Year in Review: 2017 Edition

It is easy to look back at 2017 and remember all the ways that this year was weird, hard, and chaotic. But, I started organizing my yearly photo-books (I make a 8×8 Shutterfly photo-book for every three months.  I intended to make a “yearbook” but let’s be real, I take WAY too many pictures of my children), I was reminded that there was far more joy and I am so thankful for it all.

Here is a recap of our year:

January

IMG_7703

Grandma Kimmy visited and went to the Treasure Island Kite festival.  We also had a visit from Laura and Nick. We rooted the Packer into the play-offs…but there is always next year (haha).

February

IMG_7957

We worked like crazy in December and January, so we took an impromptu trip to Orlando.  We stayed in an awesome suite and watched the Superbowl.  We randomly saw Jeff and Kristen since they were also in Orlando! We survived a few days without Daddy while he was at Keller Williams’ Family Reunion in Las Vegas for Valentine’s Day.  Doug got a new car: a black 4Runner.

March

For the big birthday month, we spent a week at the beach in Venice with Doug’s whole family.  They were all there for Camdon’s first birthday.  Doug celebrated his day at a Ray’s spring training game.  And, Donovan turned three with a Dino party.

April

We celebrated the wedding of Matt and Debbie in Gainesville. Andrew returned home from Bahrain.  And, we loved everything about the Easter season.

May

IMG_0910

For Mother’s Day, I got an awesome garden, so we spent lots of try out in the yard.  Donovan really loved the whole process of digging and watering.  We are so thankful for that huge backyard.  We have spent so many hours playing out there!

June

IMG_1423

My childhood bestie got married and I was thrilled to stand by her side!  Doug and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. Our AC died on Father’s Day and we booked a trip of a lifetime to Iceland and Sweden.

July

Obviously, this is the best month of year!  I celebrated my 31st birthday and we spent our annual week on Anna Maria Island.  This year we bought our own timeshare!

August 

IMG_3009

Right after our week at the beach, Doug told me he wanted me to come see a house. Little did we both know that we would move three weeks later. This month was sheer chaos.  Packing, prepping the new house (it needed WORK), renting our house, and moving.  I’m tired thinking about it all.  We love our new home! And, we loved seeing our dear friends, the Motleys, who visited during the chaos.  Y’all, only good friends (who see you at your most stressed) can come visit you during such a crazy season. As if there wasn’t enough change in our lives, Donovan switched to a new house, new room, new bed (Toddler bed instead of the crib) and started a new school.  Homeslice did not know what hit him.

September

IMG_2830

This month is defined by one word: IRMA. Mic Drop.

OK, but really, so stressful.  We boarded up and traveled to South Carolina and stayed with my dear and very pregnant friend, Sarah.  We also ended up in the same town as my ride-or-die momma friend, Jen.  The photo above is us with the kids at a Chick-fila. Shortly after returning home, we all had the plague and were home sick for about two weeks. My baby sister, Rachel moved to Chicago.

October

We took a trip to Kansas to visit the Motley crew and celebrate Evey’s fourth birthday. We loved the Midwest fun at the farm. We literally finished the Whole30 days before the trip.  The 30 days of the Whole30 might have been the quietest part of our year…go figure. For Halloween, we dressed up as the Wizard of Oz. I was very proud that I was able to sew the boy’s costumes.

November

IMG_3841

I took a trip to Chicago for Leah’s rescheduled (Thanks, Irma) Bachelorette. She got married the next weekend.  It was a beautiful day and I was honored to stand by her side and her Matron on Honor. Sidenote…being the MOH is a ton of work. Other sidenote…I OFFICIALLY have a BROTHER!  Grandma Kimmy came back to help and so did Ashley. Thanksgiving was a wonderful season and we started Christmas early as we prepared for our big trip. PSA: check your passports before you book your trip. If you don’t, just know that Miami does same day issuance, which I do not recommend.

December

IMG_4579

Iceland and Sweden was amazing. I wish we could travel the world everyday. We loved sharing this trip with Grandma and Grandpa DeGroot.  We did not see the Norther Lights and we had very little snow (all that we saw was in this picture), but the kids had a blast and we all had so much fun.  Christmas through the eyes of your children is such a blessing and we enjoyed a beautiful and simple holiday. This year, most of our gifts didn’t fit under a tree because we did them (trip to Europe and our annual sister day). Doug also go a new car: a navy blue 4Runner.

