Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Road Trip Day 1

"Don't overpack." He said. 

"I won't." I said. 

"Just take the essentials. The bare minimum." He said. 

"I will."  I said

"Don't pack the kids in like sardines." He said. 

"I won't." I said 

And then I filled the van with 3 suitcases, 4 duffel bags, 2 strollers, 3 sleeping bags, 4 pillows, half a dozen backpacks, 2 coolers, 1 booster seat, 3 swim floaties, 1 potty chair, 3 bags of food plus too many miscellaneous items to count! 

I lied. 

But today I'm starting my solo trip cross country with all four kids. To say I'm a little nervous and therefore overpacked is a huge understatement! 

Only 1400 miles to go and the kids and I will be back in Minnesota for the first time in a year!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

House Tour: Bedrooms

When I saw the next room scheduled in the house tour was "master bedroom" I almost didn't participate. I LOVE our master bedroom. It's spacious and bright. It's white. And it has an awesome vaulted ceiling with a wood beam. Plus a walk in closet and master bathroom. I've never had a private bathroom before! Lots of reasons to love my room. However it's not very photogenic:( For a few reasons. 1. It's rarely clean or tidy because it is mostly the collect-all space for the main floor of our house. And 2. It's not really decorated. We put the furniture in and threw a few things on the wall and called it done. Then I saw next week's prompt is kid bedrooms and I really wanted to give up on this house tour. Because let's be honest those rooms are always a disaster! But it's all about real homes, right? So I've decided to lump them all together in one big bedroom tour and be done with it.

Disclaimer: The only reason any of these rooms are somewhat presentable in these pictures is due to the fact that we were preparing to go to Minnesota for five weeks and I want to come home to a tidy home. That and I was worried if I left it a mess Joe would throw everything away in my absence! 

If you remember from the previous two room tours when you walk in our front door the kitchen is straight ahead and the living room is to the right. If you turn left there is a hallway that leads to our main floor bedrooms. (The laundry room and a bathroom are also down this hallway.) The first room is the boys' room. Our boys are ages 9 and 1. And thankfully (and surprisingly!) they both enjoy sharing a room. 

This is the room looking in from the hallway:

And the rest of the room...

(Yes Levi's crib sheet is pink. What can I say...he has two big sisters and that's the softest crib sheet we own.) 

Last summer when we moved here I decided Isaiah's room needed a theme. So I took him to the store, showed him a few sheet set options and let him choose. He chose sharks. I bought the sheets and asked/begged my mom to make some shark quilts. Voila! A theme. Recently I decided my early bird sons need to sleep in a bit. (I am not a morning person!) And blackout curtains were going to be the answer to my problem! So once again I took Isaiah to the store and allowed him to pick. He chose BLACK. I suggested gray would match his theme better. He then informed me he wants a new theme. (And that I didn't give him enough options originally.)  His new theme? Black. Everything black. Keep dreaming kid:) For the moment we have both the old shark curtains and new black blackout curtains on one rod. It's not going to stay that way permanently. Or at least I hope not. 

Isaiah insisted on being in the bedroom pictures. And how could I resist including him all cozy on his bed reading (Harry Potter)? I couldn't. Speaking of his bed. It's a hand-me-down from Joe when he was a boy. He shared it with his brother. And before that it was Joe's dad's childhood bunk bed with his brother. Isaiah is the third generation to use this bedroom furniture. How crazy is that?!

A little further down the hall (across from the main bathroom) is the girls' room. Our girls are ages 6 and 3 (nearly 4) and complete opposites in every way possible. And yet somehow they share a room and a bed quite nicely!

Their furniture is hand-me-downs from their Aunt Chelsea (Joe's little sister). And that amazing quilt and bed skirt were made by my mom while she stated with us this winter. 

Here's the main floor bathroom that can be seen across the hall from the girls' room:

Finally at the end of the hall is our master bedroom:

And another wonderful quilt made by my mom. 

The door on the left leads to the bathroom and the door on the right leads to the walk-in closet which REALLY is in no condition to be photographed! 

This little mattress usually lives under our bed...just in case we have any nighttime visitors. In reality we rarely pull it out. When a child crawls into our bed in the middle of the night neither of us can think straight enough to pull out the mattress. Instead we endure kicking and flopping and squirming until morning. And then we promise ourselves next time we will be more diligent about pulling out the mattress or returning the child to their proper bed. During the daytime we have great plans and ambitions...during the night...not.so.much. But back to the picture. It was out because we had a sick child for almost a week. And that child did not want to sleep in her room. Little mattress to the rescue! 

