Sunday, January 12, 2020

Marked Safe

Good morning!

I just survived being the only adult snowed inside my house with six kids for 24 hours, excepting the few hours when Dan was home from salting/plowing and also when Brooke and Holland came over to play games for an hour, and when Holland stayed, making the odds seven versus one.

AND we had so much fun. I only yelled once, which was when they would not stop talking at 11 PM, but bless their hearts, they caught the giggles. Hallaway actually said, "Aunt Racheal, I'm so sorry, but I just can't stop laughing."

Ina did get jealous of my attention to and leniency with her cousins and when the pouting (her) and saying I'm disappointed in you (me), didn't work, Kauffman saved the day by turning on The Cha Cha Slide and I picked her up and did the whole dance with her in my arms (workout: check) and everything was smooth the rest of the day.

My sister's kids stayed with us while my sister and brother-in-law attended the visitation and funeral of a fire fighter Cody worked with. He died in a fire on Sunday and left behind his wife and three young children and every time I think about how horrible it is I almost puke and remind myself how thankful I am for everyone who risks their lives to make me and my family safe, that my family is safe and healthy, and that the demands of my job are nothing and minuscule in comparison. If you feel compelled to help out his sweet family here is the GoFundMe page.

So I was more than happy to have six kids, even when we stopped into the grocery store when the ice storm started to get necessities (ramen and popcorn). When we walked in everyone in the grocery store stopped and stared and more than one person said, "Wow, you have your hands full."

We played Bananagrams and Play Nine. We danced. Holland and Hallaway pretend Mira was a queen for a solid hour, carrying her on their shoulders and feeding her and changing her into multiple different dress up clothes. Kauffman and Ina counted all the change in our change jar ($149!) and listened to Wings of Fire on Epic and then everyone played dragons for a few hours.

When Dan walked in the door I poured myself a cranberry margarita, grabbed my library book(starting the Mortal Instruments/Shadow Hunters series), and took a nice long bath.

This week was a full one: dance and swim lessons and two basketball practices and church stuff. I am hosting fellowship interviewees at work and preparing for a presentation and reviewing and doing analyses and the whole thing flew by in a flash.

Ina started playing basketball on my sister's team and I have so enjoyed watching my sister coach and Ina play, although the logistics mostly remain a mystery to her while she defensively slides across the court to catch the ball on offense and butt kicks anytime she has to run and has been caught twirling instead of defending her player.

But, she looks cute doing it.

Then on Friday my dad coached and so many wonderful memories of him coaching my childhood team flooded back to me.

Last Sunday we had my mom's extended family Christmas. I loved getting to catch up with family I see only once or twice a year.

I also was able to see my aunt Joey, who had cerebral palsy and even though she was acting fine and her spirits were bright, hours later died in her sleep. I remember her always smiling and drinking coffee from a straw and not giving up pushing for what she wanted or thought, despite our lack of understanding after the first few tries. My absolute favorite memory of her was when she rolled over the popping firecrackers with her wheelchair on 4th of July over and over again, just to make the kids laugh and squeal.

The girls are now all awake and playing with our change jar again. I guess that is what happens when all of their toys are donated or moved to the basement.


I cooked from the Skinnytaste One and Done cookbook all week, and all of the recipes were fantastic. I recommend buying it or checking it out from the library. We made:
Queso pinto beans: served with rice, tortilla chips, avocado, and sour cream and Dan, two neighbor girls, and my two girls ate every last bite. Strongly recommend.
- Buffalo chicken sweet potatoes with roasted broccoli: the chicken and potatoes both go in the slow cooker! It was perfect!
-Chicken and lentil soup- so good!
-Sheet pan tandori chicken and cauliflower - so amazing.
- pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes and green beans - probably the easiest dinner I have made in my life.

I hope you have a great week! <3

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Happy 2020!

Good morning!

Heading into 2020 like:

On our family walk, Ina wanted me to take a picture of her "climbing" this pole. Bless her little heart.

Seriously though, I do have goals. I wrote them in my planner and everything.

