October 2019 Trip to Iowa

I never posted about our last two trips to Iowa. We first went back in October and attended the Iowa vs. Penn State football game. Then we traveled to Iowa again for Christmas.

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We drove both times and our kids did great! In October, we strategically picked some parks off the interstate where we could stop to let the kids have some car-free time. And in December, we left a little later in the day, and they slept during a lot of the drive. We honestly could not have asked for better drives. The one challenge of our December trip was I got really sick a couple days before we were supposed to leave. I was the sickest I ever remember being. John commented that he’d never seen me knocked down so hard by sickness. Consequently, we delayed our trip a couple of days.

Highlights of the October trip, aside from attending an Iowa football game, included visiting a pumpkin patch and visiting the John Deere Museum. John and I also went to the Nauvoo Temple and a special dinner to celebrate our anniversary.

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We also tried to take some family pictures in my in-laws backyard (they back up to a golf course and it’s beautiful!), but David just wanted to run ha. Here are some of my favorite pictures. John/his dad took these pictures.

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I’ll update soon with a post about our Christmas trip!

Faith Friday: Chick-fil-A and The Gentle Healer

The kids and I went to Chick-fil-A yesterday for lunch. While we were there, David discovered the pure joy of Chick-fil-A sauce. If you haven’t tried it, you must! I am a ketchup fanatic, but the only condiment I dip my chicken nuggets into is Chick-fil-A sauce. At first, David just started licking the sauce off his nuggets. Thankfully, he eventually ate the nuggets too. But when his nuggets were done, he picked up a spoon so he could keep eating the sauce haha. Anyway, I digress…

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One of my favorite pictures of David at Chick-fil-A from when my mom was here about a year ago.

Yesterday was the first day David played in the play place at Chick-fil-A. Previously, he never expressed interest, but yesterday, he kept pointing at the cool car they have in there. He was very excited when I asked him if he wanted to go play. He got right up and walked over. I stayed with Brooke at the table and watched him through the big glass windows. Boy, was he happy! He had such a smile on his face. I watched him try and talk to other kids. They were a little older and David is still working on his words, so I doubt they understood what he was saying.

About ten minutes in, I saw some kids talking and laughing with David. Then they started to jokingly push him and hit him. I imagine these kids have siblings they wrestle with at home. I don’t think they were intentionally trying to be mean (although I’m not sure), but I also don’t think it was appropriate behavior (neither did one of their parents who got up and scolded them). I picked up David and brought him back to our booth. I gave him a hug, told him I loved him, and explained that those kids made a poor choice (a “no-no” in David language) and that we don’t hit or push. I explained that sometimes people around us make choices that can hurt us and that I was happy he didn’t push or hit the kids.

I think David was in shock when it happened. He doesn’t have any older siblings or cousins that he plays with, and the nursery at our church we go to each Sunday only has two sweet little girls around David’s age. He’s not used to being around older kids, and by older kids, I mean like 4/5-year-olds. David also is very kind and aware of others’ feelings. I’ve observed this in the way he interacts with other little kids at library story time. He’s very gentle in all his interactions with others.

After a few minutes of David sitting on my lap, I asked him if he wanted to go back and play. He very gently said “no.” It kind of broke my heart a little. He had been so excited to go play. I texted John and he too expressed disappointment this happened to David. But we both agreed that this is a lesson life will teach us over and over again. We can’t control other people’s choices and sometimes people make poor choices. All we can control is how we respond.

The sadness I felt in my heart after this incident made me think about the love our Heavenly Father has for each of us. He knows that people around us are going to make poor choices (and sometimes we’re going to be those people). How amazing is it that he provided His Son to not only suffer for our sins but to suffer all the pains and afflictions will we ever face in this life so that He can comfort us and heal our broken hearts. My favorite picture of Jesus Christ is entitled “The Gentle Healer.”

