Friday Favs Vol. 22

My adorable troublemakers

Favorite moment of the week: Long conversations with Lover as we house shop – discussing what style of house, how big we want it to be, how we would tweak and remodel each house to suit our family… I love house shopping and we’re really enjoying the process. But we’re also hopeful to find something soon, so we can get everything set before our lease ends in April.

Our weather was absolutely gorgeous here this week, so we spent a lot of time outside, although that was thwarted a bit by us all catching a nasty cold! So it was a balance of time outside playing and time laying on the couch watching movies. :)

What Javi is doing: Starting to practice the letters of his name. He particularly likes writing the “J”. He still loves doing preschool, and never lets me skip a day! He’s very polite, and often says “Sanks, mom.” it breaks my heart a bit because I am not ready to drop the “mommy!” He’s also working on learning how to get dressed and undressed by himself. His favorite thing is to put his pants on “silly” where he sticks both legs all the way into one pant leg and hops around the house. :)

What Keilana is doing:  Responding “yea” in her cute little voice to any questions. Adding more words like hippo, apple, and making us name all the members of our family repeatedly. Having lots and LOTS of opinions on dresses, shoes, hair bands, and any other aspect of getting dressed.  Starting to walk up stairs on her own, without support. Taking care of her baby doll by tucking her into blankets, giving her a binkie, and lots of little kisses. The cutest thing you ever did see!

How I am feeling: I am 18 weeks along, and feeling pretty good. Nausea is lessening, thank the Lord! I still can’t eat most of the things I like best (chocolate! caffeine! sweets of any kind! cheese!) and I miss them, but I’m adjusting to this (hopefully temporary) diet. I started working out this week, and I’m hoping that will give me some more energy as well as keeping me fit throughout this pregnancy!

jenny

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Posted in 2015, friday favs | Leave a comment

Keilana’s Birth Story

It’s time to share the story of how Keilana joined our family. She arrived two days after her due date, and it was by far a completely different experience from Javi’s birth. Keilana has been her own person from day one!

On my due date

My pregnancy had been uneventful, if a bit of a rocky road in terms of hormones. (If you ask Lover, it was more than a “bit”.) But I was healthy, the baby was healthy, and we were finally in the final stretch. I had an appointment with the NP on my due date, August 26, and she assured me that everything looked good. Although I was nervous about another birth, I was really just hoping that this time my body would figure things out and go into labor on its own. Induction is not a pleasant experience, no matter how well it may go. So, the NP scheduled me for an ultrasound two days later, on a Wednesday. I took their first appointment that morning so that Lover could come with me and be my advocate in case the doctors thought there was a problem.

Wednesday morning I woke up and headed out the door with Lover. My dad had come over to hang out with Javi while we were gone, and my brother Ben and his girlfriend were still asleep. We slipped out the door and headed to the hospital where the ultrasound center was. The ultrasound itself was pretty uneventful, although the technician took all of her measurements and then came back and did them all again. When the doctor came in, he told us she had repeated them because they were concerned about the size of the baby – they were predicting she was 9lbs 13oz! I freaked a bit at the thought of delivering a baby that big, but they assured us there was no cause for concern, and we were fine to wait another five days until my 41 week cut off.

It’s about 8:30am, and we were headed home, but made a stop at McDonalds first for breakfast. As we pulled into the drivethru, I felt a pretty strong contraction. This wasn’t the first time I had felt contractions in this pregnancy, I had felt them a couple of times but they never  increased in strength or duration. So I just kept an eye on the clock while we waited for our bagels and mcmuffins, and had three more contractions while we sat in line. As we drove home I continued to get a strong contraction every five minutes, and I casually mentioned to Lover that he might want to stay home for another hour or two and see what happened.

He gave me a panicked look and said, I really need to go into the office today, there’s a lot going on. I agreed, knowing that he was only fifteen minutes away and he assured me he would come right home if I needed him to. So Lover dropped me off and went to work. Javi, my dad and I sat on the front porch and I ate my bagel while Javi sneaked little bites here and there. I told my dad how the appointment went, but didn’t mention the contractions. He kissed me goodbye and said he had a bunch of errands to run, leaving us on the porch.

At this point I was timing the contractions and they were consistently coming at 5 minutes apart. They weren’t really painful, just required some concentration to get through. Rocking on our glider made them completely manageable. Once it had been about an hour of the regular contractions, I called my OB and they encouraged me to head into the hospital. I texted Lover and he assured me that he would be on his way in about fifteen minutes.

Javi and I headed inside and I took him upstairs to get changed and out of his pajamas. I needed to throw a few last things into my hospital bag, and I figured I could get all that done while I was waiting for Lover. When I lifted Javi up to the changing table, that contraction hurt quite a bit. Just that little bit of walking around and moving accelerated the contractions to about 3 minutes apart and they started to really, really, hurt. So we headed back downstairs and outside, and I texted Lover “please tell me when you are on your way!” At that point I was getting a little nervous. He didn’t reply, but less than a minute later his car rounded the corner. He told me later that after he texted me to wait 15 minutes, he thought, “what am I doing? She’s in labor!” grabbed his stuff and headed out the door.

Lover arrived just in time because at that point the contractions really started to hurt, and I couldn’t focus very well. I managed to tell him what else I needed him to pack, and he took Javi downstairs and woke up my brother to watch him. About five minutes passed and I managed to gasp out to Lover that we needed to go, like NOW. He helped me into the Buick and we headed out.

