I’d Choose You Again and Again

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Father’s Day is here again and while most of us moms think “isn’t every day the day that dads get to sleep in, get food made for them, and get others to shop for them?” While it’s probably true in many cases, there are so many reasons to celebrate the dads in your life.

While it is becoming more discussed in our society, we have barely scratched the reality of the importance of fathers in raising children. Take a gander at this NPR interview that cites startling statistics about the “Fatherless Generation” . Fatherless children are more likely to be poor, to drop out of school, and to self-harm. It’s incredible the effect fatherhood has in a child’s life.

I have to admit, more often than not, I am bitter about my husband’s “freedom” – such as not having to get up in the middle of the night to breastfeed or not having to clean up the vomit or not having to change a million diapers during the day. I am selfish and often wish we could trade places for a bit.

The truth is that I couldn’t handle being a father. My husband is a dedicated provider, who challenges himself at work and who sacrifices daily to ensure that our family has everything we need. He puts us first pretty much all the time. He is the fun parent. He is the one who chases our toddler around the house and throws her up in the air. He’s the one who does anything to get our baby to laugh. He is the one who comes home and greets me with a kiss and makes me feel loved every single darn day.

My daughters’ father has a very important job and I have no desire to take it on. God gave us the perfect man to lead our family and to raise our two girls. I never want to take him and his effort for granted.

Happy Father’s Day to the one I chose to raise my children and the one who God chose for our family.

Living in Grace

I’ve been working on a blog post for about two months now; battling writer’s block every sentence of it. This is not that post.

This post is just about coming as I am. As it should be. I’d love to be that Pinterest mom, but we have yet to do a Valentine’s craft (I printed off heart coloring pages, close enough?), my home is in a constantly disheveled renovating state, and dry shampoo always has my back these days.

But this obsessive planner has learned a lot in the past two years of being a mom. Letting go and accepting life unplanned has been freeing. I’m not all the way there…i still have a planner, a dry erase calendar, and TWO phone calendars ruling my days, but I no longer feel guilty that Maggie knows the entire Daniel Tiger theme song or that I have no idea how much my youngest sleeps.

My Moms group has a theme this year – “No More Perfect”. Which I think is just perfect for these crazy, fun-filled days of young parenthood. Living in God’s grace to be who I am right now and work on perfection when I meet Him 🙂

 

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Margaret Grace at Two Years

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T w o.

Two whole years I have known you. 24 months of being a mom to you. I catch myself staring at you lately, wondering how I could have been so blessed to know you.

You are beautiful. You have the sweetest curls and gorgeous eyelashes. You are solid and athletic – proof of your physical abilities. You have long limbs and fingers…and feet! (in size 8 shoes already!)

You say the cutest things since you can’t talk well yet. “mina” = banana, “sasa” = applesauce, “seesah” = sister, “waya” = Leia. You sing along with me to your goodnight song and “Jesus Loves Me”, and every song from Moana and Trolls. Oh, your favorite movie is Moana. By far. But you love Daniel Tiger now and I’m grateful for the switch from Baby Einstein finally.

You know the alphabet song and can count to 10 (you try to hold up your fingers like I do). You know the colors red, blue, and purple; every other color is blue. You are getting picky with your foods and only want to eat fruit and cheese. Your favorite food is pizza.

You have your father’s mechanical mind and adventure-seeking spirit. You have my love of music and desire to have people close by. You are the most outgoing, loving, wildest toddler I know.

I couldn’t love you more…

Happy birthday, my Maggie Grace.

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Maggie Grace at 18 Months

We’ve finally hit it. The last of the monthly ages. 18 months is generally where people stop referring to their child’s age by months. Next she will be 2 years old and I don’t even want to think about that.

This stage has been the most challenging, fun, amazing age yet. Her development from a year old to now is jaw-dropping when I think about it. She definitely is more developed in the physical area than the language area. She walked just before her first birthday, spins, dances, goes down slides by herself, jumps, barrel rolls, and climbs on EVERYTHING. Seriously, I’m pretty sure her purpose in life is to get a broken leg before she hits 2. She is very tactile and has to touch whatever she sees. She also has some stellar fine motor skills like screwing bottle caps on. We’re just starting to get past the stage where everything goes in the mouth, which means bring on the play-doh and more crafts!

