"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Monday, June 30, 2014

Third Trimester

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I am now 28 weeks and change with Baby Shaka Smile. That picture is from her 19 week ultrasound. My mom pointed out that in the previous picture I shared there was an arrow pointing to her nether regions… truthfully I hadn’t noticed or thought about it, other than that was the picture that said “girl”. My mistake.  So sorry baby Shaka for not protecting your privacy. Here is a shot of your beautiful profile and perfect round head!

There isn’t much to report. This pregnancy has been ridiculously easy. I would describe it as asymptomatic so far, except that I can feel a baby moving around in my stomach and I keep bumping into things. I never thought my previous pregnancies were hard per say, but definitely there was some discomfort as every stage. With this one, there hasn’t been anything except for the hot feet, but that hasn’t even been so bad that I need to keep a permanent bucket of water by my bed like I did with Gemma. And of course I play musical beds/couch every night just like with my previous pregnancies! For some reason I wake up and can’t go back to sleep unless I make Nick switch sides with me or I go to the couch where I immediately fall back asleep. Its weird, but it could be so much worse. I go in next week for my glucose screening.


I am in full nesting mode, more so than with the last two. The funny thing is that none of the nesting is around getting Baby Shaka’s things ready… she’s our third girl, we already have everything we need and we know what we really need! For her first three months, all she really needs is a bed, clothes, diapers and me to nurse her, and all of that is ready already, god willing I can nurse her like I did my first two. Like my last two, she will be in our Nap Nanny until she can roll out of it. I realize that it was recalled, which is sad because it’s a wonderful product and one that I could not live without. We will be using it per instructions, on the floor, not in a crib with a bumper.

We are working to get the playroom in order, the living room, our closet and any other little projects that I have let slide over the past year. I am anxious to tackle things, but wary of letting things sit half done for too long so I am actually being smart about not starting projects until I can finish them quickly. Thankfully Nick has a four day weekend this week (yay!) and my mom is coming this Saturday to spend eight days with us! Hopefully there won’t be much left to do after that and I can just sit and twiddle my thumbs.

Fall Routine

I have also been getting our fall routine in order, and figuring out what the girls will be doing so that I can organize our Baby Wise routine. I’ll be writing it up in a spreadsheet as soon as I can confirm everything Smile. I know Baby Wise is not for everyone, but it works for me and helps me be a better mommy. I do much better when I have an idea of what our day will look like. I hope that I get another baby like Gemma who sleeps 12 hours a night at 6 weeks, but even if Baby Shaka is like Isla and doesn’t get there until 3 1/2 months, that’s fine. Every child is different and every one works at their own pace; Baby Shaka isn’t a robot and we will have off days and even weeks, just like I did with the other two, but I’m happy that we will have a flexible routine to work off of.

I had not planned on continuing Isla’s swim lessons in the fall, but Nick came to a lesson and he was so impressed he wanted to get Gemma in. She will be eligible once she is 18 months in August. We talked it over, and we weren’t sure at first. Then one of Nick’s contractor’s sons drowned the day after Nick met him, and he found out the day after we learned that we could enroll Gemma at the same slot as Isla… and well that sealed it for him and me. It was so sad. Before Isla and Gemma are even taught to swim, their instructors focus on not drowning and getting to safety and how to act in an emergency.

This change up actually works so much better than what I had originally planned! It means that Isla will only be in preschool T/Th from 9 to 12, and then we will leave from there for swim and be home by 1:30/1:45ish so that Gemma can go down early for a nap. Before Isla would have been in extended care from 12 to 2 and Gemma probably would not have been able to nap until 2:30/2:45ish, which feels too late to me. I don’t know what I am going do when Isla goes to kindergarten next year with TWO afternoon nappers at home, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Isla will definitely do Awanas on Wednesday nights and maybe do dance on Monday mornings, but that is still up in the air. I’m SO glad that Gemma is able to do an activity!

That’s pretty much it! Bless little Baby Shaka, being the third and already knowing what to do with her, she does come across as a little bit of an afterthought since we have to get everything arranged around her, but I know once she gets here, she is going to be the center of everyone’s world for a time. We already love her so much and are so looking forward to her arrival!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

It’s Really Happening…

First of all, Happy Birthday Cookie!  Thanks for being such a wonderful mom and grandmother, we are so blessed to have you in our lives!

Nick and I have finally reached a compromise on the PLAYROOM and so we can move forward with turning the room into a dedicated play area for the kids!

I am having SO MUCH FUN it almost feels sinful! Before kids I thought that playrooms came across as a little decadent and unneeded space and that kids did not need a lot of toys… and yes, playrooms are a little on the self indulgent side. I feel so spoiled to have one, but I just never realized how much stimulation my kids would need or how many toys they would acquire or how OVERstimulated I would get from having their toys in my living room! I really try to keep their toys that I buy to a minimum, but I failed to realize just how much they would receive between grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, visitors, strangers... you name a person and they get toys from them. I definitely found my “kids don’t need a lot of toys” principle in direct conflict with my “I will NOT micromanage their relationships with their grandparents” principle, and well, the latter won! Especially when I see how happy Isla gets when she receives her toys, and how much her grandparents love buying her toys and seeing her happy face. I try to rotate them though so that she really plays with everything.

