Showing posts with label Gwen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gwen. Show all posts

2019 In A Nutshell



Every year I write a year-in-review - it's quite possible that no one finds these interesting but me.  But it does my heart good to look back on everything that happened in the previous year - the surprises, sorrows and stresses, joys and beauty, the things that delighted me, and the things that didn't work out quite the way I wanted them to.  To see God's hand through it all and thank Him for the ways that He has worked in our family, and in my heart, over the course of one year.  So I'll try to make it interesting to read for all of you, but just know that these years, reviewed here on the blog, are something I need to do for me too.

Without further ado...

January



-I started the year out with making goals for the first time in many years.  Post coming about how that actually went...

-We finished up renovating the kitchen and Derek started on the master bathroom.

-We made the difficult decision to explore some of the other churches in our area, because of some drama that went down at our current church.  This led to a months-long period of discouragement for me as we realized the pickin's, for what we are looking for in our area, were pretty slim.

-I did a day-in-the-life series on Instagram - I always think it's fun to go back and watch these later.  It always brings back fun memories.

-We visited the stock show, and the kids loved it.

-Georgie started walking, and quickly took off!

-We braved a snowstorm and visited the "butterfly zoo", which was a nice spot of tropical in the middle of all that winter.


On The Blog: My Favorite 20 Books From 2018,  Four Quick Reminders About Teaching Children The Bible

February



-We went sledding at my parent's house with my sister and her family!  It was so much fun, and made me feel like a kid again.

-We did a field trip the the Nature and Science museum with friends!

-We bought valentines for friends.

-Wyatt turned 8 years old.  We had a fun day celebrating him with a trip to Bass Pro Shops and the movies!

-We had my sister over for Valentine's Day for a little mini party.

-My mom watched ALL the grandkids for me and my siblings, and we had a rare date!  We saw Ralph Breaks The Internet at the dollar theater, because we're fancy like that.

-We went on a winter nature hike.

-I started a classics book club with some friends from my college days!  We started reading Far From The Madding Crowd.

-We continued our church wandering, and I felt so untethered and lost.  I felt deeply discouraged all through February, and realized I was overloading myself.  I stepped back from a few things, which helped with my stress levels, but not with my discouragement.

On The Blog: Dear Candy Hearts | Little Letters Vol. 1, How's School Going? A Mid-Year Homeschool Update


March 



-We got alot of snow, and I came up with this list of reasons to like snow, in response to an unusual amount of local friends complaining about it.  We live in the Rocky Mountains, people!  It's going to snow.

-I finally started to get into a morning routine and I began getting up before the kids - something I've wanted to do for a long time, but it has been too hard with young babies before this year.

-I celebrated the 12th anniversary of the day I met Derek!

-We got hit by a bomb cyclone.

-We visited the zoo amidst the snowy remnants of the bomb cyclone.

-Clarice drew our family portrait.

-I got a sinus infection and the kids got another stomach bug.  We never threw up as often as we did in the 2018-2019 winter.

-I really started struggling with how much time I was spending on Instagram, and I wrote about it a little bit.

-It started to warm up toward the end of the month, and we enjoyed a park day!

-We did an "inside the orchestra" field trip with our co-op, and the kids loved playing around with the instruments!

-I thought I was starting to come out of my doldrums and discouragement, but now I think it was just the initial bounce-back from cutting things out of my schedule in February.

On The Blog: How Do You Balance Homeschooling With Toddlers?, How We Connect With Other Homeschoolers, Why We Keep A Traditional School Schedule, Why I Read Middle Grade Books

April


-My discouragement came back with a vengeance, and after sprinkling in exhaustion and some people problems, I spent a couple weeks basically just crying about everything.  I was so relieved when Derek called my parents so I could go to New Orleans with him for a work trip.  An escape and reset was really badly needed at that point.

-My dad gave me some encouragement too.

-Clyde turned five years old!

-I got back into taking the kids on "mom days", and had alot of fun on my mom day with Gwen!  She also lost her upper front tooth.

-We had a wonderful and refreshing trip to New Orleans!  Ate alot of Beignets, took a couple plantation tours, listened to alot of jazz.  I came back with a fresh perspective, and things finally started looking up for real.

-Tried a new egg-coloring method with the kids.

-We celebrated Resurrection Day!

-We noticed a sore on our dog's neck, so I took him into the vet and we found out Harvey had a tumor.  Tumors in dogs are most often cancerous, and we really thought we were going to lose him. He had surgery to remove the tumor, and thankfully we found out a couple weeks later that it was benign!  Apparently it was a type of tumor normally found in cats.

-Took another trip to the zoo and admired the thousands of daffodils they had planted!

-Derek took the boys to see spring practice for his college football team, and he scheduled the girls and I for a Mermaid Painting Tea Party.  It was not something I would have ever dreamed up, and so much fun!

-I got jury duty - something I've always wanted to do is participate in the civic process through jury duty!  But the trial got cancelled before I could go.  Maybe someday.

On The Blog: Currently | April 2019, An Easter Memory



May


-We continued the bathroom renovation, and finally finished it up this month.  I forgot how long bathroom renovations take.

-Clyde and I got a mom day this month, and he helped me pick out some flowers, since I was itching for something summery around me.  Good thing I didn't plant them yet though, because it snowed again in May.

-I discovered a really pretty back room in our local library, and have enjoyed many blogging afternoons there since.

-The trees finally flowered late!  It was a weird year, because we usually get pretty flowers in April.

-We celebrated Mother's Day in a nice, laid-back way, and it was perfect.  I got some loose-leaf tea, and we visited my mom, and we relaxed.

-I bought a new swimsuit that I don't hate.

-We finished up school for the year.  In the snow.  I just laughed.

-Georgie started to get into "coloring".

-I visited the library book sale, which is basically the official start to summer for me.

-We started a new book for book club!  The Great Gatsby.  I ended up liking it way more than I thought I would.