The 20 minute ride was one of the longest of my life. Lover tried to talk to me to distract me from the contractions, but it didn’t work. I just kind of clenched my teeth and focused on the fact that we were almost there. We parked at the Labor and Delivery lot (Lover offered to drop me off but I refused) and I got out of the car right after a contraction let up. I managed to walk two spaces towards the door, and then got a massive contraction. It was so strong that I leaned against some stranger’s car for support, just trying to breathe and make it through. It was immediately followed by an equally strong one, so I stood there, swaying, head on the trunk of the car, thinking to myself, well, at least I am in the parking lot. Maybe they can come and get me. Through the fog of the contractions, I hear Lover talking to someone.

She is asking, “are you all right? do you need anything? what’s wrong?” I am insanely annoyed and focused on making it through the contractions, so I ignore her. She continues to ask what’s wrong, stating that she is a an NP and can help. Lover finally says in a somewhat irritated voice “well, she’s in labor!” The NP says “OH! Well, let me run and get you a wheelchair!” I just couldn’t believe that she had no idea what was going on. I mean, I’m standing in the L&D parking lot, hugely pregnant, clearly in pain… doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put that all together!

So she brings us a wheelchair, and I get settled in. Once again, like the glider, the movement instantly eases the pain of the contractions. I’m able to focus a bit more, and Lover whisks me up to the triage desk of the wing. That’s when I realize that I forgot to preregister, and I now have to fill out all the forms while in full blown labor. And of course I have to do it, because I am the patient. Curses! The nurses are very compassionate and kind though, and I fill out the forms in between contractions. Lover rocks the wheelchair for me which is still helping a lot, and I manage to finish the $*&$* forms.

Next up is bringing me into triage so they can verify that I am in labor. I will never understand this part. I’m visibly sweating, in massive amounts of pain, past my due date and clearly on the verge of dying. Yes, I am being dramatic, but is that step really necessary? The nurses start getting me hooked up to machines, asking questions in between contractions. The room is about the size of a closet, and Lover, the nurse and I pretty much fill the room. Suddenly I am hot, so hot, so very hot. I ask Lover to find something to fan me with, and my very amazing husband spends the next 30 minutes vigorously fanning me with some magazines he found. Paula, our nurse, asks me what my pain management plan is, and I say “DRUGS! ALL THE DRUGS! We get through all the preliminary questions (finally!) and the midwife and some poor resident who is doing his L&D rotation come in to check me. The midwife is very calming and friendly, the resident looks like he is about to hurl. She takes her time with the examination, encouraging him to repeat everything he is doing. He does so, timidly, still looking like he may lose his lunch at any point. He looks visibly terrified to be dealing with a laboring woman. The two of them confirm that I am, in fact, in full blown labor.

The contractions are so strong at this point, and coming closer together that I am worried I won’t get an epidural in time. I lay there while they finish their monitoring, curled on my side and trying to breath through the contractions, doing my best not to fight against the pain. I keep my eyes closed and tune everyone out unless they ask me something. I try the breathing techniques they taught me with Javi, but it doesn’t help much. Then I remember an article I read about how childbirth is natural and glory giving to God, and that if I open my mouth and sing praises to God during labor, my body will also open up and release my child. It strikes me as so funny that I begin to smile through the contractions, and it helps bring the pain down a bit. The nurses assure me we’re almost ready for a room, and compliment me on how well I am managing the contractions. I am ridiculously pleased at this, as if they just gave me gold star for my report card.

Finally, finally, they wheel me into my room. Switching beds is difficult, but I manage it with Lover and the nurse’s help, in between a contraction. Now my biggest concern is how I will be able to sit still enough during these contractions for the epidural to work.

Enter Dr. Worth. He is kind, efficient and works incredibly fast. He has no problem letting Lover stay in the room, which calms me. I hold Lover’s hands while they prep me for the epidural, and then once a contraction passes Dr Worth begins. The epidural hurts quite a bit going in, but I feel almost instantaneous relief. The pain begins to ramp down from “this will break me in half” to “ok, I can breathe and look around again.” Dr Worth and Paula work on taping all my tubes in place, but I’m literally drenched in sweat, and the tape just slides right off my back. They redo it, and I discover later that they had to tape most of my back in order to hold things in place.

The epidural takes full effect in about twenty minutes, and I feel fantastic. I can talk again, I relax and lay back and Paula assures me that everything is progressing great. Lover looks relieved that I can talk and smile again. We chat with our nurses, Carol and Paula. Carol is training Paula and has over twenty years of experience delivering babies. We joke about how she is more qualified to deliver this baby than the doctor, and she just smiles quietly. I’m amazed at how the doctors and nurses are taking their cues from me. So different from my first delivery.

In the middle of normal conversation, our nurses suddenly insist that I lay down flat and start pulling up the rails on my bed. Nurses and the midwife rush in, and they are so busy and focused that they can barely answer my questions. All we can gather is that the baby’s heart rate suddenly plummeted, and they are prepping me for an emergency cesarean. The midwife checks me and they discover that the monitor had slipped causing an incorrect reading. Whew! Things calm down and we go back to normal.

