Thursday, July 7, 2016

Caroline: Eleven Months

Eleven Months

My Rosie is just one month away from being one year old! Fastest year of my life. This last month has been so fun. Well, the second half has been fun. The first half was spent teething and being a sad little lady, but once your top teeth started to pop through, you were back to your happy self. You are waving to everyone, saying "hi" and "baby" from sun up to sun down. You are a sensitive soul, popping your bottom lip out whenever we tell you "no." You are a climber, climbing up (and now down) the stairs, climbing picnic tables and out of your high chair and car seat. As much as you love being on the go, you always make time to stop and snuggle, nuzzling your sweet face in my neck and giving me sweet hugs. You're our easy going, happy girl with just enough sass to keep us on our toes. We love you Sister and are so proud of the little girl you're becoming!

Oh, and because it's summer time and we have been doing so many fun things, I apparently failed to write a 10 Months Old post. Second Child Syndrome? Anyway, at least I took a picture :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Levi: Three Years Old

I know, I know, people say it all the time so sometimes it seems to lose it's gravity, but these last couple of years have just flown by. How is it possible that my first born son is three years old? And all the while, how is it possible that it's only been three years?? I can't believe my once 7lb 5oz baby boy is now at 36lb toddler in need of size 9 tennis shoes. I also can't believe that I've only known him a few short years of my life, as I can't seem to remember life without this kid. No joke, not long ago I was looking through our wedding pictures, and I thought to myself, "Who was watching Levi?"

Levi Jack Fox. You're my world. This last year especially has been a blast. Last year at this time, the only word you said (often and a lot) was, "car." "Car. Car. Car. Car. Car. Car..." I believe right before your second birthday, you said, "Dada!" You spent nine months in speech therapy, and now, your speech is unstoppable. I SO enjoy having conversations with you. Sure, they're mostly about diggers and excavators, trains and car washes, but they mean everything to me. Hearing what's on your mind and your heart blesses me so much. Your words are kind and witty and full of life and wonder. Sometimes you throw us for
a real loop when you say things out of no where, like, "Doctors use x rays to look inside you." You're always asking if we can go to the car to go to church. You make your trains say things like, "Hi Toby, I'm going to Target....Hi Thomas, I'm going to the bank. I'm going to get the money." Your trains travel to all the magical places...the grocery store, gas station, Ganga and Papa's house. You love it all, and your daddy and I could listen to you play all day.

Speaking of Dad, you still lovingly refer to him as "Dad Home." "Hey Dad Home, can I have milk?" "Dad Home, it's breakfast time." And don't get me started on  your love for breakfast time. You wish every meal was breakfast. The eggs, the oatmeal, cinnamon rolls, donuts, pancakes, name it, you love it! I've always been a breakfast girl myself, so I look forward to sneaking away Saturday mornings with you in the future to fun breakfast joints where we'll laugh or say nothing and have a great time. I see, even at a mere three
years old, a young man in you emerging more and more. You grow and mature every day before my eyes, and it's so wonderful getting to know you.

You are so handsome and brave, always trying new things like jumping in the pool and trying to climb our fence. You love making people laugh, and you'll do anything to do so, which, for your cousins, means mostly yelling "gaaaaaah!" and all laughing together like you just told the best joke. You are still possessive over your favorite cars and Scout, but you've been more quick to share your Fox when Caroline is crying and more eager to take turns. Makes my mama heart proud.

Speaking of Caroline, you've really embraced the role of Big Brother. You gave her her now most used nickname, Ro Ro the day we brought her home. As she's grown, we've experienced so much joy watching you make her laugh by pretending to be a dinosaur or playing peek a boo in your tent. She adores you and I don't blame her one bit. I'm so glad you're in her life to protect her and be her
friend...she's a lucky girl. There's not a day that goes by I don't stop and praise God for blessing me with kids like the two of you.

Other than playing at your train table, your favorite things to do are playing with Play Dough, with Buzz and Woody, run laps in the backyard, water our plants, feed Sophie, and crawl around on the floor with Ro. Shortly after your third birthday we started potty training and you really seem to enjoy sitting on the potty and getting an "egg" (piece of candy). You've actually picked up on the whole idea rather quickly; we are pleasantly surprised.

