April #Powersheets: Sharing My Goals.

Lara-Casey

as i mentioned last week, March was a rather rough month for me goals-wise; despite the fact that i feel that i allowed myself a lot of grace as i returned to work last month, i’m still saying “tsk-tsk” to myself for not accomplishing more or spending my time on more fulfilling activities, like getting into God’s Word or writing {darn you, Netflix!}. but, as Lara Casey’s #powersheets help me to remember each and every month, it’s about progress, not perfection. Amen to that!

so, with that in mind, here’s what i have on my list of action items for mid-April to mid-May:

get a haircut and a pedicure. it’s so, so fascinating to me that i had to actually write these items down on my Tending List {see a glimpse of this sheet here}, but i’ve literally been trying to carve out some time in the past two months for some self-care, and it’s finally time that i get it done. i even have a gift card for a pedicure – from my birthday back in November!! – that i’m anxious to use for some solo time.

celebrate Q’s baptism. i’m so excited to spend the morning praising God for giving us our sweet Quincy-Bug and celebrating his baptism with friends and family!

DIY raised garden beds and shelving for the third bedroom. read more about these projects here, but in short – i. CANNOT. WAIT.

#socialmediafreeweekends. as i shared last week, taking a break from social media {Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest} on weekends has worked so, so well for me in the last month, so i’m eager to continue!

prioritize spending solo time with each of my boys {including my husband!}. i want to savor both of my sons at their respective ages, so i’m going to work hard to dedicate time each week to spend one-on-one with both L and Q. plus, the busyness of life has me eager to reconnect with my husband, so i want to devote time each week for some solid couple time sans kids.

read the Bible {via the YouVersion app on my iPhone} each morning BEFORE opening up email, social media, etc. honesty time: this will be so, so difficult for me to do. it’s become quite the unbreakable habit to check my phone for emails and social media updates immediately upon waking up each day, but i know, in my heart, that these activities aren’t serving me well, and they certainly aren’t serving my family OR my God. so, it’s time to put God where he belongs – at the forefront of my thoughts, at the beginning of my days. spending five minutes in God’s Word each morning will help me to ground my days in Him, and i’m praying hard that this change helps me to pursue what really matters – relationships with my kids, my husband, and my God, instead of a relationship with my phone.

what are you tackling this month? are you a #powersheets user like i am? please share in the comments what you’re working on this month – i’d love to cheer you on!

{image from here; go download one for your iPhone or computer desktop to keep you focused on the good stuff in life!} :)
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a work of balance {mothering two}.

being a Mama of two kiddos is a work of balance, a scale that’s endlessly tipping to this side and to that.

it’s tap, tap, tapping your foot on the bouncy seat as one slumbers and high-fiving the other for a successful and ferocious basketball dunk.

L-Q-Easter-2015

it’s the car dance of switching between singing the silly words to “Slippery Fish” with one and cranking the volume on Essie Jain’s lullabies for the other.

it’s telling one to “wait just one minute” while the other eagerly awaits the sharp snap of my nursing top unclasping.

it’s sharing smiles with this one and giving kisses to that one, simultaneously…and getting both in return.

it’s changing this icky diaper and that icky diaper, two in row, with your kids’ boy parts displayed for all to see in the trunk of your car in parking lot of the “choo-choo store,” formerly known as Barnes & Noble, i.e. your happy place, before the kids came along.

it’s zipping this one’s coat and finding his favorite toy car to tuck into his pocket and tucking in a blanket around the other one’s leggies as he groans and gurgles to escape the confines of his car seat.

it’s reading book after book after {repetitive, sing-songy} book to this one while the other listens and smiles, a pink gum-filled grin that’s evidence of his delight in your voice.

it’s ordering noodles or chicken nuggets – or whatever the favorite food of the week is – for that one and pleading not-so-silently with this one to please, just this once, take a bottle, for your breasts need a break from his eager tugs as he gulps and gulps the food that your body provides.

it’s waiting for one to climb into his car seat – “i do it,” he says – while the desperate, hungry cries from the other fill the crumb-covered confines of the car.

it’s sshing and bouncing and swaying with one while the other uses your leg as a fire pole, sliding down, down, down, and finding giggles at the bottom.

it’s telling this one, for the eleventy-thousandth time, to “be careful around the baby” as the other one drops his toy rattle and subsequently wails for the eleventy-thousandth time.

it’s sending up prayers to God that the baby won’t wake as you play “hockey” with golf clubs with the other.