After a little while the midwife (and the poor resident) come back in and check me again. They break my water, which I am still unsure what the reasoning for that was. I was still progressing normally, so I thought it was unnecessary, but they don’t ask and then it’s done. As they leave, Dr Tripp comes in. (He’ll be delivering the baby). He wants to discuss my ultrasound from this morning. (Only three hours ago!) He’s worried about the potential size of the baby and has concerns about her getting stuck. He’s estimating that she’s at least 10 pounds. He examines me to make sure that there is room for the baby, and I make a joke about big hips finally coming in handy. He’s worried and tells me that he will let me try to push for a few minutes, but that he thinks it highly likely I will need a C-section to get that big of a baby out. I tell him that my son’s head measured in as a 10lb baby’s head, and I got him out. I’m confident I can get this one out. He reluctantly agrees to let me try, but he’s not happy about it.

After this they start asking me every two minutes if I need to push. I still can’t really feel the contractions, and nothing feels different, so I just think it’s a weird question. In my head I’m thinking I’ve only been in labor for five hours or so, I won’t be ready for a while. Finally, I get a contraction that feels “different.” This puzzles me, and I mention it in an offhand way to our nurse. She presses a button or something, to page the doctor. Within about a minute, they are all in my room. This shocks me. Oh, we are really doing this? OK!

Dr Tripp, the queasy resident, his nurses and my nurses are all in the room. Dr Tripp says, “ok, let’s break this.” I’m like “Hold on, what are we breaking?!” I’m having visions of them breaking my pelvis or something to get this enormous baby out. “Me?” They smile and say, no they are breaking down the bed to make it the most accessible for the doctor to help me. I relax and they say, ok, with your next contraction, PUSH! I’m still shocked that we’re already at this point, but I pull my legs up and get ready.

I push, I think I get in two pushes on that contraction. I’m frustrated with myself, thinking that I’ve forgotten how to do this. I can’t feel much, and I’m upset that I don’t remember how to do this.

I push again on the next one, and say something about how I’m not doing this right. They all rush to assure me that, in fact, I am doing it right, because the baby’s head is almost out! This shocks me. When her body comes out on the next push, I feel the weirdest feeling. I can almost literally feel as she is disconnected from my body and becomes her own person.

She is pink all over and chunky! And wailing up a storm. The staff is laughing I think. They put her up on my chest immediately. I’m mildly grossed out (she is slippery and coated with all sorts of gunk.) But her eyes are open and I’m kind of in awe. She is so alive. I shush her gently, whispering, “It’s ok, baby girl.” I’m crying. I look over at Lover in wonder, I can’t believe how ok she is. I was mentally prepared after Javi’s difficult birth to have another bad one but this little girl is just perfect. She looks at me and wails a bit. I say “Shhh, mommy’s here baby girl” The nurses tell me to let her cry, that it’s good for her. I think “I’m not really trying to make her quiet, I’m just being her mommy.”

The hospital plays a lullaby when a baby is born, and I hear it now, while she’s on my chest. Lover has a huge smile and I’m still crying. It’s awesome. Keilana is still goopy though, and the nurses want to weigh her to see how big she ended up being.

She’s 9 lbs 2 ounces, and 21 and a half inches long. Not as big as they thought but still a big baby. She is so ridiculously soft and pink and plump.

I’m shaking uncontrollably. (It happens after each of my deliveries, apparently) I shake and shake and shake while Keilana gets all checked out, and the doctors do the nasty pushing on my belly thing. Dr Tripp asks the resident, what is this procedure called? I respond “torturing the poor woman who just gave birth” Dr Tripp laughs. The resident still looks traumatized. :) My guess is this guy did not go into Labor & Delivery when he was through with that rotation. The nurses bring me some warmed blankets that I hug tightly, which finally helps the shaking subside. Once I’m all fixed up and stable again, I get Keilana back, and we take our first picture with her. I feel absolutely fantastic. The epidural hasn’t worn off yet, our baby is perfect, and life is good.

We surprise everyone when we call to tell them the baby is born. She was born at 2:20pm, less than 6 hours after that first contraction. We spend the next couple of hours cuddling her, updating Facebook, and feeling awesome. I am so thrilled she is healthy, there were no complications, and I am no longer pregnant! Family trickles in throughout the next day, and my Uncle brings Javi late in the morning. Lover is holding Keilana, and I invite Javi up onto my bed and give him a big hug and kiss. Then Lover hands me Keilana, and we introduce him to his baby sister. He’s wide eyed and very careful and gentle. She starts to cry and his eyes fill with tears. He has loved her from the very first moment and has always tried to take care of her.

We beg and beg to get released early from the hospital. In the end, although they are not thrilled about it, they let us go around 6pm the next day. We are so happy to be home. We asked my uncle and aunt to keep Javi one more night, so we have a quiet evening at home just the three of us. The next morning we take Keilana to her checkup, and then pick up Javi on our way home. Now we’re all together, starting our adventure as a family of four.

Our beautiful Keilana makes us smile every day. She’s gorgeous and fierce and brave and sweet. Her laugh is one of the best things on earth. Her will is a force to be reckoned with. She loves her daddy, mimics mommy in everything and adores her big brother. We can’t imagine life without her. Welcome to the world, baby girl!

jenny
 

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Littleton Museum

We have had some fantastic weather here lately. Especially on the weekends. Isn’t that nice? It’s been 50-60 degrees and sunny the last two Saturdays, so we have taken advantage and are exploring more of our new area around us. One of those places we went to was the Littleton Museum. They have a nice little museum (which we didn’t really attempt to see with our two little firecrackers) but more importantly they have two small working farms with animals and all sorts of nooks and crannies for kiddos to explore. And – it’s free!

