Thursday, August 29, 2013

"That will be another box of diapers, please."

 At the beginning of August we made the decision to start potty training Eva. I had read lots of information about readiness signs and felt like she was basically asking me to teach her to use the potty. So we made our plan. I read the Potty Training in One Day book and didn't really agree with that philosophy (no offense if it worked for you). I liked the Potty Training in Three Days method that is popularly floating around Pinterest much better. Wow, what a difference those 2 days must make in how to potty train! I also made up a fun potty training bag to take with us on the go!

I made a plan that for a few days we would stay at home and mostly hang out on the tile in the living room. We set the little potty next to the couch. I used to think that seemed crazy, but trust me, it was totally practical. I let her drink more juice and watch more movies and have more time on my phone or the iPad than I normally would. All of this led to a few days of what I thought was a successful step in the right direction. Not that I would have said she was trained, but definitely learning.

Then....she started to regress...more and more accidents....less successes.....and way less desire to even sit on the potty. Granted, this regression happened when I recognized that after a few days we had to get back to normal. She could only have juice as a treat. Same with movies and the iPad. I just wasn't comfortable living life in a "potty training bubble" for weeks on end. I even moved the potty back to the bathroom because after only a couple of days she had associated sitting on the potty with getting to watch a movie.

All this to say, we bought a full box of diapers at Costco on Saturday. We gave it a good try for a month. I'm honestly not stressed about this because I feel like it's what we need to do right now. Yes, I really wish we could not spend more money on diapers, but that's part of having a baby. I figure we will wait a couple of months and then try again. Or maybe she will surprise me and decide to train herself? We still have the potties out in the bathrooms so that she can sit if she wants but I don't plan on asking her unless she initiates it, which she actually has a couple of times since going back to diapers. We will still watch Elmo's Potty Time, the best DVD for any toddler who loves Elmo (and parents who enjoy a good potty related joke). We will still read her potty training picture books, because they are truly her favorite books right now.

I know she is still really young and has plenty of time. Hopefully this story of our experience will encourage other mama's out there who are in the potty training trenches with me!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Little Boy Baby Shower

Saturday some friends and I hosted a baby shower for our friend Rachel. Rachel and her husband Alex as having a little boy in October. I wish I could take credit for the amazing decorations but our friend Melissa did most of it. I loved the color scheme - so modern for a little boy shower. 
One of Rachel's other friends made the diaper cake. I love that she cut out cards to put the Bible verse on the front. 
Melissa made the banner with baby Grayson's name on it. I really like the card stock she used. 
M&M party favors all set our for the guests. 
Plenty of yummy good. I made white chocolate dipped rice crispy treats and pretzel sticks. Both are so delicious! I had never made "dipped" rice crispy treats and couldn't actually dip them, I had to spread the coating with a baker's knife. Regardless, they were tasty! Other cute ideas: pigs in a blanket with little faces drawn on them to look like "babies in a blanket" and a watermelon cut out into a baby carriage.
A friend from church made Rachel's cake. So cute with the elephants on it! 
Rachel's gift from the hostesses - a baby bag stuffed with goodies! You can't seem but our friend Elishia made super cute burp clothes from fabric and wash clothes. I can't believe I didn't get an up close photo of them!
Okay, check out this amazing gift. Our friend Kim gave Rachel a laundry basket that had baby hangers, some laundry soap, and this super creative clothesline full of baby gifts. Wow. This is the most creative shower gift I've ever seen! 
Happy Baby Shower, Rachel! We are all ready to give baby Grayson tons of kisses!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School

 Painting different colored circles...remember when "school" was this fun?!

Happy Back to School week to all my teacher friends! I've been praying for all of you this past few weeks! Praying that you are given great wisdom and patience and a class full of kids that will bring you laughter (and maybe some happy tears!). I know some amazing teachers and I believe God can do great things in their classrooms!!!!

Happy Back to School to all the students I know! Summer 2014 is right around the corner. Work hard. Be a friend to others, especially the kids that look like they need a friend. Enjoy getting to wear your new school clothes. And always make good choices :)

As each new school year begins I am reminded of two things. One, I miss being there on that first day and week. There is so much excitement. Kids are fresh and looking to you to be their new leader. School supplies are new - no broken crayons or bended folders yet. I really do miss that first day. Then I'm reminded that I love my job now so much. I am so grateful to be at home with Eva. And every year on that first day, when I know so many other kids are going to school, I'm a little sad to think about that I only have a few more years left with her at home. Eva won't start kindergarten until she's almost six, so I still have four years with her at home. But I know those four years will pass by too quickly.