L-Q-Cars

it’s hearing the giggles of one elicit belly chuckles from the other, their laughter chipping away at all you were before they came into your life, before you said your first hello’s, before they filled your whole heart up.

it’s this one’s “i love you too, Mama,” even when he says it first, and coos and grins that say the same thing in the only language that the other one knows.

yes, motherhood is a balance. it stretches you in ways that you never thought possible, like a modern-day Gumby with a real, beating heart.

and oh, what a blessing it is to be the one that stretches and straddles the balance beam for these two little boys.

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Working Mama 101: What to Pack for Daycare + How Not to Run Late in the Morning {Our Family Roost Style}

as promised last week in my post all about the adjustment to being a working, pumping and breastfeeding mama, i’m back to share two lists of sorts: a list of what we pack for Q for daycare {and, to keep it equal, what we pack for L as well} and a list of morning and evening “farm chores” {thanks for the term, Emily Ley!} that Jord and i have taken on to ease the task of our mornings of getting two parents and two kiddos out the door.

first up, a little background: when i was prepping to return to work, i Googled my heart out to find out what items that parents are sending with their babies and kiddos to daycare. as i’ve mentioned before, i was an at-home Mama with L for the first fourteen months of his life, which means that when it came time to send four-month-old Q to daycare, i was at a loss of what to pack in a diaper bag for him {apart from the essentials like diapers and wipes, of course}.

what’s interesting, though, is that despite my Google-loving heart, i wasn’t really able to track down a list of “what to bring to daycare” that proved helpful. so, i’m hear to share my own list, which has about five-ish weeks of trial-and-error success:

here’s what you’ll find in Q’s diaper bag {which, for the record, is this one from Thirty One Gifts, which i LOVE because it’s HUGE}:

  • diapers {we’re using Pampers Swaddlersright now for Q; instead of bringing in diapers every day or every week, we send about half of a large box (probably around 70-80 diapers) whenever he needs them}
  • wipes {we’re big fans of the Pampers Sensitive wipes with the pop-top}
  • extra clothes {since Q is still in the diaper-blowout stage of nursing – two words: loose stools {eww!}, i send two onesies, two pairs of pants, and a pair of socks}
  • a blanket {since we live in South Dakota, we typically send a fuzzy + warm blanket along with Q each week}
  • SwaddleMe swaddle with Velcro{we LOVED these with L, and we are still big fans now that Q’s wearing them!}
  • at least three bibs {apart from the consistent drooling that Q is doing now at nearly five months old, Q is also a bit of a spitter after he nurses or takes a bottle, so having extra bibs on hand is key}
  • a burp cloth or two {see above}
  • two to three pacifiers with clips {while L never took to a pacifier at all, Q prefers theJollyPop brand, which is what they gave to him in the NICU to help to promote sucking; i like this style of pacifier clip= easy on/off}
  • coat + hat {again, since we live in SD, Q often wears one or both of these to school, but even if it’s a nicer day, i still send these items with him each day, just in case the temperature dips}
  • sunscreen {last summer, we used the California Baby brandwith no complaints}
  • bottles/baby food {depending on age; since i’m still nursing Q, i pump breast milk on a regular basis and send it – defrosted, if it was frozen – in bottles, so that it’s ready to go for his caregivers; i use this pump– LOVE IT – and these bottles, which we also LOVE}

for reference, here’s what we send for L, who’s almost 3 years old, in this much-beloved backpack:

  • diapers {while we tried cloth-diapering L, he eventually needed a more absorbent diaper, so we’ve been using Pampers for him for about one year now. we’ve been working on potty-training for a few weeks, but L is not quite ready for full-time Pull-Ups, so like we do with Q, we send a bulk package of Pampers Cruisers in size 4 to school}
  • wipes {Pampers Sensitive, like above}
  • extra clothes {while a diaper blowout is rare for L, he does get dirty and/or wet a lot, especially during art time or when playing outside or at the sensory tables at school, so we always send one complete outfit – shirt, pants + socks – to school with him}
  • a blanket {L prefers a soft, fuzzy blanket, too – his favorites are a green Minky blanket that his Grandma Patty made for him and an Elmo blanket that is big enough for me to use}
  • coat + hat + mittens {see above}
  • winter gear {if necessary; in addition to his coat, hat and mittens, we send snow pants and boots with L each day during the winter months}
  • sunscreen {see above}

lastly, i wanted to share what Jord and i have dubbed our “farm chores.” the fun name = this super-helpful post by Emily Ley {who makes AMAZING day planners, which are on sale VERY soon – you must check them out here!}.