And lastly looking from our bed to the other side of the room. 

At the other end of that hall is the boys' room. Oh and that little workspace? Never been used. We recently moved Levi out of our room. Taking out the crib and glider left a lot of empty space! Which I thought would be perfect for a desk and my computer. And it is! Oh and the pack n play is always in that corner. With Isaiah home on summer break it works best to have Levi nap in our room so big brother can still play in his room during nap time. 

And that concludes our main floor bedrooms tour! 

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Joe worked overnight last night and will likely sleep the day away (for good reason). He probably won't even see this post for a couple days but the kids and I had a lot of fun creating this picture for him so I had to share...

It was an impromptu photo session this past week. The little kids and I were picking up Isaiah from Robotics Camp and I had coupons for free slush monkeys (from the gas station) burning a hole in my pocket so we stopped. I then realized I had a permanent marker in my purse. Those two facts + the need to kill some more time so Joe could sleep longer (thank you night shifts!) = a windy and ridiculously hot Father's Day photo session with my phone camera. 

The majority of my children thought this photo idea was pretty fun. And sneaky! And since I'm never the fun parent that buys them treats their love for those slush monkeys definitely rivaled their love for dad in that moment. (Fear not their love for their father definitely won. It always does. He is the real fun parent after all!) 

One child of mine was very unhappy with this photo session. The gas station didn't have any good slush monkey flavors! The spot I chose for pictures was terrible! Sitting for pictures is THE WORST! There is always one in the bunch;-)


And now onto my dad. Recently I shared this photo and story on Facebook and I thought it would be fun to share here as well. It's SO typical of my dad. And though the man can drive me bonkers at times, I love him and he has the best of intentions always. 

My parents have come down to Texas FOUR times in the (almost) year that we have lived here. And I am so grateful for their visits for many, many reasons. But one of the best reasons is the comedic relief they (unintentionally?) provide. Today's laugh provided by Grandpa Paul who has been working hard to do a little landscaping for us. Those rocks around the tree...he did that. Plus he added a few sea shells for decoration. However every morning he would find the shells scattered around the yard. He would gather them up and put them back and blame the birds. Today Hannah discovered the real reason the shells kept moving....crabs! The shells have crabs in them and they were walking off. Oops! We will chalk this one up to being clueless Minnesotans. Grandpa and Hannah are now returning all the shells to their beach home.

Happy Father's Day to a couple great dads! We love you both!

Friday, June 17, 2016

House Tour: Dining Room (aka Our Eat-in Kitchen)

Ready for this week's installment of the house tour? I am! The room that I am supposed to be sharing is the dining room. However when we moved here I immediately converted the formal dining room into a playroom because at this stage of life we need play space more than we need formal dining space. We do our actual dining in our kitchen so that is the room I will be sharing today. And I'm excited to share because this room has had the biggest transformation since we purchased our home a year ago. 

Our "dining room". That door to the left leads to the playroom (or what should be the dining room). Changes we've made on this side include removing the old wallpaper and chandelier and updating both of them! Here is the before picture:

I'm happy with the updates we have made! 

Now onto the other side of the kitchen. It was bad when we bought it! So much outdated brown. I tried to ignore it. Or just be content with it. But I couldn't. I just had to change it. Small budget friendly changes done over a one year time period. But before I get ahead of myself in my rambling here is a picture of our kitchen on the day Joe toured and put an offer on the house:

I'm having a hard time not cringing looking at this picture! I can hardly believe he called me from this house and told me it was "THE ONE!" when it looked like this! Ok. That's not true. I can totally believe it. My husband is a dreamer. Where most people see ugly & outdated he sees potential. And he was right. With a lot of effort and a little money we have changed this kitchen into something I (we?) love...

The first change we made upon our arrival was spray painting all of the knobs. They are heavy duty cabinet knobs but they were an ugly worn out bronze. A little rustoleum hammered metal finish spray paint and they were like new once again! Next I started staining the lower cabinets. It was a painstakingly slow process that I worked on only after my kids were in bed at night for WEEKS last summer. And once it was said and done I didn't like the result! The cabinets looked like I had painted them brown. Not stained. It was incredibly discouraging. So I took a little break from the kitchen. Joe took down the old hood above the stove top, modified the upper cabinets (to accommodate a microwave) and installed our new microwave. And I was so incredibly thankful because I learned last summer that I use a microwave A LOT. A discovery I made while living without one. This past fall I started the process of painting the upper cabinets white. I immediately loved the results and could not wait to add even more white to this kitchen! In the spring we hired a guy to tear out and replace our counters. It's another laminate counter but oh so much better than the old one! We considered quite a few backsplashes once the counter was installed. All of which were in the gray or white category but ultimately chose the white subway tiles with gray grout for a couple reasons. 1) I wanted as much white and light as possible. 2) The price! These tiles were 1/3 the cost of all the others we were considering. Hard to pass up that savings!

