February 16, 2018

High Five for Friday!

February is almost halfway over!  So I thought I'd do a quick little update on our month so far.

{One} We kicked off our month with our first trip to After Hours Urgent Care for Cooper.  He had a cough most of the day on a Friday but it was off and on.  After dinner time it started getting worse and sounding pretty bad, so we tried sitting in the steamy shower room for a while and then called our pediatrician's after hours line.  They listened to him breathe and thought we should take him in to have him checked out.  So we loaded him up in his pajamas and went to urgent care.  Luckily there was not a long wait and we were seen quickly and diagnosed with Croup and an Ear Infection.  He got a shot for Croup and then a prescription for an antibiotic for his ear.  We went back to his doctor today and she said his ear seems to be healing--he's still got some fluid, but it's not infected, so we're going to try some allergy medicine for a few weeks to see if that clears up his congestion.

{Two} We tried out our very first music class this week!  We had registered for one at our church, but there weren't enough babies so they combined it with the toddler class which put it right at Cooper's naptime, so we decided not to do it for now.  Most of the local library storytimes are also during Cooper's naptime so we hadn't gone to any yet.  But after our music class fell through I started searching more intently and found one at the library in one of the Dallas malls that is free and is at 12:30, which right now is a perfect time for us!  So we tried it out Monday and Cooper loved it!  There were scarfs to play with, egg shakers to shake, and songs to dance and clap to.  We'll definitely be back again!

{Three} We enjoyed Cooper's first Valentine's Day with a day at home together.  He wore his Valentine outfit and shoes and we played and didn't do a whole lot.  I did snap a few pictures of him in our nursery chair-- I think this is his last "first" holiday that we'll celebrate since he's already had his first Easter, so crazy that his first year is almost done.  (and after I took this picture, it reminded me of a few other holiday pictures in this chair, so if you want to reminisce here's Cooper's first Halloween, Father's Day and Easter.)

{Four} Valentine's Day also brought our second after hours urgent care trip of the month, this time for me.  I burned the palm of my hand while cooking dinner (grabbed the handle of my skillet forgetting it had been in the oven and was hot--so dumb of me) and it was still hurting pretty bad and starting to blister some after we finished eating, so we decided to go ahead and have it looked at.  I have some second degree burns on a few of my fingers, but luckily it's healing pretty well and I'm able to use my hand again some--which is a must for chasing around Cooper all day!

{Five} I am so glad Friday is here!  We've got a fairly low-key weekend.  I am hanging out with a few friends tomorrow for lunch.  Sunday we'll have church, but for the first Sunday in a long time, we don't have any plans in the afternoon or evening, so we'll be resting and enjoying some family time!

Happy Friday!

February 1, 2018

Cooper's Cubbyhole: 10 Months

10 months
Weight: 19.6 pounds
Diaper Size: 3
Clothing Size: 6-9 months
Things you Love: Lily, Lily’s bowls, Lily’s crate, looking out the window, opening and closing doors, Little People, Walker toy, exploring and crawling and getting into all the things, being chased, chewing on beaded necklaces
Things you Don’t Love:  Car seat, diaper changes and getting dressed (being laid down), separating from us at church nursery, being in your high chair or the kitchen without food, being told no or redirected
Eating: You still love to eat.  You have slowed down a little this month I feel like, but you still eat a good amount for breakfast and dinner (you only do lunch if we are eating out).  You love oatmeal, eggs, blueberries, chicken, raisins, cheerios, yogurt, sweet potatoes.  You’ll eat vegetables that we give you, but you have started showing a real preference for food by picking out the foods you like first and then eating everything else after that’s gone-- usually blueberries are the first thing you eat all of if they’re offered!
Milestones: You learned to drink from a straw cup pretty well and started trying to bring a spoon to your mouth with yogurt on it.  You’ve started waving and saying bye bye pretty intentionally this month.  You love to clap your hands and will clap when we sing “If you’re happy and you know it.”  You are taking lots of steps when you are pushing things and cruise and bridge between things all the time.  You also like turning pages in books when I read (that’s about the only part of books that holds your interest!)

