Thursday, December 11, 2014

Free money.

Do you shop online much? I have found over the last two or three years that I am going to the internet to do my shopping! Not that I don't enjoy walking around Target or the mall -- it's just really hard to do that right now!

I use to help get back a little cash.  The site is super easy to use and you get cash back just by shopping through their site.  Right now, just from Christmas shopping, I'll be getting $35 dollars back! That's a gift I've bought, that's practically free!

Either way, try it out and use this link.  It will link back to me and I will get a bonus in my account, so thank you in advance!

I also use swagbucks as my search engine.  I get "swagbucks" every couple searches and can save bucks for gift cards.  I feed my Starbucks addiction this way :) You can sign up or learn more by going to this site!

Happy shopping, friends!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Random bits about the kiddos...

The other day we were driving to school and "South America" came up again.  It's an on going topic, mind you.  {But I will refresh you that South America in our house is "Captain America" to Andrew}.  Here is the conversation we had:

Benjamin: Mom, which direction are we driving right now?
Me: {thankful for my informative rearview mirror} West!
Andrew: South America is west of us.
Me: Actually, Andrew, South America is SOUTH of us.
Andrew: No. It's up. And South America is a man.
Me: Oh right, of course.

And today Andrew and I had this conversation --
Andrew: Hey mom! Guess what Mayer's name is?!?!
Me: Um, Mayer?
A: YES! You got it! Yay!
Me: Yay!
Andrew: Mom. Guess what Elise's name is.
Me: your sister, Elise?
Andrew: yes! Guess what her name is!
Me: Elise!
A: Yes! Now mom, guess my name!!!!!
Me: Andrew?
A: Yes! My name is Andrew! A-n-d-e-w! {he always forgets that pesky "r"}

Yesterday we were driving around, listening to a Christmas CD.  "Little Drummer Boy" came on and at the end of the song there were beautiful {girl} voices singing over and over: "Me and my and my drum".  Andrew was in the back yelling, "No! My drum! It's my drum, girls! No, my drum!!!"  I was seriously laughing so hard.

I'm so grateful for that boy.  Truly, three may be a hard age, but he is the sweetest thing.  Not a single day goes by that he doesn't throw his arms around me and yell -- "I love you, mom!"  He tells me often that he likes me and wants to marry me.  He has so much love and affection to give -- it's wonderful.

Elise loves socks.  While I am folding clothes she will always find the boys socks and lift her foot to me.  Yesterday, she had two socks on each foot and took a nap that way!  I'm always laughing at her little ways of life.  Elise is also very opinionated and you will usually be able to find us in any store by the sound of her screams and squeals. Oh my goodness, it's so humbling.

Because it's just Elise and I on Tuesdays and Thursdays, she's becoming quite a fun companion!  We have lunch with friends and run errands.  She makes friends and blows kisses to all the people we see.  It's really fun and so sweet to have that time with her.  Granted, she's a great sleeper and needs her naps -- so we are always home for nap time.  But I need that time management and schedule.  It's good time for me to work on chores around the house or read or wrap presents!

Since Benjamin is in school from 8am-3pm each weekday, I get so little one on one time with him.  Now that things in our lives have calmed down just a bit -- I plan on reintroducing dates with the boys.  I know they love it, and so do I.

Benjamin is getting really good at reading and writing.  It's so fun to hear him read to us and even more fun to try to figure out what he writes.  Most of the time, he gets things on his own -- but you have to sound out his words very phonetically and be prepared to work around eliminated vowels.  This past semester he has grown leaps and bounds.  He's so much more confident and truly learning great things!  Listening to him recite scripture or passages from Dante or the states or counties of Oklahoma is so humbling!

He also has a five year itch going on.  He can be so sassy and is fighting for great independence.  He wants to be in control and have the last word.  He wants to be right in all ways and make all the decisions.  But at the flip of a switch, he exudes kindness, obedience and manners.  Hopefully that means the last five years of encouraging, correcting, discipline and guidance has made a difference.  I wonder when you start to reap the fruits of that kind of labor...

More randomness later...I need to fold laundry and get ready to pick the boys up from school!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

We built a house... part 2!

If you know me, you know that I hate cardboard boxes.  Especially when moving! I've made it my cause to rid our house of cardboard boxes each time we move.  I ponder a plan for days, weeks even, so I know the best way to tackle the box situation.  This time was no different.  And in similar fashion to previous moves, there was a holiday or visitors {or both} days away.  That my friends is what we call "bonus motivation".

When we planned our home in the early stages, we didn't want something extravagant or too big.  Rather, we wanted an open living space where we could all be together.  Plus sleeping rooms.  And an office for Patrick -- he needed an office in a bad way.  Our room, the boys room and Elise's room are on one side of the house.  The guest room, play room and laundry room are on the other side.  Kitchen, eating and living rooms are in the middle. Patrick's office is right by the front door. And we have a blue front door.  For the record, I didn't get excited and squeal about too much with house building...but when I saw the blue door I definitely squealed and did a dance! Live life in color!

