Sunday, December 16, 2012

Colton is Four!

My Dearest Colton,

You are FOUR! It's hard to believe you're only just now 4, as you've been quite convinced that you've been 4 for months. It wasn't until the last few weeks that I convinced you that you were still 3...mostly because if you were already 4, you could not have a birthday party. You were READY for your birthday party.

Oh, Colton, how you've grown since this day last year. I think what will stand out to me during the year you were three is your imagination. It exploded this year, and I've spent more nights than I can count pretending to be asleep as Snow White or Sleeping Beauty as I awaited a handsome Prince Charming to kiss me awake. You get lost in fairy tales, wrapped up in stories. You believe wholeheartedly that you are Superman, flying in to rescue your brother or your mommy. I'm never bored.

Your brother would live outside if he could. And you enjoy playing outside, but you will sit cozied up with me under a quilt watching movies, any old movie will do (you prefer "real people" movies). You'll discuss storylines with me, point out all the "naughty" words, and then quote lines from the movie after one viewing...just like your dad.

Your Great-Grandmother has always told people that you never forget a thing. And you don't. You can remember experiences, conversations, names from before you were two years old. You can hear a story one time and detect any change in detail on the retelling...which actually has caused a lot of frustration since half the stories we tell you are made up as we go!

You are, as the saying goes, an old soul. Empathy and curiosity pours from your eyes, reflects in your voice. Your compassion is truly astounding. I will remember so much about 2012. A beautiful year where we took our first family vacation to Destin, FL and watched sunsets on the beach with snow cones and sandcastles; where we got rainboots and took every opportunity to splash in puddles; where you discovered dress-up and learned how to be anything you wanted to be. But, I'll be honest with you, I am still raw from the great loss we endured the last few weeks.

Oh, Colton, we lost your Great-Grandma. I was not all prepared. And you and Owen and Daddy watched as I drove back and forth to Missouri for weeks as she tried to recover from heart surgery. You encouraged me to go and take care of her, just like I take care of you when you are sick. We counted our blessings over Thanksgiving, celebrating with Great-Grandma in the hospital where you made her laugh and squeezed her hand and kissed her tired face. YOU, my darling, YOU healed her heart. You truly made her last few days of life full of joy. She wanted so badly to watch you grow, she had that surgery for you and for Owen.

I was so proud of you at her funeral. You shook hands with most of the people waiting in line to visit our family and to offer condolences. You smiled and hugged and led your brother to each person. My heart soared, and I KNOW that you made her proud, too. You and Owen were the joys of her life and you couldn't have honored her any better.

We have conversations now, Colton. We discuss God, and sharing, and fairness, and friends. Your heart has been hurt by being left out, and you've turned that into being open and inviting to others. We talk about how bad things happen in the world. And you, frankly, scare me a little bit when you ask me to remove the devil and the monsters from your closet. "The devil doesn't belong in this house" you say each night. I pray you will always banish him in this way.

Your favorite thing in the whole world, even before Snow White, is having your "WHOOOOOOOLE family" together. You're happiest when everyone you love is in one room.

I feel so heavy right now, wishing I had written this letter earlier. But, oh my sweet boy, yesterday morning you woke up crying. I tucked you in next to me and you grabbed my hand, nuzzled your head in my neck, and told me how much you love me. You take care of me.

I am thankful for this day, this December 16th, as one of the three best days of my life. And this year, we couldn't be celebrating your birthday at a better time. We're all healing and this gave us something to look forward to. YOU are taking care of your family, at the tender age of four.

We have Santa and Christmas lights and Christmas cookies and presents and hot chocolate to look forward to. Lots of family coming to visit. And then we will welcome in another beautiful year. With you by my side, I can't imagine anything but laughter and joy.

Thank you for being the funniest, spunkiest, kindest, sweetest, most compassionate, and imaginitive boy I've ever know. Happy Birthday, Sugarbear. You're my everything.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Something is Missing

Oh, my. 2012 sure hasn't turned out like I expected.

I lost a huge piece of my heart last week. My beloved grandma waged a valiant battle after heart surgery. We all had so much hope that she would be stronger than ever. But she just grew tired in recovery and her body fought back against her will. She passed away peacefully with my mom and sister at her side. I still can't quite believe she's actually gone.

Our family is forever changed. And though so many wonderful moments have come and gone in this year, it will be marked forever in my history book as the year we were one less. After several years of adding to our family, this year we lost our heart and soul.

I will write more about her, as I heal. When it becomes easier to say "I remember" instead of "I wish".

