Monday, July 28, 2014

Journal Entry 7.28.14

In a melancholy mood tonight. A little bit wistful. A little bit contemplative. A little bit of so many things. How to embrace so many unknowns that are coming. So many questions that I don't know the answer to yet. I know it is just a baby, but then again it's an entirely new little person and personality to figure out how to blend into the needs of our sweet boys and my husband and myself (after all the adults still fit in there a little bit!)  

With Adrian I was honestly scared and maybe a little selfishly wanting to hold onto our sweet oldest. I didn't really want change as much as I loved this little person growing inside of me already. All the unknown questions- like  how could we possibly have more love and more attention to give? Some days it already felt so stretched and so thin, like there was nothing left to give. How then would we be able to have anything left for another little person? The acknowledgement that you love runs deep but then there is the reality and sometimes it just conflicts with what you think you know. I was scared that there wouldn't be an immediate bonding. And, actually there wouldn't have been anything wrong with that. Sometimes that is the reality of what does happen. I feel for women who go through pregnancy and labor and feel somehow as if they've completely utterly failed the role of being a good mother because there isn't a magical instant bond. Sometimes there isn't. Sometimes it takes time. And that is ok! Turns out, this wasn't the case, but I think I felt before birth what some women feel after, and for that I am thankful. I am thankful to feel at a deficit and loss and well... human. Sometimes we need to go through that to realize the better that awaits us and discover the community that is there that we had no idea. 

This time, I'm not worried about the bonding. I am feeling a sense of great change though. I don't doubt our love can go any further because I know it somehow just grows. Your heart discovers that there is so much more depth to it than you ever knew possible, and then it happens again. It's a miracle and incredible to experience. 

I think "lasts" are on my mind right now....wondering what will be the last thing we do before she comes, the last meal we share as a family of four, or the last time I go to bed for the night with a sweet babe inside. Part of me is a little melancholy about these lasts, because as hard as pregnancy is, there is a part of me that enjoys it (hello brutal newborn days with no sleep. The pregnancy days completely trump it and labor too compared to the three months post partum and how honestly brutal they are and what they take out of me. I'd take pregnancy and labor over post partum any day. Not depression here, but just physically insane.) Raising a photograph and memory to one of the lasts to enjoy, I filled up a calming lavender bath, grabbed a book I'm reading (Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas),and just appreciated one of the very likely last moments before baby girls comes. It was deliciously needed. I underestimate how far a good fifteen minutes of something like that can go. Just doing nothing but soaking in a moment. Note to self: do this more!!! Plan this more! 

It's funny- I asked Josh to pick up some things that are thought to help the body get ready for labor and sometimes help it along. But then I paused taking any of it because maybe I'm not ready quite yet. If it were to happen five minutes from now, that would be completely different because it's its own timing, but to cause it. I guess I lingered a little in where we are now, not wanting to rush into what lies next.

I don't have fears about these next few weeks and know some days will be hard, some will hold wonderful moments, there won't be any sleeping for me for a few weeks, there will likely be tears, and trying to figure out what sometimes there is no solution for but to take a few more of those lavender tub moments (even in just a minute at a time), realizing that it's ok to absolutely not have anything together right now, but a part of me wants to linger in the right now, in the calm before the change. I guess I'm stuck in the beauty and wonder and awe and mystery of both now and the unknown of what lies after birth.

I'm looking forward to birth as crazy as that sounds. Not looking forward to it in the sense of "oh please, give me pain! Sign me right up! I can't get enough!" but more looking forward to that incredible moment after all the work and focus and tears and pain- holding her in our arms for the first time. (Which, silly side note- I do have a boy outfit packed because I swear I saw something in the second ultrasound. The tech was pretty sure but oh hey, on the 5% chance that I just happen to be right, we will be set ;-) ) I can't help but tear up at the songs I'm putting together for the playlist because each hold so much meaning but more than that, I think of the moments I'm wanting to play the songs in and how much depth and emotion there will be to each moment. I'm going to be a sentimental emotional mess, but that is ok. It's all worth it!

