bad. like, i don't know where to start-, or where the floor went-, or where my child is (just kidding)-bad.

and the new house isn't much better. granted, it hardly has a thing in it, but there is dust EVERYWHERE from paneling and cabinets being sanded like crazy. plus, the bathrooms need some work. they're not that bad, but when it's not your "dirt," something feels grosser about it. we had the carpets cleaned yesterday, so at least we can have ben walking/crawling on the floors without worrying about what he's putting his face on (because, let's face it, he's a new walker; he face-plants on a regular basis).

baby jail! checking out the railings at the new house
enjoying the hammock in the back yard with mama

on top of feeling like our house(s) are in complete disarray, i feel like i'm not being a very good mom. everything is hectic, which makes me feel frazzled and out of control, which makes me impatient and easily frustrated. throw in a sick and teething baby who is extra needy and it makes for one crabby mama. i have felt terrible for bennett, knowing that he's not feeling well and is struggling while his teeth all try to come in at once. i get frustrated with myself that there's nothing i can do to help him and frustrated with him that he's crying all the time and that i can't get anything done. then i feel guilty for feeling frustrated with him. it's a vicious cycle. and over the last week or so, i know i've been more focused on getting things done like packing, painting, and running errands and haven't made it enough of a priority to just sit down and play with bennett or bring him to the park. last night on the way home from yet another target run, i hadn't planned on it, but i turned into the neighborhood park and got ben out to play. we didn't stay long, but it felt good to just do something fun with him and not think about all the things i have to do.
SO big! dinner at panera

 i know this isn't the picture perfect mom image that i'd love to project, but it's the truth. being a mom is hard. working [almost] full-time is hard. moving is hard. this is just a season of life and i know that we'll soon be settled into our new house and things will slow back down. just have to find the time...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

hellos and goodbyes.

i dont think i ever updated you that the day care that we "interviewed" with a few weeks back is going to work out! i guess we somehow passed the "are the parents crazy?" test. becky (our new day care provider) is closed for the first full week in august as her "summer break," so we will keep ben at new creations through august 8th and then have him start with becky on august 12th. she is, however, going to watch him on a couple fridays before then. i'm hoping this will help ben to get to know becky and the other kids, plus it will give me some uninterupted time to work on things at the new house.

we are so excited to have a new day care that is so close to our house (1.4 miles!). plus, becky comes highly recommended and seems like she'll be a great fit for bennett. she plans lots of fun activities (spanish teacher, music teacher, story time at the library, swimming lessons, etc.) that ben will love. plus, in-home day care is quite a bit cheaper, so we'll be saving some money ($50+ per week!). despite all the positives, i must admit i'm very sad to say goodbye to new creations. they've been amazing and we are truly grateful for the love and care they've shown bennett over the last 10 months or so. if anyone is looking for day care in the blaine/andover area, we HIGHLY recommend them.

as for the new house, we have been working away since the closing on monday. i think bennett and i have been to home depot about a dozen times in less than a week. i won't be surprised when they greet me by name soon.

paintbrushes are fun
the house is starting to take shape more and more each day day and it's feeling more and more like it's our house. joe's brother jake powered through on painting the walls on tuesday and wednesday and got almost all of the rooms painted- he's crazy fast (and does a great job!). i stripped the lovely hot air balloon wallpaper out of the downstairs bathroom on friday, thanks to a little help from a good friend! those walls need to be washed to get rid of any glue residue, patched in a few places, and then they'll be ready to paint.

wallpaper. yuck.
cute, right?
adios, balloons!
things have been a little stressful lately with working on the new house and trying to pack the townhouse, coupled with the fact that bennett has been sick and is teething in a major way. i'm actually bringing him into the doctor to make sure he doesn't have an ear infection or something else because he has been crying [what feels like] constantly for several days. he's just not his normal, happy self AT ALL. the only thing that seems to help is his nuk. we had good intentions of taking that away at a year, but i think we need to get through teething first.