Its frustrating wrapping up a post like this because there are a million other things that come to mind when I think about you as a three year old. But when all is said and done, we want more than anything for you to know Jesus and His love for you. We want you to experience the redemption He offers, and to in turn, serve Him and others in all that you do. We want you to be who God created you to be, and we are so excited to see Him use you in mighty, mighty ways. We are so proud of you, Levi, and love you more than you'll ever know.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Caroline: Nine Months

Nine Months 

Miss Rosie Ro is nine months old and always moving!! You are a fast little crawler, even finding your way up the stairs with no fear at all! Your Daddy is trying to teach you how to crawl backwards down the stairs, because you are a little too adventurous and always try to go down the steps head first! You are clapping and waving hi, and occasionally even saying "ha" as you wave! You are still the worlds best eater in your division, with new favorites being chicken, blueberries, and grapes! Recently you've begun trying to stand in the middle of a room, which makes us wonder if walking isn't too far away! Sweet girl, you have the most precious demeanor, always pleasant with just a small streak of orneriness. We praise God all the time for putting you in our family! Our prayer is that He would work wonders in your heart and that you would spend your days loving and serving Him! We love you Roey!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Recipes: Post #1

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been on a roll all year disciplining myself to cook more healthy and more often for my family. I wanted to share just a few recipes we've been enjoying. I love these because they're easy, quick, and healthy (or at least healthier alternatives!) Hopefully they help give you some ideas too!

2 eggs, beaten
3/4 C milk (or coconut milk)
2/3 C old fashioned oats
Sprinkle of onion flakes
1 T parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
Parmesan cheese
Beat eggs, then combine remainder of ingredients (except cheese). Place in greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes. Spoon off fat. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes. We serve this with green beans. The kids like to have some applesauce with cinnamon on the side as well.

Slow Cooker Classic Chicken Soup
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
6 carrots, chopped
5 celery stalks, chopped
1 small onion, chopped,
1/2 head cauliflower florets
28 oz chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp Garden Rae Seasoning (equal parts thyme, basil, 
garlic powder, onion powder...I mixed 1 1/2 tsp of each)
Put all ingredients in slower cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Chicken Parm and Broccoli
4-6 chicken breasts
15 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp ground basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp sugar
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1C shredded mozzarella cheese
Baby broccoli florets
1/2 tsp minced garlic
Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in preheated skillet over med heat w/ 2T oil. Cook until brown on both sides (about 2 minutes) then layer in 8x8 pan. Combine tomato sauce, basil, oregano, sugar, and parm cheese and pour over chicken. Layer mozzarella on top and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. While cooking, saute broccoli w/ 2T oil and minced garlic. Saute until broccoli is crisp and tender (about 5 minutes). Serve on plate with chicken over broccoli. Delish!

Caroline: 8 Months

Eight Months

Eight months old and ready to go! You're crawling backwards now and are so determined to figure out how to move forward, it's so fun watching your little mind working! You went on your first vacation to the beach this last month. You and your brother were the perfect little travelers! The apple didn't fall far from the tree as we discovered how much you loved playing outside in the sunshine! Of course the first thing you did was munch on a fist full of sand, which you didn't seem bothered by! But you were all smiles as you swam and played with beach toys all week. You are growing so much and becoming much more expressive, finding your voice and babbling to us in the car and as we sit to eat. It's just such a joy being your mama, Caroline!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Food for Thought

I never claimed to be a good cook. My time of singleness living on my own I lived on scrambled eggs and bowls of cereal. It just took so much time and it could add up quickly, just for me to eat it in a few minutes then have enough left overs to feed a small country. It simply didn't seem worth it. However, my dislike for cooking never outweighed my love of entertaining. People stop in or we throw a party and this girl can rise to the occasion! Maybe it's that I thrive as a hostess, or it's just all that bottled energy from weeks of not doing more than flipping an egg, but somehow I can manage to whip up something edible and maybe even a bit delicious.

