Thursday, December 7, 2017

Wrap Up for 2017

You guys! It's the end of the year. I mean, how did that even happen?? Somehow, in the midst of middle of the night wakings, crying children, and the glorious (but conspicuously rare) days that go according to plan (including but not limited to: children napping at predetermined times, little to no screaming, fun times snuggled up on the couch reading or playing outside), this year has slipped right through my fingers.



And what a year it has been. 

We added a new member to our family, Graham graduated from Nursing school, and we moved because he landed his first job. On top of all that, Evie transitioned out of diapers (see this post about our experience), Elaina went from napping all day as a newborn to 4 naps, to 3 naps, to 2 naps, to 2 naps at different times (that did not line up with Evie's nap most days), and Graham started working nights (he trained on days for 8 weeks before switching to nights to finish his training and then be set loose on his own!). It's all of the daily life things that add up and make a year. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes anyone??? I'm breaking out in song in my head. I hope you are too. If not, go listen.

Goal Recaps 
So, if you'll remember back to this post where I listed my goals for 2017, you'll recognize this list below.

  • Read 24 books (at least 6 nonfiction) 
  • "Stay" sane with two kids 
  • Treat days every other day (eventually getting to two days a week) 
  • Get back into running after baby #2 is born 
  • Date nights with Graham 2 times/month 
  • Attend Temple at least once with Graham  

Some of these goals went better than others. I also gave a mid-year update here, if you want to check that out. 

I am happy to say that my book goal has been met and indeed, surpassed. I stayed right on track for the first 8 months of the year, and then I took back off and was able to read more. The contributing factors? I finished The Wheel of Time series (those books are monsters!), I wasn't so bone tired that my mind couldn't focus enough at the end of the day to read (still pretty darn tired at the end of the day, but my mind can handle reading a chapter or two instead of just vegging on Netflix), and I had an ever-growing "to read" list that wasn't getting any smaller (and I became super into reading various nonfiction books, like ones on parenting/motherhood). I highly recommend Goodreads if you aren't already on there. Super easy interface and it keeps track of what you read for you! I love it. I also love that I can click the "want to read" button below a book to add it quickly to my "to read" list. Then, when I'm looking at the library I can open up the app and find one on my list instead of walking around aimlessly reading inside covers...because 2 kids...ain't nobody got time for that.

Staying sane with two kids....some days are better than others ;) I'm sure all of you parents out there can relate with that!

Treats: I did get down to treats twice a week, and then decided I was sort of over it ;) In my efforts to limit my treat consumption I did realize how much of my desire stemmed from stress/emotional eating. I feel like I was able to work through most of that and now I am not as strict. If something is available (like the Peppermint milkshake at a spontaneous dinner at Chick Fil-A) I'll enjoy it. I do like having my pumpkin chocolate chip muffins just about every night though. So yummy :) I will say that at this time of year with treats out the wazoo, I am trying to stick to every other day so I don't go into a sugar coma.

Running/exercise: I am pleased with my work in this area! I did get back into running and ran two 5Ks this year. Most recently I've gotten into Insanity Max 30 workouts (got the DVDs from my friend Bailey) and have been doing those. Even doing the modified on most moves (my knee has been acting up and we live upstairs) these workouts are killer and are definitely whipping me into shape!

Date nights: I feel like we did really well on these at the beginning of the year, but with Graham working nights we still haven't found our rhythm (he started working nights in September). For December we looked at his schedule and selected one night each week to be our date night (mostly at home). I think that will be what we continue to do because with his schedule we can't say "Friday is date night!" because week to week it is always different.

That temple goal was for sure a stretch goal for us, and we weren't able to make it happen. Once Elaina is nursing less during the day next year and we can leave her for a longer period of time, I'm sure we'll get to the temple. It has been too long, that is for sure! 

Graham
As mentioned before, Graham is working nights. He is loving his job, but the nights schedule is crazy on his body, especially because he has to switch to be awake during the day sometimes (he has a seminar once a month and had several classes to take as well for different skills). He is picking up extra work when he can (sometimes they even offer double-time pay!) and he does a great job providing for our family so I can stay home full-time with the girls.

He reread the Ender's Game books recently, and read Oathbringer (by Brandon Sanderson) when it came out in November. I needed to reread the first two books in The Stormlight Archive before starting it (because I can't remember anything Mom brain). Much to his dismay he could not talk to me while reading it and anxiously awaited updates from me while I read it.


