Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer Wrap-Up

Summer is coming to a close for us. I can’t believe some kids have already been back in school for a week or more! Thankfully, Isla’s preschool and activities don’t start until after Labor Day and I am so glad. I am not ready to not have my girly home.

We have really had such a great summer! It probably seems like I documented everything we did, but there is so much that I never bothered to take pictures of because I was having too much fun while we were there. Park play dates. Walks around our neighborhood. Visits with friends. Trips to the bouncy castle place in town. Visits to our children’s museum. Our neighborhood pond’s turtle infestation! Oh wait, I do have pictures of that. We love turtles! If I knew we were staying stateside forever, I would definitely get a pet one.


It’s been lovely. Isla thinks so too! Here is a little conversation we had recently…

Isla: Mommy, can I tell you a secret?

Me: What?

Isla: I don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever want to leave here!

Me: Where?

Isla: Midland!

So Isla is so happy here! And you know what… I am happy too! I am really happy here and very much looking forward to the fall with the new baby coming and Isla and Gemma’s activities. I find myself thankful we aren’t in Houston traffic or having to try so hard to make friends the way we did in Louisiana.

We also have a very full fall schedule planned out. I almost have my spreadsheet done and I told Nick that now we both have full time jobs! Three little kids at home is a full time job. Sheesh. We will be adding a new baby at the same time that we have a time consuming, adorable toddler and a big girl with many big girl activities. It’s going to be the toughest add on yet, I think, but also, so, so, so, so wonderful!

If you’ll remember, I loaded up Isla’s June with activities so that I could figure out what she should do in the fall.  We decided to not only continue her swim lessons, but we added Gemma onto swim lessons too!  After that, we decided that we could not afford to do Bingham Center anymore for Isla so we unenrolled her for the fall.  We had also enrolled Isla in dance for June at Art & Soul, a local dance studio, but we weren’t planning to continue it in the fall as long as we did Bingham Center since they both did tap/ballet. I really want her to be in dance… I don’t know why, I just feel like little girls are supposed to be in ballet and tap. If she hates it, of course we will pull her out, but she seemed to really like it. Art & Soul is much cheaper than Bingham Center, but at first it didn’t work with our fall schedule at all so I thought it was out. However, they updated the schedule, and not only did they add a time for Isla’s age group that worked perfectly, it was also with the instructor that I was hoping to get! I’m so thrilled at how everything worked out.

Here is a pic of my ballerina on her first day this past June! I didn’t get any good pictures of her actual class because the glass looking into her studio was very reflective.


So this is how Isla’s schedule is shaping up:

  • Swim lessons: 45 minutes, 2x per week
  • Dance lessons: 45 minutes, 1x per week
  • AWANAS: 1 hour and 45 minutes, 1x per week – this is in the evenings so Nick is responsible for getting Isla to and from AWANAS (YAY!)
  • Pre-school: 3 hours, 2x per week

Last year Isla did 5 hours, 2x per week in preschool, but I took her out of the afternoon extended care mostly because it was just too hard to work nap schedules for my two littlest into the afternoon. I do have the option to do 3 hours, 3x per week, but I love having our Fridays free to travel or go to different activities and events. I always thought that I would get my children into very rigorous schooling as soon as I possibly could and raise little scholars, BUT I really love spending time with them and I like keeping them with me as much as possible. Also, I have been reading about Finland’s education system where children receive zero formal education until they are 7 years old, and they are consistently the highest or almost the highest ranked in performance among developed nations. It’s a 180 from how I always thought I would be. Weird. The point is, I know that keeping them with me when they still not even 5 does not mean that they won’t be able to compete academically when they are bigger.

Gemma’s schedule:

  • Swim lessons: 45 minutes, 2x per week

I could seriously pinch myself that Gemma has an activity! I am sooooooooo excited. I would have killed to have Isla in something at this age. I originally wanted to get her into Kindermusik, but there wasn’t a time that really worked for us or that I wanted to make work for us. Swim lessons are at the same time as Isla and so it’s easier for me! I’m so excited!

