LJ is Four!

Today, my sweet boy turns four years old.

I can’t believe it has been four years since heard the words “It’s a boy!” That moment changed my life.

LJ is energetic and playful. When he’s in motion, he’s really in motion – running, jumping, and climbing. He loves to be active and play outside. Some of his favorite activities are riding his balance bike, golfing, driving his little gator, digging in the sand, swimming, fishing, and running around on playgrounds. He also loves to help Justin mow the grass or his grandpa drive the tractor. If something is happening, he wants to be a part of it!

LJ is also incredibly affectionate. He gives hugs and kisses generously and loves to snuggle with us. He tells me he loves me frequently and greets me with a tender little hug every morning. When Justin comes home from work, he makes sure we give each other a kiss and hug πŸ˜‰ and it’s really sweet to see how much value he places on seeing his parents show affection to one another.

It’s been really incredible to watch him grow in his role as big brother too. Don’t get me wrong, he has his fair share of moments where he’s annoying Vi and making her squeal, but he also spends just as much time loving on her. He gives her hugs and kisses, looks after her, and encourages her in whatever she’s doing (“You are doing it! I’m so proud of you!” or “Watch me, this is how you do it.” or “Be brave! God is with you!”)

One quick little side story about LJ: I was able to go on a little field trip with his preschool class to the pumpkin patch. As we arrived and walked up, three girls came running, calling his name excitedly. They all started running around playing together and the parents all said “Oh Levi! We hear all about him!” It was so fun to see that he has little friends at school that were so excited to see him and immediately play. I haven’t really gotten to see him in that role outside of playdates that I plan, so it was fun to see how he makes those connections without me around.

I just love this little boy so much and I’m so excited to celebrate him today! Now I’m off to make some sprinkle pancakes before he wakes up πŸ™‚

Friday Features: A look back at our October Activities

Every once in a while I like sharing a Friday Features post with some little snippets of our life lately. Today I thought I’d specifically share a look at all the special activities we’ve been doing lately. October is such a fun month full of fall festivities and it has been so great to get to watch my kids experience so many things this year!

Pumpkin Painting

This is the first time we’ve ever painted pumpkins but I know it won’t be the last – it was a huge hit with the kids! We did it early in October when the weather was still fairly warm and sunny and we spent a big portion of the afternoon outside enjoying the sun and working on pumpkins. Major mom win! We used this washable paint and it was very easy to clean up afterwards.

Fall Festivals

We spent back-to-back Saturdays at local fall festivals and had a great time at each one! There were so many awesome activities for kids at both – rides, tractors, animals, little shows, inflatables, a corn pit (which my kids both loved), and more. The first two weekends in October were gorgeous and fairly warm still so we enjoyed the heck out of each festival.

Pumpkin Treats

My kids both love to help in the kitchen so when I saw this Rice Krispie pumpkin treat kit in the Aldi Finds aisle, I knew it would be a perfect activity for them. We spent a really sticky, messy, (Vi is shirtless for a reason!) and fun afternoon making these – the kids had a blast and were both so proud of their little pumpkins.

LJ’s First Field Trip

LJ had his first ever little field trip to the pumpkin patch with his preschool class and I got to go along. It was so enjoyable for me to get to see him interact with his classmates, learn a little about pumpkins, and hunt through the patch for the perfect pumpkin to take home. It was also a great little bonding experience for us!

Zoo Trip

We go to the zoo so much in the summer, but we’ve never gone in October before. A friend of mine asked us to join her and her kids one Friday morning and so we bundled up and headed to the zoo. Even though it was cold, it was actually really enjoyable to spend a day at the zoo! They had gone all out with fall decorations – giant spider webs and pumpkins and hay bales galore – it wasn’t crowded, and the animals were super active and entertaining. We had a blast and will definitely go again in future Octobers!

Trick-Or-Treating

I have always loved Halloween and the fun of dressing up (check out this post to see some costumes from past years) but it is even more fun to experience this holiday through the eyes of a child. My kids have been getting so excited for trick-or-treat and we went last night to my hometown so we could enjoy their trick or treat night with my parents, grandparents, and a few aunts and uncles. I won’t lie, wrangling two hyped up, sugar loaded kids through the streets with a light rain drizzling is wild and exhausting but it was 100% worth it. The magic of holidays is so much sweeter through a child’s eyes! We had such a great time and the kids loved their costumes since they’re currently pretty obsessed with the Minions movie.