We didn't buy too much to add to the house.  I needed to get a new shower curtain for the kids bathroom because there were things on that curtain that I would rather not discuss. Bleh! We got barstools for the island and two couches {that are not in yet} so we could have a good amount of seating when friends are over! Oh, and I bought the most fantastic rug on! A few bathroom rugs here and there, a few things to hang on the wall, and two new pillow covers for the living room and we were set!

I did my absolute best to stay within budget for each section.  I went over a little in lighting, but I've been told it's hard not to do so.  We were budgeted for granite counters, but chose to get soapstone in the kitchen.  Because of that, we did quartz in the bathrooms and laundry room to offset the cost a little.  I was under in hardware and right on with flooring and tile.  We got a few "extras" just by asking for them and I'm so very glad! 

The other day a friend asked if I would change anything.  After thinking, I simply replied "no".  I can confidently say that I made the best decisions I could at the time, with my circumstances in hopes to make our house feel like home.  And honestly, at the end of all things, it's just a house.  It's nothing crazy or defining or life changing -- it's boards and beams and concrete and stuff.  I don't want to spend the rest of my days thinking of what I could have done differently.  I want to enjoy this space and this place and do what I'm called to do -- that is love and serve my family well. 

I didn't tell too many people we were building a house and it was always something very uncomfortable for me to talk about.  There were a small number of people that would make odd remarks or not respond kindly about building.  After the house started taking off, it was slightly easier to talk about because there was a tangible thing.  It just felt {feels} so extravagant and luxurious and high maintenance.  I am not those things! {well, I bet Patrick would say I can be high maintenance...haha}  It's humbling to build a home and I don't take lightly the gift that this is.

We are grateful, though, for this home.  It's not something we deserved or earned. We pray hard and try to be good stewards of our finances and things.  This was an incredible extension of God's kindness.  It's not been without trial and struggle and tears.  In fact, after a slew of unfortunate events, we still own our old house and are praying fervently for the Lord to provide new buyers {after the old buyers fell through twice}.  You are welcome to join us in prayer for this.  I believe God will provide and do great things -- for His glory! 

So here are a few inside pictures.  I took them with my iPhone several days ago, so they quality isn't really great!

Mud bench and the little counter space that has become my desk :)

Laundry things....

Straight into the laundry room

Guest bathroom

Living room and hall to bedrooms, from the table.

Fireplace and living room from the table.

Kitchen, from the fireplace.

Entry way -- coat closet on the right, Patrick's office on the left

From the guest hall way

Play room with an extra bed!

Play room closet

Guest room {come visit!}

Master bathroom, with our closet in the back.

Boys bedroom, well lived in ;)

Built ins in the boys room.

"Great room" from the bedroom hall

"Great room" from the corner by the table :)

I will eventually do a post with some fun details about the house that I love, even if I didn't love picking them out ;)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

We built a house...part 1

I was never opposed to house building, but I always thought we would do it one day.  A dear friend of my built a house a couple of years ago and I walked with her through it and thought it was insane!  I was right.

We looked at houses around Edmond and prayed for two years about if we should move/buy/build.  In November 2013, Patrick found a lot he loved in a great neighborhood a few miles South East of our old house.  After that, as they say, the rest is history.

We had originally wanted several acres.  But the price is high for such a thing.  After much prayer, Patrick laid down those desires and God really gave him such a great peace and conviction about living in this neighborhood.  Land means a lot to a man, I suppose, and I'm proud of Patrick for seeing that right now isn't the time for that.  But it would have been fun!

The good news is that our house has a good back yard that backs up to a green belt and there are trees to the south for miles. The boys have little back rubber boots that they wear and spend hours in the "forest" -- digging and exploring and making things and being boys just as boys should be. 

Anyways, we easily found a house plan that we both liked and tweaked it slightly to fit our desires.  It's not too much bigger than our old house, but it does have an office and an extra bedroom that is currently a playroom.  But if the Lord gives us another child, or we need family to live with us for a bit, or we need to host a multitude -- we feel prepared and ready to use this home to do all of those things. SO by December we were ready and we gave our downpayment in January.  They broke ground and got started in early April 2014.

House building is not for the faint of heart.  And friends, I am THE faint of heart.  I'm too Type B to handle all these things and decisions.  But by the grace of God, I survived -- although a little wore and weary.  Patrick handled, extremely well and joyfully, all of the construction type things.  His eyes were always opened and ready to text or call our builder with questions or concerns.  I barely saw blemishes.  I only saw chaos.

I made every.single.decision regarding the design and decor.  Brick and paint and lights and hardware and plumbing and counters and appliances and tile and floor -- you get the point.  It was so hard.  I don't make decisions well and I don't have an "eye for design".  I was grateful for my friend Jodi that helped along the way! I cried many tears during the process and lost a little of myself to the stress.  I don't mean to be dramatic, but it was crazy!

