And How

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Daddy-Daughter Date Night

So last night was the long-anticipated Daddy-Daughter Date Night at Chick-fil-a that Pack RSVP'd to a few weeks ago.  And I'll be honest...until last night, I swore he only did it to have a night eating a CFA sandwich in peace without having to keep an eye on two wild little boys in the play area.  Who could blame him?

But when he was on his way home from work, he called me to make sure his girl was "dressed pretty."  When he got home, he walked in the door and passed right by Penn, Jude, and Me to make sure Anna girl got the full effect of his greeting.  He was holding a flower which he placed right into her eager little arms (and went directly to her drooly little mouth, of course).  Side note:  I love that the first flower a boy ever gave her was from her Daddy.  

Anna isn't even one yet.  She's not going to remember tonight, but I have a feeling that one day her standards are going to be sky-high for picking a boy to date (and then marry).  For that, I am so thankful!
For me???

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm voting for...

Tomorrow is Election Day (in case you haven't been counting down the days you would have to hear all the annoying ads, like I have).  It's a big day and only the second Presidential election I have ever voted in.  I've thought long and hard about my decision and I have decided that I will be casting my vote for...
Packard Kids for President...REAL change for America!
I'm only halfway kidding.

I'm NOT voting for or against a political party, a healthcare plan, the coolest or most down-to-earth candidate, the unemployment rate, gay marriage, the national debt, inequality, abortion, the environment, Middle East peace, nuclear arms, education, a do-nothing Congress, war, the death penalty, taxes, military, or our international reputation.

I'm voting for the future of those three sweet faces in the photo above.

Let's face it, the job of President is probably the absolute worst job in America and I'm actually surprised that they can even find two people who actually want the title.  Maybe there was a time when a lot of honor and glory went to the President, but those times are gone.  Now, whoever gets the job (or who has ever HAD the job) gets the blame for everything that's wrong with America and has to fear for their lives on a daily basis.  Not a job I would apply for and spend a year or more trying to get (especially as a parent of young children, which is a whole other blog post).

But regardless of what I think about the job of President, the fact is, we need one.  A good one.  One that will be the Commander in Chief make it a priority to STOP trying to divide the American people on issues that don't even affect the majority of us.  And preferably one that will admit a fault when it occurs (wouldn't that be a first???).

So, tomorrow, I'll be up early, in the cold, possibly with three small children (hopefully not), but confident that the candidates I select will be the best investment in America's future.  And while I won't be literally voting for one of my children, I'll definitely have their best interests at heart.

"Vote for the people who will require something OF you rather than promising something TO you."
-Andy Stanley

Friday, November 2, 2012

Making a List...OR NOT!

This year, Pack and I have decided to shift our focus from "shopping for Christmas" to "celebrating CHRISTmas."  This is why we have decided to limit our Christmas shopping this year to just our children and our siblings' children.  As much as we enjoy giving gifts to others (especially our awesome family), we end up spending quite a bit of time, stress, and money looking for the perfect gift for them that is within our budget, or making something, which is also time-consuming.  We want to spend more time thinking about the MOST perfect gift, which is Jesus. 

In honor of our amazing family and friends, our family is going to start a new tradition of blessing another family with a monetary for each person in our home.  We were blessed by another family last year at Christmas and the monetary value of the gift paled in comparison to the heart behind their generosity.  We are sure that our family would much rather have our money go to someone who really needs it than to buy them something else to put in their homes.  Our families are pretty amazing:)
I don't know about you, but I would much rather spend the holidays spending time with my family and enjoying this sweet season of life with them instead of with strangers at the mall.  So when you are doing your shopping this year, please think of my family, but cross us off your list.  Instead, try donating what you would normally spend on unnecessary gifts to a person or family who needs a bit of Christmas cheer.  Let Jesus give you a heart like His--a much better gift than I could buy you;)

2 Corinthians 9:7

 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Monday, October 8, 2012

MY "Facts" about Cloth Diapers

I'm not a cloth diaper expert by any means, but after reading a thread about cloth diapers today on one of the local news channels on Facebook, I realized that most people are misinformed about cloth diapers.  I wanted to share the information that I know to be true about them from my (little) experience using them.