Javi quickly made friends with one of the cats that was roaming around, and it walked for quite a while alongside of him. He was happy as a clam to stay with the cat until he spotted the gutter downspouts and then he was off to play in those.

The kiddos immediately took off to explore and had a great time buzzing around from place to place, of course being sure to walk through each puddle and mud pit along the way. It was kiddo heaven. :)

There is a working blacksmith forge on the farm, but the museum runs on volunteers so sadly today there was no demonstration. But it was still cool to check out all the tools and snap some pictures.


These barns were killing me with their awesomeness. I loved all the old, weathered wood, so photogenic. One of the things I love about Denver, that I may have mentioned before, is how you will be driving down a completely suburban road filled with average, normal suburban houses, and then you’ll come up on something like the Littleton museum with cows and pigs and chickens and oxen, and awesome old barns! So fun!

So on one side the farm is a 1940’s working farm, which is where we spent the majority of our time. They had a cow, chickens and a large pig, along with a perfect little 1940’s home complete with a wartime Victory garden.

Peanut was really feeling brave on this particular day. We’ve really been working with her since she has such trouble separating from us, and some serious stranger danger going on. The other day at the store the cashier said hello to her, and Peanut literally screamed, burst into tears and run to hide behind my legs. Craziness! But on this particular day she took off by herself constantly, explored all over the place and even climbed some fences. She did awesome until the donkey snorted, and then she lost her mind and wouldn’t get out of my arms for the next fifteen minutes. Silly baby. To be fair, the donkey startled me too, so I wasn’t surprised that it scared her .

Javi, on the other hand, had to be constantly in our sights since he was trying to climb over every fence, join the animals, stick his fingers in the oxen’s mouths, and just cause general mayhem. He’s a blast. He also repeatedly made friends with other families and did his best to go home with them. Our little social butterfly.

The other side of the museum was an 1800’s farm, and was significantly muddier with a lot more animals. So I took less pictures and just tried to navigate my way through the mud and watch the kids enjoy themselves. We fed the oxen some of their hay, petted the donkey, checked out the turkeys and the enormous hog, and watched some sheep strike hilarious poses while they peed. :)

At the end of the day we were even able to snap a family picture, which always makes me happy. Although I kind of look like a giant in this picture, compared to the rest of the crew. :)

So overall we had a great morning. It was a fun place to explore and we will definitely be going back there. Hooray for fun, free places!

jenny

Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

3 Months Later

So, it just occurred to me that we had been in Denver for exactly three months on Christmas Day! Huh. On the one hand it feels like we’ve been here for much longer, and on the other, it feels like we just arrived yesterday. So I thought this would be a good time to do a recap of the last couple of months – sort of an update to the 31 days series, if you will. :)

Apartment

I’m still loving our apartment. Scratch that, we are all still loving the apartment. We’ve settled in, I’m even getting things pretty organized, and we have so far succeeded in not filling up every nook and cranny in this place. Score! I’m trying to find the right balance between making this apartment comfortable and homey, and not investing too much time or energy into all of it since we will most likely be moving this spring. We have plans to buy a house in the next three months or so, if everything goes according to plan. Which it never does, right? :) But knowing that we won’t be here for a long time is tempering my obsessiveness over getting every single detail right.

As far as apartment living, it has its pluses and minuses, like anything else. The neighbors downstairs are not a fan of Javi’s head banging (understandably) and that can be stressful. Coming home at the end of a long night and not having a parking space is a first world problem but it’s frustrating nonetheless. But – we love the simplicity of a finished home, on call maintenance, and watching our kids’ relationship blossom as they share a room. So overall it’s a win in my book.

The Kids

Javi struggled a bit in the beginning with all of the changes. He asked after his Poppa, Nana, cousins and friends constantly for the first few weeks. He had trouble sleeping and tested every rule and boundary we had ever set. But he quickly settled down as we found a new routine, some classes for him to have kid time, and lots of conversations about our new home. He’s doing great now, and man, does that kid have an imagination! I wonder where he got that from? :)

Keilana is growing intellectually and developmentally, but not really physically. It’s why we call her Peanut! She’s sixteen months old and finally (mostly) fits into 12 month clothes. She loves her brother and is adding more words to her vocabulary every day.

They both seem to really enjoy sharing a room. I’ll do a complete post on it in the future, but for now I’ll just say that they usually spend 15-30min giggling, chatting, playing or growling at each other once we put them to bed at night, and then they settle down and sleep well. Usually. :)

(at our Life Group Christmas party, dressed as Sheldon and Amy)
Lover and I

Lover loves his new job, and more specifically the culture there. They are laid back, trusting and easygoing, which just makes it so nice of an environment to be in everyday! I’ve noticed a huge decrease in his stress level, which has been awesome. He’s sleeping better here, working less hours, and has a lot more energy for everything. It was a great change for him.

I’m starting to round the corner of the first trimester exhaustion and nausea, so I’m feeling more like myself everyday. I’m loving the smaller and easier to clean home, the lack of busyness in our lives, and I’m so excited about the little one that will join our family next summer. There are days that I really miss everyone in NY, but we are working hard to develop good relationships here so that we feel as connected here as we did in Rochester. I joined a fantastic MOPS group and I look forward to those meetings so much.

Now that we’ve met more people and know some people we can trust, I’m hoping Lover and I can get back to semi-regular date nights. We miss our weekly date nights very much!

(Christmas cards from friends old and new!)

