Saturday, December 29, 2012

What's Happening Right Now

{Reading}: one thousand gifts.  I know people love, love, love this book and I really do love the idea behind the book, but I am having a difficult time finishing it.  Obviously I have no business critiquing a book as I've never written one myself, but I am of the opinion that the book could have been summed up in maybe half the pages.  With that said, you should at least try to read the first three chapters, because giving God honor for all the little things that make our life special is such an awesome idea and really makes you appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

{Cleaning}: the pantry!  Last January (in response to reading The Happiness Project) I spent the month of January organizing every single drawer, cupcoard, nook, and cranny in the house.  Much of it has stayed relatively organized, but our pantry is a catch-all.  For example, right now there is an unused computer and monitor in there.  Shameless plug:  We are selling it on Craigslist for $160 if anyone is interested.... 

 Everything is organized now, and it just makes me feel like I can breathe again.
 My sister, Angela, and I had a successful trip to IKEA yesterday where I purchased 17 of these containers for less than $10! 
 I've been wanting to do this forever.  A shoe organizer now organizes (some) of our craft supplies.  We are pretty serious about arts and crafts in our house.
 A close up.  Doesn't it make you want to organize?
As I am writing this the kitchen awaits in disarray.  All the things that I've cleaned out of the pantry now need sorted into these piles: throw away, send to the basement for the yard sale pile, or find a new home...
{Watching}: Private Practice.  A year ago, in an effort to streamline our finances, we got rid of cable.  We spend $16 a month for Netflix and stream it on our TV through our Wii consule.  I love Netlix.  How would I have watched 30 episodes of Switched at Birth without it?  If you haven't seen this yet, please do.  A shout out to my friend, Ashley, for introducing me to the Kennish/Vasquez clan.  Since I've watched all the current episodes Private Practice is my new guilty pleasure. 
{Cooking}:  This weeks menu plan includes a Southwestern Chicken Chopped Salad, Glazed Pork Chops, and Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries. 
{Kissing}:  My babies!  Have you seen Xander's cheeks?  I probably kiss them 90 times a day.  And Amirah?  That wild hair and that smile.  Be still my beating heart.  I have enjoyed being home for Christmas break.  Although strangely enough I miss the routine of getting up every morning and going somewhere. 
{Pinning}:  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Pinterest just never gets old for me.  I have found the best ideas there.  The things I want to do this week include an art project with glue, watercolors, and alcohol; a do-it-yourself face cleanser, and possibly making "fancy" jars out of spaghetti jars (which thanks to my organizing I have found I currently own 30+ jars of all shapes and sizes). 
I hope you all had an amazing Christmas filled with priceless memories.  I look forward to the New Year where I can make more lists and cross them off!  I just love New Years Resolutions!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Here's the Scoop...

Wowza!  Life's been busy here.  Since going back to school my blog has been sorely neglected.  So, I thought I'd give you an update...  In random order here's what's new in my life...

1.  So, in an effort to spend some time with Amirah I took her to the library to return some overdue books (probably about $5.00 or so worth) and get some new ones for her.  Amirah and I played in the kids section.  I picked out a few books for her.  And she picked out one she wanted to read to Xander.  When I checked out I realized my fine was over $14.00!  I tried to argue that it was a mistake, but the librarian would have none of it.  I had forgotten my wallet so I didn't have the money to pay it and she wouldn't let me check out any new books so we left with empty hands.  I felt like a criminal and left feeling more than a little annoyed at myself and the grumpy librarian.
2.  Baby Xander is getting so big!  He can now sit up by himself, is working on two bottom teeth, and is trying desperately to crawl.  Why do they grow up so quickly?
3.  This is my best year of teaching yet.  Lucky #11.  Can you  believe this is my 11th year of teaching?  I can't!  I have such a great group of kiddos and feel so blessed to have the job I do.  I can't imagine doing anything else.
4.  So... remember that Happiness Project I stared in January?  Well, I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey, but I think I have officially run out of steam.  November's goal was to do a random act of kindess each day.  I had ideas of leaving coins at the car wash, and paying for a strangers coffee, etc.  Guess how many random acts of kindess I've done so far?  20? 21?  How 'bout 0.  Zilch. None. Nada.  Now, don't get me wrong I've done lots of nice things for people.  I generally hold doors, great my coworkers in the morning, give compliments, etc, but I just feel short on the "random" part. 
5.  We made a copycat recipe the other night of Auntie Anne's pretzels.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Were they ever good.  We dipped ours in butter and then cinnamon sugar.  Yummo!  They tasted amazing, but looked pathetic.  I cannot for the life of me make a pretzel shape.  I even got an actual pretzel out of the cupboard to look at it, but I just cannot do it.  The last time I tried to make soft pretzels I got so flustered I ended up melting part of the laptop.  Our were more like lumps and turds.  You get the visual.  And just in case you can't, look below...  We bought more yeast yesterday and Ysmaille is determined they will look better this time.