1.  Cloth diapers are expensive when you buy them new.  If you don't care about having "new" cloth diapers, they can be super-cheap.  I actually prefer to buy used because it saves a little work from having to break-in new diapers.  Every cloth diaper I have bought has been purchased used for less than $5 per diaper.
Can you tell this is a used diaper?  Bought for $2, sold for $5!
2.  You don't have to be anti-disposable to use cloth diapers.  We do use disposable on occasion.  They are expensive (even if you use off brand) and inconvenient when you run out, but sometimes we throw a disposable in the diaper bag because it takes up less space or for other reasons and I don't feel guilty about it.  We've used about one or two bags of disposables for Anna over the course of her life so far and that's okay too.  We consider ourselves to be very flexible.

3.  You don't have to use "special" detergents or bleach with cloth diapers.  As a matter of fact, you SHOULDN'T use bleach on cloth diapers because it will make them not last as long.  Diapers can get clean with a small amount of detergent and warm-hot water.  The detergent I use to clean my diapers can be used on any of our clothes and it's safe for the environment.  You do need to be careful about the detergent you use, but doing a little research will tell you that there are lots of available detergents you could use.
Clean and White!
4.  Washing cloth diapers is the easiest laundry you will do.  Diaper day is not a chore.  I empty my bag of diapers in the washing machine and let the machine do the work.  If there are any stains, I let them sit in the sun with a bit of lemon juice to clear it right up (although if stains don't bother you, you can skip that step).  Sometimes I throw my diapers in the dryer and sometimes I hang them outside to dry.  Depends on the weather.  When they are dry, I throw them back in the drawer.  No folding required=Awesome!

5.  Poop is disgusting in cloth OR in disposables.  People think that you never have to handle poop if you don't use cloth diapers, but if you've ever had a baby, you know that explosive poops happen with disposables and at some point (or several), you are going to have to touch poop...and it's probably going to be on you and you won't even know it.  In the eight months I have cloth diapered Anna, she has only had one "explosive" poop in cloth that has come out of her diaper.  That is unheard-of with disposables.
Cloth diapers have saved her cute outfits (and mine!)
6.  You don't have to put your hand in the toilet to clean diapers (although I've done it before and it's not that horrifying).  I have a diaper sprayer now (a modified sink sprayer, basically) and it rinses the poop off the diaper so I can flush it down where it is supposed to go (FYI--you are supposed to dump poop out of disposables too and flush it, but no one does it).  Not to mention, if you are exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months (or just for however long you are breastfeeding), you don't even have to rinse poop out of diapers before washing them! Once you start solids, most poops fall into the toilet without much help.

7.  When you no longer need your cloth diapers (or don't like them anymore), you can always sell them (if you buy them used to begin with, you might can even get all your initial investment back!).  At some point they will reach the end of their life and you can trash them, but if you buy cotton, hemp, bamboo, or other natural fiber diapers, they will biodegrade and become a part of the earth again.  They won't take up space in the landfills for our children and grandchildren to have to deal with.  The extra water and detergents you use are no match for the environmental cost of plastic coated diapers sitting around for ages leaching chemicals into the land of our descendants.
Go green!
8.  You can't beat the cute factor in cloth diapers.  There's not a denim-look disposable diaper that can even compare to a sweet cloth diapered bottom (see photos above).  But be'll have to go up at least a size in your baby's clothes because of a fluffy tushy:)
Girl's got curves:)

9. It's never too late to try it out (unless your kid is already potty trained of course!)! I started cloth diapering Jude when he was 19 months old and he was potty trained within two or three months! An initial $50 investment saved us hundreds in diapers and pull-ups we didn't have to buy for the next year or so AND they are as good as new for Anna to use when she gets a little bigger!

Overall, I understand people not cloth diapering full time and I know that it's hard to cloth diaper economically in some areas (hello, Florence), but I think it's always worth a try, even if you only use one or two cloth diapers a day or week.  Oh well, I guess that's all I have in my arsenal, but I hope it helps someone make the decision to at least give it a shot:)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

In a Kindergarten funk...the flip side.

Call me George Washington, but I cannot tell a lie.  This Kindergarten adjustment has been pretty hard core.  I knew it was going to be tough but I thought it would be because Jude would be going crazy without Penn around all the time and I would be worrying about him all day.  That has not proven to be the case.  The really difficult part has been when Penn comes home.  Exhausted.  Cranky.  Mouthy.'s been fun (not really).  I can't really blame him.  When I was teaching, my students and I all left school at the end of the day feeling the exact same way.  School is work.  But as a mama, I expected that my baby would come home at the end of the day, run into my arms and just want to sit and hug on his brother and sister, read books, and tell me every detail of his day.  Once again...wrong.