On The Blog: How I Kept My Hair Under Control In New Orleans,  The One Thing Your Church Needs To Get Right , When Wiping Faces Doesn't Feel Satisfying


June


-We tried the last couple churches on our list, and finally made the decision to return to our old church.  We figured out that even with everything that had happened, it was still the best one for us.  I learned alot through this whole church process, and maybe learned to value loyalty to the local church body a little bit more.  No church is perfect, and I think maybe we needed to learn to stick with a place even when the imperfection starts to show.  I still haven't mulled over my thoughts enough to express them better than that.  But it was so good to be back.  Our church welcomed us back with open arms, and it felt like coming home.

-Clyde started gymnastics!  He was so excited, he bounced all over that gym.

-I got a very weird big toe injury.  I literally did nothing.  I was sitting at my desk and it randomly started swelling.

-Clarice and I had a mom day, and she's a clever little thing.

-We tried VBS for the first time for my big kids, and they LOVED it.  Georgie and I ran around town together, and spent too much money on donuts.

-We visited the Great Sand Dunes.

-Dollar movies started for the summer!  We went to the first one with friends.

-I celebrated my birthday at the homeschool conference, ha!  Including a spontaneous visit to a hotel.

-We celebrated Derek and my dad for Father's Day!  But Father's Day wasn't as perfect as I wanted it to be for Derek, so we celebrated again the next week with a campfire.

-We went to a state park, and though the day didn't go very well, it was very pretty.

-I took Wyatt with me to see Ken Ham at the homeschool conference.

-We visited Rocky Mountain National Park, but it was in the 50's in the middle of June!  So it was a chilly day.

-It finally started to feel like summer.  Wyatt made bird feeders and hung them around our yard.  We discovered that the bush in front four house is a lilac bush!

On The Blog:  Homeschooling And Bad Attitudes, My Homeschool Mom Summer Reading List


July


-We celebrated the 4th of July on the road to my grandma's!  We had a lovely visit with her and my Grandpa Bill, and we also took a trip to Mesa Verde National Park.

-I took the kids to the pool all by myself and shared a few tips here.

-We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary!  The whole thing felt a little anti-climactic though, after our 10th last year.

-Wyatt and I had some one-on-one time, and he helped me shop for a few more summer flowers, now that we were sure they wouldn't freeze.

-It rained alot in July, and it was a quiet, nice mid-summer.

-We did some porch camping.

-We finally upgraded our mattress, which doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was. We have been sleeping on a 20+ old mattress for the last 11 years of our marriage, so we sprung for the really good mattress.  And it's a king now.  It's been really nice!

-We finally set up the trampoline my parent's got us for Christmas!  The kids love it.

On The Blog: A Few Homeschool Finds, Why I'm Glad My Blog Didn't Grow


August


-We saw a century plant.

-I felt ready for summer to be over.

-We took a trip to see my grandpa, and had a lovely day visiting with him and my Grandma Juanita.  They set up a unicorn sprinkler, and the kids loved it!

-We finally remembered we were supposed to take a vacation in August, and we got a last-minute trip to Florida on the calendar!  We saw the Everglades, went to SeaWorld, visited NASA, went to the largest McDonald's in the US, stopped at an orange grove, and had several pool and beach days.  We even did one day at Disney.  It was a much needed sunny vacation!

-I struggled alot with getting into fall and school mode once we were back from Florida, so that was a big swing from earlier in the month!  This is why I like to take vacation in June (but it's not an option with Derek's work).

-New classics book club pick - Dracula, which I never would have picked up on my own, but I enjoyed it!

On The Blog: Homeschool Wins And Fails (From Last Year),  Florida! 

September


-We started the school year and eased into it, because I wasn't ready.  We did nature hikes and visited a railroad museum to get us inspired to learn!  Also, Clyde started Kindergarten, so I officially have three students this year.

-I started experimenting with a simmer potpourri on the stove to get in the fall mood.

-I got involved in political volunteering for the first time, collecting signatures for a measure to stop late-term abortion in our state.  It's been interesting to learn about the process from this angle, and to see firsthand how much work goes into getting a measure on the state ballot!

-Derek and I got another rare date, and we went to see a play!  Hunchback Of Notre Dame, which was actually very depressing, but we had a nice time laughing about it together anyway!

-I started re-reading The Fellowship Of The Ring in earnest, and enjoyed it all through the fall.  I don't re-read very often, so this is noteworthy.

-My kids remembered learning about the Harvest Moon from school last year, and kept asking when it was - it happened to be on Friday, the 13th!

-There were fires in the mountains near our home, resulting from a pretty dry August and September - this is why I don't complain about the snow and rain.

-After meaning to all summer, we finally went fishing with the kids!  It was so fun, even though we didn't catch anything, and we want to go more often now.

-My little Clarice turned four years old!

On The Blog:  Homeschool Planning: How I Do It, How We Homeschool On The Go,  How I'd Do Disney Differently With Five Young Kids,  Should You Visit Kennedy Space Center With Young Kids?  

October


-I decided to try to blog every day in October.  I didn't make it, but I did blog a lot, all about memory-keeping.  It brought up a lot of unresolved feelings about social media and phones.

-I finally tried Stitchfix with a gift card I got over a year ago for my 30th birthday!

-We did a fall nature scavenger hunt for fun.  We also went fishing again, and I shared some photos and reasons to give fishing a try here.

-Wyatt started his second season of soccer, and it was fun seeing how much he has improved since last year!

-We took alot of nature hikes, and it's a good thing, because the fall colors were short lived.  I managed to get some family photos before the leaves were gone.

-It started snowing again!

-I went to visit my friends' ranch with the kids one weekend, while Derek was hunting!  We had a wonderful time, as always, and I'm so grateful for friendships that last.

-Georgie turned two years old!

-The kids hounded me until we celebrated Reformation Day again!  I shared my favorite Reformation Day resources here.

On The Blog: My Tips For Taking Your Own Family Photos, Where I'm From,  The Reason I Bought That Sweater, A Typical Homeschool Week,  The Day I Became Pro-Life , The Happiest Place On Earth 


November



-Clarice started her ballet class, which she has been dying to do for at least a year.  Gwen and Clyde started a homeschool gymnastics class, and they loved it too!

