Life With Four

We’re 3 months into life with four kids, and I figured I’d write a post about it for posterity’s sake. This is going to be very stream of conscious style because that’s how I roll these days.

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4 kids. B and I look at our kids sometimes and look at each other and say, “Man, we have a lot of kids.” Everywhere we go, people ask us if we’ve figured out how babies are made yet. I can’t go anywhere without being told my hands are full (they are!). We are, most places except Costco, treated like a walking circus act. And it’s wonderful. Crazy, but wonderful.

Truth be told, when I found out I was pregnant with Graham, I was a bit shaky.  I was never convinced we were “done”, but Peter was a really tough baby and I knew that at a minimum, I needed some time to just enjoy our family of 5. I prayed a lot asking for guidance on our family size. Not looking for controversy here, just saying: I’m Catholic, but I take issue with the Catholic church’s stance on birth control and strongly believe that a couple needs to make choices for their family – after lots of prayer, I felt pulled to research and consider an IUD, and scheduled an appointment with my OB. We were in Hawaii and I was watching our kids play on the beach (at the ages of 5, 3 and 15 months) and thinking, “Wow! I feel really at peace with this being our family. I’m good with this. Two years from now, I might actually get to read a book on vacation.” And then I found out that I was pregnant – while we were in Hawaii. Not a subtle answer to that prayer. The receptionist at my doctor laughed when I called to change that IUD appointment to a prenatal appointment. I told her, “I know it’s funny. I’m not there yet, but I will be someday.” I talked B into finding out if Graham was a boy or a girl – because the kids wanted to know, but I also think I secretly hoped it would help me connect to the idea of having another baby. Life was just busy already, and I didn’t have time to sit and savor the kicks or think about who this baby might be.

But, the second he was born? I couldn’t imagine our family any other way. I will pile my kids in the car or the stroller and I will think, “This is exactly how our family is supposed to be.” It helps that Graham is the best baby ever – we’re all smitten with him. I’d gotten rid of all the baby gear almost a year to the day before he was born, and we didn’t purchase much. I had kept our double stroller (though had told B 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant – the day I sold our carseat – ha! – that I thought we were probably getting close to being able to sell it and just have a single stroller – LOLZ), the pack n’ play (Peter still uses it on trips) and our bouncer seat and the rock n’ play for visiting babies, so we had those. I found a Britax carseat and stroller system on clearance at Target right after Christmas and scooped up 2 – one for me and one for one of my best friends who was also pregnant after getting rid of the baby stuff. I bought a Solly Wrap because I wanted something cute and new and knew I’d be wearing this baby enough to justify the purchase.  I recently bought a play gym mat and a sitting-up device, and that’s what we have for baby gear.  And it’s great. I’m not looking disdainfully at giant plastic exersaucers in the middle of the floor.

So reality with 4 kids (ages 6, 4, 2.5 and 3 months): It’s nuts. 4 year olds are great with new babies. Thomas was awesome with Peter when he was born two years ago, and Nell is in LOVE with Graham. We’re pretty sure she thinks he’s her own real life baby doll. Thomas is in love with his baby brother, but he has a bigger life now – school and neighborhood friends and sports, and so while he loves his Graham time, he’s not overly interested. And Peter. He loves Graham. He loves him hard and he loves him fiercely, and the sentiment behind that love is wonderful, but it means Graham is attached to me in a babywearing device of some kind at all times that Peter is awake.

Logistically, we’ve kind of settled into 4 kids easily, though there are some learning curves we’re still working through. The first two weeks home were nuts – Graham was a great baby, but the other kids and their dynamics made those two weeks a blur. I felt like I was just starting to get my feet under me, and then we spent 3 days in the NICU with Graham (he’s fine, thank you, Jesus! – had some gagging issues that doctors couldn’t figure out, but it ended up being silent reflux – which B and I thought from the start until doctors started scaring the pants off of us), but after that coming home was crazy. I was on edge about Graham while he was asleep, trying to love on my big kids but really just wanting to hold that baby who had scared us to death.  I would say it took another 3 – 4 weeks – when I went off dairy and Graham stopped gagging – for us to really take a deep breath.

