Sunday, April 24, 2016

3!

My sweet girl turned 3 in March! I am quite a bit late on this, but I wanted to write it all down so I can remember her fun birthday! 
We had her birthday party about a week before her birthday and we did it combined with another friend turning 3! It was so much fun and so low key...the best! We set it up at the church and just had a bounce house and cookies. The kids decorated cookies, we got a cookie cake for the girls, they did some coloring and lots of running around, jumping, sliding and playing in the bounce house! 
On her actual birthday, we got up and went for donuts, of course (it's starting to seem like this is how we start every birthday celebration....).

 We did a little walk/bike ride, then opened presents. 


After nap, we loaded up and headed down to the bigger mall for the afternoon/evening.

 We played at the Children's Museum for a few minutes because we were a little bit early to the movie. Then we saw Zootopia, which both girls loved! After that we went for pizza to a place in the mall we had never been. We had loaded up on popcorn, so no one was super hungry so we all ended up just splitting a couple pizzas and having tons left.

 Then we grabbed ice cream and headed back home for bed! It was a really low key and fun day celebrating our girl! 
The next day, we had planned to go to this water park all day, but found out in winter they didn't open until the afternoon so we just played at home for awhile and let her play with her gifts and such. She got this giant box of crafting things from my dad and step mom so the girls spent a good amount of time working on their little projects, which they thought was so fun!

 Then after nap, we grabbed chick fil a drive through and drove down to the water park, which ended up being a "water park". It was really just a glorified pool and while I would not go there again for what it cost, we all had a lot of fun! There was a really neat kiddie area that had a smaller slide and some splash pad type stuff, however, it had this giant bucket of water that tipped every few minutes and we didn't know so we all got drenched and it was freeeeezing water on that side for some reason so the girls ended up hating that area and pretty much just stayed in the big pool the whole time. It was really fun though and they love swimming so much. 

We got home late that night and got to bed. Well, when we went to bed later, we always peek at the girls, and noticed she was breathing kind of weird. She rarely ever gets sick and I've never heard her breathe weird. My older daughter is the one with asthma/breathing issues so we are used to this, but this just didn't sound right, so we brought her into our bed so I could listen to her. A few hours later, she sits straight up in the middle of the night freaking out and trying to get a breath. It was honestly one of the scariest things I've ever seen. She was crying with tears streaming down her face, but making no noise. She couldn't talk or really get a breath. Like I said, my older daughter has breathing stuff so this was not our first rodeo and we have dealt with lung issues a lot but I had never seen anything like this so I panicked and called 911. I have heard freak stories about secondary drowning and it seemed like she was having a lot of the symptoms of that so that is part of the reason I called. They came and by that time she could breathe but she was really shaken up and crying and still having a harder time breathing and doing some kind of raspy coughs. The paramedics said she probably just has croup and to take her into the ER.

 I felt so ridiculous if I seriously just called 911 in the middle of the night for croup, but it was honestly so so scary. We got to the ER and the Dr. said he definitely didn't think it was croup but he was going to test for a few other things. Long story short she ended up having RSV and there is nothing they can do for it. She was pretty sick for about a week after that, but had no other problems breathing so I have no idea what happened that night, but I hope it never happens again! And that was the big ending to her birthday weekend!! 
It is hard to believe she is already 3, but also hard to believe she is only 3. She is so special. I don't know what it is about her, but I often say that she is not real life. She is just so unique and funny and sweet. I have never met another kid like her. I am so thankful God knew we needed her. She is so precious to us and we are looking forward to many more years celebrating her! 
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What I've Been Reading: Vol. 1

