Life Lately – Spring 2020

I figured I’d write a post with some pictures from the spring. The pandemic is keeping us close to home. We were supposed to go to Iowa for Memorial Day Weekend and to Utah in July, but like most people, our plans have changed.

We feel fortunate to have moved to our new home right before everything shut down and people started quarantining. We have more land and there are only five houses in our new neighborhood (two of them are under construction). So, we haven’t felt too confined. I do miss being able to take the kids to the library, the pool, and Chick-Fil-A (although we don’t live that close to a Chick-Fil-A anymore). I know restaurants are beginning to reopen, but I think we’re going to place it safe a bit longer and keep doing take out orders.

One of the positive aspects of this whole quarantine experience is I learned how to cut David’s hair. His hair grows so fast. I used to take him to the hair salon once a month (which meant we spent $20+ per month on a 2-year-old’s hair haha), but now I think I’ll just cut it from home myself. I also cut John’s hair during quarantine. It didn’t turn out as well as it does when he goes to the barber, but two of his co-workers did ask him if he had it professionally cut, so I think that’s a win! (Below is a picture of David after I cut his hair. He didn’t want to smile at the camera, so this is the best picture I got).

Most mornings our living room is filled with toys. Here’s a picture of Brooke smiling with one of her favorite walking toys. She just started being able to walk on her own without any help this past weekend. About a month ago, she started taking a couple steps on her own, but not more than like five. On Sunday, I watched and counted as she took over 30 steps in a row.

David and Brooke got a number of new toys for Christmas. Since I knew we were moving, I kept most of them packed away. We’ve slowly started bringing them out. David and John found a creative use for David’s John Deere lego truck haha.

We bought a splash pad off of Amazon. We tried it out a couple weeks ago, and I think we’ll end up using this a lot this summer since we’re not able to go to the pool. David loves it and Brooke is warming up to it.

I took the picture below from my sister’s Instagram stories. John got me a fire pit as an early birthday present. On Memorial Day Weekend, we tried it out. David had his first ever s’more. I don’t think he likes how messy s’mores are, but he had a fun time staying up late with the grown-ups after Brooke went to bed.

David “helped” John put up ceiling fans in our family room and living room. This was David’s first home improvement project 😉

We’ve gone on a lot of walks over the last few months. I used to take the kids on a walk every day. Since the weather is getting hotter, I normally go for my daily walk before they wake up. We’ve gotten a lot of use out of our Burley stroller and thankfully Brooke and David love it.

Well, that’s a wrap for now!

Mother’s Day Weekend 2020

I’m grateful to be a mom. Today as I put Brooke down for her nap, I lingered in her room and traced her face over and over with my fingers. My heart felt so full as I looked into her eyes. She and David (and John) are my world!

Yesterday, we decided to give Brooke’s pacifiers the boot. She only uses them when she sleeps, and she loves them. Naptime was a bit rough for her yesterday without a pacifier, so I stayed with her for a little bit today as she calmed down. Side note: It’s amazing how much babies grow in a year. The picture below is from Mother’s Day last year. Brooke is so little!

On Saturday of Mother’s Day Weekend, I treated myself by driving to Target and picking up a dress I had found online. The dress wasn’t at our local Target, so I drove about 40 minutes away. I left the kids at home with John, picked up a Diet Coke and some french fries. Sometimes I find time alone rejuvenating, and this was one of those times. I turned up the music and enjoyed the beautiful scenery as I drove.

After we put the kids to bed on that Saturday, John picked up pizza from a local place that I like. He also secretly picked up coke zero and peanut butter ice cream – two of my favorite things – on his way back home from the pizza place. I love little surprises like that, so that really meant a lot.

On Sunday, John made me a delicious egg sandwich for breakfast. I opened up a couple presents from John and the kids. The gift from the kids was actually a replacement of a dress that I tore while carrying Brooke in a baby carrier. I really loved that dress and had only worn it two times before it ripped. I feel like it was a fitting Mother’s Day gift since I ripped it while carrying one of my babies haha. We FaceTimed with our families in the morning, and then my brother and sister came over in the afternoon. John grilled hot dogs and brats. The weather was beautiful. We had fun being outside while he grilled.