6.  I would like to declare my love for my husband.  We argue and get on each other's nerves, but no one loves me like he does.  Even when I am ridiculous, and catty, and emotional.  And even when he loses his patience with me I know he loves me and I love him.  And I just appreciate so much all that he does for our family.  Our life may not be perfect, but it's our life and I love it.  And there you have it.
7.  Every season (as many of you already know) I make a list of things to do.  I am a list person.  I have chore lists and grocery lists and to-do lists, and now pinterest lists.  It's just how I roll.  Anyway, this particular list is so fun, because it helps me be accountable to soak in the little moments in time that make memories so sweet.  This has been such a fun fall.  Here are some of the highlights... a corn maze, carving a pumpkin, eating a caramel apple, leaf project, making applesauce, making mountain pies, photoshoot in the leaves, trick-or-treating, Starbucks deliciousness, and a hayride. 
8.  I went Black Friday shopping today.  With two kids.  They did awesome.  I bought two shirts for my niece and a gift for my Secret Santa at work.  That's it.  I would have loved to do more, but did I mention the two kids and the fact they were doing awesome?  I didn't wanted to jinx myself.
9.  I am really trying to spend more time reading my Bible and praying.  I don't want to be religious, just intentional.  I do talk to God and I've got such a great foundation from my parents and attending a Christian school for 13 years, but I find there is so much I don't know.  If you read this blog and see me over the next couple of weeks ask me how it's going.  If there is one thing I know about me it's I have such great starts, but pretty sad finishes.  I'm working on that.  Our pastor, Mark, once said, "It's not how you start that matters.  It's how you finish."  I need to remember that.
I think you are pretty caught up.  Loving life.  In this place, in this moment.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mother of the Year Award!

I bet you thought by my charming title I had won this award.  I assure you I did no such thing.  Today was just "one of those days..."  It started out when I realized that I had forgotten to send my five month old to the babysitter with a bottle.  She had milk for him, but no bottle.  I felt so terrible.  Luckily my wonderful sister, Angela, was able to pack up her to precious babies and save the day.  She brought a bottle so Xander didn't have to spend the day without food :)  When I went to pick up the kiddos Xander was bouncing away in the jumparoo with a t-shirt on twice the size of his body.  I thought I had forgotten a change of clothes, but no, he peed through outfit #1 and pooped through outfit #2.  Amirah had an accident today and I had forgotten to pack her a change of panies, so she was wearing pants with nothing on underneath.  The worst part of it all?  We had to run errands, so I brought my children with me despite the fact they looked like vagabonds and hoped no one judged me.  So, no, no Mother of the Year award here. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall List

I have to admit this is my favorite fall ever.  Is it me or are the trees just extra beautiful?  I think Pennsyvlania is just a great place to live!  My fall list is off to a great start.  Here are a few of the highlights...

-- I had a great salted caramel mocha at Starbucks last Friday when my beautiful friend Jamie came to town.
-- Last weekend the Eliacins went to Reynold's Pumpkin Farm and I was able to cross a few things off my list-- a hay ride and a corn maze.
-- Last night I took the babies outside and we did a mini photo shoot.  I love the contrast between the green grass and the red and orange trees.  Beautiful!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Classroom, a Happiness Project Update, and my Sexy Husband

I absolutely love my job.  Yes, there are some days that are better than others, but at least once a week I think to myself, "This is fun.  How lucky that I get paid to do this."  I'm not kidding.  Anyway, I thought I should take a few pictures to show where the magic happens.  This is my room.  Uncensored.  I took these pictures while the kiddos were at recess, so it may not be spotless, but this is the real deal.

 I teach math for the majority of the day.  The bins on the desk hold math supplies- whiteboards, markers, manipulatives, etc.  The yellow cards above the bins are point cards.  We do lots of group work and students earn points for being a cooperative team.
 We created a pledge on the first day of school, and everyone created their picture to add to the border.  Isn't it cute?
 I love this rug.  Our superintendent bought them for all K-3 teachers.  At first when I heard I thought, "Seriously?  I already have a rug."  But then I saw this beauty.  Each child has their own square.  It's ingeneous and I love it.
 I'm really proud of this.  Last year before I went on maternity leave I spent hours organizing all the math games and putting them in bins with labels that state what should be in there.  It has seriously changed my life!
 A different view of the room.  This is my vantage point from the front of the room.  Sorry for the messy round table up front, but I told you it was uncensored.
These are decorated pringle cans to the untrained eye, but to us they are time capsules.  Students answered a series of questions at the beginning of this year and put the answers inside.  They'll answer the same questions at the end of the year and see how they've changed.

That's the tour.  Hope you like it.