A few people have asked me if I will put her in preschool. I honestly don't think so. Maybe the year before kindergarten, but we will see. Part of my degree is in early childhood education so I feel like I'm pretty qualified to work with her on skills at home and she gets plenty of other social time. I'm also super pumped because I am going to start using the FREE Letter of the Week curriculum to be intentional about doing preschool activities with her a few days a week this year. I also found this Hands on Homeschooling curriculum that I really liked but it costs money so I thought we'd stick to the free one this year, and maybe order this in a year or two. Mostly two year olds learn through play and experiences so that's what a huge part of her day needs to be. She already loves to spend lots of time reading with me and can already "help" me read repetitive texts by chiming in. She also just started counting up to 10! The rest of our "school" time this year I want to plan intentional activities that introduce numbers and shapes and some early writing concepts (things like tracing lines).  I've started printing off some stuff to use and reserving library books for different themes. I'm turning one small part of the playroom into a bulletin board to use for "school." The teacher in me is so excited!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend Update in iPhone Pics {8.25.13}

Here ya' go - a few fun pictures from our weekend! Friday morning started off with a little date to Hawaiian Falls with the husband. We got there early so we could be first in line to ride slides over and over again without Eva. We had plans to do a few other things during our "date time" but then I lost my wallet! We drove back to all the places we had been that morning (Starbucks, his office, HF) and my wallet was no where to be found. I was dreading having to call and cancel my bank and credit cards and having to get a new driver's license (again). Then Ryan asked me if I  had checked the glove compartment....oh yeah! I totally forgot that I had stashed it there before going to HF so that I wouldn't lose it. I was extremely happy that I hadn't lost it after all!!!!

Friday night our church held a worship night called Prodigal. The whole night was organized by one of our student interns and it was really awesome! We sang lots of praise songs and Eva enjoyed dancing around the place.
Our family (and others) wore orange in memory of a local student that was killed in a car accident a week ago. She would have been a freshman at the high school this year. We also took up a love offering for Love Like Aubrey.
I spent Saturday morning in the kitchen before heading to a baby shower that afternoon. Did you know that you aren't supposed to add food coloring to candy melts? It turns the dipping candy coating into a putty like texture. Learned that one the hard way. The ladies in our small group hosted a shower for our friend Rachel. I will post more shower photos later :)
Saturday evening we met up with my parents and Grandpa to celebrate his 93rd birthday! Happy birthday, Grandpa! Eva loves my dad and grandpa so much!
Sunday morning we went to church of course. I am loving seeing Eva interact with her little friends. She was following Reece in his stroller to say goodbye to him. 
And then she was chasing Brayden around the tree outside before giving him a big giant hug. I'm glad she is so happy to see her friends!

Have a great week!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fish or Frog?

As summer draws to a close, I figure it's fitting to share the evolution of Eva's swimming over the summer. Early in May we began going to the splash pad in Roanoke. This isn't technically swimming, but she loves playing in the water. Then we got a backporch inflatable pool - again not really swimming, just splashing around to keep cool. When Hawaiian Falls opened later in May we were so excited to take Eva. Last summer she enjoyed floating around and we were curious to see what it would be like. I would say that she does enjoy going to HF, but mostly she wants to spend a few minutes at each stop....although there was the precious moment the other day when she leaned back in her baby float and put her hands behind her head and her feet up...haha! She is much more interested in trying out everything for a short time than to actually swim. I realize that this is fun for her, but it's also exhausting for us! And swimming should be relaxing :) We also have a pass to the community pool, where she does pretty much the same thing - play in the spray area, a quick dip in the big pool, a splash around the kid pool, repeat. And we picked up a free water table sometime (back in July?) which she is enthralled with and loves to pour the water.

So would I say she likes swimming? I'm really not sure. She LOVES splashing and getting wet. And just this week she has started to jump into our arms from the side of the pool (in the video above it almost doesn't look like it because it was her twentieth try, but she really does jump).  I'm sure her enjoyment of swimming will grow over time when she can move more freely in the water. I'm really hoping to get her into swim lessons next summer!