Now that our days are more normal, things are better. I do lose my patience more than I used to, and I’m working on that and asking for forgiveness when I do yell. Totally honest here: Especially earlier in the summer, I didn’t want to play with my big kids. I was tired and hormonal and on edge about Graham, and I felt like as soon as I sat down to play, Graham was awake or Peter was trying to feed Graham a baseball and I had to stop the games and it was way more effort than it was worth. I felt a ton of guilt over this, so I do make a better effort to play with them each day, though the really beautiful thing about having kids close in age is that they do just play together. I think Thomas has noticed this more than anyone and I’ve noticed that in his attitude – a little eye rolling and sighing and what I interpreted at the beginning of the summer to be a lack of appreciation for the things he does get to do. Part of that is normal for his age, part of it is my time being spread more thin – and all of it is being handled with parenting and one-on-one time when it makes sense for our family. Our best weeks are the weeks when B is out of town for work only because I always approach those weeks with plans: activities, help dialed in, meals figured out in advance, etc. Which tells me I just need to be better about scheduling our time and asking for help when B is IN town, but that’s not natural for me as I normally just like easy, relaxed days with my kids.

Room sharing is…interesting. It’s been almost 6 months since we moved Peter and Tom together and Peter does not fall asleep before 9pm because he’s so busy talking. This was a kid I put into his crib at 7 and he’d be asleep by 7:15 when he was in his own room. So, we’re working on that – putting Pete to bed first, trying to give him some wind down time before bedtime. It’s still a work in progress. B asked me the other day, “How much longer do we give this experiment?” as we listened to Peter chatter at Tom (not with – Tom was sound asleep) until 9:15. I looked at him, truly baffled, and said, “Honey, this isn’t an experiment. This is our life.” We laughed, he mentioned that we could bunk Tom and Nell together or put Graham in our room for a few months and give everyone their own rooms again. I feel like we need to stay the course, but I do feel guilt about it. I KNOW kids share rooms all the time, but Tom is an introvert and he craves his alone time and right now Peter is not really at a reasonable age. I KNOW that this will be good for both of them long term, but six months into this non-experiment experiment, I still feel guilty. I’ve googled “making a bedroom over a two story family room” more times than you want to know. It doesn’t look like a good idea. I’ve setup searches for houses in our neighborhood that have 5 upstairs bedrooms – they don’t appear to exist. We will stay the course, but if anyone has advice, I’m listening.

For the most part though, it’s crazy and loud and really fun. I love our family of 6. I do have to make a more concerted effort to spend time with each kid individually. B and I are trying to carve out date nights. Getting places on time (which is important to me!) is tough, and we have to get in the car about 10 minutes before we have to leave to make sure we are good, but we do it. We’ve booked our first vacation as a family of 6 and we feel confident that we can rock it. We broke down at bought a Toyota Sienna (we ordered it over a month ago, but we just got it last week) after trying to get us all to the mountains for the 4th of July and realizing we just can’t get our whole family and gear places in the Honda Pilot.  I knew it was practical, but I was reserved in my enthusiasm for that van. But after one day of running errands with all 4 kids in it and I’m googly-eyed in love with it for it’s function (that’s not to say that I’ll want to drive it forever, but for the next 6 – 10 years, it’s going to be great). I wish we’d bought it 2 years ago when we just had 3. Everyone asked me right after Graham was born and school was finishing what our plans for summer were and I would answer, “Survive with a smile on my face”, and I’d say I’ve done that.  I love our wild, crazy family. I am excited that as our kids grow up together, they will have the chance to be the best of friends. I love the idea of an overflowing Thanksgiving table when all our kids are home for the holidays in the future.

As for if there will be more? Nope. I mentioned above that I think couples need to make decisions for their marriage and their families – in our case with prayerful guidance – and our family needs to be done expanding until our kids get married and have babies of their own. Could we handle more? Probably. But I want to be present for all four of my children. I want to be at their games, and sit with them before they go to bed at night and talk to them about their days. I want to continue to prioritize my marriage. By the time I wean Graham after he turns one, I will have been pregnant or breastfeeding for 7 and a half years of my life. That’s a lot. And I loved that phase, but I will be okay with that phase being over when that time comes, and I’m looking forward to the next phase, however that may look!

Graham Patrick McKevitt

Oh the blog. Last on my priority list these days. Graham Patrick McKevitt was born on April 28th and is just about as sweet as can be. We’re totally smitten with him. His delivery was rough – I had really hoped to go into labor on my own (Nell was my only kid who decided to show up on her own terms), but after weeks of regular contractions but making no progress and missing his due date (seems to be a common theme for my boys), and my OB being concerned about me going too far past my due date due to heart rate issues we monitored through the end of my pregnancy, I was induced. I had Mother’s Day tea dates with my biggest kids the next week at school, and when my OB gave me two date options – one that would have me out of the hospital in time to attend those teas and one that had me in the hospital and missing them, I opted to make the teas.  My induction was easy – no progress even with pitocin until my water was broken (just as I told my doctor and the nurses to expect), at which point things happened quickly. Graham was born “sunnyside up”, which made the actual delivery and my recovery a bit rough. If I had known what my recovery would be like, I might have opted for a C-Section, but we are ending our baby having years with a 3rd healthy VBAC – I don’t know if I ever would have thought that was possible 6 years ago after that traumatic C-Section delivering Thomas.

