Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Days of Thankfulness

Our first Thanksgiving with our tiny turkey.

At the very beginning of November Ryan began a teaching series on thankfulness. At youth he encouraged us to go beyond just saying "I'm thankful for my family" or home or whatever and be more specific. God has blessed us in very creative ways and we can be more specific when thinking about what we are thankful for. Thankfulness creates a heart of contentment and appreciation for all that we have. The morning after Ryan taught I read the following scripture during my quiet time:
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Colossians 4:4

I decided to be intentional about watching for the things in my life that I could thank God for every day. On the back of my paper from youth the night before I started a list. My goal was to right down one thing each morning for that I was thankful for from the day before. So for most of the list the number on the list lines up with the day I wrote it. I really love seeing how my list was filled with the things that I am most grateful for. I don't want to risk losing a random piece of paper so I decided to post it here. I'm not at all saying that my life is perfect or that my heart is always content. I do encourage everyone reading to find at least one specific thing that they could praise God for TODAY, for the Bible teaches us that the Lord is the GIVER of every good gift.

What I am thankful for:
1. A mother's love and that my mom would give up time to bring us Jensen's dresser. A husband's hard working hands digging up plants to make my backyard more peacful.
2. Time to spend outside under the pre-evening clouds. Conversations to speak truth and encouragement into other women's lives.
3. Moments to hold and rock Eva while she is still small and cuddly, and the honor of covering her in prayer.
4. Fall leaves changing colors and the significance of seasons in our lives.
5. The sound of Christmas music and how it brightens my heart.
6. Fellowship and laughter through MomsConnect.
7. Highschool girls who enjoy playing with Eva and letting her be a cheerleader with them.
8. In-laws who truly love my family, especially Eva and who are always encouraging and never critical.
9. The taste of chocolate chip cookie dough.
10. Feeling Jensen wiggle while I'm praying for him.
11. Ryan chasing Eva outside, hearing her abundant giggling, listening to Enya music in the background and the sun setting behind the fence.
12. Eva's face lighting up when she saw the snow at night.
13. The smiles on Eva's face singing and leading "If You're Happy and You Know It" at the library.
14. Soft pajamas.
15. Time with my forever friends fo rmy birthday.
16. A God that is okay with me crying out to him on hard days.
17. People that put up early Christmas lights.
18. Still, quiet moments.
19. Surprise birthday presents.
20. Early morning snuggles with Eva.
21. Time to talk and communicate with Ryan.
22. Starbucks dates.
23. Movie nights with my family.
24. The truth that each day starts fresh.
25. A home big enough for everyone to gather in - this was a prayer for our home that God answered so specifically. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the family and food that God has provided you this week.