Nick and mine’s compromise was this – we have to keep the TV in the playroom, but I could sell the brown couch and buy a loveseat/futon so that there is more play area. This also means that I can keep the white chair in the main living room… YAY! I had always wanted the TV in the playroom anyway. We’ve always said that we were a one TV family, and Nick is sticking to that. I myself could see that it would be nice to have a TV in the main living room and the playroom… but for now I am happy that I can put in some cartoons for the girls while they are playing on occasion.

The brown couch is GONE! It sold in 24 hours for twice what I thought I could get for it… that’s the UP side of living in a boom town, and between that and a few other things that I have sold, almost the entire change is covered… Thank goodness for IKEA! It would be covered and then some, but the new couch is adding a bit of extra cost.

I decided to start with the throw pillows this time to set the tone of the playroom and I think that that was my most genius idea ever. Its much less stressful than trying to find throw pillows to coordinate with what you already have!

osara pillow


The pillow above says “Why fit in, when you were born to stand out?” I love it! As traditional as Nick and I are, I am beginning to feel like WE are the outsiders because the US is changing so much, and I hope that my girls are never afraid to be themselves, whether what they believe is popular or not.

Also, at this point in motherhood, with three girls, I regret ever buying anything gender neutral, but for some reason I find myself not doing a girly, traditional playroom, but instead doing things a little more fun and retro and using a lot of green. I am having a lot of fun and just trying to make things bright and not stress out too much about making things matchy-matchy.

This is what I am looking at right now for a sofa. It’s the HAGALUND loveseat from IKEA, and it can fold out into a sofa bed since Nick pointed out the hugeness of our brown couch allowed people to sleep on it. It will be so great to have an extra bed for guests, plus its slipcovered! Another stipulation… I could not add another piece of white furniture to our house (sigh). Beige it will be! We are headed to IKEA to test it out this weekend.


I based a lot of my inspiration on my friend Che’s playroom, check it out! It is very cool and well thought out. I need to design this around my kids so that they will WANT to be in there and make it very conducive to play. That includes, but is not limited too – making things easy for kids the reach and pull out themselves, setting up stations (I plan to rotate ours every few weeks), and keeping things ORGANIZED so that Isla and Gemma can actually find what they are looking for, and best of all, help clean up.

We start with toy storage! So I have been researching toy storage since Isla was born. Its on of those random subjects that I just find fascinating. What’s the best, how does it work, what are the advantages and disadvantages, what are people using and why, etc.. As much as I love PB Kids for ideas on just about everything, those storage units are the worst, so uninspired!

In Russia, we had a big EXPEDIT unit that we sold when we left. I didn’t like how big and tall it was, and the cheap but colorful DRONA bins were hard to get in and out and the bottom would always pop up. Plus I hated the way things could be knocked off of the shelves.

I was convinced that the Land of Nod had the best toy storage. Their storagepalooza not only had the best name, but I loved that the bins were open and low to the ground so that they could be easily accessed, and there was a lip so that things wouldn’t fall out.


Since storagepalooza is RIDICULOUSLY expensive IMHO, I bought Isla the poor man’s knock off from Badger Basket for her room. On sale, it was roughly one third of the price of storagepalooza and the same basic design. After putting it to the test in Isla’s room, I did not love that it was hard to keep organized with so few bins and it was easy to look cluttered since you could see inside.

So then for Gemma’s room, I went back to IKEA and a TROFAST system. This one has probably been my favorite so far because I love that you can buy bins according to the volume of toys that you have for a particular category of toys, but the girls have a difficult time putting the bins back… and I just don’t love the look of it or the work involved in figuring out exactly how much storage I will need for what.

TROFAST is actually my favorite so far, but the more I researched, I decided to go back to EXPEDIT, now KALLAX, buy a smaller unit, and buy smaller bins to go inside the cubes. I thought about just getting the not-cloth bins from IKEA, but that would have tripled the budget and you still run into the same issue with it being hard for little hands put to the bin back where it belongs, plus the sharp edges! I plan to keep one bin per “theme” or category and I will rotate them in and out of their rooms. I decided to use the strapping cube bin from the Land of Nod. Its soft, durable (DRONA is not), and is large, but still a bit smaller than the KALLAX cube so that it can be easily put back in.

Here are a few fun things that I am setting up and that I will be working on in the coming weeks!

So, BYE BYE cheap MALA easel. The kids always move it and knock it over, and its just not study and generally drives me nuts. Instead we are going to make a magnetic chalkboard wall. This will erase the need for a separate magnetic board, plus it will be a wall that I don’t need to worry about decorating, which is the second hardest part after throw pillows Smile. I can also hang a craft paper roller above it if I want to so that the kids can color, but I don’t know if I want to do that yet… it seems like an invitation for disaster if my kids past toilet paper antics are any indication.


