Monday, July 21, 2014

she's a walker!

Finola decided she would "finally" start walking at just shy of fourteen months old.  

I use quotes around the word 'finally' because I think sometimes as mothers we think things are supposed to happen at a certain time with our babes.  For example, like the crazy mama I am,  I felt that because Cormac walked at ten and a half months that she would be the same.  Or at least at one year.  Wrong.  I even took her to an orthopedic specialist (this was actually recommended by her pediatrician so I am not completely bananas) to have her feet looked at.  Complete waste of money.

Little Fin just had her own ideas about when she would abandon her super-fast crawl (which she actually still does quite a bit) for the adorable, wobbly toddler walk.

Right now we are visiting my parents in Minnesota and she has been practicing her walk quite a bit.  Oh, and jumping on beds.  Even running some!  (And falling.  A lot.)

 I honestly could watch her walk all day.  


That is all I have for now -- we are enjoying the 'farm' and fresh air and seeing friends and just doing a lot of relaxing.  It is perfect.

Oh, and we are covered in gnat bites.  We love you, Minnesota.

Monday, July 14, 2014

dino cake + bounce houses + zip lines = cormac's third birthday party!

It's official.  My baby has turned three.
There is no trace of baby anymore.
He is potty-trained.
He sleeps in a regular bed.
He starts pre-school in the fall (eek!)

He will correct you if you even mention the word 'baby' in reference to him.
"I'm a big boy," he will tell you matter-of-factly.

We had an really great time on Saturday for Cormac's 3rd birthday celebration.
While the past two years we hosted actual parties on our turf, with both friends + fam invited, this year we decided to trek to Hubby's hometown of Louisville to spend the day with family. 

For the first part of the day we went to a beautiful park and let Cormac and Finola run + play  on the playground. 
Well, Finola walked --- yes WALKED!  (more on that soon!)
There was also a cute little splash pad there that Cormac took a mild interest in before heading straight back over to the playground.  Finola enjoyed the fountains, though.  Her MO is trying to plug up all the holes in the ground that are squirting water.  

ahhh!  it is OFFICIAL! after almost 14 months!
skipped her nap, so she rested on her great grampa Bubba for a while
okay...perhaps she should be a 2T in swimwear?  
this girl is unfazed by most anything
cormac was more interested in the "shooter" than the actual water
great gramma BB and auntie Blanche
blowing out the candles on his dinosaur cake.  we added the TRex, since it is his favorite.

After the kids took naps at Mimi's house, it was time to head over to this huge place full of bounce houses, zip lines, and just general kiddo awesomeness.  We met up with Nana and Pop Pop as well as Hubby's sisters Molly and Jen, Jen's husband Ben and their 2-year-old Emmie.  It was so great to catch up with them and let the cousins play (aka wear themselves out thoroughly!)
Finola loves her Pop Pop!
that is tiny Cormac on the zipline!  he had no fear!  "That was really fun!" was his decision at the end, with a huge grin.
Finola loved the big slide!
finola and her auntie mollie - blondies!
cuteness overload!
the girls with the curls
the cousins.  this is literally my best shot.  it is like herding sheep getting them together, and looking at the camera is an impossibility.  but aren't they SWEET?

By the end of the day I believe the kids were beyond exhausted!  (I know I personally was over-stimulated.)  But it was worth it to get that quality time with the family and make some memories for Cormac's birthday.  Loved it.  

Love that boy.

An official "three year" post to come...

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Monday was my birthday.
I turned thirty-three.  
I really don't mind my thirties.
They are actually pretty great.
My twenties were great in a totally different way.
A tumultuous crazy great full of school and work and dating and then a wedding and subsequent newlywed bliss (aka trying to figure out how to be married and then getting pregnant before you really do!)
My thirties are perhaps less exciting...
but they are a sweet 'calm after the storm'
that I am enjoying thoroughly,
even with wrinkles and sun damage!
the twenties have nothin' on the thirties
I had a really lovely weekend.
After all the annual 4th of July festivities at Hubby's mom's house,
we left the kiddos there for a weekend to ourselves.
Hubby spent Saturday working on renovations,
while I was left to my own devices for the entire day.
It was bliss, I tell you.
I slept in.
I drank coffee at my leisure.
I went for a deliciously long run.
I gardened without care {of children squashing worms or eating dirt, rocks, etc.}
I went to most of my favorite thrift/antique stores.
I even took a long nap.

These are all things some may find boring or commonplace,
but to me they are life's sweet little pleasures
that are somewhat hard to find time for when you are the stay-at-home mama of two tiny ones.
Things I took for granted before having kids.

