Saturday, February 9, 2019

This Girl.

This girl turned 5 in November.


So I thought it appropriate to share 5 things about little "Kit Kat" that you may not already know.

#1: Her name.
Ethan and I are planners. Not only have we found out the gender of each of our babies, we had the names picked out since before we were married. Although, just because we are planners, it doesn't mean that we aren't flexible and willing to change plans. As it so happened with Katerina. She was "supposed" to be Claire. I love that name. Always have. Still do. BUT while on leave after Jackie was born, Ethan decided to dive into our family tree. Me, being the history teacher, loved hearing all the different unique things about our families while he poured over all the materials. One very interesting thing he found... we both had a Katerina deep in our family history. He immediately fell in love with the name, and suggested that if we have another girl someday we call her Katerina. Unique. Beautiful. And very "princess" sounding. Paired nicely with Jacqueline. I had no objection. Turns out...there was no other name that would suit this little princess!

#2: Her Emotions.
There are kids (and adults) out there who struggle to identify exactly how they are feeling during certain situations or how to express their emotions appropriately for the situation. Not Katerina. Not by a long shot. This girl is in touch with her emotions and wears each one right on her sleeve. There is never any doubt about how she feels. You'll know. Just by the look on her face. And in case you missed it...she'll tell you.

#3: Her Buddy
When we brought home our new little puppy, Rocky we knew our kiddos would love him. We didn't really know who would take to him the most. Katerina didn't waste any time taking charge of the new addition. Tagging along with Daddy to Rocky's training sessions allowed for them to build a pretty special bond. She loves it when she can bring her "buddy" inside. She is charged with keeping him under control and knows that it's her job to put him in the kennel. That dog listens to her better than he listens to me. And why wouldn't he... she just loves him so!

#4: Her Sweet Tooth
Pancakes - Yup. Doughnuts - Of course! Cereal, ice cream, candy - all acceptable options for breakfast in Katerina's eyes. This girl LOVES her sweets! Want her to finish her healthy lunch or eat those veggies at dinner??? Just tell her she can have a cookie or a root-beer float when she's done and it'll be gone in no time.

#5: Her in the Kitchen
Katerina LOVES to help in the kitchen. Every meal, even if I'm just warming up leftovers, she wants to be a part of the action. Up on the counter, wearing her apron, and helping with the food. I love involving her (even though many times it is easier to just do it myself). I can always count on her to want to be a part of it! Now that she is five I need to start teaching her how to do more than just pour in liquids and dump in cake mix. Time to break out the knives and kitchen scary as it may be, I need my kiddos capable in the kitchen! I have no doubt she'll figure it all out!

Happy Birthday Post little Kit-Kat! (Even though it is a few months late) :)

Monday, December 31, 2018

My "One-Word" of 2019 & Goals

So...2018 ends today.

Reflection is the key to self-growth, and as I look back on the year there are many things that I'm proud of, and things that I'm looking forward to working on in the new year.

I think it is important to look at ourselves as a work in progress, as opposed to a "one and done" shot of improvement during the month of January. With that in mind, the first thing I look for is my "One Word" of the year. Last year my word was CONSISTENT. What I love about the "one word" idea is that it can encompass many different areas of our lives. Instead of focusing on one, health, career, etc...the "one word" can apply to improving anything that falls within the focus.

Last year I focused on consistency. I found that when I was doing things, I really looked for "how is this consistent with who I want to be." It doesn't mean that I was perfect...but I was FAR better at focusing on consistency than I ever had been at any "resolutions" I had set.

This year...I'm not going to forget about my "Consistent" focus from last year, only now I'm looking to add to it with this year's focus.


This. Is. Needed.

Trust me.

The addition of a fourth child will come in March (or hopefully February) and the previous 6 months haven't been easy on this mama's mind or body. Once most women reach baby #4 they decide to become a stay-home-mom. Especially when the four kiddos will be under the age of 7. I'm not choosing to stay home. I want to keep teaching. I progress in my teaching career and family life continues to multiply, it has become obvious that a work-life vs. family-life balance has shifted dramatically since we were new parents 7 years ago. Trying to figure out what that looks like is part of the reason for my "balance" focus of 2019.