And, a couple maternity pictures, because I want to get these up before we have a special announcement waiting! My dear friend Shae, who also owns a photography business, (check it out here!) took these Saturday night. We barely squeezed them in this pregnancy but I am so glad we did. It was a complete change of plans from what I'd had in mind, but I think sometimes change can end up being better than what we thought we wanted :) (especially when your first plans involved a dock but reality had a toddler in a mood that would have had things-or himself- thrown off the dock! On second thought..) Try not to soak in the sunshine. It was pretty glorious.  

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mama's Favorite Things Giveaway

Pretty awesome giveaway for you today friends!   But, on a baby note --

I think baby girl is coming soon!!!

That is how much she had dropped two days ago and now it's even more!
I was pretty certain she was making an appearance today, but it could still be soon!
We squeezed in maternity pictures tonight (hooray!!)
So, maybe God knew we needed to wait a day to capture these last few moments
 before we add sweet Adleigh to our family!
They were seriously real life style pics though. I have to laugh at the
unpredictable sparkle a toddler adds to life!
At least we got them though and I know they turned out amazing :)

This time around feels so much more relaxed and peaceful heading into labor.
It's funny how your need-to-get list changes from the first to the third!
(and how you suddenly realize, oh hello little newborn.
You aren't even using half of the things we got you!
They just look really pretty in our house!)
I think we're all set though! All my favorites are in the birth center bag.
Some new ones I'm excited to add this time are lavender essential oil and a beautiful soft baby wrap.

I'm excited too, because four of you get to win some of these favorite things!!!

Susan Peterson totally knows a thing or two about comfortable footwear that kids love (plus a few other fun goodies in her shop!) There are always adorable designs and they are made to be played in! Adrian adores his! I have the heirloom pair on my wishlist for Adleigh.
The details and color- swoon :) Check out their brand new summer picnic line here!
There are watermelon ones you guys!
Isn't Adrian pretty much adorable in his pair?!

Days Island Essential Oils are a new love here! I'm thrilled to have found an honest local company that offers great prices, plus pure essential oils. We've already had lots of success using their lavender oil and Boom blend! You can see all the quality oils available here. PLUS if you subscribe to their newsletter, you are automatically entered to win a free oil each month just ad a thank you for following!!

Got adventurous kids? Boom was like magic on Andrew's gushing cut
and queasy tummy after a bike mishap. Yay for small miracles!

Erika is a sweet friend of mine and owner of Babalu Baby & Kids. She has a passion for 
happy uplifting products for babies and kids. She is currently simplifying her shop to make more time for her family so that means some pretty neat deals for you! The "adorable! duh!" shirt is one of my favorites!
Our boys honestly did not want to take their shirts off. I think we have a winner! See more faves here!

Right now, if you spend $25 at Babalu Baby, you get to pick out an adorable tutu or pair of suspenders for free!! Check it out!
via Babalu Baby & Kids shop

AmoMama is a mama-owned Etsy shop with the softest handmade baby carrier wraps ever! 
(Think Moby but softer like jersey and not as awkward and bulky!)
I tried it on and forgot about it, leaving it on for a few hours!
I cannot wait to wrap baby girl in this!
It folds to the perfect size to go in the diaper bag in a cute little case!
You can see more details here!
Plus, I mean, isn't that stitched detail cuter than the awkward tags on most wraps?!

And now for the fun part- the giveaway! These sweet shop owners thought it'd be fun to give you all some of our favorite things, so here is your chance! Contest ends August 10th! (Use the Rafflecopter to enter.)

A big thank you to Freshly Picked & Babalu Baby for giving us products to try out! 
All opinions are my own!
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to get started with homeschooling when you have no idea!

Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them 

is what makes life meaningful...

