Tuesday, May 9, 2017

FAVORITES | Beauty Products I Can't Live Without

I don't know about you, but I love makeup. I always have! It's fun to see what other people use and I've even found some favorite products this way. Today, I thought I'd share what I use daily when I get ready.

I use these eleven products daily, and love them all!



Laura Geller Baked Liquid Radiance Foundation
I discovered this foundation last summer when I was looking for something light that wouldn't make my skin oily. This foundation is so light-weight. It gives me the light coverage I like (I'm fond of my freckles!), while keeping my skin oil-free.

Rodan + Fields Powder

NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator
I recently picked this up as I was browsing the aisles at Ulta. I wanted something with some shimmer, but nothing crazy. This does the trick!

Urban Decay Naked Flushed
While this has a bronzer, highlighter, and blush, I tend to mainly just use the bronzer.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer
Run. Get. This. Now. Of all the primers I've used, this is by far my favorite. It's so good that my eye makeup looks just as good on day two. I wouldn't recommend not washing your face at night, but if you're like me, you sometimes fall asleep in makeup. If you have this primer, your eyes will look just as good the next day. Trust me.

Urban Decay Naked Eye Shadow Palettes
I love all of the Naked palettes. My favorite is the Smoky palette.

Laura Geller Baked Blush-n-Brighten
A friend of mine recommended this blush to me about a year ago. I love it! My favorites are Pink Buttercream - a nice pink - and Peach Delight.

Laura Geller Filter Finish Setting Powder
I love this setting powder. I use it daily. It's also great in the summer when it's hot and your skin can appear to be oilier.

Laura Geller INKcredible Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pencil
I have to say, this find happened by accident. I normally use Urban Decay eye liner, but when I recently made a Laura Geller purchase, I received a free full-size eye liner. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the gel, but I love it!

Maybelline Volum' Expree The Falsies Mascara
I used to think I needed really expensive mascara to make my lashes look great, but then I found the Falsies. This is, hands-down, my favorite mascara.

Revlon PhotoReady BB Cream Skin Perfector
A few years ago, I received this product from Influenster and instantly fell in love. I use this each day. I also use it in place of foundation when we're at the beach.

Not pictured:

Rodan + Fields ReDefine Regimen

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick
When Kevin and I were getting married, I knew I wanted a pink lip. I had a horrible time finding a color that seemed just right. One day, a few days before I had my bridal portrait done, I went into CVS and started looking at all the lipstick. I stumbled across Revlon 423 - Pink Velvet - and have worn it since.


What are your makeup must-haves?

Friday, May 5, 2017

FRIDAY FAVORITES | 5.5.17

This has been a good week! A long week, but a good one. I'm linking up with some of my favorite bloggers for Friday Favorites.


one
Baby boy is rolling like crazy! He started rolling over from his stomach to back at 16 days old (more on that later), but this week, he's started rolling from his back to his stomach. He's rolling all around everywhere! Changing diapers and dressing him just got a whole lot trickier!

 


two
Our sweet middle baby had to do a t-shirt book report today. He was so excited about it, and his t-shirt looks great!


three
I'm really starting to feel good running again. I'm not as fast as I'd like yet, but I'm feeling really good about the progress I've made so far. I ran my first 4-miler since Caleb was born (really, since May of last year) this week and felt great. 

four
These three, along with their daddy, are just my favorite people ever.


five
Kevin and I had a date for a couples massage last Saturday and it was great! 

six
Kevin's softball team won the regular season and tournament. It was fun getting to watch him play, and this year, I had a new little sidekick.

seven
I recently discovered this little gem while browsing through the racks at Ulta. Where has it been all my life?


eight
My sister started blogging! Check out her blog - Stepping With Faith!


What are your favorite things this week?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday, Kaden!

Since I'm a little behind on blogging about some big things (like birthdays and babies), bear with me as I catch up!



Dear Kaden,

I can't believe that you are 8 years old today! It seems like just yesterday you were a precious little chunky two-year old running around everywhere. Today, you're just as cute, sweet, and active, but you've lost your chunky baby look for sure!

You are a dream, sweet Kaden! Your heart for others makes me smile. You wake up as happy as a lark each day and fill our days with laughter.

You are curious, smart, and full of energy. Right now, you're really into riding bikes and writing books. When you grow up, you want to be a professional bike rider, but I'm not supposed to know that since you wrote it on a paper that said "do not open." I couldn't help myself!