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Graham is a wonderful baby. He gave us all a scare and ended up in the NICU at two weeks old for monitoring after a scary night of choking in his sleep. They weren’t sure what was happening and tested him for infection after infection, and all came back negative (Thank you, God!), and he was eventually discharged with a diagnosis of silent reflux. I’m a pretty calm mama when it comes to medical stuff, but I was a wreck about the whole ordeal and barely sleeping after we came home just listening to him breathe. A little over a month out from that experience and we’re all doing much better – I’m sleeping again and Graham is a much happier little pumpkin. I’m off dairy and that has made a huge difference in his reflux (and also combated the colic that was starting to show up after our NICU stay) so now he’s back to being the best baby we’ve ever had (though I vaguely remember thinking Nell was the best baby ever…so maybe Graham’s awesome sleeping evens out with the fact that Nell never required a scary hospital stay :).

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Graham’s name threw most of our friends for a loop. Not the Apostle name they (or we!) were expecting, but the names we had on the top of our list just didn’t seem right. Our landscape designer actually suggested Graham on an Instagram post when we announced he was a boy. I mentioned the name to B, and he said, “I LOVE THAT!” I said, yeah, I do, too, but it’s not a Saint. We kind of cast it aside but kept coming back to it. You have to love the name you give your baby. Graham Patrick just fit and plays well with our other English/Scottish/Irish name picks. I remember talking to one of my best friends before Graham was born and saying, well, we definitely have a Catholic thing going with our boys’ names, but all of our kids’ names are all also far more popular in the UK than they are in the US – so maybe I need to consider that route.  In the end, Graham was our top choice going into the hospital, but it still took me 5 hours to commit after he was born. We also toyed with spelling it “Graeme” and would have if we lived across the pond – and we also would have used that spelling for sure if we were using it as a middle name – but we decided to give him a spelling that he won’t have to correct people on for the rest of his life here in the US.

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So that’s that. Almost two months old and just getting his announcements addressed and his post written. Welcome to the McKevitt family, 4th baby 🙂

 

 

Baby #4: Quattro

We are thrilled to announce that McKiddle #4 (whom we affectionately call Quattro) is due at the end of April.

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We used this photo to announce Quattro on Facebook and Instagram. I’m 20 weeks along, and hadn’t announced to anyone but family and close friends yet. But my creativity was tapped and I figured maybe we just wouldn’t do a big announcement. And then I remembered how well that went over in 2010 :). So here you all go, officially announcing that our 4th (and final…for real this time!) is on the way.  Thomas and Nell are over the moon. I wish I’d filmed Thomas’s reaction when we told the kids that we were having another baby, it was just about the sweetest thing. If you ask Peter where the baby is he points to himself and shouts “BABY!”…so this should be good.  Thomas and Nell want to find out if the baby is a boy or a girl, so we’re leaning towards finding out for the first time to involve them in the pregnancy…but we’ll see. I’m on the fence about it.

 

We are set on a name for a baby girl (and despite Nell’s insistence, it’s not “Poodle”), but if you have a suggestion for a New Testament, Irish-Catholic boy Saint’s name that’s not in the top 50 (I’m leaning towards an Apostles name because it’s clearly the established theme for boys around here, but the remaining ones we like are all a little more popular than we tend to choose so we’re not sold on anything), send them my way! I’ve already combed through my dad and grandmother’s Catholic high school yearbooks since my mom calls our naming style “Old school Catholic school”, but I’m coming up empty. And, if we do find out the baby’s sex next week then maybe it won’t matter. Or maybe it will matter a ton.

Halloween 2015: The Year of the Goat on a Roof Costume

Every year so far (though I’m willing to bet this year will be the one that ends it), our kids have chosen their Halloween costume for the next year on November 1st. Last year I was on a plane on November 1st on a getaway with some girlfriends, and I got a text from B when I got off the plane that said, “Tom has picked Peyton Manning for next Halloween, Nell wants to be a Goat.” Of course. So when I got home, Nell clarified. Not just a goat. A goat on a roof. The pumpkin patch we visit every year with B’s mom has goats and a little lean-to with a ladder. We’ve seen the goats climb the ladder and stand on the roof. So, Nell wanted to be a goat on a roof. The goat I could handle – I’m a sweatsuit animal costume making pro (not really, but I can hold my own: Walrus costume, Penguin costume and skunk costume for your viewing pleasure).