For real estate, we helped 42 families buy or sell this year. And, together we reached our highest production ever!  That is called hustle, my friends.  And, we are forever thankful for our amazing customers, family and friends who chose us to help them.

While this year might look awesome and positive, do not let my recap lead you to believe that it was easy.  We were manic and stressed and tired and sick and crabby so much this year. Looking back, I am grateful for all that we did and everyone that we saw, but I do not recommend it. Be sensible people!  This year we will be saying ‘no’ more. We will be taking care of our family’s health (mental, spiritual, and physical) as our primary goal. We will be simplifying and staying still more often. And, I’m sure there will be adventure and fun, just maybe a little less.  And, that is A-OK with us!

WHEW!  What a year!  We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings us!

With Love,

Jenna

Whole30-Week 2

We started the week strong.  Doug and I were feeling awesome on Monday.  Lots of energy and confidence about food prep and planning. We even had an open house and pasta dinner at the boys’ school and I was on it so we packed and brought our own dinner.

On Tuesday, we were still feeling really good. But, the kids started getting a stomach bug.  This started many days of sickness.  One kid would seems to get better and the other one would seem sicker and then they would switch.  We watched movies and tried to lay low and recuperate.

The rest of the week was pretty similar.  Doug and I felt like we finally had our minds in the right place with what we were eating.  We weren’t craving food anymore.  We both felt fuller and even felt like our portions got back to normal. I didn’t need an evening snack. We were not feeling the spikes and lows of sugar.  We felt like we could do this.  We both noticed an alertness, a mental clarity, and just a sense of calm.  We were more patient with the kids and each other and felt healthy, not bloated or grouchy.  It also didn’t hurt that all of our clothes were fitting way better, too.

Being stuck in the land of the sick children wasn’t too bad.  Their low energy made making dinner a little bit easier.  I have found that moving up my dinner cooking time made meals a lot easier.  We eat dinner at 6pm since the kids are in bed by 7. Instead of waiting until 5 to begin dinner, I start at 4. That way I have plenty of time to read the recipe a few times or chop up the ingredients needed.  If I’m feeling extra organized, I might chop up all the ingredients while the kids are napping.

I really recommend the cookbook.  I have been using it a ton and it is nice to have a physical cookbook to refer to instead of pulling out my phone or tablet.  The variety of meal ideas is really good and everything is pretty simple.

One of the struggles of having sick children (or, maybe just having children in general) is that your sleep is constantly interrupted.  Nighttime with sick children is even worse. Fevers tend to spike or puke happens or they just can’t stop coughing.  We have not seen a full night of sleep all week long.  We had been feeling super rested prior to the sickness and we both found that we fall asleep easier…this was never a problem for Doug. The Whole30 does make a point that you should be getting an appropriate amount of sleep while following the program.  Obviously, loosing sleep can have major health implications. When you are looking for changes, you have to be sure that you are doing everything you can to help the program work its magic.

I also read a funny tidbit that when people start the Whole30, the program suddenly becomes the scapegoat for all ills.  My head hurts, it must be the Whole30. I can’t find my phone, it must be the Whole30. My kids are sick, it must be the Whole30.  I thought this was fitting because this was definitely us all week long.  Blame it on the Whole30.

Thursday night I went to bed feeling a little uneasy.  Sure enough, I spent the night puking my guts out.  I woke up Friday and felt so awful. The first thing I said to Doug was that I didn’t want to fail on the Whole30, but I NEEDED some crackers and ginger ale.  The day was rough.  I ate crackers and ginger ale.  Day 12 and I was breaking the rules.

When I was finally feeling better I debated if I should even stick with the program.  What was the point? I ate non-compliant food (for a very good reason, so I wasn’t disappointed in myself, more just frustrated that I had made it so far to then have a stomach bug ruin my progress).  My results will be skewed since I did not follow the program 100%.  But, the more I thought about why we were doing this, I realized that it wasn’t about perfection.  That’s life. Nothing ever goes the way we plan.  We had been seeing some awesome Non-Scale Victories (NSVs) and the whole point was about eating healthy.  If nothing else, I needed to stick with it for Doug.  It would be so much harder (physically and mentally) if we didn’t eat the same things.  He needed me to be a support in the process and I want him to be healthy too.  I decided to stay with the plan and I am feeling so much better.

