Thursday, May 17, 2018


Confession: I am and always have been a book nerd. Like stayed up past my bedtime to sneak in reading more books. During the summer, I would read two whole Baby-Sitters Club books in ONE DAY! Long car ride ahead: read a book. Sitting at the beach: read a book (although not in this lifetime of small children.) Favorite place to go each week: the library. Absolute favorite activity to do with my kids: read to them! 

When we first came down to TN and I was friendless and stuck inside because of cold and snow, I decided to join the fun world of bookstagram. AKA Instgram with accounts completely dedicated to books and reading! Many of them are beautifully posed flatlays of books with themes and items that go along with books. Mine is just pictures of the books I'm reading on my white(ish) bedspread, or with my floor in the background. Nothing fancy, but tracking books I'm reading, which I've never done before! (I attempted Goodreads last year, but was not successful.)

My bookstagram account name is @naptimebooks, because really that, and before bed is when I get a chance to read.

As of now, I've read 20 books this year! Pretty sure that's more than I've read by this point in any other year, aside from when I was a kid. 

January Reads:
1. Sunset Lullaby- Robin Jones Gunn (with characters from books I read growing up!)
2. Confessions of a Shopaholic- Sophie Kinsella (a re-read for me, but Becky Bloomwood just makes me laugh!)
3. Little Women- Louisa May Alcott (my first time reading the full version, and I LOVED it!)
4. A Lasting Impression- Tamera Alexander (love her historic fiction books, especially since many of them are about TN.)

February Reads:
1. Still Life- Louise Penny (never heard of these books until bookstagram. They're mysteries, which is not my usual genre, but I'm enjoying them so far! And bonus- my grandma has read them!)
2. A Brush With Love- Rachel Hauck (a novella love story! I've read some of her other books and love them!)
3. Winter Garden- Kristin Hannah (my first book by her, but really good. Made me want to hug my kids a little tighter, and thankful that we're able to provide for them!)
4. My Lady Jane- Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows (another book that I kept seeing pop up on bookstagram, and decided to try it without reading the description. Oh my word- a hilarious retelling of history.)
5. Brothers of Baseball- Kristofor Hellmeister (the author reached out to me to read and review his book. The story takes place at Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville and flashes between the Civil War and the 1970s. A fun read, though probably more fun if you like baseball. :))
6. A Baxter Family Christmas- Karen Kingsbury (Another book based on characters from series I've read over the last 10 years or so. And it's about Christmas, so win-win!)

March Reads:
1. A Note Yet Unsung- Tamera Alexander (yes another historic fiction book based in Nashville!)
2. Love Story- Karen Kingsbury (same characters, another story!)
3. A Fatal Grace- Louise Penny (second one in the Inspector Gamache series!)
4. Anne of Green Gables- L. M. Montgomery (I decided to join in on the #annewithanereadalong2018 Bookstagram challenge. We'll read one Anne book each month, ending with the last one in October! This was at least the third time I've read this book!)

April Reads:
1. A Light on the Hill- Connilyn Cossette (This is a Biblical fiction book that I won in a giveaway on bookstagram. Also, I've read very few Biblical fiction books but I want to read more. Especially as we're reading through the Bible for Bible study so it's fun recognizing some of the cities and such that are mentioned in the story!)
2. The Cruelest Month- Louise Penny (the third Inspector Gamache, and I definitely suspected every character at some point!)
3. Daring to Hope- Katie Davis Majors (This is the first non-fiction book I've read in awhile, and read about one chapter a night, along with other fiction books. I read her previous book, Kisses from Katie, and knew I wanted to read this one. Such an encouragement in hoping in the Lord, even through some of the darkest things in life.)
4. Before Green Gables- Budge Wilson (A possible story-line of Anne's life before she came to Green Gables. I really enjoyed it!)
5. Anne of Avonlea- L. M. Montgomery (I think my second time reading this, but love the new secondary characters that are introduced- Davy and Mr. Harrison!)

I'll do the books I've read in May later, but I'm loving my time reading. I'm on social media less and I'm enjoying the "new" books I'm finding through bookstagram!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother's Day Weekend 2018

We had a sunny, fun-filled weekend!! It seems like summer has arrived, and with only two weeks left of school, family coming SO soon, and summer birthdays over the next few months, summer is going to FLY by! (And the fact that Noelle goes back to school on August 9th!!)