Seven was a big year for you! You started second grade, lost a few teeth, broke your right arm, got baptized in December, and became a big brother in January. And what a great big brother you are! It fills my heart with joy and my eyes with tears to see how you interact with your baby brother. I can see the love and special bond the two of you share already and it's just the sweetest thing.

You are so smart! You love school and rarely make grades other than 100. Your schoolwork comes very easily to you at this point. Like your big brother, you really enjoy reading and science. You love to read The Magic Treehouse series, Goosebumps, and have even started Harry Potter.

Everyone that comes in contact with you loves you. You are the life of the party. You're the first to say "I love you" and the last to give another hug. When Daddy and I tuck you in each night, you tell us "sweet dreams and happy thoughts, you're the best mom and dad in the world!" Sometimes you even add that you'll see us for a great breakfast in the morning. You love breakfast. You really just love to eat. We may have that in common.

You love Jesus, too, and that's the greatest thing in this world. I love the questions you ask us about God and the Bible. I love that you think about things. It's my prayer everyday that you and your brothers will always follow the Lord and seek His will. I pray that you'll all be leaders and not followers and share God's light with all those you see.

You still love soccer, but have decided against baseball for this season. I love watching you play. You are our little dare devil. If it's extreme, you want to try it. You're really into skateboarding now!

Kaden, I am so proud of the young man you're becoming. Watching you grow up and thrive is one of the greatest joys I've ever experienced. You are so sweet and special, and I know God has so many great things in store for you. Just trust Him and let Him lead you. I pray you'll always keep your innocence, your zest for life, and love for others. Thank you for being you!

I love you more than words can say!

--------


We celebrated Kaden's birthday for about a week this year. Usually, we have a big party with all of his school friends, but this year, he decided he wanted to go to HiWire (an indoor trampoline place) instead, so we did that. We had a small party at home for our family complete with pizza, a Nerf cake, and pinata. After school one day, we went to HiWire and had some cousins and one of his best friends tag along. My in-laws also went, which was a great help with Caleb! We had cupcakes at school with his class. And finally, we had a cake my sister made when we went up to Clemson for a long weekend.

You can say he thoroughly celebrated his eighth birthday!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Currently | May 2017


I always love reading the "currently" link up some of my favorite bloggers do, and this month, I've decided to participate!

Currently I'm...

baking | not much, although my big boys and I may have baked some pull apart bunny Easter cookies we found hiding in our refrigerator last night. 

listening to | This "Precious In His Sight" lullaby CD.  We were gifted this CD and I love it. Caleb is particularly fond to number one -  "Safe and Sound" - as in if he's the least bit fussy in his car seat, he goes completely silent when this song is played.


loving | so much! Being a mom of three (!), running again, and the fact that summer is just around the corner!

planting | nothing. I'm not the greatest at taking care of plants. My boys, however, have carrots and tomato plants sprouted in pots in our playroom waiting to be transplanted outside. Our oldest really wants a garden. 

remembering | this time last year. It was during this week last year that I found out I was pregnant with Caleb. After years of waiting to be pregnant and a pregnancy loss, I remember feeling such a peace and hope around this time. I had absolutely no clue I was pregnant as we had every reason to believe it wouldn't happen without assistance, but God had other plans and once again, showed how His ways are so much greater than my own. I've really been reminiscing about that this week as I've held my sweet baby boy. What a mighty God we serve!

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Goals


I can't believe we've already gone through four months of the year and it's May! It's been a while since I've done monthly goals and I miss them! Today, I'm sharing my goals for May. Hopefully these will keep me on track and help me do a few things I've missed lately (like reading).