Monday, November 24, 2014

3rd Trimester {26 weeks}

Bump Pics: Weeks 21-26

In case you're wondering, the secret is out. I am pregnant. Apparently extremely pregnant. You know you're starting to really pop out when people start to say things like, "Wow. How much longer do you have?" or the even more considerate joke "You sure there is only one baby in there?" Hahaha....I'm sorry, is there any other time when it is polite to joke about how round a woman's belly is? No? Then it's probably not okay to say anything even semi-rude to a very emotional pregnant woman. When I made this collage and compared how I look now to how I looked even at 8 weeks (back when I already thought I was so big) it makes me a little bit scared but I still wanted to post because I know that when I look back it really will be incredible to see how Jensen is growing inside of me. Just Jensen. NOT Jensen plus a twin. And here is the best news ever - I only have 3 months to go! 13 weeks. That's it. This makes me so happy at the same time and also a bit sad because this will probably be the last time I'm pregnant. Ryan laughed when I said that and told me I couldn't be happy AND sad, that I had to pick one. I told him of course I can be happy and sad at the same time, that's what being pregnant is all about. Here's how I am doing at 26 weeks:
* We can see Jensen actually moving from the outside. We are in me and Ryan and Eva. It was really cool because we were having a family movie night and all the sudden I was like, "Look! My stomach is moving all around!"
* I feel like there can't possibly be any more room for him to grow in there. I feel jabbed and kicked and squished all the time.
*...which makes me feel really out of breath. Sitting, standing, lying down. There just isn't any room for anyting.
*....which actually makes me eat way less food. I make jokes about eating for two (which I AM allowed to say because I AM the one who is pregnant) but in reality, I do not eat much more than I would if I wasn't pregnant. I just feel full really quickly. There are times when my body actually feels hungry but I feel like I couldn't possibly eat food because there isn't any room. I ate way more food when I was pregnant with Eva.
* Even though I feel and look quite pregnant, I'm actually still way beneath my ending weight from when I was pregnant with Eva. I don't understand how all of that works. I know I still have time to catch up but I feel like I will end up weighing less at the end with Jensen but probably looking like my belly sticks out much further.
*....so I am taking maternity photos soon. Since I'm already in my final trimester I figured I would like how the photos look more by taking them now. Plus it will only be getting colder outside.
* I am still in pain most days and I STILL feel nauseous. I've also had leg cramps and lots of Braxton Hicks contractions. Good news, this can only possibly last 13 more weeks. We are doing a scheduled c-section at the beginning of week 39 so I know that by that time I will feel better different.
* I know that having a 3 1/2 year old and a newborn will be hard. Life will be crazy and chaotic. I will be really, really tired. Then I think about how much I love Eva. How sweet her little cheeks are when I sneak in to give her one last kiss goodnight. How I adore holding her tiny hand in mine when we cross the street. How I could literally give her a million hugs and kisses each day. And THAT is the reason why I am most excited to have Jensen. To get to live those sweet amazing moments all over again.
Finally the BEST news - Ryan and I took a quick "babymoon" this past week. We didn't go anywhere for our anniversary back in July because I was so sick, and we decided not to drive too far because I get so uncomfortable in the car...but we did spend an overnight away in romantic, exotic Frisco, Texas. Ha, ok so maybe it's not so exotic. It was fun and romantic to have a night away! We got to go to dinner, catch a movie, stay in a hotel, and do some shopping the next day. I really enjoyed my time away with him, especially knowing we won't get to go away just us again for a long time.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

31st Birthday

{Warning: the formatting on this post is WAY messed up. I tried uploading my photos a different way and it didn't work. It is making me crazy but I don't have time to sit and fix it. Oh well. Life will go on. Enjoy the photos anyway!}

Yesterday morning I kicked off my 31st birthday with a birthday donut and a couple of presents. Who doesn't appreciate chocolate and sprinkles to begin their birthday?
Then we bundled up and headed out for a family day at the Fort Worth Zoo. When we first got there is was still a bit chilly so most of the African animals weren't up and moving around yet. Eva was really happy to see the big white tiger. I think the tiger was happy to see Eva too :)  It is REALLY FUN to take a three year old to the zoo. This was the most excited she has ever been. I don't think she stopped talking or running or laughing for at least the first hour. Seeing her be so happy makes my heart so happy.
Let me say, there are very few options for zoo/birthday/maternity fashion. You want something comfortable for walking, fashionable for photos, and it has to fit. Also it was going to be cold in the morning and warmer in the afternoon. I ended up layer 2 pairs of leggings with a maternity shirt and one of Ryan's sweatshirts. Not too glamorous but I don't think the tiger cared. Also I was talking to a lady who had an 8 week old little boy. I told her I was going to have a boy in February and she said that I didn't even look pregnant. Umm, totally not true but that was the best birthday compliment ever! Ha, it was also probably because I had a big sweatshirt on. I'm pretty sure that if she had seen me in just my shirt and leggings she wouldn't have thought that. I do look very pregnant.
The kangaroos! I like kangaroos because they are so awkward. Their bodies don't seem to be made right but I guess they manage.



An alligator turtle! I had never seen one of these before. It is an actual turtle that is marked like an alligator and shares a habitat with the alligator. It looked very stone age or almost like an underwater dinosaur.
The mommy bonobo with her baby. I like watching how the bonobos interact with each other and it is so sweet to see mommy animals with their babies.



Yee-haw! Riding an alligator in Texas town.
Roar! After we had made a big loop we went back and looked at all the African animals again the afternoon once they were awake and warmer.
Such a perfect family day at the zoo! No crowds, good weather, lots of giggles - happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Thoughts

