April/May 2015

Spring finally arrived, and Caleb started sprouting some new skills as fast the trees were putting out new leaves. Never before one to be interested in sitting and coloring, he discovered Blue’s Clues and new fascination with drawing.

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If I remember correctly, Daddy and Mommy are on stage and Caleb is watching.

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I spy a school, a castle and a bell tower…

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This is our “family”. I forget who was in it this time, but frequent participants in our nuclear family drawings include: grandparents, Little Caleb, friends, church members and of course, Aunt Brianna. :D

And Building…all by himself!

IMG_1160 We also got a very special visit from Granny Robin

IMG_1262May was chaotic for our family as always.

We celebrated Mother’s Day

IMG_1419 IMG_1426Went camping with friends for our 6th anniversary.

IMG_1454And celebrated Caleb’s last year of preschool (*sniff sniff*!)

20150522_095049I’m so grateful for each day.

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Jan/Feb/March 2015

I’m dying to catch up the blog and post about what’s happening *now* (5! Kindergarten! Big Kid!) so please excuse this rough-draft version of my monthly updates. It’s basically a string of anecdotes I wrote down with cute pictures in between (that may or may not be related in any way). Enjoy!

IMG_8988Caleb: “Mommy, I’m going to sing a song called “Jesus was Born in a Stable”. It’ s about happy things that happened to Jesus.

Me: “Could I take a video?”

C: “Actually, I’m sorry, but cameras aren’t allowed in the church.”

LOL! Where does he get these things?

About 30 seconds into the song, Caleb decided drumming on beat requires intense concentration and made this face the rest of the time :D

About 30 seconds into the song, Caleb decided drumming on beat requires intense concentration and made this face the rest of the time :D

Caleb remembered a dream! He came into our room one morning and said, “I had a dream that did not scare me last night! I dreamed I was flying in my superman cape. Diego was in my dream and he called me because he needed me to rescue him from a waterfall!” So fun to see him able to remember a happy dream!

In preschool one day he told me his favorite part of the day was being a fireman and a doctor at the SAME time. He is such a rescuer right now.

Shark Boy

Shark Boy

Caleb and I both woke up with a nightmare at the exact same time last night. His was that someone at daddy’s work popped his only purple balloon (he had a red balloon pop yesterday that he cried and cried over so the dream definitely makes sense) and I dreamed I was at the zoo and they were letting the lions chase a goat for their meal. It upset Caleb and the next thing I knew he was in there trying to rescue it. I yelled for him and he escaped back out, but I was panting and heart pounding when I woke up from it. No idea where that came from, lol.

First lego set we built together :)

First lego set we built together :)

If you’ve spent time with a 4 year old, you know that if you’ve won a game of chutes and ladders, you’ve really lost.  For the first time in their lives, they understand the concept of winning, so losing is still something they are learning how to deal with. We try to give Caleb a balance of reality (we all lose sometimes) and compassion (but it still doesn’t feel good).

Earlier this month, Caleb set up a game of Memory for us to play together. He asked me what my favorite Thomas train was so he could include it as one of the matches. Being the creative, knee deep in mixing and stirring mom that I am, I blurted out, “Thomas.” I told him to go ahead and take the first turn without me. The next thing I hear as I push a casserole into the oven is, “Awww! I’m sorry Mommy! I got Thomas. He’s your favorite. I’ll put him back so you can get him.” This amazed me because this is *not* something we do for him.

Another precious moment. I accidentally dropped a bag of flour getting it out of the freezer. Caleb heard my frustration and said, "Don't worry mommy, we all make mistakes, I'll clean it up for you." Heart Beyond Melted.

Another precious moment. I accidentally dropped a bag of flour getting it out of the freezer. Caleb heard my frustration and said, “Don’t worry mommy, we all make mistakes, I’ll clean it up for you.” Heart Beyond Melted.

One morning, as I was opening the curtains, just as the sun was peeking up over the mountains Caleb says, “Mommy, you’re the best girl in our family.”

