Monday, July 30, 2012

Resting

It feels liberating to say that I've spent a lot of time in bed the last few weeks, I walk around holding a bar of grapefruit guest soap that I randomly sniff to fight nausea, and when I say I want a lemonade, you have about t-minus-five seconds to do something about it (I've craved it every pregnancy now).

I kid. Not really.

What I really want to say is thank you so very much for all of your kind words and your heartfelt congratulations. Expanding our family is definitely something we've wanted to do, and we've had a couple losses in the process.

After both miscarriage and an unexpected birth experience, I am very emotionally aware this pregnancy. Does that mean I worry about silly things? Yes, sometimes, and I think that is natural and okay. It took me until seeing a heartbeat this time to even let excitement in the door (it was waiting outside, knocking). But there is another part of being emotionally aware that is good and comforting, and that is trusting my body, embracing all of the emotions that come with these nine months and letting go of what I can't control. I've learned a lot the past couple years, and with that comes a great deal of peace. And where the peace has holes, there are wonderful people who listen and laugh and say "we all worry about that" and "well, that's just motherhood."

So for now, I smile and I sniff soap and I rest. A lot. With both girls, I was sick for 14-16 weeks. And while that seems much more difficult to handle with two kids, they have been so great to play quietly and join me in bed or on the couch for "lay still" games. Like Memory and dentist and hair salon and make-up spa parlor. And honestly, I don't care how much eye shadow she uses or how far up my face the lipstick goes or how many rubber bands she's managed to twist into tangles. I can close my eyes, and she's happy.

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Lainey's Sweet Seat--don't forget, you can still use Code "KELLE" for 10% off your Sweet Seat order.

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The state of rest is recognized by our entire household now. Brandyn slept until noon today, the dogs are suddenly narcoleptic and Nella can randomly be found lying on the carpet, pretending to snore.

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In the meantime, necessary routines encourage consistency and push us toward more productivity. I miss it.

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Nella stacked a 1o-story high stack of blocks in O.T. this morning

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Lainey convinces her brothers to take her swimming


I felt good tonight and actually texted back an "I'm in" to a girlfriend call to Hurricanes. I ate spicy food and laughed at inappropriateness and rolled out humor to match. "You're on fire tonight," my friend noticed after dropping me off. The whiney pregnant girl who sniffs soap, spits in sinks and sits in the shower with a Noxzema moustache just because it smells good was on fire. She was funny, and she felt great.

We're getting there.

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*****

Last week's Friday Photo Dump:

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Friday Phone Dump photos are taken on the Instagram iPhone app (free) and dropped into a 12x12 collage using a photo editing software (Photoshop Elements works). I am @etst (enjoying the small things) on Instagram if you care to follow the feed.

And your #enjoyingthesmallthings photos. (If you use Instagram and have a photo that makes you happy, share it by using the hashtag #enjoyingthesmallthings. Yours may be chosen to be shared in a Friday post.)

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*****

Several of our past sponsors have come back on board this past month, and I'm excited to be reintroducing more this month. Some of you might be familiar with the ever-so-talented metalsmith and enamelist, Mark Poulin. His jewelry creations are unique conversation pieces ranging from simple and modern to fun and colorful.

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Monkey Family Glass Necklace

If you like art, giving gifts that win the "cool thing no one else thought of" award, wearing pieces that tell a story or randomly being asked "Oh my God, where did you get those awesome earrings?," then you'll love Mark Poulin Jewelry.

My girls and I share a Mother/Daughter Sterling Set.

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Mama monkey and her babies.

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Mark's store is full of more characters and inspiration. Check him out, and use Code ENJOY10 for 10% off anything in Mark Poulin Jewelry.

One comment from this post will be randomly selected (generated by random.org) to receive a Mother/Child 2-necklace set, courtesy of Mark Poulin.

*****

I'm going to go curl up with a bar of grapefruit soap and call it a night.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday News

We're thrilled to share...
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I am very nauseated, very excited and dreaming of February when we can finally hold this sweet baby.

And my girls. How my mama girls will be in heaven having a real baby to love.