I thought I would share a few birthday week thoughts today. Not all of them are birthday related, but I felt like blogging about a few different things, starting with.....
1. My birthday party! My college friends came over to our house Saturday night to share a wonderful birthday meal with me. We grilled burgers and ate cake and laughed a lot. I love each of these ladies so much and am so thankful for their friendships. I have been friends with Ashley and Marianne for over 10 years now! And Erica is working on catching up to that number with me :) Thank you, friends for life, for making my birthday special. 
2. Snow! On Sunday night Ryan and I were out at a youth event and got home late. Even though Eva was already snuggled in bed in her pajamas we wrapped her up in a few blankets and took her outside to see the giant snowflakes. The look on her face was priceless. I am so glad we took her to see the snow. It would have been easier and probably more settling to leave her in bed, but seeing how magical the snow was to her was the best moment of my day. 
3. Snow...the next day. The next morning when we were sitting together at breakfast I asked Eva what we should to that day. Her exact response was, "Well, at some point we should play outside in the snow." Ha! What 3 year old starts a sentence by saying "well at some point"? I need to start a journal of all the funny things she says. The other day in the car she had been telling an imaginary story to me and Ryan as we drove. When she stopped Ryan turned and said something to me, then she piped up from the backseat "I am still talking!" And today she had her hand on my belly to feel Jensen move. When he pushed a hand/foot/knee/whatever up against her hand she said, "High-five little buddy!"
4. Christmas. The holiday season is quickly approaching and it is around this time that I start to think about obsess over how much stuff Eva already has. I feel this deep conviction to not let her life be overwhelmed by tons and tons of toys. This turns me into some kind of mommy-grinch that wants to tell everybody not to buy her anything because she has all of everything that any three year old reasonably needs. I want her to appreciate and actually play with a smaller amount of toys rather than have a playroom that is so packed she can't even find the toys she likes. When I think about having two kids next year and all the "stuff" that accumulates for two kids it kind of overwhelms me. At the same time, of course I want her to have a wonderful Christmas. I want her to enjoy the splendor of presents under the tree Christmas morning. I want grandparents to have the joy of buying her whatever their hearts desire. So, this is always really a struggle for me. I believe that Christmas is all about Jesus and that is where the focus should be. After that comes time with family and special traditions and then presents should be more of an after thought. When she looks back at her childhood Christmas mornings I want her memories to be of enjoying time together, because in reality, she will forget about most of the toys she receives over the years. To make this happen I have already purged the play room and organized it so that we can see all the awesome toys she already has. I also have bags of things to give away and a few things I am setting aside for Jensen to enjoy later on. I think all the grandparents are on board with not completely spoiling her, and for that I am so thankful. Also I am very excited about the few things we actually are giving her because they are things she has mentioned and wanted for at least a few months. There is one special present already hidden away that I am sooooo happy to give her, so maybe I'm not a complete grinch.
5. Pajamas. Eva probably spends 90% of each day wearing her pajamas. She will put on "real clothes" when we go somewhere but as soon as we walk through the garage door she heads to her room to put on her pjs. There are times when I wish she wanted to dress up more in the closet full of cute girly clothes she has, but at least she can wear them when we go places....and on the bright side, this has helped her get really good at putting on her own clothes!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Snuggle Day

It is another FREEZING cold day here where we live. Seriously, what happened to fall? We went from 90 degree temps to 40 degree temps in about 2 weeks. But...you might as well make the most of it and enjoy some snuggling on a cold day. We were supposed to go to MomsConnect today, which is a program we do that is similar to MOPS. I really love going and Eva always likes her class, but we decided instead to just make today a snuggle day. There is lots of sickness going around, so I was thinking that instead of going out in the cold we would just stay home and be healthy. We decided to spend our day watching movies, playing, putting healthy essential oils on our bodies, and eating healthy food. We have lots of fun festivities planned for this weekend and next week... for SOMEONE's FABOULOUS 31st BIRTHDAY....so I decided that we should help our bodies be strong and ready for fun! When I was teaching I always remember looking out the window on chilly, cloudy days and wishing I could be at home watching movies in my pajamas. Today I am SO THANKFUL to be able to do just that. We have already done all of our home school things for the week....we have nowhere we have to go....one day I will probably have to have some job where I brave the cold early in the morning...in a few short years she will have to go to kindergarten....but TODAY we will enjoy our cozy little home together.
Sending you some snuggles from us :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Refinished Dresser and Nursery Plans