This week I started It starts with Food.  I am interested in the science and the ‘why’ behind the program. I am motivated by understanding the deeper impact that the food we are eating (and not eating) is having on our bodies.  It helps me to understand how much sugar and food without breaks really hurts you over time.  I don’t think we often stop and think intentionally about our food, but this program does.  And, it really challenges you to be in control of your food choices instead of allowing food to own you.

Link to Amazon

I recommend reading this book first as it provides a ton information.  But, if that isn’t your cup of tea or you just don’t have time, the website or the cookbook are perfectly good sources to get you started.  I said it last time, but the Facebook and Instagram Whole30 groups are awesome.  Whole30 for beginners is a great place to ask questions and get support.

Here are our meals:

Monday: Salmon (salt, pepper, EVOO and lemon in tin foil in the oven), sauteed zuccini and yellow squash, with a baked sweet potato.

IMG_3061.JPG

Tuesday: Marinade Steak, green beans, and cauliflower rice (Page 272 from from the Whole30 Cookbook)

IMG_3077.JPG

Wednesday: Stir Fry (Page 340 from Whole30 Cookbook)

IMG_3086.JPG

Thursday: Shepherd’s Pie (Page 350 from Whole30 Cookbook)

IMG_3093.JPG

Friday: Chicken Soup. Doug made this so I have no idea what he did. Bless him.

Saturday: Pulled Pork, roasted potatoes and green beans.  I made 5 pound of pork so we would have left overs.  I used the ketchup recipe from the Whole30 Cookbook to add more flavor after pulling it.  I put it back in the crock-pot for about an hour.

Sunday: Left overs and salad

We are halfway there!  Come on Tiger Blood!

With Love,

Jenna

The Whole30

Friend after friend has tried the Whole30 and has raved about it.  I always thought:

meh, maybe when life slows down we will give it a try

there is no way I can give up my coffee creamer and wine…that is just mean

these people do not have children and there is not a chance that I could be so regimented while also keeping my children alive

Recently, my homegirl, Jen Hatmaker interviewed Melissa Hartwig, the creator of the Whole 30, on her podcast a few weeks ago and I was hooked.

Here is a link to that podcast:

http://jenhatmaker.com/episode-03-melissa-hartwig

I consider my family to be pretty healthy eaters.  We eat lots of fruits and veggies and I avoid products that are overly processed.  I happily cook or bake things from scratch instead of buying them full of preservatives and who knows what else. After reading, Grain Brain, this summer, I’ve also dialed way back on gluten.  Sure, we eat occasional junk food (or entire boxes of Cheese its…thanks, Irma) and we certainly are not perfect.  But, if I had to rate our overall food consumption, I definitely say that we are doing pretty well.

I got more interested in food when I became a parent and had to feed my children.  I went through physical pain to ensure that my kiddos got the ‘liquid gold’ for as long as possible. So, when it came time to feed them real food, I researched hard.  Chemicals, preservatives, soy, corn, gluten in EVERYTHING.  Do we actually eat real food anymore?  It is scary.  But, life is also BUSY. A jar of pasta sauce is going to make dinner come together way faster and easier than my recipe for homemade sauce. This is the trap and the reality that many people face when choosing their food.

So, I told Doug about the Whole30 and fully expected a response like:

Jenna, you take away all of the good food.  Please, stop obsessing about what we are eating.  I draw the line at rice cakes and no beer.

But, he was interested. Like, really interested.

You know this means no beer for a whole month, right? It is football season.  You are agreeing to this with your own free will?  

OK. So we are in this together. This should make it a little easier, right? Now what the heck are we doing?

I bought the cookbook and we both read the beginning.  It gives the basics of the program and provides some great recipes in the back.

I plan to start It Starts with Food because I am a nerd like that.