So is she more of a fish or a frog in the water? I'd say frog. She wants to hop from place to place, enjoying the water but not lingering too long in one place.
As for me, I'm honestly about ready for pool season to end. I know, if you know me, this seems shocking. I absolutely love going to the pool....but all this puddle jumping is wearing me out, and since I know our pool time is limited I feel like we have to keep going! I think the pool is only open 7 more days, so we will probably swim at one place or another a few more times.  Ah, bittersweet. I will miss the option of going swimming and the refreshing water (of course we will probably use our inflatable pool and water table for another month or so) At the same time, I'm ready for a break and to fill our days with other activities. #goodbyesummer

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ryan's Ordination

This past Sunday my husband Ryan was officially ordained as a pastor at our church. This was a really special day for us to share with our faith family. 
Before Ryan's ordination we had a final farewell for our church's summer interns. These college students have worked so hard and each of them made such a contribution to our youth ministry this summer. They will be missed as they go back to college! Plus they are seriously some of Eva's favorite people in the world - she talks about these students all day long. Thanks to all the interns for the love and time you invested in BSM this summer!
Then some of the men of Bara were called up to the front to pray over Ryan. Ryan loves these men so much and we are grateful for the leadership in our lives as well as the church.
Pastor Joel officially anointed Ryan's head with oil from Jerusalem. I really appreciated what Joel had to say in sharing that this one moment is simply a symbolic acknowledgement of what God had already planned for Ryan to do with his life. Being ordained doesn't suddenly make his some kind of super hero or "Super Christian," rather it is a public acknowledgement and blessing for Ryan's role in the church.
The whole church prayed for Ryan. This was such a special moment. And then we surprised Ryan with a wonderful slide show of pictures of all the ministry we've been involved in over the years. Tears were flowing from both of us! Thank you to the friends that worked so hard to make the slideshow awesome!
Finally I got to join him up front as he received his gift. He got a beautiful crystal cross that was engraved with his name, the date, and his favorite Bible verse. I also received a really pretty corsage to wear.
Next we headed out to the foyer for a Dr. Pepper and cupcake reception - just what this man loves! 
If they made a blooper reel for the day this moment would definitely be on it.  Right as we were starting the toast my corsage started to fall and when I went to fix it I poured ice water all down the front of my dress. Sometimes awkward moments happen to me.
Us with our pastor's daughter,  Emily. She is such a wonderful blessing to our family! We all love Emily!!!! 
 Us with one of our youth, Beth. We are so happy that God brought Beth to Bara to serve with us!
After the reception our families and some church members were treated to lunch at the country club. We really appreciate all of our family that made time to drive out to be there. It's always nice when the whole Bradley crew is together! 
My family also took the time to come shower us with support and love. We are amazingly blessed to have two wonderful families that love us so deeply. Thank you family!!!!! 
All 4 granddaughters! I love these little people so much. I want to take them all home with me every time we are together.
 Ryan and our pastor, Joel. I'm glad that he has a boss that loves people and is great to work with!
Then at youth tonight two of our girls decided to put on a skit. They did a hilarious reenacted of what "Morning at the Bradley's" would be like. How did they know we have dance parties? They must be secretly filming us :) 
And just in case his ordination wasn't official enough, they decided to knight him with a golf club. Now I know there is no going back. Hahaha, these girls are so funny. 
I love my husband and am so proud of him. It is an honor to be called to be his wife. I hope our life in ministry is fruitful and glorifying to God and I look forward to see what God has planned in our lives!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Piles of Dirt {Throwback Thursday}

Look at that chubby little baby! She wasn't even a whole year old yet! I remember that afternoon in the park with my family like it was yesterday, and yet it's been almost a whole year!

Lately some of our days have seemed long. In the midst of potty training, I am doing laundry and disinfecting all the time. As our big girl has decided to eat at the table more, instead of her high chair, I feel like there is a non stop accumulation of crumbs and gunk on my floors and table. Their are giant piles of dishes in the kitchen that are a result of her ever increasing appetite. And the toys? Let's just say they don't magically find their way back to their spot.

