the adventures of april

April has been relatively quiet, especially the past couple weeks. We’ve been staying home, and I’ve been attempting to settle into this new stage of low energy me, high energy kiddos, and patience. 

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Up three/down three was the result of several very, very tough days in a row that left me at a complete loss. When morning #5 started out about the same way that the others had been going, I remembered an idea a friend had told me and grabbed a couple paint strips and a sharpie. We now have a system that forces me to look for the positives to reinforce and also gives me the freedom to give warnings and administer discipline without worrying that I’m doing it too often or not often enough. I’m sure it won’t last forever, no system does… but it’s brought some sanity to daily life around here and I’m grateful.

We were excited Lela could come dye Easter eggs with us! We also went outside and hunted for some plastic eggs and candy. We’ve been loving this beautiful spring weather.

A few other fun things lately, clockwise from the top left: 1) a 10 mile bike ride with Tonya during Saturday naps was very refreshing and much-needed! I have been forcing myself to get out and get some exercise to combat the fatigue. 2) popsicles on the porch during some of these particularly warm days… a fun treat to look forward to after naps! 3) “helping” wash ambulances the other night, and 4/5) frisbee golf in Galesburg with Grant’s mom and dad and Elise and Noah last Sunday afternoon. It was such a fun way to spend time together!

Garage sales are still one of my favorite things, and North Peoria never disappoints. Last weekends finds included matching Lands’ End backpacks and that hat. He calls it his “farmer hat” and usually insists on wearing it with his black rubber boots while going out to “feed the animals”.

Cotton & Corduroy continues to keep me busy when I’m not breaking up fights and running laundry and trying to find something that sounds good to eat, but every now and then I still need a no-pressure creative project. This dress (below) was one of those. My inspiration came from Hanna Andersson; mine is definitely not identical, but it was really fun to be able to pull it together with fabric I already had. I used a free pattern I found on Pinterest, which is for a size 3T, I made just a few adjustments for a better fit for Ivory, but she’s petite so patterns usually are pretty flexible for her. 🙂 It was easy and turned out… that’s always an exciting combination.

And finally, I’ll leave you with this… I caught her studying the last page of “Fancy Nancy – Budding Ballerina” very intently and discovered she was just learning the five positions of ballet… definitely very practical information. 🙂 This week from the library we have “Fancy Nancy – Too Many Tutus”, which is about the same amount of practicality. But, who doesn’t love a little bit of drama in their lives? If that’s all the drama we have right now… that’s fine with me. 🙂

book review: next door as it is in heaven

51J3vSECbxL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_In some ways, this book reminded me a lot of another book I reviewed a while back – Staying is the New Going. It’s about living in your neighborhood intentionally, invested. I read this book a while back and I’m just now getting around to reviewing it. It’s ironic because I just finished a messenger conversation with a neighbor, and it seems like I should be able to do better than that right? 🙂 I do talk to her in person, this just happened to be online, but still. It made me realize I hadn’t been in touch with her in a while. And at another elderly neighbor’s house there has been lot of activity that makes us wonder if her children are moving her out… sadly, I don’t even know her name and hardly enough information to ask any questions. It’s shameful.

So anyway, I have a lot of work to do in this area of “living out God’s kingdom in your neighborhood”. I appreciated the authors’ approach to it, though. Their philosophy isn’t overwhelming or even really more than an encouragement to live daily life and to be willing to have others come alongside you, and to be willing to come alongside others. We need each other a lot, but it also takes effort to live in community; it’s kind of funny how that works. The effort is not only worthwhile, its also a biblical calling… to do life with others is good for all of us.

The authors also offered interesting historical perspective on growth and change in neighborhoods, particularly following World War II, and just how economic and societal changes and shifts affect the way that we interact with one another now. It was helpful and fascinating.

In my life, there’s several people I can think of who have done an excellent job of choosing to invest in a neighborhood long-term, with positive results. It’s inspiring, for sure, and this book is good encouragement to keep heading in that direction.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my review.

little adventures

For anyone who hasn’t seen it anywhere else on social media, we’re excited to announce…

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We are so grateful for a healthy pregnancy so far and excited siblings-to-be!

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I should be doing laundry. But there are two things about that… 1) I’d have to get off this chair and go downstairs and 2) my clothes still smell like saltwater/sand and it just seems like such a shame to wash it off. 😉

Oregon was definitely just what I needed… we went for Taylor & Allison’s wedding, but that was only a part of our trip. The first few days ended up being a getaway to the coast and it was perfect. We had a beautiful place to stay, a quick and short walk to the water, and some distance from home. Sometimes, distance from normal life gives me new resolve to parent well, to keep my house well, and to throw myself wholeheartedly into whatever it is that’s in front of me. Our weekend away definitely gave me new energy for that. I’ll admit that in some ways I was looking for a more pivotal, revolutionary moment – hearing God perfectly clearly and journaling about all of the wonderful things He was teaching me. But actually, what He taught me was fairly simple, and He didn’t give me the chapter that summarized it all until we got home… so how’s that for a dose of reality? 🙂 He taught me about abiding… just simply being in Him. And He helped me release some of the fears I’ve had about being tested and tried… He reminded me that abiding in Him doesn’t actually mean He’ll rip my life apart (although sometimes it has been that way in the past), but it does mean that when He does purge, it’s for both my good and His… that more fruit could come forth. (John 15).