here are the chores that we check off each evening:

  • wash + sterilize breast pump parts, bottles
  • fill bottles for the next day {Fridays: freeze breast milk}
  • pack Jord + Sara’s lunches for the next day {refrigerate if necessary}
  • set out clothes for the next day for Lionel + Quincy {the back of the living room couch is a great spot for outfits to lie in wait in our home}
  • put away toys around the house {for my sanity, this NEEDS to happen each night}

and the chores that we take on each morning:

  • Jordan: dinner prep {take out meat to thaw, etc.}
  • Sara: make the beds {i took this one from Emily Ley’s list, and i can’t tell you how wonderful it is to come home to made beds!}
  • Jordan: change Lionel + Quincy’s diapers
  • Sara: make coffee
  • Sara: nurse Q when he wakes up {typically around 6:15AM}
  • eat breakfast {L’s typical breakfast in the morning is one piece of peanut butter toast and apple juice}
  • put away toys around the house {after a morning of play, this is absolutely necessary!}

finally, we have a few special Sunday night chores to help the week to flow smoothly:

  • Sara: select my work outfits for the entire week + iron my clothes {it works so, so well not to have to think about what to wear each morning!}
  • Jordan: ready garbage + recycling for the next day
  • thaw breast milk + fill bottles for the next day
  • pack up breast pump bag

i hope that’s helpful to those of you who, like us, are full-time working parents. or, perhaps you are eagerly awaiting the arrival of your second {or third! or fourth!} child and wondering how you’ll ever get out the door in the mornings? either way, i hope this list helps you to know that all things are possible with a plan and prep work!

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march #powersheets update {spoiler: FAIL}.

Lara-Casey

so, it’s been a good long while since i’ve touched base with y’all about my goal-setting efforts via Lara Casey‘s #powersheets {snag a set for yourself here!}. i wish that my lack of updates on what i’ve been aiming to accomplish means much progress was made, but alas, that’s sadly not the case…

here’s what i hoped to accomplish in March, and what i didn’t quite do {spoiler alert: a LOT of my list…}:

try not to drink pop for one month. NOPE. in an effort to jumpstart my body and help me to lose the lingering 2-3 pounds of baby weight that i had left, i set out to eliminate pop {namely my one obsession, ORANGE SODA} from my diet. yet, when my grandmother took a fall in early March, i reached for my orange-flavored crutch to help me cope with the time that she spent in the hospital following her elbow surgery. thankfully, my dear grandma rebounded quite quickly, but my orange soda addiction is still rearing its {ugly…but delicious} head.

#socialmediafreeweekends. CHECK. this has been the one area in which i’ve had success this month, and the solitary goal that i want to keep up for many weeks and months to come. in the spirit of Lara Casey and others, including Nancy Ray, i’ve decided to prioritize my time with my family on the weekends by eliminating social media {specifically Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest} from my weekends. i still allow myself to check in with my favorite blogs on Feedly, especially since i have less and less time to do so during the work week, but in general, my phone remains far, far away from me on the weekends. i cannot tell you how refreshed this helps me feel, and how liberating it is to unplug; since becoming a mama {and then becoming a mama of two}, i’ve learned so much about drawing close to loved ones {namely, my husband and our boys} and about making boundaries that help me to lift up what matters {family} and let go what doesn’t {as much as i try not to, social media for me has become so much about comparison, which is so unfulfilling!}. #socialmediafreeweekends help me to make sure that my focus is on what fills me up, not on what empties me. i encourage you to try it out, if you’re feeling frustrated and unfulfilled by social media, too!

schedule Q’s baptism. CHECK!

go on one date with Jord. well, we didn’t go on a date, but we did have a date night this past weekend at home sans kids…it was such a treat! Jord made one of my favorite meals {this one}, we shared one of our favorite bottles of red wine {anything by Bogle is a win in my book}, and we reconnected as a couple. what a luxury it is to get to talk about “grown-up” things for an evening! thank you to our parents for taking our kiddos off of our hands for a few hours :)

set up automatic monthly withdrawals for church offering. CHECK!

lower level upgrades: paint treatment on wall; DIY mirror; DIY touches on kiddo reading bench. NADA. didn’t do ANY of these tasks. uffda!

attend Ladies’ Night at church with my Mom. CHECK! we had a great time, and the featured speaker, Annie Downs, totally lit my heart afire for living bravely! check out her latest book here; i can’t wait to dig into it this summer!