But I just felt like  my heart aches to mark how I'm feeling right now. How much I miss her voice and laugh and her hugs and her hand in mine. And how much I am dreading the next few weeks. I've never spent Christmas without her, my whole life we've been together.

I am blessed to have had her as long as I did, to carry on with her soulmate, my grandpa. And with two other grandparents. And I have peace in knowing we will meet again, and how much joy there will be when we do. But it doesn't make it any easier to not have her here.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. ~Psalm 116:15"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where are we?

Ai yi yi...left that post up for way too long! Guess I should update with what's been going on since!
  • First, Operation Organization was, in my opinion, a success for me. I did get so many things rearranged and cleaned out. I have a long way to go (like, um, my CLOSET) so I wouldn't say that I followed the program as closely as I should have, but I got a lot done.
  • I know I talked about this before, but after using vinegar/dawn mix to clean my shower, it makes me SO happy. I love walking in there and looking at the shower, love getting in in the morning. I just can't describe how bad it was, and how I felt like I had no control. Doesn't everyone have one area of their home that just gets away from them? also, I've noticed that it makes a difference in the time I spend at home. I get fewer migraines...I think the mildew and soap scum was making me sick. I'm just...if that was the only thing I accomplished that month I'd be thrilled.
  • We also cleaned the outside of our windows for the first time since we moved in...what a HUGE difference it's made in the light coming into our house.
  • Every Sunday we eat donuts before church, and we usually have a stretch of 20-30 minutes between breakfast and church. So we drive a handful of neighborhoods that we love, just to see if any houses are up for sale. Well, this past Sunday we found THE perfect house. it was on a lot we loved, with gorgeous trees and landscaping, in the perfect neighborhood. We were so compelled after looking it up on Zillow that we called and made an appointment that day to see it. We spent over an hour with the homeowner falling in love with this house. I could tell you all about the window seats, the remodeled kitchen, the huge windows in the dining room, the huge bedrooms...but ultimately it wasn't the right timing. We hadn't even thought of putting our house on the market, and we didn't want to jump into anything. Ultimately it made us sit down and go through the projects we want to do on our precious house NOW so that we can enjoy it until the time is right to move. I don't want to buy new carpet for someone else...I want to enjoy it now!
  • As if God was reassuring us about this decision, last night we came home and the boys played until long past their bedtime in the front yard. Our neighbors came out and we gabbed. Other neighbors from 3 houses down came by that we'd never met, and introduced their 3-and-4-year-olds to our kids. The sun was shining, our grass looked greener than ever and we had great company. We love where we live.
  • Also, on the note of the last post...after more than a year of hearing nothing, we got a call from our agency that N (Colt's birthmom) reached out and was requesting pictures. So weird that when i really start thinking about her, wondering about her, praying about her...there she is. She did not want a visit, just wanted pictures and a letter. So I sent it, and included my phone number on there in case she'd lost it.
What's coming up?
  • Well, of course more work travel. It wouldn't be a day that ends in "y" without work travel! In fact, so much piled up on me a few weeks ago that I freaked out. I was slightly tired and emotional. all these trips to the airport and I never get to bring my boys. We needed time away, just the four of us. We needed to be together and have an adventure. So...we booked a vacation!
  • I probably went bigger than I should have, but I didn't go Disney or anything (not that I didn't look, just couldn't afford it on such a short timetable). I know the boys would have been more than fine with going to Great Wolf Lodge, or Branson, or even a hotel down the street with a pool as long as it was nonstop time with Mommy and Daddy. But I wanted to go somewhere special, and they have an obsession with the beach. And airplanes. So, we decided on Destin, FL. It will be Owen's first plane ride, Colt's first that he'll remember, and their first time to the sand and waves. We have a condo right on the beach...just going to relax and have fun and be together. It's what's getting me through the next few tough, long weeks!
  • Other than that, life it ticking along. We're enjoying this incredible, beautiful weather. We're enjoying the funny things Colt is saying, and LOVING having conversations with Owen. We have plans to decorate our master bedroom and I got a new flat screen TV for that room! YAY! No complaints...just loving our present and excited for our future!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Grandparents in Open Adoption

I haven't written about adoption in a long time. But I still follow so many blogs of people who have or are planning to adopt. I have such a passion for adoption and the way to support all three members of the "triad" (birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adoptee)

Most of you know we adopted our oldest, Colt, in 2008. We are technically in an open relationship with his birthmother, but we haven't heard from N in a long time. She has a daughter that is Owen's age, but we haven't met her or talked to N since she was born. Among several other things, I think this is probably the primary reason for the silence. Though I don't have any proof, I imagine having a new baby 14 months after placing Colt with us meant a rush of emotions. But we remain open and available when she is ready.