Enter Brett. I'm happy to cook for him. I always have been. And we all know I love him like WHOA but the DUDE IS SO DANG PICKY. We had a conversation shortly after we were married that said it all. Me: Do you like any vegetables? Brett: I like green beans and potatoes... Me: Is that all? Brett: Baby, I'm not even sure I like potatoes! I mean, I like potato chips and french fries, but...

I nearly died. But he wasn't kidding. He picks around food like nobody's business and will flat out refuse something if he discovers even just one speck of an ingredient he doesn't like. I've been known to hide evidence of some ingredients, because if he knew what was in something he suddenly wouldn't like it. BUT HE DOESN'T NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THAT. The only thing he's not picky about is desiring a three course meal each night, and my struggle with finding something to make for us is never anything good old fashioned take out can't handle, so I still scratch his back and fold his laundry and stuff.

Then offspring entered the picture. And it seemed no matter how cute and fun and precious they were, there was just one nagging feature about them that I couldn't stand: they wanted something to eat. Every couple of hours. All day long. And the real kicker? They do it again the next day! And the day after that. It never stops. I have to feed them all the time. It starts within minutes of waking, too. It's INSANITY. And because I'm their mom and I actually love them and everything, I try hard to feed them healthy food because I want them to learn how to make healthy choices and I want them to grow and thrive.

So here we are. Almost five years of marriage and two kids later, and I've decided it's time to quit whining about cooking and face the music. God has blessed me with three beautiful people to care for and feed and nurture, and it's time I do it well. I've spent a good chunk of 2016 trying new recipes and challenging myself to prepare 4 good healthy meals a week, assuming we'll have leftovers or my signature "brinner" the remainder of the week. I went all old school and wrote the recipes down on index cards and organized them in an index sized file accordion file by meal type. I pick four cards a week and take them with me to the grocery store to make my grocery list easy peasy. Basically I have no excuses.

The most challenging part is finding the right recipes for our family. I need simple instructions, minimal ingredients, and quick and easy prep. Oh, and food that Brett will actually eat, which is just the cherry on top, right? Anyway, the more that I've shared with others how I'm trying to cook more/better/at all, the more I've realized I'm not alone in this. Which is the point of this post. I've found so many recipes from various resources online, so I'm going to post tried and loved recipes here for any of you who need a little help in this department as well! 

Soon I will start posting recipes that our family has enjoyed for you to get some ideas if you feel stuck. As if this hasn't already been made clear, I feel I must preface this by reiterating, I AM NO FOOD GURU. I am very much in the beginning stages of learning how to cook. Most of you know more than me. Also, as much as I am striving to make healthy meals for us, this girl is taking baby steps. I haven't been buying all organic, and I still incorporate cow's milk at times when an alternative is suggested because REAL LIFE. So give a little credit where it's due and let's leave the paleo/vegan/vegetable & herb garden growers to the experts. This is just a girl who wants to provide healthy, hearty food around a table with people so precious to her. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Caroline: Seven Months

Seven Months

Oh Sweet Ro, seven months old! You are so sad you can't quite crawl yet, but you find your way around by rolling in every direction and even scooting while sitting up! You've become our little dancing queen, bopping your head around to the beat of any music or simply just rhythm you hear. You just want to move, which makes it so fun to play with you and so impossible to snuggle you! My mama heart is a little sad as you become more and more fidgety when rocked at night because you just want to lay down and fall asleep on your own! But I know it's a good thing that you're growing and becoming a little more independent all the time! You, my girl, have so much to say and Levi is fascinated by you; he loves to join in on the jibber jabber! You're eating much better this month and seem to really like apples and Puffs! At just 16.2 lbs you're still our tiny little lady, but you love big and your smile is the sweetest thing. We love you girl!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Caroline: Six Months