give myself grace as i return to work. as i mentioned last week, i’m so thankful that the transition back to work has gone quite well. however, {of course} there were days on which my patience in myself and in my littles wore thin, and i wasn’t the mama, the wife, or the worker-bee that i want to be. i’m always struck by this: why is it so hard to give ourselves grace, in comparison to the grace that we show to others? i vow to work on figuring this out in April.

read Naptime Diaries‘ Lenten devotional. i TOTALLY dropped the ball on this one. after-Lent devotional, anyone? :/

finish reading Lara Casey’s Making Things Happenalso still on my desk, waiting to be devoured…needless to say, it was a cruddy month for taking “me” time. {i still need a haircut…}

begin my mornings in the Word. oh, how i wish that i could say that progress was made on this goal. instead, i’m finding myself clicking Twitter or Instagram first thing in the morning, instead of diving into God’s guidebook for life. but here’s the real question: what has the potential to fill me up more – social media or God? i know the answer, but will i do anything to change, to right this ship? i’m surely going to try this month!

i’ll be back next week to share my April intentions, but in the meantime – what are you working on this month?

{image from here; go download your own!} :)
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life as a breastfeeding, pumping, working mama {one month in}.

Q-19-Weeks

this week marks week no. 4 of my return to work after welcoming sweet Q into our lives in November, so i wanted to share a bit of a status report.

specifically, i want to spend time updating you all on a few things, including:

  • how i’m emotionally coping with my return to work;
  • how Q {and L, too!} have weathered full-time daycare;
  • and how pumping breastmilk + breastfeeding is working out for Q and i.

this is a doozy of a long post, so grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat!

emotionally, my return has been relatively wrinkle-free. my supervisor has been a complete dream, in that he’s provided a space in which i’m able to pump breastmilk multiple times each day {more on this in a bit}. my colleagues have been wonderfully supportive of my need to slip in and out of the “lactation lounge,” which is located in a separate room in the midst of a communal space of cubicles, at various times throughout the day to pump. lastly, my students have been, by and large, welcoming and accommodating as i learn their names {a task which feels so peculiar, given that we are already past the halfway point of our semester} and as i get my “sea legs” back as an instructor of English and communications.

personally, i worked hard to prepare myself for the emotional gamut of feelings as related to experiencing time away from Q. in the weeks prior to my return, i soaked up moment after moment with Q; we snuggled, we napped, we nursed, and i gave thanks to God each and every day for the time {nearly 16 weeks!} that i was able to spend at home with him. i also became obsessed with making morning and evening to-do lists, crafting a game plan to clean and sanitize my breastpump parts after each of my middle-of-the-day pumping sessions at work, and executing seemingly endless edits to my hourly work schedule and to Quincy’s nursing schedule. in short, i was obsessively, absolutely, totally FREAKING ready for my return to work logistically. and, apart from a few hiccups, which come naturally {and often} with a baby and a toddler in tow, things have gone quite smoothly.

what’s also wonderful: Q has adjusted quickly to daycare. he took to the bottle without much fuss {apart from a bit of an adjustment during his first feeding session on his first official day}, and continues to be a champion eater, both while he’s at daycare and when he’s at home – he’s even increased the amount that he eats at daycare from three to four ounces of breastmilk per feeding! by his third day at daycare, he was napping well {and napping anywhere, from swaddled in a crib to snuggled up in a blanket in a bouncy seat}. he enjoys being around the other babies in his “classroom,” and thanks to having an older brother who makes noise constantly, he doesn’t seem to have any trouble sleeping with other babies and children around.

Q-L-March-2015

L is also enjoying being back at school full-time. as a reminder, we continued to send him to school two days per week while i was on maternity leave, so that he could continue to progress and learn, and to continue building relationships with his teachers and his friends. plus, his days at school allowed me time to soak up Q a bit more, which was perhaps the most unexpected blessing of it all! now that he’s back at school every day, his vocabulary is continuing to blossom at record speed, and he’s demonstrating more and more that he’s ready for potty-training, a task that we plan to jumpstart over the long Easter weekend. he’s used the potty with much success as of late, so we’re hopeful that we can work on these skills over our four-day weekend and then send him to school next week in “big-boy pants” {Pull-Ups}. it’s our goal to have him reliably potty-trained by mid-to-late summer, so that he’s ready to go to five-day-per-week preschool in undies in the fall.

