Friday, November 30, 2012

Insta.Life // Notably November

November was a doozy. It included many, many celebrations, not to mention the kids' annual photo session, an election, a weekend get-a-way, and living with a minor construction zone beneath our feet, Oh, and let's not forget about Turkey Day. Sprinkled between the big moments, however, were some small ones too.

This is how picture morning looks at our house. Imagine some yelling, near freezing temperatures, an uncooperative toddler, and you get the picture.
{Good news, Mindy is a miracle worker and we ended up with some great shots}

We voted!
And evicted some mousey friends...again (true story) all on the same Tuesday.

Cleaning Mady's room. It seemed like a good idea when I started.

Water slides & birthday cake or BUST! Headed north.

Pure torture (for him and me). How to choose? How to choose??

On the agenda for our long, lazy Thanksgiving weekend:
updating the baby books of my not-so-little "babies" anymore.

Tooling around town on Small Business Saturday with my favorite peeps.
Possibly my favorite Instagram ever.

A quick trip to Lowe's for door knobs.
 ...and suddenly I'm feeling like the third wheel ;)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

stomach flu {sunny side up}

Our baby girl is under the weather. Nothing catastrophic, just a little bout with stomach flu.

She'll survive, and so will my laundry room (that's the hope anyway).

And with all of life's inconveniences, both big and small, we get to decide whether to look for the good in it or simply see the bad. So while the last 24 hours were not in the original plan (and we feel so bad for our sad, sick little girl), I keep coming across little bright spots.

You can blame it on Ann Voskamp.

Stomach flu, sunny side up, if you will.

Here are some gifts moments among the "Clean up on Aisle Five!" moments:

I am thankful that our schedule was clear yesterday and today.

I am thankful I am able to stay home with her on the days when she's healthy, and when she's not.

I am thankful for washing machines. (Oh man, am I ever.)

I am thankful for a husband who hops out of bed at the first sound of trouble before I have one eye open, strips sheets off the bed with the best of them, and sets up temporary sleeping solutions without complaint.

I am thankful we have enough extra blankets, sheets, towels, and sleeping bags for 1am, 3am, and 5am bedding changes.

I am thankful for a doctor we trust, and medical care we can afford. (Coincidentally, Mady's 3 year well-child visit was scheduled a year ago for this morning. Pop quiz: what do you call a well-child appointment when your child isn't well? I don't know either.)

I am thankful God wired us Mommies not to shirk away from our germ-laden, little vomit volcanoes but instead to cuddle them a little closer and tackle clean-up jobs bravely and head-on.

I am thankful for texts from friends who check in on us, offer to bring me a latte, act interested in the status of my laundry mound, and generally commiserate (because we've all been there, haven't we?)

I am thankful God chose me to be her mama - to be the one to comfort her, to tell her it's OK, to make her world as right as it can be when you're three years old and feeling yucky.

Now if the rest of us catch this bug, I might be singing a different tune....but for now, I'm choosing joy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Three of my favorites.
Today on Thanksgiving {and everyday}.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

cupcakes & water slides.

Three birthday's down, one to go! We saved the littlest Terps' big day for last, and she's not so little any more, now she's T-H-R-E-E!

Our Mady brings so much joy into our household. The big kids have delighted in her from day one and love to look out for her. Mommy and Daddy hold her just a little bit longer than necessary, and we have savored first the baby moments and now the toddler moments because we know she's the last one to come up through the ranks. She can be strong willed at times, but mostly she's just funny and sweet.

We celebrated her birthday a little early because of our weekend plans. It got confusing trying to explain to her which day was her actual birthday, what with the seemingly endless birthday-ing and cupcake eating, so we kind of gave up. We'll try to clarify that better for her next year.

Madelyn Mae, you are dearly loved, and I'm so glad we were able to celebrate YOU. We love that you're three now, but please stay little always, OK?

We had scarcely wiped the frosting off our lips when it was time to pack up and head up north. The kids went to school for half a day on Friday and then we loaded up the minivan with two moms and five kids (the dads drove up a little later). We met up with a couple other families in a beautiful mountain cabin and settled in for the weekend. Our first order of business? Why another round of birthday cake, of course.

The evenings were spent wrangling kids into bed, playing Pit, raiding the kitchen, and laughing into the wee hours of the night. On Saturday we spent the day at Avalanche Bay, an indoor water park, and played until we crashed. I love spending time with these people - no matter what chaos surrounds us, there is always a relaxed, easy-going, happy vibe. 