When I went to bed Sunday night, I felt so grateful. It was a great weekend. I’m thankful to be a mom. There are some days when I feel like I’m just moving from one task to the next. Then there are other days when I find time to be still and more fully enjoy motherhood. I wouldn’t trade any of these days – the hectic or the calm. 

I’m also so grateful for my mom. She is so encouraging and has always believed in me. I know she’s always “in my corner” and will be there for me whenever I need. She is also a magnificent grandma!

Zucchini Oat Muffins (No Oil, No Refined Sugar)

One of my sweet kiddos experiences tummy troubles (constipation) which has caused me to become more creative in my meal prep. For those out there who may be looking for healthy muffins (that can also help little kids with constipation), this is for you! As a disclaimer, I like baking but I am not a “baker.” 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 and 2/3 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1/2 C applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 grated zucchini
  • 1/2 C oats
  • Optional: 3 tbsp of flax seeds (Note: Flax seeds help with constipation but change the flavor of the muffins significantly)

Steps

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir until just combined (it will be lumpy).
  • Bake for 15-17 minutes.
  • This recipe yields 12 muffins.

David at Two-and-a-Half

David is officially two-and-a-half years old. In the last six months, his language skills have exploded. He is good at using words to ask for what he wants. One cute thing he does when looking for a specific toy is call out its name over and over as he walks around the house. It’s almost like he’s expecting the toy to respond and say, “I’m right here, David.”

On Friday as we were driving in the car, I played the Newsies soundtrack. For the first time ever, David started singing along. I was amazed at how well he could sing the right pitches and match the vowel sounds of a lot of the words. For Christmas, John purchased tickets for him and I to go see the musical Newsies. Ever since then, the kids and I have been listening to the soundtrack a lot in the car. David says “Newsies” when he gets in the car and wants to listen to the music.

He loves his sunglasses.

David loves to sing the primary song I Am a Child of God, Jingle Bells, and a Halloween song that my Grandma Daly made up (I don’t know if the song has a name). He also loves Baby Shark and The Wheels on the Bus. I love how he sings, “The babies on the bus go ‘wah, wah’ wah…'” The way he imitates how babies cry is so cute and hilarious.

When we lived in West Virginia, we’d go to library story time in Purcellville. Afterwards, they’d have playtime, and David loved these cars that hook together.

He watches one episode of TV each weekday generally before lunch time. The two shows he watches are Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Street, which he calls “Sunny Days” because the Sesame Street theme song begins with the phrase “Sunny days…”

When we were packing up to move, I labeled each tub with green painters tape and wrote on the tape the name of the room where the tub should go in the new house. David loved to pull the tape off. He called the tape “stickers.” I loved that he labeled himself with the “David’s Room” “sticker.”

He’s become a skilled negotiator with his sister. If she is playing with a toy he wants, he’s learned to bring a toy to her that he can trade her. Even if the toy he brings is not nearly as cool or exciting, she always takes the bait haha.

This was the first year that Easter eggs were exciting to David.

One of David’s favorite phrases to say is “Hi David.” Ever since David was little, in the mornings as I walked down the hall to his bedroom, I’d say “Hi David.” I think hearing this phrase repeatedly each day caused David’s mind to view this phrase as a generic greeting like “Good morning.” Consequently, over the last couple months, when David would hear either John or I in the morning, he’d yell “Hi David” from his bedroom. He would never say “Hi Mommy” or “Hi Daddy.” It was always “Hi David.” (Last week was the first time I’ve heard him say “Hi Mommy” in the morning instead of “Hi David.”)

He knows that when we drive in the Shenandoah mountains that we like to take pictures. Once he realizes we’re driving in the mountains, he says “pi-churs, pi-churs.”

His favorite food is apple sauce, which he just calls “sauce.” He’s become more picky about what veggies he eats, but I still serve veggies with every meal 🙂 He also loves all carbs – rolls, muffins, etc. I’ve learned how to make “healthier” rolls and muffins so I can feel better about what I’m serving him.

