Spreadin’ the Love

Today was the first day of spring. Oh, I know it’s not official, and we may (probably do) have snow coming our way yet, but it was over 50 degrees here today and I wore flip-flops, so I’m calling it close enough. That’s why I’m putting up Easter decorations tomorrow. The weather is glorious, and I’m tired of looking at my Valentine’s decor, so why not, I ask you, why not?

But before I do, here’s this year’s February memory table, featuring photos of the girls from Valentine’s Days of years past, along with an arrow-pierced heart carved by my great grandfather, and some white tulips…

DSC_2185For the mantel, I did a quick and easy craft project that I whipped up after a trip to Michael’s. I was so inspired by their spring line, I had a hard time choosing just one project to make. And no, they didn’t pay me to say that. But seriously, four vintage-looking metal letters, a pre-made riveted burlap canvas, five minutes and a bit of super glue was all it took to make this little baby…

IMG_2015Which was inspired, of course, by the Robert Indiana “Love” statue in Philadelphia, ever of significance in our home because we were standing next to it when Peter proposed to me. (And it’s where we took Alethea on her first ever airplane trip in October of 2009.)

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I used this free printable as a guide for my chalkboard art. Then I added my five-minute canvas to the mantel with an assortment of other items I already had on hand and after a few shifts, tucks and tiny tweaks, I settled on this arrangement…

DSC_2694My best Valentine’s mantel ever! (Okay, so it’s only my second year doing one, but who’s counting? Not me!)

And now that you’re feeling all lovey-dovey inside, let’s move on to Easter, shall we? Hurray for SPRING!!!!

An Anniversary Message

Dear Peter,

You know, I used to think it was pretty silly when people would say things like, “I love my husband more than I did on the day we got married.” I mean, sure the way you love someone changes and evolves over time, but if you really love someone more later on, then maybe you just got married too soon or something. Right?

Well, we’ve been married eight years as of today. And it may be silly (and I know it’s a bit corny), but I just have to say… I love you even more than the day I married you.

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Because I knew that you were patient and steady, but I didn’t realize how you would always be able to talk me down off the proverbial ledge.

And I knew that you had a great sense of humor, but I didn’t realize how I would need you to make me laugh when I was feeling overwhelmed by life.

Wedding High-Res 020Because I knew that family was important to you, but I didn’t realize how grateful I would feel every time you make a decision to do what’s good for us, rather than what is easy or convenient at the time.

And I knew that you would be a good father, but it’s totally different when I see the depth of your love for our kids through the ups and downs of parenting.

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Because I knew that you were smart, but I didn’t know how proud I would feel when over and over I see others seeking out your thoughtful, well-reasoned advice, and as I came to depend on it myself.

And I knew that you were hard-working, but I didn’t realize that you would be so good at making sure that there was still time for me every day.

Wedding High-Res 015Because I knew that managing money well was important to you, but I didn’t realize that every time I’d suggest giving some of it away, you would name a higher number than the one in my head.

And I knew that you trusted me, but I didn’t know that you would give me the freedom to make so many decisions without second-guessing me, or requesting an accounting of dollars spent or time used.

Wedding High-Res 019Because I knew that you wanted to follow Jesus, but I didn’t realize that serving the church together would help align our priorities to such a great extent.

And because I knew that you loved me, but I didn’t realize that you would continue to look for ways to show me how important I am still, eight years, three children, and a mortgage later.

Happy anniversary and all my love,


24 Hour Update

Caleb is nearly 24 hours old now and I am completely in love with this little guy! Not only is he a total cutie, but thus far he’s been eating and sleeping like a champ.

DSC_0516He reserves crying for something really offensive like when he managed to scratch himself on the cheek, or when the doctor took of his clothes and he got cold. Other than that, he’s either eating, sleeping, or looking around with a slightly perplexed look on his face.

DSC_0839Big sister Alethea thinks Caleb is great. She’s only upset that I’m not coming home at night and bringing him with me. This morning she was crying because I’d decided to spend one more night in the hospital, so she declared she was going to stay overnight too. When I pointed out that there was only one bed, she decided that she was going home to get her sleeping bag and would camp out on the floor.

DSC_0606Lydia has been going back and forth on whether having Caleb around is a good thing. When she arrived to visit this morning, she ran right over to him, smiling and cooing. Then a little later she declared that she didn’t want to be his big sister. Then another while later, she was holding him and giving him kisses.