That leads me to my Happiness Project update.  First of all, where did September go?  My goal was to do five new things.  I managed two.  Sorry folks.  When school starts it gets crazy in my world.  Here's what I did:
  • I used bok choy for the first time.  I made a bok choy salad with sesame honey dressing.  It was okay, but not note worthy.
  • The other thing I did was went "star gazing" with Ysmaille.  We laid a blanket on the deck and just looked at the stars for a few moments.  Then we got cold and went back in. 
That brings me to the story of my sexy husband.  So, on Sunday I was totally convicted of treating my husband like my third child.  I've decided that October will be "Respect Your Husband month."  I will let him make decisions without second guessing him.  Here's the deal.  I'm bossy by nature.  I'm the oldest child.  I boss children around all day and sometimes I boss my husband too.  I'm not proud of it, but it's true.  A few weeks ago on the way to church I was harping on him about something in our finances and he finally told me, "Melanie, you take over.  You are obviously better than me."  In my head I smugly agreed with him and we went on our merry way.  Last night when it was time to balance the check book and pay the bills I realized we were in the negative.  I panicked.  I demanded he help me.  I threw a fit.  I cried.  He watched it all from the couch.  Then he calmly said, "Melanie, you want control over everything.  If you don't have control then you work away at it until you do.  You asked for this, now do it."  Ouch!  I was so ticked off.  It took me close to 45 minutes to create my game plan and get all the bills sorted out.  After I calmed down my heart melted. Is he not the sexiest thing?  He totally put me in my place.  He taught me a valuable lesson that I wouldn't have learned if he had bailed me out.  I politely requested he take back being in charge of our finances as I ate my slice of humble pie.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Happiness Project- August

August's "project" was to be more aware of my surrounding and to treasure the little moments.  I had intended to do this with Amirah, but each time I asked her what made her happy that day she said things like, "I painted" or "I drew a picture."  Sounds good, right?  The thing is she was just making things up.  I think she might be a little young to get the point, but the girl knows what she likes and she loves arts and crafts.

One of the biggest blessings for us was finding an awesome babysitter who also loves arts and crafts. Amirah has made some really neat paper crafts and she is always talking about "Miss Melissa".  Once again God literally just dropped someone in our lap to take care of our children.  He is so faithful.

Each night I wrote down a few words of what I was grateful for that day or what made me happy.  Here's what I wrote.

1- Bunco!
2- an evening outside with my family
3- time with April and Erin at Starbucks
4- a chance to relax tonight
5- A.C!
7- an evening chat on the back porch with Alli
8- seeing Amirah's cousins together
9- apples from Josh and Sherah's tree
11- monarch caterpillars and a visit from Crissy K.
12- hamburgers on the grill
13- new neighbors
14- a partner in parenting
15- mulch I didn't pay for or spread
16- babysitter who loves my children
17- a goodnight kiss and a compliment
18- an evening with my sister
19- tea party with friends
20- successful day at school
21- playdate at the park
22- free lunch
23- lunch with Nikki
24- fun day with the kids
25- couples massage!
26- Brielle's birthday party
27- a great group of kids
28- the transformation of a butterfuly
31- foot massage

When I look over the things that made me happy I realized that more than half of them were the relationships in my life.  I am so grateful for the friends and family God has given me.  I am truly blessed.

I want to keep this attitude of gratefulness as I begin a new school year.  I am also looking forward to September's goal-- trying new things.  My goal is to try five new things in the month of September.  Here are some ideas I had, but I would love to hear from you.

- cooking with bok choy
- karaoke
- going to Wal-Mart in my p.j.s (I want to see what all the fuss is about...)
- learning to embroider
- lay in the yard and watch the stars with Ysmaille

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer List Wrap-up

School starts next week for me.  I am really starting to get excited.  I've had such a great summer.  Xander has added a joy to our family, Amirah is learning what it means to be a big sister, and Ysmaille and I are along for the ride!  Here's what we accomplished:
  • visit Lake Tobias
  • have a picnic and swimming at Fuller Lake
  • make bubble art
  • make frozen bananas
  • paint my nails sea foam green
  • paint with ice cubes
  • go to Britton Park
  • feed the ducks and fish at City Park
  • watch fireworks
Here's what I still have to do...
  • spend an evening at the Municipal Pool
  • finish shutters (for some reason I am not motivated to finish this project.  Maybe if I knew what I was going to do with the shutters...)
  • make a water pinata
  • make homemade ice cream
  • get a couples massage at Warm Springs (Ysmaille and I are doing this next weekend.  So excited!)
  • go to the pet store
  • catch lightning bugs
  • make donuts around the campfire
  • take Amirah to Voila
  • sleep all night long (Oh, God, please let this happen soon!)
Below are some pictures of our visit to Fuller Lake and making our bubble art for the bathroom.
     Xander just couldn't take the fun we were having at Fuller Lake. 
     Fuller Lake is our best find of the summer.  Amirah just loves playing in the sand!  Isn't her suit just adorable?
     I had to take a family picture after I realized we were all wearing some shade of torquoise. 
     This is Amirah making bubble art.
    The finished product.  Now these light blue walls are a wild shade of orange.  The jury is still out on how we feel about that...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Afternoon Tea

Ysmaille's working overtime this afternoon, which means I have an extra hour on my hands.  I needed an activity to keep the kiddos busy, so I thought why not have a tea party?  