Community

This is the big one that we are focusing on this year. It’s been awesome to have so much time together as a family, and a few months to really kick back, relax and recharge, but now we are charged up and ready to go! :)

We found a fantastic church during our first few weeks here. I shouldn’t say that. God DROPPED this church in our laps. And we love it. The kids are happy there, my MOPS group is based there so we are starting to recognize faces, and the church family itself is so welcoming, friendly and Jesus-loving. :) They are a hugely international and missions minded church, which you know we love, so we are excited to get involved this year, make some connections, and get to serving again! We’ve also joined a life group that is all young families like ours, which has been a great source of fellowship and community.


Denver

Denver is still awesome. Like, way awesome. :) I still can’t get over the sunshine or the mountains. The wildlife. The laid back atmosphere of the people here. I have a list a mile long of places to explore as we have the time. And that’s just in and around Denver! Then we’re 6-9 hours from lots of other cool places like Mount Rushmore, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, NM and so much more. I’m confident we’ll spend at least the next decade exploring, if not longer.

So – there you have it. A little update on where we are and what life is like these days. We’ve got a lot of exciting things coming up in 2015 – a baby! a house! an international trip! family visiting! As well as lots of unknown things that are sure to be awesome. :) So here’s to a great year!

jenny

 

Posted in 2015 | 1 Comment

Painting with the Kiddos

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s already 2015. Lover and I were talking the other day about how we’re pretty sure that it’s 2003 or possibly 2004, but no later. Isn’t it crazy how time flies?

Anyways, everyone is posting about their goals and resolutions and how they will change and improve their life in 2015. I love those posts, but I kind of feel like our life has gone through lots of changes in the last few months, and therefore don’t feel the need to completely overhaul everything in 2015. Know what I mean? I’m setting some goals of what I want to be this year, but not much of what I want to do.  So – let’s skip right over all that goal talk, and get to a fun project I did with the kids over the last few months.

Back when it was warm and sunny, I took the kids to Michaels and purchased a really big canvas. I think it was 24×30 but it may have been bigger. I’m too lazy to measure it right now. :)  I think it cost around $20 with a coupon. We also picked up a few acrylic craft paint tubes in the colors I knew I wanted for this project, and then waited for a nice day where I had the patience to clean up a huge mess. :)

So basically, I stripped the kids down to diapers, put their little smocks on (KK nearly drowned in hers, she’s such a peanut!) and let them go to town on the canvas. To make things a little easier, I gave them a paper plate with only one color on it at a time. They would paint for a bit, and when they ran out of paint, I would switch out their plate with one with a new color on it. I didn’t worry about fresh brushes, just new plates of paint.

Yes, the kids did eat some of the paint, and definitely painted things along with the canvas, (themselves! the balcony railing!) but they were pretty good about just painting the canvas. About half way through I hauled out a rubbermaid tote and set the canvas on top of that, which helped keep Peanut from walking over the canvas constantly. There’s a little foot print though in the paint, which I love.

The paint dried fast enough between the layers that there was very little blending, which is what I was hoping for. Just lots of layers of happy color. Then I delivered them straight to the bathtub, and scrubbed those little fingers and legs and toes and ears. The bath was kind of gross afterwards, but the kids had a blast. They were so excited to show Daddy what they made, and I hung it up in their room pretty quickly after that so that it wouldn’t get ruined. I wasn’t done yet, but I wanted to keep it safe.

Then my parents came to visit, and then my brother came for Thanksgiving, and then I was sick sick sick for a while, so I didn’t make any progress on this project. But I finally sat down one day and finished up the canvas. I’ve always loved the quote:

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”

by George Bernard Shaw. And I thought it would be fitting in the kiddos’ room. So with my trusty paint pens I painted the second half of the quote onto the canvas. I didn’t want to cover up too much of the kids’ painting, so I just went with part of the quote.

Then I ordered two of my favorite pictures of the day they painted the canvas, and put them into thrifted frames I found a few weeks before that. The frames came with some weird prints that had been professionally framed, which I proceeded to rip out and replace with my cuties. I kept the cardstock that was the background for the prints, because it went perfectly with my pictures! Love that. :)

And here’s the final project, complete with Javi’s bed that we purchased right before my parent’s visit. It’s the IKEA Brimnes bed, and it pulls out from a twin into a king. (You just add a second mattress) We slept on it during their visit, and it’s pretty comfy. And so convenient. :) Javi, of course, occasionally sleeps on it but also sleeps in his chair, on the floor, under the changing table… basically anywhere but the bed. :)

They are hung a little higher than I might like, but experience has taught me that there WILL be bed jumping and general shenanigans, so I figured better safe than sorry. So that’s our latest project. I love it, and the kids do too. They constantly point to themselves in the pictures. I also love that the whole thing will easily transport and fit in to a new room, since we’re most likely moving in a few months. So, what do you think? Do you love it as much as we do?

Posted in 2015, crafting with kids | 1 Comment

On My Bookshelf

One of the things that has been awesome about our move out here is that I have gotten back into the habit of reading – a lot. I’ve read about a dozen books in the two+ months we’ve been here, and I love it. For the last few years I’ve had a goal of reading 12 non fiction books over the course of a year, and I’ve mostly kept to that. I’ve barely read any fiction though. Life has just been too busy, and I’m too easily sucked into a fantasy world where there aren’t houses to clean and children to feed and husbands to iron shirts for. So, with less on our plate out here, I’ve been able to (mostly) responsibly add back in reading for learning and pleasure and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Here’s what’s been on my bookshelf in the last few months.