Momma’s schedule:

  • Milk maker: 100% of the time
  • Milk pumper: 2x daily
  • Milk dispenser: at least 6 to 8 times per day!
  • Meal provider: 3x daily, x5 people
  • Chauffer: 24/7

Oh I could go on and on! I am going to be busy, busy those first few months until we really get into our routine, and even then….... One thing that I determined to make a priority is to attend an exercise class. I found the best deal in town! A local church offers work out classes during the week with excellent child care. I could never leave my kids in a gym day care, at least not until they were a bit bigger because the kids are usually kind of lumped together, no matter the age. However this childcare is split up by age, so Baby Shaka will be with other babies, Gemma with other toddlers, and Isla with big kids! Nick is very supportive and has committed to watching the kids on Saturday mornings so that I can attend a Yoga class. I also have a mom friend who offers Pilates lessons along with a babysitter for a very reasonable price that I could also use! I have to make my health a priority. It’s hard for me because I hate leaving my kids and feel so guilty, but it’s important. I know this, and Nick is 100% behind me and encouraging me.

Baby Shaka’s schedule:

  • Eat, sleep, poop, look adorable, and be cuddled! Momma can’t wait!

I’m so sad our lovely summer is coming to a close, but I am determined to enjoy my last year before Isla starts kindergarten with my 3 blessings. It’s going to be crazy though! Seriously, cray cray Winking smile, but I’m so looking forward to it!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Fun: Kickin’ It in the Backyard

Believe it or not, I am married to a man who loves to do yard work and other filthy, hard, manual outdoor labor… seriously, who likes hard manual labor? He loves to mow, clear brush, garden, you name it, he does it and relishes in it! I would love to pass on all of my housework to a housekeeper if I could, but Nick would never dream of letting anyone else take care of his yard but him.

Nick and I loved having our giant yard in Louisiana. Nick did such a wonderful job of turning it from a barren, swampy mess into a very pretty yard, and he also built the pergola and did a lovely job too! Probably our least favorite thing about this house is that we have a teeny, tiny little pocket of yard. That’s just kind of true for all of Texas actually, everything is bigger in Texas… except for people’s yards. Far from being ungrateful, it’s nice to have something of a yard after 2+ years in a city apartment, and while we wish it was bigger, we know that there is always a chance that in the future we might find ourselves in another location with no outdoor space so we are enjoying it while it lasts! We also really love our back patio, and have been spending many an evening after the kids are in bed just sitting out there and talking. Evenings are so lovely and cool in the desert.

We are definitely enjoying what we have! Also as a side note, even though we have always bought established homes that are at least 5 years old, they never have mature trees! We always plant them. One day would love to have a home with a nice shade tree. Just one.

Isla and Nick playing ball.


Cute little chocolate face!

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Nick always has a garden going wherever we live, not matter how little the yard. Isla really loves to check on the garden with her daddy, I’m so glad that he is teaching all of us how to “live off the land.”  Somehow we had a big pumpkin vine growing out of our compost pile, which is strange, but understandable since that’s where our Halloween pumpkin ended up. But then we had another vine with three pumpkins pop up and take over part of our garden. We have no idea how that happened. We are leaving them because we can’t wait to see how big they get and what they turn into.IMG_4128

Also, what’s summer without POPCICLES!


Buckets of ice, a fun little sensory activity. Maybe I need to get these girls in on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!


Love these two!


Resisting the urge to put the cutest little nekkie pic of Gemma up! Smile

We are SO thankful to have a little yard to run and play and eat popsicles in! We have really enjoyed our summer evenings out here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Fun: Our Awesome Neighborhood Pool!

When we found out we were moving to the desert and TEXAS, one big request that I had, was that we buy a house with pool (not likely) or at least buy in a neighborhood that had access to a pool (still not super likely). There really are not that many neighborhoods in town that have their own pools, so although this was a big wish, it was not a must have. Also, compared to say Houston where most of the neighborhoods have huge, olympic sized pools and many are now putting in splash pads, the Midland neighborhood pools are little bitty. Many people also told us we could join the country club here, which has a nice pool, and also is not at hoity toity or expensive as it sounds, but that was our very, very last option. I am so thankful that we were able to buy in a neighborhood, that not only has it’s own pool, but that has a HUGE pool and little kiddie pool too!