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“The Gentle Healer” by Greg Olsen

While I felt bad for David, I felt grateful to be reminded of a loving Heavenly Father who is aware of all our struggles, who aches with us when we aches, and who watches us with love. Since we are currently separated from God’s immediate presence, He’s not able to pick us up, put us on His lap, and tell us He loves us. While sometimes I think it would be really great if He could, I realize we are here on earth for a reason. And the greatest gift of love He could ever give us, He did. And that gift is Jesus Christ, His only begotten and beloved Son, the gentle Healer.

Faith Fridays and Buying/Selling a House

A few years ago, my friend Sara asked me to contribute bi-weekly to a faith blog she had started. The blog doesn’t exist anymore, but I appreciated the opportunity because it gave me a reason to stop and put into words an aspect of my faith every other week. It also caused me to stop and reflect upon where I had seen the hand of God teaching me during the previous two weeks.

I recently had the thought to start “Faith Fridays” here on this blog. This will once again provide me that opportunity to stop and reflect, although I’m certain I’ll miss many Fridays (ha!).

Today I want to share thoughts that have been in my mind and heart about our upcoming move. I talked about little about this back here. We weren’t planning on moving for another four or five years, but we found a house that our family can grow into with a bigger lot and beautiful views of the Shenandoah mountains.

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I truly felt the hand of the Lord guiding us to this house. The beginning of the story to our new house actually commences on our search for our current house. You can read here about that experience. When we found our current neighborhood, it just felt “right.” It felt like we had found the place we needed to be. Less than a year after moving here, John was asked to serve in a role at our church that had him travel to other congregations. One of those congregations is located about 10 minutes from where we’ll be moving.

Shortly after John was asked to serve in this new role at church, we went on a fall drive. We intended to go to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. When we arrived at the park, we decided instead of paying the $20 to enter, we’d explore some local roads. John had recently been to a church congregation near the entrance to Shenandoah National Park, and he knew another scenic road we could drive. Little did we know our future neighborhood would be off that road.

Now fast forward to this past fall. The Saturday before Halloween, we were supposed to attend our church congregation’s “Trunk or Treat” activity. However, our kids had colds, so we decided it was best to skip the activity. Instead we went on a fall drive. We headed back to the Shenandoah mountains to repeat the drive we did two years ago. While on the drive, we noticed a “for sale” sign off the road. After passing the sign, we decided to make a U-turn to check out the neighborhood. Like I said, we weren’t looking for a new home, but we like driving through potential neighborhoods and dreaming about our next home.

We pulled into the neighborhood and saw there was one house already built, two homes under construction, and a handful of lots for sale. The two homes under construction were being built by the builder who built our current home, Van Metre. The list price for the houses were lower than what we expected. We decided to reach out to Van Metre to see if they’d be building more homes in this neighborhood.

Van Metre let us know that they had no intention of building more homes. They only built the two. One was under contract and the other was still for sale. They invited us to tour the other home. They had halted construction on it because they wanted the buyer to be able to pick the finishes.

One thing that weighed heavy on my mind was whether or not we were leaving our current home and church congregation too soon. We felt very guided to this (our current) home three years ago. John and I have had many opportunities to serve here. We always want to do the Lord’s will and we didn’t want to leave “early.” If there was more He wanted us to do, we would stay. (We do recognize that we are “replaceable” people. I don’t want these thoughts to sound conceited. We just really want to live our lives according to God’s will and serve wherever He wants us to).

On a drive out to the new house a few days after our initial tour and before we had signed a contract, I said a silent prayer to God that I wanted to do His will. I remember thinking that I wanted a small sign or something that let me know that this move was in accordance with His will. At that very moment, a thought popped into my mind; “Listen to the coaching call.” I was in a program with a life coach who does live coaching calls with people and helps them learn to manage their brains to find greater happiness and contentment. My thought to listen to the call came at 4:02 p.m. and there was a call that had started at 4 p.m. On that very call, someone in a very, very similar situation to mine asked a question and received coaching on the topic. The prompting I had to listen to the coaching call was so clear and distinct that I knew it wasn’t my own thought. The fact that someone receiving coaching was in a situation so similar to mine and received guidance that helped me was to me a sign that we could move forward with peace.