May Goals
  • Read one book. Ok, I know that doesn't seem like much, but I'll be thrilled if I can complete one book this month. I have 7-8 books waiting to be read. During my maternity leave, I thought I was going to have all this time to read, but that didn't happen!
  • Start Caleb's college savings and savings accounts. I also thought I'd do this during maternity leave, but didn't. I want to go ahead and get both of these rolling this month.
  • Run 15 miles/week. I'm really enjoying running after an almost year-long hiatus. My speed and endurance are coming back, but I'm still not where I want to be. If I can manage 15 miles each week, I'll be happy! I'd also like to get up to 5 miles without stopping.
  • Do at least four workout videos each week. I love the Tone It Up videos. I'm currently doing their Bikini Challenge. Even though I'm not following it to a t, I love knowing what to work out each day.
  • Clean out the top drawer in the kitchen china cabinet. If you're anything like me, you have multiple junk drawers just waiting to be organized. This particular drawer houses everything from birthday cards to race bibs to artwork I want to keep (that makes it sound organized doesn't it?). I want to pull everything out and get it all organized.
  • Go through the boys' clothes. Our boys are growing like weeds! I literally had to purchase K.C. new pants two weeks after buying a new size for him! 
  • Catch up on photo books. I thought I'd get caught up on these during maternity leave, too, but again, it didn't happen.
  • Host dinner at our house. With Mother's Day and my mom's birthday this month, I've got plenty of reasons to have a nice dinner at home. I enjoy doing a nice dinner, but it's something we haven't done since I was pregnant. 
There you have my goals for May. What things do you want to get done this month?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

BABY | Caleb's Birth Story Part II

Caleb's birth story continued. See part one here.

At about 5:45, my doctor had me get ready to do a practice push and said she could see a head full of black hair! It was go time! She estimated that the baby would be born by 6:30 pm. 

My epidural was turned off so that I'd feel some pressure and make the birth portion more productive. I have nothing else to judge by obviously, but this seemed to be a great choice.

I got really emotional at this point. I think the greatness of the moment just hit me. This child was something I wanted for so long and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have, so just to know he was almost here was overwhelming. God is so, so good!

Everything began to accelerate now. Tables were rolled in with tools for the delivery along with the baby’s bassinet and everything else needed for him. It was so surreal to me that this was finally happening!

I felt really good during this part of delivery. I pushed for 10 seconds, three times, during a contraction and rested for one contraction. Everyone in the room was laughing because I kept talking about how great the endorphins felt! Not working out since May, I really missed the rush provided by them!

I continued to push, getting more and more excited each time. This part of labor was drastically different than what I expected it to be. I expected to be anxious, in a lot of pain, and just having to work hard, but having Caleb was a hundred times easier than I thought it would be. I was smiling, talking, and laughing. I don’t even remember getting tired during this part.

I remember Emily telling me to give a few more good pushes because he was coming, and it was like I gave one big push and out he came. He had good lungs for sure!

Caleb Byrnes was born at 6:35 pm on Monday, January 16, 2017 (MLK Day), weighing 7 pounds 9 ounces and was 20 inches long.

Emily immediately gave Caleb to me and it was the best feeling in the world - one I wish I could experience over and over again!


Just a few minutes old!

We spent about 30 minutes with Caleb while they cleaned him and me up, then around 7, Kevin went to get the boys so they could come see their brother. Seeing their excitement over their baby brother’s birth was incredible. They just looked at Caleb. K.C. kept touching him. It was so sweet! They both got out their iPods to take pictures of him, too. Kaden had requested for months to be the first person outside of Kevin and me to hold him, so he was, followed very quickly by his big brother K.C.




After they walked in, our parents and Stephanie came in. Everyone was so excited to meet the newest member of our family!

Later that night, I was starving and wanted breakfast food. I had two bowls of cereal in the room and my parents went and picked up pancakes and sausage for me. It was so weird to eat without getting (or feeling sick)!

We enjoyed spending time with our sweet baby boy and our family. Kevin's sister and BIL and two of our nieces came by later that night. I get excited just thinking about everyone as they met Caleb for the first time!

We decided that we'd send the baby to the nursery overnight in order to get some rest ourselves, so around 11 pm, he went to the nursery. After he left, I was able to get up and walk a little. I felt much better than I imagined I would after giving birth. My right leg did stay numb a little longer than my left, but otherwise, I felt as good as I could have expected and only took a Motrin for the pain. 

The nurse brought Caleb in to nurse once in the night and then back the next morning to stay with us all day. We had some family and friends come by to visit all throughout the day and night Tuesday. Caleb slept great that morning, but we joked that he knew school was out as he woke up right when the boys got to the hospital that afternoon. From day one, he hasn't wanted to miss anything!


He and I were both doing really well, so we had the option to leave that Tuesday night, but chose to stay since we wouldn't have been able to leave until late that night (the hospital likes to keep babies for 24 hours). I'm glad we made that decision as it gave Kevin and me another night and day to rest before going home. 