The only problem is that it is the coldest pool in the world! There has only been one time that the temperature has been nice and not frigid and so more pleasant, which was nice for Gemma and me! Nick and Isla on the other hand, are much less fussy than Gemma and me about water temperature, so they have gotten the most use out of it! Often times, it is also almost empty, which is so nice.

Isla has learned so much at swim lessons and I love to watch her swim out on her own and get adventurous (under our watchful eye). She also loves to have Nick throw her high in the air, both from the water and the side, and then flip over back into the water! She gets some serious air. I wish I had a good picture of it!




Our friends also love to come and use the pool too.


We are so thankful to have this wonderful resource!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Happy 31st To Me!

I turned 31 yesterday! Everyone in the house besides me was sick though. Nick says the only thing worse than being sick on your birthday is having everyone else sick on your birthday!

Gemma has been sick for the past several days. It could be teething (me), it could also be allergies (Nick). Either way she has had a fever and a leaky faucet for a nose since Wednesday. Nick has definitely had allergies since Friday with a fever off and on. And poor Isla. Poor Isla!

Friday after Isla and I went to the Bingham Center we went to HEB (grocery store). Isla and I went into the restrooms and when Isla lifted her hand to have the soap dispensed into her hand, it shot past her hand and went straight into her eye! At first I thought it would be like when you get soap in the bathwater. It turns out it is a much bigger deal. Her eye turned bright red, and I ran to ask the pharmacist what I should rinse it with (the bathroom water was too hot). The pharmacist would not even come and talk to me, but girl behind the counter recommended just water (I’m so done with HEB’s pharmacy). So ran to the water aisle and picked up a gallon of purified water and rinsed her eye the best I could. When we arrived home, Nick and I got her in the bathtub and worked hard to rinse out her eye some more. Two hours after it happened she was still crying in pain and she couldn’t open her eyes. She actually fell asleep in our bed, after tossing and turning and whimpering, and she never takes naps anymore!

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So I called her pediatrician to get more advice and find out if I could get her; she just reiterated that rinsing her eye with water was the best thing to do. We spent the day cuddling and rinsing and by the evening time, she could open her eye a little bit and seemed to be doing much better.

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But then my birthday rolled around the next day and she was running a fever and couldn’t open her eye again. She spent all day like this…

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We finally decided to take her to urgent care in the afternoon and it turned out she had pink eye! She had developed an infection, probably from the bacteria in the water we had been flushing her eye with. My sister-in-law (a pediatric nurse practitioner) called an optometrist friend who said that we should have been rinsing with saline solution all along because it was sanitary! Grrrrrrr.

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So bless her heart! We got her on antibiotics and she is doing so much better today. She’s back to her hyper self after laying around and cuddling for the past two days… only with a little extra clumsiness from only being able to open up one eye!

Nick said he was sorry that my birthday wasn’t all about me; he’s always so sweet about my birthday.  But, we have kids, so I’m pretty sure there won’t be many, if any, things that are just about me for the next 18 years or so… and even then, I highly doubt it!

I’ve done quite a few introspective posts this past year, so I will spare you much another one of those other than a few things. I didn’t do a 30 year blog post because it was such a crazy, transitional time. Now here we are settled into our home in our city, and life is really good. Before I became pregnant with Isla, I had a friend tell me to wait until I was 30 to start my family because she said life just seems much clearer at 30. Obviously I did not take her advice Smile, and I also now don’t agree with her advice, although at 25 it made sense. At 31, life seems so nice. I am really looking forward to the next few years of babies and raising little people and spending time with my adored husband. Beyond that, I have no idea what our future will look like. We can make all of the plans we want, but we don’t know what will happen. We thought we could control so much in our 20s, but now we know better. We’ve never had much control over the conception of our children. We don’t have much control over where we live. We don’t know what the LORD has in store for our family, and we are learning to be ok with that.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” ~Corrie Tin Boom

I do also want to say that I have started seeing a Christian therapist for several reasons that I won’t go into beyond a vague reason which is that I very much want to have healthy relationships with other people and to be able to model healthy relationships for my children and show them how to set healthy boundaries around certain relationships. I am only sharing because there is such a taboo around therapy, and you should never be ashamed to ask for help if there’s something you feel like you cannot process or deal with on your own. I truly believe that the LORD has begun a good work in me, and he will see it through to completion until the day of Jesus Christ, and I’m so thankful to live in a city with such a strong believing community and wealth of Christ-centered resources.

