I did not grow up with an Advent Tradition in my home. So a few years ago, when our dear friends the Kaetzel's invited us over to light an Advent candle, read Scripture, and sing songs together, I knew I wanted to start a tradition of our own. I loved the idea of being more intentional with focusing on the birth of Jesus, and also focusing on family during the busy holiday season.
Elijah James, you are 18 months!
Photo Credit: Wilder Arts Photography
Your vocabulary continues to expand. Just a few months ago you had only 3 words, now you also say "owl", "ow", "chicken", "Turkey", "Duck", "Papa", "Dom". You have clear sounds for words that you trying to master such as: please, shoes, downtown, barn, apple, banana, cheese, milk, and water. You are also signing "please" and "potty". You can also make a "ruff ruff" sound for a dog and "moo" for a cow. It is becoming clear that you understand quite a bit of what we say to you and can follow short directions.
Your favorite things these days are listening to music, swinging at the park, playing Peek-a-Boo Barn on our phone, and applesauce. Your favorite song is Downtown by Macklemore's & Ryan Lewis. You will stand at our Amazon Echo and yell Downtown multiple times a day. When we play the song you bop your head, stomp your feet, or stand in place and sway to the music. As soon as the song is over, you are asking for it again. You love dancing. Recently, you've started asking to move from one swing to another. You often run straight to the swing when we get to the park and start signing please. You also loving playing a game on our phones called Peek-a-Boo Barn. You ask for it throughout the day and as soon as you get to play it, a big smile comes on your face. Your favorite food is without a doubt applesauce, you ask for it with every meal. You love the songs Row Row Your Boat (which you call "Row Row") and The Itsy Bitsy Spider (which you call "itsy"). When we sing Row Row you often sit on our tummy and ask us to move your arms like you're rowing a boat. You're face lights up and It is adorable.
Tantrums are increasing as we set boundaries. You are often upset when we tell you that we are "all done" with something or when we are done swinging at the park. You typically get upset if another kid shows any interest in a toy you are playing with.
Your sleep has been great. You will sleep around 11-13 hours a night and take one nap during the day. You really settled into a smooth schedule over summer break. You are up between 7 and 8am and you take a nap around 1pm. It has been so nice to have the consistency for planning out our days. When we tell you it is "night night" time you start heading to the stairs. Sometimes you stop and give Charlie a kiss before you head up.
Speaking of Charlie, well you really enjoy "playing" with her. Which really means you terrorize her. You chase her with any toy you can push, you throw your plastic balls at her, you grab at her paws and ears and you give her kisses. Charlie enjoys when you give her treats and throw a tennis ball.
Elijah, you have been a pretty independent kid. You really enjoy finding something to do on your own. However, you have gotten better about asking for help. You do this by signing more and making an "h" sound. You also love helping out any way you can. I typically have you help throw your diapers away, put recycling in our can, or closing the refrigerator door. Papa often has you help load and unload the washing machine and has you put your clothes in the laundry basket each night.
Your last few months have been full of adventure. We traveled out to the East Coast for your cousin Brendan's High School Graduation, you joined mama on a women's retreat, you spent a week with mama in Alaska, and you have had lots of play time at the park and at local water parks. You had an overnight stay with the Kaetzels so mama and papa could celebrate their anniversary and you spent time with friends in Lake Chelan.
In the next few months we think you are looking forward to seeing your school friends more often and having mama home more during the week.
Here are few photos from the last three months.
Beach time with Mama in Seabrook
Enjoying a snack at school
Being in the swing is your favorite place
When we were at DC you had the best time hanging at the Zoo with Nora
You were able to spend some time with Pop Pop & Grandma
You enjoyed family time at the Park to celebrate Brendan.
Here you are meeting your cousin Benji!
You loved your Auntie Pam!
Papa is silly!
You had so much fun with your cousin Tessie
Enjoying a peach you "found" at the grocery store
Spray Park with Papa
Time to explore Alaska
Meeting your Auntie Cody
Photo Credit: Wilder Arts Photography
Back home and adventuring with mama!
Water play is awesome on hot days
Asking for "Itsy"
Petting animals at Papa's work picnic
Enjoying the Greenlake Wading Pool
Exploring Lake Chelan with Papa
First boat ride (excluding the ferry)
These are just a few of the things that I get excited about and want to share with others. Sometimes small and silly, sometimes big and crazy. I hope you enjoy. Please share what you are loving!