So we're really having to look at our afternoon and evening time with a fine-tooth comb and figure out what is working for us and what isn't.  Here are a few of the changes we've made to help make life a little easier for now.

1.  When Penn gets home from school, we stay outside as long as possible.  The wonderful swing in the front yard has a magical affect on our boys and they seem to be satisfied swinging on it for hours on end.

2.  We are buying LOTS more fruit.  Penn is starving when he gets home...STARVING!  Even after eating a PB&J, apple, banana, raisins, celery and ranch, yogurt and anything else I throw in his lunchbox, it comes home empty every day and he eats and eats until it's supper time (at which time, he won't eat anything, of course).  I'm thinking of getting a part-time job just to support our fruit-junky.

3.  When he gets home from work, Pack watches all three kids for me for at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted kitchen time.  The meals we make can't always be prepared ahead of time, so this gives me the time to get it all ready and in the oven and sometimes even do some light clean-up and table setting.

4.  Everyone has a laundry day now and I only wash diapers twice a week (and I look forward to diaper days since they are so low-stress.  Somehow, I'm still ending up washing two loads a day most days, but having specific laundry days for each person helps me find a reasonable stopping point without feeling like I have to keep all the hampers empty.

5.  We stopped doing anything "scheduled" in the evenings.  We aren't meeting with a couple's small group right now (Pack is doing a men's early morning small group once a week, and I am starting a SAHM's small group that will meet one morning a week also).  I also had to stop kickboxing (hopefully temporarily) and I replaced that with a walk/run around the block most mornings after walking Penn to the bus stop (while pushing two kids in an umbrella stroller...WHEW!)

6.  We (I) try to go to bed as early as possible.  For most nights, kids are in bed by 8 and I'm trying to be in bed no later than 10.  I'm still exhausted in the morning and I could probably go to sleep at 8:30, but hey...the kitchen doesn't clean itself;)

7.  I'm finding myself getting super-stressed and upset really easily lately so I'm going to try to start focusing on what IS working instead of what isn't working.  Hopefully, it will all work itself out in another month or so and I'll be able to feel a little less tired and a little more in control.  It's hard give up a routine that worked so well for us for so long, but seasons change and kids grow up:-(  On that note, I'll leave you with a few pics of my little weeds...
Teething face:-)
Walking to the bus stop!
My little helper!
This swing only cost $1, but it's worth my sanity (which isn't much right now)...
Bath buddies!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sprinkles, Sales, a Swing, and a Stitch Fix

Today was a pretty good day for Mama Packard.  The TV stayed off most of the day and that's always a good sign.  We woke up with a hankering for pancakes, and I actually had the energy (and arms, Thank you, Anna) to be able to whip some up this morning.  Of course, Penn and Jude insisted on sprinkles in the batter, but if I'm being honest, they are totally better with sprinkles.  We made a pretty good dent on a double batch of 10 grain Bob's Red Mill Pancake Mix, and then we were off to see what treasures our neighbors were parting with today...

Anna got a few pairs of PJ's in the next size up, Penn and Jude got a cup of lemonade for a quarter each, and Pack made out with an old bench for weightlifting and about 100 feet of thick rope for two dollars.  He was stoked.  I thought we were basically paying for their junk.  Little did I know what Pack Daddy had in store.

After about an hour of unsuccessfully trying to sling a string with six or seven washers attached over a very specific spot in the limb of a tree in our yard, he finally headed to Walmart and came back with a sling shot named "The Black Widow."  The sling shot got the washers over the limb in just a couple of tries and then, up went the rope.  I headed inside to make lunch and Pack eventually came in to get me to try out his creation.
Of course I had to try it out...
And spin!

Three's not a crowd on this giant swing!
I husband is super-fun.  He's also super-smart and very conscious of safety issues so I'm really thankful he was able to rig this up for us.  I would have loved this as a kid and truly...I really love it as an adult.  And everything about this swing remind me of why I love my sweet Pack.  He's my most prized possession on this planet!