-After taking a home improvement break over the summer, we started again this month.  Derek took a week off work to install our fireplace for our new wood stove!

-I decided to take a social media break and signed out in the middle of November.  I needed some space and time to consider what I really want out of social media, and how to make sure it's serving me instead of the other way around.  More coming on this, I'm sure.

-We had a game night with my sister's family, and her Christmas decorations were up, and it was just lovely!

-We celebrated Thanksgiving at my parent's house, and Derek's mom came with us!  We ate good food, and played A Christmas Story: The Game, and it was lots of fun!

On The Blog: The Real Reason Why We Homeschool, What I Really Thought Of Stitchfix, Tools For A Social Media Break


December



-We visited a Christmas light display with my family to celebrate my dad's birthday!  We always bundle up and walk around outside enjoying the lights, and then go get pie afterwards.  It was unusually warm this year, so we were really able to enjoy the lights!

-We visited my grandpa and Grandpa Juanita again, and I loved hearing more stories from my grandpa's life.

-We visited our favorite Christmas shop!  We bought a "new house" ornament, since we forgot to last year.

-I finally made Christmas Bible verse cards for my Etsy shop.  (This might be a good time to bookmark them for next year, if you're interested?)

-Despite it being a short Christmas season, I stayed on top of things and didn't get too behind or too overwhelmed.  I shared about the presents I was most excited to give here!  I got a lovely gift in the mail from my longtime penpal Felicia, and another one in the mail from my dear ranch friends!

-It was a quiet Christmas season for us, with not as many gatherings as usual, but we did go to an ugly sweater party with our Sunday School class!  I got a fanny pack during the white elephant exchange, but it's actually a really nice one and I'm totally going to use it when we go to the zoo.

-I dabbled in creating my own recipes again, and invented this Spicy Raspberry Cheeseball recipe.

-I wrote a Christmas newsletter, just as a writing exercise, but I ended up liking it and was sorry it was too late to send it with my Christmas cards.  You can read it here.

-We did some baking together.

-We celebrated Christmas Eve with my family, and with my grandma and Grandpa Bill!  We will see Derek's family for a belated Christmas celebration next week.

-We had a wonderful Christmas Day together - it was about as perfect as a Christmas Day can go, and that is a rare thing because nothing usually goes perfectly.  We had time to reflect on Christ's birth, everyone was excited about their presents, and we just enjoyed each other.

-We celebrated Gwendolyn's and Derek's birthday (they have the same birthday, in case you forgot)!  I got Derek and Apple Watch because he has been dying to get one for years.  Gwen turned 7 years old!

-We are celebrating New Year's Eve tonight with final signature-collecting for my petition, and an impromptu dinner with my brother and his family!

On The Blog:  Bible Verses To Write In Your Christmas Cards (+ Printables),  When You Can't Find Christmas Peace

---

Wow, even though we didn't have alot of "big" events, it was a busy year!  I think there was alot of growing for me personally this year in different areas of my life.

A month or two ago, as I've been struggling with more circumstances that have left me feeling a little alone, Derek said to me offhandedly, "Maybe the Lord just wants you to learn to lean on Him more right now."  I actually think that sums up this year pretty succinctly.  I think the Lord used alot of different circumstances this year to teach me to lean on Him more and myself less.  I'm still learning how to do that, but I'm thankful that He is my solid rock, the One on whom it will always be safe to lean.



Happy New Year's Eve, friends!

Hope you have plans to do something fun!

My Darling Gwen, You Are Five.



Dear Gwen,

I'm sitting here on the evening of your fifth birthday to write this letter.  I can't believe you are five years old!  You have grown before my eyes in so many ways this year, and I see your unique personality coming out more day by day.

My favorite thing about you right now is how much you love to laugh.  

You are constantly making jokes or coming up with funny games to play with your brothers and sisters, and I often hear your laugh ringing through the house (or the car).  You are such a little extrovert, but at the same time, when you are in a new environment you can be pretty shy, with just a quiet smile on your face. 

Something you seem to be especially good at is any gymnastic-type activities.  You'll come running into the kitchen and ask me to come watch you, and then you'll flip upside down and backwards off the bed, or do an almost-cartwheel, or prop yourself up against something into a "head stand".  You love to dance, especially if it's like a ballerina.  I bought you a book this year with ballet positions in it, and you ask me to put on music so you can practice your "skeels".

I would be remiss if I didn't take a chance here to mention your memory.  You remember the words to an impressive amount of songs for a five year old.  You even know the words to songs I don't know (thanks to Dad listening to old '80's songs in the car with you!).  Lately I've been able to watch you apply your memory skills to Bible verses and catechism questions, and it gives me so much joy to hear you hiding God's word and truth in your heart.

Almost every morning I come upstairs to find you drawing something, or creating something out of paper.  It's like you just have all this creativity bundled up inside you, waiting for a quiet minute when it can bubble over.  I can't wait to see everything you make and do with that creativity, Sweetheart.

Whenever I ask someone to grab us a book to read, you are the first to jump up and pick one out.  It is fun to see what kinds of books you gravitate toward, because I realize that they are the same types of books I loved when I was a girl.  You've been asking to learn to read, and I am so excited to share all my favorite books with you as you grow!  We are going to have so much fun with kindergarten this year.

One of the sweetest character traits I see you developing is your eagerness to help.  I can't even remember a time when I asked for your help and you weren't completely happy to do the task.  I especially love to see the way you have jumped into helping your little siblings with both feet.  You love being a big sister, and you've been such a help and joy to me since we added the baby this year.  You have such a giving heart, and you do every task with a cheerfulness that amazes me. I could learn a lot from you, my sweet darling.  God truly gave me a wonderful gift when He gave me you, and I am so blessed to have the privilege of being your mom.  

I love you always,  

Mama


Paper Bracelets Are A Great Mood Booster




That's me, feeling like falling asleep next to my peppermint tea.  Sad.