 The guests arrived all decked out with hats and necklaces.  It was a beautiful sight to behold.  (If you look closely at the picture on the right you can see a milk mustache.)  The guest dressed in green was quite a diva and requested MILK of all things at a tea party.  Being the polite hostess that I am I didn't deny her.

This particular guest was a dud.  I hated to be rude, but he just fussed and complained the whole time, until I finally told him to take a nap.  Don't tell his pediatrician, but I put him on his belly because he sleeps better that way.
 We even had a special seat for the little "dud", but I guess you just can't please everyone.

Did I mention we had pancakes instead of crumpets?  Like I said my guests were very particular. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Summer List Saunters On

I'm not 100% confident that our Summer List will be completed.  At this point I'm not even 50% confident it will be completed.  But the thing is, we are having fun.  We've done some fun projects that weren't even on our list and compared to how I felt at the beginning of the summer (sad, tired, frazzled, etc.) I am so happy!  Don't get me wrong, somedays are crazier than others, but overall we are having such a fun time.  This is such a conflicted time of year for me.  I totally love being at home with my kids, and yet I start to look forward to going back to work.  Dropping Xander off at the babysitter is going to rip a hole in my heart, but then I think of all the mothers who trust their "babies" into my care and I know that my job is such a vital and important one.  I digress... Back to our summer list...
 Feeding the ducks and fish at City Park (in Hagerstown) is something I've wanted to do with Amirah for awhile, and two weeks ago we got the chance to do it.  Please disregard her "just woke up from a nap" hair.
 Daddy and Amirah on a little adventure.  I just love the relationship these two have.  It makes my heart happy.
Amirah and I made frozen bananas (with chocolate and peanut butter) last week.  Oh man.  They were delicious.  As you can tell by Amirah's face she was pretty excited, too.
 Painting with ice cubes was really fun.  I just froze water with food coloring and then let Amirah move them around on a canvas.  As they melted they left water marks. 
Here's how it ended up. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July's Happiness Project

I spent July focusing on eating healthy in an attempt to shed those last few pounds of baby weight.  I started out with good intentions, but we all know where the road to good intentions leads us...  I'm sure I've had one too many hotdogs and ice cream cones, but can I be honest?  I really don't care.  July has allowed me to be more conscious of what I am putting in my mouth and how I am treating my body, so although I still have a few more pounds to go I think it's a success!

I am super excited for August's goal: being intentional about noticing my blessings.  In January I started a "blessing jar" where I write down how God has been provided for us financially.  I want to take time in August to notice blessings outside of the financial realm.  I'm including Amirah in the challenge.  Each night I am going to ask her what made her happy that day and write it down so we have a record of our blessings.  It's really important to me to teach my daughter that God loves to delight us and even during those days where things don't go as planned He is always showing us his love.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer List 2012

There are so many things to do on my summer list.  We have only checked off four items so far, which means there is a lot more fun to be had.  If you live in my area and have small kids I'm sure you've visited Britton Park.  If not, you definitely should.  They have a tiny pool with lots of sprinklers to play in.  

 Amirah splashing in the sprinklers.  I thought she would like it a lot more, but all she wanted to do was...
 eat lunch.  Apparantly I make the most amazing pb and js on the planet!
 I wasn't sure how Amirah would react to fireworks.  She doesn't like loud sounds.  I prepped her the week before by explaining that they would make a sound like thunder.  I even showed her some videos on youtube so she would be prepared.  She absolutely loved it!  Her mouth stayed open the entire time and she was literally speechless.  She sat on her Uncle Han's lap and refused to budge.
 Another thing on my list was to paint my toes sea foam green.  What do you think?  I definitely prefer my usual coral color, but this is a nice change.
 Lake Tobias is an awesome place, but I do not reccomend it for two month olds.  This picture was taken on our safari just after Xander send projectile spit-up all over my shorts and just before he had one of those up-the-back blowouts in his diaper.  I ended up having to take off all his clothes and he spent the rest of the afternoon in his diaper.