Then that night we went out for my "birthday date night."
I got to get dressed up and actually wear heels!
We didn't go anywhere particularly fancy,
but the food was so good and I drank a fun drink.
most handsome date EVER.
I drank out of a glass made of ice -- remember that Beth and Kristina???
After dinner we strolled to a wine shoppe and bought a bottle of red from one of the wineries we toured on our honeymoon, grabbed a movie from a Redbox, and headed home to snuggle in on the couch with a glass of wine and a couple of yummy desserts I had picked up earlier.
On my actual birthday, a Monday of all days, my lil guy sang me happy birthday about eight times, and I loved each and every serenade.   It was a pretty normal day, besides picking up some special dinner goodies, including cupcakes - which Cormac helped me sprinkle with even more sugary deliciousness when we got home.
We were supposed to go to the pool for an evening swim and grill out but at the last minute I decided it would be simpler to just cook at I did.
(Yes, I love to cook and meal plan,  so making an extra special meal for my fam kinda added to the fun of the day for me. Yes, it sounds nerdy, but it's true.) 
Here we are, post-dinner, about to eat our store-bought, non-gluten-free vanilla bean cupcakes...
my baking skills are these were store-bought
he sang me happy birthday so many times!
We don't eat desserts very often, but when we do, we relish them!
(aka shove them in our mouths and let the sugar overtake us...)
Here is Finola demonstrating...
My actual birthday present from my sweet loves was this pair of white rockers for our side porch.
Aren't they sweet?  
(the rockers and the kiddos)
I promise I turned 33, not 83.

Such a fantastic birthday weekend.
Thank you to my Hubby for making it so, so special.

Friday, June 20, 2014

how to (almost) potty train your toddler in 103 days (it really works!)

I was one of those moms that pinned a few "Potty Train Your Toddler in 3 Days" pins, read them in earnest, watched the Youtube videos and thought I was prepared for potty training.

I actually believed I would watch it happen in three short days, as promised.

Turns out either I had some unrealistic expectations or my toddler is an anomaly.   My toddler was not potty-trained in three days.  Nope.  At least not without lots of "accidents."

(If you have tried this three-day method with complete success I would love to talk to you.  Seriously, what magic did you use?)

We "waited until our toddler seemed ready."  Cormac was telling me when I needed to change his diaper, legs practically hanging off the changing table, asking about the potty, and waking up many mornings with a dry diaper.  He was just over 2.5, and all signs showed a green light for starting.

We chose a weekend we would both be home and dedicated ourselves to potty training him.

I bought a bunch of fun Lightning McQueen and Thomas the Train big boy underwear.

I purchased a pack of pull-up training diapers to wear during naps and at night.  (Some people don't do this, solely use underpants and just live through the accidents...I was not willing to be washing sheets constantly if that was gonna be the case.)

I hyped up the fact that we were getting rid of his diapers so he could "potty like a big boy" - and he seemed cool about it.

The weekend arrived and yes, we truly were done with diapers for good.

We rolled up rugs and spent the weekend playing and waiting for him to say he had to go.  There were maybe two accidents.  Maybe.  My confidence soared!  He even pooped once on the toilet!  So cool!  (Yeah, if you don't think this might be exciting you are not a first time potty-training parent.)

After those three days I figured, as promised, we were done with the hard part.  But oh no.  Let us not fool ourselves.  The hard part then began.

To sum up: the next 3-4 months were a rollercoaster.   Trying different toilets.  Sitting with him sometimes for support.  Giving him privacy when that was demanded.   Weekly bouts of constipation because he did not want to poop on the potty.  Quietly pooping (in his pants) in corners and at the end of his naps...places he felt comfortably pooping (clearly not the toilet.)   Accidents - many accidents - mostly when we'd go visit friends with kids and he was playing and did not care to stop and get me to help him go to the potty.  

Honestly the peeing has been fairly easy, but the pooping was our biggest issue.  I have heard with some kids the opposite is true, so I am only giving my personal experience, not necessarily the norm.
Where are we now?  Well, besides the occasional accident when he stays with someone else (I think the different environment probably throws him off) Cormac now goes to the potty all by himself.  He no longer even needs to tell me.  Most times he just walks right in there, goes, and comes out.  Sure his shirt is often tucked into his underwear, but I help him out with that.

He does his daily poop, right before naptime, on the toilet, rather than in his pants (praise Jesus!)

He wipes his own butt.  Uh, the best he can, then I have to check it.  (Yeah, I have gotten good at checking butt cracks.  Fun times.) 

He consistently wakes up dry, even though we still have him in pull-ups.  (I must let go of this!) 

He tells me when we are out that he has to go.  I no longer have to ask/remind him.  I think he got a little annoyed by me asking practically every ten minutes.  

Despite all this success...he still will have the occasional accident.  Like at the grandparents' houses.  Like when he rode his first kiddie roller coaster.  Like at the splash park recently.  (Thankfully that wasn't very noticeable.)

I am not sure if this is normal for a less-than-three-year-old.  I don't know if girls are easier to train.  I don't know if it is easier if your kid is in daycare because there are professionals working with them or if it perhaps harder.