More later.
...grateful and happy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer, Expired

I'm all about savoring every moment, but I'll admit this hot summer thing? I want to skip the last three chapters and be done with it. Which is why you would have thought I saw Jesus in the third aisle over at Joanns the other day when I noticed the fall wreaths have debuted. I am ready for a weather shift, and I'm a sucker for seasonal commercialism.

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We dwell in two places these days--inside or in the pool. I actually asked Brett the other day, "How come we have to wear clothes?" because it's so hot and humid, the heat relief of communal nudity sounds inviting.

Don't worry. We stayed clothed. We ate popsicles. We ran through the sprinkler, and we finished the night in the pool.

It looks like this:

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Ten Random Thursday Facts:

* I thought it was Friday for the first half of the day today.
* I am crazy looking forward to the Olympic opening ceremony tomorrow night.
* School starts in three weeks, and we are still making big decisions.
* Regardless of decisions, I still enjoy thinking about cool backpacks, lunch boxes and first-day-of-school outfits.
* I Googled "Precious Moments Coloring Book" today. Because I had one once. And I want another one.
* I'm going through a hair accessory phase.
* There are FIVE empty cups on my desk right now. I'm going to do something about that.
* The girls and I are having a sleepover at a friend's tomorrow night. A real polish nails, eat popcorn, watch movies kind of sleepover.
* I had a pedicure this week and I was so relaxed, I started slipping out of my chair. It startled me.
* Nella has added several complete sentences to her vocabulary, and we've been celebrating.


Thank you to all of those who joined us today for the NDSS Webinar. So many great questions! If you missed it, you can watch it on YouTube HERE

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I'm so excited to bring Darlybird back as a sponsor this month. I've proclaimed my love for this fun, whimiscal shop and their incredible selection of well-priced unique gifts, and several of you have followed (they sold out of the adorable owl hanging last sponsorship, but it's back in stock). Darlybird is returning with new shop items as well as old favorites.

I'm loving my Vintage Elle Ring...

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The Vintage Molly and Florida 50 States Earrings...

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...and Darlybird's fun home and children's accessories.

Like the driftwood garland...

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...and Lainey's wool felt crown.

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Darlybird has also helped us in our mission to support the NDSS, donating a portion of their profits last sponsorship to Nella's 2for2 Fund. We're thrilled to welcome them back. Happy Shopping!

...popping in tomorrow for a quick Friday post.

Olympic prep:

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Raising Kids Together: Hallmark

This post is a Hallmark sponsored post. I am being paid by Hallmark to write it, but all writing, ideas and opinions are mine. Thankfully, Hallmark and I share the same idea--that little moments are to be celebrated and that good people, good efforts and good intentions deserve a spotlight. See Hallmark Life is a Special Occasion for more details, like them on Facebook, and/or sign up for their e-mail messages HERE.



We have this thing, Heidi and I. It’s a silly but needful ritual, and we both do it whenever we fly—a last minute phone call right before we take off, and it goes a little something like this:

“Plane leaves in five minutes, you know the drill, right?” I say.

Heidi reassures me. “Yes, yes, I know. You’ll be fine, you’ll have a safe flight, but if something happens, I have to run over to your house and clean it before any grievers show up. I know, I know.”

“And my kids?” I continue.

“Your kids are my kids,” she says. “They will forever be happy, and I will make sure of it. They will know how much you love them. You don’t ever have to worry about that. Now go order a Bloody Mary and read the Sky Mall catalogue. Call me when you land,” she’ll finish.

Your kids are my kids. It’s part of the village pact, an exaggerated statement perhaps because no one loves a baby like her own mama, but what an endearing phrase for a friend to hear. To know our most important job and our love for our most cherished gift in life—our kids—is shared with our friends and family.

As part of a group of contributing writers for Hallmark, we are often given helpful prompts and ideas for monthly themes. Many of these focus on the importance of correspondence—writing our friends and family and expressing our appreciation for what they bring to our lives (Have you seen the Tell Me commercial? Gets me every time).

These prompts are such good reminders, and considering the important role our friends and family assume by supporting us in loving our children, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to make note of some of the most meaningful gestures our friends and family do—things they might not even notice—that make us stop and smile and thank our lucky stars that we’re doing this together. Mi casa su casa. Your kids are my kids.