Amirah and Natalie really enjoyed feeding the animals.  It's pretty amazing to see all kinds of deer, bison, buffalo and birds in the same field.  It was a really neat experience. 
This was not on our summer list, but I thought I'd add it anyway.  Last school year a friend gave me a bunch of hats that belonged to her grandmother.  Amirah and I had fun trying them all on yesterday.  We had so much fun we didn't even realize that Daddy had come home.  (Usually we are counting down the minutes and looking at the window) :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Spark People

July's goal for the happiness project was to lose those last five lbs. of lingering baby weight.  For those of you who have ever tried to do this know that the last five lbs. are ridiculously hard to get rid of.  Enter  I truly love this website.  Five years ago I weighed 154 lbs.  On a 5' 2" frame that's a good bit of extra weight to lug around.  A friend told me about Spark People and I decided to check it out. I ended up losing 20 lbs. in about six months or so and have kept it off. 

Basically it's a social network of people trying to lose weight.  I don't care about that aspect of it so much.  I really just like the nutrition tracker.  You can type what you weigh now, what you want to weigh and in how much time you want to lose that weight.  It gives you a calorie range that you should stay in to do that successfully.  It also gives a range for how much fat, protein, and carbs you should consume.  You then type in everything you've eaten that day and it records it for you.  There is something about having to write down what you've eaten that makes you think twice about the cookie calling your name.  Last night I really wanted a snack (not so much because I was hungry, but moreso because I wanted something to do).  Typically I would have had a bowl of ice cream, but last night I went to bed without a snack.  Simply because I didn't want to have to go the computer and write it down. 

Three days in I've already lost a pound.  I refuse to diet.  This keeps me aware of my choices, but still allows room for ice cream if I want it.  So for those of you needing a little extra "spark" you should check out this website.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Happiness Project Marches On

For those of you who don't remember May and June were pretty much spent surviving.  I didn't do much self improvement.  I figured getting showered and making sure my children were fed were lofty enough goals.  My main goals for June were to get Amirah potty trained and have Xander sleep for more than 2-3 hours a night.  I am a success!  Woo-hoo!
  • I know only the moms reading this will really care, but Amirah is potty trained. Well, sort of.  We do have occasional accidents, but I haven't had to clean out a pair of poopy panties in a week so I consider that a monumental success.  She does still wear a diaper to bed, but I'm okay with that for now.
  • My sweet Xander has only been waking up once a night.  Usually somewhere between 3:00 and 5:00.  I'm okay with that for now, but would love to have him sleeping through the night by the time I go back to school.  We will see what happens...
My main goal for July is to lose this baby weight and start exercising again.  I've done two days of arm-toning exercises using free weights.  I've been giving Amirah wii remotes as her weights and she's my workout partner.  I am trying to cut up the massive amounts of sweets I've been consuming, but that is proving more difficult than I thought.  Yesterday I made it until 8:00 and then I put vanilla ice cream in a glass and poured almond milk over it and made a makeshift milkshake.  Wowza.  That was good.  Today is Ysmaille's birthday and I am making an oreo cake for him.  He told me not to make it "wheaty", so I guess I'll make the full fat version.  I'll try to have only one piece.  Or maybe only one and a half.  :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer List 2012

Thanks for all of you who expressed concern after my blog about the difficulty of adjusting to life with two children.  We are in a groove now and I feel like my old self again (just slightly more frazzled). 

It's time to unveil my Summer List for 2012.  I am so excited to complete each item.  For those of you who care (drumroll please)... here it is!

Visit Lake Tobias
Have a picnic and swimming at Fuller Lake
Spend an evening at the Municipal Pool
Make bubble art
Finish shutters
Make frozen bananas
Paint my nails sea foam green
Make a water pinata
Paint with ice cubes
Go to Britton Park
Feed the ducks and fish at City Park
Make homemade ice cream in a bag
Get a couples massage at Warm Springs
Go to the pet store
Catch lightning bugs
Make donuts around the campfire
Take Amirah to Voila
Watch fireworks
Sleep all night long

I hope to include pictures of each event as I check them off.  Bring on the fun!

Monday, June 18, 2012

In Honor of Father's Day

I love the relationship that Ysmaille and Amirah have.  She absolutely adores her daddy.  For Father's Day this year she drew him a beautiful card which she was so proud to give him.  I wanted to add something extra special so I interviewed her about her daddy and this is what she had to say.

Mommy: How old is Daddy?
Amirah: 2
M:  Where was Daddy born?
A:  He was born like me.
M:  What is Daddy's favorite color?
A:  Blue
M:  What does Daddy always say?
A:  "I need a snack."
M:  What is Daddy's job?
A:  Fixing that shelf and putting Xander in the swing.
M:  What does Daddy do when he wakes up in the morning?
A:  He sleeps.
M:  When does Daddy laugh?
A:  He laughs when I cry.
M:  What is Daddy's favorite food?
A:  Sandwiches
M:  Why do you love your Daddy?
A:  I need my Daddy.  I love my Daddy.

And there you have it.  Out of the mouth of a two year old...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Happiness Project

How ironic that in the very middle of my year-long happiness project I found myself very unhappy.  One evening not that long ago I asked Ysmaille if he thought I had post-partum depression.  I even found myself googling the symptoms.  When I thought about the summer ahead of me I felt hopeless.  Long days ahead of me with two kids... would I survive? 

