Sunday, December 04, 2011

My favorite flea find and other signs of Christmas

Yesterday was another lovely flea market day. I had been wanting a countdown calendar for December and was so pleased to find this at one of the booths. You place an ornament on the "tree" each day of the month.

I just love this time of year! It is so fun to experience Christmas with Brynne this time around. We decorated the tree Friday night and Saturday morning she kept asking to decorate again. It's hard to explain to a 2-year old that you just look at the tree for the rest of the month.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What award are we going for?

Brynne: best deadpan smile, Brooke: craziest hair

I love these girls!

By the way, I wore this pink sweater as a baby. It was fun to pull it out for Brooke.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Welcome Home, Baby Brooke

I cannot believe Baby Brooke is already 13 days old. We have been on a little bit of a roller coaster ride lately, but are truly enjoying our sweetie so much! We have not closed on our old home, but it should happen any day now. We did, however, decide to go ahead and move to a temporary house in the meantime so we wouldn't have to get out right after we had the baby. Our friends Mike and Virginia have sweetly allowed us to stay in their apartment until our old house closes and our new house opens up. The crazy thing is that we moved THE DAY before I went into labor. God's timing is amazing.

My labor was very fast. I started to feel strong contractions at 2:30 pm on Sunday, the 25th. At 3:30 pm, we took off for the hospital. And by 7:00 pm, I was holding our second beautiful girl. I was so thankful that she was healthy and the delivery went so smoothly.

Nana arrived and took awesome care of us. Both my girls have loved taking naps with Nana.
I can't get over this ruffled butt :) It's so fun to dress a girl...again. Of course I am using a lot of Brynne's things, but I had to get a couple new things.

We have had some drama since then. I went into the hospital a couple days ago to be checked for appendicitis. That was crazy and scary. I was so thankful to be cleared and sent home to my girls the same day. We are still recovering a little from the experience, but God has been faithful and our church family has been such a blessing to us. I just have to learn to be better about being constantly on the receiving end and the "thank you" end. In my pride, I much prefer to be "doing" for others. God is teaching me to rest in Him and His care in new ways.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Little did I know...

what my August would bring

This month has been pretty amazing. When I started to catalog the events in my brain the other day, I thought maybe I would just share them.

~We began the month with the first offer on our house since it has been for sale since November. We are waiting to get all the approvals from the bank right now, but if all goes well, we will close September 30th. In case you are wondering, yes that is three days after I am due. We will see what happens.
~Not so important, but slightly life changing: my stone-age phone died, and I finally broke down and got a new phone. My new phone has a full keyboard which is totally revolutionizing my texting. Oh yes, I love it.
~Rob turned big number 30, and we had a surprise birthday party for him and Jordan Heijermans. It was a blast. If you know Rob and Jordan, it won't surprise you at all that their birthdays are one day apart and they were both turning 30.
~The next day my sister and her family took off for South Carolina. We are surviving so far although it is a little heart-breaking to hear Brynne saying "Cade far away in South Carolina". She is still figuring out why she can't see her cousin any old time.
~We experienced an earthquake. I was taking a nap, and it shook me awake. It was pretty crazy.
~We rounded out the month with a hurricane. The best part about the weather, is that it gave us an excuse to flee to Charlottesville - one of our favorite places. We are trying to keep track of what is going on at home, but are glad to be away from the craziness.

Did I mention I only have four weeks until Brooke Aran arrives? We cannot wait!

I'm so glad God is in charge and not me. He is a sweet Father to us in all situations.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

32 Years (and no, I'm not talking about my age)

Do you remember writing little notes and making cards for your parents when you were little? I remember that I always used to end just about everything with "Thanks for being the best mom / dad / parents in the world." I love that even though I am now 29 and have my own family, I still think I have the best parents in the world.