The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith

I purposely saved this book to read once we moved out here and I would be setting up house again. It really spoke to me with Myquillyn’s message of welcoming people into your home (family, friends and soon-to-be friends) without worrying about perfection. She gives lots of really fun, practical ideas for decorating that will not cost you a leg or twelve days of your life, but really emphasizes that home is an attitude more than a perfect set of decorations. It was lovely, a quick read and truly blessed me.


One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

I’m not sure I can do justice to this book. You know how sometimes you read a book that is just life changing? Ann Voskamp writes about finding true joy by eucharisteo – the act of giving thanks. Her writing is spectacular, and it just draws you in to her personal journey of healing from a life truly filled with pain and heartache. Our powerful God did a miracle within her heart, and she encourages each reader that He can do the same for each of them. This book blessed me, encouraged me, challenged me and opened my eyes to even more of the blessings that surround me every day.


The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan. Back in high school, Jenna lent me her enormous hardcover copy of the entire trilogy and I disappeared for about a week, completely lost in the world of Middle Earth. Then a few years later they made the movies, and I loved them too. Anyways, I’ve always loved losing myself in a completely made up world, falling in love with characters and imagining myself right into the story line. So. When I stumbled across “Eragon” (the first book in this series) at a thrift store, I was jonesing for a good fiction flick, and immediately got sucked into Christopher Paolini’s fantastical world of dragons and elves and men fighting to free their land from an evil tyrant. Here’s what you need to know about this series. The writing and the storyline improve vastly throughout the series. That’s a good thing. While the first book kinda feels like a retelling of LOTRs, the subsequent books become their own thing. The evolution of the characters is very entertaining, and the books are clean. Bloody, of course, but no sex and very little language. I liked them. One thing to note though; do NOT watch the movie. It’s horrendous. :)


Insurgent by Veronica Roth

We watched Divergent a while ago and really enjoyed it. Once I realized it was a trilogy I set out to get my paws on  the next book. It took a while on the hold list at the library, but I finally read it a couple of weeks ago. It was entertaining. Not the best, and I think the entire series may be more suited for movies than as great books, but it was still enjoyable. My only issue was that the whole book felt like the “placeholder” for the third book, which is a pet peeve of mine. If you only have enough material for two books, then only write two books!


The Chance by Karen Kingsbury

I like this Christian fiction author a lot. Some of her books are really great, and the others are always a well written, well thought out read. This one wasn’t exactly a favorite, but it was interesting to follow the lives of the characters and imagine myself in their situations. The protagonists write each other letters and then bury them the night before they are separated for eleven years. Their lives go very differently than imagined, and it’s interesting to follow them. One of Karen Kingsbury’s recurring themes is redemption, which I always love reading about.


The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

You know how sometimes you read a book that completely changes you? This was a fantastic read on motherhood. I identified a lot with the author, who waited several years to have children and then struggled during her first few years as a mom with the monotony and constant service of mothering littles. But God really revealed to her the absolute importance of mothering her children, and I’ve learned a LOT from her book. She goes through a lot of practical advice on how to create a nurturing home and family structure, and gives loads of scripture to back everything up. A great read.


And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers

This wasn’t my first time reading this novel, but Francine Rivers is my absolute favorite author. Of all time. :) Her novels are so realistic and complex, with excellent writing and character development. I enjoyed this book all over again as a young pastor pursues “success” at the cost of everything else, while his wife struggles to raise their son on her own, and an elderly prayer warrior stays the course and never loses faith in his Savior. Francine Rivers never shies from tackling serious issues in her books, and it prompted some interesting discussions between Lover and I. Love when a novel does that!

 

So that’s what I’ve been reading lately. Thursday we are heading back to the library for a fresh load of books, is there anything you’ve been reading lately that I need to add to my list? I’m always looking for recommendations!

jenny

 

 

Posted in 2014 | Leave a comment

Favorite Things 2014

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I’ve been meaning to do a post for a while about some of my new (and old) favorite things since moving out here. Melissa’s Favorite Things Party is the perfect time to do that! Here are a few of the things I’ve been crushing on in the last few months:

1. Books. Specifically beautiful hardcover classic editions. I have several of Barnes and Noble’s collector editions like The Chronicles of Narnia, Black Beauty and the Swiss Family Robinson. And it’s one of the things I am always on the lookout for at the thrift stores. I’ve found beautiful editions of Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist… the list goes on. I’d love to have a whole library of gorgeous cloth bound, embossed hardcovers someday. I also adore the Penguin clothbound classics (I have Emma), and then I just discovered the Puffin in Bloom classics at Anthropologie and I nearly bought them all on the spot. Anyways. Beautiful books. I’ll take them all please. :)

2. Mega M&Ms. I discovered Mega M&Ms right after moving out here. They are every bit as good as regular M&Ms but three times bigger! What’s not to love about that? I’ve stopped buying them for now since they weren’t doing good things for my waistline, but oh my goodness deliciousness.

3. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Did you know that Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon at 16, and it was a NY Times # 1 bestseller by the time he was 19? And that he was homeschooled? Color me impressed. I thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in these books, they’re well written (and only improve throughout the series) and it was so enjoyable to lose myself entirely in a fantastical world.

4. Sonic Blasts. Specifically Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Delicious creamy ice cream, real whipped cream and generous amounts of peanut butter cups. YUM. We never had Sonic in Rochester, so this was always a special treat when we traveled. Now I have one less than a mile from my house. Dangerous, right? So we decided that they were only for special occasions and we’ve been sticking to that rule, although there are days it kills me a little.