On Saturday we made plans to meet up with friends in Franklin to watch the Franklin Rodeo parade. It ended up being the perfect weather- sunny, but breezy in the shade. And thankfully we found a spot under a giant tree to watch right at the town square. Downtown Franklin is so cute, and I'm excited for exploring it more. Lots of fun places to eat, coffee shops, a bookstore, little specialty shops.

We packed food for the kids, which they munched on while waiting for things to start. The parade itself was the perfect length- not too long, and Noelle and Jonah's favorite was of course getting candy. There were horses, motorcycles, firetrucks, and more.

Afterwards we headed to The Factory to get Jenni's ice cream. It was our first time getting it, and it was SO good!

Mother's Day started with a run on the treadmill for me while Clara drank her bottle and played on the floor. There was also a bouquet of roses with a note from Luke waiting on the kitchen table for me. Luke says it was Jonah's idea to get the flowers when they had run out to Target the evening before. :)

By the time I was done with my run, the big kids were up and ready for breakfast. Luke had left at 6:40 to help set up at church, but thankfully since I got up at 6:00 when he did (plus Clara decided 6:00 was a good time to be up), I had plenty of time to get us ready. Since Clara was getting fussy, I wanted to get her out of the house to keep her distracted so we headed to Starbucks for coffee and cake pops.

Two different gentleman wished me a Happy Mother's Day, and my kids were mostly behaved for the time we were there. (win-win!) And then of course Clara fell asleep on the drive to church so I carried her in in her carseat, which I haven't picked up in ages! SO HEAVY! She was fussy for most of the end of the sermon and the brief meeting afterwards so I hustled the kids out at the end, and did our grocery shopping pick-up at Walmart. (This was our second time ever ordering our groceries online and then picking them up, and it is SO convenient!)

Once Luke got home from helping tear down at church, he basically demanded that I go to Panera to have a nice quiet lunch to myself. I ate my food peacefully without interruption, and finished reading a book. It was kind of amazing. I mean, I love eating with my family most of all, but it's nice to eat at my own pace rather than rushing to make sure I can get the baby when she's done eating, and not being asked for water, more ketchup, and a million other things. :)

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to keep Clara happy. She and I eventually headed off to Target to wander around in the air-conditioning and spend my birthday giftcard money (thanks, Becks!) She stayed happy for the most part, and then it was dinner and keeping her awake till a decent bedtime hour when we got home. (Also, I put her in the back of the shopping cart while I was checking out, and she pulled herself up to standing for the FIRST TIME!)

Overall, it was a very good Mother's Day weekend! Time with friends, delicious ice cream, hanging with my kids, talks with my hubby. I am SO thankful for this life and my roles as a mom and wife. I was also definitely thinking of the women I know who are praying and hoping for a (or another) baby. I know my heart ached in years past on Mother's Day when it felt like someone was missing. Thankful for a God who wants us to want Him more than anything!

not from Mother's Day, but I love this picture!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Some things from our week

Some things from our week:

1. Target after school usually happens at least once a week. There's always something we need, or more produce to be purchased. We also always make sure to cash in on the free cookies whenever we go!

And does anyone else hate these carts? They are so big and hard for me to maneuver! Especially if I end up holding Clara, which happens 50% of the time!

2. We've had incredible weather this week! Upper 70s and low 80s with abundant sunshine which means lots of outdoor time! And we needed to pick up a kiddie pool for the backyard. It might be slightly larger than baby pools we've had in the past, but there are three kids that need to fit, plus however many neighborhood kids who come over to play (3 on the first day we had it out!)