Today, Dad and Mom celebrate 32 years of being together. I celebrate with them. I rejoice because they have exemplified a Christ-honoring relationship in front of me for every moment I can remember. The greatest example I have seen in them is a consistent walk with God. They showed me how to love Jesus when we were at home, when we were in the car, when we were with our church, when we were on vacation, when we played, and when we worked. Their relationship to one-another has had a tremendous impact on my marriage, my parenting, and my walk with God. I cannot get over the gift of parents like Dave and Judi Coats. I can daily see God's grace to me through them.

Congrats Dad and Mom. I love you so much!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Saying Goodbye

People are often surprised to hear that while I am from Wisconsin, both my sister and brother and their families ended up living here in Virginia with us. Of course, this was not necessarily a strange coincidence as we all decided on the same seminary. But it is still pretty funny to think about sometimes. I often get asked "When are your parents moving here?".

While I never expected all of us to live so close to each other over the past few years, I have enjoyed the experience so much. We have regularly held "family dinners" which besides great food have held a lot of interesting conversations and much laughter. I also feel like we have enjoyed so many great things about this area together...the beach, DC, Outer Banks, Williamsburg, Busch name a few.

One thing I never imagined though is that my sister and I would deliver our first babies within two weeks of each other and experience becoming moms together. I cannot really say what that has meant to me. It was sweet to share the joys and struggles of the last two years with our sweet girls. Cade and Brynne are best friends. They certainly know how to get on each other's nerves and get each other in trouble, but they also get each other giggling faster than anyone else can. I was also able to hold my nephew Bryce on the day he was born, and see him grow to be 10 months old.

About a month ago my sister's husband was asked to be youth pastor in a church in South Carolina. While I could not be happier for this opportunity for them, I am having a hard time imagining them being seven hours away instead of five minutes. I guess we always knew this day would come eventually, I just tried not to think about what it would be like. I know most people live a great distance from family, and now it is our turn to experience a little of that. I have to be honest and say that I am pretty sad about it today.
I want to thank God for not only giving us the years here together, but giving me a family I love and enjoy. I know these are amazing gifts. I hope to focus on His goodness over the next few weeks and not just my feelings (although I'm sure being seven weeks from delivering a baby does not help with emotions! :) Thank you Jennie for being such a wonderful sister!

Praise God for the sweetness of His never-ending presence in an always changing world.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A little Pittsburgh fun

Last weekend we enjoyed a family trip to Pittsburgh to meet up with a few friends. It was a blast! I cannot enjoy visiting a new area without trying some local restaurants, so this is a picture of Delucas who claimed to have the best breakfast in town. It's the kind of place where you wait outside in line in 100 degree weather. You know it has to be good and it was. My peaches and cream crepe was to die for!
This sweet girl is Eden Hughes. In case you have not seen many pictures of her, she has the biggest smile ever. We loved and appreciated the opportunity to stay with Andrew and Kelly while visiting!
Here is my good friend Jolene. We have been buds since we were 14, and I still cannot believe we are delivering five weeks apart. It was great to catch up and share the joys of pregnancy.
My sweet girl and my honey and Jesse. We prayed a long time for God to bring a great guy into Jolene's life, and here he is! I'm so thankful for God's good gift to my friend. We loved getting to know him a little better.

By the way, only eight weeks to go as of Monday. And no, I am not ready for two yet. I hope I will be by then :) I am very excited to meet our second sweet girl. We are pretty sure of a name, but I will wait to post on that until I feel "definitely" sure.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Needing a Little Advice on Grocery Budgets

Does anyone else have a hard time sticking with their allotted amount for groceries each month? I will freely confess that I do!!! I'm feeling pretty desperate. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how to stick to the budget while eating as many whole foods as possible. I do some coupons and that does help, however I feel like being a mom often collides with this endeavor. Do you find it works best to menu plan? Do you have a certain amount to spend each week and then cut it off no matter what...even if you find a great deal on something? Do you try to incorporate buying local at all? Also, (if you don't mind saying) what percentage of your monthly budget goes to groceries (food, cosmetics, etc.). Thanks in advance!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Doggy "Stuff"

Okay. First of all, I am not a dog owner, so maybe that is why I was so tickled by this email we received from our neighborhood civic league. I just had to pass it on because it really made me laugh. I think my favorite part is about "orphan poop". All I have to say is that you will never see this girl picking up orphan poop no matter how beneficial it is to the community. Sorry.