I've followed Heather and the Open Adoption Roundtable for a long time, written a few times when the prompts strike me. But, again, it has been a while. But today's prompt spoke to me. It said write about grandparents. That's all. Grandparents in open adoption.

Last week we met with several couples at our church to talk about how to support and minister to families looking to adopt. It was a refreshing conversation, and honestly we hadn't talked that much about adoption or pieces of our stories in a long time.

One of the things that came up was having people in our church family able to speak about different situations: international adoption, fostering, domestic, grandparents role in adoption, etc. Especially with interracial adoption, it seems that we need more and more grandparents speaking about their experience.

I know when we considered adoption, one of the things that weighed on our hearts was how would our parents react? How would they treat our child? We knew WE would be able to love a child that came to us through adoption, but would that be the case with our parents? Adoption was not just a decision for US, but one that truly involved our whole family. We're so close to our parents and sisters, we needed to be assured they would love this child as we would.

Of course, we had no problems. But as we considered what kind of situation we were open to (open vs. closed; race; exposure to drugs or alcohol; special needs; health issues; etc,) we prayerfully considered each scenario with our entire family on our minds. For us, the role of a grandparent was that important.

Today, one of my greatest joys is to see our boys interact and love on their grandparents and great-grandparents. They have unbridled joy and excitement when they talk to them, see them, or stay with them. Their grandparents don't hesitate to watch them, pitch in when they're sick, read to their classes at school, film Christmas programs, and rock them to sleep. They are an extension of my arms, of John's arms. They are a blessing like none other in our lives.

Same for great-grandparents. My grandmother will take my call every day to hear some silly little story about things one of them has said or done. Where others may half-listen or not share my amusement, she wants to hear everything. Every parent needs someone like that in their life - children are meant to be shared!

I'm so, so thankful for the support our parents showed us when we were choosing adoption. Just recently, Colt began asking about who came from who's belly. I knew that the adoption conversation would be just around the corner. While we've celebrated Gotcha Days, been to our agency's Christmas parties, and read books...he still isn't totally "getting it". We talked to each of our parents individually to let them know that he's talking about birth, and that we would start conversations about N. That they didn't need to be nervous or hesitent to mention her name. They all smiled and seemed fine with it...we're so grateful that they are.

Grandparents also played a huge role on N's side, as well. N was living with her grandmother while she was pregnant, and her grandmother had supported her throughout her pregnancy and decision to choose adoption. We heard about her Grandma from the very first phone call. And we had the outstanding privilege to meet her on several occasions.

We first met her the same time we met N: in the hospital. When we walked into the room that day, her Grandmother saw us and immediately told John "the baby looks just like you". And he does. But she broke the ice, helped make us comfortable. She stroked N's hair as she told us how great N had been during labor, how much pain she'd been in the night before. She talked our ear off about the family tree and how proud she was of N and her sister.

She accompanied N out of the hospital the next day. They came by our room, wheeling the little bed with a sleeping Colt on there. N had tears in her eyes, but she smiled. Her grandmother hugged me so tight and asked us both to take good care of him, that he was so loved. She hugged N's shoulders as they left and said "it's hard, but it's the right decision". She wasn't pushy, she wasn't insistent, she was so caring and supportive. I was so grateful that N had her in her life.

A few months later, we traveled to Grandma's house. We visited there in her living room for several hours, N snuggling on Colt and everyone listening to his happy squeals. Grandmother kept the conversation going, making it easier for us to fit in and for N to come out of her shell. It was a great day and we captured lots of pictures of her holding Colt.

Not long after that we received a call from our caseworker at the agency. N's grandma had passed away. She had several health problems and her time had come. I cried and cried after that call. I cried for N. I cried for Colt. I cried for us.

We've seen N one time since her grandma passed. Between her passing, the birth of a new baby, and a marriage I'm sure N is unsure of how to balance an open adoption relationship. Her grandmother was her rock, her support, her guidance. I KNOW she must miss her. We miss her, too. We miss all that she did for Colt, miss her love for him.

I'm so thankful Colt (and Owen) have always been surrounded by such amazing grandparents.

Operation Organization: Guest/Kids Bath

This time I did not take before pictures, but there really wasn't a lot to be done. Last Thanksgiving I took 3 days off work and deep cleaned my house and organized several spots. The guest/kids bath was one. So really, I just cleaned it (with vinegar - my favorite new cleaning tool!) and moved a few things around. It only took 20 minutes from top to bottom including cleaning the tub and dusting blinds.