It was so big it wouldn't fit in a cart, and a gentleman saw me trying to get it into the store to purchase while holding Clara, so he jumped out of his car and helped me carry it in, waited while I paid, and then put it in the trunk of my van for me. #southernhospitality

Also, Culver's was having a $1 scoop day, and since I've been wanting to try their ice cream, we stopped by after picking up Noelle. The $1 scoop amount applied to chocolate, vanilla, or flavor of the day- which was a chocolate Oreo. I kept trying to talk up the flavor of the day to the kids because I just wanted a bite or two, but Noelle chose vanilla, so of course Jonah chose vanilla. And I wound up buying my own chocolate Oreo scoop, but I was nice and brought home some to Luke. :)

3. Friday wound up being a pretty busy day, but lots of fun things! Friday morning, Noelle's school had their memory breakfast where each grade displayed some of the things they've been working on memorizing throughout the year (per the Classical teaching style.) Kindergarten did some number chants, a special sounds chant (grammar), a few catechism questions, some Bible verses, and some just for fun ones! Other grades chanted through history, TN facts, presidents, and more. It really is incredible what kids can memorize! I can list all the states only because of a song I learned in 5th grade, and the books of the Bible because of a song I heard on a CD growing up. After the memory portion, we had a little breakfast with foods that all the parents brought in to share! I still feel like I need to get to know some parents, but at least this was an opportunity to be there and meet some people!

After the breakfast, Jonah and I headed to Bible study, where we celebrated another little friend turning 4. Since it was the first Bible study we've had since Jonah's birthday, our friend put his name on the Happy Birthday sign out front! It was so sweet, and she even had a little gift for him. Jonah is one loved little boy!

4. Clara was so ready for a nap, so we took her home and I put her down. Just in the last week or so, she's started flipping to sleep on her side. I sneaked some quick pictures, which I never used to do because her sleeping minutes were few and I never wanted to risk waking her up. But she's becoming a much better napper! And seeing her nap like that makes me want her to stay this tiny forever! (Or have more babies, but not really!)

5. After we picked up Noelle from school, we headed down to what is quickly becoming one of my favorite little towns to head to the library. They have afternoon activities, and since it was Star Wars day yesterday, the craft was making a Chewbacca puppet. Noelle was so excited once we got there (though fighting and complaining happened aplenty on the 30 minute drive down!) We signed up for the summer reading program, so hopefully that will encourage us to get down to the library (not nearly as convenient as going to the library in our town) and to read! It's been harder to read to Noelle and Jonah since Clara was born because she wants to be given attention when she's awake, and when she's asleep, I"m usually trying to get other things done. BUT I love reading to my kids, so priorities!

Last night, our church had a special women's get together, and it was good. Sharing of hearts and talking about shame and guilt. I am so thankful for a church that wants to gather women together to talk about topics that are challenging, and provides a safe place to be who you are, sin and all.

6. Today it's been raining since early, so we've snuggled up at home. Luke was awesome and let me sleep in and then hop on the treadmill. The big kids are still in pajamas at 3:30, we got delicious Delta Bound for lunch (an avocado, lettuce, tomato taco for me in honor of Cinco de Mayo!) We've got our NBC sports login info so we can watch the Kentucky Derby later, and Clara is doing her best to make the house a mess since she won't go down for another nap!

I LOVE my little sidekick! But naps are important too, Clara Irene!

She can open cabinet doors and pull everything out. YAY! :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Clara Irene: 10 Months Old

It's May 1st and I can officially say my baby turns 1 NEXT MONTH! What?? Even though we're done having babies, the baby fever is real!

This has been a big month of change- more mobility, no more nursing, clapping like a pro. This girl is growing up!

Height and Weight: At her (very late) 9 month appointment (six days before she hit 10 months...) she was 15.6 pounds (6% WHO, 1.7% CDC), and I don't remember her length. (This pediatrician doesn't give me a print out like our MD one did.) But she's growing, and still seems to be right on par with where Noelle was at this age.

Diapers and Clothing: I'm washing her six month sleepers, and putting those away (aka a pile in the closet until I figure out what to do with them!) And wearing size 2 diapers. I don't have much 9 month sized things, but those fit her best.

Sleep: Overall, sleep has been great! Clara is consistently sleeping through the night, occasionally fussing, but falling back asleep. Since we're on the go so much during the day, nap are pretty inconsistent. Some days if we have a longer drive, she only takes naps in the car, and other times, she'll take one long nap. On Saturday after we did something as a family for most of the morning/lunch time, she took a three hour nap!

Eating: Nursing has been done for about three weeks now, and I'm a little sad. I was trying to make it go for as long as she was willing, but we were already down to only nursing in the mornings. Three weeks ago, I attempted to nurse her in the morning, and she just kind of looked at me like "what are you doing?" So that was it. I didn't even try again after that. I really don't enjoy nursing, but I think I'm sad because I was a bit hopeful that we'd make it nursing til a year (even if it was just a little bit), and because she's the last one. One more baby thing that I'll never get to experience again.

