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!

December 31, 2017

Looking Back at 2017

This year has been fun and fast and full of lots of new things!  I thought it'd be fun to look back at the past year.


We kicked off the year with some goal setting and organizing our house.  We were excited to start off the year we would meet Cooper!  We celebrated our niece's 2nd birthday and took our childbirth classes.  I started learning how to use our new camera.  I also started my 5 year journal at the beginning of 2017 and I'm looking forward to going through it again this year!


In February we celebrated Valentine's Day with homemade dinner together.  I worked on lots of projects for Cooper and I had a baby shower with family and friends!


This was baby prep month!  Since our due date was March 31, we knew Cooper could come in either March or April.  I tried to space out my projects so that the crucial things were done in time, but I wouldn't be left with nothing to occupy my hands and my mind in the last few weeks.  I worked on lots of sewing projects, Cooper's room, and freezer meals.  We also took advantage of our free time with lots of date nights and walks. 

 April started off with meeting baby Cooper and then was filled with all things baby.  We celebrated Cooper's first Easter and David's dad's birthday.  We also did lots of photo shoots to remember our little guy.  Even looking at these pictures, it's hard to remember how small he was!  

May brought Cooper's first month "birthday" and lots of baby smiles and faces.  We continued to settle into life as a family of three and help Cooper adjust to life in the world.  I also got to celebrate my first Mothers' Day with Cooper and we spent Memorial Day weekend with lots of friends.


June brought more of the same with day to day life with Cooper.  We celebrated Fathers' Day for David and his dad and had Cooper's baby dedication at our church.  I didn't blog about it, but Cooper had his lip tie and posterior tongue tie cut at a pediatric dentist which helped with his feeding and reduced his discomfort eating.  We ended the month celebrating David's 30th birthday with our first date night since Cooper was born.

July started with Cooper's first road trip.  We spent time in Oklahoma visiting friends and family and Cooper got to meet his Grandnanny for the first time.  I blogged about the mysterious 3 month mark and some of the struggles Cooper and I were having, but the good things we had going for us in the midst of it.  I threw a baby shower for my friend Yali and enjoyed getting to work on projects for that.  Cooper and I also went to a Bible Study with other first time moms and met some new friends while we got out of the house!

August brought an attempt to make a schedule for Cooper, which he didn't really stick to very well ;)  We did start sleep training after we had to stop swaddling and after a few rough nights and naps, he started putting himself to sleep!  Cooper and I also started going to baby swim lessons which he has loved.

September brought some milder weather and the opportunity to get outside more--which we love.  Cooper went to his first Rangers game and his first OU/Baylor Football Game.  He started sitting up by himself which brought a whole new world of possibilities for playtime.  He also started sleeping through the night sometime this month!  I got to be on the launch team for Melanie Shankle's new book.  I also blogged about my Reverse Bucket List.

My very favorite season started in October and it was so much more fun to celebrate it with Cooper!  We went to the State Fair and some Pumpkin patches and celebrated his first Halloween.  Coop and I also got to go on a quick trip to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile with my mom and family.  Cooper also started food in October after his 6 month check up and he was a BIG fan.

We continued all of our Fall fun in November as we looked ahead to Thanksgiving.  At the beginning of November, we started Cooper on formula because he wasn't gaining weight well enough and he took right to taking bottles all the time!  He also continued to try lots of new foods and I tried my hand and making some purees for him.  We traveled to Oklahoma to spend Thanksgiving with family and stopped at OU on our way home.  

December brought all things Christmas fun!  We celebrated Advent with a different Christmas song each day and we went to lots of local Christmas activities.  We ended the season with Christmas with both of our families then a week at home to recover!

What a year it's been!  We closed out 2017 with New Years Eve at home.  Since David and I have been dating, we've spent New Years Eve somewhere different each year--and this year we were excited to stay in (especially when it ended up being really cold outside).  We celebrated with homemade party hats and noisemakers while we watched the New Year come in in London before Cooper went to bed.  Looking forward to all that 2018 will hold!

December 29, 2017

Christmas Day with Family

After Christmas morning at our house, we loaded up to head to David's parents house.  We timed it so that we would be in the car during Cooper's naptime.  He fell asleep pretty quickly and napped for about half an hour.  Then he played and talked in his car seat the rest of the drive.

 When we got there we opened our stockings.  David and I got fidgets and Amazon gift cards.  Cooper got a fun teething ring and a really cute Rangers shirt to wear next Summer!

Then it was time to eat!  Cooper enjoyed green beans and mashed potatoes as well as his puffs.  His Nanny and Pappaw got out this high chair that David and his sister used when they were little, so Cooper had a great seat for lunch.

Then it was time to open presents!  Cooper got a lot of fun toys and clothes.

He got to sit with Nanny and play

 And then Aunt Rachel held him for a while where he showed her how much he likes hair
Then back with Daddy for a while
He also got to sit in his very own chair that his Nanny and Pappaw bought him!

 After presents, Cooper took a little nap with me holding him (he still wouldn't nap on his own, but some nap was better than nothing!) and then it was time to play again.  He loved pulling up on the coffee table and took several steps cruising along the table to get to different books.
 He always has fun playing with Pappaw and Daddy

And his Nanny helped him explore his new Zebra toy that she bought him!

