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well hello there.

this is my first post in three-and-a-half months, and i’m not even sure what to say. so, hello there!

i suppose that i should catch you up on life in these parts. in short, we’ve been soaking up all that life has to offer, and i’ve been trying to focus on living life instead of documenting it – hence the radio silence over here.

but, i miss writing about our lives, and i miss sharing our little part of the world with all of you, so here i am.

all about L

first, our sweet L turned 4 in June, and he had a memorable baseball-themed bash at our local park. all of his dearest friends and family came to celebrate the big ‘4’, and we sweat and soaked up the opportunity to be amongst kiddo laughter on the gorgeous (albeit windy) day outside. we ate some concessions-themed food in cute little red-and-white-checked cardboard baskets (baseball theme!), we opened gifts (our boy’s toy collection continues to burst at the seams, which made Goodwill donations even easier this year – yay for sharing forgotten toys as we acquire new favorites!), and we even played a game of t-ball, which was a fascinating and wildly entertaining way to close out the festivities.


speaking of t-ball, our boy had his first season of organized sports this summer, and he LOVED it. he loved his purple Hawks jersey (go Hawks!), he loved hitting and fielding (playing pitcher was his most favorite; even though pitchers don’t throw the ball in this t-ball league, pitchers often see the most action on defense), and he especially loved his coach…Daddy.

we’re now in the midst of L’s first soccer season, and he adores that as well. he already has four goals to his name, as well as countless steals, assists and, of course, foibles and fumbles. but he couldn’t be having more fun, which is all that matters to the Mama of the house.

lastly, in semi-big news, we added a dog to our family…for about 18 hours. unfortunately, we’ve discovered that L (for sure) and (most likely) Q are allergic to dogs…and we aren’t talking stuffy noses; instead, our boys coughed and coughed, woke up with itchy and red eyes, and had buckets of snot making it difficult for them to breathe. so, despite our love for the adorable, perfect, sweet sweet SWEET Golden Retriever that we brought home (we called her Millie!), we returned this sweet dog to the family who had been caring for her in hopes that she would find a new home. we know that she will be a wonderful pet to her new forever family.

we do have hopes that perhaps the boys will outgrow their allergies, as many individuals that we know have experienced. we are also very, very cautiously investigating the opportunity to bring a hypoallergenic dog into our family. we are visiting friends in a few weeks that have a Schnoodle (Schnauzer and Poodle mix), and we’ve heard that Golden Doodles shed much less than Golden Retrievers, but we aren’t ready to make the financial – or, frankly, the emotional heart – investment yet.

all about Q

our sweet Q has been replaced by a stubborn, insistent, “i do it myself” child who is, to put it nicely, challenging to parent these days. however, he still has that killer smile, so he’ s largely walking all over us as we grapple with this new reality. of course, we should have expected this turnaround, as our beloved L also sported quite the stubborn streak around 18 months of age, but my Mama memory (and, ahem, my heart) sure wasn’t primed for this transition.

i have all the feelings for the baby stage of my boys’ lives, but when they hit the toddler phase, and the “i love you’s” give way to the “noooooo’s,” i begin to lose my mind a bit. in short, attention Jord: #weneedmorebabiesinourhouse.


despite the arrival of his attitude, Q is one of my favorite humans. he is saying more and more words (and complete sentences, as of the beginning of September!) as the days pass, including a few of my recent favorites:

* “i block,” which is only uttered when Q, engaged in a football or wrestling match vs. Daddy and L, makes a killer block like he’s in the NFL

* “i OK,” which he says every time he coughs, trips, sneezes, falls…the list goes on…

* “Lionel?” which is said…all the time. he LOVES his brother and always is actively seeking him out, whether it’s to play cars, to watch iPad (which Q is also obsessed with – thanks, Blippi), or to wrestle

lastly, Q’s love of water knows no bounds. we visited a local water-park as summer drew to a close, and while L wavered between courage and caution when it came to slides, waves and fountains, Q couldn’t get enough. “wa wa” is a frequently-uttered phrase in our household; i can’t wait to get Q into swimming lessons.

what’s new with Jord and me

Jord and i snuck away for a long weekend in July to celebrate the bachelor/bachelorette parties of our friends. we left the kiddos with the grandparents and drove to Wisconsin, which is becoming our new favorite state – it’s just so pretty, guys. i wanted to buy every little adorable old house on every street corner in the small town of Hartford, where the parties took place, as well as in the neighboring town of Ceaderburg, where the bachelorette and her girls partook in some delicious wine (i only bought two bottles, but i’m totally regretting not buying a whole case while i was in town). we also had our very first batch of Wisconsin cheese curds, which will definitely not be our last – YUM.