She usually gets 4-5 bottles of formula a day varying from 3 to 5 ounces, although doesn't always completely finish them. We've been giving her the sensitive tummy kind in hopes that will help with digestion issues. She also eats food really well and will often eat whatever I'm eating (Italian chicken and potatoes, cashew chicken and broccoli, eggs with peppers and sweet potato.) She still gets baby food from the store, and will eat crackers, raisins, black beans, and more.

Social/Milestones: She loves to clap! If we start clapping, or say "yay!", she'll usually start clapping her hands and smiling at us. She has her two bottom teeth, and scootches around everywhere! She moves her feet forward, and then scootches her hiney to follow. She's been getting faster and faster, and I've had to make sure the baby gate is closed at the top of the stairs and that little things are picked up since she loves to put everything in her mouth. Crawling is still a no go, but at least she can move herself around to keep herself more entertained!

She says "mamamamama", but not directed towards me. She loves the cat, and will follow her as much as she can. Clara has been scratched by Zoe, but that doesn't seem to diminish her desire to get her hands on Zoe's fur!

Likes: Bath time is still a positive. If she's having a fussy evening, but it's not bedtime yet, I can usually put her in the bath and she gets happier. Depending on mood, she will last for a bit in the stroller if we're going for walks. She really does pretty well when we're out and about- watching all the kids on the playground, swinging in the baby swing, being held, eating food.

Dislikes: Mornings are hard when Luke has left and I still need to shower (which is most mornings.) I stick her in the little baby seat so she can't get in to anything and hop in the shower. But usually she fusses the whole time and cries little crocodile tears until I scoop her up. Little stinker.

Fun things: Clara celebrated her first Easter! It was a good one, with lots of egg hunts leading up to the holiday, and a day well spent at church and at Uncle Caleb and Aunt Debbie's house. There were trips to the library, visiting daddy at work, our first visit to Lucky Ladd Farm, Mule Day in Columbia, playgrounds, Friday Bible study, meeting up with friends and their baby girl in Nashville, MOPS, and more! It's been a busy, but fun month for sure!

Pictures from the last month:

scootin around to the chair

pre-bedtime feed with mama

loungin in her high chair

family picture after dinner with friends!

falling asleep on mama

library couch

post church picture

feeding herself black beans

snackin at a play date

hanging with mama at Lucky Ladd

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Clara's 9 Month Well-Check- from Jonah's Perspective

A week  or so before Clara hit 10 months, we finally got around to going to the doctor for her 9 month well-check. #thirdchild #alsowejustmoved

Jonah was getting antsy about 30 seconds after we got into the exam room, so I told him to take some pictures on my phone. I deleted about 200, but kept a few to document her appointment. :)

There was some "forced" tummy time so the doctor could see what she can (or cannot) do. Most babies can roll around and go from laying down to sitting up, to pulling up, to starting to cruise at this point. But not Clara. She is content to sit, and scoot around, and have others bring her things. Tummy time usually means crying. The doctor is pretty sure that at 12 months, Clara will be capable of walking, but isn't sure how likely she'll want to be walking.

Gotta check that baby mouth! Two bottom teeth, and the doctor said the top two are starting to come in!

Getting her ears checked. And maybe I'm asking a question?

Concerned? Brushing back my hair? And I'm only not wearing a sweatshirt because we had MOPS that morning, and I try to look presentable on those days. :)

"Smile, mommy!"

 Off to go set our chunky girl on the scale. Weighing in at 15.6 pounds (1 % CDC, almost 6% WHO) (apparently there's a difference and my pediatrician in MD did CDC, and the one here does WHO)

 A portrait: a doctor, a baby, and a mother.

Seriously, I deleted 200 pictures, but Jonah kept himself entertained. And we liked our doctor, and Clara looks great! We also had Jonah's 4 year well check this week, and he's also rocking it. He can hear, he can see, he's growing. And as much as he's been asking to get the flu shot, he's now decided he does not in fact like shots. But he handled the two he got without any tears!

