Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 15 of 2015

As we celebrate New Year's Eve today I thought I would make a list to remind myself of some of the awesome things I did in 2015. To be honest, 2015 feels like a tough year when I look back, but I wanted to take a positive perspective. So this list is not me boasting, but rather me being grateful and CELEBRATING!
1. I gave birth to my beautiful son. If this was the only awesome thing I did all year, that would be enough. I love being Jensen's mama.
2. I raised two kids. The transition from one kid to two is tough. Balancing routines. Making time for each. Not feeling guilty for paying attention to one over the other. Loving them both unconditionally and praying for them daily. But I did it!
3. I home schooled Eva. She has learned lots of Bible stories, done tons of science, and improved on math and early literacy skills. And I got to be the one to teach her all of that!
4. I survived postpartum depression. On the one hand, this feels like a low of 2015, but then I was thinking of how proud I am for coming through it. I reached out when it was tough, and I'm going to celebrate that.
5. I've gotten to share parts of my story. Through blogging and through a documentary I took part in all year long for our church I've gotten to talk more about my faith, my struggles, my life and how God is continuously shaping my story. It's exciting to give my voice to all of that.
6. My marriage is stronger. I love Ryan so much, and am so thankful that he shared the year with me. We've learned to listen and communicate and laugh through the crazy. I'm really looking forward to 2016 because we decided to set aside some money we got for Christmas so that we can put it towards date nights. I love dating that man.
7. I joined the minivan club. It's been so fun driving around my Toyota Sienna. Proud minivan mom :)
8. I made healthy changes. This wasn't even a New Years goal. It just happened out of need. I eat way less sugar, eat lots more veggies. I am balancing my health with great vitamins. I don't feel perfect but I do feel healthier!
9. I said goodbye to gluten. This one gets it's own number because it was a hard farewell. I've been completely gluten free for almost 3 months!!! Overall I don't miss bread much, but some mornings I do crave a donut.
10. I made some cool mom friends. Early in the year another stay at home mom in the neighborhood posted about meeting up for some play time and through that I've gotten to know and become friends with some great ladies in our neighborhood! I have also made friends in Moms Connect group I go to in Denton. I love sharing life with these other mamas.
11. I forgave some people. There were probably just a couple of people at the beginning to the year that I was frustrated with for various reasons, and when I look in my heart now, I'm not mad at all and I feel love for them!
12. I lived well on a budget. Hooray for budgeting! Tell your money where YOU want it to go and CELEBRATE the little choice you make for the greater good of your budget!
13. I said goodbye to my Grandpa in the best way. When he was dying in the hospital I got to go see him and tell him how much I loved him and share my good memories with him. We prayed together through tears. I will always be grateful for that ending.
14. My family has clean clothes and paper plates. I could call 2015 the year of laundry and dishes because that is what I felt like I did the most. It was not always enjoyable and sometimes it seemed never ending. But my people have clean clothes to wear. I also decided that it is okay to embrace paper plates for your own sanity...not for every meal...but when you need that break, take it.
15. I have seen God's faithfulness again and again. And again. God is good all the time. Jesus is real and acting in my life. When my own strength is out He carries me through. When I call out, He listens. When I praise, He listens. My relationship with the Lord has grown stronger all year long.
I am ready to ring in 2016. I don't set New Years resolutions, but my prayer is that it is a year of LAUGHTER and HOPE. I'm looking forward to my last full year of being at home with both kids before Eva starts Kindergarten in 2016. I guess I will let my little man turn 1 year old in a few weeks, although I'm not completely sure about that one. I have some friends bringing their own sweet babies into the world and I can't wait to kiss them! I'm looking forward to dates full of laughing with my handsome man. I'm looking froward to seeing what God has in store for Bara Church. Have fun tonight and remember what I always say...nothing good happens after 9:30PM :) Be safe!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Hope everybody had an good time with family over Christmas. I am sharing all of our Christmas photos in one post because I finally have 10 minutes where Jensen is asleep and Ryan and Eva are out running errands! We had a good couple of days with family, although I realized as I was uploading photos that I didn't get many pictures of anybody other than the kids. Next year I will need to be better at that.