Plus, it was extra sweet to get to trick-or-treat at my grandparents’ house. I am truly so very lucky that my kids and grandparents get to know one another and share in some of these precious memories together. We cherish our time together!

Have a great weekend and Happy Halloween!

A Day in the Life {9.13.21}

Every so often, I like to do a Day in the Life post – it’s never a “special” day, just a regular old day in the life of my family. Vacations are fun and special events are good memories, but the every day normal is what really makes up our lives and I love having little snippets of our life at different stages documented. It’s been seven months since my last one so I documented last Monday, which just so happened to be the last day of “summer” before my kids started preschool on Tuesday.

Monday, September 13, 2021

I woke up around 6:00 and was downstairs in my office by 6:15 for some quiet time + morning devotions. On this particular morning I was prepping for a discussion I was leading on Thursday for a small group I’m part of.

LJ woke up around 6:55 and came downstairs. He often likes to snuggle on my lap a bit while he adjusts to being awake but on this morning, he was ready to hit the ground running!

I got him breakfast and while he was eating, I let the dogs out, fed the dogs, and emptied the dishwasher (we have the dishwasher run overnight so it’s ready to unload first thing).

I ran upstairs to brush my teeth and quickly made the bed. I’m really trying to make this a habit because I love how it makes the room feel!

I started a workout in our basement while LJ watched a little TV. I’ve been slacking with exercise over the past year but I’ve been getting back into my Expecting and Empowered postpartum workout guide – my days always feel better when I get in some movement!

Vi woke up around 9:00 while I was still in between my sets so I got her up and fed her breakfast in between rounds. She then joined LJ on the couch while I finished up!

After my workout, I dove right into work mode. I finished up and published a blog post and then completed my tasks for my work from home job (I’m a part-time virtual administrative assistant!) while the kids watched some TV and played around me.

Around 10:00, I finished up my work and got Vi dressed and the diaper bag packed for a trip to the zoo. We got there around 10:45 and were ready for a day of fun! I caught a spontaneous kiss on our way in – my kids absolutely fight and get on each others’ nerves but I love that they are also super affectionate and loving too.

A highlight was getting to feed the giraffes! I was actually really impressed with my kids and their patience today because they waited at least 15-20 minutes on the platform before a giraffe came close enough to feed – their patience paid off! Usually Vi loves this part but she got a little nervous today so LJ fed the giraffe both pieces of our lettuce.

We ate lunch at the zoo which allowed us to stay a little longer and we headed home around 1:30. Vi and I headed upstairs for her naptime while LJ wound down with a little TV. She insists on sleeping with SO many things these days, I’m surprised there is even room for her in the crib ha!

LJ and I enjoyed a bit of leftover birthday cake when I got back downstairs, then he played independently while I did a little more work for my job.

We had had some friends stay with us over the weekend, so after Vi woke up I spent some time getting the guest room back in order and cleaning the guest bathroom. The kids played in the shower with a spray bottle filled with water while I cleaned the rest of the bathroom which felt like a double win – entertained kids + clean bathroom!

The kids jumped in the bounce house while I read a little bit, but it didn’t last long because . . .

. . . we decided to relocate outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. Gotta soak up summer as long as we can! The kids love playing in the sand (and don’t worry, yes I had a book but I was always very alert with making sure they were only playing in the sand and not the water).

We stayed outside until Justin got home and he brought dinner home from a local BBQ joint – yum!

After dinner Justin hung out with the kids while I headed upstairs to fold some laundry (that had been in the dryer for several days haha).

We settled in for a little TV as a family before heading upstairs for bedtime – I love end of the day snuggles!

After the kids were down, I actually had to head out to grab a few things – we were totally out of milk (happens every now and then) and diapers (honestly never happened before haha) and I needed to print off a picture for LJ to take in to his first day of school the next day.

Once I got back home, Justin and I settled in for a cozy night on the couch – him watching Monday Night Football and me reading some more. A perfect way to end the day!

