Tuesday, January 24, 2017


One year ago today, I lost a dear friend after an aggressive battle with breast cancer. Missy was dear friend from college, my maid of honor. Her husband, Jeff, is Derek's childhood BFF and three year roommate. Losing Missy was hard and the grieving process caught me off guard. Words never seemed to come and I didn't know how to share. And I think this was the reason why I struggled to blog much at all. To ignore talking about it seemed fake, yet the words weren't ready yet. I started to make a Facebook post tonight, but it was clear I had more to say than I originally anticipated. 

Derek and I were hit with a wave of funerals of those 30 and younger last year. And today marks the one year anniversary of losing our dear friend Missy. A year of which I have spent so much time trying to understand why some people have to leave us so soon. Good, loving, compassionate, brave people... parents of young children. Even if I invested all of my energy and dedication into loving others, caring for orphans and international students, and sharing faith I would never even come close to matching Missy's level of passion and virtue! 

Only recently have I started to come to a realization that I'll never get an answer that satisfies my heartache, one that makes me okay with having to lose such a good person. But, I also realized that the responsibility is up to me to impact the lives of others on her behalf, like she would have. It's the only way I know how to keep part of her alive and it's been healing- donating to orphan care, trying to be enthusiastic and friendly to the people I come across each day, trying to love my husband better and make sure others know how much I love and appreciate him-- all of the things that seemed so effortless for Missy! 

This responsibility of carrying on a legacy of one gone to soon has influenced the name of Four who we will be meeting so soon. And I am more in love with his name than any name we've ever picked. His first name comes from an American soldier: a man of faith and good leadership, a father, a casualty of war. One who embraced the army values and made a difference in the lives that he led. He created a ripple effect into the lives of others, into the namesake of Four's middle name, who embraces the same values and passes them on to others. It's not the kind of meaning one finds in a baby book, but carries on our mission to instill the same character traits as our son grows up. 

I am aware now, more than ever, that legacies don't stop when a person passes away. They live on in those of us who pick up where they left off and carry it on. 


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Big Kid Updates

A big kid update post is way overdue (much like my stack of library books sitting on the shelf next to me) here in this space! We keep super busy with our schedules, but it's a fun life to keep up with. 

The school year is off to a great start. Jackson in 2nd grade and Isabelle started kindergarten this year. 

Jackson has been busy losing teeth! If he keeps losing them at this rate, I'll be feeding him baby food. But speaking of food- this kid eats a ton. He plays hard and is ALWAYS hungry. His favorite snack is still pineapple. 

Jackson is playing fall ball and his first game was earlier this week. He's made some great hits and has been able to score some runs! It's a lot of fun to watch. When he's not playing ball (or begging to play on the tablet) Jackson has picked up reading quite a bit. I'll find him on the couch captivated by a chapter book sometimes in the morning and he's always begging to stay up a little bit later to read. He finished the Captain Underpants series and was distraught that the series had to end. He went on and on about how he likes the characters and wonders why the author couldn't just keep writing more! I said, "Me too, buddy. Me too." It made me chuckle because I still feel that way about Harry Potter. But I love that he's into books enough to care about when the books end!

School pics came home yesterday. My brown eyed baby boy sure is handsome! And the missing teeth are just my favorite.

Isabelle is learning to read, loves to play pretend, and enjoys art projects. We "made cookies" using a cardboard box and she played with them and her stuffed animals for a week! This afternoon, I found her cutting through the grocery ads to make a collage of her favorite foods. Which then progressed into cutting items of a party catalog-- and she could tell you a never ending story about every single item she cut. I love her imagination!

 Does this face just scream ornery?!? :) She is a master at saying whatever is on her mind and making her opinion known. She also picks up the funniest phrases and uses them in the most unpredictable ways in conversation. Belle makes us laugh a ton!

Here's her sweet kindergarten picture! I love that she wanted to wear a bow that day. It doesn't happen often. Neither does her hair actually looking this put together. 

Jackson and Isabelle have started watching Pokemon on Netflix. Derek and I are hoping the interest will fade fast. They are both big helpers around the house and love to earn stars for their chore charts. One of my favorite parts of the day is getting to read with them before bed. We are currently reading through a few Magic Treehouse books. I have to hide them when I get them from the library because otherwise Jackson will read them on his own before I even have the chance to start a new one. 

The 'big kid' stage of life is fun. I sure love these kiddos!


Sunday, September 18, 2016

It's a BOY!