Digital Thermometer Seriously. How did I wait so long to buy a digital thermometer? The one I was using previously to this could take forever to give me the temperature, and sometimes It took so long that I had to stack meat to get it to heat up fast enough. I am loving the quick read out that I get from this thermometer. For some reason, this makes me feel like an official cook.
The Kitchen House I mentioned this in a different blog post, but I loved this book! I am now waiting for the sequel from the library!
Stranger Things Oh my goodness, this show sucked us in. It was intense and kept you guessing. If you have Netflix, definitely give it a go!
Here are some recipes that I have been loving lately. Feel free to follow me on Pinterest for other ideas.
Mango Chicken Curry via Read The Spirit
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas via The Kitchn
CurryTurkey Bites with Apricot Ginger Sauce via Nom Nom Paleo
Warm Spinach Bacon Salad with Chicken via The Lean Green Bean
Pressure Cooker Summer Italian Chicken via Nom Nom Paleo
Summer Camp Parents via A Cup of Jo
Changing what I think to change how I feel via Colibri Homestead
Race Medal Ornaments via Young House Love
50 Toddler Meal Ideas via The Lean Green Bean
Parenting in New Zealand via A Cup of Job
What are you loving right now?
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If you have spent any time with me over the last year, you know that I have been struggling with the decision of how to balance family and work. Last fall was a tough transition to being back at work full time. Elijah was 6 months old and for me that was a huge change compared to when I went back to work for 3 weeks when he was 3 months old. My hormones had balanced out, and I was enjoying the 6 month phase. I panicked a couple weeks before school started and had considered putting in my notice to stop working then. I started crunching numbers to see if we could make it on one income. And though the numbers worked, the fear settled in.
I felt guilty about letting my team down so close to the start of the school year, I felt guilty that we would not make progress on my student loans if I stopped working, I felt guilty about whether or not I would actually enjoy being a stay at home mom. And with the guilt, came the doubts. Would I even be good at staying at home with Elijah. Or if I leave my job now, will I ever get another counseling job?
Fear and doubt. These are the real enemies.
All year I have turned over my options. Do I stay at home full-time? Do I take a year long leave of absence from work and decide after that? Do I look to see if a job share opportunity comes open in the district? Do I look for a part-time position in a district closer to home? What would I do about daycare? Will a job share position with a friend in another district be an option? Honestly, I have been a ball of nerves, fearful that there was only one right decision to be made.
I have spent a lot of time praying. Praying that one clear option would come up and I would have peace about it. God answered my prayer in June when a part-time counselor at my school put in his notice. So for the 2016-17 school year I have the opportunity to stay at my school, work part-time, and job share with a friend. Elijah will stay at his daycare. This is was what I had hoped would happen, but was also afraid of being too hopeful.
I have had a lot of peace about this decision, and I'm not frantic as a new school year is starting. I am hoping that I am able to strike more balance in my life between family and work. I am hoping I will not be as run down and emotionally exhausted as I was last year.
Over the last 8 weeks I have also found more peace about staying at home. It finally hit me, that I will not always enjoy being at home, but generally I do, and that is okay. I am never going to be the perfect mom, but I am the mom for Elijah and I do feel like I am being equipped to be a darn good mom for him.
This is my last week of break. I am going to enjoy it and then charge into this next school year! How about you? Any big changes? Are you letting Fears or Doubts hinder you?
July was a busy but wonderful month. I enjoy it the most because I am truly off of work for the whole month. It was busy with travel, creating memories, and spending time with friends and family.
My goals for July were to:
My goals for July were to:
As the end of June was rapidly approaching, I started turning my thoughts away from wrapping up the school year and towards being a stay at home mama for 8 weeks during the summer.
I don't know about you, but it is really hard for me to switch gears and move in a completely new direction. As a mama and a full time school counselor this is exactly what happens to me during my 8 week summer break. Suddenly I go from commuting for close to 2 hours each day, doing the daycare drop off/pick ups, squeezing in meals, and of course working at my job to days that somehow feel longer, move slower, and my summer client can be quite demanding.
I thought it would be fun to share on the blog some things that I have been loving lately. These are just a few of the things that I get excited about and want to share with others. Sometimes small and silly, sometimes big and crazy. I hope you enjoy. Please share what you are loving!