Caffeinated coffee, how I miss thee!  

Peppermint tea, the whole wake-you-up and give-you-energy promise was a lie.  

Paper Bracelets

Yesterday was an exceptionally good morning.  I heard Gwen scurrying around upstairs, my little early bird, and instead of fighting it, I decided to let her go.  I could clean up whatever mess was made later.

I was rewarded after a little while with soft footsteps in my room, and a little voice.  

"Mama, stick out your arm."  

I had no idea what she was talking out, but I obliged, and she wrapped a little hand-colored paper bracelet around my wrist, securing it with a piece of tape.

How could I not be in a bright mood after that?

I was just thinking the day before too about how I was hoping the kids would make me something for Mother's Day this year.  Like those macaroni necklaces.  I would love a macaroni necklace, but it would be even better if I didn't have to ask Derek to arrange the making of said macaroni necklace.  But do any kids really just spontaneously decide to make jewelry for their moms, or is it all prompted by classroom craft projects?  This morning I discovered that no, apparently they can and do think of it all by themselves, and I loved it.

The First Trimester Blahs

You probably didn't notice or remember, but I promised a six week pregnancy update a week ago and never delivered.  That's because this first trimester is hitting me hard!  I'll save more details for the pregnancy updates, if I ever get around to them, but sheesh, what a roller coaster.  



I can never tell if I'm going to have an energetic day or an exhausted day, a depressed day or a happy day, a smell-things-that-aren't-there day or a hungry day.  I just hope it's not going to be a migraine day, because then I'll spend the afternoon laid up on the couch (I've had three days like that since I found out I was pregnant, so one per week).  Last week I woke up one morning annoyed.  For no reason and at no one in my house.  Just annoyed.  I cried over a game of Risk the other night.  

Basically, I feel like a basket case.  Derek has been a saint to put up with me (seriously).

Last week I was getting ready to write a pregnancy update, but I realized my monthly Tommy Nelson post was late, so all my writing energy drained away to that.  It's taken this long to get it back up again.  

Aside from all that though, it's been so nice to tell people about this baby right away this time.  Despite my varying moods, the constant is that I am so happy about this baby, and it feels good to share it!  Everyone has been so supportive, and I have to say, telling all my blog buddies here and on social media has been so fun! I want to say thank you, thank you, for all your excitement for our family and well wishes!  It has been a big encouragement.

Old-Fashioned Blogger Shout-Out (Or Not)

I've been sitting here for ten minutes, and the only other thing I can think of to talk about is my discovery of the The Great British Baking Show on Netflix.  It's been a slow couple weeks.  Turns out lying on the couch every afternoon falling asleep to the TV might give me enough energy to make it through the evening, but it's not very interesting to write about.  

I've been avoiding reading too much on screens because of the migraines, so I don't even have an old-fashioned blogger to share today!  I'm slacking.  Stick with me and I'll eventually get back to some sense of normality, but for now, why don't you tell ME who YOUR favorite old-fashioned blogger is!  Find any new favorites lately?

What I'm Drinking:  Peppermint tea, and I'm not happy about it.  But anything for my baby!


A Crazy Year

The year is coming to a close, and 2014 has been a big, crazy year for us!  When I think about where we were a year ago, it's hard to believe how much has changed since then.  This year we have gone from expecting a baby, to having a newborn, from employment, to unemployment, to better employment, from a sporadic, uncertain schedule to a fixed, predictable schedule.  Every year since we've been married has felt like a big year to me, but I'm not sure we've had this level of change in the span of one year before.

January


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We celebrated Gwen's first birthday party!  She turned one year old in December, but we had her party in January - you can read about Gwen at one year old, her winter first birthday party, her birthday punch recipe, and a fun birthday decoration project I did with Wyatt for Gwen.

I was 7 months pregnant with Clyde!  Check out my 26 Week and 28 Week updates.

I was working on a ton of baby projects, like stuff Clyde's quilt and nursery.

I fell on some ice and had to take an unexpected trip to the hospital.  Baby Clyde was fine!

On the blog - I continued my "From One To Two" series on going from one baby to two - maybe it's time for me to write about going from two to three?

February


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We celebrated Wyatt's birthday!  He turned three years old.  I wrote about Wyatt at three, and his simple Thomas the Train party.

I hit 8 months pregnant with Clyde - I wrote my 30 Week and 32 Week updates.

I finished putting together Clyde's quilt and dropped it off to be quilted.

We had a disaster of a Valentine's Day, but it was okay.

My friend, Ashley, threw me a gorgeous nautical baby shower!

On the blog - I shared a glimpse into our mornings which I love looking back on now, and I shared a Valentine's Day printable.



March


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 I hit 34 Weeks and 36 Weeks in my pregnancy.


We had our maternity pictures taken.

Gwen turned 15 months old.

On the blog - I started my series on building a unique maternity wardrobe.


April


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I hit 38 weeks pregnant!  The countdown was on.

We were worried Derek would be gone when I went into labor, and we were praying the Lord would work everything out so he could be there!

I had some false labor, which did not help my anxiety.

Clyde was born on April 11th!  It was a great natural hospital birth experience (birth story part one and two).

We celebrated Easter with a one week old baby.

Clyde turned two weeks old.

On the blog - I posted ideas for a toddler's Easter basket.


May


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I kept busy trying to get used to having three kids!  I worked out and read a lot of books.

Clyde turned one month old.  I celebrated my first Mother's Day with Clyde!

We ventured out to the park for the first time with three.

On the blog - I shared our maternity pictures and Clyde's handmade by me baby quilt!


June 


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We all came down with a nasty cold.  Colds in the summer are the worst.

Clyde turned two months old.

We celebrated my birthday!  I got a new phone.

We celebrated Father's Day!

We started planning for a staycation.

I had one of those weeks.  We survived.



July


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Clyde turned three months, Gwen turned 18 months.

We had a "staycation", and it was lovely.

I was in my cousin's wedding as a bridesmaid.

We celebrated our six year anniversary.

I started redecorating my house and creating a gallery wall (I'll share it on here eventually).