My mom is coming and we are going to makeover the bookcase to look something like this! This person used a stencil which feels like too much work, plus they are expensive, so we are going to start with fabric over cardboard and line the back. If that doesn’t work, we will move onto the stencil. I love the color palette too.

I already bought these new chairs to go with their round IKEA table. I only bought two with the original set, and already I regret that since Isla will have friends over and they don’t have a chair. There have been many times that we needed four (or more!). This was my splurge, even on clearance! I wish that they had not already sold out of the turquoise version, but they had so after consulting with my mom, I just bought four of the green, instead of two green, two turquoise.

Lime Looking Glass Play Chairs (Set of 2)

I have also loved these Michael Tompsett paintings for a while now, but I knew that it wouldn’t go well with my more traditional main house, but they are perfect for a playroom. They were on sale on Zulily last week and so I snatched them up! They will be so cute.

World Map Paint DropsUnited States Paint Splashes Map

The best part of the playroom will be…


I have drooled over these adorable, PINK kitchen pieces forever, but they are so pricey. At Christmas, my mom gave me $500 to spend on whatever I wanted. I decided to go ahead and order the PB Kids Farmhouse Kitchen Set, even though I felt SO guilty. I don’t know why because we only had to cover a tiny bit of it because they were on sale, but it just didn’t set right. They day that it was supposed to arrive, it never showed up. I went back and checked my email and I realized that my order had been cancelled and that PB Kids had decided to stop carrying it because of quality concerns. On the same day, we also had a little Reece’s Rainbow Angel Tree emergency, and so I decided to donate the $500 to that. My mom was NOT happy, she’s very generous, but she just wanted us to buy something fun for us for Christmas. I promised her I would buy something later.

Well, as soon as we found out about our third little princess, I decided that THREE girls was enough to justify THREE pink retro kitchen pieces, and I started to plan on saving to buy them for this Christmas… when low and behold, they just SHOWED UP on my doorstep! Ok, she told she bought them before they actually arrived… but my mom just up and bought them because she is so generous and sweet like that. Only not that sweet… because they are still Christmas presents not “right now” presents! NO! I want to open them now Smile. I asked why she bought them so early and she said it was because she had a coupon. So, we will have a really cool addition to our playroom come Christmas time. Isla will love it. Lately she has been asking for a bigger kitchen and a fridge. She really doesn’t ask for a lot and she says it in a sweet way, but her little IKEA kitchen is getting too little for her. Its her favorite toy to play with, and she will love this.

I am really hoping that this happy play area will help keep Isla and Gemm busy while I am holding/nursing a newborn, pumping, resting from a c-section and all of the other things that having a new baby in the house entail that will keep my attention from them! So that is what we will be working on in the coming weeks! I really do feel so spoiled, and as always, undeservedly so. I must say that I am loving this season of life, much more than the last one!

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sixteen Months of Gemma!

I had meant to do this last month at 15 months, but oh well, better late than never!

Gemma had her 15 month appointment about two and a half weeks ago and here are her stats…

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She’s still TINY with a big head for her big brain! Ha! She is really so smart though. (BRAG ALERT!) I think a lot of it is just that I notice more than what I did with Isla. With Isla I was so busy worrying about her, and not spending enough time just enjoying her and noticing all of the things she was doing. And I am REALLY enjoying Gemma at this age!

Signing and Communication

After she turned one, I started to get really serious with encouraging her to sign, and one I got serious, she got serious and picked up everything really quickly. She very rapidly started signing three word sentences, like “Eat more please!” and then she would point to the fridge. She will also tell us if she needs to poo poo or if she has poo pooed… TMI maybe, but its really cute. For example, she will tug on her diaper, say “oo oo” and then sign “change”. Or just say “oo oo” if she hasn’t gone yet. Nick has started throwing her on the potty quickly when she does that… I admit that I am less quick to do that. While she may be ready for potty training and be one to easily potty train, I am just a little jaded after Isla, who was really hard to potty train… and with the new baby coming, I just don’t know if I can be as consistent as I need to be.

My favorite is when she does her form of “juice/water/drink” (all are one finger to her mouth) and then says “thhhhh” for a drink of juice or water. She is also very good at saying her version, of “Mommy, Daddy, Isla, Frodo, uh no, NO, book, ball, bite, baby, eat” and several others.

The other day at bedtime I asked her “Gemma, are you ready to go night night?” To which she replied “DOH! (no in Gemma-speak)”. I wasn’t sure so I said and signed “Do you want to go to SLEEP in your BED?” Then she looked at me and very forcefully said “DOH!” It was very cute.

Sometimes when she is tired she will come up to me and sign “bed”… which is amazing and awesome!

I will say that she goes through periods where she overuses one word. For example, for a while “more” just meant in general, “I want”, even though we work on please. Then that stopped. Then I realized this week that she was using “eat” to replace “please” for “I want”. We still work on please, but at this age, whether she is using the correct “please” sign or just something else that I recognize as “I want” they all really translate to “GIVE IT TO ME NOW!” That would have stressed me out with my first, but I know she will move past it.