“What a way to start the day…”, I thought. Then he added, “Because you’re the only girl in our family.” At least his sense of humor is developing, LOL.

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Caleb built a block tower this morning, and said, “This is a tower to the gods! And we are going to get in trouble.” He then sang a song that went like this: “We made ourselves!” (beating a drum!). Then sings “Whooo made you? God!” and then knocks down a big part of the tower. Repeat multiple times. I guess the whole “don’t worship false gods thing is really resonating with him?. Hahahaha.

He's a character...

He’s a character…

At almost 5, Caleb’s “kidisms” are disappearing rapidly, but one of my favorites is still going strong. Instead of saying “kiddie” (like a kiddie pool, etc.) Caleb says “kidney” as in, “This is my kid-a-nee fork, my kid-a-nee cup, etc” It makes me smile every time. I know one day I’ll hear my last “kidney” and I’m in no hurry to correct it :)

Speaking of kid-isms...does it get more adorable than "Fort" in little kid handwriting?

Speaking of kid-isms…does it get more adorable than “Fort” in little kid handwriting?

At lunch one day, Caleb starts telling us, “Did you know 1+1=2, 2+1=3, 2+2=4, 2+1+2=5, 3+3=6, 3+3+1=7, 4+4=8…” Of course, I was thrilled he is understanding the concept of addition, but I couldn’t figure out how he was choosing those groupings of numbers. When I asked, he told me:

Excuse the mess in the background.

Excuse the mess in the background.

Do you see it?

 

 

Stitch Fix #1

Several people asked me to share my thoughts on my experience with Stitch Fix, and given the number of blogs I read before I took the plunge, I want mine to be as helpful and honest as possible.

Let me start by explaining why I decided to try Stitch Fix in the first place:

1. I really really don’t like shopping for clothes. I never have. I find the amount of choice in each store overwhelming, get frustrated when I spend 1-2 hours of my time picking out and trying things on with nothing seeming “right” and often buy something I don’t love because it looks “okay” and is an okay price which later sits in my closet, making me feel guilty.

2. My most heavily used clothes have gotten old. Until a recent purge I still had long sleeve shirts my mom bought for me in highschool. That I was actively wearing. In public. This relates to #1. A good percentage of my fall/winter/spring wardrobe has pilled, shrunk, stretched, stained or otherwise showing signs of being worn repeatedly 3/4’s of the year for between several years to a decade-ish.

So when I heard the idea of Stitch Fix- someone with actual fashion sense would listen to my preferences, pick out a manageable number of options, deliver them to my door for me to try on with clothes I already own and give me 3 days to decide if I really like them…it sounded too good to be true! Until I heard about the price.

Hands down, concern about the price held me back the most. Stitch Fix is unmistakably more expensive than shopping the Target clearance rack, even when you request to be sent their most inexpensive options. I talked to my husband who is even more frugal than I am about my concerns. I expected him to quickly talk me out of it. Instead, he completely surprised me by thinking it was a great idea. We’ve both become convinced that buying quality things we won’t have to replace as frequently is a good investment and he loved that Stitch Fix would keep me from being tempted to “settle” and bring home things I didn’t love because I had already invested so much time into a shopping trip that I didn’t want to have to repeat.

Shortly after my birthday, I filled out my “Style Profile” which was surprisingly thorough and created a pinterest board, which I’d read is key for getting a great Fix. Although most months I would prefer jeans and blouses that work with my hip career as a homeschooling mom, I had a special request for my first fix. This September, David’s middle brother is getting married in a casual beach wedding and I hoped my stylist could help me find a dress for the occasion.