I started following the Whole30 and the Whole Recipes on Instagram.  I have found the most delicious looking meals while scrolling.  I tried a few recipes before we started the Whole30 and they were crowd-pleasers.

https://www.instagram.com/whole30recipes/

I am all about recipes that don’t stress me out. I like basic ingredients and simple instructions.  You lost me at flambe, deglaze, and coddling. Normally, if I find a recipe with ingredients that I would never have on hand, I would toss it because I know that I will never make it.  In this case, I know that this program is designed to expand my horizons a bit.  However, if it calls for fish sauce I am absolutely out.

On Sunday, I attempted to meal prep.  We made mayo.  And, I made a schedule. I am not a fan of locking in a meal for a certain day. I am non-committal like that. I just want to live my life, ok! So we picked five meals and Doug will eat some of the left overs for lunch.  I eat salad for lunch everyday because I like it and it is filling and I like to eat the same things everyday. None of the meals we picked are that far outside of the norm of our regular eating habits.  BUT, those non-compliant ingredients are in EVERYTHING.  Soy is so sneaky in our sauces and tea.  It was a very sad event when I had to dump two delicious, warm teas after reading the label and discovering soy lecithin. Rude.

I did empty out the pantry to make sure that we would not be tempted by any non-compliant food options.

It’s ok.  I totally agree with Melissa’s tough love perspective.

This is not hard.  Cancer is hard.

We aren’t using this program as a diet…although losing weight is an added bonus.  For me it is about being intentional about what is going in my body and how it makes me feel.  For some reason, the fall is kind of like a restart in our house.  We get back into routines, we commit to new goals, and we focus on what matters.  Since we are still in the thick of adjusting to so many new things, it seems that this is an ideal time to work on new habits.  I am also hoping to identify foods that we are sensitive to.  We both know that dairy is a hard on us. So, I guess we will see what we learn.  Regardless of the results, intentionally planning and preparing healthy meals for our family is a win.

I’ll post every week so you can see some of the recipes we ate and to know how we are feeling.

Have your tried the Whole30? What did you learn?

If you haven’t given it a try, what is your biggest barrier?

With Love,

Jenna

Mom Style

If you are like me, you have a closet full of clothes, but still feel like you can never find anything to wear.  So, I typically end up wearing the same assortment of clothes over and over again.  It must be comfortable and allow me to move easy as I play with the boys.  Khaki shorts, I love you.  You really go with everything.  V-Neck Ts, you come in so many colors and so does your distant cousin the cotton tank-top. And, to prove I haven’t totally given up on being hip, I love you light-wash ripped jeans.  You are like wearing shorts because you have holes that keep me cool, even in the summer.

Dressing for work has been simplified to dresses and skirts only.  I never plan on wearing dress pants every again.  And capris, no thank you.  I love a fitted sleeveless sheath dress like no other.  And, as for sleeves, well, that’s what sweaters are for.  Sleeves in Florida are reserved for about three months out of the year.  Sleeveless tops can be worn year round with the right cardigan.

When it comes to the more formal occasion, like a wedding, I can’t say that my style varies much from my daily staples.  One factor that all of these clothes have in common: I can nurse in them.  That’s right folks, I am in the phase a life that not only calls for comfort and agility, but also access to my bust so I can feed the little one.  Going strong since 2014 (!).


I longingly look at high neck lines and zipper-less sheaths, but sadly turn away as I know there is no appropriate access to the milk.  Someday those pretty things won’t be so far from my grasp.  For now I need a low front, but not too low, I’m a mom after all.  Or a strap that I can easily slide off my shoulder so I can nurse.  I have become quite the pro at zipping and up-zipping dresses with zippers in the back, so that I can shimmy one shoulder out for access to a quick snack.

With my ultra unique clothing requirements, I am quite the picky shopper.  I am extremely selective about what items I even attempt to try on because there is a finite amount of time that I can force my babe to hang out in a fitting room.  I often play roulette and just purchase clothing without trying it on.  Thank goodness for returns.  That is IF I manage to remember to return said items and not lose the receipt.

Naturally, Target is my Mecca.  If it cannot be bought at Target, then I most certainly do not need it.  End of Story.  But, I do find that wedding attire is not easy to find there. Sigh. This means more stops with the kiddo in tow.