The “Goat on a Roof” costume caused me some sleepless nights, but I pulled it off. Can I say? I love this girl’s mind. I love making Halloween costumes for my kids when it makes sense, and this was special: Nell had this totally out there idea, and I helped her bring it to life (with B’s help…I had her convinced that she could just be a goat and pretend to be on a roof, but B insisted that the roof needed to be a part of the costume, and so it was). I hope that she always dreams big and doesn’t care about what everyone else is doing. You do you, Nell. You do you.

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Here’s Nell’s best goat impression:

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Here’s my little goat on a roof leading her class in the school Halloween parade.

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And the boys costumes were mostly a sourcing task. Since Tom wanted to be Peyton Manning, it made Peter a shoe-in to be Eli. The Manning brothers. Perfect.

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Until last week, the actual Peyton Manning was having a kind of rough season learning his new coach’s offense. B joked with Tom that every time someone opened the door while he was trick-or-treating he should self-sack and fall over. In his trick or treating excitement, Thomas did indeed self-sack three times. But then Peyton had a great game last weekend, so all is good.

And my sweet little Eli. Peter loved Trick-or-Treating this year. He ran up to the houses and held out his little bucket of candy. Safe to say he’s a big fan of this holiday.

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Hope everyone else had a wonderful Halloween this year. I love this fun holiday with kiddos.

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McKevitts in Maui: 2015

We just got back from an amazing, week long trip to Maui. B and I both agree that it was probably the best vacation we’ve ever taken as a family. We went into it with very few planned activities or expectations other than to disconnect from social media (me!) and email (B!) and enjoy the time as a family and get as much beach time as was humanly possible. With B traveling for work, I am fiercely protective of our family time, and this week with just our five was exactly the refresh break we needed. Sometimes, in the hub-bub of everyday life, the things you have to do: the kid shuttling, the meal cooking, the house cleaning, the disciplining so that you don’t raise hooligans, can lead you to forget that family life is, at it’s core, supposed to be fun. I realized during this trip that this was our first trip that was purely us five. We’ve traveled a decent amount with the kids and always made vacations out of all of our trips, but often our vacation destinations were driven by seeing people we knew places, even if we stayed on our own. But anyway, back to the trip.

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You can pretty much break our trip into two parts: the travel, and everything else. Let’s just touch on the travel quickly. Flights from Denver to Maui were absurdly expensive, we were kind of thinking they’d be lower since August is not Hawaii’s busy season, but nope. Due to the fact that the flights alone are usually what we budget for our annual vacation, and also not knowing if it would be better to have a quick layover to break up the sitting or do it all in one swoop, we didn’t splurge for the direct flight from Denver to Maui (lesson learned: splurge for the direct flight).  So, on the flight out, we left Denver at 5:45 am and had a quick layover in Phoenix, before taking a six hour flight from Phoenix to Maui. The flights were torture. I’m not a great flyer. I’m not an anxious person usually, but flying brings out a certain level of anxiety that I’m not used to. Suddenly everyone on the plane is not to be trusted (I’m the same way in movie theaters now, too…to the point where we just don’t go to movies anymore), and take-off and landing tie my stomach in knots. But this isn’t about me. The big kids were awesome. We generally don’t allow technology for flights, but based on the fact that we’d be flying for 8 and a half hours, we broke our normal rule and downloaded as many Stella and Sam Sprout episodes to B’s iPad as we could. I also bought a few little dollar store activities, and the kids slept for about 2 hours of the Maui flight. It was a long haul, but the big kids didn’t complain once. Peter, on the other hand…made a name for himself. As soon as we took off from Phoenix, Peter fell asleep in the Ergo – he’d been awake for 5 hours at that point since we woke him up at 3am.  He woke up an hour later, and I distracted him for a good hour with stickers. And then we reached sheer exhaustion but the toddler doesn’t want to sleep point. And I would say that Peter screamed on-and-off for two hours of our 6 hour flight. To the point where the next morning (at 5:30am) when I was on the beach with my time confused youngest two, a man stopped and said “Peter! I remember you from the plane. I’m not the least bit surprised that you’re awake at this hour.” At least he had a good sense of humor.