in other news, we’re doing well with our budget plan, thanks to Financial Peace University. we’ve had to put a bit of a pause on our additional payments to our debt as of late, due to some uncertainty with my contract negotiations at my day job (i teach English at a local technical college), but these stalls in extra payments are allowing us to more readily afford a new roof on our home – it’s funny how God provides!

both Jord and i are experiencing times of busyness at work, so we relish the opportunity to soak up time with our boys and with each other. one new thing that we’ve been doing lately: we’ve been playing board games together (L’s newest favorite is this, which he purchased with his own money that he earned doing chores around the house and from his birthday; Jord and i are OBSESSED with this game). we also recently added this game to our collection, and we’re anxiously awaiting a break in our schedules to play it.

big (and little) home updates

speaking of a new roof…we learned this summer that our roof experienced significant hail damage during a storm in the fall of 2015 (yes, almost an entire year ago). we had an insurance adjuster come out to survey the damage and estimate replacement costs. during this process, we learned that our homeowner’s policy had an ACV (actual cash value) stipulation, which, in simple terms, means that when something is damaged, our policy only covers the actual cash value cost, not the full replacement cost. SO, long story short, if we want to claim our roof damage and replace the shingles, we would have to pay out a bit of money in order to replace our roof. luckily, we’ve worked with an excellent contractor who’s been tirelessly appealing to our insurance company for more comprehensive coverage of our damage, and our out-of-pocket is significantly less than we initially anticipated. so, in the next few weeks, we’ll have a new roof installed!


i’m also way behind in updating you on a few little tweaks that we’ve made to our home in the past few months. i’ve completed a phase I makeover of our upstairs bathroom (i’ve had a post on this drafted for MONTHS). these inexpensive updates have made such a difference in the space, and i hope to share it here soon – i just have to find time to clean the bathroom (HA) and then snap some photos.

we’ve also moved L into his own big boy bedroom downstairs (as mentioned here), and we’ve reorganized Q’s room to better suit him. i have also painted a dresser from my childhood to use as storage in Q’s room, hung a few more items around the house, and officially traded (with my brother and his girlfriend!) our black 4×2 Expedit in exchange for a distressed dresser.

what’s coming up

we’re headed out on a few mini vacations this fall and winter, mostly to bigger cities in neighboring states to take in a baseball game, go shopping and/or see friends. but this December, we will also embark on a Black Hills (South Dakota) family vacation with my parents, my brother and his girlfriend, and their new Yellow Lab puppy, Copper.

we’re excited to cozy up in a cabin with snowy mountain views, to play board game after board game, and to (hopefully) teach sweet L how to ski, all while soaking up time as a family unit. it’ll be my family’s first real getaway in a very, very long time, and we know that introducing our boys to the magic of the mountains in the wintertime will be an experience that they won’t soon forget. in short, we couldn’t be more excited. hopefully, we’ll recreate moments like this, except with four people (and no babies – sob!) in the photo:


that’s all the news that i have from our world – what’s new with you?



once upon a time, eight years ago today, a boy and a girl began dating. they had met the previous summer at their summer bank job. on the first day of work, the girl greeted the boy, but the boy didn’t return her “hello,” so the girl thought that the boy was stuck-up and rude.

little did the girl know, the boy would spend the next nine months chasing after her heart, until she finally relented one January 27th, when the boy was away for the weekend with a friend.

“let’s date,” she said over the phone, one of her friends silently cheering her on in the background.

the boy, who was playing poker at the time, lost a bit of money while talking to his now-girlfriend on the phone, a sum that he has sworn, since that day, was more than worth it, for the girl on the telephone later became his wife


…and the mother of his two children.


Jord, i’m so lucky to have you – while you may not have won your poker games that fateful day eight years ago, i certainly won, for i got YOU.



{photos by Creative Kindling}

there and back again.

This isn’t hobbit tale, but more of a self-reflection in my return to blogging. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, and I know that at least Sara has noticed. Summer is a weird time for me. I look back at my past efforts in blogging, and the summer is almost always a dry spell. This, at first glance, is quite odd to me.

However, when I think about it more, I’m spending my summers quite busy with many tasks. Before Lionel, there was baseball, softball, friends, family or whatever activity keeping me busy. Now with Lionel, there’s less of those activities, but way more family outside activities. Plenty to do, and plenty to write and discuss, but nothing in the tank to put into words.