Top Ten Reasons to Pick Up After Your Dog

Every responsible dog owner agrees... picking up after your dog is a
MUST. No matter where or when it occurs, there is NO excuse for not
scooping the poop. So here are 10 reasons why EVERY dog owner MUST be
responsible for picking up EVERY TIME.

1. It's the law. Just like littering, it's unlawful NOT to pick up
after your dog, and your violation is subject to fine.

2. It's common courtesy. Cleaning up after your dogs shows respect
for our neighbors and our community. Only irresponsible dog owners
leave their dog's poop for others to look at, step in or clean up.

3. Dog Poop is unhealthy. Abandoned dog poop can host diseases
and/or parasites which can infect other dogs who come into contact with
it, or be transmitted to people who accidentally step in it and track
it home. Particularly at risk, of course, are children who play on the
ground. Disposing of dog poop immediately helps all dogs stay healthier
and reduces feces-borne parasites and illnesses.

If your dog has diarrhea, and you cannot clean it up, you should
not allow your dog to defecate in places where dogs or children may
come in contact with it. If your dog has prolonged diarrhea (more than
two days), you should take her to the vet.

All dogs should have a stool sample tested by a veterinarian
annually. My vet recommends that dogs who frequent places that are
visited by many different dogs should have their stool tested twice a

4. Dog Poop bio-degrades slowly. Some people think it's okay to
leave dog poop because it will break down naturally. However, the
biodegration process is very slow, and, especially in places where the
dog population is high, abandoned dog poop can accumulate faster than
it breaks down. In the cold weather, poop freezes and, because poop
that is frozen to the ground is almost impossible to clean up, it will
remain where you left it for several weeks to several months.

5. It's not fertilizer! In fact, poop impedes landscaping efforts.
Leaving dog poop encourages other dogs to mark that spot (by urinating
over the previous dog's scent): poop left on the grass contributes to
the problem of "nitrogen burn."

6. Dog Poop pollutes the water. Shea Terrace is located directly
on Scott's Creek (which feeds into the Elizabeth River). Dog feces, like
any feces, contains high levels of nutrients, like nitrogen and
phosphorus, which actually pollute the water.

Cleaning up after your dog is environmentally responsible. And
please don't dispose of dog poop in storm drains: storm drains are a
direct conduit to our rivers!

7. Dog Poop is unsightly. Everybody knows that. It's disgusting.
Pick it up. We all deserve to live in a clean city where we can be
proud and step lightly.

8. Dog Poop tops the list of complaints against dogs. More than dog
aggression, nuisance barking or unsupervised dogs, most complaints
against dogs are about people not cleaning up after their dogs. This is
true for city parks, sidewalks, and your neighbors' lawns.

9. Dog Poop makes dog owners look bad. Dog Poop is the
number one reason for negative public sentiment against dogs. Every
time you don't pick up after your dog, you are giving one more reason
for others to dislike dogs and dog owners.

10. Your actions set an example for others. When you pick up after
your dog, you are part of the solution! And your actions will help
convey the message that it's the right thing to do. Many people even
carry extra bags to offer to others as a subtle and neighborly hint
that cleaning up after our dogs is what responsible dog owners do.

More and more people are taking it upon themselves to pick up
"orphan poop." These people are truly ambassadors. You can set a good
example, too. If you see orphan poop, pick it up with one of those
extra bags you are carrying. I know, I know! Nothing like picking up
somebody else's cold poop, but what a message it sends to others! Your
actions will encourage others to do the same, and soon, this will be a
non-issue, because everybody will simply pick up without giving it a
second thought.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Celebrating God's Gifts

Well my sweetie is officially two years old. I think almost daily of what an incredible gift she is from God. There are many ups and downs in child-raising, but I cannot imagine my life without her. I am often reminded that God gives us His gifts to bring our attention to Him as a good Giver. I pray that my heart does not become so full of my sweet daughter that I forget to worship my God first and foremost. I find that I revel is so many of His gifts to me as His child that I regularly need to be reminded to enjoy Him most, not just His gifts.