He had another great night Tuesday night and we got ready to leave Wednesday. I was discharged by lunch, but we had to wait for Caleb to be discharged after seeing the pediatrician later that day. His bilirubin was slightly raised and he lost a good bit of weight, though not quite enough to stay. (We later learned that I wasn't producing enough milk. That's a story for another post.)

Getting ready to go home!




We left late Wednesday afternoon and got home to a great meal my mom prepared for us. My parents, in laws, and SIL were there to greet us. K.C. and Kaden were beside themselves with excitement that their baby brother was home. They couldn't wait to hold him again!



My mom stayed with us the first few nights which was a huge help. Though Caleb slept really well, we definitely were able to use the help for school drop offs and pick ups for the boys, groceries, and just having an extra set of hands to help. 

On his first morning at home, he woke up bright-eyed and unswaddled. Our boy does not like to be swaddled. We tried the sleep sacks, swaddlers, and regular blankets. He seemed to do semi-ok with his hands out, but we gave up on that when he was about a month old. 


Caleb has just been a joy and fit into our family so well! While my pregnancy was nothing like I imagined, labor and birth as well as adjusting to life with a newborn were drastically different - but 100 times easier - than I expected. He is just the sweetest baby, and I thank God each day for blessing us with him!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

BABY | Caleb's Birth Story Part I

I want to remember all the details leading up to this day as well as everything that happened on Caleb's birth day. To keep it shorter, I've broken his birth story into two parts. This is part one of two posts on Caleb's birth.

The day Caleb Byrnes was born was by far one of the greatest days of my life!


I started having contractions pretty regularly around Christmas. Nothing crazy, but I was definitely experiencing contractions, though there were somewhere around 15 minutes apart.

A few days later, on December 29, I went for my weekly appointment and was checked. The doctor I saw that day told me she didn't think there was anyway I'd make it to my due date (January 15). She went so far as to say she thought I'd make it maybe a week. This made me very excited and nervous!

A few days after the New Year, the contractions intensified to the point I felt like I needed to call my doctor's office. In hindsight, it was a false alarm. With this being the first child I was going to birth, I wasn't sure what exactly was going on. I'd have cramps that would last a minute or more and came regularly, but it wasn't labor. Apparently if you experience that, you sometimes get to go to the hospital for monitoring. I was in fact having contractions, but they weren't close enough to stay. (As a side note: If we have another baby, I'll know what constitutes real contractions and the protocol for when you actually should go to the hospital!) When I made it to the women's center to be monitored, I was still only 1 centimeter dilated. It was nice to hear the baby’s heartbeat while they monitored me for an hour though! At that point, my real contractions were about every 18 minutes.


My doctor was off the first week of January, so I really wanted to hold off on having the baby until she was back. All the doctors in my practice are great, but as you know, there are just some people you feel more comfortable with.

I went through that first week and the next week with constant contractions, but none caused me to dilate anymore. Everyone in my doctor's office was shocked I was still pregnant when I showed up for my once (or twice) weekly appointments. It even got to the point that I was told to try to keep my feet up to keep him from coming until my doctor got back. That - Caleb coming - didn't happen.

On January 9, I went for an appointment and was still only 1 cm and about 70% effaced. I had another appointment scheduled for Friday of that same week unless he decided to make his entrance before. That night, Clemson was playing for the National Championship. We were all sure that would put me into labor. It didn't, nor did Kevin picking me up and jumping around after we won the game. I had another appointment scheduled for that Friday unless he decided to go ahead and come.

On Thursday, I ran into my doctor in a toy shop and made the decision to be induced the next week if I didn't go into labor on my own.


The next day, Friday, January 13, I had my last OB appointment. I really felt like I was going to get to stay and go to the hospital that day (my bags were packed!), but I was still only 1 cm dilated and 70% effaced, and Caleb was at a station 2. My membranes were stripped in hopes that I would go ahead into active labor on my own, and as a backup, we scheduled the induction for Monday, January 16, Martin Luther King Day.

At that same appointment, I had an ultrasound just for fun to see how big he was measuring. He measured 8 pounds 9 ounces, much larger than we thought! My doctor estimated he'd be around 7.5 pounds, so when we saw this, I think we all - ultrasound tech included - had to pick our jaws up off of the ground. At this point, I was told to mentally prepare for a c-section "just in case."