Six Months

My Roey Girl! I have been blessed with six whole months of knowing you, snuggling you, nursing, kissing, loving you. I can't thank God enough! You have the sweetest giggle, it's just music to our ears! You are now sitting up on your own so well and rolling all over the place. You even came close to rolling off our bed the other night! You want to move around on the floor so badly but haven't quite figured out how to get up on all fours yet. Your favorite toys are Violet, your piano, and your toes! You're starting to try more solid foods, but you continue to just spit the food out of your mouth. I'm just glad you're eager to try! You still have the most pleasant personality, so content and so easily amused. You are especially silly when your big brother plays peek-a-boo with you! You are the perfect addition to our family and your daddy and I praise God for you!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Caroline: 5 Months

Five Months

Baby girl, you are getting so big!! Now at 15lbs, you are in the 50% for weight and 90% for height! That means you're sporting 9 month onesies with 3 month pants :) As challenging as it can be finding clothes for you, it's so much stinkin' fun. I know you'll roll your eyes at all the bows and leggings and bandanna bibs I put you in all the time some day, but trust me when I say you were one stylin' little lady! You are such a joy, Caroline! The most easy going girl, you are perfectly content laying on the floor reaching for your toes. You have started rolling over from your belly to your back in the last month or so, and are so close to rolling back to belly. Yet somehow you manage to scoot far away from wherever I put you down. We can't decide yet if you're going to have a laid back personality forever or if some day you'll surprise us and give us a run for our money. Either way, we love you to the moon and back and praise God for you and your sweet spirit!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Dirt on my Boots

Wrapping up 2015 was so much more complex and even time consuming than wrapping up presents for the kids just weeks before for Christmas. This past year was very heavy, to say the least. Big, illimitable emotions every where we turned. We said goodbye to my mother in law far too soon, then welcomed a new baby girl just 5 months later. Profound grief alongside profound joy.

I found myself standing outside on a cold March morning, boots sinking in the once snow covered ground, as I watched my husband and his family lay his mom to rest. Holding my restless son's pudgy hand by my side and feeling our new baby stretch in my belly, I tried to wrap my mind around the vigor in life and the stillness in death. We celebrated the end of her earthly struggle, we knew the Battle was Won, yet our hearts ached mightily. At some point God gave us the courage, the grace, to drive away from her grave. That's when "new normal" began.

Seasons came and went and just when I thought I was finding my way, winter came and I pulled my black boots out of the back of the closet. Chills covered my spine as I discovered dried mud on the heels of my shoes. I froze. The mud my shoes once sank in at her grave site was now dirt clinging to my shoes. It was such a great metaphor for me. The mud represented the heavy, yucky grief, and the dirt was what remained. Grief isn't quite as suffocating for me, for us, as it once was. Our God continues to shower us with grace and guides our steps as we wade into new territory, a life without Brett's mom. But it's there. It has stained our shoes. Little by little it will chip off, but a shadow of earth will remain. And in some funny way, I'm OK with that.

Our good, good Father knows all things long before we do, and I think that's why He chose to give us Caroline when He did. The blessing of a precious baby girl who shares her grandma's namesake has put smiles on faces once soaked with tears. Our broken hearts are being mended, and the heavy cloud of sorrow is lifting. I really am excited for what is to come, despite the expected tough days ahead. We are living Proverbs 14:13, "Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief." Thanks to God's great grace, unwavering hope, and indescribable joy, we're able to smile and laugh and enjoy life in this world with dirt on our boots.

Caroline: 4 Months

Four Months

Caroline, you are four whole months old and becoming more and more delightful each day! Other than the dreaded four month sleep regression that has hit, you are still the easiest baby! You have started to giggle more and more and you're really starting to love tummy time ("starting to" is key here!) No one makes you smile like your big brother! We had such a fun Thanksgiving with you. I spent the day snuggling you in my arms and kissing your cheeks, when last Thanksgiving I was only beaming at the sight of two pink lines on a pregnancy test. One whole year of knowing you exist, wondering who you are, and now learning all about who you are and falling more in love with you with every passing day. Needless to say, we had so much to be thankful for!! We love you Miss Ro, and continue to pray that you would know and embrace God's great love for you some day soon!