Gemma is a happy baby, but much more prone to dramatics and melt downs than Isla was. I never understood why people bought their daughters shirts that say “DIVA” or talked about their “diva daughters” when they were so little… to me those are bad things and why would you speak those words over your daughter? But now I realize that I was just being a little judgey… because although I would not categorize Gemma as a “diva” just yet, she definitely is sensitive and dramatic, and I don’t know where that came from other than just being a part of the personality God gave her. She is pretty sensitive and can start crying over very small things, like someone dropping something or a mild bump. Mostly we just laugh at her and kiss her through it though. We think its funny, but its definitely something to watch as she grows.

She is seriously so cute and cuddly though! If she finds a lap, she will sit in it. We love that about her. She loves to just lounge on you, which we also love. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the cuddles. She is also very free with the kisses.

I know that I said once before that she was shier than Isla, which is not entirely true. Although she does not want to be held by other people, she loves to grab people’s attention. She has this perfect little prom queen wave and says “hi” to anyone and everyone where ever we are.

Gemma is also starting to mimic everything we do, and its so cute. She tries to put on my shoes for me, put on her own shoes, put on clothes, wash her face, wipe the table, etc. Its out-of-control CUTE! She also loves babies. She cuddles them and kisses them and signs and says baby its just so sweet.


I don’t know what to say about Gemma’s eating. Some days she’s good. Some days she’s bad. She also has a tendency to throw her food on the floor, which we work on constantly, but with no luck. I know its something she will grow out of though. I am reluctant to take her food away when she throws it down because we work so hard to get her weight up and she doesn’t seem to mind not eating. Its also weird because if Isla liked a food, she liked a food, but Gemma will like something, then not want it, not want it, like it again, not want it, like it again, like it again… whatever. I just generally give her whatever we are having with some modifications.

We did find out that she LOVES hamburgers. She is a baby after her Daddy’s heart! She still loves our “milkshakes” or what we call our fruit/green smoothies so that’s very comforting. She also loves oatmeal, grilled cheese, and grapes. Everything else follows the pattern above, including amazingly delicious crowd pleasers like strawberries or cheese!


Gemma used to be a light sleeper, but she has started sleeping much deeper than before. We even had a HUGE thunderstorm the other night that she slept right though. She’s sleeping 12 hours at night and 2 to 3 hours at nap time.


Gemma loves swim lessons! We are looking into getting her into swim lessons in the fall at the same place that Isla takes lessons at the same time as Isla. Its very expensive though so we need to sit down and go over our budget, but I would LOVE for her to have an activity in the fall.

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She does tend to prefer swimming with me over Nick though. Nick tends to be a little more rough, which works great with Isla’s personality… not so much with Gemma’s!

That’s it for now! These update posts are so hard because she is doing SO MUCH and I know that I have left out a bunch… but seriously, she is the sweetest little thing and we get such a kick out of her! Also, I LOVE that she has inherited her Daddy’s dimples… that will get her out of much trouble as she gets older… already does Smile.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Problem Solved! We solved the problem, problem solved!

My nesting is kicking into full gear these days! Every thing that has ever bothered me about our house and furniture arrangement is getting changed in these coming months before Baby Shaka’s arrival. I just cannot handle clutter, mess or disorganization right now.  Today, the first problem area was fixed!!! HOORAY! It was an easy fix, which is why it is done, but its one step in the right direction.

When we moved to Russia, I bought this shoe bench and coat rack. It was perfect for Russia because 1) its cold and everyone wears jackets and 2) everyone takes off their shoes when they enter a house. When we moved back, we had the seemingly perfect spot for it, and so I painted it yellow to better match my color scheme and that was that!

However, this spot has been driving me bonkers! Everyone always drops their things in that general region. On the bench. On the floor. People seldom hang things on the rack anyway… and the SHOES! No one ever even puts their shoes away and then Gemma loves to go and grab shoes and spreads them everywhere in the house. No one can find their shoes these days. And its also right by my only dining area and formal living area and I would just like for things to look pretty right there. I remember Isla doing it and it driving poor Agnessa crazy… I thought it was cute then! I feel kind of bad now that I would just laugh…

This is what I see on a daily basis. On this particular day, Gemma pushed the drying rack out of the utility room so that was out too.

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I considered several other solutions in that general location before I realized… I just needed to MOVE our shoe and jacket storage away from that location, preferably into a place where I could shut the door, and we need to have a specific place for everyone’s everything so that people know where there shoes are supposed to go and not just on the floor near the shoe storage!

After thinking it over, this is what I came up with and I am SO THRILLED! I just ordered a KALLAX unit (formerly EXPEDIT) from IKEA with 4 cubes for shoes/accessories – one for me, one for Nick, one for the girls and one for hats/scarves. I love the idea of having a box for hats/scarves because those also always end up all over the house. Plus the laundry room is right by the back door, so its not like people will have to go far to drop off their shoes. It came in today, and Nick and Isla put it together.

Side note: Isla’s favorite thing to do with dad on Nick’s Father’s Day questionnaire was to help him build things. They are really cute building things together, and its such a great exercise for her. He is so patient and lets her do all of the Allen wrench work, which is great for her fine motor skills. They also count out all of the pieces that come in the box, perfect as a real life counting application.