A look into the bathroom from the hallway.

A nice, shiny, clean bathtub and bathmat! I cleared out a lot of the toys and put them in baskets above the bath (the frog pod) and in the cabinets. But that car ramp won't fit anywhere else!

One cabinet has extra towels, extra toys, and a basket full of travel size shampoo, body wash, plus lotion and such. The drawer above this has all the hand towels and washcloths we use for bathtime.
Sidenote: I cannot WAIT until my husband gets his act together and decides to touch up the paint on baseboards and on the cabinets in here. The chipped paint is literally driving me crazy. Literally.

LOTS of space under the sink. A few baby towels I can't get rid of, but there was enough room to store the potty chair until Owen is ready to use it. Colt is full-on big boy these days.

Under the other cabinet is extra towels, extra bathmats (you can never have too many of either, especially with young children who get sick). The drawer above this has kids ointments, eye drops, bandaids, etc. Their liquid cough medicines and such are in the kitchen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Operation Organization: Laundry Room

After a week of being exceptionally tired and lazy, yesterday I was hit with an urge to clean and organize. I got two new rooms finished, finished up cleaning our bathroom (floors still needed to be done) AND we changed out our air filters and vacuumed out the bathroom vents. John helped me a lot on this evening, and I was grateful for his involvement!

As I mentioned in the video, there were several "selling points" with this house when we bought it 5 years ago. The laundry room was one of them. Huge, spacious, lots of storage. It's a lot like a mudroom because it's connected to the garage, where we always come in. Our coats are hung here (I didn't get a picture of the coat rack on the wall to the right).

But because it's also a mud room, it's where most of our 'stuff' ends up. Papers from the day, mail, odds and ends, shoes, etc. It is a constant mess. It also houses the only junk drawer in the house...and it's pretty junky. I was both looking forward to cleaning/organizing, also dreading it.

Ugh. Yes. This is typically what it looks like. And clothes are covering up so much of the other mess. Paperwork was everywhere...
THE JUNK DRAWER. Can't find anything in here.
The cabinet above the junk drawer was a mess of cords, checks, and junk. The top shelf was mostly jars and candles, but still needed some work.
This is the game cabinet under the junk drawer.
And, after! Aaaahhhh....nice and clean. Clear. Under control.
The junk drawer. Still a junk drawer, but makes a little more sense. Our small electronics and checks come with such good little boxes. Perfect for organizing the small things like keys, batteries, iphone/pod accessories, and small tools. I know it will get junky again, but I hope to continue to have "places" for things to go.

The upper cabinet is now organized! The top shelf really didn't have much to be cleaned. All my tealights live in Mason jars that are used for various things. Also up top are now small decorations and ornaments that didn't get put away before Christmas decorations went back in the attic. The bottom shelf now has the huge, awkward firesafe, Bibles, and checks/envelopes. Thinking I might start a bill-paying area at some point...
I didn't take a before pic of under the sink cabinet, but it was full of diaper boxes that had bills/junk mail that need to be shredded. My next project is to actually separate the trash from the paper that has personal info and get it shredded so I removed all those boxes. Now, an old laptop box holds all our warranties/manuals, all our flashlights are in one box, and a few other things with no real home ended up here.
Here is the game cabinet, now a true game cabinet! You  can see them all, and on the bottom is a bag of CD's, a CD player, and a humidifier. I KNOW I should get rid of the CDs, especially since we have everything digitally now. I'll get there. Doesn't it look better?! Also, I got rid of those World War II VHS tapes...where did those come from?! Why were we keeping them?!

I did not take pictures of the cabinets above the washer and dryer. One is just our laundry supplies. The other is full of ironing supplies, picture albums and boxes of pictures. It's organized, I assure you. So that's the laundry room transformation... 2 1/2 bags of trash later.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Fairness Factor

So, I have a very real question. For those of you that are married, do you struggle with the "fairness" factor in your relationship? I do. It manifests itself in several ways for me. Primarily, household responsibilities and time to do what I want away from home.

I've recognized this problem of mine for several years now. I'd say it peaked after having kids, and I think that's why it continues to be a struggle for me. Before kids, I could claim household responsibilities (cleaning, mostly) as something I enjoyed and had plenty of time to do. Before kids, John could golf every night of the week and all day Saturday and it meant more TV time for me, or cleaning time, or friend time or shopping time for me.

I very recently may have been guilty of keeping a running tally in my head of the number of days/times/hours that John was away doing what he wanted to do (golf) while I was scrubbing floors/rocking a fussy baby/cleaning up dishes. It was a huge divide in our relationship, and certainly wasn't what I thought parenthood would be like.