Here's what's been happening over the past three weeks.  We left the hospital and haven't slept since.  Xander, although very content in general, likes to eat.  A lot.  In fact he was up pretty consitantly every two hours for weeks.  Amirah, my beautiful, spirited princess is breaking my heart.  She's always been a little feisty, but I worry that she feels misplaced and it makes me sad.  She is being defiant and agressive and I know that having a new baby in the family is rocking her world.  On top of it all we decided to potty train her.  We figured the newborn no-sleep phase is already a little "hellish" so why not just get it all done.  Maybe it was smart.  Maybe we are insane. 

I'll be honest.  When people told me adding another baby to the mix would be a challenge I didn't believe them.  Not really.  I knew it would be an adjustment, but I wasn't fully prepared.  I am eating humble pie.  I can't do it all.  My children are not angels and I cry a lot.  Amirah cries a lot.  Xander cries a lot.  The only one able to hold it together is Ysmaille.  Although I suspect he probably feels like crying too. 

So, how's the happiness project going?   It has skidded to a halt.  My goal for the month of June is simple.  Survive.  I wrote to goals in my happiness journal-- get Amirah potty trained and get Xander to sleep for four hour stretches.  If I accomplish those two things I will indeed be happy. 

On another note, I think I am coming out of my fog.  I am actually looking forward to summer now.  In true Melanie style I've made a schedule for us to follow because Ysmaille goes back to work tomorrow and I need to have some kind of plan.  I've also made a summer list of things we want to do.  I'll share that in an upcoming blog.  Xander slept for 3.5 hour stretches last night.  Amirah had only one accident yesterday.  I am pretty sure I made it through the entire day without shedding a tear. Things are looking up. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

And Then There Were Four

Our little boy is finally here!  I thought for sure he would be early.  I had been 3 cm. dilated for two weeks and even my doctor didn't think I'd make it to my due date, but he had his own timing and came two days late.  It was definitely worth the wait.  So far Xander seems very laid back.  I prayed for a child with a personality like his father, and I think God has answered my heart's desire :)

Here's what's happening in our life in a nutshell...
  • For those of you who care about details it was another relatively easy labor.  I started feeling crampy about 2:00 am and by 4:00 we were at the hospital.  He was born at 7:57 am.
  • Xander has his days and nights mixed up and we are so, so tired.  To be honest I dreaded this part of the journey, but I am trying to find the joy in the moments that I get to snuggle my little guy.
  • Amirah is so excited about her little brother, but she is definitely acting out.  He currently has a scratch under his nose where she "tickled" him. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

God's Provision

Whenever I want to express just how awesome or amazing something is I always want to revert back to those phrases of my childhood-- "Holy cow!" or "Oh my goodness!" or my favorite, "Holy Moly"!  Then I am always tempted to find an expression that sounds more intelligent.  I suppose I could use words like "That's incredible" or "I'm mystified.", but seriously...   What sums up something better than HOLY COW!  Even though you may have no idea what it really means, you know whatever follows it is going to "knock your socks off." :)

I just want to give God glory for the amazing way he has provided for my family.  Some of you reading this blog have been part of his provision.  We have been going through what should have been a very challenging financial hardship, and there have been days of struggle, but really we haven't even noticed it that much.  Here are some ways he's provided:

1.  an awesome Sealy mattress for Xander's crib (just days after we decided we probably didn't have the money to spend on it right then)
2.  a $25/week tutoring job for me so we had some extra money for a few little treats
3.  soccer reffing jobs for Ysmaille 2 or 3 nights a week (something he enjoys doing that takes little time, but makes pretty good money)
4.  maternity clothes borrowed from friends so I didn't have to buy new ones
5.  two random $20 Target gift cards (sent from the company) to use toward baby items
6.  spring/summer clothes for Amirah from my sister and a friend so I could supplement her wardrobe until yardsale season started.
7.  four weeks of coupons to Weis (left in the faculty lounge at school) that gave us free orange juice, eggs, cookies, etc. plus additional coupons that took up to $16 off our bill.  For an entire month we had a grocery cart full of groceries for $50/60 a week.
8.  a "sprinkle" from the faculty and staff at my school with clothes for Xander, diapers, wipes and a hugely generous giftcard to Target.
9.  twice I went out to eat with friends and they payed for the meals unexpectedly.
10.  an awesomely planned maternity leave- when I stated that May 11 would be my last day I had no idea that there were only 19 days of school left and I just happened to have 19 sick days, so I can go an maternity leave and not have to take any days without pay!

Don't you just love how God uses His People to bless others?  Almost all of the blessings listed above were a direct result of the people in my life, many of who didn't even know we were struggling, blessing me and my family.  Holy cow!  I just love how God works!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fun with My Baby Girl (Who's Not Really a Baby Girl Anymore!)