So without further ado, the results:

First, the dresses:

Kensie Carver Dress: $78

IMG_2740First of all, let me say that I’m pretty sure this is the highest quality dress I have ever tried on. The fabric looks heavy, but it’s light while still having structure and breathes beautifully. The zipper moved like butter and the fit was lovely. My stylist included this as a more formal option for the wedding if I didn’t like her first choice. While I love this dress, neither my husband or I thought the deep black against my skin and hair was the most flattering and, other than church (and only in the summer) I have no idea when I would wear it. It just didn’t have enough versatility for the price. Verdict: Returned (with a little sadness)

Gilli Kadence Cowl Drape Front Dress: $64

IMG_2715This was my stylists first choice dress and I completely agree. It’s both casual and elegant, is a light jersey knit that’s perfect for the beach and is much more flattering on my body that the pre-baby dress I was going to try and wear instead. Not to mention works beautifully with the wedding colors. Home Run. Verdict: Kept

 Then the rest of the Fix:

Skies are Blue Kaia Crochet Trim Top: $54

IMG_2717Original Response: Initially, when I picked this up, I thought it would be huge on me. I ended up loving the drapy, skimming fabric. If I hadn’t liked anything else in the box, this absolutely would have been the item I put the styling fee towards. As it is though, I can’t justify $50+ on an item of clothing I’ll only wear 3 months of the year here. Verdict: Returned

Update: After I wrote this post, I sent it to my mom and a couple friends to see if they agreed with my conclusions. They all agreed on 4/5 and all said, “Please don’t send the crochet top back!!!” After trying it on with several other bottoms, I asked David his thoughts. He also voted to keep it. I’m still not sure I would have if it hadn’t been my “birthday” fix, but as it is I’m wearing it today and loving it! It will be well loved in the summer season and earns a spot in my bag for all of our Florida family visits. Verdict: Kept

Market and Spruce Evella Boatneck Top: $64

IMG_2724Again my stylist totally took to heart my desire to have more shirts that skim my tummy instead of cling to it and again the fabric of this shirt was some of the highest quality I have ever tried on. Unfortunately the color did nothing for me and I already own a similar piece I like much better. Verdict: Returned

For those interested, this is the sweater I already own. Not as high quality, but a better color for me and it was $8 off the Kohls clearance rack:

IMG_2737Pixley Martina Slub Knit Open Cardigan: $48

IMG_2732I really liked this peice and thought it was a very fair price. Unfortunately (there’s that word again…) it is also a virtual twin to something I already own. Although I like this one slightly better than the one I have, I definitely can’t justify replacing it. Verdict: Returned

The twin:

IMG_2735Even though I only ended up keeping two pieces in this fix, I will 100% request to have the same stylist again. I could really tell she read my notes and looked over my pinterest board carefully. The necklines were all high like I requested, while still being interesting, she didn’t send me any crazy patterns or edgy styles, but stayed in the “modern classic” vein that I prefer. I’m looking forward to my next fix and am thankful to have something so beautiful and comfortable to wear to the wedding next month!

If this post inspires you to try Stitch Fix, please consider using my referral link when you sign up: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/5628099

 

November 2014

Caleb starts practicing his “l” sound. One morning, he says “llama” perfectly. David and I applaud, but secretly, I’m not ready for his baby lisp to be gone.

(Caleb officially perfected the “l” sound in May 2015. He has to slightly over-pronounce it to do it though, which is almost as cute as the lisp. Still not feeling ready for him to be such a big boy…)

Caleb is starting to think through a lot of big concepts. We checked out a book about various types of vehicles from the library (actually we check out about 10 of these every trip. Caleb always tries to convince me he doesn’t need other books, but ends up enjoying them all ;) ) and Caleb pointed to a page with a dump truck on it.
C:”What’s that black stuff coming out the end?”
Me: “It’s exhaust from the engine.”
C: “I don’t understand how exhaust gets from the engine *points to front of truck* to here *points to smoke at back of truck*. There must be a pipe.”
Me: @_@ “Wow, that’s really insightful buddy.”

Caleb has also started showing new levels of empathy. During the last big yard work day of the year, I managed to get a rose thorn lodged deep in my thumb while pruning. I asked David for help getting it out since it was in my dominant hand. Caleb brought me a toy to hold, held my hand and rubbed my back the whole time. Heart completely melted.