I just know we have progressed a ton over the past few months and so I will focus on that.

Next step in our potty training journey - 'standing and peeing.'   Oh Lord.
my marvelous messy-haired monster 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

why I married someone like my dad

adventuring in europe - with two great dads!
Some people say that a woman seeks to marry a man who reminds her of her own father.

Now I'm not talking about physical appearance or anything Freudian, and clearly nothing has proven this theory.  I am also sure there are many women may prefer to marry someone who is the opposite of their own father.

However, it does make a lot of sense that daughters might gravitate towards someone like their own dad.  Our fathers are there (or not there) from the start.  They shape our ideals of what it means to be a dad/husband.  That could be positive or negative.

My husband, in many ways, is very much like my dad.  I never really thought about that when we were dating or even when we got married, but after almost seven years together I see it pretty clearly.

Some examples...

They have enough humor and patience to deal with an incredibly emotional and dramatic woman.  (Sorry Mom, but you know it is true. We are spirited.)  Sure, they both sometimes use humor at inappropriate and maddening moments which only seem to add fuel to whatever fire is already burning.  Also they both only take nagging for sooo long until they snap and tell us what-for.   But on the whole God granted both these men the patience of saints.  Truly.
this pretty much sums up my dad
dads are superheroes!
Both are really hard-working.  My Dad was a pastor and pretty much worked every day.  Besides all his church duties (which you may not know are limitless) he drove bus to make extra money, because at our church (definitely not a mega-church with lots of cash rolling in) the pastor got paid basically nothing.
dad as a young pastor - in his office
My husband has worked plenty of long hours during his years working a corporate finance job (okay, nothing like being a pastor) but what amazes me is all the work he does besides working on our crazy reno-project house...and keeping our personal finances in order...and making deliberate quality time for me/our marriage..and helping me a ton with the kiddos on the weekend.  I also know if he had to he would work as many jobs as necessary to keep us fiscally responsible/comfortable. I appreciate all of this hard work - more than I can express.

Oh, and both men are also hard workers when it comes to manual labor.  Both love the outdoors and on camping or hiking trips they will carry the heaviest packs and hike the longest.  I could have never married a wimpy guy who didn't like getting dirty and sweaty and doing manly outdoor things!
hubby hiking the grand canyon rim-to-rim

dad summiting mt. temple for the first time
filtering water during one of our camping trips to the red river gorge
on a winter camping trip in frigid northern mn.  yes, we all had to do this with dad.
we were always taking canoe trips with dad 

paul showing off his j-stroke - learned from my dad!
Both love to read, and are very intelligent.

Both are affectionate dads.  My dad was always one to hug us, put his arm around us, tell us he loved us.  Paul is the same.   I love that he has no problem kissing and hugging our kids even to the point of excess.  I do it, too!  Our kids will hate us for it in middle school!
Both are stern disciplinarians.  It is pretty amazing seeing the similarities between these two men when it comes to child-rearing.  They won't put up with crap.  Soft hearts, but hard spanks.
There are also several very distinct differences between my Dad and my Hubby.  My Dad is very laissez-faire about money, while Paul is very conservative.  Paul is very logical, my dad is more philosophical.My dad loves packing as many activities and sights as possible into vacations, while Paul believe vacation is more about naps and relaxing as much as possible.  My dad has a very high energy level, getting up early and staying up late, drinking coffee and running on very little sleep (hmmm...who does that sound like?) Paul, on the other hand, seems to need more sleep than normal humans and doesn't drink coffee. (I love him despite this character flaw.)

But...both love the Lord.  The most important similarity of all.

That, for sure, was a deal-breaker when I was contemplating marrying Paul.  When we first started dating faith was not a big part of our relationship.  Years later, when marriage entered our thoughts after many breakups and growing up a lot, I really wasn't sure that Paul would be the spiritual leader in our marriage/family that I had always envisioned myself marrying (clearly because of my own Dad's values.) But Paul stepped up and puts my doubts to rest.  He showed me his faith in Jesus was strong - whether we were together or not.  That gave me confidence that I could marry him.
dad walking me down the aisle...already getting a little teary
So, thank you Dad, for modeling so many amazing qualities that a father should have.  For showing my sister and I, whether we were conscious of it or not, what to look for in a man to marry. We both married men that are pretty awesome, and I believe that had everything to do with you.
And thank you Hubby - for being an incredible 'Dada' to our two babes.  They adore you, because, like my Dad, you make the moments you have with them count.
hubby with a tiny cormac - learning the ropes of fatherhood
one year down!
your little mini
needing lots of rest with baby finola
drooly kisses!
dada's arms are always a safe zone
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Remember, you have an incredible responsibility (nay - opportunity!)  Your little ones are watching and learning so much from you. The boys are learning what a man/father can be.  And the girls...

...well, they may end up marrying someone like you.

No pressure, dads.  ;)