I was meant to be the mom of a toddler.  Is this fun or what?  Don't get me wrong, Amirah is spirited and passionate about pretty much everything in life, and being her mother can be exhausting.  There are lots of swats on the bottom, time outs, and tears, but she puts that passion into pretty much everything she does and it is so fun!  One of the things on my spring list was to play in the puddles with Amirah, so on Saturday after the rain stopped I made good on my promise and out we went.  She was a little hesitant at first, but after a minute or so she was jumping like a pro.  She ended up being so wet and dirty a bath was inevitable, but she loved it!  I think I may have created a monster.  I'm pretty sure there will be a lot more "puddle jumping" this summer.

 Both feet in!
 This picture is to prove that I am, indeed, a cool mom and joined in (a little).

I'm getting a little sentimental about Baby Boy coming our way.  I am so, so excited to meet him and hold him in my arms, but can I be honest here?  I'm a little nervous about how this transition is going to affect my relationship with his sister.  She and I are so close, and part of me mourns for how her life is going change.  Will she understand?  Probably not completely.  Do I think having a sibling will enrich her life in so many ways?  Absolutely.  I'm just nervous.  That's all. 

In an effort to make our last few weeks alone memorable I've been trying to find some creative ideas to do with her.  Last night was bath painting.  Oh. my. word.  So easy and so fun.  I took a muffin tin and filled the containers with shaving cream, then mixed in a couple drops of food coloring.  Then I gave Amirah an old basting brush and away she went.  Again.  I may have created a monster.  Bath paints are sure to resurface soon. 
My little artist 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring List 2012

Last year's Summer List 2011 was so rewarding and fun. In case you haven't noticed I love, love, love lists. I have lists at school, grocery lists, cleaning lists, and now I have even found a way to make lists of fun things to do. I decided to do a Spring List 2012. Here's what's on the agenda:

Get Ritas on the first day of spring. Check.

Buy flowers for the kitchen. Check. Well, sorta.

Splash in the puddles with Amirah.

Decorate Easter eggs. Check.

Pick strawberries for shortcake and jam.

Have a picnic under the oak tree.

Write a letter to Grandma Harnish. Check.

Make six freezer meals. 1/3 Check. (I've made two of six meals)

Buy a pair of brightly colored flip flops.

GIVE BIRTH! This obviously will be the highlight of my Spring List 2012!

I decided instead of buying flowers for the kitchen I would make use of all the beautiful flowering tree around me. So far I've filled three vases of flowering branches!

Please excuse the messy table. I could have cleaned it up before taking the picture, but it's real-life here, folks.

Happiness Project- April

April's focus is to prepare for Xander's arrival. I'm hoping that I have four weeks left to do so, but Amirah came 4 days early and I'm already showing signs that Xander may too, so the rush is on. Here's what's been done so far:

  • Two freezer meals ready to go (baked ziti and Mediterranean stuffed peppers)

  • Xander's clothes washed and folded

  • The swing and baby tub out of storage

On my to-do list:

  • Maternity photos with the talented Selena Jetnarayan

  • Carseat ready to go

  • Hospital bag packed

  • Four more freezer meals to make (looks like I might have time if I do one a week until he comes)

A side note on my "Happiness Project":

  • In case you haven't noticed my happiness project has really just been one giant to-do list, which actually does, indeed, make me very happy. By far, January's goal to organize my life has made the most impact. My house, although somtimes chaotic, has really been a haven this winter and spring. I have a spot for everything and even when things get messy it's easy to fix because I know where everything goes. So am I happier? Yes, I think I am!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Life in a List

1. Eight more weeks (give or take) until Baby Boy arrives.
2. Just ate Italian Ice at Rita's AND The Meadows. Can't pass up FREE especially when I'm pregannt.
3. Loving the new JCPenney's. Did you know every 1st and 3rd Friday they put things on MAJOR clearance? We walked out with a HUGE bag for only $31!
4. Have read 7 books (yes, 7) already this year.
5. Really want a new deck. Ours looks like it could fall apart at any point.
6. The "Happiness Project" is going well. March spring cleaning has included washing windows, cleaning vents, and washing every curtain in the house.
7. Looking forward to making at least 6 freezer meals for the impending arrival of previously mentioned Baby Boy.
8. Loving this early spring. March has always irritated me because of it's cold and windy days, but this year has me singing its praises.

That sums it up.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Babies...

Although neither of the these pictures are great quality they make me happy because they express Amirah's personality so well. The first one was taken on her birthday. Her Daddy and I put lots of balloons in her room when she was sleeping and she was so excited when she woke up.

This picture is an "outtake" of Amirah holding the sign that says "I am going to have a baby brother." We posted a picture of her holding this sign the night before and she loved doing it so much she wanted to do it again the next morning.

