Monday, January 29, 2018

Days in the Life

I've been bound and determined to avoid the winter blues this year, and so I've tried to be really intentional about keeping the girls and myself productive and happy. I'll be real, 34 weeks pregnant is not always conducive to physical productivity. But if I'm not feeling super energetic, reading books to the girls on the couch is always a good option ;) I kinda just wanted to record what our days have been looking like lately. Literally for posterity, and for me later on. I just finished reading my grandma's journal from when she was raising my mom and her siblings, and it made me want to write more about our day-to-day happenings. I'm SO grateful I have so many pictures and videos of my girls thus far, but they won't remember what went on behind the scenes...and I might not either! So I'm writing it down.

I started a preschool co-op with jane and got her out of german school. I've been wanting to do this since I moved here but was never able to find more than one mom nearby who wanted to do it with me. Then the stars magically aligned when 2 of my good friends decided to get their kids out of their current pre-school and voila-- joy school. Holy cow it has been SO much better for jane. Her behavior has improved drastically, she has way more energy (when she was going to german school, she HAD to have a nap daily), and she doesn't come home complaining about other kids hitting and pinching her every day. It's only 2 days a week, which is perfect for me.

She is still loving ballet/tap dancing class. She also wants to do gymnastics and soccer. She has spent many afternoons lately practicing "hand stands" ;)

On the days she doesn't have joy school, we try to have very structured mornings. We start with breakfast, the big 5, (brushing teeth, getting dressed, saying prayers, cleaning room, and getting hair done!), then we practice a poem or scripture that the girls are trying to memorize. After we are all ready, I play some fun music while we do a chore, and then it's school time. I only spend about 30 minutes with each girl. With Jane we've been working a lot on reading, and Lyla has shapes/colors/letters etc sticker books that we work on. I try to teach them about all sorts of things and have been using the Usborne Children's Encyclopedia as a good guide.

After school time, it's snack time then creative time. Some variation of painting, coloring, crafting, etc. I have gotten quite a few fun creative activities for the girls recently. For any other moms of toddlers reading, the biggest hits have been this, this (with activity books to go with them), this, and this. Perfect activities to pull out to bust some boredom and get their minds stimulated. My girls are happiest when they are creating! After all that, lunch and naps for lyla. Jane and I love to play games while Lyla naps. Lyla is just starting to be able to grasp a few games, or at least have enough self control to "be on my team" ;) Candyland is about the only one she can play for real.

Anyways, lest any of you think this goes smoothly and flawlessly every morning, think again. But it has helped my sanity, and the girls' to have a schedule. In the afternoons we either have activities or play dates, or just a lot of the girls running around playing hide and seek, reading books, playing baby dolls, or playing with toys, and lately- a lot of playing outside in the snow! I have absolutely LOVED all the snow we've been getting in Germany. 10 times more than we've gotten the past 2 winters combined! I love how beautiful it is, and that the girls get so excited to play in it. SO much better than just being cold and brown everywhere :) And we will throw in an episode of Planet Earth once in awhile too. Jane loves to get a piece of paper out and draw pictures of the animals she is leaning about.

Jeff and I have been trying to take the girls out on saturdays to do something really fun since those sorts of things might be more limited for awhile after I have another baby. Swimming, and Megafun, and shopping. Etc. One saturday our "fun" plans fell through and we convinced the girls that we could go to a candy store. (just a big grocery store in the big town near us) We let them pick out their own candy and ride the mechanical horse, and they thought it was about the best thing to ever happen to them.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

December Happiness!

I love decking the halls. I don't think there is ever a time I wish I was rich more than when I am decorating my house for christmas. I just wish I could buy ALL the christmas decorations that my heart desires. My house would be the most lovely winter wonderland, I will tell you that. But I still get so happy to put up the decorations we do have ;)
Our christmas season was kicked off at the tail end of my family's end, we went to our beloved Guteneck Christmas market which never ceases to amaze us. That's the only christmas market we have been to this year, because jeff hasn't been in the best physical condition to be hauling kids around christmas markets ;) He got surgery the first day of december. After he got out of surgery I brought him a big mac from mcdonalds, and it made him cry of happiness. He hadn't eaten in almost 24 hours and the anesthesia was still wearing off. More tears than I've ever seen my husband shed! He was crying about how his nurses didn't speak english, how happy he was to eat big macs, and how grateful he was for his glasses- to name just a few. It was hilarious. So because of his surgery, he got 2 weeks off of work. Well, it ended up being just a week and a half but it was so strange, and so wonderful to have him just HOME with us. 