Evie


This girl. She has turned into a preschooler right before my very eyes. No longer a toddler, though I am loathe to admit it. She blessedly still naps (most days) and is such a good big sister (when she isn't knocking Elaina over or yanking toys from her grasp). People are always amazed at her vocabulary and how well she speaks (I am too, honestly!). She is full of love and is quick to say "I'm sorry." She loves books and asked me to read her The Secret Garden (unabridged) after reading an abridged illustrated version. I try to remember to read a chapter out loud to her in the afternoon while she eats her snack or is playing while I nurse Elaina. We are about 1/3 of the way through it right now. I am excited to be sharing books I love with her. She is loving Christmas and all things "baby Jesus." In fact, in her prayer tonight she said "Heavenly Father, I am thankful for baby Jesus." It was so sweet. Moments like that make me forget how I was yelling at her earlier in the day for kicking the bathtub while I was showering and Elaina was trying to nap... *sigh* (days without a nap are hard for all of us...) She is enjoying the Light the World campaign this year and when asked what it means she replies "serve others!"

Elaina



My baby. Soon she won't seem like a baby to anyone but me. She is getting so big so fast! Try as I might to enjoy the small, everyday moments, they are slipping through my fingers like water. She is sneaky and the second I leave the room or she knows I'm occupied she crawls straight for the computer (or trashcan). She is quick! She cruises along furniture so fast I can't believe it, often with only one hand holding on. She has taken one or two steps on several occasions. I know that one day I will turn around and she will be walking across the floor. Too soon!! I'm not ready for her to be a toddler yet! I so love holding her in my arms and enjoying quiet snuggles while she nurses. Those seem to be few and far between as she constantly is distracted these days, but I enjoy them when they come. She loves food (no surprises there, coming from this family) and will often eat just as much as Evie. Some of her favorites are sweet potatoes, yogurt, cheerios, french toast, carrots, peaches, apples, popcorn, and well...really almost anything she can get her little fingers on. And, unlike Evie, she eats most of the dishes I make for dinner as well :) She loves touch and feel books, taking all the books down from the bookshelf (or DVDs from their shelf), and making a mad dash for the pantry or bathroom if the doors are left open. She always has a smile for her Daddy and loves to make faces at him. She does not like to be tossed in the air, but she loves falling backwards.

Marissa

I did an update on myself already with the goals earlier in the post, but I thought I'd include a peek into my current favorites.

Currently Listening to (podcasts):
Read Aloud Revival: If you haven't listened to it already, you need to go check out episode 82 at the end where Evie is featured! Every episode they do a section at the end called "Let the kids speak" where kids share their favorite books that have been read out loud to them. You can leave a message on their website to be included and Evie's was on that episode! We were so excited and she loves listening to it over and over.

The Next Right Thing: This is hosted by Emily P. Freeman. 1) Her voice is incredibly soothing! 2) She invites you to create space to breathe, definitely needed in this day and age. 3) Each episode she shares a simple "next right thing" that you can do.

Risen Motherhood: This one I am loving! The hosts, Emily and Laura, tackle modern parenting/motherhood issues (from scripture study to potty training, reading, Christmas traditions) in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the reminders to turn everything back to Christ and to look for Him in my daily tasks as a Mother.

At Home with Sally Clarkson: This is another one about motherhood and the gospel. I love her wizened perspective as a mother with 4 children out of the house now. She shares scripture and ends each podcast with a prayer for the Moms listening. I'm excited to read some of her books as well.

Currently Reading:
I am working slowly but surely on The Stormlight Archive Book 3, Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson. I'm about 1/3 of the way through it as I write this, and I'm reading about 100 pages a day in it. Oh how I miss the days when I could curl up on the couch for hours at a time and just read when a new book came out! (But of course, I wouldn't trade being a Mom for that...most days ;) haha)

I am reading The Secret Garden  by Frances Hodgson Burnett out loud to Evie right now. She is loving it, but I think my British accent needs some work.

I am also reading The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball. I read this on Sundays and read about one chapter each week. It is a classic within the LDS church, but I can't seem to really get into it. I think partially because of when it was written and partially because I don't have a personal connection to President Kimball. His insights into forgiveness are worth it though.

Next up on my to-read list (which grows faster than I can read) are The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson, Change Anything by Kerry Patterson (and more), and Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (for book club). I also want to read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson because I found it in a Little Free Library and I haven't ever read it!