DSC_0631Regardless of Lydia’s wavering opinion, Peter and I agree that he’s a keeper!

DSC_0602We love every bit of his 20.5 inches…

DSC_0821Including his goofy faces…

DSC_0808We’ll be headed home tomorrow morning after we get through discharge. Alethea is so excited to surprise him by showing him his room! Hope he likes it!

Three Weeks and Counting

Today I am 37 weeks pregnant. Just three weeks left until my due date, May 29th. Of course, I can’t know if Baby Boy will show up early or not. I’m 1-2cm dilated, but my midwife says that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. In any case, I’m physically ready to be done, but my to-do list is still quite long, so I’ve been trying to knock out as many things as I can before returning to those sleep deprived newborn days.

Of course, it’s harder to knock things off a to-do list when you’re nine months pregnant and your belly closely resembles that of a giant teddy bear…DSC_9432I shouldn’t complain. I feel very blessed to be expecting a healthy full-term baby boy. I’ve gained less than thirty pounds and can still wear my wedding ring, which was not the case at this point with either of the girls. This pregnancy still feels harder to me though. I don’t know if it’s because I’m over 30 now, because it’s the third time around, or because I’ve got two other kids to keep up with, but yeah, I’m exhausted.

DSC_9418Alethea and Lydia seem more or less ready to make the transition to a family of five. They enjoy giving my belly kisses, and telling perfect strangers about their baby brother who is coming. Alethea has really been on board from the start. I think she’s so confident in managing her sister that she figures it can’t be much more work to be in charge of two. She seems very eager to be Mommy’s helper.

Lydia on the other hand, up until about a month ago, kept telling me that she did not in fact want a baby brother, she wanted another sister. Fortunately, that has ended and more recently she has started saying things about helping her brother walk and discussing where his car seat will go in our new-to-us larger vehicle that we purchased to accommodate three car seats.

Besides the new vehicle, we’ve also managed to acquire a fairly complete first year’s wardrobe for our little guy. We have a couple wonderful neighbors who were getting rid of their baby boy clothes and gave me first dibs on them. Between that, the things we already owned that were gender neutral, some gifts, and a few Target clearance finds, other than getting a few more 0-3 month sleepers, I’m about done with the “Find Boy Clothes” item on my to-do list. And everything is even washed and put away! Sweet little hats that probably will never fit my baby’s head… awwww…

Baby Boy ClothesAs far as the nursery update goes, I’m not as far along as I’d hoped I’d be, but we have made some progress. I bought the airplane fabric I was eyeing and my mom came over and helped me turn it into drapes, or rather, I helped her turn it into drapes. (Let’s just be honest about who did more of the work.) I also went to Home Depot and bought galvanized pipe to make a curtain rod, which I spray painted last weekend (never fear, while wearing an OSHA approved respirator). Now we just need to get the rod and curtains up, then pin the curtains at the correct length, take them down to do the hem and put them back up again. Sounds fun, right?

Dresser in Sherwin Williams LagoonSo not too much has changed in the nursery. I have gotten most of the girly accessories out, although I still haven’t made any decisions on the artwork situation, hence the continued presence of that bit of pink.

Nursery in transition

I did find bookends on eBay to fit the new theme. I love them, but I just can’t decide if I leave the current paint job or do something else. Spray paint them a solid color, perhaps bronze? Paint just the red parts with a color that better matches the rest of the room? Maybe go bold with a fun green to liven things up?

Train BookendsSo that’s where things stand at 37 weeks. Just for fun, and because I’m running out of mental decision making energy, leave me a comment and let me know whether I should paint the bookends and if so, what color. Opinions please!


Sorry for the long silence. March came in like a lion in more ways than one around here. Not only was the weather horrible, but all four of us managed to come down with Influenza A during week one of March. Week two found Peter and the girls feeling better, but the flu morphed into a sinus infection and bronchitis for me. The coughing and headaches might have even been worse than the initial flu. So forgive me for not posting. I’ve been in a bit of a fog.

The good news is March week three brought much improvement to my heath and more interestingly, our family’s spring break vacation to Wisconsin Dells, Waterpark Capital of the World. We enjoyed a three night stay at the Wilderness Resort, which boasts four indoor waterparks, plus a variety of other attractions.