i feel so bad for him because i have to believe he's in quite a bit of pain based on his mood, and i feel guilty because my patience is wearing thin. it's not his fault he's so whiny and fussy, but it's hard to stay patient when it seems like nothing helps. i'm hoping this passes soon and that he starts feeling better and getting back to himself. thank goodness he's sleeping through the night and taking good naps still- otherwise, i think i'd go crazy. if nothing else, i'm thankful for more frequent snuggles from my sweet boy.

snuggles make everything better

Thursday, July 18, 2013

peace. love. shoreview.

we closed on our new house on monday! it's all ours! it feels so good to be able to say that we are official residents of shoreview :)

the closing itself went off without a hitch. plus, we learned even more about how much this house was meant for us. remember the dramatic, God-led process we went through renting our place, house hunting, and the going under contract on this house (read about our house hunt here, here, here and here)? as you might recall, we put in our offer the first day the house was on the market. later that night we received word that the owners of this house had another offer on the table that came in shortly after ours. fortunately for us, they chose to counter our offer (asking $5,000 more than we'd originally offered), we accepted, and the rest is history. well, as it turns out, the other offer was significantly over asking price, and therefore significantly higher than our offer. we don't know, and probably never will, how much more the offer was, but regardless, it was more than ours.

pam and larry (the owners) decided to turn down the other offer and move forward with us. they'd been home (on their way out the door) when we went for our showings and liked the idea of a young family moving into the house they'd raised their family in. apparently that was more important to them than extra money in their pockets. how many people can say that, right? pam and larry's realtor told us he hasn't seen sellers turn down an offer like that in 20+ years in the business. at the closing on monday, larry could hardly get through telling joe about how to work the irrigation system because he was so choked up. he told joe that he and pam have been praying for blessings on our family in that house since we put in our offer.

we are so thankful that God led us to this house. this whole thing has been such a testament to God's work in our lives and a clear picture of His divine timing and plan. the house is perfect for us and the timing worked out better than i could've planned myself. not to mention its been such a wonderful reminder to us that there are good people out there and makes us want to be a blessing to others like pam and larry have been to us.
"now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! amen." -ephesians 3:20-21
we are feeling so excited and grateful to make this house our home. i'll show some before and after pictures, hopefully soon! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

life lately.

we've got a lot going on right now, so i thought i'd write a little update on life lately...

bennett, one year
we have lots of "one year" activities this week. bennett's first birthday was last saturday. tonight we have his one year pictures with megan daas. joe went to high school with her and she did our engagement and wedding photos when she was just starting out and doing photography on the side. now she's doing photography full time and is constantly booked with weddings, family shoots, senior pictures, etc. she is amazing- i can't say enough how much i love her work! check out her website! we're meeting in pioneer park in stillwater for the pictures tonight and i have no doubt she'll get some fantastic shots!

i made this birthday chalkboard based on a product i saw on etsy and a tutorial i found on another blog. i'm hoping to use it in some of ben's one year pictures tonight, and will also display it at his birthday party on saturday.

so, back to the one year themed week... tomorrow is the big 12 month check-up at the pediatrician. i'm not looking forward to it at all because he has to get shots and a blood draw. poor buddy. he's been SO crabby the last week or so as it is because his little teeth are trying to come through, so i'm sure this won't help his mood.

to top off our one year week, saturday is bennett's first birthday party! we're doing a vintage carnival/circus theme. to be honest, we've been so busy lately that i feel like i haven't had the time to plan things out the way i really wanted to, but it does seem to be coming together somehow (thanks to a little a lot of help from my crafty, creative mom!). i'm sure it'll be fun even if everything isn't pinterest-perfect like i'd like, and that's what matters, right?

weight loss
for a couple weeks in there i just couldn't seem to get myself together. i would start each day with new resolve, but by dinner time everything was out the window and we'd order pizza and snack on ice cream while watching tv. i got really frustrated with myself that i "couldn't" get back on track. then i decided to face the reality that i could, but i was choosing not to. things have been a lot better this week and thankfully i hadn't done too much damage, because i'm now down those few pounds that had crept back on. i'm nearing one year since i started my weight loss efforts and i just compared pictures from when bennett was first born and now. the difference amazed me! it's easy to not notice the change in yourself, especially when it happens slowly.

