Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thoughts at 9 1/2 Years

Yesterday we celebrated our 9 1/2 year anniversary.  Yes, we celebrated half anniversary's and half birthday's around here. Why not?  We also just so happened to find ourselves reminiscing down memory lane as I apparently lost all of Sabrina and Malachi's birthday pictures from last year (don't worry, grandma has come to the rescue with pictures). So I found myself digging through picture files, just in case and coming across pictures I haven't looked at in years.  Pictures where you could just see the young love in our eyes.  Pictures that reminded me of the days before we were married and all we thought we needed was each other and we could conquer the world.  We just NEEDED to be together!  Pictures of our first year together and what a special time that was, just the two of us in our little home, figuring life out together.  Again, you could still just see that we adored each other!

Then I began to wonder, do we still have that same look?  Somewhere in the space of the last nine and a half years, something has changed.  That carefree, love can accomplish anything attitude has somehow diminished.  We have everyday stresses, a mortgage, bills, 4 children to raise, a career to build. We certainly don't look the same way we did back then.  The gray hairs are slowly becoming more abundant and that metabolism doesn't quite bounce back like it used to.  Our first decade together full of long hours at work, college, CPA exam, job layoff, financial stress, infertility, traveling the world to meet our first child, holding our next child 9 months later in the NICU, a year later facing weeks upon weeks of bed rest where all the responsibility was on one spouse, loving a birth mother together in a far away hospital as she said her goodbyes to a child she was entrusting into our lives. Many sleepless nights, sick kids, chore upon chore, constantly meeting the needs of the children who were so badly desired!  It all has taken a toll and we just don't look quite as sharp as we used to.  We've been doing a lot of living!

So is that twinkle still in our eyes?  Yep, I concluded. It's still there and more twinkly than ever.  Sure we might not have to hold hands every second we are together or kiss ALL,THE,TIME.  But my heart still skips a beat when I hear the door open in the evening when my husband walks through it.  We still send numerous texts and chats to each other throughout the day, just to check in and share "the little things" because waiting a few more hours is too hard.  We still can't wait to be alone as soon as we tuck the kids into bed each night, and you should see the excitement in our eyes when we walk out the door for a date night!  I still have all the faith in the world that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to because I've seen us move mountains.  That hope I had about the man I was walking down the aisle to has turned into complete trust because I know the true man of character he is now!  That head over heels love is still there, its just matured into something more wonderful than I ever expected.

And then I am left wondering, where we will go from here?  What will we look like in another 9 1/2 years?  Will that twinkle still be burning strong?  Will it continue to mature?  I have to believe it will continue to evolve as we continue down the stages of life together. After all, 9 1/2 years still just puts us at the beginning of this journey together.  The journey of marriage is really quite wonderful!  It hasn't all been perfect, but knowing someone has your back and you have theirs for this entire journey of life is pretty amazing!  Creating a family together and a heritage together is a beautiful thing. Sharing common goals and dreams with another human being gives us a purpose that we could never accomplish alone!  Knowing someone fully and being able to be vulnerable with another person and knowing that they will still be right beside you, no matter what is a wonderfully perfect gift!  Yep, I'd say we still have it and it's just gonna get better!

Friday, January 29, 2016

18 Month Sweetheart!

Hard to believe that the baby in the house is already 18 months, and definitely the busiest and most in to everything toddler we've ever had!  I have to say, I am quite proud of all her accomplishments and okay that she keeps me on my toes because that is such NORMAL behavior!  It was just 9 short months ago that we had a very alarming doctors appointment with this girl and we didn't know for sure what our future with her would look like.  A brain MRI and some EI evaluations later and lots of strength and determination on her part and she's doing amazing!  She might always have to work a little bit harder than other kids, but knowing what I know about this girl, she was born a fighter and is going to do great things!

She's still a little peanut and we've had to up the food and fats in her life, but she's gained a little weight and is up to 19 pounds. She loves to eat and is by far our least picky eater! Still below the 5% percentile but she's growing on her own little curve.  We've been working hard on her speech and it's starting to come along.  Just a couple weeks ago, she figured out "mama" and that was sweet music to my ears! When the milestones are harder fought for, they put you on cloud 9 when they happen!

She's just a sweet little thing. She gives the best hugs and her smile just lights up the room.  She loves stuffed animals and blankets.  She also seems to love animals (the cat is not a big fan) and even wants to snuggle the animals she finds in her books. She adores all her siblings and tries to keep up with them!  I know it won't be long and she will be.  It's bittersweet to watch her move right along in the toddler stage.  Seems she's gotten to 18 months far too fast!

LB, we are so happy to have you in the family!  You are a blessing!  You're the strongest most determined little girl and that makes me so proud!  That strength will take you far in life!  You are so beautiful and your smile lights up our lives.  Your snuggles and hugs are the absolute best and melt me into a million little pieces.  We love you baby girl!