I was nervous all weekend. My contractions intensified Friday night, but I still didn't go into labor. My dad had asked Kevin and the boys to go to something with him that Saturday, but I had them cancel because I was scared I'd go into labor and Kevin would be two hours away.

That Friday night, I remember sitting on our bed sobbing while the boys were in the tub thinking about how it would be the last Friday night with just the four of us. Hormones! I wanted to soak up every ounce of time with my two boys before their long-awaited baby brother arrived. This was the first time since early pregnancy that I really felt those hormones effecting me emotionally. (The first time was not long after I found out I was pregnant. Kevin and I were both out running and I couldn't find him when I finished. I run longer than him usually, but somehow, I missed seeing him turn down a side street in our neighborhood. I ended up driving around - there's only one way in and out - looking for him and when I finally saw him, bawled like crazy!)


We spent Saturday doing a few things to get the house ready for the baby. It was a gorgeous day, so we sat outside too. On Sunday, we went to Sweet Frog for a sweet treat that afternoon and when we got home, my guys put the baby seat in my car. Sunday was also the first day since the summer I didn't take a Zofran for nausea (I made it without getting sick from December 24 until Caleb was born.).



After the boys left on Sunday night to go to their mom's house, I really got nervous. The last thing I wanted was an induction because I heard they hurt so much worse, but I was so ready to meet our sweet baby. My mom and sister came over and brought some dinner for us. I choose pasta to give me energy the next day.

My mom had both my sister and me naturally without an epidural, and up until this point, I was relatively certain I wanted to attempt the same thing. I spent the months of my pregnancy reading books about natural birth and how to cope with it (more on those in a separate post). 

The night before Caleb was born. 
Once they left, we made sure all of our things were ready. I rechecked my bag as well as Caleb’s and tried to relax. We finally went to bed about 12 am and I was up by 2am, anxious and excited. My alarm was set for 4am so I could be up and ready for our 5am appointment, but I didn’t ever go back to sleep.


We didn't quite make it on time and left our house around five for the quick drive to the hospital. Those few moments in the dark car were some of the longest of my life.


When we got to the hospital, we checked in and were taken to our room. Two nurses came in to get everything started. I had blood drawn and then an IV started for fluids. About 6 AM, I was started on Pitocin. The contractions didn't seem to be any worse than the ones I had been having for the past three weeks. The only difference was that they came every 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. At this point, I was still hesitant to get an epidural as I felt like I might be able to handle natural childbirth.


Around 7 AM, the anesthesiologist came in and talked with us about the epidural. He really calmed my nerves. I knew at that point that I could get an epidural if I needed it. In fact, I was relatively sure I would get one at some point during labor as I was extremely nervous about what would happen now that I could potentially be having an 8.5 pound baby! 


Around 9:30 AM, one of the doctor's in my practice broke my water. While breaking the water in itself wasn’t painful (it was a warm gush of water), the intensity of the contractions accelerated immediately. It probably didn't help that I held my body as tense as I possibly could - there was no relaxing for me. A few minutes after this, Kevin went out to the bathroom and was going to send my sister, Stephanie, in, but she and my mom had gone to Krispy Kreme to get donuts for the nurses and doctors. He walked in about five minutes later to me bawling my eyes out from pain. It was time for the epidural! So much for natural childbirth for me!

Sam, the anesthesiologist, was great. He calmed my fears and took away my pain. Getting the epidural in itself was not painful at all, and it was definitely the best decision I made. Within a few minutes, I was feeling relief. I did have one “hot spot” in my lower left abdomen, but Sam quickly corrected it.


Once I was pain-free, I was able to talk with our family who kept coming in to check on me. Before going to the hospital, I was dead set on not having anyone in the room but Kevin, but sitting (or lying in my case) waiting for a baby to be born while you're relatively pain free can get a little boring. It was nice having our boys, my parents, in laws, and sister come in and out to chat with us. I think it was a good break for Kevin, too. Of course, everyone left when the doctor and nurses came in and were out when I was really "laboring." 

My dad checking out the contractions.

Around lunchtime, K.C. and Kaden got to the hospital. They were so excited and wanted to be there when their baby brother was born. They were so sweet checking on me too, and even pushed the button on the epidural to give me more relief when I needed it. They really didn't know/understand what was going on from that standpoint, so it was all good.