November also brought our Thanksgiving trip to Florida. This year it was with David’s family and we all had a wonderful time making memories and enjoying being together:

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October 2014

I only wrote down two little anecdotes from the month:

Caleb has an imaginary friend now. Or perhaps I should say friends. He calls them “the kids”. As in “I was just telling the kids about…” or “The kids want to…”, etc. It’s really cute. Sometimes they reflect his wants, but more often he acts as their teacher or parent. Such a cool developmental milestone!

(“The kids” continue to make appearances from time to time, but have never become daily companions. So adorable when they show up though!)

Caleb and a little friend were in the back seat when his friend said,

Friend: “It looks kind of purple outside.”
C: “It’s not really purple. That’s humidity. That means there’s teeny tiny water drops in the air. But they aren’t going to fall until we take the clothes of the line and put them in our house.”

It cracks me up the words he picks up on and registers in his mind!

Other than that, my folder full of photos tells me October was a busy month with visits from Nana and Papa and our friends the Merolas, not to mention pumpkin patching and Halloween:

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September 2014

First Day of K4:
IMG_5629On Caleb’s first day of school, he asked me who will be his teacher when he turns 5. He’s been so excited about starting preschool again, I was almost nervous to tell him:

Me:”Well, I think it’s going to be me.”
C: “You?!?!”
Me: “Yeah, I think you’re going to be homeschooled like the B family. Does that sound nice?”
C: “Homeschooled?!? I’m so excited! This year it’s Mrs. F’s turn to teach me, and next year it will be your turn Mommy!”

So, I guess he’s excited about homeschooling too. Hooray!

We also went on another camping trip, this time, much closer to home in Cunningham Falls, Maryland. It was a fun weekend trip with great friends.

IMG_6190 IMG_6239And last, but certainly NOT least, Granny came for a visit!

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August 2014

Reading back over this one was so much fun for me. I can’t believe how much he’s learned this year in preschool!

One of my goals for the summer was helping Caleb learn the number “16”. When he was 2, he learned to count to 20 from a sesame street song, but missed the number 16. Since he was only 2, we were so proud we didn’t think to correct such a minor mistake. However, the missing number still “stuck” 2 years later!

So, while David was on a work trip one week, I asked Caleb if he’d like to surprise Daddy by learning the number 16 while he was gone. To my delight, he thought that was a wonderful idea. I put up this chart and we counted together at almost every meal. By the time David got home, he could do it as long as he was looking at the paper.

Just before Caleb started preschool, we were playing a game, and as Caleb was counting up his cards at the end, he counted to 22…perfectly! No prompting from us at all! I’m so proud of him!

I was also curious where he was at with learning his uppercase letters. We played a few letter games over the summer, but nothing formal or consistent. I did try to focus on the 6 he was having the most trouble with (M/W, K/X, Y/V…usually reversing one for the other). I was so excited to see he has 25/26. I told him he is really close to learning how to read (something he is *extremely* excited to learn how to do).

A random funny from the month:

Caleb: “Have you seen Doug?”
Me: “Who is Doug?”
C: “My little red helicopter.”
Me: (pointing to it) “Why did you name him Doug?”
C: Actually Harold (his other helicopter) named him since he was once in his belly.”

Well, that explains things, now doesn’t it? :D

We also took our first big family vacation to Acadia National Park in Maine. It was an absolutely incredible experience I could write a book about! Caleb was at the perfect age to appreciate the beauty of the place. He loved that we camped for 6 days, the lobster boat ride where we saw seals and bald eagles and hopping, billy goat style, all over the top of Cadillac Mountain. His favorite part though? The island has a free bus system and he loooved riding it. He asks every single time we go camping now if there is a bus. LOL.

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July 2014

July was another challenging month for our family. A few days into my parents visit, we got the call that David’s grandfather was not doing well. As the last living grandparent between the two of us, who we both adored, it was hard to hear. He passed away a few days later and my parents were able to stay with Caleb while David and I flew down for the funeral. It was a special time of remembering a wonderful man. One of his arrangements was to take us all out, one more time, at his favorite restaurant, the Seinyard. Grandaddy grew up on St. Andrews Bay and we’d heard many stories of his childhood there while we sat around eating fried fish and shrimp together. It was special to be there with David’s entire extended family. We were also able to see the plot of land where his home was and the Bay he loved so much. I still miss him and often catch myself thinking, “Oh no! It’s been too long since we’ve talked to Grandaddy!”