Her language has sped up like crazy in the past two weeks, however, and she is signing and speaking words I didn’t know she knew. So far, she signs for: more, please, thank you, all done, love you, and help. She says “mama, dada, baba, banana, go, car, cracker, up, cheese”, and of course her own versions of “leia” and “jackson”. She knows about four animal sounds and every time we ask her what a cow says, she says Leia. I think we mixed her up somewhere on that one.

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She enjoys music, playing with other kids, snuggling, doing what mom says “no” to, swimming, and her baby dolls. She has now been on eight plane rides and has been to both coasts. She takes a 2-3 hour nap everyday and used to sleep fairly well for her (waking up only once a night) until we hit the 18 month regression.

I don’t usually write monthly posts like this, exclaiming over where my kid is developmentally and such, but it’s been six months since we’ve seen extended family, so I figure this would catch everyone up on what she’s like now. She just got to see her aunt and uncle again (it had been over a year!) and I know she loved showing them what she can do.

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I know we’re a bit late on her 18 month birthday, but we were in Portland and I honestly didn’t even care to think about blogging while enjoying vacation with my family. Anyways, that’s Maggie for now!

Girl’s Best Friend

If you don’t know already from my posts and Instagram feed, we’re a bit dog obsessed around here. We have two fur babies of our own and regularly have a neighbor dog that spends hours a day here.

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Since they’re such a big part of our family, I’ll give you some of their backstory!

Jackson Jorge:

Named for a white “J” mark on the back of his head from when he was a puppy. My sister named his middle name and was in the depths of high school Spanish.

Born Nov. 4, 2005 – we adopted him from a nearby hobby farm just before Christmas.

He was a gift from my friends after my childhood dog passed away that summer.

He has moved with me four times, once including crossing state lines. He was a package deal when my husband married me.

He’s part-Australian Shepherd, part-terrier. He is super smart and also crazy. He is high anxiety and freaks out at fireworks, guns, and the air compressor. He takes doggy Xanax.

He’s been with me through everything and is still my puppy. He’s the lucky one that gets to sleep on the bed by me.

 

Leia Jade:

Born April 20, 2015 – we adopted her from a family breeder in late June after a concert. She was my project because I was very pregnant and bored after I quit working.

She is a purebred red Labrador and is the laziest, goofiest mutt ever.  We kid around that her name is really “Lay-a” because of how lazy she is. We aren’t big Star Wars fans or anything, we just liked the name for her.

She is the best dog for our toddler. I’d say she loves Maggie, but she really loves everyone. She’s everybody’s best friend.

She knows about three tricks and that’s it. She’s dumb, but pretty!

 

After we got Leia, we realized that several things were necessary for a comfortable life with both our dogs and kids. We put in a dog door and made sure we had a completely fenced in yard. This enables me to not have to worry about the dogs and to focus more on my daughter without constantly having to get up and let the dogs in and out (anyone with a newborn understands the frustration).

We’ve made it almost two years with two dogs and a baby without any incident! We have, however, realized that we get easily annoyed at some very small things. Our biggest complaint right now, is noisy dog tags! Our dogs have an ID tag and a rabies tag on their collars and they are constantly jingling. When your dog scratches and his tags wake your sleeping baby, you get angry!

We’ve tried silicone tag covers, but they didn’t fit the tags well and ended up ripping within a couple weeks. Sometimes the rings on the tags would get bent and the tags would come off. Super safe for our dogs and kid, right? Well, I finally found the solution!

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Engraved leather dog collars! It eliminates the need for the ID tag, so it’s instantly quieter. I tried one from Custom Catch for Leia and we love it! There were several options and we chose a simple one – her name and my phone number.

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We’ve had it on her for a couple weeks now and are extremely happy with it. It is a high quality product and the engraving is very well done. Just search Custom Catch on Amazon and see what they have to offer!

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—–This is a sponsored post and I received a discounted product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.—–

 

 

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My Parents’ Visit

I live 434 miles away from my parents. I moved away 3 years ago and I don’t know if we will ever live any closer to each other.

My daughter has seen my parents about five times in her life.

For me, this in unreal, because I lived almost my whole life with both sides of my entire family in the same town. In fact, of all my uncles, aunts, and cousins, there are two that lived on the West Coast and the rest of my entire family grew up together. Not only that, but I grew up seeing my second and third cousins every year. We would get together for every holiday and family event.