 A lot of laying down on the carpet, because that was the most comfortable position. Jane curled up next to him every afternoon on the floor and usually ended up falling asleep next to him. Even though Jeff couldn't lift the kids or move like he usually does, it was still so nice to have him as back up. He was there to calm tantrums and give extra cuddles when needed and it made being a mom a breeze. The kids were just so much happier having him home, too.
Our little kid friendly nativity, I love how Jane arranged it :) 
 So we had a BIG surprise in our family! I went to a doctor's appointment where it was revealed that we were actually having a baby BOY!! I was shocked, although I don't know if I should've been so surprised because EVERY single ultrasound that we had, the baby's legs were completely closed, and the doctor just thought one time that it looked like a girl, but that was with closed legs. Well the moment of cooperation finally arrived, and with it, a VERY different view where it seemed (even to me) to be an obvious boy. Part of me is hesitant to believe the doctor either way now, but I DID see it with my own eyes. And it explains why this baby has been SO much more active than  my girlies :) Jeff has been so SO excited about a boy!!
 We went to visit Santa, and just like last year, Jane had the idea to make cookies to bring to Santa since he gives so many presents, she decided he deserved one too! Heart of gold. I could tell as we were waiting in line that she was feeling nervous about talking to him and sitting on his lap, but she was brave! Lyla, was waving enthusiastically the whole time in line, and had a FREAK OUT when it came time to sit on his lap. He wouldn't even let jeff hand her over. But she did summon the courage to ask him to bring her "candy for christmas". Jane asked for a baby doll. Easy enough. ha!
 Checking him out together...

We made a giant batch of sugar cookies to deliver to friends. And spent an incredible amount of time cooking them, frosting them, and then decorating them. I LOVE doing these things with my girls. I just know one day my heart will ache when I don't have little eager, happy helpers in the kitchen with me. 
We have been christmas crafting a ton. While jamming out to christmas playlists. Seriously heaven to me. And to the girls. 
The other day during dinner time prayer, the girls were so sweetly folding their arms so I had to whip out my phone to capture it. Right as I snapped it, Lyla sneakily looked up and reached out for a little mid-prayer snack ;) I laughed so hard when I saw this picture, classic Lyla. She can often be found stuffing her face during the prayer. 
We also made a giant batch of gingerbread play doh to deliver and to play with ourselves. It was a total hit. We got some cute sequins and christmas buttons to decorate the gingerbread men with. Jane chose this over our friday night movie, which is really saying something! 
Lots of baking going around here and I couldn't love my helper anymore. I love my girls soooo much. I'm also really happy with myself this year because I havent stressed myself out too much like I tend to do around december. I've focused a lot more on just having meaningful moments with my girls, and teaching them about Baby Jesus and Lighting the World. Every morning Jane asks me what the Light the World challenge is for the day. Some ideas are more feasible than others, but we've been doing our best to light the world. And it has also led to some beautiful conversations with Jane where I am once again BLOWN AWAY by her maturity and her incredible empathy. I learn a lot from her, 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

WHEN IN edition.

So it's pretty much a dream to be reunited with all of your siblings, and dad, in EUROPE. We just aren't one of those rich families who travel around the world together. My brothers had never been to Europe, so I was excited to give them a good little taste. Starting with Rome!! It was a giddy reunion when my siblings started flooding out of Jeff's car, after having been smashed in there like sardines, and almost getting knocked over when my big, little brothers hugged me. 

We wasted no time, and left for Rome the very next morning. We all flew together which was totally fun. We scored $30 round trip tickets to Rome, I mean how can you say no to that? After a little bit of drama with our hotel room, we arrived at our really nice 3 bedroom airbnb and tested out the super comfy beds...but had to cut the bed testing short because I knew my jet lagged family would ruin their trip if they kept sleeping. So we ventured out to St. Peter's square, only after getting a first taste of italian pizza. It didn't disappoint, but we were also starving so it's hard to be a critic in that type of situation. I went home early with the girls that evening (I was feeling sick) while everyone else explored until dark. They came home and we all went out to dinner. After weaving around a few neighborhoods in the darkness, we found ourselves in front of a literal hole in the wall. But not in a good way. The waitress looked at us as if she had never seen an american. And as much as we all tried to have positive attitudes while we were there, it was GROSS, and Jeff & the boys deemed it necessary to hit up a McDonalds on the way home because their man stomaches were not satisfied. But I mean, you can't appreciate the fabulous eats without experiencing some of the not so fabulous...