My silly boy, you have had such a big month.  You suddenly look so big to us (even though you’re still really little compared to most of your friends) and you are doing so much!  You make silly faces and laugh all the time.  You have also started testing boundaries now that you’re crawling more and you do not like being told “no” or being moved away from something you are trying to get.  You are definitely into doing lots of screaming this month, but you also are babbling like crazy and I love listening to your sweet little voice.  

January 31, 2018

What's Up Wednesday

Linking up again for What's Up Wednesday

What we're eating this week
A hodge podge of stuff!  Since we're at the end of the month, I am trying to stretch our grocery budget a little, so I went through our freezer and found some things to start meals and then just bought a few things to finish the meals out.  Monday, we had Shrimp with homemade alfredo sauce over zucchini noodles.  David ended up with plans last night, so I made myself a salad and Cooper had meatballs and some fruit.  Options for the rest of the week include a pesto ranch chicken dish, homemade pizza, burgers, and Tuna steaks.

What I'm reminiscing about
I think Cooper has officially nursed for the last time as of last week.  We switched him to mostly formula in November, but I've kept a nursing sessions first thing in the morning and he's gradually been dropping it. By last week he wouldn't even eat for 2 minutes consecutively, so we haven't done it the last few days and he's seemed fine.  It makes me think of all of our super long nursing sessions--they made it difficult to go many places since he didn't eat well anywhere but at home, but they were also sweet time with my baby and they gave me lots of time to listen to podcasts.  Life is definitely faster paced with him now and while it's a lot of fun, I do miss those slower days sometimes!

What I'm loving
Cooper seems to finally have a more consistent schedule these days-- I know it won't stay the same forever, but for the past month he consistently naps for at least an hour each time he naps (I've never been able to count on more than 30 minutes at a nap, even though sometimes he'd nap longer).  This feels like I've gained so much freedom to get things done without constantly feeling like he's going to wake up in the middle of something-- I still obviously can't always finish a project in one nap time, but an hour is way different than 30 minutes, and I'm loving that little bit of consistency in our day!

What we've been up to
Babyproofing!  Because of the layout of our home, it's almost impossible to block of space between our kitchen, living room and dining room--so Cooper pretty much just has a free-for-all there and I have it set up where he is allowed to pretty much get into everything, except for Lily's bowl so that is our constant battle!  But, we did finally put up a gate leading to our hallway so he isn't halfway down the hall when I'm trying to do dishes or cook or something.  So that's helped contain him a little

What I'm dreading
Nothing really.  Cooper and I have gotten into a habit of going on a walk every day the last few weeks while it's been not freezing or raining, so I'm kind of dreading days of rain or cold that I know will come our way, because that walk is so nice for both of us!  But nothing too big coming up.

What I'm working on
After our Advent calendar of Christmas songs, we decided to try to come up with a way to continue the idea throughout the year.  So David and I came up with a list of 48 different hymns and worship songs and we're going through one a week this year (we'll do Christmas songs again at Advent, so we didn't do 52 songs!).  We're planning to try to start a "family devotional" time on Sunday afternoons where we introduce the song along with some short story from one of books.  So I've been working on getting all the lyrics for the songs typed up and coming up with what we'll use for our devotionals for each one.  This week we are singing through "What a friend we have in Jesus" and I love what a beautiful reminder it is for me too!

What I'm excited about
Continuing to get plugged in at our new church and Sunday School class.  David went out last night with a few of the guys in our group and we are enjoying building these new friendships and learning more about this community.  

What I'm watching/reading
The last couple of books I just finished were not awesome, but I have higher hopes for my 2 current books.

I have had Before the Fall on hold at the library and just got the Kindle version this week.  It was a recommendation from a podcast I listen to and I'm only a few chapters in, but so far it's been interesting.