If you’re interested in reading some past Day in the Life posts, you can find them all here:

November 16, 2018

July 9, 2019

January 14, 2020

March 26, 2020

February 13, 2021

Friday Features {8.27.21}

We are currently en route to Pennsylvania for the weekend for Justin’s grandma’s memorial service. We’ll be gone all weekend so I thought it was a good day for a small roundup of Friday Features – just the random little things that have happened around here lately!

Cozy Bedroom Corner

A few weeks ago, I shared how I brought this gorgeous rust colored chair into what was a somewhat awkward corner in our bedroom and this week, I finally got around to finishing off the space. I considered adding artwork above the chair, but since I’ve included so much in the gallery wall I decided to print off and frame one of our new family photos instead. I like that the asymmetrical mat makes it feel a little extra unique! I snagged a small black table from Target and topped it off with a dried floral arrangement from a local florist with a candle and book. I also tossed a soft textured striped throw blanket over the chair. Now the awkward corner that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with is such a cozy spot in the room – I love it!

Playing Chalk

On Wednesday, Justin had the kids for most of the day while I got lots of work done and ran multiple errands. When I got home from one, they were all playing outside. LJ saw me and asked in his sweet little voice “Mommy, will you come play chalk with me?” It was one of those perfectly ordinary moments that stopped me in my tracks. I love that he loves to involve me in his activities and genuinely wants to play with me. He has such a sweet, tender heart and it was so nice to put everything else on the back burner and spend some time drawing shapes and lines (LJ “taught” me how to draw an x haha) with my little boy.

Vintage Sale Finds

I love going to @carpendaughter‘s vintage sale and this year’s was another great one! I scored some really cool pieces that I’m excited to incorporate into our home. I shared this on Instagram: “There is something about being able to find little treasures that are unique and come with a story and some history. They have passed through different hands, been part of different homes, and now they’re going to be part of ours. It makes me so happy!”

Unlocked Memories

While putting together our gallery wall, I wanted to include some special mementos of ours. It was so fun to comb through our memory box and find ticket stubs from concerts, movies, and museums, a coaster from a Wisconsin bar, our honeymoon boarding passes, notes, cards, and letters we wrote, chips from a casino event we attended, the list goes on! I loved how each item unlocked a memory of trips we’ve taken, events we attended, things we’ve done together. It’s just a special little collection of our relationship and I really enjoyed picking out a few things to display on our wall, including this museum pass from our trip to Italy several years ago. Art doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be the most special and/or valuable things. Frame what makes you happy – and this memento definitely does!

National Dog Day

Apparently yesterday was National Dog Day? Thanks to social media for letting me know! I don’t share much about the dogs these days, but they are definitely a big part of our family life at home! Macie is spunky and playful and always up for swimming, playing fetch, or doing anything with people. She’s slowed down a bit over the last couple years but she’s still our energetic girl! Scout has always been our more reserved boy – he loves to curl up and cuddle for most of his days, but he perches up on our landing so he can see out the window and is so faithful with letting us know when someone is coming up our driveway. He’s our little guard dog! We love our fur babies so much.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Vi is TWO!

I can’t believe I’m typing these words, but my baby girl turns two years old today!

Vi is my totally fearless adventurer. She eats pretty much any new food that is placed in front of her and she is always up for trying new things. She always wants to be thrown high in the air or climb up on the big kids playground or jump around in the bounce house. I think she’s a bit of a thrill-seeker!

She absolutely loves anything to do with water. Whether it’s splashing in the bath tub or playing in the water table or participating in swimming lessons or jumping into the pond (with her floaties on!), she loves to be in and around water. She loves to run into the pond and swim and swim and swim. Her current favorite movie is Luca and I think it’s because of all the water!

She also loves animals – she is interested in everything from a dog at the park to a horse in a pasture to a bug crawling on our floor. She loves going to the zoo (a surprise zoo trip is her birthday present today!)

Vi is a mama’s girl through and through. She insists on mama putting her down for bedtimes and naptimes and she’s always reaching for me and wanting to be with mama. I’m trying to soak it up now, because I know being the preferred parent won’t last forever!

Vi wants to do anything and everything her big brother does. While they often bicker and struggle to share, they are also really great about looking out for one another and loving one another well. They color together, play together, hug one another in the morning and blow kisses good night. I love watching their sweet sibling bond develop!