All that’s left is is to add labels because I know that everyone having their own spot to put things will make them more likely to follow the system, and best of all, I can shut Gemma OUT so that she cannot get into our shoes and spread them everywhere!

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A few months ago, we also started the most amazing SOCK SYSTEM EVER!!! We have a ridiculous number of odd socks, and our pile was just growing with each load of laundry, and it was so frustrating! I found this system on the Babywise Mom blog, but basically everyone has a zippered mesh laundry bag that they put their dirty socks into. Then I wash and dry the bag with the socks inside of it, and then match and fold them so quickly and then put them back into everyone’s drawers. That way we never have any odd socks, and I don’t spend forever matching and folding them. Only now where to put the dirty socks in the meantime? Nick has been putting his bag on our dresser, which is a solution I do not love. Now everyone can just put them in their bin with their shoes! Awesome and perfect!

I’ve asked my mom for an accordion coat rack for my birthday and everyone is going to get their own pegs for ONE jacket/sweater and a bag/backpack, which will hang on our one free wall in the laundry room. Since its not jacket weather now, I am not in as much of a rush to make this happen.

accordian rack

That’s where I am and I am so happy to have ONE thing crossed off of my list! Hooray! Blood pressure just got a little lower…

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father’s Day

I frequently skip these types of holidays and also our anniversaries on the blog, but for some reason, being pregnant and super emotional… I just cannot let them go this year without being very sappy. I cried my mascara away at church today over every single Father’s Day thing that they did.

Nick already received his big Father’s Day gift early, but the girls and I surprised him with chocolate croissants in bed (so easy, just buy the tubed croissants, roll up some chocolate, bake it and voila! It’s like being your own French pastry chef) and a little questionnaire about her Daddy that I had Isla fill out. We didn’t do anything special, just went to church and Nick left during quiet time to get the car inspected, but at the end of the day Nick said “This was a pretty good Father’s Day.” He seems so content with us and his life in general. Can I just say without offending anyone? Nick is the best husband and father I have ever known! You know all those parenting books I read… almost every single suggestion I think… oh wait, Nick already does that!

Nick Wann. Thank you.

  • Thank you for being such a present, involved and helpful Dad. I love the relationship that you have with our girls and I think every girl should be so lucky to have a father like you!
  • Thank you for just being so fun and lighthearted! I love that about you.
  • Thank you for believing and living out your belief that the labels working dad or stay-at-home mom don’t define your involvement in the lives of our children. We are BOTH full time parents. Our children have a full time dad and a full time mom.
  • Thank you for working so hard every day and then coming home and pouring yourself into us, enjoying your children and loving me and listening to me vent about my day.
  • Thank you for being so consistent in wanting to come home everyday and coming home with such a consistently happy, cheerful demeanor, no matter what type of day you’ve had at work. I wish I could say that you were always greeted by a happy, cheerful wife and kids… but you aren’t, and you still seem to look forward to coming home to us!
  • Thank you for believing in me and supporting me in my stay-at-home mothering, even though I consistently feel like I am not very good and that I was actually much better at the job I had outside the home for pay!
  • Thank you for never complaining that the house is messy, when dinner is bad or I don’t know what dinner will be when you get home, or you trip over toys or I ask you to help me clean because it always seems to get away from just me!
  • Thank you for being a man who loves the Lord and believes in his role as the head of our family. God gave you strong shoulders to carry the heavy burden of leading and protecting your family, and you don’t resent that role at all or try to hide or run away from it, like so many men these days do.

You are one in a million! Thank you. Also I love your dimples. Smile


And also thanks to our dads, James Thistlethwaite and Jim Wann! Of course we didn’t appreciate you growing up, but now we know just how lucky we are to have you and thankful for all of the good that you have done in our lives… and that you continue to love and spend time with us and your grandchildren!

Nick, the girls and I are so lucky to have you!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Decorating Drama

Ugh, I HATE DECORATING MY HOUSE!!! And because I have to always be PC, I know this is a FIRST WORLD PROBLEM! But UGH. Before I owned a house I thought it would be SO fun, but it really isn’t. At least not for me.

I had intended to blog about the girls tonight, but after spending like 2 hours online looking at throw pillows, I am about ready to claw my eyeballs out. This is not something that I am good at and I am so stressed out about. Yes, throw pillows. And decorating. I don’t know how something so innocuous can make my blood pressure rise so high! I finally gave up and googled “How to Decorate with Throw Pillows”.

When we moved in, Nick wasn’t ready to get rid of our huge, brown (but super comfy) sectional sofa and I didn’t want it in my main living room since I really don’t like dark colors and buying this was a fluke incident for me. I really wanted to make our bonus room into a playroom, but we had some leftover furniture that neither of us was ready to get rid of, and together the couch, a dresser, our old brown desk and a cheap bookcase that I bought as Sam’s made a very nice den for TV watching along with a little study. We just kept the girls’ toys out in the living room figuring that I spend most of my time in the kitchen and they want to be near me anyway.