I feel like some posts need a little explanation or something to go with them. This is one such post. I feel like homeschool can be such a loaded phrase and idea. So, let me just put your mind at ease and say- this isn't a post telling you why you should homeschool. This isn't a post telling you why we are better than you for homeschooling or that public school is evil. Truth is- every single kid is different and what works for one doesn't always work for the other! So, find what works best for you, and if some of these ideas are helpful- awesome :) So, without further ado-

Last year, we decided for a few reasons to try out homeschooling for first grade this school year and see how it went. I liked the idea that it meant a little more time together and would give Andrew more opportunities to learn through his outside-the-box hands-on style. Two years ago though, you never would have caught me saying the word "homeschool." Nothing against it, but it just wasn't for me, you know? I mean, teaching our kids? I didn't think I was cut out for it at all or could handle it, but I discovered a few things that helped change my mind and helped me not feel so overwhelmed at all the ideas and curriculums and questions floating (or more like, massively, dizzily, swirling) around.

If you're wanting to homeschool but feel really inundated by it all, here's what helped us so quickly get into a comfortable groove.

Start simple! 
In our area, there is a plethora of homeschool groups and activities. What to even pick from?! Since this is our first year, I wanted to start at square one, and just get the basics down before we try to add in a lot of other things. Many of the groups have either open enrollment or semester enrollment so there is always the option to add some things later. Don't feel like homeschooling has to have much extra-curricular activity for there to be learning! Kids can get easily overwhelmed so start with finding your comfortable groove at home and go from there! Andrew will be in a kids group at church this fall so that is providing a great social outlet for him. If you are looking for ideas, some of our favorites are a children's museum membership, being apart of our local MOPS moms group, playdates through that, field trips another homeschooling mom does. Check and Facebook for local homeschool groups too! A church here hosts what they call Friday School and homeschoolers meet every Friday during the school year where a good variety of classes are available. The cost is affordable too. We might add that in eventually. 
Science with Usborne space flashcards. Sometimes we overthink how learning can happen and put so much pressure on ourselves to create the "perfect" learning environment! Check it out though-
Pretty real life there with cleanup not having happened yet, but I'd say learning is still going on ;-)
Andrew's favorite place to do school is lying on the living room floor. Outside is fun too.

This is another great example of simple but fun learning!
The lesson for the day was place value. I used dimes to teach the tens and pennies for ones. Andrew got to "buy" things that cost different amounts. The trio block was 1cent, the tootsie roll was 5 cents, and the pencils were 10 cent (he was pretty excited to learn since it meant a tootsie roll at the end!)  Don't overthink what you can use for teaching! You probably already have a lot of things at home! 

Make it yours! 
You know your kids! And your homeschool experience is yours. It's SO easy to compare to other families but I can promise that they have their own challenges too! And, they also have different kids who likely have different learning styles. Don't be afraid to do what works for you! If that means lots of hands-on activities outside, go for it! If that means doing lots of real life projects like cooking to teach math- there you go. If you have a kid who loves repetition and flashcards or worksheets, go with that! If your school day needs to be a little shorter or split up, there is nothing wrong with that! We do school three days a week for a few hours, and guess what? We have no set schedule. It's the routine that Andrew loves! We start each day (even if it doesn't start until 11 am!) with setting the day of the week, date, weather and how Andrew is feeling today. From there it's a few worksheets, supplemental activities, and then we are usually done. Incentives help a lot for Andrew (like, getting to go play outside afterwards, or a cooking project, or special activity later). 
I love this quote!

Remember- There is no one perfect curriculum!
(There are also no perfect kids either!! They all have their off days even with the best books!) Have you seen how many curriculums there are?! It's incredible really. I decided to not worry about finding ONE I loved. This year we are doing a little bit of this and that. Some friends offered for us to borrow from their curriculum, so we are doing history and science using their books.  I found a great math book on a swap/buy page on Facebook(they had a preview on the book website of the pages that I looked up to decide to buy or not), and the rest I am supplementing with Pinterest activities and worksheets, and things from the dollar store and Target's dollar section like manuscript practice sheets, flashcards, and some classic books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn & Tom Sawyer. It's also been a great place to get things for Adrian! This was going on the other day!
Adrian's "school" while Andrew did his math. Andrew was SO excited to help!