First up in this post - my latest project, refinishing an old dresser. We got this dresser from my parents and I immediately had big plans to refinish it. I bought some amazing Annie Sloan chalk paint. Chalk paint can be a bit pricey, but it definitely gave the dresser the look I was going for. I had never done a chalk paint project before so thankfully a mother of one of our beloved youth girls offered to help me because she is is quite the chalk paint expert. This project was so much fun and really so easy! I may have found a new hobby :) 
Here is the finished project. I had thought about replacing the handles with something more noticeable, but then I realized that Eva's dresser, which we purchased refinished, had similar handles that were just painted to match. I decided to stick with the free, easy route. Here are my other nursery plans...
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My inspiration. I pinned this photo of a barn red dresser back before we were even sure if we would have a boy or girl. Our crib and changing table are both white so I loved the idea of a brightly painted dresser. I also like the black and white prints on the wall and plan to mix in some black and white maternity/newborn photos. 
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More inspiration. I like the bold red and blue along with the mixture of of different prints. I feel like this gives you a ton of options that will look boyish without looking too babyish. My thoughts are that a little baby doesn't care much about the look of their room, but as they grow up they do enjoy having a room that is put together. When we moved and unpacked all of Eva's decoration and room belongings she was very happy when we got the chance to hang everything and knows that her room was specially decorated and planned for her. Plus as a mom I want a nursery that is enjoyable to sit in. My next project is going to be sewing some vertical striped blue and white curtains.
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I found these crib sheets on Amazon. I like that they have the interchangeable geometric prints. Like most normal women, I love Target, but the Target selection of crib sheets was not so great for the look I want. I've started a baby wish list on Amazon because they just have some different choices that are in the same price point as Target. Also I'm only going to go with cute crib sheets and not a skirt since Jensen is a boy and really once you lower the crib you can't use the skirt anyway. We got a white mesh breathable bumper for Eva that we can reuse.
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I don't know if I would actually do anything with a pillow like this, but I LOVE how they mixed up the prints and colors. I wish I could sew a bobby cover like this because I would use that way more than a throw pillow. 
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Jensen's nursery already has a horizontal bar of crown molding about 2/3 of the way up the wall where his crib will go. I am thinking that a patterned banner like this would look awesome. I think I will hang it with twine and I really don't want to try to sew this because I think I would mess up the triangles so hopefully I can cut some fabric pieces and glue them to felt to make them sturdier before attaching them to twine.
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I plan to look for something like this at Hobby Lobby. The blog I got it from said she found one their for only a few dollars and I figure that even if it isn't red I can paint it. I would love to find a cool way to suspend this in the corner above Jensen's crib, sort of as an alternative to a baby mobile and looking like it could have flown in from the window in the same corner. How fun would that be for a little boy?
I have a long canvas that I got from somebody and I am hoping to paint over the canvas' current artwork with navy blue. Then I am dreaming that either I can paint this or somebody slightly more artistic could paint it for me. I don't like the water hose and hat part, I just want a vintage looking firetruck that says "Jensen" on it.
Finally, since he will be Ryan Bradley's son, I figured I should mix in something sport related. I didn't want to go sports overboard in the room because what if Jensen is like me and doesn't care much about sports? But just to humor his daddy I plan to hang up something with a football or baseball on it.

Okay, so I am ready to shop, sew, and decorate RIGHT NOW. Who's with me? 15 weeks left to go.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Old Wives Tales

Okay just for fun I decided to take a photo of me at 23 weeks with Jensen to compare to me in the same dress at 20 weeks with Eva {I was going to wear this to church this Sunday but it was FREEZING so I just changed up for the sake of the photo}. I also thought it would be interesting to try to verify or debunk some of the familiar boy vs. girl old wives tales. Before I knew what I was having I probably googled these once a week to try to get a better guess. Here is what I have discovered....

Myth 1: If you carry low and front, it's a boy. If you carry high and wide, it's a girl.
Truth: In comparing these photos I would say that I am carrying Jensen a bit lower but not very much, and still more wide than front. Maybe I'm carrying low and wide?  I definietly do not have classic "small basketball bump" that people would picture for a boy. So I would say that this myth is FALSE for me.
Myth 2: If your skin is more beautiful, it's a boy. If your skin breaks out more, it's a girl.
Truth: Most days I feel like I look like I am going through puberty. I was the exact same with Eva. So again, FALSE.
Myth 3: A heart beat over 140 bpm is a girl. A lower heart beat is a boy.
Truth: Jensen's heart beat has gone from being in the 170's to 160's and now is still always over 140. Eva was always over 140. False.
Myth 4: No morning sickness, it's a boy. Lots of morning sickness, it's a girl.
Truth. I've been sick for at least 20 weeks with both pregnancies. Ready for Jensen to give me a break here....False. 
Myth 5: The Chinese gender predictor.
Truth: This test said that Eva would be a boy and Jensen would be a girl. Double false.
Myth 6: If you crave salty foods, it's a boy. If you crave sweets, it's a girl.
Truth: Generally for me I will say that this one is TRUE. I eat way more savory foods than sweets right now. With Eva I ate ice cream all the time, but I was also 9 months pregnant during the hottest summer in Texas history.
Myth 7: If you find yourself clumsier, it's a boy.
Truth: I am WAY clumsy. So right now I would say true. But I was also clumsy with Eva.
Myth 8: If you tie a ring to a string and hold over your belly, a boy will make it move in a circle or a girl will make it move back and forth.
Truth: I am pretty sure I have telepathic powers here. I can literally make it move whichever way I am thinking about. False.