Here is our Christmas starting with the annual cousins picture at Nana and Papa's house! We always spend the night before Christmas Eva at their house all together and then wake up and celebrate Christmas Eve morning. I always remember the year that Kiersi was one year old and Ryan and I weren't married yet so she shared a room and slept in the crib next to me. She woke up really early so I just snuggled with her until I was ready for everybody to wake up. And now she is 9 years old and my little man was the one in the crib this year. 
Mallory and Eva ready for gifts! 4 is a fun age for Christmas because they start to remember traditions.

Before I move on the the presents let's go back to the night before...to my sweet little man sleeping in the crib beside me. I put him down by 7:30PM the night before. He is normally my easy going, good sleeper...but he must have been excited about all the presents to come because he was WIDE AWAKE for most of the night. Usually Eva is the wild card who won't settle down and sleep but she actually did much better this year, so Jensen pulled the old switch-er-roo on us. Fun times traveling with babies. Thankfully Nana helped out a lot so we could get breaks to sleep for a bit. Maybe one year my kids will both be easy sleepers for Christmas?
Mallory got to open the first gift! Not sure how that happened because our neice Kayden had told me the night before that I had the winning ticket for the first gift, but I guess I will overlook it this time...We were so excited to give Mallory a Glitz and Glam Barbie. You can even change her nail polish color with cold and warm water! Okay, maybe I gave her this gift with the hopes that one day I could come play....anytime Mallory :) 
Jensen was most excited to play with paper and chew on bows. Eva got to help him unwrap most of his gifts. I promise now that we are home he really likes his new toys!
 Hmm, what could Eva's big gift be under that sheet? I love that little kids really don't know when they look at something like that.
Ryan's grandmother, Mamaw was there with us for Christmas Eve morning for the first time since I became a Bradly. It was sweet having her there and I hope she really enjoyed getting to see the kids be excited.
Buddy got an awesome pop up tent and tunnel that he played in right away. I love this because he and Eva have spent hours laughing and playing together in it every day since.
 Eva got her first big girl bike with training wheels and is already a pro at riding it!

Christmas Eve night we went to service at church. Ryan's mom had given us a bag of Ryan's old baby clothes so I dressed Jensen in one of his old outfits.
Christmas morning. Santa came! He left an Elsa head for Eva and a lawn mower for Jensen. I love the magic of Santa and hope my kids can enjoy it together for years to come!
 Eva got a fun Barbie jet. Barbie and her friends have taken many tropical vacations already.
Me with my girl. She actually woke up reallllllyyy early for the first time because she was so excited. We went ahead and did Christmas with her and then let Jensen open his gifts when he woke up later.
Eva helped him with his stocking.
 I really like his wooden train. I got this at a consignment sale back in the fall and have been looking forward to giving it to him. He can take all the blocks off to stack and knock over too.
And he got a push walker. Okay, this was a regift from Eva that had been stored in the closet but he was happy to see it!
We made pancakes for breakfast and added sprinkles and whip cream, since it was Jesus' birthday!

My parents came over in the afternoon to play and have Christmas dinner. This was the only photo I got. Yeah, I'm lame. My kids were just over pictures and we were enjoying our relaxation. But we do love Mamy and Baba!
Some fun with my new selfie stick!
 My aunt gave Eva and her baby doll matching pjs.
 Eva's big gift from my parents was a dollhouse!!! This is actually my old dollhouse that my grandmother bought the day I was born. 32 years later and it is still beautiful...a bit worn but my mom tried to clean it up a bit and Eva loves it!
Thankful for Christmas memories with my littles.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My not so perfect holiday week

Last night I shared this post and wrote about all the good things we've gotten to do this December. I mostly wrote that post to remind myself that we did actually have some highlights this month. But this morning as I was praying in the shower - the first shower I've gotten to take since Saturday! - I felt like I wanted to share some of my not so perfect week, too. My intention isn't at all to complain, but to be real for the mom that read my last post and thought "Oh man, their month looks so perfect."

Our week has not been perfect. It's been rough. Eva has been sick with some internal issues - don't worry family, I promise it is nothing you can catch! - so we have spent most of this week, this week that is supposed to be awesome, helping her feel better and lying around. I desperately wanted to "embrace" this advent week and fill it with meaningful activites. I guess patiently helping my four year old is meaningful, but it has been rough.