5. Google Hangouts. I use most of Google’s products, software, programs, etc. But Hangouts is my favorite. I can do SMS, or chat with other people who have Hangouts, and do video calls. Those video calls are awesome. I can chat with anybody back in NY and have a real conversation, my kids can see their grandparents, it’s a blast. Sometimes we even get all three of my brothers and I (all of us in different time zones) toegther on one call and it’s a blast.

6. IKEA Sinnlig candles. In Vanilla. These cheap little candles burn for a surprisingly long time, have a great scent, and then when you’re done you have a little glass! I love them and used to stock up whenever we were near an IKEA. Now that we have one here in Denver I don’t need to stock up, but I’m still loving them.

7. Contigo Water Bottles. I bought one of these after Javi was born and I was consuming copious amounts of water. They come in great colors, are nice and big so you’re not refilling them every two seconds, and, best of all, absolutely no leaking when the spout is closed. They are surprisingly sturdy too, I can’t tell you how many times they’ve been dropped down stairs, on concrete and floors, and they’re still fine. I now have one for each of us since Denver is dry, dry, dry, and they are great. They do make a kid size, but I’ve never bothered with the smaller ones.

8. Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm. I’m a chapstick addict, and this is my favorite. I love the scent, hint of color and how well it hydrates my lips. I’ve got one stashed just about everywhere these days.

9. Canon 70-200 f/4.0L Zoom Lens. This is not a new favorite for me, but I’m rediscovering how much I love it out here with all of the wildlife. It’s not cheap by any definition but it is so worth it. It’s always been a great lens, taking absolutely beautiful portraits, but I’m loving the pics of the deer and prairie dogs and moose and everything else we’re seeing out here.

10. Nexus 7. I purchased this tablet about a year ago, and I find myself using it more and more as the months go by. It’s a great size for surfing the internet, reading eBooks, playing games and whatever else you want to do. It does great with those video calls, with great sound and a nice sharp picture… anyways, I use it more and more and it makes my life a little easier and more streamlined.

So those are my favorites for right now. Maybe you got some good gift ideas from all of this? Be sure to check out all the other favorites at the party and maybe leave me some of your own favorites in the comments too?

jenny

Posted in 2014 | 8 Comments

Javi Jokes Around Vol. 1

This boy of mine says the funniest things, and I thought I would share some of them here, so that I don’t forget them, and so you can enjoy them too!

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Me: Javi, let’s go outside for a walk, ok?
Javi: And we see a hopsgrasser?

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Javi: Mommy, look, there’s the moon ball!

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(While eating lunch, we notice a fly buzzing around.)
Javi: Mommy! We need a fly water!

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To KK: We go at green lights and we stop at red lights, OK, KK? 

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Me: Javi, we are going up to the mountains today! We’re going to see deer, and birds…
Javi: …and elephants and baby elephants!

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And my favorite:

Me: Javi, I need to go take a shower. 
Javi: No, Mommy!
Me: But Javi, I’m stinky!
Javi: looks at me thoughtfully, then pats me gently on the butt Mommy, you stinky on the buns? 

***

jenny

 

Posted in 2014 | Leave a comment

My Choice {Day 31}

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I’ve thought for a few days (ok, a week. Well, two weeks. :)  about how to end this series. It’s been tons of fun documenting every step of our move and trip out here, and how we are settling in. As I’ve talked about all month, our life has changed dramatically over the last two months, and it has been an adventure! I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Really.

That first day in our new apartment, when Lover went to work, I was home with the kids, alone, in a new place, without a car, and no one to reach out to. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. Those next couple of days were hairy. I alternated between “hurray! we are in Denver and I’m so excited and I love everything!” and “oh my gosh, what have we done, I’m so scared!” I spent a couple of days like this, and it culminated on Friday at lunchtime where I literally just put my head down on our (card) table and sobbed my heart out. The kids were understandably concerned, and gave me sweet hugs and watched me with big eyes.

And that’s when I realized that I had to make a choice. Life here in Denver was going to be hard, because life everywhere is challenging.  And I could either wallow in the frustrations and focus on the negatives, or make a choice to find the good in each day. I’ve started keeping a thankful journal again, and for a time I had a big poster on our wall where I wrote things I was happy about down too. When people ask me how things are going out here I don’t sugarcoat it, but I make a conscious effort to focus on the positives. Like 300 days of sunshine! :)

I have to make a choice to push myself out of my comfort zone and make friends. My default is to be the quiet girl in the corner, observing. But I know that for my sake, my husband’s sake and my kids’ sake, we need to get connected here. So I’m making the choice to be friendly and extend myself to others. It’s challenging sometimes, but we are loving the MOPS group we’re attending, our life group is full of young families like us, and we are starting to recognize faces at our church.

So much of life is a choice. Years ago I made the choice to invite Jesus in my heart, and that set me on an irreversible path that would shape the rest of my life. Each day living as a Christ follower is a choice – whether to follow him or live for myself that day. Whether to live that day with joy in my heart, or to live focusing on the negative.

We made a choice to move here, and it was a great one. Each day since then, I’m making the choice to live here fully, to find the good, and to live each day with joy. I’m so glad we moved here, and I’m happy to have documented the process so we can look back on this through the years and remember the adventure. Thanks for reading along with me as I rambled on for more than a month and a half! :)

jenny

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The Apartment: One Month {Day 30}

I’m trying to document the progress in the apartment on a month to month basis. This first month was all about finding a comfy bed and couch, and a proper table and chairs so we could eat meals as a family. You know, the little things that make it feel like home. For the first two weeks here we had none of those things and… it was not exactly fun. Although Javi did enjoy doing gymnastics on the card table that we found at a thrift store.