finally, i wanted to share a bit about my adjustment to pumping breastmilk at work. like i said above, my supervisor and colleagues have been amazingly supportive of my role as a working, breastfeeding mama. overall, i couldn’t be happier with what it means to be a working mama, both in terms of pumping breastmilk and in terms of continuing my nursing relationship with Q when we’re together.

i do want to say this, though: please know that i realize {and that i give thanks to God each night} for all of which i’m about to share. as a faculty member at my institution, i have privileged access to excellent care for my children. not only is the daycare center only available for use by employees and students at the college at which i teach and its surrounding school district, the center is located right on the campus on which i teach. Jord and i feel remarkably grateful for our children’s teachers and the daycare facility itself.

here’s what my work days look like, in general:

  • arrive at daycare with the children 30 minutes before i need to be in my office. at this time, i drop of L {typically without much fuss or objection from him, although sometimes he needs a little more time to adjust to the day}.
  • after i drop off L in his classroom, Q and i enter his “classroom,” and i nurse him at daycare before heading into my office.
  • after some office time, i teach one class that’s 75 minutes in length. this is where my schedule varies: two days per week {Mondays and Wednesdays}, i take my lunch break and pump breastmilk {and eat, of course}. but the other three days {Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays}, i spend my entire lunch break hour with Q, which allows me to nurse Q onsite {and eat, of course}. i’m sure that i don’t have to tell you how wonderful this is, but i did want to mention that i think this is what has helped me to have absolutely no problems whatsoever with milk supply. and yes, i realize how fortunate i am to have a robust supply; trust me, i don’t take it for granted!
  • after my lunch break and/or my time with Q, i teach another class that’s also 75 minutes in length. then, during my office time at the end of every day, i pump breastmilk again.
  • as my work day comes to a close, i return to daycare to pick up my children. i tend to pick up Q first most days, unless L sees me and excitedly runs up to greet me :) i often nurse Q at daycare before driving the boys and i home, to ensure that sweet Q doesn’t have an “i’m hungry!” meltdown on our 20-minute commute home.
  • on the days on which i don’t spend my lunch time with Q {Mondays and Wednesdays}, Q has two bottle feedings at daycare. on the other days {Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays}, Q only has one bottle feeding.
  • on Mondays, i teach a night class that’s three hours in length. this means that on top of the two bottle feedings that Q receives at daycare, he also has another small {i.e. 1-2 ounces} helping of breastmilk from Daddy while i’m teaching. this dinner-time feeding has actually been our only difficulty in adjusting to my return to work; Q doesn’t like to take a bottle from his Daddy for some reason, which is maddening for all of us {and for Q himself, as he lets us all know through his angry cries and his voracious appetite when i return home on Monday nights}. we’re still working through he’s refusing the bottle from Daddy and what we can do about it; our current thought is that he likens home with nursing right from the breast, so we’re exploring ideas of Daddy taking the boys to the park {or elsewhere} and feeding Q outside of our home to see if that helps.
  • when Q and i are together {in the evenings and on the weekends}, i nurse from the breast exclusively. in other words, we don’t give him bottles unless he’s at daycare or is with another caregiver {if we’re on a date, for instance}. this helps Q and i to remain closely bonded, and i’m sure it helps to keep up my supply as well.

Mama-Q-March-2015

i’m also incredibly pleased with my breastpump; it’s a workhorse! it is comfortable to use and comes with everything that i need {and more} to pump discreetly at work. i have this one, and it was partially covered by my insurance {i think that we paid $45 out-of-pocket for the pump, which is amazing, since it retails for $270!}. i had my doctor write me a prescription, and Jord picked it up from a medical supply store near the hospital after Q was born.

we’ve tried new baby bottles with Q as well. with L, we used these Avent bottles whenever we needed to leave a bottle with a caregiver {which was rare; as a reminder, i nursed L for fifteen months, and i was home with him for fourteen of those months and then nursed only at night for the final month, when i started my teaching job}. but with Q going to daycare so much earlier in his life, i wanted to try Tommee Tippee bottles for Q, since they mimic the shape and the feel of the breast more. we’ve been very pleased with them so far! we have this set {which we used when Q was little and was feeding more frequently and drinking smaller amounts each time} and this set, which we use exclusively now and LOVE.

i’ll post another update shortly, including what we pack in Q’s diaper bag for daycare each day {i searched and searched for helpful “what to bring to daycare” lists in preparation for my return to work, so it’s only fair that i share my own!} and what Jord and i do each morning and each evening to help the morning rush to work and school flow a bit easier. stay tuned!