As soon as we found out that we were having Baby Shaka and Gemma started moving around and getting toys everyone, the toy situation in our home made my stress level go through the roof and I just really wanted to have one room that I could throw them into and shut the door. Although I am still negotiating the brown couch with Nick, I have started the transition to move the TV into our living room, and have begun the process of selling and/or moving all of our furniture out of the den to make it into playroom. Of course it took me about 6 months to get things to where they were before I started to mix things up again and it will take me another 6 months to get done with this because I cannot make up my mind!

Anywhere here we are mid transition, and I can see how much I will enjoy things once I get everything into place. The girls already love their playroom even though they only have about a fourth of the room right now! I thought the toys would migrate to the living room, but they pretty much stay put, other than a few things Gemma wanders in with, which is to be expected at her age, and I can hear them really well from the kitchen since the rooms are close.

Living Room Changes…

My first step in moving the TV was making sure that Nick could watch TV at the same comfort level that he does in the den. So as a surprise early Father’s day gift, I bought him two leather recliners from a local furniture store called Carter’s. I was nervous about buying them as a surprise because I didn’t know if he would like them or if they would fit his frame well. For the fit, I made the store people find me someone about Nick’s height and build and test several of the recliners I liked, and tell me which was the most comfortable. Thankfully Nick LOVES them (still holding onto that brown couch though)! So do the girls. And I love the way they look in the living room. Win/win.

Here he is napping! Excuse the poor quality.



None of the pictures that I have of them in the home really turned out, but this is the store model. I love it!


While shopping for the recliners I had seen a TV console that I loved, but that had already been sold. When I asked about ordering another one for me, the sales lady said that this manufacturer had been sending that same model in a very different color so they had stopped ordering it. I have been searching online and at other stores around midland for a console that I liked, but they were either too expensive or I didn’t like them very much. I almost bought the Layla media console from Ballard Designs, but by the time I made up my mind to spend the money, they weren’t carrying it anymore. I couldn’t get the console from Carter’s out of my mind because not only was it my favorite one that I had seen, it was a also CHEAP and way under budget (score!). I decided to go back and plead for them to order another one to just see if it came in at the right color… and you know what? They had one that was already in their warehouse! Nick and I went back to look at it this afternoon, it was perfect and we snatched it up. It’s perfect, and we also received a discount on top of its low price for paying cash (it pays to follow Dave Ramsey). This is the console pic from the manufacturer, we will pick the actual console up this weekend.


Now we just have to get our new bookcase that I am ordering. I sent the person who is making it, the designs I like, the size that I want and the finish that I want. I definitely want a lighter wood finish since I have a lot of painted furniture and a lot of white. I am waiting on two quotes. These are the two designs that I am waiting on quotes for… she says she usually comes in about a third of the price of the companies that she copies!

st jamesjosephine bookcase

The bookcase should take at least a couple of months, and then all that remains is to buy a few throw pillows and maybe some wall art and my living room to main living-and-TV-viewing room transformation should be complete. I ordered a few throw pillows when we moved here last year, and I have sat down MANY times to buy some more or looked for them in store and I just couldn’t make up my mind. And so tonight I decided, I WILL get this done. I WILL! But here I am hours later with nothing to show for it.

This is what I know. I have a lot of blue. I need to add some yellows and some pinks. I put the two burlap pillows on the recliners, and birdy pillow will be in the middle on the white couch with the new ones on either side. They need be comfy too… because it always comes back to the brown couch and those pillows are the comfiest pillows ever!

Nature Study Pillow_thumb[2]

I think I like these two… but I just don’t know! Nick thinks (when pressed) I need to add some darker brown to tie in the recliners… and yes, he’s totally cool with me adding as much pink as I want. Because he’s awesome like that. Even though he keeps steering me to dark brown decorating colors and won’t let me get rid of the brown couch. Also, I made him give me his opinion – he just had me spend an hour going over something for his project at work because he values my opinion as a former project engineering professional, and so I made him return the favor when I got very stressed out over these dumb pillows, otherwise he could not care less!


Playroom Changes

There isn’t much to buy or do with this change. We sold our desk (I brought that into the marriage) and we won’t have one anymore. It was just a place to collect clutter for us and we never used it for its purpose. We moved the bookcase into the guest bedroom along with all of our paperbacks. We moved the bookcase from the living room and put the kids books in there, and it is FULL! And now I have piles of hardbacks just waiting for a home. The TV is on a dresser (Nick brought that into the marriage) that I would like to sell or give to family and of course our HUGE couch that I would like to sell.

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Nick’s favorite spot in the house Smile, and poor Frodo who never makes the blog anymore! See how BIG that couch is? Gemma has been climbing on it, running the length of it and of course… falling off. Yet another reason I want it to go. She can’t be trusted in the room by herself without hurting herself. MUST. GET. STAKEHOLDER. BUYIN. AND. SELL. STUPID. COUCH.

photo 3 (9)photo 4 (5)

As soon as I get the TV moved into the living room (I have to get AT&T out to move it since there’s no phone jack in the living room), the dresser and couch are gone. I am moving the white chair and ottoman in here because that’s all the adult seating we really need and I just need to buy some toy storage from IKEA. Then I am DONE! Anyway… I have a plan, I just need to execute it! But I’m working it and I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel… even though it will probably take me at least 6 months to be really done.