Sometimes I try on clothes that I know scream 80 year old woman, but my kid has to eat and I am getting desperate since the wedding is on Saturday.  I try on this off the shoulder number, who do I think I am?  These are pretty trendy now, right?  But, wait!  It actually looks decent and this may be the easiest access for nursing ever!  Clearly the stars have aligned and my prayers have been answered!  Now, if I can just get both of my sisters to respond to my text with their stamp of approval.  Let’s be real, I’d probably just give up and wear my ripped jeans with wedges if that wasn’t totally unacceptable.


It can’t just be me, right?  Even non-nursing moms (and non-moms) must have their “things” when it comes to choosing clothes.  And, what’s with the added pressure of a timeline that always makes it impossible to find an acceptable option?  I can’t be the only one, right?

Oh, well.  Both sisters give the thumbs up!  I don’t care how much this dress is, I’ll take it! And, I have a 20% off coupon!  Winning!

With Love,

From Me to You!

Camdon’s Birth Story

After nine months of growing little LBD 2, I was ready to meet our little one.  I was happy to hear that I was dilating and effacing, but then again, since it was my second child, I guess that is to be expected.  This time around my back was killing me and I was way more uncomfortable than I had been previously.  We went in for a doctor appointment a few days before my due date as my final check up.  My doctor said that things were progressing and I should expect a much quicker birth experience.  We told him that we would have a 30 minute drive to the hospital.  And he said that would be too much.  And, like that he scheduled my induction for Friday, March 11th!

Finally knowing when this baby would arrive gave us a huge sense of relief.  There was always a chance that the baby could decide to arrive on his or her own, but we were focused on the 11th.  We frantically finished last minute projects and I cleaned the house like a madwoman.  We finished just in time to celebrate Doug’s birthday and my due date!  We had a gathering at Top Golf with friends a week before.  For Doug’s actual birthday, we decided to enjoy one last family dinner.  The Cottones and my sisters came over to play a game of Catan.

In a horrible turn of events, I dropped my phone and the screen was blank.  Nothing was cracked. It just didn’t show anything.  This became a difficult issue since it was about 7pm and I really couldn’t be without a phone the next day and I was having a baby the following day!  Leah and I went to the mall to have some guy at a kiosk fix it but then he camera wasn’t working…and who wants a phone without a camera?!? Especially when I was about to have a new baby to take pictures of?

The next day, I basically spent a few hours running errands and getting my phone fixed for real.  It was way too much to worry about when I had to get ready to have a baby.  But, all is well that ends well.  I got to spend lots of quality time with my little guy, who had been fighting off a bug for a week.  He kept getting a random fever and I was hoping that he would be healthy in time for his sibling to arrive.

The timing of my delivery was perfect because Rachel was home for spring break.  She was my on-call person if I happened to go into labor and needed someone to watch D.  She came over that night and we had dinner and got ready for the big day.  It was hard to believe that we would be meeting our little one so soon.

img_1325

One of the many perks of being induced is that you have time to shower and do you hair and make up before heading to the hospital.  We arrived at St. Joes around 6am.  After the usual questions and medical history review I was hooked up and ready to go.  I assumed that it would be the same as before when they used Cervadil, but this time they used Pitocin.  I was dreading this because of the horror stories I had heard about how intense this drug made your contractions.  I had heard that they could make your contractions really close together and very strong.

img_1326

My doctor came in around 7am and said he was going to break my water.  This was also new since my water wasn’t broken until the very end last time.  It was the weirdest feeling.  Just like a warm gush of water. And every so often, more would leak out.  Especially during contractions.  It was so strange because it literally felt like I was peeing or something because water just kept on coming out.  How much water was in there?

So Doug and I were just hanging out.  I started getting contractions and we would watch them spike on the machines and the go down.  We played Phase 10 again.  I was feeling lots of contractions as we played so I was a bit distracted and yet, I still won!  My nurse kept checking on me and would turn up the pitocin each time, which was both horrible and wonderful.  I was progressing more and more.

img_1328

Since they had broken my water, they did not want to check to my progress too often since I would be more susceptible to infection.  Last time I got updated often so I knew how far along I was.  The contractions weren’t great but I was able to breath through them and I wasn’t in too much pain.  I didn’t want to get the epidural to early since I knew it could slow my contractions and stall the process.  My nurse was really sweet and kept saying that she would know that I was ready for pain meds when I couldn’t joke around any more.  I like to keep things light when I’m stressed and I guess I never really got to a point of sheer horrible pain.  Finally, I was ready for the epidural.  Thankfully, there wasn’t a long wait for the anesthesiologist.  The epidural wasn’t bad at all and I was happy that I would be able to feel some relief soon….or so I thought!