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spring + summer projects {our home}.

we’ve had our first taste of spring here in South Dakota, and warmer temperatures and sunshine-y days bring out the good ol’ “do all the things” attitudes in Jord and me. you’re on watch, Listy McListerson – we’re coming after you!

to give you a hint of what’s to come from us {and from this here blog} in the coming months, here’s a few projects that have jumped up on our to-do list:

1. plant a vegetable garden. we’d love to get our hands dirty and plant our first-ever garden early this spring. while we wait for temperatures to warm up a bit more, we’re dreaming of DIYing a raised garden bed or two {like this} and placing them in our front yard for maximum sunlight.

Back-Patio-Surround

Back-Patio

2. remove the dogwood bushes surrounding the cement patio in our backyard.

as i mentioned here, we’d love to improve sight lines around this patio to help us to see and interact with our young, play-loving kiddos, so we plan to remove these bushes early this spring as well.

Man-Nook

3. move the “man nook” to the guest bedroom {and DIY some rockin’ industrial shelving while we’re at it}.

after many conversations about Jord’s current “man nook,” we’ve learned the following things:

* our visions for the “man nook” are very, very different; while i want a finished, polished and “pretty” space {in that it fits in with the rest of our home decor} in which he can work and play, Jord envisions a space that is totally, 100% his – a “no-girl-opinions-or-prettying-up” allowed kind of feel;

* the current “man nook” is SMALL {it IS a closet, after all}. while we surely knew this before the space became “the man nook,” Jord’s plans to customize the space to fit his needs are making us wonder if his {great} efforts to make it work are worthwhile;

* we have a third bedroom downstairs {what we’re calling our guest bedroom} which is currently a glorified storage room, meaning that it’s largely unused.

thus, after some enlightening conversation, we’ve decided to move the “man nook” to the guest bedroom downstairs.

Guest-Room

Guest-Room

but, instead of just plopping down a desk in there and calling it quits, we’ve decided to take our time and plan out a killer wall of industrial shelving {using pipes and stained wood} that will really MAKE the space.

Industrial-Shelves-Jessica-Krause-House-Habit-Beautiful-Mess

we’re super inspired by the photo above, which is from this post over on A Beautiful Mess. the post features the home of Jessica Krause. we weren’t the only ones who were inspired – in fact, after seeing this wall o’ shelves, Traci over at Beneath My Heart wrote up a super helpful tutorial that has us believing that we can really make this project ourselves!

but, before we can make this wall o’ shelves happen, we need to paint the walls in the guest bedroom {i’m currently brainstorming colors, but my gut reaction is something neutral and fresh, along the lines of our new lower level paint job}. we also need to move the full-size bed to another wall in the guest bedroom {we will be using the wall that the bed is currently on for the shelving, since it’s the only wall in the room without a ledge going around the perimeter}. finally, we need to go shopping for some totes and devote some time to project: organization in order to pack up and move OUT of the room the various {and many!} baby-related items and other stuff that has accumulated in this room since move-in day.

Guest-Room

we can’t wait to tackle this project, since it will be such a welcome change for Jord {more space! natural light!} AND will be a handsome installation for whatever this room turns into {for instance, it will surely be L’s future bedroom down the line}.

what projects are you tackling? do the first signs of Spring have you in a tizzy as well?

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daycare eve {a letter to Quincy.}

* written after church on Sunday, March 15, 2015, as sweet Q-Bug slept nearby.

dear sweet Quincy-Bug,

tomorrow is a big day for you, for it is tomorrow that you will enter, for the first time as a child under their care, the daycare in which you will spend your hours while Mama is at work. this date has been marked on the calendar for quite some time, since your untimely arrival 3.5 weeks early, and as each day passed, your Mama grew more and more anxious about this date.

Quincy-16-Weeks

you see, sweet Bug, your Mama has never before sent such a youngster to daycare; when your big brother made his first debut at our {beloved, we’re-so-blessed-to-have-this-place} daycare, he was fourteen months old. of course, i had nerves and worries about that day, too, but those seem so silly in comparison to sending you, our little four-month-old, to even as wonderful of a place as our daycare is.

you’ve grown so much since that first day that my eyes met yours, but you’re still so little.

but, in an effort to help me through this transition {which promises to be awash in Mama-guilt, an emotion that i know so well, one that, i’m certain, is unending, even when our children leave our safe haven to embark on lives whose movements and milestones we no longer direct or chronicle in intimate detail}, i’ve compiled a list of reminders for myself – and for working mamas everywhere – who are struggling with the realization that their children’s days will pass without as many Mama-snuggles as we’d like:

* by sending our children out to have their own adventures, apart from us, more of the world will get to know and love all of our children, including my sweet Q. this is such a blessing, for {i’m convinced} that it’s in the eyes and the coos and the snuggles of babies that magic happens, that God’s love becomes tangible, that faith in humanity abounds.