David and his brothers and the Seineyard.

David and his brothers and the Seineyard.

With his wife, whom he loved and missed so much.

With his wife, whom he loved and missed so much.

David and I at the bay at the site of Grandaddy's childhood home.

David and I at the bay at the site of Grandaddy’s childhood home.

Shortly after returning from the funeral, just before going downstairs, Caleb says, “Mommy, can you hold me?” Knowing he was still feeling shaken up from having us leave for 3 days for Grandaddy’s funeral, I obliged. As we reached the bottom he hugged me close and said, “You better hold me now, because when I’m 10, I’ll be all grown up and I’ll be too big for you to hold me!”

Caleb seemed to understand that Grandaddy died as much as a 4 year old can. He was sad, but we took out pictures and talked about memories. Still we see little glimpses of him continuing to process things as time goes on. As we were getting ready to go one day, I ran back up for something I’d forgotten. After a few minutes Caleb asked David, “What’s taking mommy so long?” David said he wasn’t sure. Then Caleb said, “Do you think she died?” We’ve talked a lot about life, death and eternity (on a 4 year old level) and we talked some more that morning. It’s definitely a heavy thing to watch him process, but I’m glad he feels safe to bring it up as often as he needs to.

June 2014

The June post is usually one of my favorite ones to write. Summer here is so beautiful and this year was no exception. Our month was full of strawberry picking, ice cream making, creek wading, park playing and, of course, a very special 4th birthday party!

IMG_3521 IMG_3529 IMG_3568 IMG_3570IMG_3827This year, June was also the month I found out the likely cause of my secondary infertility and the word “Endometriosis” dropped into my life and cast a shadow on every day that came after it for weeks and weeks. Emotionally, I was crushed. I’d known fertility issues ran in my family, but after conceiving Caleb relatively easily early in our marriage, those worries seemed far behind me. Even though we’d prayed, as we started trying to add a child to our family nearly a year before, that God would only bring a pregnancy to us if it was indeed good (given that I still deal with lots of chronic pain) I assumed I knew His answer. I was wrong.

I left the doctors office that day with a face so swollen with tears I’m sure the shocked women in the waiting room assumed something much worse had happened to me than merely a diagnosis. I felt sad every morning when I woke up. I felt overwhelmed by needing to make a choice about surgery (necessary to confirm the diagnosis and for treatment). Taking my prenatal vitamin suddenly felt like a slap in the face. I prayed that God would help me see this situation through his eyes. I searched scripture and communed fellow sufferers who rooted themselves in Him. I read A Grief Observed by CS Lewis. And although his pain was a very different one from mine, I found two quotes that stopped me in my tracks:

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”

I learned in June that there is a difference between obedience and agreement. God hasn’t asked me to agree with Him that this is the best path for me. He’s asked me to have faith and obey him as I walk it. And I responded to that about as well as Caleb responds when we tell him he can’t have dessert after breakfast. It felt unfair and I wanted everyone around me to know how unfair it felt. But that thought was the wave that slammed me into the Rock of Ages again and again.

If there is no God, and evolution and natural selection are the only things governing the continuance of our species, then I have no grounds to call this unfair. I have faulty genes that probably shouldn’t be passed on anyway. This is nature’s safeguard. If there is a God, and he is what I believe God to be- all powerful, all wise and all loving- then he will always answer my prayers in the way I’d wish them to be answered if I knew everything He does. And beyond that, everything I have is a gift from Him anyway and my calling endometriosis and infertility “unfair” is as ridiculous as a 16 year old who is angry he got a toyota instead of a porche. He hasn’t done a thing to earn either, so who is he to be angry over what a benevolent giver decided was best?

