wife to Jake, mommy to my 3 crazy munchkins, Lily (7), Jonah (5.5) and Kate (4). Taking this crazy blessed life one day at a time.


VOTE, please!

Hi Friends!

Please vote for Kate HERE and we could win $500!

You can vote once a day until March 4th.

Thank you!

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Valentine's Day

We had a fun day yesterday- the kids woke up to little gifts and treats on their spots at the table, we all wore festive colors, Lily had a little school party (and Jonah had his today), we made a fun heart shaped cake (which tastes really good, but didn't look that great, so no pic...), and had a fun dinner (although it didn't look nearly as good as it does in the picture!).

Jake and I made our own nice dinner after the kids went to bed: steak tips, curried rice and asparagus. And Jake and the kids gave me flowers too!

We all had a great Valentine's day :)

The kids made all of these crafts on Sunday when the spent the afternoon at Grandma Jan's house. I just love that she did these crafts with them. They were all so excited to give them to me and Jake!




The kids painted this birdhouse and then decorated it :)

They also painted and decorated this frame and I am going to put one of the pictures above in it.
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Winter hike

On Saturday, Jake's awesome sister, Mariah, came down to visit for the day! Even though it was a bit wet and muddy out, we decided to get out for a bit and go for a hike.

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Dear Jonah

My Dear Boy,

You are one of the sweetest little boys I know and I just love being your mommy! You are an endless source of entertainment and you are always making everyone laugh. You are so friendly and you love everyone. You are also very helpful and usually a great listener. I love how much you love to snuggle us and I hope that you still let us cuddle you for a long time. You love music and instruments, especially the trumpet and the drums. You are also very artistic and love painting! I can't wait to see what direction you take as you get older. Right now, you seem to be the musical one in the family, which is especially fun for me since I love music too. I am excited to take you out on our date to guitar center to really show you the instruments and let you play some of them. I love spending time with you Jonah. You are such a fun boy and everyone really loves you. You are doing great in school and Miss Amanda loves you to pieces. Unlike your big sister, I think that you are an extrovert. You love making people laugh and like to act silly just to get people to giggle. You are a great brother to both of your sisters. You are very helpful to them and love to play with them. You are definitely all boy as you love to get dirty, dig in the dirt, pick up worms (dead or alive), and you know every single truck and tractor by it's name. You are very good at remembering things like peoples names, what kind of car they drive, and little details about people like the color of their clothes or hair. You want to be a firefighter, just like your daddy, and you love it when daddy brings you to the fire station with him to look at all of the big trucks. You have a sweatshirt that says GAP on the front, and you refuse to admit that it says GAP. You always say that it says "I love you". You love Home Depot and your tools and helping daddy fix up the house. You love food and we constantly find you in the kitchen trying to sneak food. Thankfully, you love your fruits and veggies (sometimes you eat 3 apples a day!) and you call yourself "the salad eater", which you are very proud of.

Jonah, you are such a joy to our family and I am so thankful that you are my one and only little boy!

Thank you for always finding a way to make us laugh and smile each and every day!

I love you little man!

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I feel like I need to write.

But I don't know what I need to write about.

Tonight I am feeling such love for my little family. Sometimes I look at my kids and I just can't believe how amazingly precious they are. Jake looks at me all the time and says, " I just love them so much!"

I feel like i have come such a long long way in the past few years in my parenting. I feel like the real turning point was after Kate was born. I don't know what it was about her- maybe how unbelievably cute she was (and is), maybe it was the crazy pregnancy I went through, or maybe it was God using Kate to really open my eyes and really show me that my kids are a gift from Him and not just a "job".

I hate to say it, but before Kate was born, I got annoyed by my kids all the time. I feel like I was in a bad mood a lot and sometimes I felt like they were more of a burden than a joy. Don't get me wrong, I loved them to pieces and we had lots of fun happy days, I am just saying that I didn't have the right perspective or attitude. Then Kate was born, and they way I viewed my 3 kids really changed. It wasn't an overnight change though. It was more that I could see the mom I wanted to be, and knew that there needed to be a change, and I have been working each and every day since then to really make that change.

Now, looking back, I can really see that things are so much better. Our little family is so much happier, my kids behave better, they respect me, they listen to me now (for the most part :) ), and I am happier and feel more confident as a mom and a person.

Some key things that I am learning that are really making a difference in our lives are:

- Attitude: If I am having a grouchy day, it really rubs off on the kids and they whole house is just a grumpy mess. I have a hard time letting go of my bad moods, but I have had to try hard to just let go and turn my mood around. When I succeed at this, our day is always much much better. I got a small piece of advice from a friend the other day when we were having a rough morning. She suggested turning on some fun Christian music and honestly, that helped so much, that every single morning since then I have been playing the kids' bible songs and we all LOVE it! It puts us all in a good mood.