Currently Watching: 
Elaina still wakes up at night sometimes to eat (and by sometimes I mean some nights she sleeps the entire night and other nights she wakes up 3 times), so I pull out the iPad and will watch some Netflix while trying not to fall asleep. Some nights I am more successful than others. I watched a super cheesy Netflix movie called A Christmas Prince. It was fun and I started it because the leading lady was from the show iZombie ;) The newest season of When Calls the Heart (season 4) is on Netflix, so now I'm watching that! I recently discovered that the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice is on Amazon Prime Video, so that will be next on my list to watch. Which will make my sister, Michelle (and my mother-in-law), so very pleased :)

I've been reading during the evenings after the girls are in bed (and listening to podcasts while doing the dishes/folding laundry) so the middle of the night is pretty much the only time I watch "TV."

That's All, Folks!
Thanks for hanging in there until the end of this post; I appreciate it! Do you have any other questions about what's going on with us? I'd be happy to answer in a comment or in a future post (but let's be honest, who knows when that would be!).

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
xoxo, Marissa

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Girls in Seattle


I had the opportunity earlier this month to go visit my sister, Michelle, and her family in the Seattle area. It was so fun to visit with my sister and her husband and boys. Evie and Elaina had a blast! I did as well. Graham stayed home and worked while we were away. Thankfully technology makes it easy to stay connected and we were able video chat with him each day (sometimes twice in a day). The girls did great on our flights out to Seattle. Evie was not a fan of the noise level, but she still did great, and Elaina took a small nap on both flights. On our second flight we sat next to the nicest Grandma, Ms. Susan, who was traveling to Seattle to see her first grandbaby. She was the best. She held Elaina when I needed to take Evie to the bathroom not once, but twice on the 2.5 hour flight, she read books with Evie, helped her with her sticker book, and made sure she could see Mt. Rainier as we were coming in.



Our first day visiting we took an easy day at home while the boys went to school and Michelle went to teach her class (she teaches Seminary every other day for half a day, which is awesome!). The girls had so much fun with their cousins and Evie loved going to the bus stop with the boys. Now, anytime she sees two intersecting green street signs she will say "Mommy! The bus stop!" 




On Thursday we went to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma. My sister's family has a membership and they get guest passes to use so we were able to get in for free with them. It was a cold, rainy day, but we still had lots of fun. Elaina was not a fan of the time we spent outdoors and every time we stopped to look at an animal she would start crying. We saw Red Wolves, a Musk Ox, an Arctic Fox (much smaller than I expected), a Reindeer, three Walruses, and a few others. Then we had lunch and went inside to the Aquarium. Elaina loved looking at all of the fishes, sharks, and sting rays. Such a fun day and both girls crashed on the way home. That night, both girls were in bed asleep at 7:30pm and I didn't know what to do with myself! So I curled up on the couch with a snuggly blanket, cup of hot cocoa, and my book. Then I made a huge batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins which were devoured within 36 hours. Well worth it.




On Friday we went into Seattle. My friend Bailey is living on the University of Washington campus while her husband is in Dental School there. We drove in, found the very last parking spot on the street (the front of the car was lined up exactly with the sign that said "No parking North of here."), and spent the day with Bailey and her daughter, Lyla. It was a blast! We made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (if you know anything about my relationship with Bailey, you'll know it always involves treats or food of some sort!), played at the playground that's right behind their apartment, and went to a field that was super close and blew bubbles and played and played. Pizza for dinner, kids in jammies, then drove home and got the girls to bed. 




               

 On Saturday we went to Jefferson's soccer game in the morning. So. Much. Fun. I loved it! And his coach wasn't super into coaching as the game went on, so I took it upon myself to shout tips to Jeffers throughout the game :) We went back home, had hamburgers for lunch with Bryce's parents and sister and her family. Everyone else (except Connor, who was deeply engaged in reading The Order of the Phoenix) went back to the soccer fields for Peter's game that afternoon. I stayed home with the girls so they could nap. Bryce's mom brought a Halloween craft for the boys and Evie to do and she had so much fun with it! She was focused on her painting and loved picking out each item (the paper design, color of paint, etc.).