As the team was leaving the room, a nurse asked me if I felt any pressure yet.  Literally as she said that I felt a huge surge of pressure.  It caught me off guard and she checked my progress. I was 10 cm and ready to go. I suddenly had the urge to push.  She told me this baby was coming and to not push and she ran out to get the doctor.  Doug and I both were both looking at each other in shock that it had all happened so quick.  I immediately started pushing the button for my epidural meds because I could still feel everything.  Apparently, it takes a bit for the epidural to kick in.  I was not ready to have a natural childbirth!

Quickly the doors burst open and the whole medical crew rushed in.  They set up all of their surgical paper and wheeled in all of the instruments.  It is amazing how fast they all arrive and your empty room becomes instantly packed in a matter of seconds.  My doctor came in smiling and said that he knew I would have this baby quickly.

Meanwhile, I was freaking out.  I was not ready to have this baby.  It had only been a few hours.  And, my epidural was doing nothing!  I looked at Doug and told him I could not do this.  I mean, what were my options?  Couldn’t this all just wait for a few more minutes?  It was all happening so fast  My doctor asked if I had ever been skiing.  Maybe he was trying to lighten the mood.  He told me this baby was coming now and to start pushing.

The pushing was harder than I remembered but I wasn’t pushing long.  After 8 pushes, Camdon Richard DeGroot was born at 10:43am! That’s less than 5 hours of labor! They handed him to me and he was all slimy but I was happy to hold my sweet boy for the first time.

img_1339
Meeting my new little guy 🙂

Thankfully, my epidural kicked in just enough to not feel a thing. Camdon was 8 pounds 4 ounces and 21 inches long.  The nurse who was taking his vitals said that he was really strong for a newborn. We enjoyed a bit of time nursing and holding our new little guy.  It is so unbelievable how tiny and perfect new babies are.  Soon we headed off to our hospital room.

img_1355

That afternoon my Mom and Dad arrived.  Rachel and D came after nap.  It was such a special moment introducing D to his new brother.  I think he was more excited about the special gifts he got for becoming a big brother.  Leah, John, and the Motleys all arrived to welcome Camdon to the world.

We left the hospital at about 10pm Saturday night.  We were not interested in hanging out any longer than we had to.  We wanted to get back to be with D and so that we could actually sleep without being woken up for vitals every hour.  When we got home, it was decorated by my family.  And our fridge was stocked with lots of frozen meals!

img_1385

We felt so much more confident in our abilities as parent this time and we were happy to be home with our healthy baby boy.

With Love,

From Me to You

 

A letter to my boys on Inauguration Day

My dear sweet boys,

Today our country has a new president.  Every four or eight years a new one takes over the leadership of our country.  This year, Donald Trump is our new president and this is the first time you have witnessed this peaceful transfer of power.  While you might not be old enough to remember all that has occurred in electing Mr. Trump, I do want you to learn a few life lessons from this historic day.

Some people are celebrating today, while others are in mourning.  Some people are excited and happy, while others are fearful and scared.  People will always have different feelings.  People will always disagree. No event will ever elicit the same response from all people.  And that is ok.  People are different.  And, that is was makes life special.  Your feelings are always ok because they are your own.  Learning to accept and respect people who feel differently than you is a hard and, sometimes, frustrating thing to do.  You must always try.  People deserve respect even when they do not show you the same.

People will always have different opinions. As you form your own opinions, know that disagreement is natural.  When you meet people with an open mind and listening ears, you will learn. When you listen with empathy and speak with respect, you will gain more understanding and you will grow.  When you hear without listening or speak in a combative nature, you will shut down the opportunity to grow and will only become more rigid in your opinion, as right or wrong as it may be. I encourage you to always seek to learn and grow and pay close attention to the credibility of those sources.

It would be simple if life was reduced to a binary.  Right or wrong and good or bad are not that simple.  As you grow, I hope that we can teach you values and morals that will guide you to follow what we believe to be true.  But, never be foolish enough to think that your view of ‘right’ is true for every person.