The way cheesy story? I prayed about it. And continue to pray about it. And then when I prayed about it, it gave me time to calm down. So praying or just taking a moment to process your thoughts, whatever works for you, it's the best advice I've been able to follow at this point. Because, then I was able to communicate to John calmly. We had open conversation. In fact, when my deep-seeded anger for all things unfair reached it's head, we had really, really tough conversations about it.

He had no idea. He was used to me liking cleaning. He didn't know that it bothered me to be solely responsible for looking after our house. And the more the martyr in me spouted off the gazillion things I did around the house, the more defensive he became. And I was slapped in the face with all kinds of things I hadn't considered. Things he did that I don't even think about.

He cares for the lawn, the cars, the budget. He may not remember or feel responsible for making the kid's well baby checkups, but he makes sure we have the money in our bank account to cover co-pays. He may not think about new meal ideas and grocery shop, but he orders the pizza every time it needs to be ordered (I'm a phone-phone! I hate ordering things on the phone!). He may not dump out the milk in his cereal bowl, but he fixes the garbage disposal any time it acts up.

So, I guess we BOTH work pretty hard. I imagine no matter your situation, whether you are two working parents or one of you stays at home, you have this argument. I don't have an answer for you. Just last night John was asked to go golfing this Saturday and I whipped out "if you think you're golfing this weekend you're'll be working all day next Saturday and golfing all the the next". Luckily, he laughed at me since he knew that was a reaction borne out of the discussion coming up in the car, nowhere for me to go calm down before talking about it. And honestly, the boys get easier and easier to take care of as a single parent on the weekend, so both of us are in better places to "allow" time away.

But I'm curious if anyone else has fights that really come right down to fairness. What do you do to try and get over that? It will never be fair, it's so personal. We've done little things like assign certain chores to John (that I nag him about), we will both often wait to go out until after the kids are in bed, we got two DVR's so that we can have some alone time. But it's a constant, every day battle with me that I really don't like fighting!

Sidenote: I know this is TOTALLY random, but Operation Organization is showing me how much I miss blogging and all the things I could talk about that won't fit on Twitter. So for now, I'm posting with no plan or schedule or thought. Just the randomness from days of yore.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Operation Organization at Work

I began my Operation Organization at my desk last week, which had not been organized long I can't remember. OF COURSE I didn't take any "before pictures"! But trust was a mess of papers and stuff I could not reference or enjoy.

I know it looks cluttered, that's how we roll in this office. You can probably get an idea from the pictures who my client is. Anyway, I feel much better in my office, my workspace is clean with plenty of room to spread out as I take conference call after conference call.

An overall look...

YES! I am checking Twitter at work. GASP! They pay me to do that!

My organized clutter....and not the in the"Hoarders" way. Surrounded by faces I love!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Operation Organization: Week 1

Operation Organization is going well. I was confused about the dates (thought everything STARTED the week of March 4th, not that the first week should be complete by then). But that's ok, I've been working in some great areas.

I first started by cleaning and organizing my desk at work. This was quite a feat, I don't spend a lot of time there. I had piles and piles of paper, expired instant oatmeal, and countless pens that didn't work. I got that cleaned up last Friday and it inspired me to work the weekend.

So I hit the biggest area of concern in my house, which was the master bathroom. We had let things pile up and pile up, never throwing boxes away or organizing things. It needed an overhaul and a good cleaning. Saturday was the day. I ended up cleaning out both cabinets under the sink and the top drawer (the bottom two drawers are just towels).

It took me a couple of hours and 1 1/2 bags of trash later and I had thrown out all expired meds, trash, old toiletries, and more. I wiped down and cleaned the inside of the drawers and cabinets and then organized a la Pinterest. I even bought the same bins as the post suggests!

Now, our meds are organized according to ailment (stomach, aches and pains, coled/allergy/sinus, and supplies like braces, ace bandages, etc.) and the small drawer for bandages and ointments. I bought two others for the the boy's medicines that are housed in their bathroom.

This was HUGE for me! I loved it and am inspired to do more. Sunday I cleaned out my car (a whole other post), but John came down with strep and I was on single parent duty the rest of the day. Then, because he's been so sick and stuffed up he's been snoring and I've hardly slept the last two nights. Which means NO energy to clean and organize during those precious few hours after the boys go to bed.

No excuses! I'll do more! But I'm thrilled with my efforts thus far. March means organizing!!

This is under my sink - makeup bags hold hair accessories, boys hair clippers, my travel-size toiletries, then the basket has all my "extras" of toothpaste, face wash, etc.