So I know I barely even made an announcement that we're expecting! I have a post for another day with an pregnancy update of the first 20 weeks. Yes, I'm already half way done! I had my ultrasound this week with my little sidekick snuggled up next to me of course!

I love ultrasounds! I could sit and just watch the baby all day. Plus, I've noticed a difference in the technology from this pregnancy from my first (eight years ago!) and it's so cool. The technician show me the different lobes in the brain; we saw hands, legs, and little feet; we even got a glimpse of an open mouth. We have ONE healthy baby growing and we're delighted!

Of course, we were anticipating a cooperative baby to determine the gender. Jackson had let us know one day at dinner one day that if we were having another girl, he would move out. I couldn't help but laugh! I'm not even sure where 7 year olds go when they move out. A guy from church asked Isabelle the other day if she wanted a brother or a sister. Her response: she wants a puppy. 

Everyone and their brother predicted a baby boy. I mean, even a stranger from NYC actually said it was a boy. My dad, who has been amazingly accurate, was confident Four is a boy. Fortunately, the baby was cooperative. I knew it right away! There would have been no way to keep it a secret. 

We're delighted to have another little boy! Derek had to head out of town for the day for work so he wasn't able to be at the ultrasound with me. I waited to tell the kids until I was able to tell him, which was pretty late in the day. I baked a blue cake and covered it in frosting for a gender reveal for the kids. It was cute. 

Both big kids were excited. Isabelle is happy because "boys are less wild" and Jackson because "boys make less noise." Caroline was enthusiastic simply because her siblings were excited (either that or she was really excited to eat cake). 

Here's a few reasons I'm super excited:
  • I was hoping for another boy!!!
  • Jackson isn't moving out!
  • I like the name selection better for boys.
  • We can save money on marriage counseling that would be necessary if forced to decide on another baby girl name.
  • I don't have to go through the massive piles of clothes that Caroline has outgrown. They are going straight to goodwill!
  • We don't have to start saving for a third wedding. 
  • I'm excited for another round of blue baby clothes. Plus, I have a couple of my FAVORITE outfits I saved from Jackson. I can't wait to reuse them!
  • I feel less bad about purging every single baby item from my house a mere six weeks before finding out we were pregnant because most of it was pink anyway. This is really more of a "laugh so you don't cry" bullet point. But really, so many people have graciously offered to let us borrow items so we aren't starting from scratch because seriously... this is the last one! :)
  • I'm glad my two middle babies are girls so it separates them in a special way. Plus, I think it'll help Jackson bond with the littlest, even though he's eight years older. 
Obviously, we're thrilled with the news of a healthy baby! The rest is just bonus. The ultrasound technician wasn't able to get all of the views of baby's heart, mostly in part to my almost-two-year-old-extension that is connected to me at almost all time, but we just scheduled another quick sonogram in a couple weeks. I'm totally okay with another glimpse of this fella!


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Our Bahamas vacation that turned into a trip to DC and NYC

Last Wednesday, Derek and I headed out on our highly anticipated tenth anniversary trip to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas! Sun, sand, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins were all on the agenda along with plenty of lounging and reading the new Harry Potter book for five days. 

Here we are ready for a relaxing week! 

Well, after this pic was taken, our plans were completely turned around! Our plane was boarding to Atlanta when I get the notification that the CDC issued a new warning merely hours before, which advised pregnant women not to travel there due to cases of the zika virus being spread in the country. (I suppose this is where I get to make the announcement-- we're pregnant with baby #4!). I am sure you can imagine the flow of tears that poured out as I boarded a plane knowing that we would likely never make it to our planned destination. With our free wifi on the plane (thanks T-mobile!) we researched a bit about the cases that were documented and found out that they all occurred on the island we were expected to go. At that point, we just knew there was too much on the line and made the decision not continue to the Bahamas once we landed in Atlanta. More tears, obviously. 

Before we could actually make plans, we had to figure out how much money we might actually get back from our non-refundable tickets and resort reservations. We found a Delta customer service booth in Atlanta and were treated so kindly (perhaps the sobbing pregnant lady played a part?). In a matter of minutes, they refunded our flights. I was in touch with the resort and they offered a partial refund until I could submit a letter from my doctor confirming pregnancy and was advised not to travel to the Bahamas at which they would provide a full refund. This was such a blessing and more than either company was really obligated to do! 