We hope that you learn you treat others with kindness.  In both your words and your actions.  As a Christian, you will be asked to love your neighbor, which will be a challenging task sometimes.  People will not always be nice or respectful or kind to you.  Even when you meet them with nothing but kindness.  You will be asked to love them anyway. Not only will we encourage you to love them, we will teach you to show them kindness in return.  That is called integrity and class.

Losing will be part of life.  It isn’t fun.  Sometimes it will really hurt. Disappointment is not fun.  Even when you work your hardest, you may still lose. Winning is not everything.  When you lose you are forced to look at what you did and find ways to improve.  It gives you motivation and it reminds you that winning is not always the outcome.  When you do lose, even when it makes you mad, you must be a good sport.  You must show kindness to those who beat you.  You must not blame others and you must learn from the moment and work towards the future you want.

My boys, you are privileged.  You did not chose your race or your sex or the family that you have been born into.  You will receive advantages based on these characteristics. Whether it is the way you will be treated or the opportunities that you may have or the situations that you will never have to question.  And, although you did not ask to be treated any different, you must always remember that you are.  This might make you feel bad or guilty.  Those feelings are ok.  What you must remember is that “to whom much is given, much will be required.” You do not need to feel guilty but you do need to feel compassion and empathy for others.  You should speak up for others and you should be thoughtful in your words and actions.  And, if you feel called to do more, you should work to dismantle the systems and the prejudice that exists in our society and work to create a better tomorrow.  If that work isn’t what you desire, then at the very least, do not reinforce or condone actions that hurt or marginalize others.

Finally, my sweet boys, I pray that you always find hope.  The future is what you make it.  You have control of your life through your choices and your actions.  Never let factors outside of yourself cause you to feel like you are not in control.  You are not a victim of anything.  Being a victim is a choice.  You always have a choice.  Systems and situations seems so much bigger than us.  And, they are big and complicated.  Always remember that what you focus on expands and when you dwell in the darkness it becomes harder to see the light.

Donald Trump is our president, imperfect and flawed, just like each of us.  His choices and actions may not represent the values or expectations that we have for you.  Being a leader is a hard job.  Some people are more natural in these roles than others.  Some people inspire others and encourage them through their actions and words.  Pay attention to how Mr. Trump behaves and speaks.  Make note of how he makes you and others feel.  Learn from his example.  And, remember, as the president he deserves our respect.  As a person he deserves our love.  But, as a model of who I hope you will become, he is not.  Learn from this loss.  Find hope for tomorrow. And, never allow hate to motivate your life.

We love you, sweet boys.  We pray for you to grow up to be men of character, living lives filled with purpose and love.  We pray for our leader because all leaders need guidance and support.


With Love,

From Me To You

 

 

 

Third Trimester: Re-Cap

I had written this right before Camdon was born.  So, I’m going to leave it the way I wrote it, even though the tenses will be wrong.  It is so fun to look back and read this now!

Get ready for the birth story!  Coming up next!

Projects:

The third trimester total caught me off guard.  Pregnancy seems to go on forever and each week I have felt that I still have more time to wait until the baby arrives.  I have felt less anxious and concerned about getting things finished, that is, until the very end.  I think we might have underestimated the number of projects that we wanted to complete before the baby arrived.  Of course, if anything was left unfinished, we could finish it later, but then we would be contending with two children instead of one.  And one of those children will be very demanding for a while.

I had painted the soon-to-be-nursery over the summer, not too long after we found out that we were pregnant.  In January, I got the idea  that our beige master bedroom was too dull and needed to be repainted.  So, I painted it a light blue and we rearranged the bedroom, which was Doug’s idea.  I was pretty against it, but it did end up opening the space and made it feel bigger.  The painting process required more coats than I expected because the beige was darker than I thought so we basically had to do the trim and walls three times.  It was a project that I thought could be accomplished in a weekend and dragged out to a full week.  But, it was so worth it in the end!

The biggest project was relocating Doug’s office to the space in our garage and relocating his tools and outdoor equipment to a shed.  We explored shed options and even though Doug is pretty handy, we didn’t want the stress and the time commitment of building it on our own.  We opted for a pre-made shed from a local company.  Once we got it delivered, Doug then needed to build shelves inside and reorganize the garage. Thankfully, my Dad was able to help with the building and they got it done in one day.  Sorting and moving and reorganizing the garage took a little bit longer, but it felt good to get it done and we are enjoying the additional space!