But the beauty of  Maui is that the second we were in our rental car, the flight portion was behind us. We stayed on the Northwest side of the island. I grew up going to Maui for Christmas with my Dad’s side of the family and we always stayed in Kaanapali, and this time we were a little further North towards Kapalua. It was so fun to be back in a place that some of my best childhood memories are tied to with my own family. I think that’s what made this trip so special to me – exposing my kids to something that was a huge part of my childhood. But also, exploring a place I knew with my husband and seeing it through different eyes. It’s so neat to see how your view of the world changes as you’re exposed to new people and things.

So anyway, Maui. We mostly played at the beach and in the pool, with a couple little activities mixed in. Or room had a full kitchen, so we ate breakfast and lunch or dinner in the room and ate out one meal a day. We’d wake up (early…because…time change) and hit the beach within 30 minutes of being awake. We found a sweet beach early on that has a huge reef about 300 yards out, so it protects the shore from huge wave breaks and makes it the perfect, safe place for little kids to play in the ocean. I forced B (seriously – had to force him) to play golf at Kapalua on Monday, and that was the day I took the kids to the protected beach. We had the best time floating, building in the sand and pretending that we were a family of fish. The next day, Tuesday, I decided we should all go to Kaanapali beach. That beach is truly beautiful and the quintessential sandy beach, but the waves were intense. Tom, Nell and I all got knocked over and tossed by a huge wave as we were exiting the ocean: I realized the tides were getting a bit high for my comfort being in the water with a 5 and 3 year old, so we body surfed a wave in, and as I was carrying them out of the water, the undertoe combined with a huge wave behind it and we were thrown under, tossed around and landed on our backs (me still gripping the kids with all my might) with B and random strangers running at us to help. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life and from that time on, we decided to play it safe and stay at the little wave-less beach.  We redeemed Tuesday by eating a delicious lunch over the ocean at Koa’s Seaside Grill on Front Street in Lahaina. Delicious food, and gorgeous views.

On Wednesday, we woke up and headed straight to Baby Beach with B so that he would see that not all the waves were terrifying. And once B saw Baby Beach, that was our home base for the rest of our vacation. We had several people at the hotel with kids our kids ages who had similar big wave experiences ask us if we had found a beach that was good for little kids, and B told everyone about Baby Beach. I said, “Good thing we’re leaving in a few days, our secret little spot is going to be so crowded now that you’ve told everyone about it!” It truly was like a hidden gem that we had all to ourselves for most of each morning – which is funny because we found it by googling “Best Beaches for Kids in Maui”, but maybe not everyone googles? After spending the morning at Baby Beach, we headed back to our hotel and I rented a standup paddle board for 24 hours. The first day was really rough on the ocean outside of our hotel, but the second day was beautiful and we had a blast.  Wednesday night we went to the Maui Nui Luau. I warned B that they can be a little hokey, but it’s a neat way to see a bit of Hawaiian tradition and culture. It was indeed hokey, but it was fun, the food was good, and the kids thought it was the best. Which truly, is all that matters. In the future, we’d probably skip the luau, but if we did do it again, we’d probably choose a different one.

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Thursday was sort of a repeat of Wednesday – we woke up, went to the beach where B and I took turns snorkeling while the other stayed with the kids, swam in the pool, did some stand-up paddle boarding, and then went to Whaler’s Village and ate dinner on the beach at Hula Grill. Peter was not the most enjoyable at meal times this trip. He’s in a phase where he doesn’t eat much, and he’s squirmy. So B and I were passing Peter back and forth to try to keep him from ruining everyone’s meal. I’m sure we looked like a hot mess. When we were done, our server came over and said, “All done? Well, today is your lucky day. Another table has picked up your meal.” He told us that the table had already left, and we’re pretty sure it was a couple that was sitting behind us who at one point picked up a crayon Peter had thrown on the floor. B and I were both dumbstruck, and honestly felt a little guilty, but then we told ourselves, “They wouldn’t have done it if they hadn’t wanted to, and we’ll just have to remember to pass it on someday”. We laughed as we were leaving and I said to B, “They either saw us and thought ‘Man, those two are in way over their heads, let’s buy them a meal.’ or they said, ‘What a sweet family, don’t you remember when our kids were that age, let’s buy them a meal.'” We’re hoping it was the latter, but something tells me the first one might be more realistic.
Friday we woke up and went to breakfast in Lahaina, then went to our favorite baby beach. We spent the morning splashing, floating and sand playing. After naps we went back to Lahaina and had the most delicious Hawaiian Shave Ice at Ululani’s, then did a little bit of shopping and went to see the Banyan tree. It was our last night in Hawaii, so we ate dinner at the hotel overlooking the beach and watched the sunset and schemed about how we could extend our trip by another week.