Last year I made goals for the whole year and accomplished 11 out of 19 of them, which I suppose isn't that bad, but isn't that good either. Some of them I am okay with scratching (paying off half of rental house principal - just too ambitious), but others I am determined to make happen (marriage conference). This year I decided to make goals for the first half of 2020 and re-evaluate/build on them in June. Someone hold me to that, okay?

Need some inspiration? Read this.

I was ugly dinosaur crying three paragraphs in. One of my goals was to clean out and brighten my office. Dan and I already emptied all of it out, now we just need to paint. I also want to add a few inspirational quotes and I think, "Life is pain - and you get to choose: either the pain of discipline or the pain of disappointment." or a few either of the above images would be exactly what I need to see everyday. Oh how I love Anne Voskamp.

That is a long way of saying Happy New Year!

We had a few people over for New Year's Eve for snacks and cards.

We played Five Crowns, I made soft pretzel bites, the best cookies, and cranberry margaritas. Dan made reubens.

Chessa made a beautiful cheese board and Danielle made cheese dip and my sister brought sparkling grape juice with candy and plastic champagne glasses. This combination was the hit of the evening.

We went to bed just before midnight and I smiled when I heard the fireworks go off and thanked God for a great 2019.

The day before New Year's Eve I sent the girls to Nonnie's house and tackled the toy room in a way I never have before. I filled a huge trash can of things that were broken and took a van full of duplicates and unplayed with toys to the good will. I then moved half of the remaining toys to the basement and what was left was a room with a few toys the girls play with all of the time, along with a new puzzle/game/coloring table.

So far, they haven't wanted to leave the room and haven't missed any of the old toys and picking up the mess takes 1 minute instead of 20. This was time well spent, but I have to remind myself to protect this space, because it is so easy for clutter to trickle in.

The day before that we spent going to church and then watching the Chiefs secure a first round bye and a home field advantage for their first playoff game. Before church Mira and I went to two grocery stores in under one hour. Writing my list in the order I walk through the store was a game changer in my efficiency.

Three days later, on New Year's Day (are you still with me?) Danielle met me at the gym for an endurance workout involving thrusters, the ERG, assault bike, and prowler that, three days later (today), I am still sore from.

Later that day we took advantage of the beautiful weather and went on a family walk. I feel like it is worth noting that preparing for a family walk with a 7 year old bike rider, 4 year old accessory lover, and 2 year old tantrum thrower, along with an anxious dog and a husband who needs to use the bathroom more than any other human I have ever met, takes as much time and energy as the walk itself, so you have to want it.

You have to want it bad.

"Mom and Dad - stop! Just stop. Look at how blue that water is. I just want to stand here and look at how blue it is forever."

That night we ate Hoppin' John and collared greens and went to bed preparing for me to go back to work after 10 days off.

So now we are back to real life. Real life with basketball practice/games and dance and small group and meal planning (we have already repeated "that chicken" with a kale/brussels hash and roasted sweet potato fries.

Real life with new challenging things out of my comfort zone at work and fellowship interviews. Real life with our church's 21 days of prayer and fasting coming up and still somehow two different family Christmas events to attend.

Happy 2020 friends. Be brave. <3

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Gingerbread, Grinch, and Go-Karts

Good morning!

Here we are, on the other side of Christmas, where everything looks a little less shiny and a little more cluttered. All the days between Christmas and New Year's feel the same and I have to often look at my planner to remember what day it is.

I hope you had a great Christmas! Ours' was fantastic. Thankfully (miraculously) everyone stayed healthy!

The Friday before Christmas, on our way home from taking Granny to a procedure, our neighbor Mallory asked if we wanted an extra gingerbread house kit from the local cookie shop.

Um, yes.

Everyone was smiling while building and decorating the house, although Dan had to re-build it after my first attempt was a little crooked. Ina preferred being in charge of the entire process and breathed a sigh of relief when her sisters gave up and opted to eat cottage cheese instead.

Everyone (including me) was more than happy to eat our masterpiece the next morning.

Ina, Lola, and I started Saturday off with a walk. I think we both enjoyed each other's one on one attention for 40 minutes.

After I made a few patient calls, my mom came over to stay with the girls while Dan and I helped a family in our small group move into an absolutely beautiful house. Of course the men had to go on a little exploration hike after most of the heavy lifting was done.