And as if that wasn't good enough, I had a box waiting on me from Stitch Fix (finally)!  I heard about Stitch Fix through a high school friend (i.e. current awesome mommy blogger/seamstress/teacher/etc) named Jessica who blogged about SF right here.  To summarize what it is, you basically have a personal shopper who sends you five articles of clothing (or accessories) based on your style, size, preferences, and budget (which if you are like me, you don't know, and you figure out by taking their style survey) and you get to try them on, keep what you like, and send back what you don't.  Their fee is $20 (which is well worth it for me to avoid shopping with my three "I-freak-at-the-sight-of-fluorescent-lights" kiddos), but this gets deducted from whatever you decide to keep.  I got some cool stuff, but only decided to keep one thing (or, one...I haven't decided yet).  Anyway, here was what was in my little box:

I loved this shirt, but the asymmetrical hemline made my short torso look shorter.
This black shirt had sheer cutouts in weird wasn't exactly my style.
I loved this oversized sweater, but it was a little TOO oversized for me.
I REALLY REALLY wanted to keep these bangles, but decided to hold out for something more interesting.

I loved everything about this tunic dress and paired with a sweater and leggings, I think it could take me from summer to winter!

Overall, I thought this was a great and unique shopping experience.  Actually picking interesting pieces out is the hardest part of shopping for me and this forced me to try on some styles that I might not normally try.  I definitely plan on getting a second (or third) stitch fix and I think you should too.  It's a win-win for both of get cute clothes and I'll get a $25 credit if you sign up using this link (shameless, I know...):

Oh, and if you do sign up, let me know what you get:)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A memory

Channeling my inner Donna Reed.
After making a peach cobbler and prepping for Eggplant Parmesan for supper today, I was feeling all homemaker-y, so I had the boys (and Anna) dress "neat," as Penn likes to call it, to greet Pack when he got home.  It was pretty fun to play 50's for awhile with the boys and I almost melted when Jude said, "Hello, Fahhder," while using his "neatest manners," but it was still exhausting to do anything in heels and a dress (it's been awhile for me...).  How did Donna Reed do this every day???  Oh yeah...she was FICTIONAL.  Well, I gave it my best shot and we tried to stay in character as long as possible.  Thank goodness Pack took a picture of me with my cuties all dressed up in the heart of our home.  I only wish he had managed to get in this shot too.  I guess we'll have to wait until next time (but I promise that next time, I won't be in heels.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

He's almost gone!

I'm having a seriously hard time coming to terms with the fact that Penn is going to start Kindergarten in a month.  Part of me really wants to home-school like I had originally planned, but part of me is also considering finding childcare of Jude and Anna for one or two days each week so I can have some time to myself ("ME time," you know, like time for uninterrupted cleaning, laundry, working out...selfish things like that--haha).  Mostly, I've just been trying not to think about it much, but when I finally flipped the calendar over yesterday, THIS little beauty was staring me in the face:
Kindergarten Supply List
Back in June when I registered Penn for Kindergarten, I taped his supply list to the calendar on August so I wouldn't lose it before tax-free weekend.  I kind of wish I had.

As a mom of school-aged kid, I figure I'm going to be pretty awesome or pretty annoying.  Penn, on the other hand...he's just going to be awesome...I know it.  See for yourself:)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Happy Half, Little Bean!

My banana girl is six months old today. No, that cannot be possible. How is it that these precious baby days are even more fleeting with each additional child?!
Sitting up already {tear}
Oh, but this little girl--my Anna--is so special. She takes my breath away every day and I don't think I'm the only one! She is simply oozing with personality! She makes her brothers feel like comedians. Penn and Jude thrive on Anna's attention lately. And they know their role. I have already given them the "talk" about how God gave Anna two big brothers and their main job is to protect her. They showed me all the tricks they could do to keep the "bad guys" away from their baby sister and they take this role very seriously.  What a sheltered life she will lead!
I, on the other hand, get to be a rock star mom with Anna! Seriously, the girl makes me look like a pro because we can take her anywhere! She cries when she's tired, dirty/wet, teething, or hungry. And speaking of hungry, she just had her first bit of real food one week shy of her six month birthday! About a tablespoon of bananas was on the menu for her initially but we have progressed to homemade brown rice cereal and zucchini since then.
Brown Rice is the best!
She's feeling all kinds of special now that she can pretend to chew. Now we're just waiting on teeth. As you can see, she still has a beautiful gummy smile, but I think that some pearly whites will be making an appearance soon:)
Pack still smitten with his baby girl, and who can blame him?  She has a fabulous stylist (hehe) and really knows how to work those beautiful eyes to her advantage.  I'm seriously jealous of those blue/green, almond shaped beauties.  I hope they don't cause her too much trouble growing up;)
At this rate, she will never be allowed to date.
The past six months have been so much sweeter with our Anna Hazel.  We think she's the PERFECT addition to our family and  we can't get enough of her little personality that is starting to burst out.  I'm praying that the next six months will slow down a little so I can hold on to my baby girl just a little longer. 
Happy half, Anna Bean!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