Anyways, we had a sweet day. Brynne is in love with Elmo right now, and our friends Kristen and Sue put together the perfect cupcakes! We had a little party with our Wednesday Small Group. It was so fun. If you get a chance, check out the video on my facebook page. Brynne was hilarious to watch as she blew out her candles.
One tradition I want to have for every birthday is her birthday plate. This plate was given to Brynne when she was born by Rob's extended family. She enjoyed having me read the notes from each person (over and over).
I wanted to end with just a few things we giggle at all the time:

*I always say "be right back" when leaving the room. Lately when I'm hanging with Brynne and she wants some alone time she will say to me "right back, Mommy?"...which means can you go ahead and leave for a little bit
*Brynne is totally OCD. Blame Rob for that definitely. Either way, if a door is open, a drawer askew, feet dirty, a speck of dirt on the floor - you name it - it must be taken care of. Immediately. Lately when she takes her shoes off she will ask for a wipe and then proceed to clean her feet. Okay, the clean freak part of her is probably from me.
*She still says "hold you mommy" if she wants me to pick her up. I love that.
*Brynne loves her crib. We are hoping to transition to a toddler bed soon. But it cracks me up that she will often ask for "cribby play time". This is something I made up when I needed to get something done and for her not to get into anything. I think I brainwashed her into thinking that being in her crib was actually fun.
*One thing I am not giggling about is potty training, however I know this trial will pass eventually :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wisconsin Favorites

Unfortunately our trip to get here was a very, very stinky one. It was my worst experience flying in a long, long, long time. All I'm going to say about it is if you get to the airport and the agent tells you first thing that there may be a delay along the way, turn around and go home.
However, we are here and enjoying the glories of the farm. My dad planted four new apple trees today.
We enjoyed a trip to Crystal Falls for breakfast and antiquing. I loved this drink dispenser and am still regretting I cannot get it in my suitcase.
On our walk along the water we discovered these little bird houses. I thought they were so fun.

Brynnie loves swings almost more than anything else. Nana and Papa were sweet enough to have one available!
We will let you know about our other adventures along the way...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

All Things Girlie

Well, my sweetie (now almost 2 by the way!) loves living the girlie life. I don't consider myself super girlie, but maybe these things just happen naturally :) Brynne loves her shoes. She definitely already has an opinion about what she wants to wear and rejoices at finding cute shoes when we are out shopping. It cracks me up.
We had our first true haircut yesterday. I'm trying to have her grow it out, but it definitely needed some shaping up. She sat perfectly still the whole time. I'm not sure if she was just motivated by me telling her it would make her hair really pretty....? I had to giggle about how serious she was about the experience.
And perhaps her favorite of all is painted toenails. Although she calls them "nosetails". She is thrilled at the prospect of me doing her nails. I have to say, they are pretty cute in pink.

Well, I'm sure I'll have more to share as we hit big number 2. We fly out for Wisconsin to see my parents tomorrow, so I will also let you know about our adventures with Nana and Papa. I also hope to share a belly picture soon as I am now almost 26 weeks along! It seems a little bit more difficult to find time to dwell on our new little girl with a very busy toddler around. I'm sure I'll figure it all out eventually.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Can he really be old enough?

I don't know how many of you have a younger brother, but I really couldn't believe it two weeks ago when I watched mine tie the knot. I know I'm biased, but it was a fabulous wedding. I loved the focus on the gospel. I loved the vows they wrote to each other. I loved their park theme. I loved that they both played music and sang during the last song. I loved how beautiful they both looked. I loved that we ate brownies and ice cream at the reception. And I loved watching them run away through a huge line of sparklers.