David is a light in our home. His happy demeanor that he had as a baby has continued with him. He’s a great listener and generally very obedient (sometimes he likes to march to the beat of his own drum ha). He’s a loving brother and son. Although, he thinks it’s funny to withhold hugs and kisses some nights at bedtime. We sure love him and his sense of humor.

Our special time of day together is right before afternoon nap time. I put Brooke down first, and then David and I have time together to read books. This is a “selfie” we took last week after finishing our daily story time.

Easter 2020

Sunday was Easter, and it was such a wonderful day. I woke up early enough that I was able to get fully ready and read in the scriptures before my kids woke up. I feel like when I’m able to do that, I have a better day. After the kids woke up, it was fun to watch them discover their Easter baskets. John made me a delicious egg sandwich for breakfast. While the kids played, we listened to two really great talks (devotionals); “Sunday Will Come” by Elder Wirthlin and “Mrs. Patton – The Story Continues” by President Monson. We took David to the backyard to hunt for Easter eggs. Then we had lunch and put the kids down for naps. I was able to take a nap for 30 minutes. Then I got up, did some Easter dinner food prep, polished my Grandma Daly’s silver (which we used for the dinner), and set the table. I took a break from the prep to sit down with John and discuss our insights about Easter and Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. This conversation was a highlight of my day. We then had a fun evening full of chatting, laughter, delicious food, and games. When I went to bed, my heart was full and I was a little sad the day was over.

COVID-19

I want to take just a few minutes to write down some thoughts about this unprecedented time. My prayers and thoughts are with all those affected physically, emotionally, and/or economically right now because of COVID-19.

As a stay-at-home mom of a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old, my life has not been impacted significantly. Aside from missing outings like library story time and lunches at Chick-Fil-A, life for me on the surface is very similar to what it’s been. I enjoy being home with David and Brooke and watching them play together. David is really starting to use his imagination. It is also very nice to have John home more often while he works from home. The kids LOVE when he comes upstairs from the basement to grab a bite to eat.

It is weird to go to the grocery store and see lots of items missing from shelves. Thankfully, John suggested very early on that we stock up on some things. So, I did a lot of my shopping for staples (like toilet paper) before the masses. We also live in a more rural area, and from what I hear, our grocery stores are a little better stocked than those closer to Washington D.C. where my brother and sister live.

I’m so thankful we moved before all the “shelter-in-place” business began. I love our new home, and I especially love the views. When I look outside and see God’s beautiful creations, I feel peace. I go on a walk each day, and I cherish those times. Sometimes I listen to podcasts and other times I whisper a silent prayer in my heart as I walk.

Our house in West Virginia officially sold this past Friday, and for that I am extremely grateful! I can only imagine the anxiety I’d be wrestling with if it were still on the market during this time.

Our family started a tradition of taking a drive through Shenandoah National Park each Sunday while we don’t have church. It’s fun to drive up to the lookouts and then look for our house.

I’m not sure how long it will be until life feels “normal” again for our communities. I’m grateful for those who are working to combat the virus and for those serving individuals who are suffering.

Baby Brooke Turns One Year Old!

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Our spirited little girl turned one in February! We had fun celebrating with family. On the Sunday before her birthday, we had a joint birthday party for Brooke and my sister Melissa. Their birthdays are three days apart (and a *few* years haha). My mom and aunt Diana were in town. The Wagners (my aunt, uncle, and cousins) and Keri also joined in for the celebration.

On Brooke’s actual birthday, our little family headed WalMart to pick out some toys for Miss Brooke and then to Cracker Barrel for a celebratory dinner. They have great food options for toddlers and pre-toddlers. However, our food took forever to be brought out to our table and both our kids got tired of waiting (plus it was close to bedtime). So, truth be told, it was not the most fun experience. We didn’t even end up eating as a family. Brooke was screaming. So, John and I took turns eating while the other took Brooke outside.

