Monday, June 22, 2015

The next chapter...

As I sit here sipping my coffee waiting on laundry to dry, I find myself in a new season of life. Currently it's a lot of just waiting... waiting on baby Joel to make his grand appearance when he is ready, and waiting on our next chapter.  The next chapter brings me so much excitement, and yet lots of butterflies all at the same time.  But to understand where our family is headed, you have to first understand where we've been...

I've spoke a lot about our family decision for me to stay at home with the kids on the blog before, so I won't dive into how we came to those decisions since many of you have already read all about it, but I will say that decision has come with sacrifice and with hard work.  Yes I do work as well.  For the last 2 1/2 years I have been blessed by some dear friends and was asked to watch their kids during the day while they worked.  It started out with one family and only one day a week, and eventually grew to this past year, 3 families (occasionally 4), 3 days a week.  (I set 2 days aside for prior commitments-MOPS and a women's Bible study.)  

Knowing that I can count on ONE hand the number of people who I would let watch my own kids, I'm incredibly honored that these families chose me to help them care for their kids.  Leeland and Hayden would ask each night at bedtime with excitement, "What day is tomorrow?  Whose coming over tomorrow!?" because let's be real, to them Mommy was not working, it was simply their friends coming to play.  There were a few days here and there that kids would be cranky, or not 100% well, or just having a hard day and it was to be expected when caring for a house full of preschoolers, but for the most part, the days were a breeze.  The kids bonded, the kids played their hearts out, the kids napped hard, and the kids grew together.  And if I'm being really honest, I grew as a Mom too.  I consider myself incredibly blessed by these families!

As we approach the next chapter in our lives as a family, I have had to back away from providing childcare.  It's been a scary step.  One that a lot of prayer went into, along with a lot of thought!  For one, I've had this routine and it's been comfortable for over 2 years.  Secondly, the families have been relying on me for childcare and knowing how hard childcare is to come by, I didn't want to leave them high and dry.  Third, my own kids have grown accustomed to seeing their friends and have loved spending so much time with them.  And fourth, childcare has been an income for our family and walking away from an extra income when money is tight isn't easy.  It takes faith!

Along with leaving the childcare business behind, I also had my very last Mothers of Preschoolers meeting last month.  I've been a part of "MOPS" for 3 years and have greatly enjoyed every single meeting!  Motherhood can be lonely... let's be honest!  We spend our days cooped up with preschoolers.  Sure the years are short, but the days are LONG.  Our patience is tested as we grow little people and because we're hard on ourselves, we spend many days simply thinking that we're treading water and getting nowhere..... and a few days drowning.  None of these thoughts are based on fact or warranted, but in the tough moments it's hard to be optimistic.  "MOPS" was such an incredible blessing!  A place with people who GET IT. They know treading water and they're right there in the pool with you.  A place where a Mom can get filled with encouragement, God's word, and delicious food all while the kids get loved on and get time to play with their friends.  I've met new people, and I've had friendships grow and I found a place of connection. Again, being a mom can be lonely and building those connections is SO vital!

But alas, we're approaching a new chapter.... I have a FIVE year old.  I don't see how it is possible, but it's truth.

Our next adventure begins in August.  We are growing as a family quite literally from 4 to 5, and we're beginning our first "real" year of full-time homeschooling.  (Hello Kindergarten!!) So much excitement lays ahead and we are sitting back and waiting on it to begin.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Third Trimester

Two things I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around this week.... 1. Where did May go?  Seriously, how is it almost June and what did I spend this entire month doing that it flew by so quickly?  AND 2. We are 2/3's of the way through this pregnancy.  Officially 3rd trimester as of last Wednesday! This pregnancy has definitely FLOWN by in comparison to my other two.... although I'm sure time will manage to slow down come August when I'm ready to be done.  Ha! Isn't that how it works?

Anyway, so far the 3rd trimester has been good to me.  My all day throwing up of nearly everything I ate ended around 21/22 weeks finally and I pray that it doesn't come back.  At that point, I finally started putting on some pounds, and the scale has risen very quickly.  Watching the scale climb has been incredibly difficult for me!  Of course, I know that it's best for baby and it's expected but when you work incredibly hard for over a year to see the weight come off and then you start packing it back on, it's very hard.  I've been in close communication with my care providers about my weight throughout the entire pregnancy, and while I'm blown away at the scale, they are pleased with what I have put on and say there's still some room to grow this last trimester.  I feel like a total whale though.  Let's be real... pregnancy gives different emotions to different people, and for me,  I'm a whale.