All this to say, I have found most of these predictors to be pretty inconsistent. It seems more likely that you will have similar symptoms for your pregnancies than for each individual sign to be a good predictor. Either that or Jensen will surprise us and be a girl....but I am 99% sure won't happen :)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween

It's the morning after Halloween....have you recovered from your sugar high yet? I'll be honest, I woke up and snuck a white chocolate Hershey's bar from Eva's stash before anybody else was awake this morning. We celebrated last night dressed as the King of Hearts, a bumblebee, and Olfa (I made my costume myself!!!). Before we get to the cuteness that was trick or treating, let me share the rest of our Halloween day....
Friday is normally our family day but Ryan had been invited to play golf so it was just another day of me and Eva. I wanted to make it a fun day but hadn't really planned anything. Originally we had tossed out the idea of going to Boo at the Zoo, but I hadn't felt well this week and nothing is more MONSTERish than an uncomfortable pregnant mom walking around for hours on a day that should be about having fun. So instead Eva and I started our morning by getting a milk box and a Pumpkin Spice latte at Starbucks. To add a little TREAT to our morning we brought some favorite Halloween books to read while we enjoyed our beverages. Then I needed to grab something from Grapevine Mills mall, so I decided that I would TRICK her into a bit of shopping by promising a carousel ride if she was helpful. On the way I was realizing that not only did I not dress her up in something Halloween-ish, but we had never listened to any classic kids Halloween songs. We had a done a few fun fall things, like putting orange food coloring in the water table and covering a pumpkin with paint and stickers, but for the most part I had kept our pre-Halloween festivities minimal. No FEAR, we rocked out to the Pandora Family Halloween station on our way to the mall. 
For dinner that night I had planned a nutritious meal. I knew she was going to be eating more sugar than she needed and I felt some sort of good mom obligation to serve some vegetables and protein ahead of time to balance it out. Unfortunately, right as we were getting ready to grill up our dinner, we realized that our garage deep freeze had somehow been shut off. Nothing is more FRIGHTENING than food poisoning, so we ended up throwing out most of what we had stored away. In the moment I was about ready to cry thinking about throwing out literally weeks worth of food and freezer meals and so frustrated at having to come up with something else for us to eat for dinner. Not only had I not planned an awesome Halloween themed meal, I barely had enough lying around to make a quick dinner. But I was determined not to be SCARED by the possibility of a less than perfect meal, so we ate what we could, got our costumes on and finally headed out. Next year I plan on saying, "Remember the Halloween our freezer ruined all our food? Let's order a pizza to be safe." No more Halloween night cooking for me. 
Now for the best part of our day! We met up with some friends in our neighborhood and this was SO MUCH FUN! All the girls had a great time and looked so cute together. 
They would take off running at each house and Eva would go up to the door and say "Trick-or-Treat-ING!" Yeah, she added the -ING each time and it cracked me up. Before Eva I really didn't care much about Halloween and hadn't dressed up since I was much younger, so I really am enjoying remembering that Halloween night can be so awesome. It made me so happy to see how excited she was for everything. 
If there was an award for cutest costumes in the neighborhood it would have to go to these two party animals. We saw our Elephant friend, Lydia, at one of our stops and our Brave Lion fried, Grayson, also joined our trick or treating gang. I absolutely love small kids dressed up like animals. 
Afterwards we went back to our friends' house and let the girls party out and fill themselves up on some candy. I took the liberty of organizing and counting Eva's candy - she lucked out with this stash! There was some great candy in her bucket! She had right at 100 pieces, which should last a three year old and her parents at least a few months. 
Finally here is my Halloween flashback. For a good laugh you should check out our FIRST HALLOWEEN AS PARENTS, maybe I need to plan better for holidays :) Hopefully by the time Jensen is 2 or 3 I should have this whole Halloween parenting thing down.