So that’s that, and this is 31 Smile. Not too shabby.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer Fun: Bingham Center!

All last year, I had had big plans to try open gym at the Bingham Center, but we never got around to it.  Bingham Center is a dance/gymnastics/creative play place here in Midland, and on Fridays, they let the kids come and play, play, play on all of the equipment and trampolines for a small fee! The best part is that mornings are just for kids 5 and under, and older kids get to go in the afternoon.

We have been able to go twice this summer and my little girls loved it! I love that Gemma can play too, although I have to follow her around and watch her like a hawk or else she gets hurt. Isla I can just let run free! Today I took Isla because Gemma wasn’t feeling well and it was Nick’s Friday off and he wasn’t feeling well. So my two sickies stayed home and cuddled and Isla and I went. We had planned to met up with my neighbor Dawn and her two girls and of course, since it’s Midland, we ran into other people we know, including Isla’s best little male friend (I refuse to call him her boyfriend), who she calls “her little Blake”!

Here are few pics from our times there!

IMG_3859IMG_3866IMG_3875And today without our Gemma.

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One of Isla’s June activities was to attend a Frozen themed workshop here! She loved it and so I signed her up for Bingham’s two hour class in the fall that included Sports (no idea what that is), Gymnastics, Tap/Ballet, and Cheerleading. Yes, cheerleading. For a four year old.

It turns out cheerleading is a huge deal here with small children going to competitions and joining companies and everything. This makes sense because we are in the Permian Basin and football is HUGE here. Remember Friday Night Lights? It’s based on Odessa’s football team and it’s no less big in Midland. Anyway, Nick and I were a little bit squeamish about letting her do cheerleading because of course we were picturing this…


Um yeah, not exactly what we have been dreaming for our beloved first born! However, it was so nice to be able to just drop Isla off and have her do so many activities at once and this was a part of the package. Then we really thought about it, and we realized, it’s 30 minutes a week and that our daughter is a) LOUD b) PERKY c) and TOUGH, what does that sound like to you? While we don’t plan on pushing the cheerleading thing, this would really give her a chance to engage in an activity for 30 minutes a week that allowed her to be herself and played to her strengths. We were reminded to parent the child we have, not the child we want.

BUT then we decided to enroll Gemma and Isla in swim lessons in the fall and we decided that including this would entail spending way too much money on children's’ activities.  So I yanked her out! We will just have to wait until later to get her into gymnastics, sports, and ahem (maybe never) cheerleading!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

35 Weeks with Baby Shaka!!!!!

We are getting into the final weeks! Yay! I can and also cannot wait to meet this little one. Its going to be hectic for a while when she comes, but I am finally starting to get uncomfortable and ready to have my little one OUT!

Birthday Date

I know that very early in the pregnancy I had mentioned that my first Doctor thought that I might try for a VBAC if I wanted to. I feel like this topic deserves a post of it’s own, and I really, really appreciate all of the notes of encouragement that I received, but we decided to go ahead with a c-section. Once I switched Doctors is became a moot point, but Nick and I had pretty much decided on the three-peat c-section anyway.

This means we have a birthday for Baby Shaka, unless she comes earlier, which I doubt! She will arrive September 12th, which is my Father-In-Law’s birthday, and we love him and are very excited that he gets a birthday buddy. If you will recall, my original date was September 18th, which puts 39 weeks right on September 11th!!! Well there was no way I was going to saddle this poor kid with a 9/11 birthday, so I begged and my Doctor agreed to the 12th. PHEW.

I made a little count down chain for Isla and she loves pulling off a link every day. We are doing a lot to make the baby’s arrival special for her and so instead of calling it the baby’s birthday, we call it BIG SISTER DAY!

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Test Updates

So, it turns out that I am Strep B negative, which is a first and makes me really happy. However since I was positive with Isla at least (not sure about with Gemma) they will go ahead and administer antibiotics before delivery.