Our eat-in kitchen is the first thing you see when you walk in our front door. And after lots of hard work it's finally a view I enjoy! (Except the light above the sink. That thing needs to be replaced!) 

And now looking from the sink towards the front door...

Which leads me to my little "command center" on the wall. It's my attempt to keep clutter off the counters. And it is mostly working. 

The bottom left frame is supposed to be our weekly menu. Clearly I'm not utilizing it. Oops. But it's doing a fantastic job of covering the old telephone jack! Which reminds me. The latest update we have done to our home is replace all our light switches and outlets. And by "we" I mean Joe:) Gone are the almond. And hello WHITE! Ninety percent of the walls in our house are white so it just makes sense. And it looks so much cleaner.

Now in the name of full disclosure. My kitchen rarely looks this nice! Usually there are dirty dishes in the sink and clean dishes drying on the counter along with a random assortment of kid papers and snacks cluttering the table. However after lunch yesterday I sent the girls to their room for rest time so I could tidy up and snap these pictures. When my six year old came out of her room and saw the kitchen her eyes got as big as saucers and she exclaimed "Wow! You REALLY cleaned up after lunch!!!"

I bet she thought we were expecting company! 

P.S. I don't care for our dining room table. It just isn't my style. Though admittedly I'm not sure what my style is. It was given to us during med school so the price was right! However I'm wanting to change/update it a bit but I'm really unsure of how to do that without replacing it entirely (which is not in the budget). I am open to any and all suggestions! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Goodbye Intern Year.

I won't miss you. 

Ok. That might not be true. (But I hope it is!) The brand new class of interns started orientation today which is crazy to me because that means we (ok really just Joe) is finishing up his intern year! I wish I could say this year flew by but it did not. It dragged. Last summer one of the chief's wives told me that second year of residency is worse than first year (for this program). I'm not sure why she would say that to me, a brand new first year wife who was struggling to adjust to life with a husband in residency. But she did. And so it is with much dread and fear (all me! not Joe.) that we enter the second year of residency. However I feel a little better prepared for this year of residency because I know what I like and what I do not like about residency life. I have just a little bit of experience under my belt. And that experience will help me better cope this year. Hopefully:) 

At the play date for residents' wives and children I hosted last week one of the new intern wives asked me if residency is as bad as it sounds. With Joe's words (in regards to the new wives) ringing in my head. "Be gentle." I simply answered "No". But l spent a little time thinking about it after my house had cleared of the dozens of ladies and children. Once I could think clearly my completely honest answer would have been along the lines of "sometimes". But really there isn't much wisdom I can pass along to a new intern spouse because residency is a different experience for each family. What I loathe about residency another spouse might enjoy. What I learned the first year of residency is that there are no breaks (or weekends off) between rotations like during med school. And I sure do miss those weekends! Actually I miss weekends in general. Joe rarely had a weekend day off. And a full weekend off was nearly unheard of this past year! For me and the littles that wasn't such a problem but my school age kids definitely saw their dad the least this past year. But the thing I HATED was his month(s) of night shifts. A few night shifts here and there? No big deal. An entire month of nights? No. Just NO. It does not work well for our family! Joe is perpetually tired. I'm perpetually tired (from not sleeping well). And the kids are left with two tired pitiful parents. It's not pretty. We are barely limping along by the end. But we've survived two months of nights so far. And if I really think about there are a few things I like about nights: 1) the fountain Pepsi Joe brings me in the morning at the end of his shift and 2) the house projects Joe completes on his nights off while we sleep (because he stays on a nocturnal schedule). And that's it. The bad definitely outweighs the good. In regards to nights. I went into this year dreading all the special occasions and holidays Joe would miss because of work. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover I'm okay with Joe being absent on birthdays and holidays. Those can be celebrated anytime. But other families might really dislike having a spouse working on holidays. For me it's not so bad. 

It's a hard question to answer because while the residents are all going through the same program no two residents or families will have the same experience. 