I started writing for Tommy Nelson and wrote an article about managing the chaos of life with young children.



August


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I made some striped curtains and posted about it!

Clyde turned four months old.


The crisis of Christians being persecuted in Iraq was on the news more, and I wrote about three ways to help Christians in Iraq (which is still mostly applicable, so check it out).

I had a post featured on Tommy Nelson and FaithGateway about fighting selfishness in little ones.

On the blog - I posted about my June Cleaver moment.

September


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Clyde turned five months old, and Gwen turned 21 months old.

We threw a fall-themed party, just for fun!

I wrote on Tommy Nelson about reading aloud to your kids.

I think my loneliness with having Derek gone so much hit an all-time high this month.  It was just hard not having him here.

I started feeling overwhelmed and cut back on the blog a bit.

I started playing with watercolors (and it's till something I wish I had more time for, because it's fun!).
I went on a trip to Nashville to meet up with the other Top Tommy Nelson Mommies!  It was a wonderful trip!

On the blog - I wrote about that time I got off Facebook for nine months, and then got back on Facebook.


October

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Clyde turned six months, and after a struggle with my supply we finally stopped nursing.  We also started feeding him solids, and he loved it!

We went to a costume birthday party and had a fun time.

I had a girl's night out with some friends for the first time in a while!  We made burlap wreaths (if you follow me on Instagram, you know all this.)

I wrote about studying and memorizing the book of Hebrews! (I am still working on it - I'm finally getting into Chapter five, with the memorizing and the studying.  I'll do another verse recitation video soon!)


On the blog - The story of a dear blog friend, Natalie, inspired me to write a post about ways to support adoption without adopting.


November

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Clyde turned seven months old.

 We went to my friend Heather's wedding!

I started Christmas shopping.

Derek went elk hunting, but didn't get anything this year.

I came up with a solid plan for updating my house (it needs it - the decor and furniture basically hasn't been touched in 3-6 years, depending on which room we are talking about). I made a home wish list of inspiration.  I love this post about why it's okay to want your home to be pretty - it captures my recent feelings exactly!

I wrote about our bedtime routine, which I know will be fun to look back on.

Clyde celebrated his first Thanksgiving outside the womb!  He had sweet potatoes for the first time and loved it.

I wrote on Tommy Nelson about making Black Friday a blessing.


On the blog - I wrote a post for Thanksgiving about five things I want to teach my kids to be thankful for.


December

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We started the month unemployed.  I worked a few extra days at work to help with the finances.

Clyde turned eight months old.

I started a blog newsletter (which you should sign up for if you haven't - I'm giving away free printables!).

We had a fun day of Christmas surprises with the kids - crafts and cookies and books!  I tried to slow down in December, despite all the extra working, to enjoy Christmas with my littles.

Derek got a new job!  He starts right after the New Year, and we are treating these few weeks together like a vacation (except without going anywhere, and without spending money - it's still fun).

We celebrated Christmas, Clyde's first on the outside!  Unfortunately, all four of my people got sick between Christmas Eve and the Day after Christmas, so that was kind of sad.  I seemed to have escaped it.

We celebrated Gwen's 2nd birthday and Derek's birthday (same day).  I decorated, we ate cake and opened presents, then rented a movie for Derek and me to watch after the kids went to bed.  Everyone was still sick, so we kept it low-key.

Spent New Year's Eve together!

On the blog - I posted lots of recipes!  Including Holly Jolly Coffee, Pecan Coconut Orange Fudge, and Snowdrop Cookies.

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Looking back at 2014, I can't believe what a crazy year it was!  A lot happened, some things I was planning, some things that I wasn't planning.  Looking at 2015, I just feel - unsure.  For the last several years I had some idea of how the year was going to go, or how I wanted it to go, but in 2015 - I don't have any specific plans, which is kind of a first.  I guess we'll just see what the Lord has planned!  His plans are always better than mine anyway.

Happy New Year, Friends!

Stay tuned about a post about my word for the New Year.

Gwen Is Two




Gwendolyn is two years old!  I can't believe my sweet baby girl is two already.  That went by fast.

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Gwen is such a little whirlwind, in the best possible way.  She rarely sits still, and is always on the go, checking out everything around her.  I would say her personality is sweet and spunky.  She is not afraid to let us know when she needs something, whether it is attention, water, or whatever, but she does it in such a sweet, cute way.  Even at two years old she is so good at saying "thank you" whenever someone gives her something.  It is adorable.

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In some ways she is a tomboy - it is inevitable that she would be, smack dab in the middle of two brothers.  She loves cars, and she keeps up with Wyatt so well!  She runs and plays and falls in the dirt and then bounces right back up without so much as a whimper.  She is a tough little thing.

On the other hand, she has a side of her that is undeniably girly.  She loves her hair bows, and she reminds me when I forget to put one in her hair.  She feels pretty in dresses and parades around, twirling, and beams when people tell her how nice she looks.  She is becoming more and more interested in her dolls, and she will grab her baby doll and carry it around the house with her.


She is definitely more sensitive than her brother, and if something hurts her feelings she'll run down the hall to her room, crying, as if to say "No one understands me!".  When I go in there to find her, I give her a hug and she gives me a "mmmwah!" kiss, and she is as happy as can be again.  She apologizes and forgives so easily, and I hope she never loses that.

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She is so vocal and smart.  She repeats everything we say, and most of the time it is really understandable, even the longer sentences.  She combines three-word sentences on her own already, and we have had comments about how she seems older than she is because she is so articulate for her age.  She loves pointing out things that she knows, and facial features are her favorite.  Eyes, nose, mouth, ears - we go over them every night, with her sweet little finger gently touching my face.  She likes to sing along with the songs I sing to her, and when we pray at night she closes her little eyes so tight, scrunches her face into a big grin, and says her own little prayer, followed by an enthusiastic "amen!".



My Baby Doll Girl is such a bundle of enthusiasm and sweetness and spunk and innocence.  I love everything about her.  It is hard to believe that it was only two years ago that she was born in an ambulance in a panic, but from that first moment I saw her the panic turned to joy, and she has given us so much joy ever since.