Something that can help a lot in making a decision with curriculum is to visit a homeschool convention and get a hands-on look at the different ones. You can get great discounts too on ordering the books there.
I just found out there is also the option to rent books here!!

Something to remember before you toss the curriculum you are using- see if supplementing a part they are struggling with is the answer you are actually looking for rather than replacing the entire thing. Sometimes kids just need help getting through one concept. Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers are great for that. If it's time for a new one though, check out Craigslist, eBay, textbook rental sites, and friends are all good places to save money on books! 

Speaking of Pinterest-
Pinterest is an invaluable resource!!
You can literally look up any topic or specific concept. People are very generous with what they are sharing these days! If you have a kid who loves Legos and is struggling with a certain concept, plug that into Pinterest! Or, if you are covering a topic and feel like your kids just aren't getting it, or you want more ideas to expand it, the world is at your fingertips! I've also found some of my favorite homeschool blogs this way!

Other favorite places to find things:
Thrift stores and garage sales
Thrift store score! They got rid of it because it only went to 2013 
but that was easily fixed with some craft paint! Homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive!

Other favorite resources
Teachers Pay Teachers website - Lots of awesome affordable worksheets and printables here (many free!)
This list  of lots of neat sites by grade and topic
Free tutoring at Khan Academy
The local library bulletin board- I was surprised at just how many local events I had never heard about that were posted here! The library is also a fantastic place to get free books! 

Incentives work wonders!!
Tablet time is a favorite but it's also definitely an incentive Andrew has to earn! (And one that is usually timed too. He gets half an hour max.) He earns more or less time depending on how his day is going. It seems to be effective to warn him that he is going to lose a minute if X doesn't improve or change (refusing to do a worksheet, or correct something or change a bad attitude). This can also be true of outside time- he can earn extra for having a great day! 

And last but not least-
Some days just stink! And that is ok! If you need a break for the day, take one! There is always tomorrow!
Find community whether it's making a little effort to say hi to other parents at the park, finding a local parent group on Facebook, or joining a moms group like MOPS. You don't have to do this alone! 

Bottom line- 
You are doing better than you think!
Love and laughter go a long ways on the hard days!
Don't be afraid to change something if it's not working!
Keep your chin up! This hard work really is worth it!

If you want to follow along with our homeschool journey, check out my Instagram feed here and also Pinterest where I have an entire board devoted to all things educational and fun here!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I'll take a big slice of peach pie with some reality and sprinkles thrown in too!!

Actually make that cobbler, because, doesn't that just sound amazing?? Hot peach cobbler, fresh out of the oven, with vanilla ice cream just melting on top of it. Especially the really good kind of ice cream.
Lately though, cherries have been hitting the spot. No kidding I've probably eaten a pound or two the past few weeks. We have to restock at our local farmer's market every week (not a bad thing!) It's become a tradition of sorts to go every week and get more cherries, bread, local coffee and always some cookies at a stand. Last week I got two pounds of sugar snap peas. They are almost gone already. Yum.
Adrian is a big cherry fan too! He's easily eaten as many as me!

Couple great reads/watches/listens for you this week-
"Are you Raising Nice Kids?" This article is fantastic food for thought to challenge kids a little more! I've found if we aren't intentional, these things don't just happen. For some reason, osmosis doesn't work with parenting and just because we believe it and sometimes mention it doesn't translate to deeply held beliefs.

This song a friend helped pen the lyrics to! I like it. What do you think?
I know someone who could be famous! How cool is that?!?!

These awesome creative inventions. Some of them I seriously had a, "Wow.. Why has no one made this before?! It makes so much sense!!" moment with! The fish weirds me out though!! I think it's the name?!