I went to most places with three small children, sometimes two and rarely one.  They were mostly unhelpful, but this was their home too {and it was the middle of summer}. It didn't help that I still had post-pardum hormones in me, was learning life with three babes, my gramma was very sick and Patrick's job changed a bit causing him to be less available.  It actually was a perfect storm.  And I learned a lot through it.

Lesson #1: Never build a house again.

Needless to say, when everything came together and nothing looked awry, I was simply delighted and praised God for His sovereignty -- even in house building.  I prayed and prayed that this house would feel like home from day one and that people would feel comfortable and peaceful here. I still pray that and hope to see the Lord move in this place. 

Here are house building process pictures:

This is where the boys room is -- I had them stand by what would be their window.

Because sweet brothers.

Selfie by the sea of concrete. {early april, I think}

Bricking made the house seem more "real" to me.

Choosing paint colors for the whole house...

Minus the office, which was going to be a different color.

Mud room/laundry room

Bare bones of the kitchen.

Getting concrete walk sidewalks! 

All the painted cabinetry resting in the master bedroom.


Painted kitchen!

Office built ins for all the books in the land!

Outside light fixtures are up! And our archway.

Light fixtures and appliances are in!

Elise and I talking about her bathroom vanity.

Finished and moved in!

Landscaping and blue door!

Whew! What a long several months.  I'll post pictures of the inside in "part 2" -- plus more of our house story!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A heart of gratitude...

Since this week is Thanksgiving and I haven't posted in three weeks! I'll take a quick minute to write down things I'm grateful for right now....

*I'm grateful for Jesus.  More and more and more each day.  I'm so easily swayed and He is so consistent and good and more kind than I deserve.  I  need more rescuing and redeeming than all the people!

*Patrick.  I'm so grateful for him. The way love grows and deepens is amazing to me. He is the champion of my heart, my best friend AND such a perfect companion.  We may be exactly opposite, but it works so well. As an added bonus, last week was our 10th anniversary! TEN years!!! {I will post more on that later...}

*Benjamin, Andrew and Elise.  These babies make me so full.  They are such treasures to me.  And since I was "suppose" to never, ever have babies -- they are that much more special.  The Lord uses them to teach me, humble me and sanctify me on a daily basis! I love them truly and deeply.

*I'm grateful for our new home.  We moved in this past weekend and it was crazy -- but wonderful!  God has extended great kindness to us through this whole process and has answered so many prayers!  I can't wait to write about what a journey it's been.  But we are so humbled to be living here!!!

*Family.  We may not have family around, but they are sweet to love on us from afar! A special shout out to my dear mother-in-law who came down for ten days to help us with the kids and moving and to regulate my stress levels. :)

*Friends.  I have some really great friends.  Truly, it's such a gift to be surrounded by people who love you and support you and care for you and pray for you and walk with you.  We had TEN guys helping us move.  We have had meals brought for us as we settle in and unpack.  We have little gifts show up at our door.  We have friends to share out things with.  We have friends who are praying great prayers with us!  This community that God has given us is delightful!

*I'm grateful for Patrick's job that he enjoys and provides for our family in great ways.  And allows him to really use his strengths and gifts to work well for the Lord!

*I'm grateful for my coffee grinder and french press that provide delicious coffee daily :)

*I'm grateful for our van.  Back and forth.  Here and there.  That thing is a champ.

*I'm grateful for The Academy, the school Benjamin and Andrew attend.  I could go on and on about how incredible this school is and how humbling it is for my children to be given a Classical education.  But I won't.  I will say this, though:  The things they learn and the community we have there is beyond words and so, so wonderful.

*I'm grateful for a healthy body.  These days of littles are tough and long.  Add in moving and school things and life things -- and that 's a lot for a body to endure! I' glad that my body is strong.  I'm glad I enjoy working out and eating {mostly} healthy.  And I'm glad that, by God's grace, this is true.

Now that I think about it -- none of this would even be without the grace of God.  And that is what I'm most thankful for.  Grace upon grace, upon grace, upon grace...  Happy Thanksgiving week, friends!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Backyard fun

If there's one thing I've slacked off on for the last year, it's been taking pictures with my camera.  My big, awesome, not-my-phone camera.  And I want to change that.

Everyday moments captured.  Just to have and hold.  And to blog, because family.  I want to challenge myself to grab my camera and to remember moments that are not behind a phone -- which can be a huge distraction to everyone!

SO yesterday we were playing in the backyard after nap time.  Benjamin was playing at a friends house and it was just Andrew, Elise and I.  The days have been kind of long and hard over here and we needed nothing more than to roll around in the grass and play soccer and laugh at silly pictures.

At first, Andrew was uninterested in pictures. But after he found out about the self-timer -- he was in. And he took a few pictures of Elise and I.  And he got to "fly". Win, win, win.  A few are blurry, but so is our life. I love these days...even when they are hard.  And I love capturing my babies while they are little and sweet. :)