We had every intention when we moved out here of walking into a few furniture stores, placing orders and walking back out. And we so tried to do that when we got here. We visited several stores, and debated mightily on the virtues of the $600 couch versus the $2,000 couch. In the end though, we realized that we are just not the sort of people who buy brand new furniture. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing that, but it just isn’t us. We’d rather buy good quality, used furniture on Craigslist, give a little spit and polish, and use our leftover hundreds towards something more fun like travel. So – the only brand new furniture that we have purchased so far are our mattress and bed frame from IKEA, and three Poang chairs, also from IKEA.

Ready to see our place with some stuff in it? :) First up is our bedroom, which so far contains a bed and a lamp. We’re using a box and a tote as nightstands, and our clothes are all in the closets. I’m on the hunt for a little dresser for my side and a nightstand for Lover’s side, and of course some curtains. But I think that will be it for furniture in here. We don’t need more storage, and I’m loving the open, uncluttered feel of our room. We found the comforter set at Marshalls and I love it.

The kids’ room is still a mishmash. We kept KK in her pack n play for the first month to keep there from being one more change in her life. She loves it so that hasn’t been a problem. Plus, in the mornings when Javi wants to play with her, he just tips it over and lets her out. :) Crazy boy.

Javi sleeps on the blow up bed, or sometimes on the crib mattress under the changing table, or sometimes in the chair, or the floor, or in places like this or this. Someone called him an Adventure Sleeper and that couldn’t be more true.

Apartment 1 Month

 

We haven’t done much in the bathrooms, but the kids’ bath is looking cute with their towels hung up, a bright bath mat and KK’s headbands on one of the towel rods. Easy peasy.

The dining area is coming along nicely. We found these table and chairs on Craigslist for $125. The people lived almost 45 minutes away, out in the middle of no where, literally on a dirt road. The table and chairs are super sturdy and not too precious, and the round table fits really nicely in this little nook. We hung curtains just to soften things up a bit, and not have to deal with those ridiculous vertical blinds everyday. In fact, I took the ones on the little window there down and stored them under our bed. I think the rest will stay up in the apartment, but those one were driving me nuts. I left the brackets up and will just rehang them when we move out.

We put a fifteen dollar rug from IKEA under the kids’ side of the table, since the whole place is carpeted. That was a good call. It requires cleaning/picking up/vacuuming every day, but it’s keeping the carpet underneath relatively unscathed.

Apartment 1 Month1

On the other side of that skinny wall you can see on the left hand side, we hung the kid’s growth chart, one of the things we brought with us from New York. There’s their basket of toys too, which is working out well in that spot. See how high the ceilings are here? I have some plans for that back wall, just waiting on a new shipment from Amazon since the last one arrived damaged.

The kitchen hasn’t changed much, a few things on the fridge and a few decorations. I found that mirror at a thrift store, and you’ll see another up on the mantel for now. I’m thinking once we buy a TV, that will go on the mantel, and the other mirror will join this one over the cabinets. It would be fun to have a collection of mirrors up there, right?

I found that big, awesome clock at Goodwill for $9. I love it and I am so happy that it works! I may end up tweaking it, because that is what I do, but for now it looks great and, I can read it from the couch which is awesome because I am blind. :)

Last up is the main area. The curtains are from IKEA, one of the few places that has curtains long enough for these tall walls that don’t cost a fortune. I love the punch of color. How do you like our fancy schmancy coffee table? :) The Poang chairs fit perfectly on the side of the fireplace – someone asked about having white chairs and I mentioned they are washable. True, but we’ve discovered that fitting that foam back in the covers is a pain in the you-know-what. But – they’re working out well.

And, our “new” leather couch. If I had to guess, it’s fifteen to twenty years old, but in absolutely solid condition. We wanted to try some new things out here, and one of them was leather. We got this for $90. It had some severe fading which I have discovered was partly fading, and partly just a lack of care. I ordered some leather conditioner and I’m on coat three, and it is making such a difference. I’ll do a whole separate post on the different products I am using to restore this couch, but suffice it to say, it’s looking a lot better. And it is soooo comfy. Love it. That wall above the couch is screaming out for a big piece of art, wouldn’t you say? :) By the way, I wasn’t sure if I would like white walls (these are a warm cream) but I love it. It’s light and bright and unifying in such a small space.

Here’s the mantel today. There’s the garland I told you about! Very high tech – felt leaves hot glued to raffia, but it makes me happy. :) I’m on the lookout for a bookshelf that will fit  nicely in the apartment, so eventually all those books will move. All of the tech hookups are above the fireplace, so the big mirror does a good job covering up all the stuff and wires up there.

Apartment 1 Month3

I’m so glad I brought the infinity light, it took up no room in our boxes and we desperately needed a light in this corner of the room. Who knows if it will stay there, but for now it’s working great.

Apartment 1 Month2

And lastly, one of the first things I hung up was this posterboard of good things that are happening to us here, along with two fun, colorful decorations. Hanging my guitar makes it both an art piece and keeps it mostly out of reach of the bambinos.

So that’s it! A little tour of our place one month in. We’ve made a lot of progress and it’s really feeling like home.

jenny

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