So, I've been avoiding the blog for a while now because I've been to scatterbrained to think of any one thing to write about.  So here's a little hodgepodge stuff:-)

Sickness.  After recovering from May's round of doctor visits for Jude's broken arm and Penn's stitches, we hit June thinking we were home free.  Wrong.  Jude got sick with strep and Penn followed suit (although he didn't have strep).  Almost exactly one week later, Anna came down with her first illness (which required four doctor visits, a few days of an oral antibiotic, and and one antibiotic injection).  We deduced that she had something viral (probably croup) in addition to something bacterial (which caused her fever to shoot up to 104.5...SCARY).  It was a rough two weeks for me and I thought I would scream if I had to to go to the pediatrician/urgent care office one more time.  I'm singing praises that they are all well now!

Anna is officially five months old now!  She's a little over 15 pounds and absolutely perfect.  I've never had a baby in the 50th percentile for weight and height (Penn and Jude were always "above the 95th percentile" in height and in the 25th percentile for weight).  I really think she might be the easiest baby on the planet!  She tells me when she's hungry (usually by rubbing her face against my chest and pulling at my shirt) and then I nurse.  When she fusses, that my sign that she's wet or dirty and I change her.  I put her to bed awake each night around 8:30 and she normally only wakes up once (at about 4:30 or so).  Then I bring her to my bed and "dream feed" until morning.  We don't even really do a daytime schedule with her because she's just so easy-going.  I'm positive she gets it from me;-)  I'm sure her "easy days" are just helping me to rest up for what's ahead, but I'll take it!

Penn and Jude have been having "disobedience" problems some lately and we've been trying some different discipline methods.  I get so frustrated (especially when Pack is at work or out of town) and I feel like I'm a completely ineffective parent.  Then it hit me suddenly when we were out somewhere.  I might get frustrated when they don't do every single thing that I ask of them, but when push comes to shove, my boys do the right thing for others.  I've seen then being a good friend (even SHARING!!!), listening to other adults, and doing some of the things that I have to nag them about at home.  Even if they aren't perfect (and Anna won't be for long...I have to keep reminding myself), they are learning and it warms my heart when someone tells me that my kids are doing well at something.  I'm going to start making it a point to tell parents (and their kids) when I see their kids doing something right.  That might be just the thing that parent needs to hear to get them through the rest of the day.

And coming up?  Swimming lessons start for Penn and Jude.  We are planning a week-long trip to SC in mid-July.  And Pack turns the big 3-0 in August (and he won't let me throw him a party...BOOOOO!!!).  It's gonna be a fun summer!

Monday, May 28, 2012

A photo lesson on insurance

 May 2012:

Jude: buckle fracture, x-ray, above the elbow splint with sling, waterproof cast

Penn: first filling, fire ant bite reaction, antibiotic and antihistamine, head injury, two stitches

We've met our deductible.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My first baby... soooo not a baby anymore.  He's a five-year-old-boy!  I remember when we held Penn on the night of his birth-day and I asked Pack, "What do you think he's going to be like when he's four (I don't know why that age stuck out to me, but I guess I figured that would be the end of baby-hood)?"  "Four" seemed like an eternity from back then, but it came and went faster than I thought it could and that tiny little baby that I held for the first time is now this amazing and unique, FIVE-year-old human being!

One year ago!
The memory he has amazes me!  I can't remember what I wore yesterday but he can tell me what movie we watched when we stayed in a hotel two years ago!  He remembers things sometimes that actually gives me goosebumps because I've long since forgotten them.  Geez...I hope I don't mess him up too bad because I know our little Penn is like an elephant who never forgets!

And he's smart too!  I love watching Penn learn new things.  It's amazing to me how he learns.  He just needs to see you do it once and he's got it!  If only he had gotten that from me...  This year, he's learned how to read (a little), write, and tie his shoes, but he's most proud of mastering the Roku Remote.  Pack is always impressed with his early engineering and inventing skills, but we're still waiting on him to perfect his invention that would "keep Mommy from making any new foods anymore."  Nice try.