And I've got a whole list of Parenting books that I want to read.  I went to the library last week looking for another book, but it had just been checked out, so I decided to give this one a try.  So far I think it's got a good perspective and I like the way they explain things, but I've still got a ways to go in it as well!
And we really haven't been watching a ton of TV, but David and I tune into This is Us every week together and are anxiously awaiting the new episode after the Super Bowl!

What I'm listening to
Still lots of Podcasts.  I actually have more podcasts right now than I can get through each week (especially since we've dropped our long nursing sessions as I mentioned).  Cooper and I are also listening to the Bible every morning over breakfast.  Erin and her babies listened to the chronological Bible last year and I loved that idea, so we are going through a Chronological Bible Reading plan on the ESV app.  Cooper and I have also been listening to the Ask me Whoo Volume 1 Album on Amazon Music (yay for free music!).  It was recommended by a podcast I listen to and it's got catechisms set to music for kids--so it goes through questions such as Who made you? and What did God make?  It's been good background music while we play!

What I'm wearing
I pretty much wear sweat pants and a t-shirt every day since we're just around the house and then we go for a walk.  I have a few dresses and leggings I throw in the mix for church or other events.  And I just ordered a new black Lularoe dress that I am excited to get and wear sometimes!  But, home with Cooper pretty much means I stay comfy and in clothes that allow me to chase him around all day!

What I'm doing this weekend
Going with a friend to start her baby registry!  Church and our new Sunday School class Sunday morning and a Super Bowl Party with our Community Group Sunday night.  And time with my two boys in between!

What I'm looking forward to next month
My friend Nicki is coming to town from Austin for a weekend and I'm looking forward to seeing her and letting our little guys meet each other!

What else is new
It feels like a lot and nothing at all right now.  The change in church and community is huge, but I've already mentioned that.  Otherwise we're just continuing to enjoy life with Cooper!  Speaking of--he just woke up from his nap so I'm off to get him a bottle and run some errands!  Happy Wednesday!

January 26, 2018

Bittersweet Goodbyes

So I mentioned in my post about our family mission statement, that we had some big decisions coming up this year and were working through those alongside our 2018 planning.  Well one of the main big decisions is that we are moving to a new church and therefore leaving our Community Group that we have been leading since it started in 2015.  This is a decision David and I have been talking and praying about for over a year.  In fact, I was reading back on something the other night and found a note I'd made about it almost a year and a half ago.  Our church has been a great place for us-- we've not only made a lot of amazing friends there, it's also where we met and got married.  So this was not a decision we took lightly, but after lots of prayer and discussion we decided to visit some other places, and really felt confirmation of where we were supposed to be going in December.  I'll share more about where we're going and why soon, but I couldn't let much time pass without sharing about leaving our Community Group.

We started meeting in the summer of 2015.  It was us and several friends who we had been with in the Young Adults group as we sought to figure out life "after young adults."  It's been a crazy two and a half years-- we met together at least 98 times in that span, including at least 25 meals shared.  We've been to each other's weddings and prayed for each other through job changes, relationship changes, family changes.  

But more than any of those things, this group walked with us through some of the hardest days of our lives and some of the most joyful days of our lives.  They were the people who listened to us (often tearfully) struggle with life with our foster kids and all of the decisions we had to make with that.  They encouraged and prayed for us and supported us in those dark days.  And they walked with us through finding out we were expecting Cooper--they were some of the first to come bring us dinner and meet him.
Chad and Amy weren't there for the group picture I'm about to post, so I had to share this one of her meeting Cooper for the first time--so thankful for this friend who is walking through these transitions with us!  Also, I'm fairly certain she's the only person in our Community Group who even reads my blog ;)

When 2018 started, we hadn't planned on leaving quite so soon, but the timing felt right as we planned for the new year with our group.  So we told them at our first meeting of the year and we've had a good friend step up to take over leadership of the group as they move forward. 

This past Sunday we had dinner together and they surprised us with meaningful cards and a couple of generous gifts.  We also took a group picture, because one thing our group has been horrible about is taking pictures together, so we got this one to commemorate some of our time together.