Because I'm a planner and a list maker, I've been a busy bee the last few months nesting and checking things off of my to-do list and I'm feeling quite confident going into this last trimester that things are mostly done and I can just enjoy some time with the boys and even visit the beach for a little family vacation before we have boy number 3.  We finished the nursery of course, and even got the big boys moved into their shared room, and after that I managed to paint and decorate the upstairs bathroom.  There are certainly a couple other things that could be done, like paint our room and fix up the homeschool room for our first year of homeschooling in the Fall, but those will come with time.

Also, with my list making personality, I sat down several months ago when we first found out that we were expecting and wrote out a list of "needs for baby." You would think that we would be set with baby things with this being our 3rd boy, but there's that whole little thing where I consigned nearly all of our baby stuff last year thinking that we were "done" having kids..... sooo, yea.  Anyway, gradually the last few months as I've seen good deals, had friends who were cleaning out, went to consignment sales, or had a little wiggle room in the budget, I've picked up things here and there and crossed them off of our list.  The good news is that with 12 weeks to go, we've already gotten nearly everything on the list!!  Today the car seat was delivered and my mind is finally at ease.  Because let's be real.... sure there are lots of "wants" and "things that would be nice" to have for a baby, but when it really comes down to essentials, all you need is diapers, a boob (or two), and a car seat.  

Leeland is also thrilled that the car seat is here because once it gets installed, it means that he gets to move to the back row of the van.  He is thrilled to be Mommy's big boy in the back and he knows that since baby will be rear facing for quite a while that he will be Mommy's big helper and keep an eye on the baby.  He says, "I will make baby Joel laugh in his car seat."  
We opted to skip the infant seat entirely this time around... because well, 3rd kid, you live and you learn.  Heading straight into the convertible seat saves us some money from having to buy another seat a few months down the road, and at the end of the day, I've never been one to lug an infant seat around anyway.  It's heavy, it's cumbersome, and when you're doing things like grocery shopping, it just takes up way too much space in the cart.  (Babywearing for the win!)  We chose the Britax Marathon Clicktight because I have grown to LOVE Britax seats with both of the big boys in their Britax Frontiers.  And Hayden's Frontier is newer and has the new clicktight technology, and seriously, the ease of installation of the clicktight seats cannot be beat!  
With tasks for the house and needs for baby being checked off of our list, it's time to start thinking about labor and delivery.  I've been asked about my birth plan a lot this time around by friends, and honestly in the beginning, I didn't know what to say.  I haven't really had a plan.  With it being the 3rd kiddo, my plan was pretty much like this.... "go to hospital, push baby out, leave hospital 24 hours later."  Ha!  That pretty much covers it!  However, a few weeks ago, I found a STEAL of a deal on a birthing pool in an auction fundraiser and decided to jump on it.  After attempting to have a water birth with Hayden and it not working out (he came too fast),  I hadn't really considered trying it again.... but now I've reconsidered.  Of course as quick as labor was with Hayden, I keep joking with Daniel that we are going to have baby Joel in the van on the side of the road on the way to the hospital... BUT, we've got the pool now, so we'll try again and worse case scenario, it doesn't get used.  Since I've already had one failed attempt at a water birth, I'm not entirely set on it and it won't be a heartbreaker or anything if it doesn't work out.  We also have opted NOT to hire a doula or any birth help this go around. (Of course I will have my midwife or doctor that is on call at the hospital.)  Maybe I'm naive or just over confident or something... but really, I mean it's the 3rd baby, and I have been blessed to have 2 complication free vaginal births so far, so I think Daniel and I can handle things ourselves.  I still LOVE the work that doulas do, and I definitely suggest doulas to friends and family (especially if it's their first baby), but we're just choosing to keep things as simple as possible this time.  
That pretty much sums up my current state.  I really and seriously cannot believe that we only have 12 weeks to go before we get to meet baby Joel! The next couple months as time continues to fly will be spent going on 1 or 2 beach vacations with my guys, doing some freezer meal prep for post baby and just getting to relax a little because we've conquered so much.  It feels really really good to be in this place and I'm super excited about our little boy on the way!  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Plum Paper Review (And Coupon Code)