Sunday was church and we had a great time there, as always. I felt like I was able to pay attention a little better and get more out of it than I do on some Sundays. I noticed a theme of developing our own faith in Jesus Christ and how to pass that on to our children. Then we had a relaxing day at home, went for a walk, and Peter and Michelle made muffins again. Again, devoured within 36 (maybe 48...) hours.



Monday was our final full day and the weather was gorgeous! We played out in the yard a little bit, Evie made granola with Michelle, and we went to a neighborhood playground that afternoon while Jefferson had piano lessons in a home across the street. We had Family Home Evening that night and for the activity Peter chose to play "Chubby Bunnies." Evie fell in love with this game. Not only did she say "and thank thee that I could play Chubby Bunnies" in her prayer that night, but she asked every night for the following week if we could play it again. She kept saying "it's time for Family Night. We can play Chubby Bunnies!!" and then would shriek and giggle in delight. On Monday night, October 23 her dream came true. We played Chubby Bunnies for our Family Home Evening activity.




On Tuesday we said goodbye to the boys at the bus stop in the rain, finished packing up our bags, and, after one final art project, said goodbye :( The girls traveled so great again and we met up with our friend from our flight on our way to Seattle, Ms. Susan. We hadn't seen her while we got on the plane, but when I took Evie to the bathroom we saw her and she held Elaina again for me. On our last flight home (from Denver to Tulsa) we sat next to her again. She was so sweet and I am incredibly grateful we were blessed to have her as a travel companion. Our second flight was delayed an hour due to some computer issues, so it made it an even later night than expected. Graham met us at the airport (and surprised me with a new phone for my birthday!!) and drove us home. Evie was so excited to see him (we all were) and she ran up to him and gave him a great big hug, giggling all the while. Elaina was all smiles once she saw him too. 


I told her she could pick out a treat and we shared this tasty sundae!


 We had so much fun on our trip and I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to travel there with the girls. Evie had so much fun playing with her cousins, and Elaina loved to try and catch the cats. It took us a couple of days to get back to a "normal" schedule after returning home, but we are now enjoying the beautiful fall weather here and are loving our time back with Graham. We sure missed him! So grateful for forever families and the blessing that mine is to me each day. I just have to keep telling myself that when Evie throws her plate of food on the floor again. *sigh* Real life, you guys.

Love you!
xoxo, Marissa

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Transitions

Eek! So much has happened...I know I always say that, but it's true! Graham graduated from Nursing School (woohoo!!!), landed his first job as a nurse (woohoo!!!), and we moved to a new apartment (woohoo!!!). So...yeah...lots and lots of transitioning for us. I thought I'd take a bit to fill you in on the details and how everything's going in case you were curious. :)


Graham's Transitions

Graham graduated from Nursing School at the beginning of May. It was such an exciting time! We both felt like school had been our life for so long (...our entire marriage) that we were more than ready to have him finish. We had a graduation party at the park for him and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and spent time with family and friends. It was a beautiful day and we were so grateful to everyone that was able to make it.





Then came the interviews. Graham applied and interviewed at several places, eventually accepting a job in the ICU of a hospital. It wasn't his top pick for hospital, but he wanted to be in the ICU. Then, a couple weeks later (before his start date), a spot opened up in the ICU at the hospital that was his top choice. He applied, interviewed, and subsequently accepted a job in that department. We feel so incredibly blessed! It did, however, make for an awkward conversation with the hospital he had initially accepted the job with. (It's very clear in all of nursing that it's "at will" employment, so it wasn't a big deal to take another job after accepting that one. We were grateful the new job opened up before he started the other one though!) The snag that came with this job was that they didn't accept temporary licenses, so Graham would need to take the NCLEX (nursing boards) before he could start work. With the timing of everything, that essentially gave Graham 2 weeks before he needed to take the biggest test of his life, hah. Annnnnd in those two weeks we were moving and spending a week in San Antonio for a wedding...yep. But, Graham is smart and used the time he had to study like crazy. He took the NCLEX, passed (woohoo!!) and started his new job :) He has been in the ICU for 6 weeks now and is loving it. He's learning so much and still can't believe that he landed his dream job right out of school. God has been good to us :)



Graham will be switching to nights in two weeks! That will be another transition for sure.

New Apartment 

We moved in order to be closer to Graham's work, and I am so glad we did! We were sad to leave friends, but being 5 minutes from work instead of 35 is so nice. Especially when those work days are ending at 8pm and little girls want to see their Daddy!