Leading this group has had it's share of challenges, like leading any group will, but as we step away, I am grateful for all of the memories made and time spent together.  In my Bible reading this week, I was reading through and journaling part of Psalm 106 and when I came this verse I had to share it with David-- "Our Fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea." (Psalm 106:7).  As I shared it with him, I told him that as hard as things might have been or as weary as we might have felt at times, I didn't want to forget God's wondrous works and the abundance of His steadfast love that walked with us all through the last 2.5 years.  We are thankful that His hand is in and over this group even when we felt like we were failing.  

But as we "say goodbye," the main thing I'm filled with is gratitude.  I am so thankful for these friends and having the opportunity to be in community with them for the last several years.  The good thing is that I know we'll still get to see them and be friends with them, even if we're not a part of their weekly meetings.

January 16, 2018

Dining Room Update

Our dining room has gone through lots of different decorations over the years.  It started with a china cabinet, our bar top table with 8 chairs, and some of our decorations from our Chinese friends.  When we had our foster kids, we moved the china cabinet to a different corner and added a small table for the kids to sit at.  The room holds seasonal decor in the Fall and at Christmas time.  This past summer we exchanged our 8 top table for a farmhouse table to make it easier for Cooper to join us for meals.  

Since then, I've struggled with what to put on the walls.  Our china cabinet has remained in a corner near our living room, so the wall behind the table is completely open.  We've debated trying to put some of our toys/playroom in the dining room, so I wasn't sure exactly where the table would end up which has made it hard to decorate.  This Christmas we put several things up on the wall behind the table, so once we took it all down I was ready to decorate.  So we situated the table (and decided not to move any toys in there for now) and I got to work pinteresting and creating!  And this was the final result: 

I'm really happy with it!  

1. I made a sign with our Family Mission Statement on it

4. "Gather Together & Give Thanks" sign that I bought from Hobby Lobby.  This is actually the only thing I spent money on for this wall (woohoo!) I bought it on sale a few months ago and became the center piece for planning the decorations.

5. I love you like Biscuits and Gravy Printable  This one does not necessarily fit in with the theme of everything else, but David loves biscuits and gravy and I'd seen a sign like this at The Pioneer Woman Lodge and he thought it was funny when I sent it to him, so it seemed appropriate to include something like this

7. "Say Yes. Love Big. No Regrets" sign that our friend Laura bought for us when we started foster care.  

It's been fun coming up with the decor for our dining room.  And I love that 4 of the 7 things are prints in frames, so they can easily be changed out when I feel like we need something different!  Right now they are all good reminders as we gather around our table together for dinner (and Cooper and I gather around the table at least one other time a day and I know that will be increasing!).  

On the opposite wall, we added some organization:

I found this table on Zulily and I love it!  Then I searched for other racks, or storage to hang on the wall.  I looked at lots of options and then this cubby storage shelf came up on the Facebook Marketplace and it seemed to fit perfectly.  So we keep keys and Lily's leash in there.  I also put up some command hooks so we can hang jackets and bags to keep the areas somewhat organized.  And our china cabinet lives in the corner there too.  

So that's how it's set up for now.  I'm sure it'll change and adapt as Cooper grows and we figure out the best configuration for us--but right now it's functional and I think it's fun!

January 9, 2018

Family Mission Statement

For the last several years, David and I have sat down around New Years and made plans and dreams for the year ahead.  It's been a good way to get on the same page and reflect on where we've been and where we want to head.  The past few years, we've gone through Jennie Allen's Dream Guide and while we've liked it a lot, I decided to try something different this year.  I went to Pinterest and found some question lists to look at the past year and the upcoming year and cut them up and put them in a basket.  During the week between Christmas and New Years, we would go through a few at a time and talk about them.  We both made some individual goals, but one of the big things we did was create a Family Mission Statement. 