"I Blamed My Wife for Our Messy House; I was Wrong for Many Reasons."- If you wonder what in the world stay at home moms do all day with their time, and wonder why their houses aren't spotless, read this article. (please?!)  I posted this about it on my photography page because as a small business owner and stay at home mom, it really rings true with me.  photo clients, ***read this!!!***** Seriously! Because I know you want to think I have so much time on my hands to edit your amazing photos, and I know you wonder why they aren't done yet. But, i can promise you- it's not quite as peaches and cream and easy as pie as you might think keeping up with a house and kids. Amazingly, it's this full time job, and while I have sweet magical visions in my head of our boys playing nicely together while I get hours of photo editing done, it *NEVER* happens that way! Instead, it looks instead like this: I sit down to work on pictures, hear screaming going on. Get up to check on screaming, find younger brother hitting older brother on the head because he wouldn't give younger brother the Legos that he will inevitably try to eat and then possibly choke on. Resolve Lego conflict by giving younger sibling some playdough. Sit down for more editing. Hear lots of laughter. Playdough is now SO give kids Cheerios for a snack. Five minutes later, the youngest is giggling saying, "Funny!! Cheerios!! Jump!!!" There are about 50 Cheerios (wet and soggy mind you) all over the table and floor because he thought it was hilarious they were jumping out of his bowl. So, photo clients, I promise I am getting to your photos as I can! And i know it feels like forever, but I honestly only have 8-10 hours a week after being a wife and mama. Read this though It's good

"Top 20 Pieces of Advice Moms Wish They'd Received". #15 is my favorite and serious life saver these days!!

And then, some really neat ways to make a difference:

This life-changing subscription box service. I love this quote: "But I wasn’t able to shake this truth: While it’s often easy to give people in poverty what they need; it’s empowering to help them meet their own needs.
They don’t need more charity. They need more opportunity." Check out more info here

Putting your smart phone away the next time you're at a restaurant!  
Here's why!! 

And last but not least, someone please send this sweet boy with an inoperable brain tumor (so far. They're still doing treatment and praying for a miracle!!) a birthday card! Sweet guy is lonely because he can't be in Kindergarten anymore cause of treatment! His 6th birthday is coming up July 25th and all he wants is a big post office box full of cards for his birthday!! He loves Legos and Mario! Andrew is putting together a Lego creation for him and making a big huge card to send (all his own ideas!!! I'm kindof proud of his sweet heart!)) 
All cards can be mailed the Nickerson’s home addressed: Danny Nickerson, P.O. Box 212, Foxboro, MA, 02035. 

Happy Tuesday guys. Go make someone's day today!
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weekly digest of **awesome!!**

I'm so awesome that I just found snickerdoodle crumbs in my shirt. Yum? :)
But hey- If you've never had fresh-baked farmer's market snickerdoodles, you, my friend, are missing out!

Favorite things this week:

This huge awesome list of free printable wall art!! You could order any of these as a print and either modge podge to canvas or frame them! And, cheap diy frame idea? Hit up the thrift store, get some spray paint and knock yourself out! I want to get some gold glittery spray paint just because it'd be fun!
I really want to create a nursery space, but we are on a budget and as much as I love premade art, I'll take saving a few dollars over that any day! This is one of my favorites. Free printable that you get to color!
via Tried & True Blog 
Speaking of the Farmer's Market, have you seen this?

Good challenge there! It really wouldn't be so hard and there are quite a few shops I'd love to spend a little money at! I know a lot of times I feel like I'd like to make a difference but just don't know where to! It's a good reminder that we really don't need to look farther than our own town and neighborhood with where to start! I can tell you personally as a photography business owner, ever $100 really truly does make a difference! Keep up the good work guys :)

In other news, Seattle made several headlines (including in the UK!) from a guy who thought a lighter and spray paint would be a pretty good way to deal with a spider! Check out what happened here!! 