Fun facts about Brooke at one-year-old:

  • She mimics lots of words we say and sounds we make.
  • She loves to say “hi, hi, hi” and “uh-oh” and “no, no, no.”
  • She very much enjoys bath time.
  • She’s quite social. She’ll wave and smile at anyone.
  • Her hair is beginning to get a little curl in the back.
  • She is a super speedy crawler.
  • When we start to sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” she claps her hands.
  • She still wakes up once a night. (We’re working hard to stop this!)
  • She loves to eat rolls and chew on sliced red apples.
  • She immediately pulls out any bow or headband I put on her head (almost always).
  • She refuses to hold her bottle so we switched her to a straw sippy cup with handles. I saw these sippy cups at Target and figured we’d give them a try. 

Faith Friday: Prepared Spiritually

In late 2018, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that Sunday church services would shift from three hours each Sunday to just two. As a member of the church, I was surprised and very grateful (three-hour church with small kids can definitely be a trying experience). The impetus behind this change was to give us more time to study the gospel as families at home. Over and over, we heard our church leaders say that effective gospel learning and conversion to Christ is home-centered, church-supported (not the other way around).

As church members, we were given a curriculum to guide our study at home called “Come, Follow Me” (referring to Christ’s admonition in the New Testament to follow Him). We spent all of 2019 studying the New Testament as individuals and families using “Come, Follow Me” as a guide. This year, we’re studying the Book of Mormon.

I believe God is all-knowing, and I believe Russell M. Nelson is God’s prophet on the earth today, just like there were prophets in ancient times. (Sidenote: You can watch a beautiful message of hope he shares during COVID-19 through this link.) When I recently heard that church would be canceled for the foreseeable future because of COVID-19, I was again surprised. My surprise shifted to gratitude as I realized that God had prepared us for this change. I believe the “Come, Follow Me” program is inspired. God knew there would be a time when we would not be able to attend church. He prepared us as individuals and families to study the gospel at home. He prepared our spirits, hearts, and faith to be able to weather this time when we wouldn’t be able to meet together to worship Him. Just as He provided manna for the children of Israel when they weren’t able to access food, He’s provided us with metaphorical spiritual manna while we’re not able to access that through our worship services. God is good.

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Recently while on a walk outside my home, I was listening to the song “Peace in Christ” by McKenna Hixson. Each year, our church makes an album of encouraging songs to go along with the theme for the church’s youth program. This song, “Peace in Christ,” was the theme song for 2018. As I was listening, these words struck me, “When there’s no peace on earth, there is peace in Christ.” I thought, “Wow, again God was preparing our hearts for this crazy COVID-19 experience.” Through music, He was teaching us that all peace can be found in Christ, regardless of what is happening around us. All the words from this song bring so much comfort and peace to my heart as I listen.

My prayers are with those deeply affected by COVID-19. Our family is currently healthy, and thankfully we have plenty of food, diapers, etc. I believe God is the Father of us all. Even if you don’t believe in Him, I believe He is aware of you. He is near you. He will see you (and all of us) through this challenge. I’m grateful to know that death is not the end and that we can live as families forever.

Baby Brooke: Eleven Months

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Last month, Brooke hit her year mark! I never wrote a post about her at 11 months, so I’m playing catch-up. I’m hoping to have her one-year-old blog post up soon! Side note: Life has been a whirlwind for me the last few months between keeping our house in Charles Town in pristine condition while it was on the market (while living there with two kids under two), packing up our house, moving, unpacking at our new house, hosting company, two sick babies, a one-year-old who doesn’t sleep through the night, negotiating home sale contracts (the first one fell through…womp), and having it be my “busy season” for the part-time work I do at home. I’m hoping to do lots of blog catch-up here shortly.

Fun facts about Brooke at 11 months:

  • She crawls SO fast.
  • She has the cutest laugh.
  • She loves to play peek-a-boo. She especially loves to play it when we take her out of the bath and are putting on her pajamas. She loves to cover her eyes with the towel and pull it away quickly.
  • Her smile is adorable.
  • She loves to stand in the bath (which we discourage, but she doesn’t seem to care haha).
  • She knows how to hold her bottle, but refuses to do so.
  • She loves to wave and say “hi.” She often mimics the words we say.
  • She knows how to clap.
  • She still wakes up once a night for a few ounces.
  • She is still a picky eater and always takes her bib off when we feed her.
  • She loves to pull bows out of her hair.

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Love those long eyelashes and this cute mid-blink picture 🙂