A Family Mission Statement is something I've heard of several times, but not something we'd ever done.  As we were looking ahead at 2018, we knew there were some big decisions we were considering  and I'd recently heard a Podcast where they talked about a Family Mission Statements and they mentioned that Mission Statements can be helpful in guiding decisions because you can look and see how the decision fits in with your mission statement.  So I thought it would be a good exercise for us for several reasons, but the main 2 are these:

1. It would allow us to step back and look at the big picture of what we wanted for our family instead of getting bogged down in the specifics of what we might want to do or change right away.  
2. Since we're heading in to our first full year with Cooper, it seemed like a good time to really think about what we want our family to be about.  Cooper is growing so quickly and there's so much we want to teach him and show him, so I thought it would be good to try to focus some of the things we talk about into an overarching list of values.

So we read several articles about family mission statements and looked at several examples I found on Pinterest and got to work.  I'll link to all of the articles we read at the end of the post, but the most helpful one was this post at Intentional by Grace.  In that post there is a method for writing up the statement as well as a Family Evaluation worksheet to go through.  So we went through the worksheet and started making our list of family values.  Things like loving God, being authentic, being generous, having fun, being okay with making mistakes, using kind words, etc.  And then we grouped the ideas into 4 main groups and gave them each a title to come up with the main part of our Mission Statement.

*Follow God*Love Others*Stick Together*Have Fun*

We have a document with these typed up as well as some more fleshed out ideas of what they mean.  We also included several scripture references that we used to form these thoughts.  We have the full Mission Statement typed out, but these 8 words are the basis of it all and an easy thing for us to teach Cooper when he's young.

It was a great exercise creating this Mission Statement together.  I'm sure it'll change and evolve over the years, but it gave us a good vision as we looked ahead at a new year.  I also decided it was time for a blog update, so I included them in the header of our new blog!

A few resources we used:
*Stick Together and Have Fun are both family rules in Karen Purvis' The Connected Child.  They give an example of a family chant that says Stick Together, No Hurts, Have Fun.  We used this phrase a lot when we had the foster kids and when we were trying to come up with good titles for the last two parts of our Mission Statement, these seemed to fit the ideas well, so we used them.
*Franklin Covey's Mission Statement Builder
*And we pretty much just wanted to copy this mission statement word for word, but I found it on etsy as an example of artwork someone can make and had no idea where it came from, so we didn't.  

January 1, 2018

Cooper's Cubbyhole: 9 Months

9 Months
Weight: Anxious to see at your check up tomorrow!
Diaper Size: 3
Clothing Size: 6-9 months
Things you love: The TV remote, Lily's water bowl, Sophie, Banana teether toy, Mommy, Daddy, Clapping your hands, standing up, your play table, looking out the window, waving
Thing you don't love: Getting your diaper changed, being laid down, getting in your car seat, separating from mommy, being told no
Eating: You nurse in the morning and then take three 6 ounce bottles during the day and one 4 ounce bottle before bed.  You continue to love real food.  Every morning you eat breakfast--usually a fruit puree and then some oatmeal, eggs, or cheese and some bite sized fruit.  You eat pieces of whatever we are having for dinner and you eat with me if we go out for lunch and you are doing well with eating a variety of textures and tastes in your food!
Milestones: Creeping on hands and knees (everywhere!).  Pulling to stand on everything and starting to take some steps around furniture.  Babbling more sounds.  Waving.  It also seems like you are getting your first tooth--we can feel something there, but you won't let us look
Memorable Moments: Your First Christmas.  Your first snow flurries on New Years Eve. Your babbling and waving.

Coop, what a wonderful December we had!  Sharing Christmas traditions with you made everything more fun, even if you don't understand them yet.  You give us such big smiles and laughs and are having so much fun trying to get our attention and show us what you can do.  You get frustrated when we won't let you get things, but you get it over pretty quickly. You are now on the go all the time and you are fast getting to where you want to go when you crawl.  You are enjoying life so much as you get to explore so many new things all the time and I love that you take me along for all of your adventures!