Now, I realize the fall has affected our bodies, and I’m not saying there can’t or shouldn’t be legitamite mourning for that. Trust me, I still take part in that sorrow each and every month. During those times, I find myself drinking in John 6, possibly now the most tear soaked page in my Bible. The people have just seen Jesus feed 5,000. They are hungry. They want that physical miracle so bad they can taste it. But Jesus has something better for them, if only they will reach out and receive it, “I am the living bread that came from heaven…” Every time I take communion, I partake in the miracle that never fails to show up. Christ died for me and “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Not all the things I want. But all the best things. All the things that I would pray for if I could see what He sees and know what he knows. Slowly, He has pried my fingers off the dreams I held so dear and set me free of the anger and sadness I’ve held onto these past few months. There are still things that trigger those emotions and I have to remind myself of truth all over again. But day by day it’s an easier journey.

*******************************************************************

And in case you’re a regular reader and wondering if I jotted down anything from our normal life that month, I found this gem when I finally had the courage to open this month’s post again:

On Father’s Day morning, I was the first up (for the first time in 4 years…) but, knowing I still had to make breakfast just slipped on my bathrobe over my PJ’s rather than getting into my church clothes. When Caleb stumbled out of bed and into the room, he took one look at me in my very simple, shin length, matronly robe and untamed hair and said, “Mommy! You look beautiful! Are you going to wear that beautiful red dress to church?” It was completely precious. Right now, I am his standard of beauty. Not magazines photos, or television ads or billboards. I wish I could capture that forever for him.

April/May 2014

As predicted, when the weather warms up, I find myself spending a lot more time away from the keyboard and a lot more time out making memories. I did jot down a few things from the past few months to share though!

Although the milestones aren’t as obvious now here are some things almost 4-year-olds can do:

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They can put away the silverware

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Build a blanket fort without any help!

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Help Daddy cut the grass

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Pick radishes

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Take care of their very own tomato plant

A Few Stories from Spring…

Caleb is really starting to wonder about future events in a way he couldn’t before. “What would happen if…” is the beginning of many sentences around here these days. In April, he asked me in a very concerned voice: “Mommy, what if the library runs out of books?” Apparently he imagines that citizens are flocking to their library on the same day, checking out books by the dozens. If only :) I love this little boy…

In April, he mastered putting on all his clothes by himself. He had still been working on the ever-tricky shirt up until now. It’s definitely simplified our morning routine even more!

I also saw Caleb’s social development really expand this month, he now has many special friends of all ages from the librarian and his Sunday School teacher, to an older girl in our small group and of course a few friends his own age. I love hearing him talk about them and ask if they will be at different places we go. As an only child with a stay at home mom, we spend a *lot* of time together, so seeing him develop close relationships outside of me was a big and exciting milestone for us!

As many of you may have seen on facebook, the young woman we’ve been sponsoring through Compassion International no longer needs our support due to her dad finding a good job! I explained this to Caleb and asked if he’d like to help pick out a little boy or girl his age to help and write letters to. After showing him the 15 or so pictures of children born in June 2010 looking for a sponsor, he reached his conclusion in just minutes. He looked and the pictures and before I could say a word, he pointed to a child from El Salvador who had been waiting for a sponsor for over 6 months and said, “That’s the little girl I want to help.” and then ran out the door to play. David and I have sponsored 2 children and we have agonized over who to pick each time. Our first sponsored child was from Tanzania, and Hanna, who just graduated, was from the Philippines. David has actually been to El Salvador on a missions trip before, so it was really neat to me that Caleb chose this particular little girl. We’re looking forward to getting to know her.

In May, Caleb finished his K3 program for the year. We had this precious conversation before pre-k closing ceremony:

Me: So, I asked you a question at the beginning of this year, and since it’s the last day of preschool, I wanted to ask you again. What do you want to be when you grow up?
C: Hmmm, I need to think about that a minute mommy.
Me: Ok, sounds like a good thing to put some thought into.
C: Yeah…(thinking)…I want to be…Daddy when I grow up! Did Jesus hear me?
Me: He did
C: Will he make me into Daddy?

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First Day of Pre-K

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Last day! Same shirt completely unintentional :)

 

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