Hey friends!  I've got another Plum Paper post for you-- many of you probably remember last year's review and I'm sure that some of you are due for ordering another planner just like I was, so you will enjoy the coupon code at the end of this post.  The last month I have in my current planner is August, so my new one is beginning in September-- one of the perks of the Plum Paper Designs planners/company is that you can pick the start month of your planner.  I did order a bit early since I have a few months left, but I was trying to avoid the back to school planner rush to get a quicker processing time and also, well, I'm having a baby and I live in a pregnancy fog that can't be explained so checking it off of my list seemed like the right thing to do.

I haven't changed a lot from last year's planner, but they do offer some new "add-ons" that weren't available when I originally ordered, and I picked a new cover and custom names for the calendar.  So without further ado, here's a peek....


This year's front cover choice-- the above picture is with the frosted cover over it, and below is with the frosted cover flipped back.  I chose a woodgrain arrow design, it has our monogram in the center  and "The Kroh's Nest" at the bottom.   There would typically be a year printed at the top right, but I asked for that to be left off.  The card stock cover is more glossy this year and feels a tad thicker to me.


Below is the back with the continuation of the woodgrain arrow pattern on card stock with the frosted cover.


When you open it up, you've got the typical "this belongs to...." page.


And after that, you've got a glance at the year-- I have 4 pages total to encompass 2015 and 2016 since my year will cover both.  I find these calendar squares to be perfect for keeping track and marking "monthly cycles" with a red star sticker.  (Of course that's when I'm not pregnant...)  


Then once you flip past the yearly glance pages, you will find yourself at your first divider.  Again, I chose for my calendar to start in September 2015, so that is my first month.  You can pick any month of the year for your calendar to start. 


Each month has a card stock divider and is coordinated with various color schemes throughout the month, so for September, the color is purple and the entire month will have purple accents.  Once you flip the divider, you get to your first "notes" page.  I plan to use this page for Doterra business goals, classes, contacts and to-do's.  


Once you flip past the "notes" page, you have your month at a glance that includes pre-printed US holidays. 


Birthdays, events and notes along the left side of the month.


Once you flip past the monthly calendar, you get to the weekly layout which is where all of the magic happens. :)  The layout that I chose both last year and this year has the dates laid out up top going left to right so that each column represents a day.  And there are 7 customized sections for each day that you can choose what headings you want.  I did re-arrange my headings and change a few things this year....


The 7 headings we have this year going from top to bottom are...  "Events", "Daniel", "Dana", "Kids", "Kids,", "Homeschool",  and "Dinner."  Yes, I meant to do 2 headings for kids.  Last year I put the boys names and had them each have their own section, very soon however, we will have 3 kiddos and I didn't want to take up 3 sections for kids.  They don't have a ton of appointments or events (just yearly doctor, and twice to the dentist), and while I kept track of Leeland's soccer practices and games in his section this year, the other two will not be involved yet in sports this year.  Anyways, on the off chance that more than one kiddo has something going on at once, I have 2 sections of "kids"  to write it all in.  I also switched my "Events" section to the top this year so that it's at better eye level and doesn't get looked over, kept the dinner section for meal planning, and added in our homeschool section this year to help with Kindergarten planning for Leeland.  (Ahh!! Kindergarten!!)


So then once you flip through each week of the month (they all look the same), you get to another "Notes" page and my first new "add-on" which is the "Bill Tracker."


I'm super excited about the "Bill Tracker."  Last year I converted my "Notes" pages into bill trackers and spaces to check off our Dave Ramsey "baby steps" and budget, so to have a ready made page to do those things is super helpful.  Across the top it has "Bills," "Due Date," "Amount," and "Notes."


... Also, the bill tracker is double sided, and while we do not have 2 pages worth of bills,  I can use the flip side for things like my running bank balance or like I said, taking notes on our monthly progress with our Dave Ramsey baby steps.  


Then, as you can see above, once you flip to the other side of the "Bill Tracker", you find yourself at your next month! 

So then let's flip all the way to the back to show you what you will find.... I chose a 12 month planner,  and pending you don't put too many extra add-ons which would make too many pages for the coil, you can have up to an 18 month planner. 