The other reason for the "Balance" focus has to do with my other "goals" of 2019. Keep in mind that I don't look at these as all things I'm trying to start on January 1. These are things I want to try and tackle throughout the year as step-by-step improvements to achieve a more balanced lifestyle.

For me, a 2019 Balanced Lifestyle consists MORE or LESS of...

MORE: Books and reading at night before bed.
LESS: Screen time and aimless scrolling of my phone

MORE: Bags of donations and trash
LESS: Clutter and just moving things from one storage location to another

MORE: Water
LESS: Non-Water

MORE: Stretching and moving
LESS: Sitting in the recliner

MORE: Blogging and captioning our REAL lives and not just the "picture perfect" moments. Although, I will still post those picture perfect times too!
LESS: Online "window shopping"

MORE: Continued focus on a consistent healthy choices for my family and myself
LESS: Moments of  "gluttony" on my favorite unhealthy choices.

MORE: People surrounding me with the same mindset and goals I have. Positive people help promote a positive lifestyle.
LESS: Negativity and people who spread it.

Achieving any goal we set is a step-by-step process. One slip-up doesn't mean that we failed, it's that we continue to move past it towards a bigger dream and better things to come. Great things come in small steps, not the 31 days of January!

What is your "One-Word" for 2019? What are you striving for?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Shaggy the Elf

Like all good parents of littles we took our kiddos to see Santa. I'm a frugal parent, and I refuse to go to the mall and pay hyped-up prices for a picture with the big guy. We are fortunate enough that Ethan, as a member of the Knights of Columbus is given the opportunity to bring kids to see Santa, take pictures, color, and eat some cake for a short afternoon get-together.

It's awesome.

Not terribly crowded (which pleases the hubby and I), the kids are entertained, and the "Santa" has an actual real beard and brings "friends."

One of his friends he brings along is a silly elf named Shaggy. Shaggy gets in to all kinds of mischief by teasing Santa and playing little tricks on the kids. Our little Jackie was very interested in Shaggy. To her, he was super annoying and quite funny at the same time.

He took her little toy Santa gave her. And then gave it back. Boy was he silly!

Santa was a hit with our girls for the first time! They actually went independently and sat on his lap without having to be taken by mom. They told him what they wanted for Christmas and that they had been good girls. Jackie also took the time to tattle on that Shaggy.

Billy wasn't a fan right way, no how was he going to sit on that lap. BUT when Santa was about to leave he couldn't let the big guy get away without a fist bump and high-five. Then some swift movements by Santa and mommy got Bill right up on his lap for a picture!

It was a great afternoon.

But little did I know, it wouldn't end there.

Jackie is at a great age for Santa. She is VERY inquisitive about everything he does and how it all works, and for now, the answers that we (and movies) give her seem to satisfy her curiosity. It is such a magical time as a parent too, seeing the joy and wonder of Santa. One of the coolest things our elementary school does is have the little ones write letters to Santa. Preschool through 2nd grade get to spend a little class time writing a letter and sending it off to the North Pole. Those kids come home SUPER excited a few weeks later when they receive a REPLY letter. What those littles don't know (yet) is that our 8th grade students write them back as busy "elves" helping Santa.

This puts me in a unique position. I usually know the 8th grader who writes back to Jackie and this year I was able to provide some "inside information" to her Santa experience that made it all the more REAL. I was able to pass along the information about that mischievous elf, Shaggy! Which was promptly added to her return letter. Jackie found it hilarious that her elf "Shimmer" actually knew Shaggy and was doing her best to try and keep him out of trouble.

But the Shaggy Saga doesn't end there...

You see. Jackie wanted quite a few things for Christmas, and like a typical 6-year-old there were last-minute changes and things she asked for that were NOT going to come from Santa. I worked hard those last few weeks leading up to Christmas trying to explain to her that Santa doesn't just give her "whatever she wants." He tries to giver her things he thinks she will want, even if she doesn't realize it. However...the one thing she was consistent in asking for was Mermaid Pajamas.