- Discipline and Positive reinforcement: Before Lily started preschool (age 3), I knew when Lily needed to be disciplined, but wasn't sure what the right approach was, so I was inconsistent in how I would discipline. We were really bad about just letting something go when she did something wrong. Sometimes I feel like she would do something wrong, and we would be upset about and be "punishing" her all day long. Sorry Lily, we were still learning! Once she started school, her teacher told me about 1-2-3 magic. We have been using this method ever since. Basically, you do something wrong (not listening, disobeying, breaking rule X....), they get a 1. Do it again, get a 2. And again, a 3. Once they have a 3, write it on a white board, piece of paper, whatever. The next time they ask to do something (arts and crafts, have a treat, juice, watch a show...), say "Look at the board, do you have any 3's?" If they do have a 3, they don't get to do that thing for the rest of the day. I do not carry over any 1, 2 or 3's to the next day, unless it is a 3 they earned right at bedtime (which doesn't happen very often). This way, they see the 3, they know that they deserve it (they had 3 chances), and they know their punishment and it's over. Not drawn out. But, aside from the 1-2-3, they also get to earn stars/stickers for things they do well. If they did something helpful, listened the first time, were good when we went out, or countless other things, they earn a star/sticker (Lily does stickers and Jonah stars). Once they earn 10, they get to pick something to do together as a family. This has been a great system for us because it doesn't focus on the punishment, but it is great for giving them positive reinforcement. And the kids love it. They love picking something to do all together as a family and working at earning their 10 stars. We have gone on train rides, gone out to breakfast or the bakery, out to dinner, to the beach, out to ice cream, to the playground, out for a family hike, and lots of other fun things. The only rules are that it doesn't cost too much and it has to be something we can all do together. It has been great having one method that we use each and every time and mostly that we are being consistent. The kids know exactly what to expect and what the consequences are.

Say "Yes" as often as possible: I still struggle with this one a bit. I don't know why, but sometimes I just like to say no. Why is that? Maybe because I like to prove that I am in charge? I don't know, but I am really working on letting go and find myself having to stop and think about what the kids are asking me for and make and effort to say, "Yes, you can do that". I am working on only saying "No" what it's really something that they can not do, whether it's for safety reasons, or time restraints or something like that. If they really want to go outside and play in the mud, then I need to just get over that the kitchen and their clothes are going to get muddy. Because really, who cares? It's mud. If they want to drag all of their bedding out to the living room to pretend to be "mommy, daddy and kid" then okay, the living room will be messy for a while and I will have to deal with it. Like I said though, this is something I am still working on.

Give them freedom: This is something I think that I have always been pretty good at. I am not a "helicopter parent". My kids are really good at going off and playing either by themselves or with each other for long periods of time. (They don't play by themselves all the time, I play with them lots of times too!) I let them go outside by themselves to explore, dig, run, climb, get dirty, whatever. Of course, I watch from the window, but the don't know that! I give them room to breathe and figure things out for themselves. If they need help with something and they ask me for help, I ask them if they have tried to do it themselves first. I tell them that I won't help them until they have tried to solve the problem on their own first. If they can't do it after they have tried, like Jonah zipping up his coat or Lily with her shoes, then of course I will help them. But I really encourage them to try it first. Another way we encourage their freedom is through the toys we give them. I would say that 98% of their toys do not have batteries. I want them to use their imaginations when playing!

Working on these 4 things has really changed the way that Jake and I parent. We are still working on these things every day, along with other things we want to work on, but I feel like these 4 are the biggest.

Well, Jake just got home from training. I guess I found something to write about tonight :)

I will leave you with this sweet picture of my 4 favorite people- they are pretty much the greatest!

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Today we:

- explored

(and probably another 50 things could be added to this list.)

Wonder what tomorrow will bring :)

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This house

I realized that it has been quite a while since I have really written anything about our new house. Next month, we will celebrate being home owners for one full year!

So much has happened in the past year.

Jake took an unlivable house and turned it into a cute, cozy energy efficent first home for us. I am so thankful for Jake and all of the time and energy he put into this house to make it so nice for us.

This house....
Yep, it was hideous.

has had:
-new plumbing
- new siding and shutters
- new roof
-new electrical
-foam insulation
-blow-in insulation
-attic insulation
- new carpet
-refinished floors
-entire new kitchen
-new screened in porch
- new windows
- new paint (the ceiling took 8 coats!)
- lots and lots of yard work
-new  basement playroom
-new appliances
and I am sure there are more things that I am just not thinking of at the moment

Still to do this spring/summer:
- landscaping
- redo front steps

Still to do in the next year or two (or whenever we can get to them...):
- re-do the bathroom
-re-pave driveway
- new shed or garage
-pellet stove insert for the fireplace
- new deck outside of the sliding door

To do in the next 5-7 years (??):
- Adding a second story (or move to a bigger house)

We have lots of plans and ideas for this house. But for now, all of the big projects are done and we are in the process of closing out our building permit!

Since it has been such a slow winter and academy is over, Jake has been home much more and we are finally getting to decorating and hanging pictures! There is still much to do, but it already looks so much better having pictures of my sweet little ones on the walls. We have also been tackling little projects like changing out all of the door knobs and little odds and ends like that.

Since the house is looking more like our home, I will try to clean it up and take some pictures to put up- show you all the real before and after pictures. It has been quite the transformation!

I can not believe that it has almost been a full year since we bought this little house, but we are so thankful to be here. God truly led us to this house and knew that it was the best place for us to be. We could not live in a better neighborhood or have better neighbors and I love that we get to raise the munchkins here! I just can not say enough about this neighborhood :) We are so blessed to live here and this past year has been great. 

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