Doug’s office was the next space to tackle.  Once it was emptied it had to be painted.  We went with Red and gray to set a Keller Williams vibe.  At 38 weeks pregnant, I was out there with Doug painting and getting that room finished.  Oh, and we decided to make my Dad a cornhole set for his birthday, so that project took over our garage for about a week.  And, if you decide to make one set, you might as well make one for yourself, too. Right?

Having the nursery cleared out we had to decide what to do about furniture.  We had finally found a sleep training system that was working for us and D, which was really awesome as we all were getting more sleep.  But, we should have done this sooner than we did.  We also didn’t feel right about taking away D’s crib after he was finally sleeping so well.  Plus, I’ve heard from many people that you want your child contained in a crib as long as they will stay in it.  So, we bought another crib.  I even assembled it myself!  I reorganized D’s room and moved over a bunch of items that he didn’t need in his room anymore.  It is nice that now he has room for more toys, which frees up our living room from a ton of clutter.  Having the nursery set has been a huge relief.  Although, I really liked not having to do this at all last time.

And then there are all of these little projects that you want to accomplish…crafts, decorations, fixing things that haven’t been working, making spaces more functional, moving clutter around.  We have done some serious reorganizing in preparation for this baby to arrive.  I feels so good to cross those things off of our list.  Any it makes us realize that we have so much “stuff” and that we need do this more regularly so it doesn’t become such a long list…easier said than done 🙂

How are you feeling?

Overall, I have felt pretty well this whole pregnancy.  I am certainly more tired as the end approaches.  As I mentioned before, this baby is carrying much lower than D did.  As I approach my due date, I am becoming more miserable.  D was induced a week after my due date.  I wasn’t have any contractions and I wasn’t dilating or effacing.  So, while I was “over it”, physically, it wasn’t bad at all.  This time around I am and it feels awful.  The only plus is that this baby is lower than D so I’m not getting kicked in the ribs at all hours.  But, it is leading to lots of lower back pain.

I am far less annoyed and crabby this time around.  I think I have mentally prepared myself to accept the fact that I will go late and there isn’t much that I can do about it.  Plus, this is extra time to get projects done and enjoy time with Doug and D as a family of three.

Breastfeeding

I had such a hard time getting started with Donovan and I worked so hard to keep with breastfeeding.  I loved the bond it allowed for Donovan and I and I decided to let him wean when he was ready.  Being pregnant wasn’t go to stop or change anything for me.  At some point in November it just become really uncomfortable and I was always annoyed that he needed me all the time.  It was hard for me to end our breastfeeding relationship, but it was nice to finally enjoy a bit of freedom from it.  I am happy to have given him 21 months of milk and to see him become a little more independent.  I hated that it had to be imposed on him instead of him choosing to wean, but breastfeeding a toddler is pretty minimal anyway.  He only got a little milk each time and it was really more for comfort.  We still snuggle all the time and he knows that I’m still there for him.

Does D know what is about to happen?

Donovan notices my belly more but that doesn’t keep him from climbing all over me.  He will put his ear on my belly and say that the baby is sleeping.  Recently, we have been watching Daniel Tiger on PBS and in a few of the more recent episodes Daniel’s mommy has a baby girl.  It was pretty cute talking about it with him and it seems to be the thing that has made the most sense to him.  The following episodes have addressed how life changes with a baby.  We might need to rewatch them later.

Last minute predictions

I still think girl.  Doug still thinks boy.  We are getting so close to finding out!!  It was fun seeing the predictions on the baby bookie.  It looks like the votes are pretty even for boy and girl.

28 weeks
28 weeks
29 weeks
29 weeks
30 weeks
30 weeks-Merry Christmas!
31 weeks
31 weeks
32 weeks
32 weeks
33 weeks
33 weeks
34 weeks
34 weeks
35 weeks
35 weeks
36 weeks
36 weeks
img_1083
37 weeks
38-weeks
38 weeks
39-weeks
39 weeks
40-weeks
40 weeks- Happy Birthday, Doug!!

With Love,

From Me to You