Friday, January 22, 2016

100 Day!

It has been a little while since I've done a school update.  I'd say even though we're a couple years in, we're still early on in our home school life and I am still figuring out what in the world I am doing.  But this has been what I would consider a very succesful year. Malachi is just taking off on addition problems, cursive writing, reading!  He's just doing awsome!  Eli, who didn't even know how to hold a pencil correctly at the beginning of the year is also working on his numbers and writing letters and just recently started reading words!  Sabrina just loves school and is racing through her year of preschool. She can't wait to finish her year up and get started on reading and writing herself.  But for the time being she's counting and learning to recognize her numbers and letters.

This past week, we reached our 100th day of the school year!  So we celebrated in style and let the kids pretend they were 100 years old!

Eli wasn't too sure about it, but he jumped in for a bit at the end.

I consider it a huge privilege that I have the opportunity to stay at home with my kids and teach them.  There is no cooler feeling than to see your kids struggle and overcome!  To be the one who watches them read their first word and write their first letters has just been an awesome privilege. I'm learning and struggling right alongside them, but we're all doing great!  Here's to finishing the year strong!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Quick Night Away!

A couple weeks ago, we took advantage of an offer to get away for the weekend by my parents.  Peter was just about to embark on "busy season" at work so we wanted to take full advantage of the weekend we had remaining.  That was good, because it has gotten crazy around here!  He's worked every day of the last 11 days with probably another 8 days in a row to come.  So far he's logged over 117 hours (but who's counting?!?) of work in those 11 days! He's exhausted, I'm exhausted, 2 colds have passed back and forth through the house in the past 2 weeks and man oh man, I just was not meant to manage this house without him!  It has made me very happy that he is not in public accounting anymore as this would be "normal"!

But I'm happy to say everyone seems to have adjusted now and the end of the really long days seems to be within sight!  Some R&R is coming! 

So back to the weekend at the beach!  The kids had a blast.  Grandma brought the bingo cards and the kids played a few rounds. 

They watched a movie

The weather always seems to be gorgeous in winter at the beach, go figure! 

and lots and lots of time in the pool!

These two are getting braver, and might be ready to start taking lessons?!?

It was a nice, quick little getaway.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

An Epic Day in our Favorite Place!

I haven't forgotten to put up our last post about our Disneyland vacation!  So here it is!  It is no surprise to anyone who knows us that Disneyland is our most favorite place to visit.  Every day there is fun no matter what and it is great to be able to share such a fun place with our kids!  

So here we are in Disneyland over the 60th Anniversary.  I spend a lot of time on some Disneyland forums before we leave just getting updated on all the new things and ins and outs and building excitement for our trip.  So, I knew that as you walk through security of the park, there is a text to win contest you can enter.  It's not super noticeable as you go through the gates but there is a word you can text each day to a certain number to win a daily prize!

So, I tried to do a good job of reminding everyone to enter the contest each morning.  On this specific morning, Peter and I were excited for our holiday tour and then a date night dinner afterwards.  Before our tour, we decided to hit up the rides in Fantasyland. As we were in line for Dumbo I reminded everyone to enter the contest. So Peter's mom handed me her phone to enter the word in for her.  We didn't think anymore of it.

So after a breakfast of Mickey Mouse pancakes with the kids, Peter and I were thrilled to be off on our own at our tour!  The tour started at 11 AM.  After a little bit of time touring other parts of the park, our tour group took off to ride the Jingle Cruise. Special tour groups get to board at the end of certain rides, so we were gathering near the exit to get on a boat where we just happened to see Peter's parents and our kids sitting.  The kids didn't want us to leave them so I was a little worried about them seeing us.  Peter's mom was on her phone. Brian, Peter's dad mentioned to us as we had to wait several minutes to get on the ride that she was on the phone with Disney and had won a daily prize! So we were anxiously waiting to hear what she had won!

Now, the tour guides and VIP tour guides in Disneyland have a nickname.  They are often times called "plaids" because they wear plaid outfits in the parks. So, in our tour group we had 3 "plaids" who were helping us out.  Right before we got on, Peter's mom let us know that we all were the lucky recipients of a VIP tour guide for the day and a ton of money in food gift cards!  Even our "plaids" were excited to get to watch someone actually win the prize!  

Our tour guide asked us if we were going to stay with the holiday tour or go be with everyone else as part of the VIP tour.  We had the VIP tour guide until 7:30 at night and since we were also receiving what felt like a VIP experience, we figured there was no sense leaving our tour. But we did cancel our dinner reservations that night so we could take full advantage of this once in a lifetime experience! 

While we finished up our tour, the rest of the family went to meet up with their guide, fill out paperwork and get started with the VIP tour. It sounds like they went and enjoyed quite a few rides while we were on our tour and then got VIP reserved seating for the parade right in front of the castle! 

This is where we met up with them.  It was such a fun experience to have a VIP tour guide.  Let me explain what this means.  For a hefty price tag ($500 an hour, for a minimum of 6 hours a day) you can hire a VIP tour guide.  These wonderful men and women basically help make all your wishes for the day come true.  They help you get on the rides right away, they can get you special meet and greets with characters, and they can work some magic and get you last minute dinner reservations at hard to get into restaurants.  

I think my favorite part of the day, was that Kristin, our guide rode all the rides with our family.  Eli quickly caught on to the magic she was creating and she became his best bud!  He wanted to ride all the rides with her!