Sometimes it feels like I can't keep up! Yet in the middle of the long days I want to have consistent joy, knowing that the years pass by too quickly. What's a little mess in the spectrum of getting to love your growing child? With school starting soon for so many I keep thinking that she only has 4 years left at home with me, and then will be gone to college before I can blink! So for now, I think I'll prefer the messiness of toddlerhood. It's well worth it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Senior Celebration '13

Well I'm a bit behind on my blogging lately. Eva was sick....then I was sick....and Ryan's been sick, basically we're behind on everything now! But - a few Sundays ago our church held our annual Senior Celebration. We make a big deal out of spoiling these students before they head off to college.
The students got to have dinner that we set up inside a small bookstore / cafe. Then they rode in a limo to the Trophy Club Country Club where they got to walk the red carpet! 
Inside we did a fancy dessert reception and banquet ceremony. 
Oh, wow! Look at all those desserts! It was tough to choose. I may or may not have taken a few different pieces. 
He's going off to college already?!?! Just kidding. This is Eva's little buddy Reece. He is too cute for words! 
Our friends over at Vancil Media did some great photography for the night. We got to snap a few poses together :) 
 I love this photo of the two of us! Thanks Matt and Brooke! Ya'll did an awesome job!
Goodbye to the Class of 2013! Lots of them left this week to begin their college journey.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Penny Saved

Back in January Ryan and I decided that we would make our best attempt to stick to a better budget this year. Thinking about a budget had left me feeling anxious in the past and I feel like a lot of that was due to relating the term budget to the idea of spending less money. Of course it  doesn't seem fun to have to spend less. This time was different. Yes, we still wanted to spend less, but I think the way we've gone about it has made it more fun. At least as much fun as budgeting can be :) First, we looked at what our exact income was. You can't know how to budget if you don't know how much money there is to start with! Then we created an excel spread sheet of columns and categories. Yeah, I know there are fancier ways to do this....but we didn't want to spend money on a program (although there are some great ones out there that can incorporate your iPhone) and we wanted something simple. We looked at what expenses were set in stone (like rent) and then created specific amounts for each of the other categories (like gas and groceries). I'm sure to some of you this sounds like "blah blah blah...." but for me having a designated amount for each category made budgeting was less intimidating and more fun. If I know I can only spend X amount on groceries then I can look at it as a whole and then track what I spend each week as the pieces. I really try to tell myself that I cannot go over. Sometimes that means having meals that aren't my favorite or trying to be creative with ingredients we already have instead of buying everything for new meals each week. It has never meant that we didn't have nutritious food on the table. We have a set amount to tithe and a set amount to save. And with the way our budget works out we have a small amount of money for "luxuries" such as eating out or buying something that is not a necessity.

Since it's been 7 months since we started, I thought I would share a few ways that I've cut back expenses, a few of the struggles, and a few of the blessings.

Here are some ways we've saved money:
1. Buy in bulk. We only have so much storage space so we are somewhat limited. Also it only makes sense to buy in bulk the things that you normally would use fairly quickly and regularly. For example, we know that we will use toilet paper. We use it already. We save money buying it in the huge package. Keep in mind that just because you are buying a huge amount of something doesn't mean you are saving money. You could just be spending money on a huge amount of something you wouldn't normally buy.
2. Make it yourself. Laundry soap. Household cleaning products. Meals. Home decor. There are tons of ways you can do it yourself and save money. I truly, honestly have liked making my own laundry soap and cleaners. It is cheap and quick and easy. Plus I feel like a "mad scientist mom" when I'm putting everything together. Yeah, I'm a nerd.
3. Put money in savings. Okay these seems pretty obvious. But we weren't consistent about putting money into savings until we put that amount into our budget. We've had to use our savings for some medical and car stuff, but at least that money was there!
4. Use fans. They are way cheaper than air conditioning. Also we've adjusted to keeping our house slightly warmer to save some money in the summer months.
5. Cut your husband's hair yourself. Some things are worth paying for.
6. Buy used clothing for your child (and yourself, sometimes). Eva does get some brand new pieces for her birthday or Christmas from family, but generally if I've purchased it for her it is from a resale shop or garage sale. She's still very stylish :)
7. Make your child's clothing last longer. Okay, it probably helps here that Eva is petite. I have been lucky to make most of her wardrobe pieces last way longer than expected. When a dress is too short to wear by itself I can  pair it with some leggings. Even as she gets bigger there are so many cute dresses that can eventually be a top with shorts or pants. When I do pick out new clothing for her I buy it a size up so she can wear it longer.
8. Don't waste leftovers. If I make more for a meal than we can reasonably eat within a few days I try to portion it off and freeze what I know we won't eat. I know some people hate leftovers. I dislike wasting food.
9. Access your competitive side. Think of staying within your budget as a game. When you stick to your budget, you win! I like winning. This really does motivate me to spend less on unnecessary items. 
10. Pray for contentment. We are already so blessed! Whenever I get the itch to go shopping or want to complain about how we can't go out I try to change my thinking. I have a closet full of clothes and a home full of fun (and food). I'm definitely not perfect in this area but I'm learning.