Friends and Family,

You might not know how very much it means to us when you chase our kids down for hugs before you leave our house, but we notice.

How you create special nicknames for our girls—and they know these names are just between you and them. Like High Five for Lainey. Or Nelson Cornelius.

We love how when you play with our girls, you get right down on the floor with them even though your back will hurt the next day. You let them climb on your head and you pretend that picking shoes out for Polly Pocket is the most fun you’ve ever had.

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Don’t think we didn’t notice when we came over your house that Nella’s birth announcement is still taped to your fridge next to that crayon drawing Lainey made you—the one with stick figures that says PGIPBBUKL. We think it means “I love you.”

When you come over for dinner, you probably don’t know that we talk about you when you leave. We noticed how you turned down a comfy seat at the adult table in exchange for squeezing in a pint size chair at the kid table. We saw your legs were turned all cock-eyed and your knees hit the edge, but we also saw how radiant Lainey’s smile beamed because you chose to share your dinner with her. You didn’t have to eat the macaroni, but you did.

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We love the way you pick our kids up and squeeze them—how you’ve pulled them right from our own arms without even asking, since the day they were born, because you know we don’t care. You know we want them to love you and we’re thrilled to see them in your arms.

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We smile when you grimace through Lainey's hair brushing, and we love how you let her put your hair into fourteen ponytails. We think it's even funnier when you forget to take them out.

When you ask Austyn how his classes are going, we hear you. When you come back a month later and remember that he's interested in nutrition and you offer some connections to help him on his career path, we're moved.

We see those notes you write for our kids on the chalkboard--even if we don't notice them until a week after you were here.

And when we're scared for the future or hesistant of the "what if," truly you have no idea how loved we feel when you tell us that you will be there. That our kids will be okay. That no matter what we face in the coming years, we're not alone.

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It takes a village, and we are so glad you are a part of ours.

Because I am in love with rituals and ceremonies, my babies were welcomed to this earth with friends and family in a special beach celebration. Both girls were surrounded by their village when they were tiny and new, and I will never forget the feeling of community that encircled our family at those ceremonies. I recently found a printout of the words our friends and family said together at Nella's celebration. Written by my dad and recited by those we love, they sum up the responsibility we all have in raising our children together:

As Nella’s family and friends, we accept our responsibility to assist her parents. As they provide Nella a loving home in which to grow, we will uphold her with our love and prayer, guide her with our counsel and example, and encourage her with our affirmation and embrace. We will be careful not to set limits for her dreams but always celebrate and applaud her every effort. Make us open to learn from Nella’s wonder while always reminding her of her worth.



We all have special things that stand out to us--little gestures our friends and family do for our kids that make us feel loved and special. What notable actions have you remembered that make you appreciate your village? Or do you do something that lets your friends and family know their kids are important? Hallmark and I would love to hear about more ways in which we can all fulfil our role in joining our friends and family to raise and love their children.


To see other Hallmark posts on this blog, click HERE.

Monday, July 23, 2012

What They Share

There are times when I watch my girls like I watch a chocolate cake baking. I open the door and peek my head in just to make sure everything's okay. And then there are times when I really watch them. When I can't pull my gaze from what they have going on because it is captivating. Because the feeling of love and adoration between them radiates in a way that feels palpable.

It was quiet in Nella's room today, and I stopped at the sight of Lainey fitting Nella with a cape to match hers. She didn't tell her sister to stay still or explain what she was doing--sisters just know. So Nella stood patiently, glancing down to watch her sister knot her scarf. Arms held to her side and careful not to move, she waited and trusted her sister.

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Nella followed Lainey out into the living room where Lainey told her to lie down. "You're Sleeping Beauty," she instructed. And Nella does what Lainey says.

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It continued for an hour. Two sisters, lost in play. Sometimes they talk, Nella repeating big words that Lainey says. Sometimes they are quiet, communicating with more powerful things than words.

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But everything they share is exactly what I had hoped they'd share. Maybe even more.

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My sistergirls.

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*****

Welcoming returning sponsor, Crystal & Co.

This is the point in the summer where I start losing steam, my gung-ho, yay-for-summer freak flag hanging a little low. I found a lot of great ideas for a summer jump start with Crystal's list of 80 Free/Inexpensive Summer Ideas. Ideas range from going places, making things and playing and doing. Organized well with links to great recipes for anything from homemade marshmallows to homemade slime, Crystal's list compiles the best of the best ideas for moms and kids.