Here is the best makeover - under John's sink, our medicine cabinet! Inspired by a Pinterest link, I divided all our medicines and supplies by ailment and put ointments and bandaids in the small drawers.

Well, of course I didn't take a before picture! But it's on the video I posted. It was so, so bad. So disorganized and piled up. Now, it's so clear and bright it almost blinds me at night! I washed down the outside of the cabinets and removed lots of dust. It looks beautiful now!

Friday, March 02, 2012


When I was little, my dad used to make up stories for me at bedtime. They were always the same character, Mary Ann. Thought I can't remember all the details, I'm sure she had a little sister. They were always about simple things - just every day things that most kids do. But I loved Mary Ann stories.

Colt has reached an age where storytelling is his favorite thing. It started several weeks ago when John would just tell him the Three Little Pigs or Goldilocks. (John is a pretty good storyteller!). Then, when I put him to bed he would ask for a story about castles and Princes and Knights. And, then, last night I tucked him in and he wanted to tell ME a story.

It was basically the plot of his favorite "Phineas and Ferb" episode, but still. I was enthralled and thrilled. He had a plot and character development. He used different voices for characters. He gave details. I'm just so excited and so proud of this milestone!

This is the same kid who has never been one to sit still through a whole book, whereas Owen will sit for as many books as you allow. I know Colt's imagination is full, but to hear him tell me a story and entertain me and think through these scenarios made me so excited about a future love for reading and getting lost in a story. He may not sit and read picture books with me very often, but he is listening intently and creating pictures in his mind.

He's been asking for storytime on the way to school in the morning, too. And just like I had Mary Ann, Colt and Owen now have Wally. Their favorite story so far is about how Wally doesn't want to go to school but he goes and has a lot of fun anyway...guess they're trying to convince themselves they're like Wally?!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Before Video

Ok. As promised, here is the "BEFORE" video of my house for Operation Organization. Please don't judge. Look at it like I do - an opportunity!

It's long, I rambled. Blah blah, you get the picture. But my favorite part of this project so far has been seeing everyone's house tours! So I had to join in.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Operation Organization (a.k.a. something else I can start and quickly abandon)

So, what better way to get organized AND be a better blogger than to commit my March to Operation Organization?!

Linking up from one of my friends, Katherine, here is the plan:

Each week during March, we'll focus on one zone of your house. We'll get that part of the house completely clean and organized and then we'll move on to the next zone. Feel free to take before and after photos and post your progress. Also, if you want to share your organization tips and tricks, that would be super helpful for those of us that are...organizationally-challenged.

With that, here's the blog post schedule.

March 4:


-Dining Room


-Hall Closet

March 11:

-Living Room


-Storage/Laundry Room

March 18:

-Master Bedroom

-Guest Bedrooms

-Master Closet

-Guest Closets

March 25:

-Guest Bath

-Half Bath(s)

-Master Bath

-Linen Closet

April 1:

-Front of House


-Anything else you didn't have time to finish up in the previous weeks.

Katherine and several others took video of their houses BEFORE starting. I have also done that. I am embarrassed to admit that after a million years of blogging, I have never uploaded a video to my blog. SO, I will upload once I determine the best way to do that.

My Master bedroom and bathroom are the worst. The playroom is messy, but that's expected. Most of the rooms in my house are not terrible...but it's because I spend my energy there that our bed/bath is just lost and forgotten.

So, please join! Commit your March to getting your house in shape. SOOOO much easier than committing March to getting your BODY in shape, and the results are visible much faster!

You can link up and see others who have joined here. Thanks, Katherine!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Owen turns TWO!

Dearest Owen,
A few weeks ago, it rained very hard during the day. By the time we got home, the sun was out and was unseasonably warm for January. So we grabbed our rainboots and headed outside to splash in puddles. At first you were glad to tag along with Colt, explore by holding his hand and mimicking his jumps. But it didn't take long before you were wandering down the sidewalk, following a leaf that was traveling in the stream of water trickling down the street.

I followed behind you, watching as you bent down and loosened the leaf when it got stuck. You ran along, completely focused on the leaf. Passing by the cat, the flowers, and the tricycle Colt was riding. Focused on getting that leaf to wherever it was going to go. Finally, it went as far as it could go and you stopped, looked at me, squinting in the sunlight and said "yay!!". Then turned and immediately began begging for the tricycle.

That day was so OWEN. It was so you. Focused, independent, helpful...and stubborn, silly and determined. You are a great sharer...after long and careful thought of the pros versus cons of sharing.