Also I failed my glucose test so I had to go in for the dreaded 3 hour test, which wasn’t even that bad. At this point, I’ve had the orange flavored glucose drink twice, the lime flavored once, and then whatever this one was, but I forgot. If you have the choice, go for the orange, although none of them are that bad.  I actually kind of enjoyed the 3-hour test. I went in on a Friday and Nick kept Gemma and Isla. This summer was supposed to be my “Summer with Toni Morrison”. I had big plans to read all of her novels that I had never read… well so far I have only made it through Sula, thanks to my 3 hour glucose test! I just don’t have the time or the brain capacity at night to make it through anything other than my book club books.

And a side note: DO NOT READ SULA WHEN PREGNANT! And especially not pregnant in public. Without giving away too much, there are 3 mother/child themed deaths within a short period of time in the book and I had to excuse myself and go cry in my car while I waited for my next blood draw.

Late Pregnancy Ultra Sound

Since this is definitely not my first rodeo, I already know what to do and what is coming. I actually had to remind my Doctor about my glucose test, and then at my appointment Monday, I asked if I was going to have a late term ultrasound. My Doctor was like “you haven’t had that already? We should have already done it!” So Nick and the girls and I went in Tuesday to check on our little baby and everything looked very good. She is measuring on the bigger side like Isla! She is just beautiful and perfect. Here is a profile shot with a bunch of umbilical cord. It’s hard to get a good face shot this late in the game.

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Hospital Visit

Nick and I went and pre registered at the hospital and toured the facility in July. It’s the oldest hospital that I have ever given birth in, but it will do. They have a NICU, which is comforting. It’s the only one in the area. I was a little nervous about the touring nurses response when I asked if there was lactation consultant on staff. She said that yes there was, but that I wouldn’t need it since I had already successfully breastfed my first two. The only reason that I was successful is because I asked for help. Breastfeeding is not easy, and I believe in surrounding myself with as much support and knowledge possible. I just hope the LC is willing to help a third-time breastfeeding mom if she needs it and doesn’t have the attitude of the touring nurse!

Unfortunately they are not set up to clean up Baby Shaka in front of me while I am being stitched up like they did at Gemma’s hospital Sad smile.

General Pregnancy Symptoms

So this will definitely be my heaviest pregnancy, however my weight gain slowed down and its looking like I will only be about 5 lbs over what I was with Isla (about 30 overall), and not 10, which is where I was originally thinking I would be. It’s so weird. I don’t feel like I have done anything differently this pregnancy than I did with the first two, and I also don’t feel like I do anything differently from one week to next, but sometimes I gain two or five pounds. This week I lost one pound. Sometimes I am the same. I have a friend Crystal who is just teeny tiny and she gained 40-45 lbs with her two pregnancies and she comforted me because she was able to lose all of the weight and she reminded me that your body just gains what it needs. Some disagree with that attitude, but it’s a comforting thought.

Also, I continue to have NO HEARTBURN! Crazy. Amazing. Wonderful. Awesome sauce! However, I finally have one crappy symptom and that is that my carpal tunnel is flaring up. I had it with Isla, but not with Gemma so I was surprised that it was flaring up with this one. I shouldn’t even be typing, but oh well. I bought wrist adjusters from Walgreens, and it works well on my left hand, but not so well on my right. There’s not really anything that can be done for it right now, but it makes sleeping hard. Plus my hand has started going numb just doing everyday things. Thankfully it has not gone up to my shoulder the way it did with Isla’s pregnancy. It’ll be over in 4 weeks anyway so I can get through it.

I’ll do another post on what we are doing to prep for this little blessing, but that’s it for now. Sweet Baby Shaka. Everything about this pregnancy has been so easy, from her conception all the way through to today! She is such a sweet blessing, and we are so thankful for her! We can’t wait to meet this little angel babe.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

House Tour: The Living Room

Here is our living room, which is rapidly becoming my favorite room in the house. Originally we had much less furniture, more toys and even a little kiddie corner with a table and chairs and kids’ books… and well, I hated it! My original genius idea to keep the study-currently-the-playroom for adults and this one for kids did not work well (so that I could see them from the kitchen). This clear delineation between adult and kid space is working so much better for us, and the house is so much more peaceful.