There were NO mermaid pajamas in stores this winter. None. Amazon had very slim options. Everything was Unicorns. (Which was her little sister's current infatuation.) Little sister was easy... but imagine Jackie's "belief" in Santa when Katerina gets her unicorn things and there's no mermaid stuff for Jackie. Ugh. It's not like she was asking for something that was going to cost us hundreds of dollars. This should have been a simple fix.

And then in comes dad with the BEST idea. Shaggy!

We're going to use him to buy us a little time.

So on Christmas Eve, when Santa stopped by and set out the gifts, he left some cute, soft bunny PJs for Jackie along with a little note explaining why those PJs weren't printed with mermaids.

And BOY did it WORK!

She was the first one up in the morning came bounding in our room flabbergast as to why Santa would give her rabbit PJs when she asked for Mermaid. But after a little further investigation and reading (she had to read the letter herself...LOVING that I could tie a little reading into this!) she discovered that the SILLY ELF SHAGGY HID HER PAJAMAS and that Santa would send her some mermaid ones as soon as he found them!

Hook. Line. & Sinker.

That simple explanation made complete and total since to her. She understood competely and is no awaiting new PJs in the mail. We have explained to her that Santa may have to wait until closer to spring time before sending them!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Finding Consistency Through Losses and Gains

We are always learning, growing and continuing to become the person we are meant to be. This means that we try things until we find something that works for us. Many people who follow my social media know that I've stumbled onto something that works for me, in more ways than one.

I have struggled with making healthy choices for a long time. And about 6 years ago, I tried something different. It worked then. And it worked for about a month at a time. I would lose the 10-15 pounds I wanted to lose, feel good, but it would last about a month. I'd spend about 4-3 months slowly putting the weight back on, making one poor choice after another. Then, I'd repeat the cycle.

I thought this was normal.

Until I was tired of "normal."

I craved consistency. I wanted something that would help me build a consistent healthy lifestyle. I envied those people who could turn down the bread bowl at the pasta restaurant or the brownie at the potluck. I just thought I could never do that.

But I can.

And I do.

On a consistent basis.

Seriously. For over 7 months I have stayed consistent with my healthy eating choices at least 80% of the time. I have "reset" myself every month for 10 days. I focus on getting quality nutrition and I don't cheat. Those 10 days are for me, each month, to help remain consistent. As I sit here reflecting on what that has done for me...I am amazed.

So what really have I gained, lost, and reduced in 7 months? Listen (read) up...cause I never thought I would be saying (typing) this.

Let's start with what I have REDUCED in my life...or do/have minimally.