You are focused in so many ways: in your favorites, your abilities, your activities. Whatever you're doing, you focus on it until it's complete. Colt still won't sit still to read an entire book, but you have your favorites memorized. You bring me any one of Eric Carle books and you turn around to back up into my lap. We go over each picture and you make the sounds. In new books you pick out any balls, cars, or stars you can find.

You are a rough-and-tumble boy, new bruises and battle scars every day. You love to get dirty. You love to carry around cars and trucks, and any kind of balls. You play kickball, basketball, golf. You LOVE watching the Thunder play. And love pointing out football games to daddy - you know it's his favorite.

You have EPIC meltdowns thanks to your stubbornness. You believe you don't have to hold hands in the parking lot and when forced you just sit down. You want to climb into your carseat, even if it's pouring down rain. Any hint of being denied a second sucker and your mouth opens as wide and as loud as a lion's howl, your cheeks turn bright red, and crocodile tears spring from your eyes. Epic, I tell you.

As much as you can be stubborn and headstrong, you are also the most affectionate child I've ever known. You love to hug and kiss. Your face lights up when you see us pick you up from school and you race across the room with your arms open wide. You scream mama and dada over and over when you want us to see your next great adventure. You're shy.

You are not a follower, more a learner of your big brother. You love to rock to sleep, love the kitty cat, and stuff your round cheeks with blueberries and grapes and bananas every chance you get. I'm not sure you exist on much more than fruit!

You are CHALLENGING and WONDERFUL and I adore your every move. I love watching you grow, hearing your new words, and accomplishing your fearless feats.

I'll say it every year - you're the best surprise I've ever received. I don't know what I'd do without you.

I love you, sweet baby. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I'll get there

John got an iPad. He saves money for nice things, I tend to spend mine on trivial things like clothes, party supplies, IKEA shopping trips and the like. But he's graciously letting me use it now and then! We had an awesome weekend. It was Owen's 2nd birthday party. Yes, my sweet blondie turns TWO on Wednesday! It was a train theme and he loved it. I was pretty proud of myself for this one. I made all the food, and since the party was at 10am, it was brunch. And it was delicious. That might be the most boring update ever, but trust me it was a great weekend. I'm so proud of my boys. In other news, I'm doing pretty well at attempting to conquer a lot of the goals I set. I'm getting there. I actually put things on my kitchen cabinet tops. Not a complete project but again, I'm getting there. I have not resumed the gym like I'd hoped but I'm trying not to be too hard on myself about it. I'll get there, and if not then I have a sad $40 bill for the next 10 months! I've been cooking more, meal planning, trying new things. Going out with friends, completing projects. 2012 is a great year so far! I'll get more interesting soon. Also plan to update the blog background (several people have noticed and complained about the links I's not permanent, just temporary as I think about how to update this space). Maybe the iPad will prompt me to write more. Maybe not. I'm not going to get too down on myself. But I do read blogs daily, and love the space. I'll get there. Seems to be my theme this year...some friends chose "choose joy" as their theme. I seem to be living "I'll get there". Good night!

Monday, January 30, 2012


I entered 2012 with a real feeling of clarity. For the first time in over 2 years, I feel like I can move past survival mode. The boys are growing up and older, and I no longer feel like life is dictated by their schedule. Well, I mean, we're still staunch sleep schedulers but I feel like I can see beyond diapers, bottles, naps, and meeting every need.

So, I thought this year would be all about the other parts of life I'd left behind. I joined a gym after thinking about it for a long time...truly committed in my mind. I pinned a ton of healthy recipes and snack ideas because this was the year we would stop eating so much fast food. I also took a trip to IKEA because I realized we wouldn't be moving anytime soon and it was time to put OUR stamp on this adorable house we live in. Not only did I purchase things for the top of my kitchen cabinets (long time unfinished project) but I bought enough frames for a gallery wall....which means I'm going to actually print and display some of the thousands of photos from the last three years! Finally, I purchased several accessories and cute clothes for the body I have now to feel better about myself as I work and eat for the body I want.

Guess what? I have a gym contract for 12 months and I've been 7 of the last 30 days. I've thrown out zucchini, broccoli, apples and several other things I bought for healthy eating because I didn't use them before they went bad. But the Magic Shell topping I bought for ice cream last week is already gone. My IKEA pile remains in a lovely pile in my bedroom. Pictures remain on the computer.

But, I'm caught up on my DVR...and I added "Downton Abbey" to my viewing list so I'm really making strides on adding MORE TV to my life .