Saturday we did our traditional wake-up, hit the beach and play. We came back and showered and did final packing before checking out of the hotel, then headed to the East side of the Island to look around. We ate at lunch at the Flatbread Company before heading to the airport. We decided that based on Peter’s age and phase, this was not the trip to eat at Mama’s Fish House, but we will be back someday, hopefully with a less scream-y Peter in toe, and then we will have our delicous fancy meal.

 

The flights home were long and made us ready to be home. So maybe that’s why you do it – so that once you’re on the flight, you feel ready to be home and not sad to be leaving Hawaii again. It was a red-eye flight with a layover in Dallas (yes, that’s past Denver. I told you the flights we got were awful. Next time, direct it is.) Peter screamed for about an hour, but did fall asleep for the part of the flight where everyone else would want to sleep. I didn’t sleep, and during that time Peter was crying and I was trying to settle him, I got plenty of evil looks from a not very pleasant newlywed bride. But what can you do? We’ll never see her again, and someday, maybe she’ll be traveling with a 17 month old and I hope that people treat her more graciously.

 

So what would we do differently? Direct flights. And we’d stay an extra week. Here’s a video I put together of our trip:

 

Spring…Or Something Like That.

Colorado is a weird place in the Spring. We have beautiful January days – 70 degrees when we’re outside in barefeet and tank tops. And then there’s February, which is normally dreary, followed by March, which is drearier still. But by April, we usually start to warm up. And we did, a bit – we had some nice April days. But for the most part, I feel like we haven’t really had Spring here in Colorado this year.

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We worked with a landscape designer to get a front yard plan done in March with the intention of planting in April, but April didn’t let that happen, and now we’re half way through May and we’ve had chilly, wet days. I’m not complaining at all – we need the moisture and it will be hot soon enough.

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But this morning, Nell and Pete and I planted flowers in the front porch planter. Last night, our new patio furniture was delivered. Because, it’s time. It’s time for some color. It’s time to eat outdoors.  It’s time to stop waiting. Hopefully Memorial Day weekend will give way to good planting weather for the rest of our front yard, but I’m thrilled to have taken the first few steps to Spring…although at this rate, we might have to skip straight toward summer.

Easter Recap

We had the best Easter Weekend this year. I love Easter – I love hosting Easter because it’s so easy, but this year I gave that up, and we kept it low-key. I often feel like if we don’t host so that both families can attend, I feel pressured to make it to both families for every holiday – but our families live an hour and a half apart. But I’m 30 now, so I’m more reasonable . My brother was in town, so we went to my parent’s because we don’t see him very often, and B’s parents came to Tom’s soccer game on Saturday and came over to the house to do Easter Baskets with the kids after that. It was perfect – no pressure, no racing across the state of Colorado to see everyone in one day – perfect.

 

We died Easter Eggs on Saturday morning with Kool-aid. So simple and easy. We hard boiled a dozen eggs, lost two to some violently boiling water, and should have boiled two dozen because the kids had a blast. Next year when Peter’s a part of the action, we’ll definitely have to up our Egg count.

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Easter morning, a certain almost 5 year old woke the whole house up to go see the Easter baskets. The kids were pretty smitten. Our Easter Bunny keeps things VERY simple – a few candy filled eggs, a book, a small toy (our bunny opted for Legos over yet another stuffed animal…) and this year a new water bottle for each kid. And they were pleased as punch.

Easter MorningAfter we did our own little Egg hunt at our house, we loaded up and headed down South to my mom and dad’s house – we went to my old Elementary school for Easter Mass, then spent the rest of the day at my parents’ house, visiting with the family and letting the cousins play together. We took some family pictures, ate some really good food, and drank mimosas.

Easter Pictures

There was another egg hunt in my mom and dad’s backyard, and a LOT of backyard baseball.

Easter DayIt was a perfect way to celebrate Easter – centered around Church and family with a little bit of candy and fun, just as it should be.