We almost didn't take this picture...there were cries of protest from those of us still in some version of our pajamas...but I'm so glad we did. Yes we look a little sleep deprived complete with bags under our eyes {for future reference, five wiggly boys in four bunk beds + three giggly girls in a walk in closet + three toddlers sleeping with mommies and daddies = not a lot of sleep for anyone involved} but I can also see our full, happy hearts.

I'm thankful for our three year old, some time away from the hustle and bustle of every day life, and these dear, dear friends.

Sayonara, Birthday Season! Until next year!

Friday, November 16, 2012

a {basement} in progress

Thanks to a great builder and a relatively straightforward project, the basement is humming along. I know it's much more interesting to me {I can't stop dreaming about the extra space for the children to roam free}, but here's a quick peak at the recent progress.

Don't mind the excessive use of exclamation points. Sue me. I'm excited.

We have walls! (but you already knew that)

...and permits!
(yeah, not even an exclamation point can make that sound exciting)

But pipes, how 'bout them pipes?!

...and ductwork to boot!

As well as lights...

...and the corresponding switches.

The insulation is in place...

...and the drywall is ready to go!

All of the progress has been fun to watch, but my favorite thing so far was watching the electrical go in. I was unprepared for how happy a well-lit basement would make me. Buh-bye basement eyestrain.

I think I made a decision on flooring and paint this week too. Here's to progress!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

birthday week breather.

Phew. I LOVE celebrating. But I'm a little exhausted. We're in the middle of an eight day stretch of November we affectionately refer to as Birthday Season (also known as The Mother of All Birthday Weeks).

November 9, 12, 13 & 17 are special days for the Terps. I try to strike a balance between proper planning and keeping it low key, but it can be hard to maintain the necessary amount of positive birthday spirit for this many days in a row.

Here's the highlight reel (because who can resist the happy smiles, the surprised faces, and the pretty cupcakes?) For everyone's benefit, I left out the parts where I yelled.

Matt starts out the birthday bonanza each year. Poor Matt. Once upon a time he had a birthday of his own. Now he shares it with these three adorable little ones who totally steal his thunder.

We enjoyed a wonderful meal at his parents' house, and the kids were delighted with their gifts including remote control cars (we're not sure who had more fun - Dylan or Papa), a Barbie swimming pool, and puppies, puppies, and more puppies.

On Monday, our celebrating centered around our sweet, blue-eyed girl, the one and only Ella Jeanne. Her after-school activity of choice was the oh-so-fun, oh-so-potentially-germ-ridden Playworld. We played hard with some friends and then headed down the road for another six-year-old pick: Steak n' Shake!

I went the easy route and picked up the cupcakes from our favorite bakery. Ella eagerly unwrapped girl Legos and "workout" clothes from us, and a special color-it-yourself purse picked out by big brother. These Lego Friends are where it's at - she loved them...and fortunately for them, the Lego gals have a little more shape to them than the boxy Lego guys.

This girl holds our hearts. She's smart and sweet, kind and caring, feisty and fun. She's growing up before our eyes and despite our repeated requests not to turn six, she went ahead and did it anyway. Partly because she was such a surprise (it's a GIRL!) and partly because of her semi-traumatic delivery, I remember many of those first moments in the hospital room with her so well. She came out screaming...and then those beautiful blue eyes seemed to settle down while her daddy held her and held her and held her. He was already thinking of the day he would one day have to let her go.

One short sleep later, and it's the birthday boy's turn. Dylan was revved up to go bowling after school so that's just what we did. Matt was working so that meant a three-on-one bowling session. Luckily it was nearly empty in there and the kids held it together. And we only had to call a bowling alley employee over once to dislodge a ball that was moving so slowly it actually got stuck.

Dylan requested Jet's Pizza (music to this mama's ears), followed by the cupcakes I picked up yesterday for Ella's birthday (will he need therapy later for that?), and another round of present opening. He unwrapped's just where we're at right now, plus a real biking jersey just like Daddy's, and some tiny little Cars drifters from the sisters.

Sometimes its hard for me to believe that he's not a chubby cheeked little toddler anymore. He is positively with a doubt, a full-fledged boy. We are so proud of who he's becoming. His teacher told us at conferences that all the kids love to be around him and everybody wants to be his friend because he's such a great friend himself. He gets along well with everyone and treats them each the same. This is one of the things we are most proud of him for and I know it will serve him well in life.