I mentioned in my last post that I have set a goal to read 50 books in 2016! There have been weeks where I'll read 2 or 3 books, and then weeks where I don't read at all, and that's fine. It has all seemed to balance out so far! I was thinking that I'd like to write about what I've been reading, but I really don't want to give plot reviews. I feel like it's really easy to look up what a book is about and I don't want to take the time to reiterate the plot, so I will probably only talk about my opinion of the books and briefly touch on parts of the plot. Eventually, I may break it down into fiction/non-fiction or something, but I will probably continue to only blog about 5-10 books at a time or so, instead of reviewing each book individually, so that I'm not writing about books every week! 
I've been keeping track of what I've been reading on Goodreads, which I like for organizing and also keeping track of books I'd like to read!  
  • At the beginning of this year, I finished up the Matched series, with Reached. My 14 year old sister actually gave me Matched to read while we were visiting at Thanksgiving and I kept reading the series. It was good, but I did think that Reached drug on too long. It could have been shortened by at least 100 pages and been really good!  I would recommend the entire series. Though it is young adult (I won't lie, young adult fiction is sometimes my guilty pleasure!), the whole concept of the series was really intriguing! 
  • The next book I read was called The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser. This historical fiction novel takes place during the great depression. It was really interesting to see world's collide in this book. For some reason it took me about 100 pages to get into it (I almost stopped reading), but once I did, I ended up LOVING it! It was such a sweet story about friendship and faith and I would totally recommend it. 
  • The 3rd book of the year was Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins and let me just say, good luck putting this down! I think I read it in less than a day. This woman is going through a really hard time and trying to decide if she wants to be in a medical trial that involves brain surgery. It is SO good and I honestly couldn't figure out what exactly was going to happen right up until the end! Five stars! 
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I had heard a lot about this book so I decided to give it a read. I had mixed feelings about it. The plot was interesting. It basically follows 3 different kindergarten moms and their lives. There was quite a bit of language and some vulgarity that I didn't care for, but the book itself was interesting. I remember in the beginning thinking it was kind of hard to keep all of the characters straight, but once you get to know them and figure it out, the book takes off. It covered a lot of intense topics but in general wasn't a very "deep" book and was a really easy read. 
  • The Husbands Secret was next. Honestly this book mostly just annoyed me. I kept waiting for something suspenseful or interesting to happen, but the things that were supposed to be cliff hangers just weren't. I'm not sure if it was just how it was written or what, but I definitely didn't think this book lived up to its hype.
  • Another Brandilyn Collins book, Gone to Ground. Again, can't put this one down. I think I read this one in a day or two again. The basis of it is that there are murders happening in a small town and 3 different women in town all think they know who the killer is. SO suspenseful! And not really too scary. I'm not a horror fan or anything and this didn't scare me. I pretty much decided by the end of this book that I want to read all of Collins' books! I love them! 
  • Hold Tight by Harlan Coben was also really good! Another very suspenseful, but not scary book. A good one when thinking of computers and technology and all that we share online and how it can be tracked and traced and used against us! There were a few storylines in this one and it was interesting to read the book from different people's perspectives. 
  • Another Collins book! I told you I'm going to read them all! This one was Deceit. I think I liked this one slightly less than her first two that I read, but it was still really good! This one was a little more "creepy" than the other ones. Lots of cliffhangers and suspense! 
  • Last year I read pretty much the entire Baxter family series from Karen Kingsbury and was obsessed with them! I loved their family and stories! I didn't realize that the Above the Line books had Baxter characters in them so I accidentally skipped over these. I was a little disappointed because I know how some of the characters' stories are going to end since I read the next series not knowing I skipped this one, but there are a lot of new characters in this one as well. The book is Take One  and if you have read any Kingsbury stories before and enjoyed them, you would love this one as well! There are 3 more in this series that I'm sure I will get to this year. I love a good series!
  • The Kitchen House. Whew. So many feelings about this book. It was really, really intense. So many horrible things happened. But at the same time, it may be a real depiction of what life was like for slaves on plantations. I'm not really sure how accurate the story line is. It is definitely a very sad but engaging story that takes place over more than a decade. I would recommend it, if you are up for a heart wrencher!
  • Orphan Train. Another heart wrencher, BUT with a happy ending! This one was so interesting to me. It takes place from the perspective of two girls, decades apart. The present day character is a teen in foster care, and with us doing foster care right now, this engaged me immediately. The other character is living during the great depression era and is an Irish immigrant who becomes orphaned and is sent across the country on an orphan train. I loved watching this story come together and thought it was a really interesting, though heart breaking read.
  • Most recent was The Selection Stories: The Prince & The Guard. The Selection was another one that my sister gave me, and became another guilty pleasure. It was like a mix between The Bachelor and some of the dystopian YA novels out there right now. This particular book is two shorter stories based from the perspective of 2 men in the series. I would definitely recommend reading the other books first, so nothing is given away, but I did enjoy this quick read. 
Right now I have a couple of non-fiction books I'm working through: Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson, and Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend. I'm only a few chapters into each as I feel like non-fiction are usually slower moving. I'm also working through a fiction series right now as well.
What good books have you read lately? I think my favorite of this year so far was Gone to Ground, but I've read a lot of good ones already!  
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Thursday, April 7, 2016

I'm Back! And Life Update!