I didn’t get a ton of pictures (because water and cameras don’t mix and because Peter and I were too busy just trying to keep up with the girls), but here are my best shots:

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We spent the majority of our time exploring the different waterparks, but we squeezed in a trip downtown to eat at MACS Macaroni and Cheese Shop, which I have to mention because it was sensationally good. Why aren’t there more restaurants whose entire menu is gourmet variations on mac and cheese? One of life’s mysteries, I suppose.

We also spent one evening chilling in our suite, watching Disney’s Frozen and eating popcorn:DSC_8348

Both girls seemed particularly intrigued by the sisterly storyline. After the movie, Alethea was overheard saying to Lydia, “Don’t worry, you won’t turn to ice. You’ll be my sister forever!”

And then there was swimming and more swimming (and lots of water slide riding, of which I could not for the life of me get a decent picture).

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Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Ken-Ducky Derby. Every morning at 8:30am they race rubber duckies down the lazy river. We went two mornings and somehow Lydia’s ducks managed to win both mornings, so she ended up with a duck whistle and a water bottle. Alethea’s ducks weren’t quite as fast, but I was super proud of her for being happy just getting to keep the ducks. She was quite cheerful about it and is already talking about doing more duck races “when we go back”.

DSC_8341So that’s where we’ve been. My plan for this coming week is to attempt to get back to a normal schedule. Here’s hoping March week 4 is in fact like a lamb. Come on spring!

Christmas Traditions

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a very merry Christmas and are gearing up for a fantastic New Year! Around here, we’re also gearing up for a very special birthday party, because someone in our family is turning THREE YEARS OLD in just over a week.

But before we get too far past Christmas, I thought I’d share about some of our family’s Christmas traditions, because I love Christmas, and I love traditions, and I love hearing about other people’s traditions so I can steal adopt them for our family! So many good ideas out there. Here are a few of ours:

Every year our family, including my parents and sometimes other members from my side of the family, goes to a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm to pick out our tree. Sometimes it’s great fun, sometimes it’s freezing cold and the kids are miserable, but whatever the case, we always take a photo in front of our selected tree.

When I was little my parents would buy me a Christmas ornament every year. Peter’s parents did the same thing, so it only seemed fitting that we carry on the family tradition from both sides. Every year the girls each get a new ornament for the tree that will go with them when they move out into their own houses. Some years I pick them out. Other times we let them choose their own. When it’s my turn, I try to find things that remind me of them in some way. This year Alethea got a Clifford ornament I scored on eBay. And since both girls are currently obsessed with ducks, Lydia got this cutie:

Our second ornament tradition is that whenever Peter and I take a vacation (with or without the girls), we buy three souvenirs: something small for the house, a charm for my charm bracelet and an ornament for the Christmas tree. We actually managed to start this tradition on our honeymoon with a blown glass Canadian flag and have continued it ever since. This year we went to San Francisco and after much searching, located this one:

I love our ornaments because very year decorating the tree is like unpacking a box of memories. A bit of our childhoods, mixed with great travel, and a dose of “oh my goodness, our children are growing up too fast”!

Two years ago I was trying to figure out how to make Jesus’ birth more central to our Christmas celebration when I stumbled on this magnetic advent calendar. It was a bit more than I was hoping to spend, but it’s been totally worth it. The girls look forward to pulling out a new character every day leading up to Christmas. Truth be told, I think they were just as disappointed to find out on December 26th that there wasn’t a door to open on the calendar as they were when I told them there wouldn’t be any more presents that day either. Most importantly, it has inspired conversations, both spiritual and otherwise, about the nativity and Jesus’ birth.

Favorite advent calendar moments from 2013:

Lydia rearranging the figures, when Alethea looks over and says, “Lydia, you have to leave ONE of the angels in the stable because SOMEONE has to say, ‘Do not be afraid’!”

Alethea constantly calling the “innkeeper” the “lightkeeper”. Thank you summer camping trip in Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

This is one of our more unique traditions, so it deserves a brief explanation of its origins. Many years ago, Peter’s grandfather and his siblings owned and ran a hardware store and by the time they closed up shop on Christmas Eve, nobody wanted to cook and the only place open to eat was the Chinese restaurant. Although the hardware store has long been out of business, the family tradition continued and evolved in Peter’s father’s generation to become a formal sit-down chow mein dinner. In keeping with Peter’s heritage, every year on Christmas Eve, we go to church and then come home to eat Chinese take-out with our friends and family. And because family traditions should evolve, we order a variety of other dishes in addition to the usual chow mein.