Recently, she has become very into dressing up. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve found her in my bedroom, trying on all my bracelets and necklaces. She also loves getting her nails painted and has started requesting dresses to wear during the day. For her birthday I made her a clothing rack for dress up clothing and asked our family members to contribute something to a dress up collection. It was a HUGE hit!

Her party was simple and didn’t have a theme or much in the way of decorations, but we did order some Luca-themed cookies for our water-loving girl.

My sweet V, I love you more than words can say. You changed our lives two years ago and we are so so grateful for every day with you. ❀

How We Minimize Gifts at Birthdays (+ Inspiration for Vi’s Birthday Gift!)

I cannot believe I am typing these words, but in one week from today, Vi will turn TWO. YEARS. OLD. What!?

We are having a small birthday party on Saturday with family to celebrate our sweet girl. I’ve shared this before, but until our kids turn three (in my opinion, the age they start to actually understand birthdays) we keep birthday celebrations very low key. Gatherings are small and family-only, food is simple, decorations are minimal, and we get a little creative with gift-giving.

To be clear, I’m throwing zero shade at people who like to go big on baby/toddler birthdays or shower their young children with gifts. Truly, you do you; we’re not judging anyone else’s choices. For me personally, planning an elaborate party feels like a lot of work and stress for low reward (my one year old is as happy with a single balloon as an entire balloon arch). And when it comes to gifts, which are generally toys, Justin and I just personally want to keep things at a level that is manageable for our family. Our house feels better when it’s not overrun with toys, our kids play with toys longer when they aren’t overwhelmed with choices, and at ages one and two, our kids don’t realize what they’re “missing out” on by not receiving toys anyways. Cards are always appreciated though and our kids love receiving them!

Today I thought I’d share what we do for their first and second birthdays (at age three, we ramp things up a bit – LJ had balloons and gifts and understood enough to be so excited to celebrate!) I’m also sharing our plans for Vi’s birthday gift this year, which also just happens to be my next DIY project.

First Birthdays: No gifts, but donations are appreciated!

A straight-up “no gifts” request can be awkward. Some people feel bad showing up with no gift, so they bring a little something anyways; unfortunately, this can then make those who listened to the request and didn’t bring a gift then feel bad because others brought gifts and they didn’t. It’s uncomfortable for everyone and can be frustrating for the hosts who truly didn’t want gifts. We have found that a solution that works for everyone is donations. No one feels uncomfortable arriving empty-handed, but no gifts are given and a great cause is supported. Win win win!

For their first birthdays, we asked that in lieu of gifts, anyone who wanted to could bring donations for a cause that was special to us. We are so thankful that our families were super supportive and happy to donate instead of buying gifts. For LJ’s first birthday, we collected books for a local organization that distributes them to hospitalized children and for Vi’s first birthday, we collected household items (paper towels, cleaning supplies, basic hygiene items, etc) for our church’s ministry supporting local families in need.

20200809_164139

I especially like this because it works for many budgets. People could bring one small, inexpensive item or multiple items. We didn’t unwrap them, there wasn’t a big production – just a table set aside for people to put donations on when they arrived.

I think it helps people to honor your requests if they can hear your reasonings for it and understand the impact they can have with their donation, so we send an email with the party details ahead of time. I usually say something like “While we are requesting no gifts for [child], if you would still like to bring something, we ask that you consider bringing a donation to xyz. This organization is important to us because of ____ and we’re looking forward to making a donation in [child]’s honor.”

Second Birthdays: One “big” gift + family participation

For LJ’s second birthday, we decided to give him one big gift – a secondhand train table – and we asked everyone in our family to decorate a train to go with it. This was actually a really fun way to get our families involved without getting a ton of gifts, and we loved seeing everyone’s decorated train. We have some super creative family members and it’s a truly unique train set that is so special! LJ loves it and has gotten SO much use out of it – much more than he would’ve gotten out of 15 individual toys.

20191126_084955

Which brings me to Vi’s birthday! We wanted to find a big gift that family could contribute items to in a way that fit her unique needs and interests. I came up with the idea to gift her with a small clothing rack (she is currently obsessed with trying on all my jewelry and shoes!) and ask family members to consider contributing something to a dress up collection.

As I said in my email to the family: “This can be a costume, play shoes, accessories, whatever! It can be new, it can be hand-me-down, it can be found secondhand, it can be an outfit, it can be a small item like a necklace or hat or something.” I didn’t want anyone to feel an obligation to spend lots of money or find something fancy because she will honestly love anything.