But anyway, once you get past all of the months, my calendar begins in September 2015, and then the last month is August 2016... you will find a couple of blank and unlined pages that you can use for notes and what not.  Then you will get to your "Special Dates" cheat sheet which is FANTASTIC for keeping track of birthdays and anniversaries and what not.  Because let's be real, once you get married and everyone in your family is having babies and getting married, it's a lot of dates to remember. 


Flip past the "Special Dates" page and you will find a "Contacts" page and a page with a list of US Holidays for 2015-2017.



Once past those two pages, you find another small overview of the year, and then my next "add-on", which is color coordinating stickers.  They fit perfectly on two lines within a column in the weekly layout, AND you can write on them.  Great for important days, events, meetings.  I'm thinking I'll try to be super duper extra organized and assign certain colors to certain events.  




Once past the stickers, you get to a handy card stock pocket.  I found it to be pretty perfect for storing stickers last year.  It's double sided so it can surprisingly hold a lot.  


And after that.... well, that's it!  As far as accessories, as I mentioned in last year's review, I'm not huge on the decorative aspect of the family planner. Some people make their planners like a beautiful scrapbook.... I am just WAY too practical for that!  I do have some washi tape that I use to mark out Daniel's rotating schedule which is incredibly helpful for my eyes and much neater than drawing lines all over the calendar.  I have some thinner strips of washi that I use to place vertically in each week to define the end of the week and beginning of the weekend, and I kind of LOVE fun sticky notes, so I use fun and themed sticky notes for reminders, lists, or to place in the Notes section of each week with my weekly Bible memory verse.  

My all time favorite planner accessory though..... THIS....


I think that it's technically a picture holder, or maybe a decorative plate holder?  I found it at Hobby Lobby.  They had a few to choose from.  This one is iron and it's painted blue and was fairly inexpensive.  Anyway, since our planner truly is a "Family Planner" and BOTH Daniel and I need to have access to it in order to coordinate our schedules, add in events and dates for work, I keep it out on our counter open to the current week for us both to see.  So this picture holder, holds it perfectly! 


Without further ado, what you're all looking for is the coupon code to go order yourself one, so here it is...  Head on over to Plum Paper Designs, pick out your planner, load up your cart with fun add-ons and use the code "KROHS10" so that you can get 10% off of your purchase!  Hope that you all enjoy! This is my 2nd plum paper planner and it has been such a blessing for our communication and coordination.  I foresee many many more in the future, and many years of evolving sections and headings as our family grows and changes.  






Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Room Sharing and "Big Boy" Spaces

Before I begin, I sort of feel like I should preface this post with... "No, I am not sponsored by Ikea, nor is this a review of Ikea."  Ha!  Seriously though, it wasn't until I started taking pictures this afternoon that I realized how much Ikea goodness the room is filled with.  Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to receive some Ikea product and be an ambassador for their brand, but as of yet, I haven't gotten that amazing phone call. I'm not quite yet a "big timer" in the blogger world.  ;)

Anyway, it's been about a week and a half now since our 2 biggest boys (Leeland, age 5 and Hayden, age 3) started sharing a room together.  The space they are currently sharing is the upstairs bedroom that Daniel and I used to be in.  We took literally every single second of an entire weekend, to get our room cleaned out and moved downstairs and their rooms moved together and upstairs.  It was quite the chore!  We knew when we purchased the house 2 1/2 years ago that the upstairs room is NOT meant to be a master and that we would eventually move the boys upstairs, but when we first moved here both boys were still in diapers and with Daniel working night shifts, it just seemed easier to me for everything I needed to be at my fingertips downstairs with small children while Daniel snoozed the days away upstairs.

Room sharing on the other hand, became a more recent topic of discussion. Surprisingly to many we began talking about the big boys sharing a room even before we found out that we were pregnant with baby Joel.  Our house is 3 bedrooms plus a bonus room (and 2 bathrooms) and we've liked the idea of having a guest space, and also really like the idea of having a homeschool room.  Is a homeschool room necessary?  Absolutely not! I actually always imagined us doing our schoolwork at the kitchen table, but the thought of clearing the table 3 times a day for meals and not having a space to hang our schoolwork or store things away conveniently in our small eat-in kitchen overwhelms me.  So for now, we've almost completely flipped our house upside down, moved both boys upstairs, us downstairs to reclaim the master that was Leeland's room and the playroom, and we've also created a combined nursery and guest space.  All that's left of our upstairs is to paint the bathroom and it will be like a completely new floor of our house!  Amazing how much a little paint and rearranging can change the look of your house.