  • The SCALE: I was dependent on the bathroom scale. No matter how many times I heard that you shouldn't weigh yourself everyday, I still did. Multiple times a day. Everytime I walked into the bathroom I would weigh myself. Not only was I addicted to the bright blue numbers that showed up, my mood and confidence was affected by the number that showed. Even if I had been "good" and the number was higher than I wanted, I was sad. 
  • CAFFINE: I had NO IDEA how addicted I was to caffine until I gave it up cold turkey. Holy cow. Now I have one cup of coffee maybe half of the days in a month. That's it. And the crazy thing? I'm not near as tired. I feel so alert and awake, even when my children combine their efforts to get some "mommy time" in the middle of the night. 
  • DAIRY: Again, something I never thought I'd say. I have very little dairy...and for the most part (other than a splash of milk in my coffee) I don't have it anymore. I save my cheese for the flavorful cheese on pasta or special occasions. I no longer need it on sandwiches, mexican food, or in my eggs. 
  • PAIN: I have joint pain. I have "old lady knees" and arthritis that you wouldn't believe. There is at least one knee replacement in my future. I hurt when the weather changes and my knee will swell up for what seems like nothing. BUT...when I am fueling my body with natural foods, whole fruits and vegetables, and taking my plant-based Omegas regularly...I hurt LESS. It's amazing to me to know that if I have a more painful day it usually follows a day where I indulged a little more. 
  • GLUTEN: Talk about a reduction. This was (and is) the most difficult part of changing my ways. I just love things filled with gluten. But I have learned to cut it out completely for 10 days every month and reduce it tremendously from what it was a year ago. I try to make smarter choices and eat it less. 
OK...So what have I LOST?
  • WEIGHT: Ok...let's get right to it. This is the question that I'm asked most often. "How much weight have you lost?" That's what people want to know.  Here's the deal. I've lost 10 pounds. 10 since I switched my focus from monthly challenges to consistent health. The bigger deal on this is that I've KEPT IT OFF for over 7 months. I haven't gained - lost - gained - lost. I've stayed strong. People comment that I look like I've lost more. I have lost some inches, I've lost some puffiness, but 10 lbs. is it for now. (I also haven't integrated regular exercise in my life. That will come, but facing some injury issues right now.) The point is...the weight loss doesn't really matter. I know it sounds crazy, but once I started focusing more on nutrition and less on the number, the number didn't matter. How I feel is a direct representative of what I've been eating. 
  • CONFIDENCE. I can't stress this one enough. I feel good. I feel like I look good. I'm wearing clothes again that I haven't worn in years, and not because they finally fit, but because I feel confident wearing it. 
  • A GLOW: My skin is awesome. Seriously. The nutrients from all the fruits and veggies that I've been consuming are paying out. Huge. I noticed it a few months in. Other's started mentioning it about 6 months in. 
  • COMMUNITY and FRIENDSHIP: Throughout this journey I have met some amazingly positive people who only want to see me succeed. I have made new friends, good friends who fill my cup with joy. Surround yourself with people who make you better, not bitter. Life is too short to be around people who want to see you fail. This group of people make me smile on a daily basis.
  • HEALTHIER KIDS. This one is huge. I want to lead by example. Our kids model us and what we do. Within a month of starting this journey my girls started wanting to eat what I was eating (at least some of it). They wanted to know if certain foods were healthy and if it was good for their bodies. This summer I started including them more in the lifestyle. It's a slow process, but we make progress everyday. 
  • ENERGY and ALERTNESS. I didn't think I was living in a fog. But I was. I thought I was awake and alert. But I wasn't. I am now. Without the aid of energy drinks and coffee on a consistent basis. Sure there are days I'm tired...I've got three kiddos, but it isn't a consistent tired. 
Again. I am in no way perfect. And I don't strive to be. Perfection is boring. I'll never fully give up pizza. But I can try to reduce the amount of times we have it. I will have wine and beer when I'm not on my 10-day reset. But I will continue working on consistency for myself and my entire family. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day: As Told By the Girls

Enjoy the following... I asked the questions, they gave the answers. Some are true, some make me laugh, and some came straight out of left field! That's what makes these fun right?!

Because I was an oldest child and liked to go first, we'll start with the oldest.

Jackie's responses (age 6).

What is Father's Day? We have biscuits and gravy for breakfast.

What do you love doing with daddy the most? Laying on him and resting on the bed. And I like it when he takes me to the lap pool and I go to the deepest part.

How old is daddy? 36

What is his favorite drink? Beer

What does he say all the time? Be patient and I love you.

What does he like to do for fun? Play outside with me and Rocky and Kit Kat

Daddy is happy when? He's in the water.

And now...Katerina (age 4)!

What is Father's Day? Going to church.

What do you love doing with daddy the most? Riding in his truck.

How old is daddy? 15

What is his favorite drink? Beer

What does he say all the time? I love you.

What does he like to do for fun? Play with me and tickle me when I keep laughing.

Daddy is happy when? I feed Rocky.

We just love having daddy back after a week of testing his cycling skills along the Bike Across Kansas. He rode over 550 miles during a HOT week in June. He came back tan, sore, and feeling good about what he accomplished. We are so proud of him and all that he does!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

12 Things

Our oldest turned 6 in March. I've never really been one of those "where does the time go" moms. I do have moments where I look at my husband and our little family and wonder how we got here. You know, more of the big picture. I still look at her pictures on the Facebook Timehop and love being reminded of her cute little smile at 4 months, but I really do love watching her grow and her independence start to form.