  

Since my labor was progressing so slowly, Kevin and my dad went to get Chinese for lunch. While they were gone, I just watched tv with my sister and tried to get some rest.

Most everyone I know that's been induced has had their baby relatively fast - by lunchtime. That wasn't the case for me. By 2:30, I was only 4 centimeters.

I wish I had written down all the times and what I was, but I didn't. Sometime later that afternoon around 4:45 or so, things started to progress. I didn't feel any different, but I went from 6cm to 10 cm in about 35 minutes per my husband.

Since we expected the baby to be larger and at my last check, he appeared to have not moved down much, the plan was to let my body labor down on its own in hopes that I would be able to have him naturally.

About 5:30, I remember feeling some strong pressure and telling my doctor. When she checked me, it was quickly determined that the baby was ready to come.

Part II coming soon!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Past Three Months

I'm back! And have lots and lots and lots of catching up to do! I've just been enjoying my THREE boys the past few months!


Here are just a few things that have happened the past few months:

  • We celebrated Christmas and rang in the New Year for the last time as a family of four!
  • We watched Clemson win the National Championship on January 9.
  • We had our third baby boy on January 16 (more on sweet Caleb later).
  • K.C.'s team won the Battle of the Books at his school.
  • Both of our big boys were recognized as Terrific Kids.
  • We celebrated birthdays for Kevin, Kaden, and me.
  • We took our first trip as a family of five to Clemson.
  • Our big boys each played a season of spring soccer.
  • Kevin's wrapping up a season of softball.
  • I'm back running again (oh, the work!).
  • We've stared at and played with our sweet boy for countless hours.
The past few months have been the best - the absolute best - and I can't wait to share more!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Caleb Byrnes

We are so excited that our precious baby boy is here!


Caleb Byrnes
Monday, January 16, 2017
6:35pm
7 pounds 9 ounces
20 inches

Birth story coming soon!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Let Your Light Shine


Yesterday, I had this whole post written about how awesome it was that Clemson won the National Championship Monday night (and it was awesome), but the one thing I kept going back to was something I heard Dabo say during a press conference leading up to the big game:

Let the light inside of you shine brighter than the light shining on you. 
(paraphrase)

I love this, and this phrase has kept popping into my mind over the past few days. It reminds me of one of my favorite passages from the Bible: 
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) emphasis mine
When I heard that phrase, I started thinking about my life, and specifically, my light. What light am I shining into those around me? When people see me and talk to me, do they see God's light shining in my life? What are things I can do to shine God's light?

We all play so many different roles - wife, mom, friend, employee/employer, volunteer, and on and on, and in each of these roles, we have people looking to us. I hope that in all my roles, those around me see God's light.

Does this mean I have to be perfect? Does this mean I can't get frustrated or upset? Does this mean I have to have it all together? No, and thank goodness, because I'm certainly not those things. What it means is that I need to live in a way that shines God's light.

If I'm having a rough day at work, instead of snapping at someone for walking in while I'm in the middle of preparation for a big project, I can be gentle and kind and put my focus on that person.

If my kids are bickering over something (more than likely Nerf guns and what games to play in my house), instead of fussing, I can try to solve the disagreement in a quiet manner. If they don't want to do homework, want a short order meal, and just won't listen, I can take a deep breath before getting upset.

If I'm in the middle of something and someone calls me for something, I can talk for a few minutes to make sure there's nothing that has to be done and then politely call back later.

I don't know about you, but as I sit here thinking about ways I can shine God's light, I think about many little things that I can do differently to show others Jesus.

Last night, we read about Zacchaeus which turned into a talk about kids at school who just aren't nice and some that bully others. We talked with the boys about how even though some kids aren't nice, we don't always know what they may be dealing with.

Our kids are fortunate to have parents who love and invest in them. They don't want for anything and they know they are loved. But as we explained to them, there are children at their school who take home bags of food each weekend because their families are in need. There are kids who don't know where their next meal will come from and don't have anyone that will help them with their homework or make them take a bath.

We encouraged the boys to always be nice to these kids, for they don't know what they have going on outside of school. We talked to them about how just being nice is sharing Jesus.

While it's a simplistic example, it's one that works for all of us. It's so easy to get wrapped up into me, me, me that we forget about those around us - even those closest to us. We all have things going on - stresses, decisions to make, things we wish we could change - but the way we act under these pressures and react to those around us whether they're in our home or people we pass by on the street each day, show what we're made of and Who we worship.