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Sweet Gwen-Girl,

You are two.  I can't believe it.  You are such a gift, my beautiful girl, and I am so thankful God gave you to us.  

The other week I felt like we needed some girl time, so I took you to a Christmas party with me.  You had so much fun, showing off your party dress, snuggling next to me in our chair, and helping me pick out a gift.  You spotted a nativity scene at one point in the evening, and you pointed to it and stated in your sweet voice "Baby Jesus".  I was so pleased that you picked that up, and it reminded me of all the exciting things we have to come!  I can't wait to teach you more about Jesus, and I love seeing how you are already starting to learn about Who He is.  

You are so sweet to me, and I can't believe it was two years ago that you were born.  It still seems like it was just the other day sometimes.  You are growing up so fast, and I love it, but these little days with you are so special to me too.  Slow down, will you my precious girl?

I love you more than all the snowflakes in all the blizzards in all the winters,

Your Mama 

Our Bedtime Routine

Today I thought I'd share our bedtime routine with the kids.  I feel like our bedtime routine continues to evolve as the kids get older, but it is fun to look back and see what we always did before tucking the kids in for the night.

When it's just me by myself, it takes some strategy and juggling to get three kids under four years old to bed on time!  I always shoot to get the kids in bed by 7:00 PM.  When Derek is home we like to have a little time together in the evenings, and we usually go to sleep ourselves between 9:00 and 10:00 PM.  I guess we're early-to-bed kind of people.  If Derek is traveling, the evening is still my best time to get things done around the house, so an early bedtime works well for us.

For simplicity's sake, I'll share what I do when it's just me, but when Derek is home this whole process is a lot faster and easier!

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If it's not a bath night, around 6:00 or 6:15 I start getting them ready for bed.  I have to start early, because it seems like there is always some extra mess to clean!  I have them help me put their toys away, and then I get Wyatt and Gwen in their pajamas.  Wyatt is becoming so helpful, and he'll get me a diaper for Gwen and pick out his own pajamas.  He can partially dress himself, but for the most part he still prefers me to help him, and I don't really mind.  Clyde is usually playing on the floor during all this.

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After I get the kids dressed I take Wyatt and Gwen to the bathroom and brush their teeth. I let them brush their own teeth, but they obviously don't do a good job by themselves, so I take a turn as well.  Gwen is really into brushing her teeth right now.  She actually cried the other night because I almost forgot to brush her teeth!  She always wants water on her toothbrush too.  I think it's so funny.

Wyatt uses the bathroom, and then I get Clyde and we all pile onto Wyatt's bed to read a Bible story.  The kids are so cute about Bible story time - they love reading a book together, and I hope it's something we always do as part of our bedtime routine.  I usually read them a story from one of their Bible storybooks, and I like to read a devotion for them too when we have a good one.

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The devotion book we are using right now is "Devotions For Beginning Readers" by Crystal Bowman.  I love this devotional for this age group!  My kids aren't reading by themselves yet, but the devotions are really simple and perfect for preschoolers.  Since the language and word choices are geared for young readers, they are also easy for younger kids to understand.  The illustrations are really colorful and cute, which is very important for the kids right now.  If a book doesn't have pretty pictures, they aren't interested, so I like the illustrations that are included on each page. This is a devotion that can really grow with the kids during these early years - it is easy for Wyatt and Gwen to pay attention and understand now, and it will be a great book for them to practice their reading skills when we get to that point too!  We haven't finished reading it yet, so I can't vouch for every devotion in there, but so far we love it.

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After our Bible story and devotion, we pray together.  The kids know to close their eyes and fold their hands, and Gwen's praying face is so cute right now (yes, I peek at them sometimes).  She scrunches her eyes shut so tight and tilts her chin up, with a big grin on her face the entire time we are praying.  It cracks me up!

Wyatt is really getting good at praying by himself, and I love hearing him list people he is thankful for.  I close our prayers with thanking Jesus for dying on the cross for us, and when Wyatt prays he does the same thing - I love hearing the gospel in his sweet little voice.

Then we sing a song!  It is almost always "Jesus Loves Me", and both Wyatt and Gwen sing along with us.  We are off key and off tempo, but it's probably my favorite part of our routine.  I love listening to the kids trying to sing the words!  It won't be too long before Clyde can add his attempts to the mix.

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I make sure the kids both have water.  I lay Gwen down in her crib, with her blanket bunched up into a ball on top of her (she does not like it spread out).  I tuck Wyatt under his covers.  Then I tell them goodnight and I love you, and "think about Jesus", and they usually repeat all three phrases back to me.

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Clyde's routine is the most simple right now.  After the older two are in bed, I feed Clyde his bottle - this is our one-on-one time during the day, when the older two are in bed.  He usually looks up at me while he is eating, and he likes to play with my shirt or hair.  Sometimes he will fall asleep in my arms - if not, I lay him down when his stomach is full.  Occasionally I need to snuggle him or walk him around a little before he will relax enough for me to lay him down in his crib.

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As I'm thinking through our routine, I realize how much I really do for the kids right now - they still need my help with so many things.  I dress them, I get them food and refill water cups, I brush their teeth, I help them find their blankets.  It might sometimes seem like a lot, especially when I have had a long day, but every night I try to enjoy it.

I looked through my baby box once, and found some old letters my mom wrote to me when I was a toddler.  One thing that stood out was a letter where she was sad because I had started dressing myself - and she was trying to enjoy the little things that I still needed her to do for me.

I can already see this happening with Wyatt - he is doing so much more by himself.  One day he won't need me to help him get his shirt on or brush his teeth anymore.  Even though doing all these things for our young kids is work, it is such a brief period.

They will never need us like this again.

Oh, they'll always need their mom, but not in the same way that they do right now.  I want to enjoy this time when my kids still need my help - because someday they won't.  And I might think back and miss being needed so much.