Along with that experience, there were other small “signs” that helped me feel great peace about this move and know that God was orchestrating it and had been ever since we moved to our current home.

Throughout this process of preparing to move, one area in which I’ve had to exercise greater faith is that our current home will sell. I wanted to write this blog post while I’m still in the process of needing to exercise that faith. I wanted to write this post in the “middle” of the process because to me that is when faith is the most sincere. In the beginning, exercising faith can be exciting. But in the middle of experiences such as this is where I find I have to dig deep and remind myself that God knows the end from the beginning, and He didn’t bring us this far, just to bring us this far. He is the only one who could have orchestrated our being able to find our new home in a rural Virginia town and provide the temporal means for us to afford it.

Last night, as I laid in bed, I thought about the children of Israel carrying the ark of the covenant across the river Jordan. The Lord promised that He would part the river. However, they were required to put their feet in the water before it parted. Sometimes I’ve wondered how long they had to stand in the water. Did God instantaneously part the water or did He require them to wait with their feet in the water to show their faith that He would keep His promise? John and I have metaphorically put our feet in the water. We’ve moved forward with purchasing our new home that we felt guided to by God. Now we will wait with faith that our “Jordan River” will part.

Baby Brooke: Ten Months

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Miss Brooke turns 11 months in a few days. I wanted to make sure I got up her 10-month blog post before she turned 11 months. So, with a few days to spare, here it is! Below are facts about Brooke at 10 months.

  • She says “oh wow” (often in a whisper), “hi,” and “uh-oh.”
  • She is a master crawler.
  • She loves to move all around (which makes church super fun haha).
  • Her four upper teeth are all coming in at the same time.
  • She smiles at everyone. “Stranger danger” has not kicked in at all for her.
  • She wears her heart on her sleeve. We always know how Brooke is feeling.
  • She’s still a picky eater. She’s still not a fan of greens, but does seem to enjoy a pureed apple and kale mix.
  • She still wakes up once a night. She started consistently waking up once a night in mid-October (prior to that she was sleeping through the night). I hoped it was a phase, but she hasn’t grown out of it yet. She seems to want a little snack in the middle of the night. I give her two ounces of formula and thankfully she goes back to sleep.

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Two-Year-Old David

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Back in October, David turned two. I never got around to writing a blog post then, so I’m using some quiet time this week of Christmas to record some fun facts about David at two years and two months.

Some of David’s favorite foods:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Applesauce
  • Canned carrots (ewww…haha)
  • Raisins
  • Bananas (he loves to say “nana” in a very excited tone when I pull them out for breakfast)

Some of David’s favorite words and phrases:

  • Oh wow
  • Car (sounds more like “gar”)
  • Oh yeah
  • Hi
  • Hello
  • Night night
  • Buh-bye
  • Uh oh
  • Knee/kneel
  • Elbow
  • (He still has yet to call me/John mom/dad)

He is a happy, happy boy. He makes us laugh and smile daily. We’ve definitely had some epic two-year-old meltdowns. I’m sure they occur as a result of his brain learning so many new things each and every day. I try to remind myself of that when my patience is thin lol. We sure do love him!

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Baby Brooke: Nine Months

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Brooke’s personality is blooming, and we adore her! She’s becoming more interactive and it’s so cute. We especially love watching Brooke and David together at bath time. They both love to splash and giggle.

Facts about Brooke at 9 months:

  • She can push herself up to a seated position.
  • She’ll say “oh wow” if she hears someone else say it. It’s one of David’s favorite phrases, so she hears it a lot. She often whispers it.
  • She eats all types of pureed food but still doesn’t like green vegetables. She’ll eat them if they’re mixed with something else like applesauce.
  • She likes to eat Cheerios.
  • She started waking up once a night (between 1 and 3 a.m.). She’ll eat two ounces and go back to sleep. We’re trying to wean her of this, but no such luck yet. She used to sleep through the night.
  • When she’s done with her bottle, she pushes it away.
  • Her top two center teeth are starting to peak through.
  • She hasn’t quite learned to crawl, but she loves to roll to get from point A to point B.
  • She still loves to squeal, especially when we’re in quiet places like church haha.
  • She smiles more at other people (“stranger danger” has not kicked in).
  • She’s a great napper in the afternoon but seems to be getting away from taking a morning nap.