The long answer for the new intern wives is this: Some days I absolutely love our life and living here. It's a fun adventure and a beautiful place to have to live for a couple years. And some days I loathe this life. And can't wait for residency to be done.  I wasn't very good at reaching during my husband's intern year - especially during the times I was miserable. I wish I had been. So just know if you ever need a listening ear or company I'm here! My door is always open. And I'm always just a text or phone call away. During the good times and the bad! Because there will be both. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

House Tour: Living Room

Since moving here (exactly!) one year ago our house has slowly morphed into a home. Our home. Is it everything I dream of when I imagine "home"? Nope. But I like it. And I'm pleased with the changes we have made in order to make it our own. So I thought it would be fun to share some of the rooms in their updated and well lived in form. Today I'm starting with the living room (and linking up with Kelly's Korner House Tour). Just to be clear this little home tour is a mostly as-is tour. No staging. Minimal picking up. Nothing that would ever grace the pages of a home decor magazine or blog. But it's ours and we like it. It's comfortable and cozy. It's been a fun blank canvas to decorate (on a budget).

Without further ado...our living room as of 9 am today. A little (phone) photo shoot before church with the help of my boys. 

We really haven't done much to this room other than buying new-to-us furniture and a few decorations. The couch was an amazing Craigslist find after our microfiber sectional was vomitted on one too many times this past fall. Before we made the cross country move last summer Joe had tried to convince me that we should get rid of that sectional. But I resisted. And I don't like to admit it...but he was right! It was over 10 years old and pitiful. So thank you Hannah for throwing up on it. It needed to go. 

We actually own a coffee table however our eldest child has claimed it in his room as a Lego table. And for now I'm ok with that arrangement. I dream of buying and refurbishing an old coffee table or making one out of pallets. We shall see. I also dream of new (non brass) light fixtures in this room. That dream might come true this summer while the kids and I are visiting friends and family in Minnesota. My husband is a very handy man. He just needs time and space to work. Our absence will hopefully give him both! 

This staircase is behind the couch so while it may not technically be part of the living room it feels like it. Plus that collage wall is my FAVORITE. All my favorite people smiling down at me. Makes me happy. 

When the sectional made its departure from our home we were seriously lacking in seating. And it remained that way for a few months until we found these chairs at our local Goodwill. While technically not a matched set they are good enough for me! The print above the mantel is also a favorite of mine because the birch tree remind me of "home" (Minnesota). I'm sure my mantel and built in shelves are too "busy" according to design "rules" but again they make me happy. Lots of good memories stored on those shelves! Oh and just a few medical textbooks too. His and mine. 

Just a cute picture of my cute boy modeling his chair. It is right next to our basket of library books. It's his happy place:)

And now if you stood by the chairs and turned around the opposite direction you would see our entry way...

And the pile of clean laundry that seems to perpetually live in that chair! Now that I no longer have a baby to nurse and rock to sleep that chair has become far less essential to every day life and therefore the perfect place to hold my laundry until I eventually fold it. That particular pile has been there for almost an entire week. Like I said this is a real life tour. Clean laundry piled in corners that's my reality! And I have no problem sharing that with the world. However I did feel the need to pick up one cheerio and a rather large dust bunny before I snapped this picture. Because I'm logical like that! Ha. One of the first changes we made to this house was taking down the wallpaper and painting that wall light aqua. Joe thought I was ridiculous but I tried my hardest find a wall color to match the "Grow Where You are Planted" wall hanging. And I'm glad I did because I love that sign. (Thanks Meghan!) It is perfect for our current situation. Living 1400 miles from family and friends you really have to learn to grow (and hopefully bloom!) where planted. I'm trying to do just that. It isn't always easy. But I'm trying. 

Lastly there is a closet under our stairs. It's our game closet. And it's usually a mess. But I felt the tour wouldn't be complete without it. So here it is...

The kids LOVE that closet. Levi isn't usually allowed in there...for obvious reasons!

And here is this same room at 2 pm. In full use. My girls plus a new little friend. 

It's a great space and we are so thankful for this home. It allows us room to play. And even better than that we've got room to share! Last Thursday I hosted a play date for all the residency families - new and old - so everyone could meet. We had 22 children ages 9 and under running around this house. It was chaotic but so fun!

Friday, June 10, 2016


Tonight I tucked my eight year old into his bed. Two times;-)

Tomorrow he will be NINE. 

As a child I thought turning ten was a big deal. Double digits and all that jazz. But as a parent I now know that nine is far more significant. 

Halfway to ADULTHOOD!!!

I honestly can not believe that we are halfway done raising this kid. I am amazed at how fast the past nine years has flown by. And I'm sure the next nine will be just as fast. Maybe faster? 