 It was a great day with family!  We had to leave around 6:00 so Cooper could get home and get to bed after a few long days.  He napped for a few minutes in the car, but then woke up and had a rough ride home--so I held his hand from the front seat most of the ride and he was fine with that.  We got home and we all crashed for the night and got a good night's sleep!

Cooper's first Christmas was definitely full of fun and family!  So many great memories with the ones we love.

December 28, 2017

Christmas Morning at Home

Christmas morning arrived and we were excited to celebrate with Cooper!  I woke up early and filled Cooper, David, and Lily's stockings and then worked on prepping a few things for our breakfast.  At 7:30, I got Cooper up and fed him.  Then we started our Christmas festivities.

 First up was reading a version of the Christmas Story.  We chose the story in the Jesus Storybook Bible that talks about the Angels appearing to the Shepherds and sharing the Good News of Jesus' birth!
We also sang our 25th Song of Advent--Joy to the World was a great end to 25 days of songs and a great beginning to our Christmas Day!

 Even though this Advent "calendar" was a last minute idea, it ended up being a really meaningful part of our Christmas season and I am so glad we did it!  I think we'll definitely incorporate it into our celebration in the coming years too!

After the story and the song, we headed out to the living room for presents!  We only got Cooper one main gift this year (apart from his stockings).  It is a baseball rocking horse that I found on an online garage sale site (yay for good deals on fun gifts!)

 We brought him to the edge of the living room so he could explore and he crawled right up to check it out.  He and Lily both checked it out for a while before he got on to test it out.  

(side note: when I was growing up, my parents always filmed our entire Christmas mornings.  They set up a video camera on a tripod and just had it running.  So we decided to do that too.  And we got some great video of Cooper finding his toys and opening his stockings--I'm so glad we'll have that to look back on his first Christmas!)

 Cooper was a big fan of this rocking toy.  He is always moving and bouncing, so this is a fun addition to his life for sure!  I'm glad he loved it as much as I thought he would.

Then it was time for stockings:
 David helped Cooper open his stocking.  He got a book, a toy and then a few things he needed-- labels for his bottles when we leave him at the church nursery, a tag with his name on it for his diaper bag, sock ons to help keep his socks on.

 We read his new book Song of the Stars that tells the story of Jesus' birth from the perspective of Creation.  After that, David and I opened our stockings (Lily got things out of hers while Cooper opened his).  We don't do gifts for each other, other than stocking stuffers.  He got me a few pieces of jewelry that I wanted and I got him a Dad keychain, a book, and a gift certificate for a local scavenger hunt to try out.

 Then we grabbed a family pictures in our pajamas!
 I made Sausage Cream Cheese crescent rolls and Monkey Bread for breakfast.  Cooper had some sausage and fruit.  After breakfast we all got dressed and ready to head to David's parents' house.
Cooper was all ready in his My 1st Christmas onesie!

It was a fun morning with our little family--looking forward to many Christmas celebrations in the coming years!!

December 27, 2017

Christmas Eve

This year we spent Christmas Eve with my family.  Since we had church at 4:00 and a few nap schedules to work around, we went to my mom's for a late breakfast and then spent the day with family. 
 David snapped a few pictures with Cooper in their pajamas while I was getting ready.
While we waited for breakfast, we opened our stockings.  This was Cooper's very first stocking since he didn't get one at our house or his Nanny and Pappaw's until the next day. 
He's watching intently as I open everything

Then he figured out it was all for him.  Socks in one hand, a sippy cup in the other.  We tried to put him down for a nap after we ate breakfast, but he was not having it trying to sleep in a new place.  So we got him up and decided to push through to open some presents.

 He made it through one present before he was crying and upset and couldn't handle it anymore.  My niece picked out some Little People for him and he was very interested in playing with them.  Everyone else opened presents while we held and walked around with him.  Then David went and laid down with him for a while and he got about an hour nap--anytime either of us tried to lay him down he would scream inconsolably and could not calm down, so we decided napping in our arms was the best plan for the day.

He and Piper both woke up from their naps around the same time.  We opened more of Cooper's gifts and then played until church.  One of the favorite things at my mom's house is this musical band of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy.  They each play 2 songs and you can sync them so the whole band plays together.  The kids love listening to them and dancing along to the music.  Piper and Chase showed Cooper how to use them, but he preferred to just try to grab them all off the table!

 Around 3:00, we got ready for church.  My mom had bought Cooper this green plaid onesie, so we paired it with his jeans and mocs and headed to church.  I wore him in the Lillebaby during church hoping he would nap.  There was so much to look at that he kept himself awake until about the last 10-15 minutes of the service when he cried a little and then passed out.  He woke up as soon as the service was over and we headed back to mom's for dinner.

 Cooper enjoyed some fruit while we ate dinner.  These 2 pictures were taken about 10 seconds apart.  This is what Christmas Eve feels like when you haven't had your naps for the day!

Cooper cheered up pretty quickly after this and was held by myself and his grandma as well as a few of my Aunts.  We still had a few more gifts to open since my brother had been at work most of the day so we waited on him for some of the last ones.

 Worn out boy opening his last gift.
Checking everything out

He got a few more snuggles from Grandma and then we headed home to go to bed!

It was a great day celebrating with family, but we were all pretty tired by the end of it.  And we still had more fun to come the next day!