What I'm realizing is that just because I'm not in survival mode, just because I feel like I have more energy and can appreciate beautiful things beyond just precious baby smiles and toddler milestones, doesn't mean I can do it all right away. I still have every intention of making this the year I find myself again, but I'm going to have to go in stages.

Last year the only thing I challenged myself to do was create a mom journal - a short daily planner where I wrote a few sentences each day about the "little things" I loved and wanted to remember. Not the big things...but our activities, the precious things the boys said as they discovered their vocabulary, even the rough times. Guess what? I completed that. 365 days of entries that I wrote each night. I didn't miss a day, and I loved it. I find myself thinking all day about what I'll write and remembering those little things. It's better than a blog, and I've kept it up all this year, too. Oh, the power of one small change...

Anyway, I'll keep you updated on when/if things change. I do know that I've got to do the gym thing because if nothing else, I'm paying for it. I also like it because it's MY thing. It's not something I do with a friend, or even with John. It's just my place. And I have convinced John to paint our room/bathroom at some point so house changes may take a while but there's a plan in place.

There's also the budgeting, saving money, and going to church/getting more involved thing that always weighs on my mind.

But I am a darn good mom, and I'm darn good at my job, and I keep a clean house. So I celebrate the things I'm good at...just seeing the potential for so much more!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

You can go home again...

Through a random series of events this week, I found out that Owen's teacher actually lives in the house I grew up in. I happen to be friends with her on Facebook so once I found out she lived there, I immediately went looking through some of her pictures. To see her sweet family living in our was so exciting! But it also made me so nostalgic.

We moved into that house when I was in 6th grade and lived there until my sophomore year of college. Those are the most impressionable years for anyone, so anytime I think about that house I'm flooded with memories. Searching through those pictures brought terrific and terrible memories for me all at once.

...that was my room, there, the one where I covered the walls with so many pictures of Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar that it looked like wallpaper. Where I laid on the floor in front of my boombox waiting for my favorite songs to come on KJ103 to press record for a mixtape.
...that was my sister's room, where we sponge-painted horses on the wall and where the Commodore 64 lived that I played Concentration on for hours.
...that was the loft where our Barbie dollhouse sat, the one I played with for far too long with my best friend from around the corner. It's where we went for slumber parties for privacy, where we tortured our mom by walking on the banister like a balance beam far above the living room below.
...that was the fireplace where my prom pictures were taken, where our stockings were hung each Christmas, where our family gathered for photos at my graduation party. That's where the painting hung that my grandmother made before I was born.
...that backyard housed a trampoline when I lived there, where a majority of my Sweet 16 party (my first co-ed party) was held. I still remember the laughs and fun of that night.
...that kitchen is where my mom would make crockpot chicken noodle soup once a week my senior year for my group of friends since we had off-campus lunch.
...that living room held more youth group devos and slumber parties than you can imagine; it's also where the TV trays would be set up every Thursday night while the three of us watched "Friends" and "ER" together, never missing an episode.
...that driveway, well, that driveway was the same driveway John pulled into to take me on our first (disastrous) date. And 7 dates later it's where he first kissed me.

...that hallway was where my sister and I slept on the floor the night my parents came home and closed their bedroom door, not to open it again until late the next morning. When everything changed. When our house was suddenly one person less.
...that's the spot in my mom's bathroom where we held our precious cat as he took his last breaths, the cat that had been around longer than me. And that backyard, up at the top, is where he's buried.
...that's my parent's room, my mom's room, where my sister and I piled into her bed every night for two solid years after the divorce. We were even fearful of sleepovers, because that bed was where we felt the most safety and comfort.

Christmases and birthdays, baby showers for friends, choir parties, and random moments of teenage all floods me when I look at those pictures. More happy than sad, thankfully. But overwhelming in any case. I loved that house. It was the last place I really had a room. Once we moved from that house, which was far too large for a single mom and her younger child after I'd left for college, I didn't really have a room again. Probably a good thing, since it made it easy to never move back in! But there are times I wish we still had my childhood home.

I do know, however, that HOME is where family is. And I'm as comfortable in my mom's 2-bedroom condo as I would be in that old house. But it's also nice to know that a wonderful young family is building memories for their kids just like mine in those same rooms and hallways. It's nice to see how well it's being taken care of. It's nice to know that if I wanted to, I could go back for just a minute (she invited me!).

When we put it all together, she laughed and said "so YOU are the "JBP" that carved your initials into our banister?". No, JBP is my sister. But the JRP that's on the windowsill in your son's room...that's me. I knew I would miss that house, and I wanted the strangers moving in after us to know that someone made their memories there. That the house was loved.