Today I am acutely aware that his childhood days are dwindling. So I'm doing my best to allow him to be little and enjoy simple things like playing with friends and lazy summer days. But at the same time I'm trying to teach him the value of hard work and responsibility. He tends to prefer the former and loathe the latter. But I gently explain to him that I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't teach him these things. Because that is the essence of motherhood isn't it? Raising children to be capable adults. 

And now that we are at the halfway mark I'm not sure we've done enough to prepare him for the future. But the good news is we have another nine years to get there! 

Tonight however was all about fun and simple childhood pleasures. Isaiah invited four friends over. There was pizza. Lots of pizza. A little random wrestling and throwing balls at each other. Because... boys:) Then Joe took the boys to an indoor arcade with laser tag and a laser maze. Finally they returned to our house for ice cream pie with choose your own toppings. Gummy bears, m&ms, sprinkles, cookies, mini marshmallows, chocolate syrup and cool whip galore!! I think the boys would have been happy with just that. But we had one last surprise for them. 

A water fight in the back yard. 

And those boys battled! For nearly an hour. Afterwards we returned them to their parents soaking wet and all sugared up! I think it was Isaiah's dream birthday party. It's going to be pretty hard to top that one. And yet it was simple and easy. As childhood should be. 

Now onto figuring out how to raise this kid to be a successful adult in the next nine years...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

How To Acquire a MILLION Shopkins...in 6 easy steps.

(This method is not limited to Shopkins. It can be used for a myriad of toys. I know from personal experience with super heroes and Hero factory. Which are two VERY different things despite sounding similar. Trust me. I have years of experience with boy toys/party planning.) 

Step 1. Allow your child to choose the theme for their upcoming birthday party. Do not limit their creativity. Toys that they do not currently own and that YOU as the party planner know NOTHING about are in no ways out of bounds. 

Step 2. Create (or buy!) an invitation. It's best to describe this party as an EXTRAVAGANZA. It just sounds like more fun! Try to ignore the fact that you are absolutely clueless about the chosen theme and therefore have no idea how to make this party an extravaganza. Allow birthday child to invite friends from all facets of their life (school, dance, church, neighbors, parent's work, etc). 

Step 3. Google and Pinterest "Shopkins", "DIY Shopkins Party", "Shopkins Characters", "Free Shopkins Party Decor" like it's your new part time job. Feel confident that you can do this! But don't actually do anything until a few days before the party. 

Step 4. Buy cheap generic party decor (table cloths, crepe paper, balloons, paper plates). And then attempt to make, create, print all the previously googled Shopkins party decor. If successful this will lead to that extra WOW factor that the guests are expecting thanks to that overzealous invitation you sent out in Step 1. If not it will lead to the next very necessary step...

Step 5. The day before the party make a frantic trip to the nearest chain party supply store. Search the aisles for anything Shopkins. Try not to panic when you find...nothing!  Part B. Ask sales associate for assistance. Sigh a big ole sigh of relief when there is indeed an entire Shopkins section. Buy ALL the Shopkins decor!

Step 6. Decorate your home in all of the purchased decorations. Try not to cringe too much as your dreams of a beautiful handmade party dies. Put a smile on your face and open your front door at the designated party time and watch the kids and all things Shopkins related pour in...much to your birthday child's delight!!

*Not mentioned but also very important is the planning of a few birthday theme related activities and a whole lot of food! Kids love food. They also love ice cream. I suggest not forgetting to buy ice cream...kids don't like when you run out of ice cream. Or so I've been told.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

First vs Last Day

Apparently he was more excited to start school than to end it this year?!? Ok. Not really. He's just very anti-pictures these days. This was a phenomenal year for him. It was the first year he was challenged academically! And it was the first year I didn't hear "I learned nothing. School is boring" on a daily basis. He really thrived in third grade. His new school is a perfect fit for him. And we are so thankful for it. Because having a kid that is excited to go to school each morning makes the 7:30 am drop off a little less painful for his not-a-morning-person mother. If only he was that excited about homework too. (A mom can dream!) 

And my big kindergartner...

She has grown up a lot this year! Maybe not so much in stature but academically she has grown by leaps and bounds. She started this year only knowing her numbers and letters and ended it able to do addition and subtraction as well as reading! This girl LOVES school. She dreams of being a school teacher one day herself. She also really enjoys the social aspect of school as well. So much so that I've allowed her to invite her entire kindergarten class to her birthday party this weekend. It will be her first "big" party. (Wish me luck.) 

Oh goofy grandpa! You are always good for a laugh.