This morning started off in the wee early hours with a certain someone coming in our room to say that she had accidentally peed all over her bedroom floor. It really was not her fault, we had needed her to drink a lot right before bed, but it was not a pleasant way to start the day. Then throughout the rest of the morning everyone except for Ryan has ended up in tears. Yeah, tears. I was sitting in our bathroom earlier crying about all the things that I want to get done, and all the ways I want to be worshiping God this week, and asking God to show me truth about Christmas, and how in the world I can keep seeking joy in the midst of a very not perfect morning. Then God reminded me about Jesus. Immanuel. God WITH US. If Jesus had not been born on Christmas, there would be no GOD WITH US. And woah, I definitely need God with me. Like every moment of every day. So that is what my heart is celebrating this morning. Not the picture perfect moments, but God with us. God with me. I have much to be thankful for. Even on the hard days God shows me hidden blessings. Things like a husband who calls back after he left in the middle of chaos, and a mother in-law who checks to make sure I have some good gluten free food to eat, and a warm shower with a fresh bottle of shampoo. And the best is that he is with me through all my imperfect.

If your kids are sick, or you are hurting, or you burnt your Christmas meal, or your house is still a mess, or there are presents left to be wrapped, seek HIM. Seek the one who the season should be about. And thank the Lord that He is still with us today. Merry Christmas! Pray that we receive a more "silent night" tonight.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December to Remember

Is it already almost Christmas?! I think so! We had a busy December and I want to share all of our fun before I forget! I didn't have time to create a perfect planned out calendar of fun for each day of December, but I'm pretty sure we hit all the highlights of the season anyway. Christmas lights...check! Hot cocoa and movies...check! Lots of Christmas pj wearing and shopping and time with friends...check! What else did we do this month?
We got to watch the Grapevine Parade of Lights for the first time. 
Since it is at night most of the floats are all lit up and fun to watch. This was a loooonnngggg parade....
but thankfully we got to enjoy it with friends! Some of our neighbors and small group friends joined us and made the night merrier.
We served cookies at the Trophy Club Town Christmas. Jensen got to meet Santa for the first time! Eva took one look and ran away bawling...so no Santa picture for her this year. 
Eva participated in Growing Givers at our church, where all the kids learn about the importance of kindness and giving.
We somehow ended up with THREE inflatable Christmas decorations. I never pictured myself owning even one inflatable. But now somehow, I love them. It's probably the smile on that little girl's face that makes me so fond of "blow ups" as she calls them.
We did candy cane science. Eva observed a candy cane and then watched what happened when it was left in a container of water.
 Eva made herself into an elf.
 We had to rescue the princesses that Elsa froze in a block of ice overnight!
 We made glittery Christmas soap.
 We cooked reindeer pancakes.
 We watched Truthical with friends at Gateway Church.
We went caroling with our youth group. I think Ryan had the whole group photo but I couldn't find it when I was ready to blog. There were other people there, not just us :)
Who wouldn't want to hear this little reindeer sing Christmas songs?
Eva and I decorated a gingerbread house. I won a reusable one at a white elephant party and it worked great! When the holidays are over I just clean it up and fold it away for next year.
Ryan and I had a blast at the Young Life leadership pajama Christmas party. We had tons of fun playing games and relaxing in our jammie jams.
We also enjoyed the Bara Staff Christmas party. It was a sweet night of fellowship with our church staff.
And we also partied with our small group at Inzo in Downtown Roanoke. A huge THANK YOU to all the friends who blessed us with babysitting on the nights we had our holiday parties and gave this mama a much needed break from her children.You are appreciated beyond belief!
We snuggled up and watched Elf. We do this pretty much every month of the year but it is extra fun in December.
 Eva got to spend the night at my parents' and make cookies with my mom. She was sick on the day I had planned to make them with her so I'm glad she made up for it with Mamy.
 We celebrated my Dad's 63rd birthday with a yummy gluten free carrot cake! And Elsa and Anna.
 We helped decorate my parents tree. Or at least the bottom 1/3 of the tree.
We celebrated Christmas with our extended Bradley family and my in-laws renewed their vows for their 40th anniversary.
That's a wrap for the pre-Christmas fun! The credits are rolling on A Christmas Story as I type. The presents are wrapped and stashed out of reach from this little man. Tomorrow we head to Royse City to begin embracing Christmas in all it's splendor. And my poor mangled Christmas tree only has to make it through a few more days with Jensen.