Jackie on her 6th birthday!

When I started thinking about what to say for Jackie's birthday post (I know I'm a little behind...but it is what it is) I was trying to decide what special part of her year I should highlight. So I thought I'd focus on things that truly make her who she is. I wanted to do a number post. But 6 isn't enough numbers to talk about. Since there are 12 months in the year, I figured that 12 would be a good number to go with.

12 Things

1.) Independence
This one is the part of her that I just love. Her desire to do things on her own and learn more. I will admit, sometimes it drives me nuts because it would just be easier if I did it for her, but I love watching her little mind work. There are times when she tends to have selective independence, like when I want her to pick up tops, unload the dishwasher, or pick up the hundreds of pieces of popcorn they spilled on the floor...

She pulled out her first tooth by herself! I helped with #2 :)

2.) Questions
This girl has got some questions, let me tell ya. Forget the "how do babies get in your tummy" one, I have always been prepared for that. (Although the "it is a miracle that God picks out a special child that will be perfect for our family" answer is starting to wear thin...) The girl is smart and she wants real answers, to big questions, that I either don't know how to answer, or don't know how to make it simple enough for her 6-year-old self. Questions like "how do cell phones work?" and "How do rockets get to space?" "What makes planes fly?"  and "What makes electricity come to our house? How does those lines work?" Ugh! Anytime she asks one of those questions I try to find a non-fiction book at the library the next time we go. She sure is a curious little thing!

3.) Swimming
Jackie loves to swim! She loves being in the water, and as soon as she could walk she's been trying to jump into deeper and deeper water. That girl has no fear. But what she doesn't have much of yet, is coordination and strength. We're working on it, and I've seen a huge improvement this year. She's just so stinking small and looks a little like a baby deer that once her strength and body-control catch up with her, she's gonna be a speedboat! She's already asked me if she can be a swim teacher some day! Being a "water-baby" myself, I love hearing that!

4.) Eyes
Little missy got some glasses this year. But she didn't just settle for some regular frames to correct a small error. Nope. She went full-on LAZY! I had no idea that a "Lazy-Eye" was such a big deal. should be named something that gets-ya-going a little. The girl's first pair of glasses came with bifocals, and a super thick lens on the left side. She's now wearing a patch for up to three hours a day for the next 6 months. We always knew she'd need glasses someday, but I had no idea that it would be this intensive. She does look cute in them though! :)

Cutie pie in her glasses! 

5.) Salad
We've been working on including more healthy eating into our everyday lifestyle. The girls have done great (Billy is another story for another time...sheesh!). Jackie absolutely loves salad. I have a weekly "salad in a jar" party and she enjoys making her own salads. Of course, her dressing of choice is Ranch...and that's another thing to tackle another time. Right now, I'm loving her salads filled with peppers, and peas, and quinoa! Yep...she specifically asks for "that small rice stuff" for her salads! :)

Salad time! 

6.) Pretending
One of the best things about watching kids grow is seeing their imaginations come to life. I love watching her transform her bed into a ship to sail around the world, and pretending she is a mermaid when she's in water...of course that one isn't as fun when her "tail" splashes water all over the floor. It's fun to see her grab on to stories she likes to hear and transform her world into it.

7.) Reading
This girl has taken off! For someone who didn't even know how to write her own name or read a single word when she walked into Kindergarten, I just love how she tries to sound out every single word she sees. She loves trying to read the signs as we are shopping or when we're at the zoo. I love listening to her tackle a new word by sounding out each letter. Her teacher did such a great job transforming nothing into something great! I am sure there are much better readers out there than her at this age, but I am loving that she WANTS to read it herself and that she ASKS to read more. That's all I can ask for!