It’s weird; I probably started four posts in my unannounced hiatus and couldn’t get through a sentence or two before it became painful to write. Painful might not be the right term – maybe more exhaustive. I’d write a sentence, and instantly, everything past that became work, as if to say each word I wrote was harder than the last word. Today, it’s not like that. It’s quite different, actually.

Perhaps it should not be a surprise, but maybe I’ve been trained to just auto-pilot through the summer. But, with today being the first day of fall, something has switched on. From the days of Kindergarten through my Master’s Degree, summer has been the break from study. Maybe that’s why writing during the summer doesn’t work. Maybe it’s because I’m busy doing other things. I don’t really know.

This free-flowing writing exercise, which is what I’m calling it, is probably the first real reflection on my time in a while. My psychological studies probably have an answer for the experience I’ve had, but at the moment I’ve got nothing but guesses. And that’s okay.

This summer was full of fun. I stood up for my best friends for their wedding, celebrated my son’s second birthday, celebrated my 29th birthday, celebrated my 4th wedding anniversary, did my best to care for Sara through the second trimester of her pregnancy, spent weekend days on my dad’s new boat, worked on some projects, ignored some others, won a fantasy baseball championship, and overall, I’m quite happy with how things turned out.

And now I’m blogging again. Maybe it has nothing to do with summer at all. A new video game called Destiny came out a few weeks ago, and I’ve put more hours than I’d like to admit into it, but video games have always been a source of creative flow for me. Perhaps they go hand in hand?

With a second child on the way and additional obligations being taken on, my life lately has been about eliminating clutter. I thought I was efficient with my time after Lionel was born. Now, I’m finding even more ways to focus on fewer things. It’s hard on my brain to do this, but I feel pretty good about trading four or five activities for one I can focus on. Maybe six months from now I’ll be singing an opposite tune. Who knows? But, look at that – I’ve busted out 500 words about nothing and everything, and I’m back in the game.

a newsy post.

hi all! it has been awhile since we have posted, but we have a great excuse…


that’s right – we are expecting baby no. 2! after writing this post on our (relative, of course) “struggles” to conceive this baby, i felt so grateful for the outpouring of support and love we received from readers, friends and family. and what is so magical – and what continues to amaze me about God’s divine timing – is that we were likely either pregnant or about to become pregnant when that post hit the web. that’s a God thing right there, i am convinced!

anyway, we are so blessed to be preparing to welcome another little Gillis to our family early in December. at this point (i am 17 weeks along), we are planning on a scheduled c-section for this birth, since i had a c-section with L (click here to catch up on how L came into this world). our 20-week anatomy scan is scheduled for our four-year wedding anniversary (how special!), which is just a few short weeks away, and we are so hoping that little Gillis no. 2 shows us “the goods” so that we can share and celebrate our little mister or miss on the way with our loved ones (and you!).

in other news, this little guy turned two recently:


we celebrated with an Elmo-themed bash that was a big hit with our little man, and we were so delighted to share our love for our firstborn with our family and friends!

we are also (bravely, we are told) taking on the task of potty-training this month. we have noticed over the past two months that L is proving his readiness to end his time with diapers. specifically, he has begun telling us when he wants to be changed and when he is pooping, and he has even started taking off his own diapers in favor of nudity (so much so that he needs to wear shorts/pants nearly all the time to prevent this!).

we plan to follow this potty training “boot camp” method (thank you, Pinterest, for helping me to find a wealth of sources on potty-training success!). last night, we took L shopping for “big-boy undies” and stickers for his sticker chart (he will “earn” a sticker every time he goes in the potty!). our potty-training efforts begin tomorrow (Thursday); in other words, we are using the long holiday weekend to our benefit to help L to grow comfortable with using the potty. we realize that this effort will be ongoing throughout the rest of the summer especially, but it is our goal to have L comfortably in undies during the day time at least (nap time and night time will be a bonus) by the time he returns to school (daycare) in mid-August.

one more thing on potty training: we wouldn’t even consider potty-training L at this age (25 months) if he hadn’t displayed a sense of readiness AND if his vocabulary skills and mental/emotional development weren’t so mature (his doctors’ words). in other words, while we are hoping that he is truly “ready,” we are more than prepared to wait a few weeks/months if this round of potty training doesn’t go well. we want this to be a positive experience for L, and we will work hard to make sure it is, which means following his lead this weekend.

now, on to some house things…

* we are the proud owners of a new (to us) vintage dresser. you might recall that we are selling our bedroom furniture (originally from IKEA – the Hemnes line) to my brother, and since one of those pieces is our Hemnes dresser, we have long been on the hunt for a piece with the personality and storage capacity that we wanted for the space.

and so, may i introduce our new (old) yellow friend, which we purchased from a local vintage store (Aviena Vintage, for you South Dakota locals) for about $270 beans:


the price was a bit more steep than we wanted to pay, but the quality of the piece is unmatched, and the color couldn’t be more perfect with our indigo-painted walls.