Trying on mama’s bracelets after church

My plan is to DIY the clothing rack so it fits the dimensions in our playroom perfectly. I don’t have much time (the party is in five days!) but it’s okay because I’m imagining a relatively simple design. I just want it to include a rod for hanging clothes and at least one shelf for storing a bin or two for shoes and accessories.

Here’s some of the inspiration I’ve gathered so far:

Credit: Target

Let Operation DIY Birthday Gift project begin!

Friday Features {5.14.21}

Good morning! It’s been a big week this week, so today I’m sharing some of the things that have been going on with our home and family.

Kitchen Island Light Fixure

Our kitchen refresh is officially finished! I shared the first part of the reveal a couple weeks ago but there was one thing left on my to-do list: replacing the fluorescent light over the island! I ordered a new light fixture over a month ago but the original estimated delivery date was between July 29-August 2. Well for once, I’m thrilled that a shipping date was off by a couple months because the fixture arrived earlier this week! Justin installed it and we are both thrilled with how it elevates the look of the kitchen.

$1000 Kitchen Refresh

Piggy-backing off that, I love looking at these before and after shots of the kitchen. Justin and I have always intended to do a gut renovation of this kitchen and change the layout, but that is several years down the road. This refresh was a way to make the kitchen feel like the rest of the house without a huge investment of money. Fresh paint on the cabinets, walls, and window trim + updated backsplash from repurposed beadboard + new LED can lights + updated light fixture and bar stools = a kitchen that feels brand new. And the best part of this transformation is that it was right around $1000. Totally worth it!

Last Day of Preschool

And speaking of before-and-afters, yesterday was LJ’s last day of preschool. I cannot believe how much this boy has changed this year! The days are long, but the years really are so short. I went back and forth so many times about whether or not to send him to preschool, but looking back I’m so glad I did. He had a great year!

Mother’s Day 2021

We had a sweet little day with our family on Sunday. LJ went with Justin to the store after their haircuts on Saturday and picked out the brightest flowers I’ve ever seen. Justin said when he saw the balloons he immediately asked if he could get one for mommy. Melt my heart! I will always take the handpicked or handmade gifts over anything fancy. I love his sweet little heart!

We stayed in comfy clothes all day and it was pretty much what you’d expect for Mother’s Day with toddlers. I love being their mama!

Although I have to also include this picture – the day after Mother’s Day, things went back to their normal chaotic selves around here. This is truly my life as a mama haha!

Happy Birthday Mom!

And speaking of moms, today is my mom’s birthday! She is one of the most important people in my life and I am grateful for her everyday. It’s been so fun to watch her thrive in her grandma role these last few years – she is one-of-a-kind and we love her so much!

Have a great weekend!

Friday Features

Happy Friday!

Today, I felt inspired to write up a different kind of blog post than my usual. I typically share a lot of our day-to-day moments on Instagram and save the bigger things for the blog (like finished home projects, family milestones, etc). I’ve talked about this before, but as much as the blog is a fun way for me to share things with others, it’s also a great way for me to document parts of our life for us to look back on in later years. There are a lot of little things that, while they aren’t worth dedicating an entire blog post to, I’m feeling inspired to create a little space for on the blog. Friday seems like the perfect time to round-up a random hodgepodge of things from the past week or two and I love that it just gives a little glimpse into our life right now. I do plan to write little Friday posts like this more often, although I’m not sure how often they’ll pop up. We’ll see! For now, here’s what’s been on my mind lately:

Summer Weather

This week we had several days in the 70s which is just fine with us! We broke out the water table and other summer toys and cannot wait for fun in the sun.

Plant Refresh

I had several plants that were getting too big for their planters so the start of spring felt like the perfect time to do some transplanting. I bought a few new pots and just switching out a few plants and planters has everything feeling so fresh around here!

LJ and Vi Comparison

Earlier this week we went to a park we haven’t been to in a long time. Vi has recently started doing slides 100% independently and she is so proud of herself! I snapped this picture of her and it immediately gave me a flashback to LJ using that exact same slide when he was about her same age. I had to dig through my archives and I found a video of LJ that I screenshot so I could do a little comparison of my babies!