So, having most of our trip in pending refunds and being at the nation's busiest airport, we found ourselves with so many options! I had texted a few friends who have traveled and/or live along the east coast in flight. And the very kind man sitting next to me on the plane (who was probably wondering what he had done wrong in life to have to sit next to a sobbing pregnant woman for two hours) was from Florida and wrote out every beach he's enjoyed along with dinner ideas and hotels. It was actually a bit overwhelming. We tossed around ideas. We browsed the departure boards. We looked up flights and schedules on our phones. We stopped to eat lunch and collect our thoughts. Ultimately, we opted to travel to Washington DC and then travel up to New York city for an exciting, albeit completely opposite than what we were expecting, adventure!

An adventure that would land us in Baltimore to take a train to DC, on a boat to Virginia, on subways and uber cars around the nation's capitol, on a bus traveling back through Maryland into Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey leading us into NYC where we'd take more subways, buses and boats before flying home. Oh, and an average of 7-8 miles of walking each day and a 6 mile bike ride through Central Park.

Here we are (smiling again!) for our 10th anniversary trip 2.0

Our trip can best be summarized by visiting and doing every possibly touristy thing in a very short time frame - two and a half days in each city.

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Inside of the Lincoln Memorial-- if you look close, you can see Four making a presence. This is 17 weeks! 

White House!

Sunset boat ride on our way back from Alexandria, VA

International Spy Museum

Air and Space Museum 

Arlington Cemetery

Boarding our bus to NY!

New York pizza is the BEST (sorry, not sorry Chicago). Especially after sitting on a bus for six hours in DC/NY Friday evening traffic. 

Short cruise to check out the Statue of Liberty (the Brooklyn Bridge behind us!) 

Derek and Lady Liberty

We walked and ate lunch on the High Line

Half-price tickets-- plus, we didn't even have to stand in line because the usher was concerned about the heat and my pregnancy. :)

This show was SOOOOOO good. 

Did I mention we only packed for a week of lounging at the beach? Day 3 called for the purchase of tennis shoes after my feet couldn't handle so many miles in flip flops. Of course, these came at a Times Square premium, but aren't they super cute!?

Outside the 9/11 museum with the Freedom Tower behind us. I thought I had managed to cry all my tears at the airport on day one, but man I couldn't stop them the entire two hours we were inside the museum!

South view of Top of the Rock

 North view!

It wasn't intentional to be sporting our Royals gear around disappointed fans out east (remember, we packed for the Bahamas!), but we our Royals gear was quite the conversation starter in both DC and NY!

Night tour around Manhattan and Brooklyn

We ended the trip with what I thought would be a leisurely bike ride through Central Park. Ha! It was still a great way to explore the park, but there were a few walks of shame up some hills. 

The view from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

We ended the trip with a quick visit with a friend of my favorite New Yorker, souvenir shopping for the kiddos, and a trek to Laguardia airport. Derek and I are still working on recovering from our super crazy, exhausting trip, but it did not disappoint! We've pushed our tropical beach vacation back a year or two -- when the grandparents have recovered from watching the kids AND are up for adding a FOURTH into the mix! :) :) :) 


Sunday, July 31, 2016

The summer of swimming

We've been up to a lot for sure this summer, but the one thing is for sure-- we've been making sure to get the most out of our pool pass! It's been a lot of fun and it's actually been the easiest summer to manage the kids at the pool. Jackson is can swim and is tall enough to go out on his own, Isabelle knows her limits and will play around, and Caroline is so timid she will barely leave my side. We typically spend a "two adult swims" at the pool when we go and it's the perfect amount of time to get outside in this dreadful heat!

The first day-- they're ready to dive in!

The kids often find friends to play with or we'll plan times for our friends to come play with us!

 There's still fun to be had when it's just us though!

Like sending silly face texts to Aunt Laura saying "Wish you were here!" 

Aunt Laura and Uncle Sebastian did take the kiddos to the pool one day. The kids thought it was the coolest day at the pool ever.

Each kiddo has made a big achievement in water confidence and skills over the summer-- including trying new water slides!

Jackson tried this slide on our 2nd or 3rd visit. He spent two hours that day climbing up the stairs, sliding down, swimming to get out, and then back up the stairs to start the cycle over again.

Isabelle tried out the tube slide. She's so funny-- she won't sit on the tube to go down! She would rather just go on her bottom with the tube to just catch her when she reaches the bottom.

Most days Caroline won't leave my side, but there have been a handful of times that she has decided to play on the little kid playground. Whenever she does play, she'll do it over and over for an hour. But if she's not interested, she won't even glance that way. 

Her favorite is when either big brother or big sister are there to play with her!

The cousins joined us at the pool this weekend and we still have two more weeks to cram in swimming time before school starts!

It's been a pretty great way to spend the summer! 



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