left is july 17, 2012 (11 days post-partum)
right is june 16, 2013 (down about 34 lbs)
i'm just counting calories using myfitnesspal, eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods, and trying to walk or do some form of exercise when i can (which is much less often than i'd like to/should).

we close on our new house on MONDAY! i can't wait! we will have a lot of painting and wallpaper-removing to do right away, but i'm looking forward to it actually. it feels exciting that this is the first house joe and i chose together (he had our townhouse before we met) and i'm so pumped to put work into it to make it ours. i've also just had to let go of the idea of having to do everything right away. as much as i wanted to do new carpet, new counters, new appliances, etc., those things are going to have to wait. we're going to slow down and give ourselves time to save to do the things we want to do. we have had to sacrifice a lot financially in order to just get this beautiful new [to us] house, and i need to focus on being grateful for and embracing what we have rather than constantly looking at what we don't have and can't do yet.

we are getting to do some fun things right away- changing out some light fixtures and hardware, painting and refurbishing cabinets, painting all the rooms, and getting new rugs, pillows, and other decor. it's been fun to hunt for things and try to find good deals on things i love. i can't wait to see it all put together!

well, that's the latest! we have a concert tomorrow, the big birthday party saturday, and TONS of packing, cleaning, etc. to do sunday. who needs sleep, right?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

one year.

saturday we celebrated bennett's first birthday. wow has this last year flown by. parenting is tough and the learning curve is steep. but it's the best job i've ever had and i am grateful that the Lord has entrusted joe and i with this precious boy.

our babe
ben has always been a great eater. nursing was a breeze and he did great with bottles- breastmilk, formula, he didn't care! he's made the transition to whole milk and sippy cups, which has gone really well except that he now likes to throw his sippy cup. that's been fun. ben has loved most every food we've given him, and is happy as a clam when he has food in his tummy!

he didn't hesitate for a second to dive into his birthday cupcakes!

bennett is incredibly social. right away he made great eye contact and responded to facial expressions. he started smiling really early on, too. he loves engaging and interacting with others and really likes to play with other kiddos. he never wants to miss out on the fun and wants to join in with everyone around him. he's also a huge flirt and will give a shy, flirty smile to most any girl he sees. he's just starting to get a bit more shy when strangers talk to him, but he always warms up quickly. he likes to wave, but only after the person he's saying "bye-bye" to is already out of sight.

friends: teagan, spencer, landon
starfish class with his best friend landon

i think ben gets the award for youngest attendee of a packer game at lambeau field. he went to his first game there when he was only 3 months old. he also attended 3 twins games in his first year! he's already a sports fanatic, just like his daddy! he's practicing throwing, too. give this kid a ball and he's in heaven.

bennett has been to 5 states so far besides minnesota: wisconsin, iowa, south dakota, south carolina, and colorado. he's been on a plane twice and seen both the mountains and the ocean!

first holidays were fun to celebrate as a family of three!

rolling over: november, 2012 (4 months old)

haircut: november 24, 2012 (4.5 months old)

sitting up by himself: mid-december, 2013 (5.5 months old)

sleeping through the night consistently: january 27, 2013 (6.5 months old)

crawling: march 23, 2013 (8.5 months old)

steps: may 25, 2013 (10.5 months old)

tooth: june 21, 2013 (11.5 months old), still just has the one!

favorite things
foods: turkey/ham deli meat, cheese, teddy grahams, yogurt, peas, applesauce, and obviously cake
toys: tiger xylophone, balls, anything that's not a toy (cell phones/charger cords, tv remotes, magazines)

activities: walks in the stroller, crawling through tunnels/swinging at the park, wrestling with daddy, playing tug-o-war with george, "swimming," reading (he laughs when we open books and LOVES when joe or i do silly voices when reading to him)

books: little blue truck, chicka chicka boom boom, pajama time

least favorite things
diaper changes/getting dressed
being told "no"
getting in the car seat

we've done our best to soak up every minute, good, bad or ugly, as much as we could over the last year. lots of changes will continue to come in his second year and we look forward to continuing to watch him explore things around him and develop into the amazing little boy God made him to be.

mama and dada love you buddy! happy birthday!