God has been revealing my mothers heart so much the past week. Last Saturday I had the rare opportunity to snuggle with my little peanut. She woke up from a nap, but was still groggy so she just sat in my lap and we cudlled for five uninterupted minutes, and my heart overflowed with love for my "baby" who's not really a baby anymore. I just talked to God and spoke destiny over my Amirah. She is so fiery and passionate and I love it.

Just a few minutes ago I found a blog through pinterest that shared the story of a young couple who lost their beautiful baby girl to cancer at only 11 months old. It was four years ago and they've since had two handsome little boys, but the ache a mother's heart must feel over so deep a tradgedy is unimagineable. I sobbed as I read it and just offered a prayer of gratefulness that my two darling babies are healthy- one upstairs napping and the other in my womb.

I did nothing to deserve this wonderful blessing of being a mommy. I don't want to miss my opportunities to thank God for His Blessings.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Happiness Project (February Update)

If you've read any of my past posts you know that I was totally inspired by The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Each month of 2012 I've set aside for a specific purpose. January was totally inspiring. I organized every inch of my house, and since doing so have spent much less time moving piles from point A to point B. It has seriously changed the way I look at things.

February's goal was to do something sweet for my husband every day. I started out with a bang. There were notes on the mirror, on the laptop, on the bathroom sink. Then things started to fizzle. You see, my husband, the love of my life, is not really a note kind of guy. So I tried to think of other ways to show I loved him. I bought him Pringles on the day after he said he craved chips. I even surprised him with a date at Cluggys. Not overly romantic, but oh so fun! After a while I just sort of gave up thinking of ideas. Apparantly I'm not that creative. Do I feel like it was a failure? Absolutely not. Thinking consciously of my marriage helped me be more aware of how I treat Ysmaille, and at the end of the day that's what counts.

So, what's March's goal? Spring cleaning! On the agenda is washing curtains, baseboards, walls, etc. I even plan to borrow a shampooer and tackle the carpets. In all honesty I am a little tired just thinking about it, but I can't wait for the end product so I hope that's enough to get me motivated.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February- The Month of Love

My happiness project got off to a great start in January. It's true. My life feels so much more organized. February's focus is my marriage. I'm really working on keeping some of my opinions to myself. On Sunday I set out Amirah's outfit and when I got out of the shower she had on something totally different-- a new outfit that had never been washed. I was so proud of myself when I bit my tongue and told Ysmaille that she looked great. It's the little things, folks.

I've also been trying to do something little every day to show Ysmaille I love him. I've hidden notes in the laptop and in the bathroom. I wrote a note on the mirror. I've bought him vending machine snacks, made muffins and even made him a video (with Amirah's help). I'd love any ideas you have to offer...

Monday, January 16, 2012

January-- a success in the making!

January's focus was to become more organized. I officially met all my goals as of this morning. I have organized all closets (except Ysmaille's by request), all drawers (desk, bathroom, bedroom, etc.), the shed outside, and more. I've also read two books. And it's only the 16th. My goal for the second half of this month is to see if I can keep up with it. Now that everything has it's place it should be easier.

On another note we are gearing up for Amirah's birthday on the 26th. We are having a "woodland fairy" themed birthday. I just love planning birthday parties. Ysmaille and I were the gracious recipients of a handmade kitchen set made by a family friend over 30 years ago. We have repainted it and hope to have it done today. I hope she loves it. It's certainly been a labor of love on our part (more so Ysmaille than me since he's the painter in the family).

I am just thoroughly enjoying this stage of life that we are in. It's a transition for our family for sure, but I feel God's hand so strongly upon us that even through hardships I have a song in my heart. He does not forsake those He loves. It's like He's giving my soul a hug this morning.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What's New...

Here's what's new in the pregnancy front:

22 weeks pregnant (or is it 21?)

Gender: It's a boy!

Symptoms: Mild heartburn and an unmentionable :)

Maternity clothes: Maternity tights must be the BEST invention ever!

Sleep: I still fall asleep on the couch several times a week, but am getting betting at just going to bed when I feel sleepy.

Movement: This little boy moves a lot! During our ultrasound the tech kept chasing him around to get pictures of his arm.

General feelings: I don't even know I'm pregnant other than the fact that I am getting a belly on me. See below...

Total weight gain: I eat. A lot. Subsequently I've gained about 14 lbs. Need to slow down.

Here's what's new on the "Happiness Project" front:

10 days into the New Year and I'm making tons of progress on my "organizing and purging" month. I have trash bags filled with old paperwork to shred, Amirah's clothes are organized in bins in her newly cleaned closet, my pantry is organized, and more!

Here are the main goals I want to accomplish yet this month:

- organize our bedroom closets and drawers

- make a spreadsheet of chores that MUST get accomplished weekly

- start laundry and put it away all on the same day

- finish my organizing book (can't remember the exact name and am too lazy to find it).

Thanks for checking in!