Penn's first (copied) sentence.  Not bad:)
A cardboard/bubble wrap stable (with LOTS of tape)
Baby Jude idolizes his big brother and does everything that Penn does.  When they have to be separated, Penn always tries to console Jude and make him feel better.  I'm so worried about Jude when Penn starts school...he's going to miss Penn so much!  Luckily, Penn is (almost) always a good example for his little bro.  I couldn't ask for a better "first kid".  His compassionate heart and love for his brother melts my heart. 

Per the usual, Jude is staring at Penn to see what he's doing:)
When Anna came into the family in January, Penn got to stretch his big brother skills a step further.  Now, he not only has to protect Jude, but to protect Anna FROM Jude!  And he takes his job very seriously.  Penn is absolutely smitten with his baby sister and I have a feeling he's going to make life very difficult for anyone who dares to bother his little sister for the rest of her life.

She's safe in his arms:)
Ever since he could talk, Penn would tell anyone that Jac was his best friend.  Jac is also his cousin and they are six months apart.  They couldn't be more different but they love each other dearly and completely exhaust anyone who has to watch them together (if you add Jude and the other cousins into the mix, you can hang up ANY semblance of order).  One day, these two could rule the world...

And they both have an equally good sense of fashion...obviously!
Mostly, Penn spends his time trying to be just like his Daddy.  Truthfully, he's practically his Daddy's twin anyway.  He loves to play with Ninja Turtles and He-Man Toys that belonged to Pack when he was little and he wants to dress the way that Pack dresses now.  Add some steel-toe boots and some inches, and this is his daddy to the T.

Definitely the name-sake:)
For his fifth birthday, we made a last minute trip to SC and had a little Batman party for him at my mom's.  It was a super-tiny party, but he told me it was the exact party he wanted (sweet boy)!  When we got back to VA, we gave him a new bike that actually accommodated for his super-long legs:)  and we let him decide how he wanted to spend "his day."  He picked pankcakes with sprinkles for breakfast, the Children's Museum, Chick-fil-a for lunch, and Red Robin for supper followed by birthday shopping and a yogurt bar.  He also bought sharing presents for him and Jude with his own money.  My stress level was low and my mama heart was happy!

Batman...this kid loves a good costume:)
Birthday Bike
Penn, you are creative, thoughtful, snuggly, inquisitive (Why? Why? Why?), responsible, sneaky and probably (one of) the most fun kids in the world.  I can't help but wonder what you're going to be like in five more years!!!  I am so proud of you and hope you'll always remember that you are loved no matter what and prayed for constantly!  Happy fifth birthday, my sweet little man:)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mommy Brag!

I swear...having kids makes your life go by in double time.  I mean there are some stages that seem to be exhausting and they last forever (like the last month of pregnancy and that stage where babies aren't quite walking yet, but refuse to be held/strapped down), but at this rate, my babies will be off to college tomorrow!

First Anna...12 days WEEKS old!  I took her in for her check-up today and she was perfect (no surprise to me:)).  I made sure that she flashed her gorgeous baby blues to everyone at the doctor's office and she threw in a few adorable coos and grins for good measure.  She's our little bundle of baby fever and we've been getting a lot of this lately:

Holding her head up like she was born to do it:)  (and cute hiney)
She's so vogue;)
And our little wild card, Jude...  You know, he's three now and in some ways it's more difficult than two, but it's also mostly awesome.  He's had his first "teeth cleaning" last week and got a great report (I'm still surprised he's got all of his teeth...the little dare devil).  I also took him on a mommy date for breakfast last week to "celebrate" his three-year check-up (which came with shots).  He was such a good boy and we had a wonderful morning out together.  I love this little firecracker and can't get enough of his sweetness!

Here's to three years of living life to the fullest!  (this is how he does "three" now, btw)

Jude was a rock star at the dentist!
And then Penn...sigh...I'm oozing with pride today especially because guess what...PENN TIED HIS OWN SHOES!!!  If you don't have kids, this is kind of like your dog learning to put it's own leash on.  We've been working on this skill for a few weeks now and after some tears (mostly mine), he did it all by himself today.  Someone please put him in a room alone with the world's problems and he'll solve them by nap time.  Next week I predict he won't even need me:(  I'm just a warm body for his cold feet these days (just kidding...big boy LOVES his mama!).  And guess what a few months, I'm going to have to give him up to strangers for five days a week when he starts kindergarten!  He's growing so fast, my heart may just break...