* the work that we are doing – whether it’s education or management, public policy or food service – is important work that displays to our kids the importance of contributing to society. it’s also setting an example for our children to follow, as voiced by {plenty of brilliant people, i’m sure, but here’s my mantra} Grey’s Anatomy season nine, episode five entitled “Beautiful Doom.” in this scene, Callie is reassuring Meredith that it’s okay to leave her child to work:

Hey. No, no, no. No. No, don’t do that to yourself. It’s good for her to see you work. It is good for her to see you achieve. Yes. That’s how she’ll become CEO one day. Yeah. ‘Cause mommy works. That’s good.

* allowing our children to blossom {and, yes, to feel afraid, to fall, to falter} in situations where our gaze is not constantly trained upon them will help them to grow into strong, independent individuals, which {as my husband so often reminds me} is the greatest goal of parenting anyway: to raise strong, independent individuals.

* in the absence of a parent’s watch, other relationships are able to foster and grow, and i cannot WAIT to see how my big boy Lionel embraces this change, the arrival of his baby brother at a place that brings L so much joy, as they share together the adventures of daycare as a duo.

Our-Boys'-Feet

yet, while this list gives me comfort from time to time, as i sit here, now with my sweet Q slumbering on my chest as i write, i’m giving myself permission to feel sadness, to feel guilt, to feel whatever it is that my heart wants to feel at this moment.

for today, i’ll let my heart soak up all of him as it prepares to let him fly on his own, to experience life without his Mama watching, in amazement, his every move.

for today, i’ll let my eyes close as his little body clings to my chest, as his fingers wrap themselves around one of mine.

Quincy-17-Weeksfor today, i’ll delight in nursing him from the breast, pushing away the thought of the bottle that will deliver my milk, instead, in my absence.

for today, i’ll make silly faces and alter my voice to sing-songy decibels to elicit that one, precious smile that will sustain me through the sadness that is imminent.

for today, i’ll relish all of him, from the spit-up and the diaper explosions to the rolls of chub on his baby body and the loud coos that take us by surprise, that seem to erupt from his very being, that distinguish him from the memories we have of his big brother’s babyhood.

the time to be brave is tomorrow, when my eyes linger a little too long on his sweet, growing-up-too-fast body before finally tearing myself away from the doorway.

until tomorrow, then.

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{mood board} boys’ playroom + reading nook.

when we last discussed our family room, we revealed our most dramatic change in this space to date: a fresh coat of paint. if you missed it, take a look below {the paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Woodland White}:

Lower-Level-Repainted

in short, we looooooooove how much brighter and more open this space feels now that the dark, dark walls are gone-zo. and, we can’t wait to add a few more things to this level of our home to continue to reflect what we love to do as a family and how we need our home to work for us.

after living with the space since we purchased our home in august 2013, one of the big priorities on this level of our home became creating a dedicated space in which the boys can just be boys and play their hearts out. namely, we needed this space to house a few big toy items, including L’s play kitchen {which we gave to him for his first birthday}, a kid-size table + chairs {which you can see in the picture above}, a few sports-related toys, such as the Little Tikes basketball hoop pictured above, which lives inside our home during the long {LONG} winter months, and the Thomas the Train table that the boys’ uncle so generously gifted the boys for Christmas. we also have a car rug that L likes to vroom his cars on and a few other miscellaneous items that we needed more space to house that our upstairs living room allows. so, the idea of a playroom area was born.

but, since L is such a voracious reader {like his English-teacher Mama}, we knew that we also needed a space where we could cuddle up as a family and read a book {L’s current favorites are Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and a Mickey Mouse “i-spy” type of book}. and after seeing many an adorable kids’ reading nook on Pinterest, including this one, which is from Lay Baby Lay, i was convinced: our playroom needed a reading nook, too.

since we want this space to be multi-functional {and since it is so large and open}, we want the play space to reflect our boys’ changing interests yet still fit in with our overall aesthetic preferences when it comes to home decor. so, to this end, i’ve created a little mood board to illustrate our hopes and plans for the space:

Mood-Board-Playroom-Reading-Nook

a few details:

* we’re SO delighted that Tiny Prints agreed to collaborate with us on personalizing reading nook space for our sweet boys! {click here to see our boys’ shared bedroom, on which Tiny Prints also collaborated with us!} specifically, i customized three of Tiny Prints’ personalized pillows for the boys’ reading nook to cozy up that space and provide a bit of whimsy. they arrived last week, and they are perfect – i can’t wait to show you the finished reading nook space later this month!