 Another highlight was getting to meet Mickey.  The line to meet Mickey in his house is always really long and while we really wanted to meet him, we weren't sure it was going to happen.  Enter Kristin.  She walked us in a back entrance, told us to wait just a moment and we were in with the mouse!  It wasn't just a quick visit either. It felt like we had ample time to spend with him!

A quick phone call and we were in with Chewbacca too!  

Seriously, the day was just a whirlwind and so incredible. Definitely a day in Disneyland that our family will never forget!  It was a super crowded day so this prize certainly saved the day!  Thank you Disneyland Pixie Dust for treating our family to this awesome experience!  

Friday, January 8, 2016

Thicken the Plot

Another Think Kit day.

We're all writing the story of our lives as we go. How can you make your story interesting in 2016? And if you can't see around the bend, it's okay to dream. Let's make 2016 one of the most riveting parts of our tale, shall we?

I always seem to enter a year with excitement but also trepidation. I learned at a very young age that life can change in moments, so even when things look great and I can see nothing but blue sky's, I sometimes feel like I am waiting for a catastrophe to hit. So it is a bit hard to acknowledge just how much we have claimed this year as a year of celebration and thanksgiving.

I've mentioned before how we pick a verse in a correlating number psalms for our marriage.  This year we picked one that screams celebration and thanksgiving.  As the new year approached, I felt even more led to just celebrate this year. We have so much in general to celebrate!  Sure, I know this year there will be things that are difficult, frustrating, and hard to face.  But we can enjoy the journey too, and celebrate in big and small ways.  

I see this year as a year of celebrating to better health!  I plan to celebrate each small and each large milestone as I get healthier. I want to celebrate each running accomplishment I hit this year.  I already have a few race ideas for the year and plan to accomplish more mileage than ever before, and I will celebrate that!

I want to celebrate each of our children!  They are wonderful kids!  We love to celebrate them at their birthday's and I want to remember to celebrate them more often!  They are smart, funny, loving kids who deserve to be celebrated just the way they are!

I want to celebrate turning 30. I've heard that leaving the 20's behind can be hard, but I'm not feeling that at all. I've loved everything we've accomplished in our 20's and leaving them behind is worth celebrating, but I also look very forward to the next decade of my life and all that it will bring!  Peter celebrates 30 years this year too, and we're going to celebrate him too!

We're hitting 10 years of marriage this year.  That's something to celebrate!  It actually is an accomplishment to make it to 10 years nowadays.  I'm glad we've not only survived, but thrived together!  My marriage is something worth celebrating not only on the big days but day to day too.  We have some fun plans this year to celebrate our marriage! 

In general, life is worth celebrating. There's no reason to not enjoy the journey we've been given in this life.  Yes, hard days will come, yes sometimes we need to buckle down and focus but there's no reason to overlook the cause for celebration all around us!  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Think Kit 2016! In My Eyes!

Back a few years ago I joined Think Kit.  A year end look behind or look ahead type of blog venture. It has been awhile since I've done it, but I have been getting the emails and thought, you know what?  If the mood hits me, I will join in. So here's my first Think Kit for the year:

Show us something from your year through your eyes. Did you see something that took your breath away? Or maybe you just couldn't look away?

That was easy for me to answer. This moment right here:

After an incredible first week in Ireland, with many breathtaking views, we found ourselves on a tour to Northern Ireland. We started out the day very early in the morning, with not much change to grab any breakfast. We were also on the last pick up location for the tour bus on what was apparently an overbooked tour.  Meaning, the seats on the bus were very limited.  Peter and I were able to grab the last two seats on the bus, but it was in the very back - sitting next to a bunch of rowdy immature hostile dwelling kids.  It didn't take me long to reconsider our decision to book this tour.  I also have a tendency to get car sick if I can't see where I am going or didn't have some food in my tummy. So needless to say, the morning wasn't starting out too great from where I was sitting and we had a 3 hour bus ride up to Northern Ireland ahead of us. 

  I was excited for a few different things on the tour but one of the things I was not that excited about was our stop at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. I think the majority of my excitement was that I wasn't feeling great and could finally get out of that dang bus for a good hour.  It just didn't feel like one of those things that would be a highlight of the day. Boy was I wrong. First off, we had a 1 in 100 (per our tour guide) type of day up there. The weather was just gorgeous!  I wasn't convinced I would go across the bridge, but Peter convinced me I should, so we bought a couple tickets.  The walk from the bus to the bridge was about a mile each way.  The views were just incredible. I was snapping pictures every which way because there was so much beauty all around! We could look out across the ocean and see all the way to Scotland.  Even though there was a slight chill in the air, the views looked more like something that you would see in a tropical place, not so high north in the world!  The bridge was fun and a bit scary all at the same time, but the real enjoyment was just walking around with Peter enjoying the views!  

It was a day that we will never be able to recreate.  We could go visit Ireland 20 more times, heck maybe even 100 more times,  and probably never have as clear or as beautiful of a day again. The tour was long and it required a lot of driving but it was well worth the time to see what we saw and make memories together!