These delicious, refreshing bars.
No coconut pieces in them, and they just hit the spot!
(Going to grab one as we speak!)
What is keeping you cool this summer? Our temps are finally looking like they might start dropping a little (yay!!) Looks like baby girl might follow suit? We'll see!!

Linking up for fun here today!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

It's called pregnancy swag!! {36 week bump update!}

Yep. Pregnancy swag. :)
This third pregnancy thing is anything but glamorous so I'm all for renaming some of these awesome symptoms. Just a warning: this is pretty honest! Consider yourself warned!!

I am wondering why no one tells you that-

You will go through about 3 pads a day. And finding one that is super absorbent yet doesn't scream "pantiliner under here!!" is next to impossible. Almost. I think I may have succeeded at a winner.

On that note, you'll be planning all excursions around the closest bathroom (and the closets one ten minutes after that!) Word of advice: always have a backup plan because if you're like me, your luck will have you finding every.single.bathroom that is closed for cleaning (and, of course guys cleaning all of them so you can't sneak in. Although I may have seriously contemplated it!) Be prepared to break some doors down if you need to!

You will crave all kinds of things you never dreamed you would! No odd combinations here yet, but it's allthesweets. I had this yesterday. 
via the Ice Cream Informant
And peach upside down cake. With whipped cream. It was amazing. Josh made it for me. Sweet guy. 
On the flip side though, I finished my no-sugar challenge and have to say, it is really nice to not be craving as much sugar. I had a plain almond milk + frozen blueberry smoothie yesterday and it was refreshing, cool and just hit the spot. No sugar added. So, little steps. 

What else does no one tell you about?

The cervical pinching. And you thought Braxton Hicks were bad. These stop you dead in your pee-holding steps! Most days these have me really limited. It's just the baby growing and stretching but they hurt and they have no name. 

The nightly discomfort and insomnia. It feels like I have abdominal "heartburn" from the baby growing and stretching my skin out. Just when I find the perfect place at night (ok just kidding. That doesn't happen!) I either have the cervical pinching sensation, Braxton Hicks, heartburny feeling, or finally get a little comfy and have to pee. Ahh such is life!! I am feeling like this is too true these days!
via Pinterest

Also this. 
I feel like there's a contest going on or something up in here!
And this too.
And you know, this too.

I'm pretty much on bedrest if I do so much as move, so I'm thankful there are four(ish) weeks left!

On some plus notes:
//I have the birth center bag packed!!!!!( I don't remember if I already told you that? Oh well :) )
//I am getting lots of rest in. Teaching the hubby how to really keep up the house is no easy feat but I think he's getting it! I mean, don't get me wrong. He is great at doing the dishes (occasionally ;-)) and getting the recycle and trash out but there is so much more to keeping up a house than the bigger jobs. It's incredible how much wiping down and picking up & putting away plus keeping up with the kids goes on in a day!
//I scored some lavender body wash/bubble bath for $5.99 for a huge thing at a local liquidation store. I'm going to have to remember to go there more often because they had some great deals! 
// I know it's bad luck to plan your own baby shower (or so I've heard?) but because I know way too many people and the second shower my friend is throwing will be right when school starts after baby girl comes and a lot of my friends are busy then, I decided to throw myself a little one this weekend. It won't be a lot of friends but I don't mind. I'm a little excited! What are your thoughts on third pregnancy baby showers? I know they're not traditional but I say bring on the merriment! The new baby needs at least diapers and those ain't cheap!!
//Actually downloading some music for our birth playlist. It's not done yet but it's a work in progress! I need some good recommendations though! So far some faves-

All of Me cover by Boyce Avenue

A Thousand Years cover by Boyce Avenue

Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson

Incredible Love by Ingrid Michaelson

Bloom by Radiohead 

Sunrise by Nora Jones

What are your favorite songs to help you stay motivated, focused, and calm?

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