I always enjoy weddings, but there is nothing like seeing your sweet little brother (not so little any more) get married. Unfortunately I did not get great pictures, but there are some wonderful ones on facebook. If you are friends with me, there is also a sweet compilation video on my wall (just in case you are interested).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Celebrating so many things...

Here is our sweetie in her little Easter outfit. I know I'm biased, but I just think she looks so pretty and grown up in this one.
Congrats to my brother Jon as he graduated with his MDIV. He will be getting married to Marla Davey a week from today - yipee!!!!
We are so excited to have season passes to Busch Gardens this summer. Brynne absolutely loves it. I know you can't really see the park in this pic, but I loved how it turned out.
Strawberry picking is always a cause for rejoicing around our house. If you look closely you can tell that Brynnie ate far more than went into the bucket.
I don't have a tummy picture, but I am officially 20 weeks with our baby girl. So far so good! We are so thankful.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Getting a little excited about...

spring and summer around here. I woke up to 76 degrees in the house today! I can't wait for the first trip to the beach.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

This one goes out to you MAC

Our poor little computer was sick last week. I was a little freaked out as we have not backed up yet (I know...very dumb). Soooo, I took a little trip into the Apple store at the mall. I cannot tell you what a great experience it was. Customer service around here tends to be a little less than agreeable, however Mr. Mac repairman was awesome. He ran a quick program and that didn't work, so he told me to walk around the mall while he tried something else. In the meantime he said if it didn't work we were looking at needing a new computer and a lot of money to recover material on our old one. YIKES. I had a little chat with the Lord on my way around the mall. When I returned about an hour later, it was fixed!! The part I cannot
believe is that they did not charge me anything. I felt like giving the guy a big hug...but didn't. Thank you God for our computer being home safe and sound, and thank you Mr. Mac repairman! You get a big A+ from me. ps. we will be backing up very soon, and I highly recommend it.

Well, what's a girl to do when she is stuck at the mall???

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And how about you...

I'm not sure if I just get excited about every new season or what. I don't feel like spring is my favorite season, but right now it just seems like it is. With the weather warming up a little and buds popping out everywhere I get so excited! I found these branches on an obliging curb. Don't worry...they were already cut by the owner :) I wasn't sure if they would blossom when I put them in water, but they did. They are so pretty now! Do you think every season is your favorite when it is starting?
Well, here is my little almost 21 month sweetie in a dress she recently received from Nana. I just couldn't stand how cute she was. I find myself more crazy about her every day. I find myself thinking...can I really love another one this much? Does your love just grow exponentially?

Bear has become a distinct part of our family. It is so funny to me sometimes. The other morning I heard Brynne saying "I love you, Bear" before I got her up. We have regular chats in the car about how we left Bear at home but we will see him soon. Brynne has said for a long time "obey God, obey daddy, obey mommy". Lately she adds "obey Bear". She kind of does it with a smirk now, since I have corrected her so many times. Most meals Brynne asks for him to come sit with her while she is eating. I can't say no. Sometimes I feel pretty silly running to get him and set him up at the table. Do you do anything crazy for your kids?
We recently discovered a wildlife preserve about 10 minutes from our house. It is the most beautiful little spot. It really makes you feel like you are not in the city for a while. It's funny to me, because we have lived here for 5 years now and just found it. There is something so refreshing to me when we can get out and enjoy nature for a while. Do you find that too? (especially if you live in a city)

In other news I will be 12 weeks on Monday. I must confess that these last few weeks have been pretty unpleasant at times. I am reminded of what a blessing it is to feel energetic and love food. I'm also reminded that I have a pretty wonderful and accommodating daughter and husband. Lots to be thankful for!

Friday, February 25, 2011

another stork will make the journey

We are so happy to announce another little one will be joining our family. I think this one has really been wearing me out, because I have not posted in a long time! We will be welcoming little Baby Hall September 27th.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Have I mentioned...

how much I love having cousins nearby? It is so much fun. These girlies love each other a ton. Lately our trips to the park are a blast!
I can't wait for warmer weather.
The fun will never end.