Here are some of the struggles I've faced:
1. Contentment. Like I said above, I'm not perfect. It's normal to want to spend money on things
2. The out-to-eat monster. Going out to eat is fun. It's easy. It's getting out of the house. It's social. When people ask if you want to go out to eat you feel like a downer saying that you can't. I wish we could go out to eat multiple times a week, but it's really not in our budget. Learning to adjust to this has been hard.
3. Gift giving. I love to buy gifts for people! I want to celebrate special occasions like birthdays, holidays, etc. with the people I love. I would love to shop for the perfect dream person for each person for every occasion. I'm learning to be creative and think of gifts people will enjoy without going over budget.

Here are some of the BLESSINGS I've experienced:
1. Contentment. As much of a struggle as it can be, it also brings such peace!
2. Accomplishment. I feel so good about my contribution to my family when I make smart choices to help us stay on track. I may not have a job to bring in money, but I can budget our groceries and meal plan well.
3. Thankfulness. The Bible teaches us to pray "Give us this day our daily bread." God has provided what we need for this season of life.
4. Wisdom. I am way better at budgeting than I was a year ago when I was just hoping to spend less money.
5. Awareness. I have a way better picture of where our money is actually going.
6. Perspective. There are families all over the world living off of much less. We are fortunate to have what we have. We should be generous in helping others who are in need.
7. Being a role model. I want Eva to learn that things do not ultimately create meaning in life. Things are fun to have. It's okay to shop sometimes and to spend sometimes. Getting birthday presents is awesome! It's also good to know when you have what  you need and to enjoy people more than stuff. 
8. Freedom. We strive to be debt free for as much of our marriage as possible! One day will will hopefully purchase our own house, but other than that I would rather live off of what we have than take on debt for things we don't need.

Last week in his sermon on debt our pastor said, "Debt is a way of saying that God didn't give you enough." (He did say that there were some exceptions such as buying a home or medical needs that you can't always control).  I know for us that God has absolutely given us enough. We have food to eat. We have clothes to wear. We have cars that work (with air conditioning, thanks to our savings fund)! We have a safe home. I really am enjoying learning to be a better steward of the provision God has given us. You can do it, too!

Monday, August 5, 2013

A whole 'nother language.

When your precious child is born the only thing their most basic way to verbally communicate with you is to cry. You have to learn to figure out what each type of cry means. Next they are able to say a few simple words like "hi" and "bye" that mostly match what they mean with the exception of when they say "mama" and mean daddy, or really anybody close to them. Then they become toddlers. Their sweet little minds are exploding with knowledge and building up a new vocabulary every day. Not only do they understand more of what you say, they are trying to tell you more too. It's a pretty awesome phenomenon to experience.

I seriously could not try to list all of the words Eva has learned over the past year if I tried. Somewhere between turning one and becoming almost two, her vocabulary has increased by a billion percent. Now here is the catch -  toddlers speak so many words, but to most people it's practically a whole different language. Fortunately I am not most people. I am a mom. I can totally understand what she is telling me, at least for the most part. I guess I will be her interpreter for now! Here is my best attempt to remember some of the funny ways that she pronounces words right now.

Spoon - "poon"
Socks - "ocks"
Rock (as in hold me and rock in a chair) -"ock" 
Sandwich - "bite" (because her dad has always said, "Do you want a bite?" when he eats a sandwich)
When she wants to be picked up and carried she says, "Carry you?" (because we say, "Do you want me to carry you?" 
Cup -  "bup"
Binky - "bebe" (for her pacifier, which sounds completely different to me than when she says "baby" for her favorite doll). 
Shoes - "ewws"
Yogurt - "ogre"
Movie - "meemee"
Cheese - "eeese"
Read - "ing"
Bread - "bed"
Cookie - "keykey"
Animals - "mamall"
Elmo - "melmo"
Dora - "dowda"
Gorilla - "kaka"
Eva - "Eeya"

I'm sure none of these come across as cute as they really are and my memory of how she prounuces these words will fade in I'm also including a video clip :)