Spring Cleaning Closets

This past week, I went through LJ and Vi’s dressers and removed anything that they’ve outgrown or is not the right season (LJ is still in 3T, but doesn’t need sweaters for the spring/summer months). I also checked for anything that was stained or had holes or other major signs of wear – anything that fit this category went straight into a bag that I’ll drop off at a local company that accepts fabrics in any condition for textile recycling.

I keep large clear tubs in each of their closets to store clothes they’ve outgrown. I keep the bin organization simple – I keep sizes separate by using a piece of cardboard as a divider and slipping a piece of paper with the size marked in the bin so it’s clearly visible. It’s nothing fancy but this system works!

Consignment Closet Refresh

The vast majority of my children’s clothing is either hand-me-down from friends or was bought secondhand at a consignment store. I don’t like spending lots of money on their clothing. They outgrow sizes so fast that it doesn’t seem worth it to spend $20 on a shirt they’ll only wear for a couple months. Plus. let’s be honest. Kids are messy! I’m constantly removing stains from food, dirt, markers, etc. I prefer to spend $3 or less on a shirt – if it is still in good condition after it’s outgrown and can be passed down to another child, great! If it has holes or stains and needs to be recycled instead, it doesn’t feel too wasteful because it’s already been worn a lot. Secondhand clothing is cost-effective for me and sustainable for the planet – a win win!

We’ve already received a lot of hand-me-downs that will fit my kids this summer, so after going through their closets and getting the next sizes ready, I made a list of things they still needed. We took a trip to the consignment store yesterday to fill in their wardrobe gaps – LJ especially had fun getting to pick out some shirts for himself! We got all these items (plus one shirt he already wanted to wear) for $40.

Herself Podcast

I’ve talked before about the HERself podcast but I listened to episode 69 while painting the kitchen cabinets that really resonated with me. Their guest, Elicia, is a stay-at-home mom and talked about the balance of staying at home but also wanting to have something for herself outside of motherhood. She personally had a passion for her kids AND also had a passion with connecting with other women so she’s joining the podcast as an employee while staying home with her kids. They talked a bit about finding little opportunities to fulfill a passion or have a role outside of the role of mom. This spoke to me so much! I am so thankful that I am able to stay home with my children (though I’ve been honest that it isn’t always easy) and love being able to fill this role for my children and our family, but I’m also a wife and a woman who has passions and interests beyond motherhood. Reading is a way for me to rest and recharge, and I also find a lot of joy in using this blog as a creative outlet. Over the past two years, I’ve also really leaned into updating our house and sharing all our projects, big and small, and it’s become a huge passion of mine. I’m learning the value of the word and. I love my kids AND I enjoy some alone time. I like completing home projects AND reading bedtime stories. I love to nurture AND create. My kids are a priority AND so am I.

Aldi Juice Find

Does anyone else love Aldi? It’s my favorite place to stock up on all our basic grocery needs! I love that it’s inexpensive and you don’t get decision fatigue because there aren’t like, 82935792348 brands of ketchup to choose from. They also have lots of great organic options at a fraction of the cost of other grocery stores. I saw these juice pouches in the Aldi Finds section and decided to try them out – they have been a HUGE hit with my kids! They don’t drink juice very often but these pouches make for a nice little treat with less sugar than other brands of juice.

ASMR Home Video

I’ve been watching this video on repeat – it’s so satisfying to hear all these little sounds of home!

First Covid Shot!

Indiana opened up eligibility for those 30+ last week and I jumped at the chance to schedule an appointment. I got my first dose of Pfizer last Wednesday and was SO excited! My only side effects were a sore arm and some fatigue around the 24-hour mark (but after a nap, I felt great!) I’m so thankful for the efforts of scientists to make this happen so quickly. I’m feeling hopeful for the future and “normal” activities resuming soon!

Note: I’m not interested in debating vaccines on the internet. There are lots of great resources out there to help make your own decision – I personally found @kinggutterbaby and @jessicamalatyrivera to be great sources of information for me.

Have a great weekend!

One Year in a Pandemic: A Photo Journal

We’ve officially been in a pandemic for over a year. On the one hand, it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. On the other hand, it’s become so ingrained that it feels like it’s been a lot longer since life was “normal” (does anyone else watch TV made before March 2020 and think things like “OMG they just hugged!” or “Wow there are so many people there! And they’re so close together!”)