Kindergarten is what's up!
Ties biggie (except it is!)
Please tell me they don't always grow this fast!  I need to be able to fit them all in my arms for the rest of my life!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Last Year's Resolution...Year in Review!

I was feeling pretty ambitious last January.  I guess being in a new place gave me a bit of motivation to make some changes to my lifestyle and create some new habits.  I think I did okay considering all the outcomes of this past year, so I'm going to summarize what worked and what didn't for me last year.

1.  Start quilting.  Well, I didn't start quilting, but I did make a baby blanket.  You see, I didn't realize that measuring (my mortal enemy) was so important to quilting and as it turns out...I'm lazy.  I'm still planning on working on this, but I'm happy that I still ended the year with at least one blanket sewing project.

2.  Start a vegetable garden.  This is another one that I cheated on...kind of.  A friend gave me some patio tomatoes that I planted in pots and we were actually able to harvest a few that the squirrels and dogs didn't get to first.  I'm glad I started small.  It was a good trial run and maybe this year, we can actually build a garden of sorts.

3.  Read a Proverbs a day.  I did this off and on throughout the year.  I learned something new every time I read the same thing over and especially loved a study I didn't on the Proverbs 31 Woman by Nancy Leigh Demoss.  Although I faltered quite a bit on this resolution, I feel like I reaped the most benefits from this one alone!

4.  Eat out no more than once a week.  We did better on this last year than we thought we would.  Especially during my whole "first trimester funk" where I couldn't cook, go in a grocery store, or open my fridge.  We definitely ate out more than once a week a lot of times, but we kept pretty close to this goal.

5.  Get rid of most of my clothes.  Weeelllll....if you count putting all of my clothes in the attic and replacing them with a closet full of maternity clothes, then I did this perfectly!  I did manage to get rid of a lot though and now pretty much only have dresses and coats/sweaters in the closet and the rest of my clothes in three drawers.  Not bad considering that maternity clothes just take up more space than regular ones!

6.  Join and become active in a small group at our new church.  We totally did this and it was awesome.  Our group decided to split up toward the end of the year though and we are now getting ready to join another one, so long as this baby doesn't decide to come on the day GroupLink is scheduled.  Either way, I can't wait to get back into a small group asap!

7.  Lose 10 pounds.  Or gain 20...hmmmm.  Blame this one on the baby too.

8.  Renovate our kitchen by the end of the year.  We didn't do this at all.  Remember how I said the hubs would veto some of these?  Well this was one.  We did, however, get new windows all over the house (which made a huge difference), and for under $2000 we were able to redecorate our bedroom (including upgrading to a king sized bed), create a nursery, and buy a new-to-us sectional sofa bed for our living room (aka guest room)!  Gotta love Craigslist!

9.  Teach the boys how to serve others.  I guess this is one where I definitely feel through.  We did SOME things, but definitely not something organized once a month like I had hoped.  I'm keeping this one on the forefront this year and hopefully will do better.  I do have to say that despite my slackness, my boys have the kindest, sweetest little hearts I could hope for them to have and for that, I am so thankful and proud!

10.  When I think something nice (specifially about my husband), I want to make it a habit to say it, share it, or write it down for him to see.  I guess Pack could tell you how I improved on this one.  I will say that he's still the most awesome, fun, and loving husband in the WHOLE WORLD and I still find it hard to believe that he somehow wanted to end up with me.  I'm such a lucky girl and when I see his traits in our boys, I couldn't be more proud!

11.  Make less waste.  Okay, this one, I feel good about.  I think the only disposable product that we're still really attached to is toilet paper (and we're not giving that one up any time soon).  I only bought throw-away plates, cups, and napkins for birthday celebrations this year and we don't even think about paper towels anymore.  There were also a few other throw-away products that I switched over to this year and not one of my choices as created more work for me.  Awesome!

Bonus:  Pack's new year's resolution last year was to not buy any sliced bread from the store for our home (which of course, was one more resolution for me).  I got a bread machine last Christmas and I guess he wanted to make sure we got good at using it.  I'm proud to say that for the entire year of 2011, we did not buy one loaf of regular sliced bread for sandwiches and such.  We did however, occasionally buy things like  hotdog buns and tortillas since I don't know how to make those (and didn't feel like trying to learn), but overall...SUCCESS!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


In one year, our little Jude has gone from this:

to THIS:

And BOY what a ride it's been!