Updates…

I have plenty of things in my head I could blog about…but life just gets so busy, and three weeks after Valentine’s Day how interesting is my valentines mantle? Ha! So here’s my typical “All the pictures in my iPhone catch-up”. Truth be told, I’ve been going back and forth about blogging and social media lately. And by lately I mean over the last two years. In my commitment to disconnect more frequently (and during the day) from technology, I post to Instagram far less. I rarely sit down at the computer during the day, and at night, on the weeks B is home and not traveling, I like to spend time with him. I deleted Facebook from my Phone for Lent and won’t be adding it back after it’s over — I was on the brink of just deleting my personal Facebook account, but decided to just remove the quickest access I had to it instead, so I only see things if I actually sit down at the computer, which is rare.  And can I say? It’s kind of nice. But then there’s the outlet of the blog – I like writing. I like the occasional family post, the pictures and the recaps of what we’re up to at this stage in our lives. I like sharing the occasional house project, but I’m a mom of three kids with a husband who travels 60% of the time…house projects are few and far between! And that’s okay – this is our life.  I love the community that so many of us built together 7 years ago when we all started blogging. But as our kids have all gotten older (and more numerous!), there’s less time. And more concern over privacy and kids. I don’t have a good answer, but I know the longer I wait to blog, the harder it gets to come back, so I’m recommitting to this old blog for the month of April to see how it goes.

So here we go, a quick catch-up:

I finished my third full Whole30 (my January Whole30 I didn’t finish, so I’m not counting that one) on March 15th. I lost 13 pounds, a couple inches all over and felt great – 6 of those 13 pounds were weight I gained over the holidays and the month of January, but the other 7 put me below my “happy weight”, which is awesome. I’ve done a great job of keeping with the eating – with the occasional treat here and there. B and I flew to Charleston last weekend for a wedding, and while I didn’t deny myself any foods I truly wanted, I definitely was conscious of how food made me feel. After three Whole30s, I’ve realized that I’m sensitive to gluten. Not intolerant, mind you – I like to be very clear on that in this gluten free world we’re inundated by – but just sensitive to it – it upsets my stomach and while I can deal with the discomfort, I feel better (and weigh less) when I avoid gluten, so that’s what I plan to keep doing. In the past, good craft beer has been the reason I’ve reintroduced gluten, but after this last Whole30, beer didn’t even taste good to me. (My first Whole30 recap is here).

 

With food kind of figured out, I’m turning my mind towards working out again. In January, I started P90x3. I loved the workouts, I felt strong and loved being in a daily workout routine…but I gained weight while doing it. And that was in conjunction with the failed Whole30 – part of why I gave up on the Whole30 in January was because I was annoyed at the scale. My friend and BeachBody coach was a huge part of getting me back into working out -and eating clean – last April. We both had newborns, and we both had baby weight to lose, and she was inspirational, challenged me to eat clean while doing a month long commitment to workouts through her accountability groups (if you’re looking to get started with a workout program, Jessica and her accountability groups are awesome – not perked to say that at all, just sharing the good :)), and that’s when I found the Whole30. Jessica has been awesome talking me through the Beachbody programs and helping me find a program that works for me, so, I am starting 21 Day fix on Monday. I will be honest, I’m mostly doing it for the workouts. I’m scared to change my eating because I know that paleo and Whole30 work for me, but I will follow the 21 Day fix food plan as it fits into my paleo diet and am looking forward to the portion control portions of the program. But to fit this into my paleo diet, that means no grains or dairy (though I have promised to give vegan Shakeology a try) for me.

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B is traveling a ton for work, but he’s loving his job, and the two of us have figured out how to make it work. Thankfully, Facetime helps both the kids and me while he’s gone, and before he took the job we talked a lot about how important it was to me to not feel like having him around got in the way of our routine once we adjusted to his travel. The traveling husband and how we’re making it work with our marriage and the kids is probably a post of it’s own, and one that will continue to evolve…and I’m determined to blog more in April, so maybe I’ll get to that. But the long story short is: When B is home, we teamwork it like we always have, and when he’s gone, we talk multiple times a day so that he knows what’s going on, where we’re at with the kids, and how the week is going as a whole so he knows what he’s coming home to and he can pick up where he left off. It’s a lot of work, but doing that work is the most important thing for our family right now.

Thomas is in the homestretch of PreK and getting excited for summer. He’s playing soccer right now, and starts swimming lessons with Nell in two weeks. He’ll play T-Ball this summer (he’s psyched to finally be old enough – his June birthday put him past the cutoff date last year by 4 days). He’s getting more and more into Legos, but sports still reign supreme in his life. He’s a sweet, sensitive and fun kid, and we’re loving this stage of life where he’s doing “bigger kid” stuff, but still so small. He turns five in two months. Somebody hold me.