I originally intended to write a journal entry type blog post looking back over the past year, but I found myself procrastinating over and over. I think that I’ve been in a mode of just getting through this thing one day at a time for so long, and while I do sometimes stop to process what is going on, it’s such a huge thing that it’s hard for me to mentally wrap my mind around (and honestly feels triggering and defeating right now). I definitely have pandemic fatigue like so many others. We’re all ready for this to be done, but none of us actually know when it will be over. Summer 2021 is looking hopeful, and maybe at that time I’ll feel ready to do a look back over this time in a pandemic with two small children. Right now, I don’t feel ready to mentally take on that blog post.

Instead, I thought I would do a little visual look back over the year. This post is a beast with TONS of pictures. Quite honestly, I created this primarily to have a collection of some of our pandemic life all in one spot. It’s a little look into what the year looked like – what we did, what we wore (spoiler alert: 98% pajamas), what life was like. I fully understand that I might be the only one this invested in remembering what a year in our family life looked like, so feel free to skip this post if 83713491834 pictures isn’t your thing. πŸ˜‰

March 2020

Vi was dedicated at church on March 15, the weekend everything started shutting down. Little did we know that would be the last Sunday we’d step foot inside our church for over a year (we’ve been watching virtually ever since!) Justin and I were supposed to go to New Orleans the next week but that got cancelled so instead his vacation time was spent at home as a family. At that time it felt cozy and special to have quality time together and no other obligations. We had our first DIY Date Night and had no idea that a lot more DIY projects were in store for the following year.

April 2020

I did not leave my house this entire month except to go to the grocery store. Our Easter celebration was held over Zoom and we did a few small activities with LJ at home to celebrate. It was around this time that we realized that this pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon.

May 2020

We entertained ourselves by painting toenails, lots and lots of playtime indoors, watching our farmer neighbors, and enjoying outdoor weather whenever we could. I enjoyed a sweet and simple Mother’s Day at home in our pajamas and got to meet my new niece towards the end of the month. πŸ™‚

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20200510_180423-1.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20200525_145550.jpg

June 2020

Even though it wasn’t a typically looking vacation, we were so thankful for Beach Week 2020 with family. At home, things stayed eventful with our AC system dying in the hottest week and LJ deciding to wash his hair in candle wax.

July 2020

We took advantage of our pond often and got to have my family over for an outdoor party which made this month almost feel normal.

August 2020

Justin’s parents were able to visit us for the first time since March and we celebrated Vi’s first birthday! We also got to go the zoo as a family and it was so nice to have a more ‘normal’ activity to do together!

September 2020

A milestone month for us – LJ started preschool! I was so thankful for in-person preschool and for a school that took tons of safety precautions. We also got to celebrate my birthday with four friends at an outdoor restaurant and my parents watched the kids for a day so Justin and I could have a mini getaway exploring Indianapolis outdoors. My middle sister and I also pulled off a big surprise by driving out to Virginia to celebrate our youngest sister’s birthday!

October 2020

Early voting, Halloween, and lots and lots of work on our home office!

November 2020

Back indoors for lots of playtime and we celebrated my tractor-loving boy’s third birthday! He also got a new bed and was preeeeetty excited about it. πŸ™‚ I had to include a picture of our kids eating apples too – they became obsessed with apples this year and would sometimes eat 2-3 a day.

December 2020

A magical month full of Christmas activities! The kids are at such a FUN stage right now and it really made the holidays that much more special. We didn’t travel to Virginia in December and our extended family gathering on my side didn’t happen like usual, but we had at-home date nights, Christmas jammies, gingerbread houses, and lots of special fun.

January 2021

Usually January feels about 78 days long, but strangely enough this year it didn’t! Maybe it’s because by this time, we were very used to just hanging out at home so it didn’t feel out of the ordinary.

February 2021

We got a ton of snow this month and had lots of fun playing in it. On days when it was too cold, we tried to get creative with new activities indoors – busy toddler tasks, baking Valentines cookies, and the big news: getting a bounce house to burn off our energy!