I dream of a time where Maggie can be as well-acquainted with my entire family, but I don’t know if it will ever come. Thankfully, social media has made the distance seem smaller, but we cherish the times that we are all together.

My parents were able to come visit us as soon as we moved into our new home and helped us clean our apartment and finish up some projects. Mostly, they just loved on Maggie and we delighted in their presence.

Looking forward to our next visit with them…

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Ridiculously Easy Ways to Save Money on Everyday Purchases

If you are a member of this newly college-graduated, just married, young parents generation, then you’re like me. And if you’re like me, you’re realizing that life costs a lot more than it used to a couple years ago. No more paying for your meal plan upfront and swiping that i.d. for an extra helping without another thought. College loans want to be paid back and your home has utility costs, repairs and has to be heated in the five month long winter. Now add on the cost of raising kids: diapers, food, gear, daycare…life has all of a sudden become VERY expensive.

Now most of these costs are necessities. Of course there are always ways to pare down and save money, but if you aren’t a minimalist and ready to harvest your own food and recycle your toilet paper, there are just some things that you’re going to have to spend money on.

My husband and I are always looking for ways to save money and cut down on our spending (we just bought a home this past fall, so our budget has shifted quite a bit from our renting days). Bear reads about a lot of financial tips on Reddit, I’m always checking Pinterest and Facebook groups for hot deals or info on giveaways. We’ve developed quite a few methods of ways that we save money in our home and I thought I’d jot them down so you can see how easy it is to save a few bucks every week (it adds up!)

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The biggest idea to keep in mind is that every little bit helps. Also, the sacrifices are worth it. Now, our family definitely splurges on things sometimes, but that is very rare compared to our normal living. This post is in regard to everyday spending.

First, we do not follow a Dave Ramsey budget. My parents and sister are totally on board with his method and I am so proud of them. However, we have discovered that our time of life can be easily supplemented by credit card rewards. WARNING!!! This can be a dangerous path if you are a big shopper or have little self control with credit cards. We never carry a balance and use our cards as if they are debit cards. We simply take advantage of the rewards that our cards offer. For instance, if a credit card is offering free airline miles with a minimum purchase amount and we know that we will be taking a trip this year, we may use that card for our major purchases and everyday purchases to meet the requirements for free miles. We do NOT, however, go on a shopping spree to meet the minimum purchase requirement. There is so much more to this topic that I probably should not have included it, but some companies offer ridiculously good rewards and it can be very worthwhile if you manage your finances well. This is an area of finance that my husband has spent many hours researching and we feel comfortable with it. Please, please, please do your research and be confident of your financial situation before your pursue this.

Second, we use apps such as Ibotta and Checkout51 for rebates on grocery purchases. I also coupon and my shopping planning involves clipping coupons, looking at the ads for the store discounts, and checking the apps for rebates on items I plan to buy. As with anything, you aren’t saving money if you buy what you don’t need. Use the coupons and rebates on things you already buy and you will be shocked at how much you can save. There are also online “apps” such as eBates and Swagbucks that will help you save money or earn money for online purchases.

Third, I shop for clothes almost exclusively at thrift stores, but sometimes I splurge on clearance items. I cannot tell you the last time I bought something full price. I’m especially proud of my purchase last spring of my winter coat for this year: a Levi’s faux fur hooded parka that was originally over $150 at JCP, but was marked down in their end of season sale and then I used a coupon for $10 off $25. I got that coat for $12! The smartest thing you can do when clothes shopping (especially for kids) is shop for the next year during the end of season sales.

Fourth, sell what you aren’t using. My husband just recently went through his stuff and sold a ton of it on eBay. He didn’t make lots of money, but he recouped some of what he had spent on that stuff that was just sitting around for years. My latest desire has been to turn my love of thrifting into a profitable business by flipping things I find. You wouldn’t believe how many brand name items I find with tags still on! My problem is that I like the clothes I find too much and keep them for myself.

Fifth, when we do know that we will be eating out or need to do some extra shopping, we buy discounted gift cards through Raise.com or Cardpool.com We do it often and seem to always find good deals. Remember that when you use coupons and store discounts as well, you can come out with some great deals!

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These are a few ways that we have found to save us money on daily purchases. What are some ways you have found to help your financial situation? I’m curious to know what helps others!