One more birthday to go, with the littlest Terp closing out this year's Birthday Season. (More birthday cake? She's not complaining). We're going out with a bang with a special getaway coming up...not officially part of the birthday-ing - but you had better believe we're selling it that way. We'll either win an award for Best Parents Ever or we're creating the perfect storm for a spectacular meltdown.

We'll see. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

small changes.

I've been mulling over some small changes around here. Some of these things I've already started doing, some of these things I used to do but stopped for unknown reasons (and would like to start again), and some of these things are brand new experiments...possible ways to help handle reoccurring frustrations.

Sabbath-ing on Sunday. I think honoring the Sabbath is a lovely idea, but I've always bought into the lie that there won't be enough time in the week if I take a whole day off. This summer, at a Revelation Wellness workout, the instructor talked about working hard so that we can rest well, a principle that applies both to exercise and to daily life. Last Sunday I avoided the computer, didn't do any housework (I made sure it was all caught up on Saturday), enjoyed a brisk, crunchy leaf walk through the woods with a friend, and then gathered with our community where we laughed together, cried together, and shared a meal. It was lovely. And as a bonus, the sky didn't fall.

Pushing social media to the back burner. I believe social media can serve a purpose, but I think it needs a slightly different place in my life right now. I find myself perusing social media sites when I'm bored. Or (authenticity alert!) I find myself inadvertently feeling sad or miffed over somebody else's post. Or I wonder about the life of a random acquaintance instead of checking in on someone on my home team. When I was a kid, we had definite rules about TV. It wasn't a bad thing or a forbidden thing but we weren't allowed to just turn on the TV and watch any old program. We had to have a plan - we had to know what we were watching and when we were watching it. And when the show was done, we turned the TV off.

I've thought about walking away from it all, cold turkey, for a while but I don't think that's the solution either. Sometimes I need to find a recipe I've pinned or plan a class party and Pinterest is perfect for that. Sometimes I need to communicate with a book club or post a workout or respond to an event and Facebook is good for that. I find actual inspiration and connection via Twitter and blogs, and I don't want to throw it all out...I just need to find some more balance. I've moved the social media sites off of my toolbar on my browser and off of the front page of my phone. I'm only going to check them when I have a purpose in mind and when I'm done, I'm signing out and stepping away.

Picking up the phone more. I'm not sold on this one yet, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I'm not a naturally extroverted person and it's not always convenient for me to pick up the phone and call. I will search high and low for an email address whenever possible and I tend to text before I will call. With this basement remodel, I'm finding I can get a lot more done if I just call instead of waiting for an email. And on a personal level, I think it might do my relationships some good if I made an effort to become a caller instead of type-er. (Feedback: are you a phone call sort of gal?)

Changing my middle name to "fun". I had a mommy meltdown this weekend and one of the things I told Matt is that I feel like he gets to be Fun Daddy (let's go for a bike ride! let's play cars!) and I'm usually Boring Mommy (brush your teeth! pick up your toys! do your homework!). I'm ready to put the fun back into motherhood. I need to let some things slide, ask for help when I need it, and basically just chill out and enjoy my kids while they're still little. I need to make time for play. For someone like me (highly productive, slightly uptight), that's easier said than done, but here's to giving it a try.
Re-tucking the kids in at night. I used to do this each and every night, in the days when I was a younger mother and possibly slightly more paranoid (but also more present?) There was also a time when Mady would wake up if you even got near her door so we stopped checking on her so we wouldn't wake her. I'm remembering, however, that making one last round before bed -- re-tucking sheets, re-positioning awkward sleep poses, brushing hair off of cheeks, reflecting on the day and our amazing kiddos...and one last silent prayer and a kiss -- is an amazing way to end a day. 

{Also on my mind} Climbing back on the She Reads Truth wagon; staying in the picture; drinking more water; intentional gift giving this Christmas season; de-cluttering the house (again).

Modern motherhood is demanding. I feel pulled in a hundred different directions each day all while trying to give my best to those in my life, to live the full life He promises, and to make sure I'm taking care of me. It's no small order. I don't have it all figured out (and I probably never will), but that doesn't mean I won't keep trying.

I know some of you already do a lot of these things (you are my inspiration!) What's worked for you? What small changes are on your mind?
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

Monday, November 5, 2012

Friend Love {un.tied update}

I shared with you back in April a little about my #soulsister's new handmade shop, un.tied, and I wanted to share an update now six months later.