Note: I received "Devotions For Beginning Readers" from Tommy Nelson in exchange for a review.  The opinions expressed above are my honest opinions.

A Day In The Life With Three

2:00 AM - Wyatt hears a noise and wakes up.  I bring him downstairs to sleep in my room.

6:00 AM - Clyde wakes up - I go into his nursery to feed him.

6:15 AM - Wyatt comes into the nursery to find me.  I tell him it's not time to get up yet, and I bring Clyde back into bed with us so he can finish eating.

6:30 AM - I put Clyde back down in his room.

6:35 AM - I go back into Clyde's room to give him his pacifier.

6:40 AM - Wyatt tells me "I'll be right back, I need to go get my stuff".  He comes back a few minutes later with multiple noisy toys.

6:47 AM - I go back into Clyde's room to give him his pacifier again, and realize he has a dirty diaper.  Change diaper.  Put the pacifier back in his mouth.

6:50 AM - All the kids quiet down, and I get a little more sleep!  It is cloudy and rainy, and that make it seem earlier than it is.

7:33 AM - Gwen starts making noise from upstairs while I drift in and out of sleep.

7:50 AM - Wyatt turns on his noisy toy.  Clyde wakes up.  Gwen starts getting upset.  I roll out of bed.

8:04 AM - I get the kids some oatmeal for breakfast, and go downstairs and listen to a sermon podcast while I finish brushing my teeth and fixing my hair and makeup.  Clyde starts crying, and I get him up and dressed.

8:15 AM - Get Gwen out of high chair, and find oatmeal in her hair.  Try to clean it out with hand soap.  Her hair is sticky and stiff for the rest of the day.  Wyatt chooses his favorite shirt to wear.

8:30 AM - Teeth are brushed, makeup done, hair fixed.  Kids are dressed and fed.  I sit down with a cup of coffee and a FiberOne breakfast bar. Gwen sits at the table with me and shows off her vocabulary.  Wyatt plays with toys and talks to Clyde.  Clyde lays on the floor and observes and coos.  I read Compelling Interest off and on, because Gwen is distracting me by blowing kisses, and I return every one.  One of our few peaceful moments during the day.

9:15 AM - Clyde is hungry.  I settle down with my book and cover to feed him.  Gwen decides to climb on the table and drink the last of my coffee.  Wyatt starts drawing on a paper (and his shirt) with my green highlighter.

9:45 AM - Clyde falls asleep in my arms, so I finish my book.  Wyatt dumps the toys out of his toy basket.  Gwen is up to something suspicious in the bathroom, and I tell her to come out.  Wyatt decides to change back into his pajama pants.

10:15 AM - I put sleeping Clyde down, and pick up the toys that were dumped everywhere.

10:30 AM - Clyde is awake again.

10:45 AM - I take off Wyatt's highlighted shirt and spray it with Shout.  Start a load of laundry.  Write quick Goodreads review of Compelling Interest.

10:53 AM - I decide that we're going to go visit Grandma at her work.  Change Wyatt back out of pajamas.  He decides he wants to wear his winter football hat, and I let him.  Put Clyde in carseat.  Grab a trash bag to take bathroom trash to the dumpster on the way out.  Find the roll of toilet paper completely unrolled on the floor.  Gather up the toilet paper and put it on the bathroom counter for later use (it's still clean, right?).  Get kids into car.  Ralphie jumps in the car while I'm strapping the kids in, so I just decide to bring him.  Run back inside, change into a more presentable shirt, throw a couple bobby pins in my hair.

11:08 AM - We depart.

11:13 AM - Forgot my jacket (it's raining), my purse, and Wyatt's "little blankie".  Now we depart.

11:15 AM - Forgot Clyde's wubbanub.  We depart (really).


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11:20 AM - Stop to get mail, half of which is soaking wet from the rain.  Note to self: Get a waterproof mailbox.  I received two new books!  Wyatt thinks one of the packages must be books for him, and I have to tell him they are books for mama.

11:24 AM - I see UPS guy in our neighborhood on the way out and hope they aren't going to my house because I left Harvey out.

11:35 AM - Arrive at mom's work.  Spend a few minutes visiting while the kids dig into the box of toys they keep in the lunch room.


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11:45 AM - My sister shows up to visit with my mom too!  Great minds think alike.  Spend some time visiting with my sister while mom gets back to work.

12:05 PM - Mom leaves for lunch.  I decide last minute to go grocery shopping today instead of tomorrow morning like I planned.  Maybe if I hurry the kids can still get a short afternoon nap in.

12:10 PM - I leave mom's work and turn on Rush for the drive to town.

12:14 PM - I pass a truck on the way up the hill and realize it's my dad.  I don't think he recognizes me.

12:30 PM - It occurs to me that if I don't get back in time for naps, I may not get to take the bath I was wanting to take during naptime today.  I step on the gas a little.

12:46 PM - I arrive at the grocery store just as a close spot opens up - score!  I open the back door and remember that I have Ralphie with me (he is so quiet back there).  Thankfully it's a cool, rainy day, so he'll be safe in the car.


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1:05 PM - Wyatt talks me into cinnamon donuts and new sippy cups for him and Gwen.


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1:20 PM - We check out.  Clyde is crying now.  I get sympathetic looks from passersby.  The clerk talks to Wyatt and tells me how cute he is, and I wholeheartedly agree.

1:25 PM - We stop at the in-store McDonald's and I get the kids hamburgers with no ketchup (to save their shirts - learned that one the hard way).  I get a frappe and spicy chicken sandwich.  Gwen licks all the whipped cream off my frappe before I even touch it, but it's kind of cute, so I let her.


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1:35 PM - Kids are loaded in car with their hamburgers, groceries are loaded in car. I feed Clyde and check Facebook.  Get Clyde buckled back in and and head over to Target to get a present for Danae's baby shower.

1:55 PM - I hear a screech and glance back to see that Gwen has spilled her entire cup of water on her lap.

1:59 PM - We arrive at Target, and I get another close spot!  What are the odds?  I open the car door to tiny McDonald's onions and pickles spread all over the back seat.  Gwen is in a surprisingly good mood for being soaking wet.  We proceed into the store.