We are feeling settled into our new apartment. We moved on Memorial Day, 2017, and were blessed to have friends from church help us load (and then unload) the U-Haul. Loading took 45 minutes and unloading took an hour! Our new apartment is upstairs, so we were particularly grateful for the help unloading. My parents were able to come up that weekend to help as well, and my mom pretty much cleaned our old apartment while I took care of Elaina! We had Graham's parents watch Evie (she stayed the night at their house the night before) which was helpful too! Pro packing tip: Label. Heh. I found these labels via Pinterest and printed the ones that applied. Everyone that helped, particularly with unloading, commented on how well-organized our move was.

After a few days of unpacking like mad, we headed to San Antonio for Graham's cousin's wedding. Evie was the flower girl, and we had a blast! After returning home, I finished unpacking and getting everything organized. Some family members have been asking for pictures, so I snapped some a couple days ago.

Girls' Room:



Our Room:



Living Room:

Evie took this one :) 
 Kitchen:

View of kitchen from hallway, showing pantry and bathroom doors


 Pantry (walk-in, which I love!!!) and Bathroom


Hallway (first door on left is pantry, second is bathroom. Evie's standing in our bedroom, and the girls' bedroom is at the end of the hall on the right)



We love how close we are to our church and the park/bike trail. We also love the pool and playground at our apartment complex. This apartment is slightly smaller but feels larger. It has a vaulted ceiling, and the cabinets, doors, and carpet are lighter in color than our previous apartment.

Girls

I don't think a post would be complete without some pictures of Evie and Elaina and a little bit about what they have been up to recently. I considered doing a separate post for this, but who am I kidding? That would take me another 3 months to get to most likely ;)




Elaina: I cannot believe this baby girl is 6 months old now! She has her checkup next week. (If I remember I'll come back and edit this to include her height/weight.) She is the happiest little baby around and is so so smiley all the time. Getting a laugh out of her takes work though. Evie says "she's been playing! um, rolling back off her tummy. Oh! We forgot to pick up her toys!" When I asked "What else has she been doing?" Evie replied "Not anything else." She started sitting up for more than just a couple seconds at a time a few days shy of the 6 month mark. She has also started eating! So exciting. Although I do miss not having to clean the floor and highchair...*sigh* So far she has tried pancake, strawberry, watermelon, peach/nectarine, carrot, noodles, bacon, and venison. She has also started to learn how to drink water from a straw. Elaina was so ready to be eating and loves it. She got the concept down faster than Evie did. She was sick for the first time with a fever and cough/congestion. One night when she was sick she coughed so much it made her throw up :( She is over it now thankfully and is sleeping well again.






Evie: My Evie girl is getting smarter by the day. Not only does she cart a little chair to anywhere in the apartment so she can reach/climb up, but she also comes up with really creative solutions to problems. I love seeing her little toddler (soon to be full on preschooler) brain work. We read books like crazy, and she loves reading books to Elaina in turn. Recently her favorite toys to play with are blocks. She often makes birthday cakes, monster houses, and monster bridges. She continues to be my good little helper. She is quick to get a toy for Elaina, grab a burp cloth for me if it's out of my reach, and give lots of hugs and kisses to her baby sister. Evie says "I'm fixing my boat" (she's playing with blocks now) "This boat is falling apart. There we go! My boat is fixed. Oh! I maked a new boat! Blue and green and little green." She then proceeded to make some boat sounds as she took it around the living room. Her imagination has really taken flight. She has been searching for monsters with her flashlight lately. And apparently there's a tiger that likes to frequent her room. Several times this past week she will close the door to her room as she comes out saying "The tiger was coming!" Said tiger has also bitten her toes. :)




Me 

May as well throw in a bit for me too. I've been reading as my main hobby. I'm on the last book in The Wheel of Time and loving it. I was just called to serve as Secretary in our Primary (children's organization at church) and am so excited! A friend shared this blog post a few days ago and it is all I can think about lately. Such a great read for all of the other moms out there! Seriously every single time I feel myself getting frustrated, this pops back into my head. I'm certainly not perfect, but I am working really hard to improve myself in light of that thinking. I've also subscribed to the Proverbs 31 Ministry newsletter--I take a few minutes to read the devotional each morning and it is helping me stay centered.

Evie has asked that I "stop typing" so I'm signing off to play carousel ride with her and the blocks.

xoxo, Marissa