We have had so much fun seeing Baby Jude blossom this year.  He has really grown into his BIG personality so well and we have loved getting to know him as a little boy.  Here are a few of his big moments from the past year...

We've always known Jude liked to live big.  I always joke that Jude is a magnet for disaster/injuries.  And he's definitely had quite a few injuries that left us wondering if we needed to make a trip to our local ER (thankfully, we haven't...yet.).  Fortunately, our little daredevil seems to be very resilient:)

"One little monkey jumping on the bed..."
Jude has also become quite the little talker this year.  His vocabulary and verbal expressions have really exploded!  It hasn't always been smooth sailing though.  We've had a few rough patches of stuttering here and there (that were definitely harder for us than him).  Although these times were frustrating and a bit scary for us as parents because it's so hard to see your kids struggle with anything, I am glad to say they ended up teaching us quite a bit.  We learned that Jude can sometimes feel like he's having to fight for attention.  We also noticed that we interrupted him quite a bit to finish his sentences and we let Penn do most of the talking for a long time.  Now we know the importance of taking turns, speaking more slowly and quietly, and paying closer attention to our children during life transitions (this seems to be when the stuttering relapses).  He may continue to struggle with this from time to time, but I have every idea that it won't stop this little boy from doing what he wants to do;)

Stubbornness and perseverance go hand in hand:)
Jude is still our "Mr. Independent."  He's been dressing himself as long as Penn has and doesn't let us do whole lot for him.  There have been many times where I've had to let him go to the park with his shoes on the wrong feet, pants on backwards, or shirt inside-out because he will not let me help him get dressed.  Forget the fact that he probably doesn't match anyway.  Luckily, with those beautiful hazel eyes, no one looks at the crazy outfit underneath anyway:)

Those eyes are going to melt some girl's heart one day (besides his Mama's)!

Penn has always been idolized by his baby brother.  Except now that Jude is a little boy, he's literally doing everything that Penn does.  If Penn scratches his leg, Jude gets an itch too.  If Penn gets in trouble, Jude seems to be found getting into the same mischief.  If Penn cries, Jude's heart is usually broken too.  Although they fight sometimes now that both of them are older, there's no mistaking their love either.  No one can cure one of Jude's bad moods like his big brother can!

Sweet love.
Lots of mischief has been gotten into this year by "innocent" little Jude.  Messes seem to follow him around and sadly, nothing is out of his reach anymore.  Whenever he gets into trouble, his first instinct is usually blurting out, "I'm sowwwy, Mommy."  He has visited "time out" quiet a few times this year to say the least.  And of course, he never feels that it's justified.  There is a reason we call him "Moody Judee."

 We've had a lot of incidents this year--------->

<------------Usually they are followed by this.

One of my favorite changes from the past year is seeing my little Jude go from being "the baby" to a BIG BROTHER!  I swear, he grew a whole year in just one day!  Little Anna came into our lives at the beginning of 2012, and we have gotten to see a side of Jude that we always knew was there.  Jude wants to touch, kiss, hug, hold Anna constantly.  And he always reminds me what a "big helper" he is.  Baby sister, Anna, will never want for anything (except space) if her big brothers have any say in it.  I hope he always remembers how much he adores her.

He just can't get close enough.
So, now he's three.  Two flew by (and it Wore. Me. Out.), so we kept his birthday pretty low-key.  We called it "Jude's Day" and he got to pick what we did all day long.  That meant pancakes with sprinkles for breakfast, a trip to Inflation Nation (where we had lunch), Angry Bird cupcakes, a nap on the couch, and Chick-Fil-A for dinner.  Basically not too much work for mom (yay!). 

Birthday Pancakes (with a a candle, of course!)

Inflation Nation!
A family nap!

 Jude is busy, messy, sensitive, creative, funny, and so loving.  I never have to negotiate for a hug and kiss.  His prayers are the sweetest.  He loves to sing (especially lullabies for his baby sister) and he is a dancing fool.  Jude always helps with laundry and dishes and has the best manners.  He also loves to tell stories and jokes.  There are so many wonderful things about my boy and I'm smitten for the boy he has become!

We are crazy about you, Baby Jude and we hope that you'll always remember how boundlessly you were loved.