Phew, now I feel better, but still… being a homemaker is so much harder than being a project engineer! I don’t care what anyone says. It is.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

That’s my daughter, in the water…

Nick has finally been able to take Gemma to her Daddy and Me swim classes! He was out of town last week so I took her, and couldn’t take pictures, and then Monday he was unloading a well (and in total roughneck heaven, I might add) so this was the first time that he could take her. Isla and I tagged along to watch.

I am excited to report that Gemma absolutely loves swimming… as long it is in a heated pool! In our neighborhood pool, which is frigid… not so much! Of course Nick loved getting the chance to play and bond with her, and I am hoping that we can continue her swim lessons next year.

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Gemma’s favorite part is being moved through the water like a dolphin and also jumping into our arms from the side. I am so excited to have my littlest-for-now doing something that she enjoys!

Isla was happy to watch for about 3 minutes from the waiting room, and then she spent the rest of the time making friends and acting out Frozen for everyone since it was on the TV.

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Isla is also doing so well in her swim lesson! I am really proud of her. So far there still have not been any tears, and most of the kids have cried at one point or another. The instructors were not kidding when they warned us about crying! There was one little boy who cried for 3 lessons straight.

Isla is already doing a little bit of independent swimming, and she will only improve with time. I can’t wait for her to be able to swim completely independently. She also loves wearing her goggles and they give her confidence. Today when her coach told her to swim towards him with big arms, she told him “I think that I can do it since I am wearing my goggles.” Such. A. Doll. Baby.

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I’m so proud of my girls and so thankful that we can provide them with these opportunities!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How to Really Love your Child

I feel like with Isla, I will go for longish periods feeling like I have her figured out and that our relationship is great… but then BAM, she changes to rules on me and suddenly I feel like I have no idea what I am doing. It’s the curse of the first born, you’re destined to always be your parents guinea pig. And of course, the more kids you have, the more patient you become and so there’s that. I know that I am more patient with Gemma than I was with Isla at her age, and even though I swear I will be patient with Isla… at each new age and phase I just always fall so short.

When I hit those moments where I fret that I don’t know what I am doing and that we are completely out of sync, I hit the parenting books HARD, although I never feel like it does me a lot of good after a few months! The thing is, I really cannot take credit for her happy demeanor. I credit her with just having a naturally buoyant personality and the fact that she and Nick have such a sweet bond; they just synch up in the most precious way. A present and caring father is so important! In general, I feel like I don’t deserve how much she loves me or how forgiving she is when I am unjustly impatient or short with her. And I KNOW one day she is going to outgrow that childish, irrational love and the love foundation that I am laying right now is what will help shape her character and happiness. Will she remember the sweet moments or just the times where I lost my temper and yelled at her?

I really and truly believe that in nearly all of these student/school shootings, other than ones that were obviously cases of mental illness, that the shooters would not have done what they did if they felt really and truly loved by their parents. I’m not talking teachers, grandparents, friends or whoever, but really loved by their mother and father. Of course its pretty complex, but I cannot help but think of all of the troubled kids that I have known personally and there is usually one common link between them – crappy, selfish parents. I am not saying that that was the only cause, but I think its probably the main one.

I feel like Steve Martin in Parenthood (great movie!) at least once a week! LIke I completely love Isla and I want the BEST for her, but the reality is that I wonder if I am just screwing her up. Seriously, how does any first born make it? Will she one day be at the top of the some bell tower, going on a shooting rampage shouting “You got mad at me for not taking off my pull up as soon as I woke up in the morning!”

Anyway, as I said, I read a lot of parenting books. Parents who eschew advice or parenting classes or books is seriously one of my pet peeves – usually their excuse is that “every child is different.” Yes, every child is different, but I view all of the information I gather as sort of my own personal parenting tool box. You fill your toolbox with knowledge and wisdom and theories and tactics or whatever, and then you use those tools to figure out what works for your and your child!

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” ~Proverbs 1:7

And another thing, I am always surprised at all of the things that moms write on the subject “What surprised me about motherhood…” They always end with, “I am so surprised at how much I love this person and that I could love a person so much”! I think “really?” Then why did they even have kids? I always knew that I would love my child so much or else I wouldn’t have had one. What really surprised me was that sometimes I didn’t like my child. What surprised me is that I could love a little person so much and still be so selfish! Now THAT is surprising.

I hope that I am not the only mama who worries about whether or not their child feels loved or that they are ruining their kids lives. For me, discipline and structure comes so easy. Patience is not easy. Fun is not easy. And so often I am so selfish, I crave me time, I don’t want to stop doing whatever it is that I am doing to spend time with her. When she’s sick my first thought is usually about the fact that I am about lose sleep and not the fact that she feels rotten. Sometimes I am completely overwhelmed by her general neediness and I feel myself pulling away. I think, I have given this child everything I have (a lie, but that’s what I tell myself) and she still wants more! Making sure that she knows I love her is not something that I can do on my own because such I am generally a very selfish, fallen human being!