March 2021

Here we are. One year later. In the last year there have been days I’ve cried, days I’ve felt so overwhelmed, days I’ve yelled, and days I’ve really really struggled. Being the primary caregiver for two small children without regular help or the ability to go to places like the library, playdates, museums, etc has been so incredibly challenging. I don’t want to sugarcoat it – it’s been a tough year. But there have also been so many great memories of our time together at home. So many snuggles, forts, puzzles, laughs, getting creative with finding things to do (and TV shows, let’s be honest here). Time together like we’ve never had before and will likely never have again.

I’m feeling hopeful for the future. My grandparents and parents are now vaccinated (and so is our babysitter – hallelujah for a little more help around here!) The weather is warming up and we’re able to spend lots more time outside. We’re tentatively making travel plans for the summer and feeling optimistic about being able to do more things in a ‘normal’ way. I know we’re not there yet, but it feels closer and closer each day. One thing is for sure, this past year is one I will never forget.

18 Months with Vi

I can’t believe I’m typing these words, but my baby girl is officially 18 months old!

A full year and a half with Vi in our lives and I honestly can’t imagine our family without her. In honor of this milestone, I wanted to write up a little post all about her and this stage of her life.

In many ways, she is very much like her brother was at this age but one huge difference jumps out right away: she is CHATTY! When LJ was 18 months old, he actually started speech therapy because he was only saying β€œmama,” and even that word was pretty inconsistent. Vi on the other hand, has too many words to count. Mama, daddy, no, cereal, yes, this, do that, Macie, ears, nose, hat, eyes, applesauce, bounce house, pickles, moon, bible, milk, play doh, socks, shoes, boob (lol), sleep, bye bye . . . the list goes on! She is really good about communicating her wants and needs and it’s very rare that we don’t understand what she wants.

She wants to do everything LJ does. She wants to play with the toys he plays with, she wants to do the activities he’s doing, she wants to eat the same snack he picks. If she sees him to something, you can bet that she is going to want to do it too! They are usually very sweet (I love when they want to watch TV and “nuggle,” as Vi says, under a blanket!) and generally play together well.

Vi is still breastfeeding before naps and bedtime and shows no signs of wanting to quit. I figured we would be done around the same time I quit with LJ (he was 13 months and uninterested in continuing) but she has been very insistent with continuing despite my dwindling supply. At this point, I’m 100% ready to quit whenever she is.

One reason I’m surprised she still wants to breastfeed so often is that she LOVEs food. It seems like she’s constantly eating or asking for a snack. She will eat anything that is put in front of her and definitely out-eats her picky older brother (he prefers to graze). Vi can handle an adult-size portion and generally cleans her plate regardless of what we had for dinner. Right now she particularly loves applesauce, broccoli, sausage, cottage cheese, and pickles. She’s always a complete mess by the end of a meal but she’s always a happy camper with a full belly!

She loves to read books! She will sit on my lap and flip through pages on her own, which makes my little book-loving heart so happy! She also likes to sit by herself, either on her glider or the floor, and flip through pages.

She especially loves a book my sister and brother-in-law gifted her for Christmas. It’s one of those books that is personalized and has her name throughout – I think she really loves hearing her name! She requests it almost every time before nap and bedtime and often insists on holding it while breastfeeding and then taking it into the crib with her to sleep. (The picture below is an accurate representation of any given day – she loves taking a ton of things with her into her crib!)

I think we’re finally starting to get our of her I-only-want-mama stage, which has been sweet but also exhausting for me. She LOVES her daddy and lights up with pure glee when he comes home. She has just started to give hugs with a little squeeze and it is the cutest thing. Last night he put her to bed with zero fuss from her and it was such a nice break for me! I’m hoping she allows him to do it more often.

Vi loves to be outside and doesn’t seem to care that it’s currently freezing outside. She constantly requests to go outside and if she sees someone put a coat on, she’s immediately requesting her own coat/hat/shoes to go with them. On days we actually go outside, she loves to swing or drag around a snow shovel.

Right now her most-requested indoor activities are bath time, play doh, bounce house, and getting out games from the cabinet. She loves to help feed the dogs and can now push her helper tower around the kitchen to get her own snack (she loves to eat apples out of our fruit bowl). She is a busy bee and keeps me on my toes as she gets into everything in our house!

Vi can be stubborn and definitely lets us know when she is unhappy she’s not getting what she wants, but she’s also sweet and spunky. We love her so much and are so excited to continue to watch her grow!

I love you, my sweet V!