8.) Babies about baby fever. This girl has wanted another baby in our house for a while now. About 5 months ago, she started doing all the little baby things that she always does when we have a newborn around. She's swaddling her dolly, wanting me to wrap the baby against her chest, walking it in the stroller, and trying to nurse her dolly. She was invited to her first sleep-over a few weeks ago and she might have spent more time ogling the little baby in the house than playing with her friend. Every time we pass by the Church steeple she says "Good morning Jesus, please let my mommy have a baby sister in her tummy!" Goodness.

Holding her newest cousin...Baby Ellyson :) 

9.) Heaven and Hell
Remember the part about "big questions"? Yup. This one is in there. The topic of death and dying is a ripe one in our house. Lots of "what happens when you die?" "Do all people die" and making sure her sister knows that you want to go to Heaven so you can go to the bowling ally and make thunder (Thanks Grandma!). But this allowed for a serious discussion of Heaven and Hell. And while I haven't told my daughter how babies really get in tummies yet, I was honest with her about Heaven and Hell. So...if you do something "bad" be prepared...she may tell you that you better be nice or you will go to hell. We're still working on more of the details...but yeah, she may tell you you're going to hell. Sorry in advance.

10.) Math with Daddy
The girls loves spending time with Daddy, and he loves that she's taken an interest in math. She loves to do little math problems with him on her white-board she got for her birthday. They do more than math. She loves to help him with any job he may have. Computer stuff, building stuff, working on his car. She wants to be involved in all of it. Such a curious mind!

Math problems with Daddy...she was VERY specific about how he should write his 7s and 4s!

A little eye-dying type. How exactly does that work? 

11.) Teacher
I told you that Jackie had a wonderful Kindergarten teacher, and it shows in more than just what she learned this year. Jackie wants to be a teacher. She hasn't changed her mind on that one the entire year. She also wants to teach Kindergarten in the same room that she was in. Because according to her "Mrs. Jacobs will be old by then." (Sorry Mrs. Jacobs...I'm sure by the time she's there she won't think you're old, age is just a number!)

12.) Chic-fil-A
If you ever have Jackie over to your house for dinner and you serve chicken, be prepared. It won't be as good as Chic-fi-A. Period. Unless of course, it is Chic-fil-A. That girl always wants to eat there and every meal is always compared to it. I am sure that's where she'll want to go for dinner/date with her daddy for her birthday. I don't mind because it is yummy...but I would like to not always be "second fiddle" to the chain restaurant!  :)

There you have it. 12 things about our 6 year old that may have you understanding her a little more. I"m sure she's gonna love reading about this when she's 12. Right??? :)

Her and little sister being silly! 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Boy Mom

I have to say, for awhile I felt a little left out. Like I was missing out on some sort of "club." The "Boy Mom Club." I'd see all these posts about how wild and crazy life was with little boys. The climbing, rough-housing, dirt, and pee and yet how those mom's just felt connected to the little boys in some way.

But now I get it.

I'm part of "the club" and have been for 16 months.

I totally get it.

This kid is different. So completely and wonderfully different than his sisters. He is calm, but wild. Silly and sweet. Ready to run and play outside and snuggle with his blankie on my lap. I never really understood the bond that Ethan has with his little girls. How they have him so completely wrapped around his finger. But now I get it.

He is in to EVERYTHING! He digs in the trash, splashes in the toilet, and throws completely good diapers away, and the lids to my pots, and my badge for school. We gotta check our trash, often.

He love cars and trucks and balls. He's learning to climb. We don't have to lock the stair gate anymore, he can go up and down the stairs with ease. It's only a matter of time before he has figured out how to open the damn baby proofing locks we have on everything.

He grunts at everything. I've learned to tell the difference between his "dog-grunt" and his "graham cracker-grunt" and his "I WANT TO GO OUTSIDE grunt." He is going to keep us all outside all summer. He just wants to dig in the dirt, walk in the grass, and play with his puppy!

His sister's love him too. They love to find ways to make him giggle and chase them around the house. I'm sure they won't think that's as fun when he's a little bigger and can really catch them!

I'm so excited to be part of the "Boy Mom Club" and to be completely wrapped around this little guy!