I need the Holy Spirit for starters.

And secondly I really need God’s word and a connection to our perfect, loving Father. One thing I have really been meditating on is how to make sure that Isla feels really and truly loved by me.

My go-to verse is the famous love verse in Corinthians and I have been really meditating on the verses that DO NOT apply to my personality at ALL! Can Isla really say these things are true of me? Also some of these things I obviously don’t necessarily apply towards Isla, but do I really model all of these things in my interactions to others? She will see everything I do, more so than hear the words I say and see how I love others and act out Jesus’ second most important commandment.

  • Mommy is patient,
  • Mommy is kind.
  • Mommy does not envy,
  • Mommy does not boast,
  • Mommy is not proud.
  • Mommy does not dishonor others,
  • Mommy is not self-seeking,
  • Mommy is not easily angered,
  • Mommy keeps no record of wrongs. 
  • Mommy does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
  • Mommy always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I hope all of the “mommies” didn’t creep anyone out! Ha, it did me a little bit, but it really does help me when I am losing patience to have “Mommy is patient” pop into my head.

I have also been reading a book that I really, really recommend to everyone. I read a lot of parenting books… you are all very lucky that my blog not is filled with reviews of them, but I don’t really want to come across as preachy, and I will if I start delving into them... But I really want to share this one because its SO good!

The book is called How to Really Love Your Child by Dr Ross Campbell. I cannot say enough good things about this book!


I have read the love languages books, but I think that I like this one better. Some of the things Campbell shares I feel like I do well already, like physical affection. Some of the tips are ones that I already knew, like establish regular eye contact, but that I can be really lazy about. I am so bad about calling over my shoulder to fuss as Isla for something or praise her. As with any book, there is a lot of research to back up his claims, and also as with any book, there are things that I do not agree with, but I feel like most of the recommendations are solid. I have been intentional about implementing these with Isla and I have already noticed a difference. And best of all, the book is SHORT so it’s a quick read!

Anyway, now its time for my lame finish, but I would love it if people could pray for me and my parenting. And for Isla and Gemma. And just for parents in general. And for kids in general. Being a parent is hard. Being a child is harder. Being a first-born child is probably the worst thing in the world! And also pray for those babies who don’t even have parents or whose parents really don’t love them… Ok that’s depressing, but seriously pray because it works! Ok, signing off now!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Post the Blog Forgot: Oh, Canada! Nov 2012

Its been a week since I blogged! I have so much to blog about and I really had intended to get in at least 3 more posts… but I just get to the evening and I’m too tired blog or I try during the day and kids are not having it when I put on the TV so that I can try to get some quality time with my laptop!

I just want to get this one out though at least. It was just a quick long weekend trip for Nick and I, and it was really sweet and fun. We did a very similar thing for out trip to Scottsdale, I accompanied Nick for his training, but this time we took it and we turned it into a long weekend. We left Isla with my mom, and it was so nice to have a little trip with just the two of us, especially with all of the craziness happening with the pregnancy and the move that we had recently found out about!

I had been to the Calgary/Banff area in high school and then when I worked for Big Oil Co, I also had a project in Northern Alberta and so I had to travel quite a bit to Calgary. I really like the area... all of the cattle and oil and gas make it sort of like the Canadian Texas (or to be fair, Texas is like the American Alberta). Nick had never been to the area so I was excited to experience it with him!

Now I have always wanted to stay at the Banff Springs hotel or The Fairmont Hotel at Lake Louise, but it just cost too much for us to justify it. Instead we stayed at the Rocky Mountain Bed and Breakfast in Banff, and it suited us just fine except for one thing… those were the worst beds EVER. Oh my goodness, they killed my pregnant body! We were in the apartment above and I switched beds at least three times a night. It was great though because it was within walking distance to downtown Banff and all of the great shops and restaurants. We also were able to see Skyfall at the little theater, which was being filmed while we were in Istanbul earlier in the year! We never go to the movies anymore, and its such a treat when we can go.

We missed Isla so much! I was only gone for 3 full days, but we Facetimed her as much as we could.

Also it was COLD! I mean duh, it was Canada in winter, but I hate cold weather. I will never be a skier or an outdoorsy person in the cold.

We did some very mild hiking at Lake Louise. We set out on a 2 mile trek, but it was HARD in the snow and slippery and we had to be very careful since I was 6+ months pregnant, but I’m glad we at least gave it a shot!

Goofy selfie!


Exploring Banff. At the top of the gondola in Banff by the Russian flag.



I love rivers! Oh to live on a river like this…


I love this man!


One day I’ll get to stay here! And hopefully not when I’m pregnant so that I can enjoy the hot springs Smile.


Last day of mild hiking… somewhere near Banff Smile.


And after that, we headed back to the airport in Calgary and back to Houston to be with our baby girl!

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