This tradition is a favorite with me because it combines everything I love about entertaining… the decorating, the formality, using my china and crystal, and having good conversations over a meal, while eliminating the thing I dislike most… cooking for a crowd.

Here’s a tradition that came along as a bit of a practicality. We are very fortunate that we get a lot of gently used hand-me-down clothes for the girls from some of our church friends. For whatever reason though, we always seem to still need more pajamas. Thus the beginnings of our “wear new pajamas to bed on Christmas Eve” tradition. Here’s Alethea modeling hers Christmas morning 2009:

Alright, I know this is getting long, so last one… a tradition I stole from one of the designers on HGTV. (I think it was Genevieve Gorder, but don’t quote me on that.) Every Christmas morning the kiddos are required to stop on their way down the stairs and let me take their picture before they get to open presents.




Our stairwell is completely devoid of natural light, so I know this will never be the world’s best photograph, but it does mean I get at least one shot of the kids together in their jammies on Christmas morning.

So there you go. A few of our family Christmas traditions. Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Any that our family should try out? Please do share!

The Universe is Mocking Me

Okay, so it’s been a month since our pregnancy announcement and also a month since my last post, which means an update on Bobblehead Baby 3.0 (Bob for short) is long overdue.

First the good news, we’ve had our 12-week ultrasound and everything is looking good so far. Heartbeat is strong, Baby has all limbs attached, etc. They say it’s too early to tell whether it’s a boy or a girl, but I’m pretty sure it’s a boy. I mean, just look at this kid chillin’ like a villain…Feet propped up, arms flung back behind the head, not a care in the world… yeah, it’s either a boy or a really laid back girl, and either one would be a change around here.

Now on to the bad news, which really isn’t bad news for anyone but me, and that is that this has been the toughest first trimester that I’ve had out of the three kiddos. With Alethea I had sporadic bouts of nausea and with Lydia I had none at all. This kid has had me feeling the the flu is constantly coming on.

It does seem to be easing up a bit. I’m 15-weeks along tomorrow, so I’m hoping it will go away completely soon. But as of this moment, I will continue to drink my sparkling water and eat my high-carb diet. Which brings me to the title of this post.

So this morning I went to the fridge to get out my morning bottle of sparkling water (because, for whatever reason, tap water makes the nausea worse, go figure). I unscrew the cap and water comes gushing out of the bottle, all over the floor. I set the bottle down on the counter, grab a paper towel and then glance back at the bottle, and this is what I see…

I kid you not, this is an untouched photo…

Not staged, I did not do this on my own…

Photographic proof that the universe finds my morning sickness amusing…

Are you ready for this….?


Yeah, yeah… thanks Water Bottle, real funny…


As has become our annual tradition, I, along with my mother and mother-in-law, carved the kiddos’ pumpkins in their requested designs.

As you might have guessed, this one is for Alethea, who asked for another Clifford the Big Red Dog pumpkin “just like last year“. This one was tricky since unlike last year, I didn’t have an actual pumpkin pattern to follow and our printer is broken so I couldn’t even work with a computer print-out. So, I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’m rather proud of myself for doing a pencil and paper sketch and then transferring it to the pumpkin.

As predicted, Alethea (and her stuffed Clifford) were both quite pleased with the end result.

This pumpkin is for Lydia. When I asked her what she wanted on her pumpkin, she said, “Candy!” I have a feeling she was imagining something she could actually eat, but she seemed to like the candy carvings pretty well too.

So that’s the tale of two punkins and their pumpkins…

And one punkin yet to come…

Surprise! Happy Halloween!

What We Did This Summer

I can’t believe it’s October already. Where did the warm weather go? Just today Alethea asked if we could go back to the beginning of the summer and start over. I told her that no, unfortunately we’ve got to wait for summer to come back around again. I can’t blame her though, because while there were plenty of unexciting days, we squeezed in quite a bit of fun too, including:

A petting zoo and pony rides…Attending three weddings…Visiting Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Jim in Iowa and going to their local waterpark….

The county fair and what I think was the girls’ first ever carousel ride…

A whole weekend of boating, jetskiing, swimming and fishing…

As well as several days at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park for camping, hiking, lighthouse touring and hanging out with my side of the family…

Nope, we can’t go back and do it all again, but nothing to stop us from enjoying the photos and memories.

So long summer!