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Nell Caroline is 2 and a half, and you would know it. When Thomas was two and three, I remember telling people that his phases went in 3 month increments. We’d have a great 3 months, and then we’d have a rocky 3 months, although looking back at it I honestly don’t remember three month rocky stretches (ah, the gift of time and rose colored glasses!). Nell’s phases seem to go in about 3 WEEK increments. Which is exhausting, but thank goodness because the rocky stretches just about do me in…I can’t imagine if they lasted months rather than weeks. I went to confession at the start of Lent, and it basically turned into a counseling session about my sweet daughter, because my relationship with her was weighing heavily on my heart at the time. And it helped me enter these last 6 weeks with a different mindset – I’m trying to remember that I’m raising these children to be good people, to love God, and to share God’s love through kindness. And that starts with me. This is all probably another blog post in and of itself, but all this is to say that Nell and I are currently in a great phase, and I’m enjoying every second of it. I find myself thanking God each night lately for our good days, for his guidance as I navigate attempts at a whole new kind of attitude and disobedience, and for the sweet moments that remind me how lucky I am to have Nell’s perspective on the world.

IMG_7195_2 Peter Michael. B and I were gone for 4 days and we left our baby and came back to a toddler. He is into EVERYTHING. He’s walking, climbing, screaming when he doesn’t get his way and delighted by the sweetest, simplest things. I love 12 month olds, and I remember how hard it is when they feel independent but in reality are struggling to do anything for themselves. This baby boy of ours is so darn sweet – he’s snuggly and charismatic. I joke that he’s going to be our class clown, and I think he’s just going to be an easy going kid – used to rolling with the punches.

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And that’s our update. There are plenty of blog posts to come, and my goal is to blog 2 – 3 times a week this month. In reality, that will mean a lot of family posts, rather than a ton of house updates, but that’s our life right now. And I’m embracing it.

New Year, New (Personal) Decade, New Resolutions

Well, it’s 2015. I turned 30 on January 1st – a milestone I was happy to welcome. A friend asked me at Christmas Eve Mass how I felt about turning 30, and I told him honestly, “Well, I’ve been acting 30-something for the last five years, so might as well embrace it and make it official.” And truly, it felt a little anti-climactic. Quite honestly, the majority of our friends have about 7 years on us. We have a good group of friends that are our age, but they’re not in the same place in life as us – kids, houses, etc. It just seems that most of the people we meet in daily life – living in the suburbs with kids about our kids’ ages – are about 7 years older than us. So 30 wasn’t scary to me – I’ve had a healthy year after having my 3rd baby, and so I am entering my 30s feeling good about myself, my kids, my marriage and our circumstances in life. But there’s always room for improvement, and I’ve never been one to shy away from a New Year’s and Birthday resolution or two or three. I have a couple resolutions for the whole year, and a few things just for January.

 

January 2015 Goals

Whole30 – I’m embracing my 3rd Whole30 (read about my first one here) – I started the day after my birthday, on January 2nd.  I almost didn’t – B and I are having a joint 30th birthday party mid-month, and I am going to have a glass of wine or two that night, which I know means that this won’t be a real Whole30, so I considered just not doing it.  However, I knew if I didn’t commit to it, then I wouldn’t follow it – so one night of not perfect is going to have to do, because with travel and weddings and lots of 30th birthdays coming up, the next available month would be April, and I didn’t want to wait that long.

No Spending January – You can read all about our first No Spending January here and here. And then my No Shopping October here. Nothing new, we’re following the same plan we did last year, and looking forward to putting a little extra money into savings after Christmas.

Establish a Workout Routine – After Peter’s weight gain issues this summer, I dropped working out. And I tried to get back into it a couple times, and never succeeded. So, with spring clothes and summer swim suits approaching, I’m jumping back into it. I’m borrowing P90x3 from a friend to see how I like it, but while the Whole30 is going to handle any Christmas cookies I indulged in over the last month and help me feel great, I still would like to do a little more toning up.

 

2015 Resolutions

Be Present – This is specifically about me and technology. I do a lot of mindless phone scrolling throughout the day, and I don’t like it. I would rather play with my kids. So I’ve established a place in our home for my phone – I can go get it if I need it, but then I need to put it back.  I will still take pictures and occasionally post to Instagram, but I want to get away from constantly monitoring my phone.

Run Two Races. I was going to make this goal 4 – one a quarter – but the bottom line is that B is traveling a lot for work and I’m not going to bundle my kids up in a double stroller and take them for a run in the cold. Nor am I going to put them in a gym daycare so I can run on a treadmill in the heart of cold and flu season. So I won’t have a lot of run training time, but I’d like to get back into races this year, and two seems like a manageable number given limited training time.

So those are my goals for January and 2015 – what about you?

Merry Christmas 2014

B is off work this week and we’re enjoying lots of family time, so just dropping in to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy, healthy and safe holidays. Peace, in particular, is on my mind this Christmas season. Wishing you sweet moments with your families, loved ones and friends.

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