* like many of you, i’m totally inspired by Pinterest, and i found the idea of painting a little “house” on the wall from here. i’m still trying to narrow down a paint color for this treatment – i want to do something bright and fun! – but i can’t wait to tackle this charming {and inexpensive – it can be done with just a bit of paint!} project.

* my Mom gave us an {adorable!} white kids’ bench that was originally part of a kids’ store installation but was no longer needed. i want to customize this piece with some rope detailing on the legs of the bench to give it a bit of a rustic touch. a little hot glue should do the trick!

* i’m on the hunt for a large {i’m envisioning at least an 8′ x 9′ size} area rug to help to ground and bring some color to the playroom + reading nook space. much like Katie over at Bower Power, i want something durable yet comfortable for little knees. while we’re still saving up our pennies and trying to track down just the right rug, lately i’m LOVING this from Rugs USA.

* when we were still renting, we purchased a television stand from Target {it’s no longer sold, but it’s similar to this one in black}. it’s made of wood and is still in great shape, but when we purchased a larger television on Black Friday in 2013, we needed a bigger piece to hold the television, so this piece has been in storage for awhile, awaiting a new use. then, when Q was born, we quickly realized the need for a diaper-changing center on the lower level of our home {in addition to the one in our master bedroom upstairs}. thus, this great piece of furniture is getting a new life! it’s the perfect height for a changing table, and the drawer is divided into three sections, which make it ideal for holding two different sizes of diapers {one for L and one for Q} and wipes, as well as a few burp cloths and swaddle blankets. plus, the glass-door storage underneath is perfect for additional book and toy storage! we’ve had this piece out in the playroom space for approximately three months now, and so far, L’s been very kind when opening and shutting the glass doors to access toys and books, but we’ll keep you posted.

* i’m creating an art project out of these fantastic Penguin book cover postcards that i received for Christmas. i only have a few steps to finish the piece, but for a taste of what it’s looking like so far, check this out from Design Mom!

* i purchased a dreamcatcher for the boys on my return visit to Write: Doe Bay {recap coming!} from this fantastic lady; for your very own dreamcatcher, contact here here!

be sure to stick around – i’m on spring break from my teaching job this week {yes, i returned to work – maternity leave is over! more on that later…}, so i hope to get a few of these projects accomplished!

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our lower level {sneak peek!}.

this post is long overdue, but i hope it’s worth the wait…it’s time to give you all a sneak peek of our newly{ish} painted family room in the lower level!

to help to jog your memory, here’s what the space looked like on move-in day {RIP, glass globe lamp on the table, which fell victim to L’s ball-playing}:

Lower-Level-Seating

Lower-Level

and after a coat of primer and two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Woodland White {using BM’s Natura line, which we’re huge fans of}, take a look at the dramatic change! it’s amazing what paint can do for a space:

Lower-Level-Repainted

Lower-Level-Repainted

Lower-Level-Repainted

as a reminder, here are the plans that we have for this space, taken from our good ol’ Listy McListerson posts of yore:

- paint

- bring in TV {at least 55″}

– add a wood accent wall behind TV {like this}

– add a vintage sideboard/buffet/credenza {with doors for DVD/toy storage} under TV {repurpose 2×4 black/brown Expedit in boys’ closet for storage}

– add large area rugs in living space and in playroom nook

- add graphic curtains, art {there’s still a few bare walls that we’re working on!}

- add playroom area for L and Q, complete with a reading nook {i can’t wait to show you this space soon – we’re waiting on just a few more items to finish off the reading nook!}

– eventually add a fourth bedroom by adding a wall to close off part of the large family room {stay tuned on this – we’re a few years away from tackling this project}

– eventually DIY a drop-down double desk + two chairs for homework and art time for the boys + any future sibling(s); hang two farmhouse lanterns over the desk {in red? yellow? teal?}

happy love day.

happy Valentine’s Day from our “first love” and our latest “love bug” :)

V-Day-2015

xoxo, the Gillis family