And before we went to his appointment, we hurried over to Dunkin Donuts so Jonah could buy the birthday donut Grandma sent him money for (and I cashed in on my free birthday drink!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Happy 4th Birthday, Jonah!

Happy Birthday to our precious middle child!

Panera in our pjs

You are so loved, and a bright spot in our lives. Your smile and laughter are contagious, and oh how you make us laugh out loud!

You know what you want, but you also like to want all of the things that your big sister wants. When we ask you what you want to eat for lunch, you'll sometimes ask Noelle what she wants before you tell us the same thing she told you. But you also love to ask for turkey sandwiches and cheese pizza for breakfast (which Noelle would not do!)

You're a proud big brother, and will often run over to Clara and give her a toy or make silly faces at her to help her when she's upset. You've prayed quite a few times that God would "help her not have the pains" when she's had tummy problems. You are the perfect brother for Noelle and Clara!

Your absolute favorite is still Paw Patrol. We wear it all- shirts, pajamas, underwear, socks, and shoes. Whenever we walk by the Paw Patrol aisle at Target, you want to "just look", and your ever growing collection is scattered about the house. You've also been in to matchbox cars lately and want to have a racetrack. And your little cars are all over!

buying his donut with his birthday money from grandma!

Mommy needs to get you new clothes because most all of your pants are high-waters, and it's sometimes a real struggle to get your shirts pulled over your head. You're starting to learn how to dress and undress yourself, and you easily put on your own shoes now, though often on the wrong feet. But they're the cool light-up kind and you love to light the way for us when we go in to the dark garage.

Your favorite foods are cheese pizza, grilled cheese, cheese and turkey sandwiches, yogurt (clearly we're going strong with the dairy), and ALL things dessert. You're like mama- every meal should be followed by dessert, which is why you ask for candy or a popsicle as a part of your breakfast. At least we get donuts fairly regularly. :) You ask for Chick Fil A on the regular, though now that the closest one is 25 minutes away, we don't go nearly as often as we used to. But we're regulars at Target, and you love your "smoothies", aka Icees. And your soda water, you are all about that.

I love watching you jump right in to playing with other kids. When you see our neighbors outside playing, you want to run right out to join them. Playing with sticks, climbing on the rocks, running around- you're all about it. It's fun being at a church that has a lot of little boys right around your age who have taught you the joys of sword fighting and more about super heroes.

We've been told multiple times that you are eager to pray and ready to answer questions in Sunday school. I love all the times that you ask "did God make..." referring to cars, buildings, people, everything! I hope your childlike questions and faith continue with you into adulthood. And that you choose in your heart to follow after the God who loves you enough to send His Son to die for you.

You. Are. So. Loved! We are proud of you, and pray that God blesses your life abundantly!


Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Hub

The little kitchen nook is our hub. And it's probably my favorite place in the house.

It's where we eat.

Where Noelle does her homework. We read books here. I nurse Clara sitting in my chair.

Luke and I sit and talk about life and work and finances. I sit down to read my Bible here. Each evening I come to write out Scripture and a little record of our day.

I drink hot coffee as I watch the morning begin. We've celebrated Valentine's Day around this table, eaten green pancakes for St. Patrick's Day.

We've expanded the table to take up more space in this little kitchen nook to host Nana and Holden. We've welcomed our friends traveling through TN to share their meals here. We expanded it when we invited all our friends to sit around in their pajamas and eat pancakes.

Noelle and Jonah have created a million crafts in this space (wasting approximately 1,000 pounds of paper.) I've written letters to my grandma, and my Pen Pal.

We've sat at the table watching our big kids run around the backyard with our new neighbors.

I've sat at the table with a new friend, sharing our hearts and having "me too!" moments.

I've scrubbed the table about a million times, and vacuumed crumbs all day long. Clara has learned to scoot herself around by grabbing the rung of the kitchen chair and pulling herself forward.

So many things have happened around our table, the hub of our home.

I've been reading the book Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors, and something she says in the very first chapter captures what I want to be true of our home and dinner table: "I serve meals in this kitchen, but I want to serve what really counts. I want to offer all who pass through this place the Living Bread, the only food that truly fills."

May JESUS be known around our table! I'm still learning how to do this, learning to let go of the mess, letting go of my routine, and not only opening our house, but our hearts. And loving Jesus by loving others.