So here's the space that we've set up for our big boys to room share.  Maybe we can play a little game called, "can you spot the 3 year old playing possum?"


The slanted ceilings make it impossible to do bunk beds upstairs, but thankfully the room is long enough to have both beds in there.  Hayden's bed looks tiny, but it's only because it's still technically a toddler bed.  It's the length of a twin, but it has very little height to it just in case he rolls off.  He's such little fellow, so he really loves it and could probably sleep in it another 2 years.  (It's the Ikea Singular Bed without the side rail)  The toddler bed was Leeland's at one point, and I'm sure in a few years it will be Joel's. 


The boys picked out the beige fabric with the "ABC's" all over it just the other day for their curtains.  It's a cute choice and matches well with the neutral walls. 


More Ikea furniture.... Their dressers are from the Ikea Brimnes Series, but it doesn't look like they make them anymore to where all 3 drawers are see through.  We've had these dressers a very long time.  I will say, they are cheap and not the sturdiest for adult clothes (we've tried it) but they've been perfect for kid clothes!


Little reading nook with an Ikea Latt table that the boys got for Christmas a couple years ago.  The white bookshelf full of books, and their dress up costumes hanging.  They both got the really cute dress up costumes for their birthdays from their Grandma this year- there are 4 in all, police, firefighter, construction worker and doctor.  They love playing dress up... and even more so love "under arresting" each other with the police costume. 


The other side of the room....



The lego table that the boys got for Christmas this past year from us is made from the Ikea Trofast storage system.  We used some very strong glue to secure Lego base boards to the top.  We've had the Lego table in the living room since Christmas because the boys play with it literally every single day, but moving it upstairs was really needing to happen before baby is born.  Little Legos will be quite the choking hazard for baby Joel, so it's best the boys learn now to keep them in their room before baby Joel arrives.  I LOVE that it has been such an awesome gift though.  I don't think we've ever had a Christmas present be such a big hit.... I mean, how many kids are still playing with their Christmas presents 5 months later every single day?  Legos for the win!!


On the other hand, the overflowing toy box that I frequently purge and get rid of things out of it when I can sneak them out.  In my defense, it looks like a lot but it's mostly because it's large items.  AND I'm sure my OCD friends are freaking that it isn't closed, but it's for the best.... we discovered that when the toy box opens and closes up against the wall, it scratches the paint very badly, so for now, it can stay open to avoid damaging anymore walls.  

.... Anyway, a week and half later and the big boys are LOVING their room and loving being together.  They are only 22 months apart in age, so they have always been very close.  They have literally "grown up" together.  I can only pray that Joel grows up to be just as close to the 2 of them.  They have done SO well at night thus far, just a little bit of chatter for about 20 minutes or so heard on the monitor before they pass out.  We are still separating them for nap time because during nap time, with the daylight and all the toys around, they aren't quite as apt to pass right out.  With Leeland being 5 years old, I'm sure that in the next year or two, he will be done with naps anyway and it won't be an issue.  I have to say, I'm definitely an advocate for room sharing!  These boys share a brotherly bond and friendship that they won't have with anyone else and I'm so happy that they have each other.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Seeds Family Worship CD Winners!!

Happy to see that so many enjoyed and entered the Seeds Family Worship CD Giveaways.  I really enjoy writing up and sharing about things, products, people, gadgets that we as a family enjoy... but more than that, I love the opportunity to give stuff away and bless other families!

I drew the winners of the 3 CD's this morning and here's who the lucky ducks are....


Winner of the "Seeds of Character" CD is.......

Congratulations Lydia!!!


Winner of the "Seeds of Praise" CD is......

Congratulations Lindsay!!!


And last, but certainly not least... The winner of the "Seeds of Courage" CD is.....


Congratulations Brandi!!!

Again thank you all for entering and enjoying the post, if you didn't win, you can find the Seeds Family Music here on their site.  And to the lucky ducks who won, I will be in touch with you about getting your CD's to you.  Congrats again!  Happy Monday friends!!