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2:12 PM - I find what I need pretty quickly, and we wait in the checkout line.  Clyde is crying again, but I know he'll be fine when we get back to the car.  "Look mama!" is repeated over and over as Wyatt shows me multiple toys and candy bars that he finds in the checkout aisle.  I exclaim over each one, but remind him that we have donuts in the car.  As we walk back to the parking lot I tug Wyatt's hat down around his ears, and he is excited when I tell him I am going to look for a new winter hat for him.  I grin at his enthusiasm.

2:19 PM - We are back in the car and it occurs to me that Clyde might need a diaper change.  I realize I forgot the diaper bag at home since we were originally only supposed to be gone for a half hour.  I cross my fingers that he'll be okay until we make it home.


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2:35 PM - Last stop - the Christian bookstore for a book to add to my gift.  We form our usual "chain" on the way into the store - me carrying Clyde's carseat, Wyatt holding my hand, Gwen holding Wyatt's hand.  Wyatt finds a bunch of toys and movies that he loves, and I secretly wish I could buy everything for him.  I add a new Bible song movie for the kids to my cart.

2:50 PM - Kids are packed in the car.  Clyde looks at me as I'm lifting his carseat and laughs.  We finally head home!  I play Seeds of Faith for the kids and listen to a podcast with my earbuds.

3:25 PM - I glance back and see that Wyatt is asleep.  Gwen is wide awake.

3:44 PM - Gwen and Clyde are asleep, and we arrive home.  I unload groceries, unbuckle the kids.  I would really like to wash my hair because Derek is coming home tonight.  The kids are cranky, so I try to put them down for a short, late nap (after peeling off Gwen's wet clothes).  I get Clyde out and change his diaper, and I discover that he has indeed had a diaper leak .  I rinse out his clothes and remember that I need to throw the laundry in the dryer.

4:04 PM - I sit down and feed Clyde, hoping he'll drift off again.  Watch Mental Floss on a recommendation from Felicia.  Wonder why I have never heard of this before.

4:29 PM - Clyde is clearly done eating, and is wide awake, grinning at me.  We play for a couple minutes.  Wyatt comes out of his room, and Gwen makes a noise.  I give up on naps, settle the kids on the couch with Silly Songs Countdown and one powdered cinnamon donut each.  I buckle Clyde in the swing and hurry downstairs for my bath.

4:44 PM - Type up part of this post while I wait for the bathwater to fill.

4:53 PM - Hear Gwen knock on the bathroom door just as I'm about to step in the tub.  I wash and blow dry my hair quickly.

5:09 PM - Get dressed, take straightener upstairs so I can keep an eye on the kids while I fix my hair.  Gwen brushes her hair while I fix mine.  We dance around to silly songs, and I am thankful again that I get to stay home with my sweet kiddos most days.


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5:33 PM - Unload groceries, start boiling noodles for dinner.  Fill up bathtub again for the kids.  Throw laundry into dryer, start a new load.  Grab the baby carrier and strap Clyde in.

5:50 PM - Get kids in tub.  Blow bubbles for them and let them play for a little while.  Wash the stickiness out of Gwen's hair.


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6:25 PM - Kids are clean and eating dinner.  Clyde is settled back into his swing.  Wyatt asks me where Harvey is and gets upset when I tell him Harvey is outside because "Harvey is scared of the rain!" Kids love the pesto noodles and ask for seconds while I evaluate whether I should make more for me and Derek. Clyde falls asleep and I think I may regret it later, but I let him snooze for now.

6:45 PM - I try to call Derek to see where he is, but when he doesn't answer I decide to go ahead and get the kids ready for bed.  Realize that Gwen has pesto in her hair - decide I'll give her another bath tomorrow. Change Gwen and read her a Bible story.  Sing her "Trust And Obey", pray together, and tuck her in.  Wyatt wants his polar bear pajamas, but they are in Gwen's room, so the shark ones will have to do.  Read him a Bible book.  Read him an alphabet book.  Pray and sing him "Jesus Loves Me".  Practice John 3:16 and praise him when he says the whole thing by himself!  Kiss him goodnight.  Come back a minute later to help him "fix his tractor".  Kiss him goodnight again.

7:04 PM - Clyde is crying.  Feed him again while I read Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs (review coming soon).

7:22 PM - Clyde is asleep, and I hear Derek pull up, so I sneak Clyde into his crib before the dogs bark and wake him up.  No such luck.  Ralphie barks right as I lay him down and his eyes fly open.  I smile at him and say goodnight.  He smiles at me right before I turn out the lights.

7:26 PM - Greet Derek.  Heat us up some noodles, and pour myself a glass of orange juice.

7:30 PM - Derek goes in to give Wyatt a kiss (since he's still awake).  Then we settle on the couch with our dinner and watch the Bachelorette finale that I didn't get to watch on Monday.  We cuddle, eat ice cream, and I draw Derek into discussions on whether Andi will pick Josh or Nick.  He humors me, because at least we're together, even if he does have to suffer through the Bachelorette.

9:30 PM - Bachelorette and After The Final Rose show are over.  She picked Josh (thank goodness).

9:45 PM - Brush teeth, use my semi-new facial products to wash and moisturize my face (more on that soon).

10:00 PM - Read in bed together before we turn out the lights.  I do my devotions now since I didn't do them in the morning today.

10:30 PM - Lights out.

11:05 PM - Clyde wakes up crying.  Feed him again.  He drifts off to sleep.

11:30 PM - Lights out for real this time.


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Note:  This was a busier, crazier day than normal, and I feel like it's so hard to get an accurate idea of a day in my life right now, because each one looks so different.  Still, this was one of our actual days with three kids under four years old, and I think it will be fun to look back on someday when I no longer spend my time picking up toys and trying to salvage rolls of toilet paper!  What fun these days are, even if I do collapse into bed every night.  It's a good kind of exhaustion - I'd rather be exhausted from spending a day with my kids than form anything else!
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