Yes, I'm alive!! It has been a loooong time! Far longer than I intended. Now that I am finally able to catch my breath, think about the last 6 months, and sit down to write, I don't even know where to begin! There is so much I want to say, but can't. There are so many details I want to remember, but don't want to share publicly. Life goes in seasons, and this is just one of those seasons of trying to figure things out. But one thing is for sure...I have missed blogging! Missed writing! Missed having this outlet! I have been blogging for 6 1/2 years, believe it or not. I know many of you came over from my old blog, which is where I started out. Pre-kids, early in marriage. It was just such a casual and much needed space for me to share pictures, details of our life, and things I wanted to remember. I still go read old posts from that blog often and remember wonderful memories and things that I shared over there and am so thankful to have all of those archived. 
On this blog, I have kept things a little less personal. I haven't shared as many family details (there are reasons for that) and while I want to blog those events, details, pictures that I did on my old blog, I do want more privacy than I allowed myself over there. I have read one too many creepy internet stories and it's just personal preference. So I have been trying to figure out how to have the best of both worlds. I want to be able to document life, and I want to be able to share tips and ideas that are important to me that may not have to do with my personal life, like I have mostly been doing in this space in the past. So I am going to try to find a way to do both here! Bear with me! I'm really not 100% sure what that will look like right now, but I am hoping to figure that out because I really have missed this. Writing has always been such a passion for me and blogging has been a great hobby and outlet, and I am sad that I have let it fall by the wayside too often. 
SO! All of that to say, I am back! I don't know how often or consistently I will blog, but I am hoping to get back to sharing soon! 
Here is a little bit of what we have been up to over the last 6 months or so! 
In October, we finished taking classes to be foster parents. We got our license in December and welcomed 2 foster kiddos at the beginning of this year. I have been pretty quiet about this because the truth is, I don't know what I am allowed to say. There are a lot of confidentiality rules and I don't want to break them. BUT, this is also a HUGE part of our life right now! We have 2 more people living in our house, so yes, that is an enormous change. I want to talk more about foster care and adoption through the foster care system in general but I probably won't share many specifics about our foster kiddos yet, for their safety and respect for them and their stories. I know there are SO, so many questions and misconceptions about the system and I would love to be a part of answering them and helping clarify misconceptions, etc. So if you do have questions, please feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email. We have had so many questions over the last few months that I have been thinking of making a Q&A post or FAQ post and answering as many as I can, so please feel free to ask! 
Our girls are doing great! They are 4 1/2 and just turned 3 now and SO much fun. They are at great ages and we are soaking up the time with them, as they just don't seem to stop growing and getting older! We are really in a sweet spot with them right now and enjoying it so much. 

This year, I set a goal to read 50 books. I used to love to read and honestly for about the first 3 years that I was a mother, I am not sure if I read a single novel. I read a few books on parenting, marriage, etc. but one day I realized I just didn't read anymore! Last year I really picked it back up and read much more often, so this year I decided to set this goal. I am on books 13 & 14 now so I am pretty much on track to get there by the end of the year! I am hoping to blog about what I've been reading if that's of interest to people! And please, if you have any good book suggestions, fiction or non-fiction, send them my way!! 

I've also been reading through the Bible via a chronological plan on the Bible app. I have tried one year Bible plans in the past and I always slip within a few weeks, but I have been sticking to this one pretty well. I got a new study Bible for Christmas, and that has really helped while going through the old testament as it breaks down a lot of the confusion and the "how does this apply to my life?!" for me. It has been so great to really dig in and be consistent with it this year. 

I have also been doing a lot more photography. I got my DSLR a little over a year ago and started trying to learn as much as I could right away. I was able to do some photo shoots for friends and even got to be a second shooter for a wedding last summer. I have continued to do photos, mostly for friends, but even for a few strangers, and it has been a really fun hobby to have! I have enjoyed learning more and it has been really fun to see how my photos have progressed over the past year. I am still learning so much, but looking forward to several families I have coming up this spring! It has also been great to learn more so that I can take better pictures of my own children, which is the whole reason I bought a nice camera in the first place. 
I basically failed at homeschooling my girls this year. I did intend to take a really casual approach since my older daughter is right after the cut off and won't start Kinder until 2017 anyway, and my younger daughter was still only 2, but wanted to keep up with her sister. It just got a little more casual than I anticipated. I actually had themes planned out for the entire year, but after awhile a lot of it felt repetitive. My girls were picking up on things really quickly and everything I had gotten off of homeschool sites was just the same thing over and over again, so we took a break, did more learning through play and did school when we felt like it or when I saw something I knew they would love. We will do something more formal for preschool this year, since they are both technically at preschool age now and are ready for something official. They both love to learn and I am constantly blown away at the things they know...I know every parent says that ;) I will hopefully be blogging more about our homeschooling plans and what we are doing for preschool this coming year!
My husband started a new job last summer, which has been AMAZING for our family! The company he works for now is like a dream. The first few months he worked there, he would come home practically daily and tell me something just completely unbelievable that they do there, and we would just sit in disbelief. Everyone else that works there said that they felt the same way when they started and still do. His schedule changed up a lot, so he works a little bit longer days now, BUT he has every other Friday off which is so much fun! So he works 80 hours in 9 days instead of 10. It's really not that much longer day to day, and having a 3 day weekend every other week is the best. I feel like we've had so much family time which has been incredible. 

That's about all I can think that is share-worthy! I can't wait to get back to posting and sharing more soon! In the meantime, if there are specific things you want to see more of from me, please let me know! It is always helpful to get feedback and see what types of posts people like to see! 
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