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Baby Brooke: Eight Months

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Brooke hit her 8-month mark back in October (right around the time we made the decision to move). Consequently, I’m playing “catch up” here on the blog.

Facts about Brooke at 8 months:

  • She’s been sleeping through the night consistently until about a week before she hit 8 months. Around that time, she started to wake once a night and would want a couple ounces of milk.
  • When she is hungry, she let’s us know haha. She’s a somewhat picky eater. She is not a fan of green vegetables. She’s gotten better at eating a variety of pureed foods.
  • She hasn’t learned to scoot or crawl, but she does like to lay on her stomach and push up with her arms.
  • She laughs more than she used to.
  • She is a daddy’s girl and absolutely lights up when John enters the room.
  • She’s really good at pushing herself backwards and getting stuck under couches or chairs (she can’t move forward yet).
  • She can sit up without support when we spread her legs apart to keep her balanced.

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We’re Moving

Merry Christmas! I have lots of catching up to do on this blog. At the end of October, we went on a fall drive and unexpectedly found a house to buy. We put in an offer, and after some negotiating, we reached a deal. Since we weren’t expecting to move, we hadn’t done anything to prepare our house to sell. Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind since that fall drive. Our current house is in on the market, and we’ll close on our new home at the end of January. The house we’re moving into is partially built, and now the builder is doing the finishing touches (installing flooring, cabinets, painting, etc).

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David and I on the front porch of our new home (the door will be painted a dark red).

Like I said, we weren’t planning to move, and it’s been interesting to see the details of this move unfold. We truly feel that God’s hands have been in the details of this experience. I’ve learned that He can orchestrate life in ways that I cannot. We’re trusting that He will help us sell our current home.

I never got around to doing a blog post with pictures of this home, like I did with the apartment John and I lived in when we first got married. So, I’ve pulled some of the house pictures from our listing and put them here for our own family memories. I’ve loved this home. It’s been perfect for our family.

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The sky really did look THAT pretty on the evening the photographer came to take the pictures.

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Labor Day Weekend at Myrtle Beach

I can’t believe it’s November! I meant to write a post about our trip to Myrtle Beach a while back, but I’m just now getting it up. We headed down south for Labor Day Weekend and visited my Aunt Diana and Uncle Kevin. My sister Melissa and brother Trevor also headed down to Myrtle for the weekend. We had such a fun time!

One of my favorite memories was swimming in the ocean with John and my siblings. It was so fun to swim in the waves and talk about life. I also loved playing card games with my aunt, uncle, siblings and John after our kids went to bed. Watching David explore the beach was so fun too. He is at a very cute and fun exploratory stage.

My aunt and uncle are such gracious hosts and live in a private beach community, which means the beach is never crowded. We had fun relaxing at the beach, eating delicious food (my aunt is a great cook), and playing games. We always have a fun time down in Myrtle!

During the drive down, the kiddos were pretty good. Although when we got there (at nearly midnight), David woke up and decided he didn’t want to go to sleep and stayed up until 3 a.m. On the drive back home, David and Brooke took turns whining haha. It was our first time road tripping with two kids, and we definitely learned some things.

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Baby Brooke: Seven Months

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Brooke just hit eight months, and today I realized that I never did a seven month blog post for her.

Fun facts about Brooke at seven months:

  • Her bottom center teeth started poking through.
  • She loves to smile but it’s hard for me to catch on camera.
  • She has an adorable giggle, but doesn’t laugh super often.
  • She is not very cuddly. When we hold her, she loves to bounce and arch her back.
  • She’s not loving pureed foods. She tends to gag when we serve her anything but rice cereal.
  • She’s a great napper.
  • Recently, she’s been waking up once a night but goes back to sleep when I put her pacifier in. She generally sleeps 7 to 7/7:30.

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