Let your light shine. There's always a light shining on you by the audience around you, but let the light within you shine brighter. Be Jesus to the world.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Christmas 2017

We had a really great Christmas this year! While it's always great to spend time with family and friends, I feel like getting our shopping done so early in preparation for the baby gave us the ability to really relax and soak up all the time at Christmas. We were at home almost the entire time during our nearly two-week break and it was great!

We started the Christmas holiday by baking cookies. K.C.'s class made cookie mix in a jar during their class party, so we made his cookies. They were delicious! 


Warning: Picture overload coming next!


Are you like me? Do you make your kids take the same photos year after year? The boys know by now that before they go up to bed, we have to take a picture in their Christmas pajamas. I know one day they won't want to wear cute jammies, but until then, we're taking pictures. Kaden was particularly excited that night because not only was Santa Claus coming to visit, the Tooth Fairy was also going to be making a stop!

Santa left three piles of presents this year - one for each of the boys and one for the baby! A few weeks before Christmas, the boys were talking about how they knew Santa would want to leave the baby a stocking, so I ordered a stocking for him. When it got here a few days before Christmas, we were all so excited - until we opened the package. The right stocking was in the bag, but it had the wrong name. Thankfully, the great customer service at Lillian Vernon quickly sent out a new embroidered stocking with the baby's name so Santa would have one to fill for him.


The boys always wait at the top of the stairs before they run down in the morning. How we've convinced them to continue doing this at 7 and 9, I won't ever know, but I'm not complaining!

K.C. has asked for this Nerf gun for years, but until this year, it hasn't been available. The smile on his face says it all.

 Kaden soaks in opening his gifts. He'll open a pack of gum in his stocking and get so excited. I hope he always keeps the awe and wonder he has.

The big brothers had fun opening the gifts that were left for their baby brother.

On Christmas Eve, we celebrated with Kevin's family. It's a tradition to have fondue for dinner. Since I can't have shrimp (and that's a big part of the fondue), my sweet FIL always cooks some filet mignon separately for me before the fondue. It's definitely a treat I look forward to each year.

After dinner, we go upstairs to this large closet where my MIL reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and my FIL reads The Christmas Story from the Bible. Once this is done, we wait for Santa to come fill our stockings. 




At church on Christmas morning - about to pop!



My dad had a yucky virus that has been going around, so we ended up celebrating with my parents the night after Christmas. It was really nice to spread it out. My mom made a great dinner and we took our time opening gifts. 






We really had a great Christmas season! 


Friday, January 6, 2017

BABY | Celebrating with Showers

I can't believe we are so close to meeting our newest son! I really can't believe it. These past nine months feel like an eternity and at the same time, like they've flown by, especially lately. I don't remember much at all about the first 25 weeks or so of pregnancy and I was just miserable (I'm keeping it real), but these last weeks since Thanksgiving have flown thanks in part to four awesome showers we have been given.

Our first shower was on Sunday, November 20, and hosted by my SIL, Kevin's aunt, and his cousin. It was such a fun shower! When I say I am overwhelmed with the things we were given, I'm not exaggerating. I think we received almost every bit of baby gear we needed at that first shower. We are so thankful and feel so blessed to have such loving friends and family!


The boys really wanted to go to part of the shower. I thought it was so sweet! They came at the beginning before going to a birthday party and brought a gift they picked out for their baby brother -- his first pair of Nikes! They picked them out all on their own when they were shopping with my mom the day before. They're orange (of course) and gray like theirs.

On the way home from the shower, K.C. asked me what my favorite gift was and was it the shoes. Of course it was! They are already great big brothers!








On November 25, we had another baby shower, this time, hosted by three of my first cousins. This was a nighttime shower and so sweet. We had delicious chocolate cake with ice cream and caramel sauce.


I love seeing his initials!

My cousin Elise trying to teach me how to use the sling. I may need a refresher when he's here!

With the hosts: my cousins Elise, Caitlin, and Erin.





Our third shower was on December 4 and hosted in my home church by my sister, best friend, and my best friend's mom. It was a sweet shower, and so great to see so many people I don't see often.









Our final shower was hosted by two of my colleagues at work. I wasn't expecting another shower, so it was so much fun to celebrate with some of the people I work with each day.



It was so much fun celebrating the baby with our family and friends!