 ^^ true americans, eating mcdonalds for breakfast every morning. It was right next door and just too convenient.
 ^^ jeff trying to "teach jane a lesson" about how if she walks into the road she will get smashed and killed by those crazy italian cars. He is not one to beat around the bush.
 St. Peters Square with the original FOUR. I seriously love those people. And long cardigans are cute and everything, but paired with a regular short jacket...looks like I am wearing a cape.
 CLASSIC LYLA, begging for anyone, ANYONE, to hold her.
 CLASSIC JANE, sucking on her fingers, tag in the other hand, and cuddling.
 ^^ Maybe my favorite picture of the whole trip. True joy captured.
 Our first gelato stop, I almost didn't get any. Gelato has never really blown me away. I've tried it a ton, even in other places in Italy, so my expectations weren't too high. Holy cow, Rome turned me into a true believer. This gelato shop had us all gushing and sharing flavors and in pure heaven. We stopped here twice in one day. And once the next day. It wasn't enough.
 The girls were so adorable, wanting to share with each other the flavors they got. Just like me and my siblings were eager to share our favorite flavors with each other. Its true family love.
Will was spectacular with my girls. On their own accord, they started calling him WILLY. "hey willy!!" "Where are you Willy??" It was so ridiculously adorable. He spent most of his energy playing with them, throwing them in the air, and making a large space for himself in their little hearts.
 ^ my love, and my new second love ;) This combo was a winner, chocolate with  mint. holy good.
okay, okay...enough about the gelato.
 Our next stop was the Colliseum. We all loved it, and were so mesmerized. It's so crazy to think about how old this thing is. I handed my camera to Jane for awhile at this point and let her snap away on my camera. She was in heaven, and it was just about the cutest thing I've ever seen.
 Here is Lyla trying for the 100th time to escape past this gate. Couldn't turn my back for a second.
 What a classic...Brendon photobombing.
 This picture is a good summary of our entire week. Lyla entertaining the masses. She brought everyone a lot of joy and a lot of laughs. Also notice the gum in her mouth. She probably ate about 3 packs worth this week....always knowing exactly who to ask. Aunt Kacee or Aunt Rachel. Smart girl ;) It's realllllly hard to say no to that girl. "Rachel, I want gum, OKAY??"
 Will took a turn carrying Lyla in the hiking backpack. That thing with her in it is SO heavy. Here is Jeff relishing in his pack-free back. Sweet relief.
 We made a quick stop at the Trevi fountain, and I have to say it was more beautiful than I thought it would be. Truly spectacular.
^^ love him. He was an amazing tour guide, completely taking the reigns on all the public transportation and daily itinerary. I joked that if it weren't for him, we would all be walking around like a bag of question marks.
Sooooo many in people in Italy will come up to you and try to sell you things. Well Rachel fell for it, and she ended up paying this guy $15 for 2 string bracelets. Haha so obviously they had to be documented. When we first arrived, this one guy was trying to sell something to Will, and Will kept trying to politely decline, but to nobody's surprise, the guy would NOT stop. Finally Will and the guy got to where Jeff was. Jeff saw what was happening, put his hand out, and said as if he were talking to a 3 year old. "Pleas stop. Stop. Please turn around and walk away. Walk away right now." We were all laughing pretty hard. I mean, i have to give those guys credit for their persistance but you literally have to be THAT blunt for them to leave you alone. 
 One of the good eating out experiences. Lots of pizza. Lots of Bruschetta. Doesn't get old.
 The next day was thanksgiving! We spent the day cooking. By we, I mean me, my dad, and Kacee. Everyone else entertained the kids though so everyone did their part. It was a perfect Thanksgiving spent with people I love most in this world. Kacee went on a run, and took Jane for part of it. I snapped this absolutely adorable picture!! I love kacee! Also hated that I couldn't run with her....this pelvis just cant handle it atm.
 We managed to get everyone looking semi-decent to go out behind our house and snap some family pictures, with help from my neighbor. I recognize I come from a pretty good looking family but I can't help but feel that I kinda steal away from some of the beauty. That oversized shirt hiding a big belly and the pregnancy face is just not really up to the standards that the rest of my family is setting. Haha.
On friday, I stayed home with the kids (and Rachel) while Jeff took everyone to Prague. Then on saturday, we all went to a Christmas market and to Ikea. Both of which were much more exciting for the women involved, but the guys were good sports ;) I seriously loved wandering and driving around what has become our stomping ground with all my siblings. We had a blast.
Lyla was not selfish with her cuddles. It took her a little bit longer to warm up to Brendon, but I'd say they ended on a good note.
 I am so sad that my family is gone now. I definitely teared up a few times the day they left. As I was cleaning the house that was messy in the best way, carrying our kid sized basketball hoop back down to the basement. My brothers spent hours shooting on that thing, just like when we were growing up. Lyla and Jane were bored and didn't quite know what to do with themselves without a flock of aunts and uncles heeding to their every whim. Im grateful to have a family that makes it so hard to say goodbye. Im also grateful that there are 3 people I don't have to say goodbye to. Jeff, Jane, and Lyla. I love spending my life with them.


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