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For more recipes, activities and ideas to keep both mamas and kids happy, check out Crystal & Co.

*****

Happy Monday.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Outside the Home, Inside the Home

I've been waking up earlier lately, drawn out of bed by the promise of a short period of solitude before Nella wakes up. I make my coffee and watch the news, the latter usually a regrettable decision, especially lately when mud-slinging politics and devastating stories such as the Aurora tragedy plague the media.

I tend to sway back and forth between periods of international awareness and current event cluelessness based on how busy I am, how tolerant I am to what I read and see and sometimes, how guilty I feel for what I don't know. Sometimes my role as a thirty-something, family-focused mom challenges me to look far beyond my own little circle and deeply consider the decisions that are being made that affect our country and our world, the stories that are playing out in our community and the headlines that surface on the Internet, trend in Twitter and steal our focus in horrifying scenes on the morning news.

But sometimes that very same role of a thirty-something, family-focused mom is exactly what challenges me to turn it off. To walk away from the TV, to stop reading the headlines and to know that awareness and the promise of a brighter future begins with ourselves and our own families. The media's overwhelming presence in this current generation allows for biased presentations of how good or bad the world really is. But when I've watched and read enough that I feel that "God, what kind of world do we live in?" dissapointment taking over, I know I need to shift gears. The best things happen when we believe in good, when we give people the benefit of the doubt, when we understand that pain and tragedy are indeed part of this world, but that they are overshadowed by the potential of the great amount of good in human kind.

I am so sorry for the families who are hurting in Aurora, Colorado. I hope that more stories of courage arise and the heroes of this event are given far more media coverage than the young man who caused it. I hope we focus not on fear and panic for what could happen but for the possibility of what will happen to our communities and our country when we properly balance our focus on what exists beyond the doors of our home with what we are doing inside them.

*****

Somewhat fitting, we enjoyed a family day this week. In the middle of the week, for no good reason than we felt we needed it. We chose a new beach, a quiet secluded one at a nearby state park and, for five hours, we enjoyed each others' company with no distractions. Alright, I Instagrammed.

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The tide had washed in earlier and created a shin-deep pool that made for some lovely wading.

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And lots of sea life. Cockles and conch shells, two sand dollars and, get this--a sea horse. Not exactly the unicorn, spiny-back, twirly tail kind, but it was definitely of the sea horse family. A little Googling has proven it to be a pipefish.

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For the record, we put our sand dollars right back where we find them--in the gulf.

Lainey and Nella are completely different in their sea critter comfort level. Lainey will hesitantly touch a starfish, come within a couple inches of a sand dollar, but she ran screaming when the conch shells surrounding her towel started flipping over and creeping toward her. Nella, on the other hand, can't get close enough.

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Sister almost kissed a crab.

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Both satisfy their inquisition level as they see fit, digging sand trenches, venturing into the warm waters of the gulf, flipping twisted shells over and peeking inside for any movement.

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And Mama's just happy to be there, watching my girls write chapters in their Florida childhood books.

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Retro Swimsuit, Popina Swimwear


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*****

Friday Photo Dump:

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Friday Phone Dump photos are taken on the Instagram iPhone app (free) and dropped into a 12x12 collage using a photo editing software (Photoshop Elements works). I am @etst (enjoying the small things) on Instagram if you care to follow the feed.

And your #enjoyingthesmallthings photos. If you use Instagram and have a photo that makes you happy, share it by using the hashtag #enjoyingthesmallthings. Yours may be chosen to be shared in a Friday post. Want to be reminded of the good and wonderful things people are doing with thier families, inside the doors of their home and beyond? Come visit #enjoyingthesmallthings on Instagram.

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*****

For fun this weekend...what are five things you are tired of and five things you are not tired of?

Tired of...uncomfortable summer heat, Moon Dough mess, the morning news, my dirty iPhone case, e-mail

Not Tired of...Instagram, kind words, fresh veggies, evening baths, Nella's naughty word ("butt!")

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Happy Weekend...outside the home, inside the home.