A lot of people comment on our white couches, Nick included, he really cannot resist getting in a comment about white furniture, but you know what… I LOVE THEM! They were one of the best purchases I ever made. They are slipcovered and the slipcover can be bleached all to heck if needed. Just because you can’t see dirt on your furniture, that doesn’t mean it’s not there; I would much rather be able to see it and get rid of it! And I can always buy a new slipcover later if I want to change my color options. The only regret that I have is that I followed the care instructions to the letter, which says to tumble dry the slipcover in the dryer and specifically says to NOT air dry them. That makes them shrink to the point where they are almost impossible to get on, so I have started air drying them and they are much easier to get back on after washing.


This was the console that our TV sat on in Louisana. It’s actually a very awkward console and also a very awkward desk, but it’s very pretty and so I keep it around Smile. I am really picky about nick-knacks. I don’t like purchasing things just so that they look good, except for candles and such. This has my only matryoshka doll that I have kept from Russia, the rest I donated to Reece’s Rainbow auctions besides Isla’s set. I also have my absolute favorite book series in hardback on display here, The Anne Series, by Lucy Maude Montgomery. I love that I can store our poufs and throws underneath the console.


The new recliners with the burlap pillows I bought last year.


So as you can see… I found throw pillows, and I love them! My mother bought this table on Craigslist and refinished it for us. Its some fancy brand, but I think she only paid around $25 for it!


The reading nook with the new bookcase. I absolutely LOVE the new book case. It is actually much larger than what I asked for, in fact they pretty much ignored every dimension I gave them by about half a foot Smile, but I still love it. The stain is perfect and it doesn’t have all the frou-frou-y extra wood pieces that the Restoration Hardware book case it is modeled after has, and I prefer it that way. I was worried that that one would be a little too ornate for my style. They kept the cute little feet though, I love those. I seriously LOVE this book case, and I especially LOVE the price! And, those books are NOT just for looks. There is nothing worse than buying a book for decoration; it’s almost a form of blasphemy. Most of these books I have read and loved, with the exception of a few. For example, I have read Scarlett, the sequel to Gone With The Wind, and I didn’t like it… BUT I keep it up there because I have GWTW, a classic and also a book I love, and I just keep it there because well… it is the sequel. Another example, my mom recently gifted me with the entire Louisa May Alcott collection. I’ve read three of her books, and loved them, and of course ready Little Women over and over, and I haven’t read the entire collection, it’s on my list. But for the most part, I’ve read them all, and loved them all, and they are my pretties.


The new console, with no TV. I stole the idea of buying a horse picture from a friend of mine, who has a charcoal horse picture from Z Gallerie. Her house is done in a lot of espresso and gray, and that picture would not work in my home, but I loved the idea of having a horse picture. I have been on the look out for the right picture at the right price for half a year now, and then I finally found this one on Joss and Main. I love it! At some point I would love to add a TV right here, but that won’t be for a long time.


The mantle and hearth. I found that clock made from barn wood at a little store in Magnolia. Note that not a single candle stick of mine has a candle in it. That’s my next design dilemma. I keep heading to Hobby Lobby and Target and thinking, should I get this one or this one with a pattern or this one in a bright color and then I just get afflicted with indecision … I am probably over thinking it, but I’ll get to it eventually. Smile


All in all, I think it has really come together. I find this to be the hardest part of staying at home. I mean, nothing in my previous life prepared me for “keeping house” and being a homemaker and making the home an attractive and comfortable place to be. I have an engineering degree for crying out loud! However, I am finding that the longer I stay at home, the more a part of my overall identity my home becomes. The same way my job used to be, the same way Nick’s job currently is. We’ve had a few discussions about that recently and Nick is really cool about letting me do whatever I want, and that means a lot to me! Even though he still misses his brown couch, and he can’t resist the occasional snarky comment about our white sofas Smile.


PS. I would love to redo the window treatments (just blinds that are pulled up in this picture) or add curtains, but that is waiting for whether or not we stay in Midland longer than our current assignment.

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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