Anyway, I’m so grateful for the time we had. It was so, so good.

I loved everything about the coast in the Lincoln City area… the sand, the rocks, the waves, the cliffs, the colors, the wind… it was amazing. We had beautiful weather on Thursday, then rain Friday and Saturday, but we had been planning on that, and spent plenty of time inside by the fireplace, soaking in the hot tub, and just being together. I kind of saw the trip as an opportunity also for us to connect before Grant launches into a likely very busy, overtime-hours summer at work.

We stayed at Olivia Beach in this beautiful VRBO: https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p603721vb. I would highly recommend it – the location was wonderful, it was clean and beautifully kept up and decorated, and the owners were so easy to communicate with. It was also very reasonably priced and just around a 2-hour drive from PDX.

Saturday we left the coast and headed east for the wedding… that was beautiful too but I have almost no photo proof that we were there. The photographer posted some lovely pictures here: https://karakuenziphotography.pixieset.com/weddingoftaylorandallison/ Congratulations, Taylor & Allie!

Darwin & Jenna Sinn (and sweet little Fiona) were gracious enough to keep us overnight on Saturday night and we loved being there and spending Sunday with them in Silverton. Darwin took Grant on a brief berry farm tour right before we left on Sunday night, which he described as “extremely interesting”. 🙂 Below is Darwin on a berry picking machine.

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On our way back to Portland, we made a quick stop at one of the taco trucks, per Darwin & Jenna’s recommendation… SO worth it. They are the real thing… it was fun to find a little piece of authentic Mexico in the Pacific Northwest. Who would have thought?

On Monday, we flew back to St. Louis with Matt & Kim and Marshall and Carl. So that was fun! Then we made our way to Mahomet and it was so good to see the kids, eat supper at Dad & Mom’s, and grab our free cones at DQ before making our way back to Princeville.

And now we are in full recovery mode… re-learning how to do normal life at home. But like I said, there’s renewed energy and faith for that… sometimes you just have to travel to realize how wonderful home can be.

fancy ivory

Ivory turned 4 on March 4! Her golden birthday was very anticipated and well-celebrated, thanks to all of our wonderful family. “Fancy Nancy” is a favorite character around here these days and made the perfect party theme. It was all very pink and purple, and, well, fancy. And thanks to everyone’s willingness to add an “accessory” to their “ensembles”, it was quite a memorable event. Tia Leah made the cake, and we had sandwiches with frilly toothpicks, and everything. 🙂 If you haven’t read “Fancy Nancy” (the original book), you definitely need to. It will make you want to have a party for sure, and will give you plenty of suggestions for how to do it.

Ivory had the time of her life dressing up in her pink sparkly outfit – and still does. We love her so much and are so grateful for God’s gift in putting her in our family. I pray often that she’ll always strive for inner beauty above all… that the glitter and sparkle wouldn’t be all a facade. 🙂 She is a sweet blessing, a wonderful companion to Titus, and full of ideas, energy, creativity, and personality. Parenting and family life is an adventure for us all, but we’re glad to be in it together!

Grandma W.’s brilliant gift of a tu-tu unfortunately didn’t arrive until after the party, but I have to document it here…

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I think it has been donned every single day since she got it, including one morning for church – although in my few years of parenting I have gained a decent amount of foresight. As in, when she first opened the tu-tu, I tried to make very, very clear that it would NOT be worn for church. But of course, the very next Sunday morning, Grant went out to start the van and asked the kids to get their coats on. Ivory had complied, but also added an additional accessory – yes, the tu-tu. A gentle reminder from Daddy, I’m sure – “haha, Ivory, take it off. We’re not wearing that”. And she replied, “actually, yes I am”. And this continued until Daddy tried reverse psychology… “Ok, let’s go get in the van”. *pause, and momentary confusion from Ivory* … who replied “Daddy! You’re not telling the truth”.

So, life at 4 is fun and interesting, and always very fancy.

We love you Ivory Kaye!

all dressed up…

There is dress-up and role playing on a daily basis around here these days…

… and its a good thing we can use our imaginations to take us places because the reality is, we’re all dressed up, but we’ve really got nowhere to go.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some fun days out in the past few weeks… Ivory had her much-anticipated Valentine’s Day party with her Sunday school class (pictured above), and we’ve done a few Sunday afternoon drives to Fairbury/Forrest for family stuff. And I got to spend the day with Luann, Michelle, and Heather last Friday shopping in Aurora, and that was most definitely a bright spot in my February.

But to be honest, there’s also been an awful lot of staying home here lately. And that has been good. We’ve found more than enough to work on, and some great reading material, had a few visitors pop in, and, this week in particular, nearly drained the bottle of children’s Tylenol. 🙂

I turned the calendar and March is going to be a good month. 🙂

st. louis

So I just realized that I never posted pictures from our weekend with the Zimmermans in St. Louis. It was a little wild and crazy, but we have good memories and got some stuff done. Kim is doing an amazing job living in two places… she had plenty there for the kids to do while we hung drywall, pulled off wallpaper, and ripped up floors. Finding great floors under not-so-great floors has been a theme in this house, and I’m excited for them; that’s such a fun and economical way to get a better house.

We’re looking forward to sharing many more memories in this house… I’m sure there will be lots of cousin fun and good chats around the fireplace. Just like that one. 🙂