* this weekend, Jord and i plan to build our new bed for our master bedroom. we plan to be outdoors and/or on wipeable surfaces most of the weekend as we potty-train L (he loves being outside, and accident clean-up will be much easier outside/on tile), so we feel that this will be the ideal weekend for a little construction project. the bed is a simple platform bed without a headboard, since i plan to DIY an upholstered headboard for us in the near future. the plans we are following are these from the amazing Ana White’s DIY website.

* provided that L is able to grasp the potty-training concept this summer/fall, we plan to transition him from his crib into a twin bed sometime in late fall, before baby. no. 2 makes his/her debut. we feel so fortunate to have been gifted two wooden twin bed frames (headboard and footboard with side rails) from my mother’s childhood; we can’t wait to freshen them up with some paint (even though we won’t need bed no. 2 for a few years, why not paint it now?!), track down the perfect bedding, and update some of the artwork on his walls to complete L’s “big-boy” room.

– side note: we plan to reuse the crib for baby no. 2, of course, but we plan to move it into our bedroom to help L to continue his (stellar) sleep time (relatively) uninterrupted. (i cannot wait to carve out a personalized space just for baby in our room!)

– once we have baby no. 2 sleeping on a relatively dependable nighttime schedule (a concept which makes me laugh, because babies certainly have their own agendas and ideas, but we will sure try!), we plan to have L and baby no. 2 share a room for the foreseeable future (regardless of baby no. 2’s gender). our home’s third bedroom is downstairs, so our two kiddos will likely share until we are comfortable with L sleeping on a different level of the house than us. plus, shared kiddo rooms are fun to design and dream up (check out my Pinterest board for evidence!), and i look back fondly on the times when i shared a room as a youngster with my brother!

* other items on the house to-do list before baby no. 2 arrives include painting/touching up few pieces of furniture (two wooden rockers and the twin beds), which my parents have generously offered to help us complete. anything else that we complete (like a DIY sunburst mirror – made out of shims! – that i have been working on forever, the headboard for our bedroom, the pallet accent wall in our basement, and more…) will be a bonus.

alright, nap time is calling little L’s name, and since the days that are left for me to rock him to sleep are numbered (both because of the quickly evaporating summer and due to the kicking babe in my belly), i must soak up these fleeting moments with our first boy. back soon!

on a jet plane.

This past weekend, I got to celebrate a wonderful tradition with my best friend, Brad, for his bachelor party. He and I flew on a jet plane down to a little-known desert town called Las Vegas with three other guys for a little R&R. Well, actually, R&R probably wasn’t our actual intention, nor the outcome, but a trip did occur, and we all returned safely, albeit, a tad tired.

This would mark for the first time that I’d be leaving L and Sara alone together for more than a couple of nights – in this case, I was gone for four nights, to be exact. Leading into the trip, I felt like being away from them wouldn’t be all that abnormal; I expected that I would miss them, but I thought that my days would largely go on unaffected.

Wrong. I missed them like crazy.


Now, I still had tons of fun, had no issues keeping up with the crew, and was able to not let my feelings of missing them negatively affect the trip. But, I am sure I annoyed some of my traveling buddies because I felt like almost without control that I was talking about L or Sara, or was referencing them all the time. Perhaps that’s why it was easy to relax and enjoy myself over this trip, because they weren’t far away from me mentally or spiritually – they were always on my mind.

Physically, my days got turned upside down. The pace of Vegas is incredible, and just like my first visit to Vegas a few years ago, it never slowed down until I entered  to the airport in Vegas, readying to return home. Just like I expected, I felt this uneasy shift of life screeching to a halt.

This time, however, that feeling was lessened somewhat, as the fast-pace of Vegas was replaced by my excitement to see my family.

Instead of sleeping on the plane, as we started to descend, my levels of excitement peaked. In short, I was so ready to see my family.

Now, given that the plane landed at home past L’s bedtime, and he was a bit cranky when he was awoken by the jolt of the car returning home, I didn’t quite get the grand reception you see in the movies, but nothing could replace the warm feeling of returning home.

For me, the major takeaway of the trip, apart from a really fun time, was this: I don’t know how many times I heard people giving Brad a hard time about how getting married or having babies changes your life, but every time  I heard statements like that, I just smiled and knew, on the inside, how positive those changes have been for me.