As Theresa's self-appointed shop consultant and head cheerleader, I also wanted to put a bug in your ear to consider gifting one of her lovely items to a special someone this holiday season.

Her Etsy shop is in the process of being restocked, and there are some really great items there... but you should also know that's she's been working on a slew of custom orders these past few months as well.

My very own un.tied necklace.
Theresa surprised me with this necklace the other day, created especially for me, and I can tell you first hand it was a really special, one-of-a-kind gift to receive. Popular custom ideas include using one of dear old dad's ties or a husband's tie (perhaps from your wedding day or other special day). She also keeps a slew of ties on hand for custom orders, if you prefer to pick something from her stash. The bracelets and key fobs would make great teacher gifts as well.

Prices range from $9 to $38. Gift certificates are also available. All custom orders are specially packaged and ready to give in a unique keepsake cigar box.

And did I mention they are all handcrafted with love and then individually named?

I mentioned this before {but it's worth repeating}... all proceeds go towards helping to bring their little Finley Grace home from South Korea. Theresa has officially been {paper} pregnant for longer than an elephant and her mama's heart aches to hold her little dark-haired girl who lives across the ocean.

Handmade. Upcycled. Named. Reclaimed. Meaningful. Beautiful.

Bursting with a mama's hope.

Enough said.

Now {please}, run, don't walk. Happy shopping!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Basement Bathroom Bonanza

The basement is framed and now it's time to make some decisions. The plumber is next to come, but before he can come start on the rough-in, we need to decide on a shower valve along with a vanity (so the plumbing for the sink and the toilet can be properly placed). 

I've spent the past week (in between post-vacation laundry and Halloween parties) running around and I think we're getting close. I believe it's in my best interest to limit my options, so I'm only visiting one place for the plumbing, one place for the vanity, and so on (as recommended by our builder). One of the great American curses, in my opinion, is too many choices!

My remodeling headquarters. It's a hot mess.
I have been thoroughly educated on the differences between single-handle, center-set and widespread. I know that maple java, smart coffee, and vanilla bean describe vanities, not coffee. And I now know my position on a standard overlay versus a full overlay (I'm a full overlay sort of girl).

It's been a big week.

I fell in love with a vanity (as hysterical remodeling women are prone to do) and then wrestled with whether it was worth the extra cost over the more basic one. 

And then while researching mirrors, I stumbled upon the same vanity at a big box store at a lower price. The local company I am working with is now working on getting me that same price. (I still want to buy from them even if it costs a little bit more...I believe in customer service and as a wife of a guy in sales I know how frustrating it is to spend time with a customer only to have them buy somewhere else to save a few bucks.)

1. shower curtain 2. vanity 3. faucet & fixtures 4. mirror 5. light fixture 6. towels 
7. wastebasket 8. organizer 9. paint 10. countertops

I put together a little mood board tonight a) because it was fun, and b) because I wanted to see if I could pull everything together. The only (semi) definite decisions right now are the faucet and shower fixtures and the vanity + mirror. I'm quite certain on the light fixture as well just because it's what we have in our other bathrooms and I'm easy to please like that. The rest is still up in the air but I wanted to pull in some hypothetical accessories.

This is my first attempt at putting together a mood board and if I had a fancier program (I used Picmonkey, tutorial here) or more time and patience (this represents 15 minutes on a Fried Friday night) and if I wasn't actively working to kick my perfectionism to the curb... well, than it would be closer to perfect. This, however, my friends, is my new perfect, what I like to call good enough.

I want the basement to flow with the rest of our house but I also want it to be fun and filled with pops of colors - neutral (grey?) walls with white batten board and trim, punched up with saucy stripes, chipper chevrons, punchy polkas. I want it to feel personal with lots of pictures, filled with items we love...a place to kick up your feet and relax...a cozy little retreat away from it all to spend time as a family and with friends.

First basement decor purchase?
P.S. If you aren't from Michigan can you weigh in on basements? Do you have them? What do you use them for? I know people in places like Florida and California don't and they sometimes turn their garages into rec rooms. But what about people in Indiana? Or out East? Or in the Great Plains states? What then? I was always told we had them in Michigan because of tornadoes, so we'd have a place to go, but I believe other places get tornadoes...but have no basements. I have so many questions and so few answers...please chime in.

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