Although my holiday shopping was complete, my Saturday afternoon was free and I felt the lights of the plaza calling me. I put Mira down for a nap, handed Dan the TV remote, and loaded Ina and Cora in the van.

The weather was perfect, the streets and stores were full of people and the lights were beautiful. Cora danced down the sidewalk to the saxophone playing on the corner. There were carolers singing as we walked into Barnes and Nobel where Ina thoroughly inspected every single book and activity and I spent $40 on stuffed animals we didn't need. We came home to game night with the Champ boys.

Sunday our church had a little donut party for Christmas.

Then I dropped the girls off at Grandma Frankie's and met Chessa and Danielle for some tapas and sangria to celebrate Chessa's birthday. We went for coffee afterwards and the time it took me to find a parking spot and then actually park in said spot reminded me why I don't often leave the house the few days before Christmas.

I said bye to them and then met Brooke and Mallory for some drinks and cards while exchanging Christmas presents. Can you tell that I am living my best Christmas life right now? Also, have you played Five Crowns yet? It is my new favorite game.

Monday morning I went to the gym and then met my friend Ryann for coffee. I adore her and left there wondering why we haven't done this more often. Then I went to Target to finish off my holiday shopping.

I came home to an empty house (the girls were still at Frankie's) and didn't know exactly what to do first, but soon Brooke texted me and I was over at her house for coffee and her daughter Holland came home with me to keep me company until the girls returned.

Christmas Eve started off very low key with me switching from my 2019 to 2020 planner, but we eventually got ourselves together and headed out to visit Dan's grandma in the nursing home.

We then went to our church's Christmas Eve service, where we watched the most awesome drum performance (Mr. Kyle is basically a rock star), laughed at parts of Elf, and celebrated the birth of our savior Rock Brook style.

I know I mention this a lot, but I love, love, love our church and the people who go there. Mira is not pictured because she stayed with the wonderful people in the nursery which was 100% the right decision.

We then headed back to Grandma Frankie's to celebrate Christmas where I took exactly zero pictures. Grandma Frankie spoiled the girls and started the 24 hour gift opening marathon out with a bang.

As we were walking up the stairs to go to bed, Ina frantically reminded me to put out cookies and carrots for Santa and the reindeer. This came as a relief, because two days earlier she sat me down and said, "Mom, I need to know the truth. Is Santa real?"

To which I replied, "What do you think?" Ina, like the rest of our family, loves to talk, so she started down this long explanation of how she can't quite figure out if it is truly possible for Santa to get to all of the houses in the world, even when taking time zones into consideration, and three minutes later forgot what question she asked. I doubt I will be so successful next year.

Granny came over Christmas Eve morning and we tried to wait until the girls woke up on their own, but just couldn't. At 7:40 she went up and "Ho Ho Ho"ed until everyone was running down the stairs and ready for the scavenger hunt.

Last year we were puking in between clues, so this year was substantially better and I cried while Ina was reading the clues out loud to us.

Scavenger hunts were my favorite part about Christmas at my grandparents' house and sadly knowing they will never happen there again while also being happy that these memories are being created for my kids was more than my exhausted emotions could take.

The crying continued as they found their stockings and went on while I read both Cora and Mira's first year photo books that I made and ordered way too late.

We were all spoiled. Ina received a Fitbit (which is already lost) and a kids planner. Cora received a purple dinosaur with a purple remote (the only thing she would ask for), and Mira received the Olaf costume that I ordered for Halloween and couldn't return.

Granny gave Dan and I the best gift ever - piles of things we need, but typically buy the Aldi version of. I can't remember the last time we had brand name Ziplock bags in our drawer.

I gave Dan a Hawaiian Chiefs shirt and he gave me the most amazing coffee grinder/brewing system that does single cup and whole pots and is seriously the best thing ever.

We cleaned up and headed to my sister's house where she had a spread of delicious brunch food and my dad surprised the kids with GO KARTS.

We sat on the porch and watched the kids live their best lives driving go karts on a 60 degree Christmas day.

They all loved them. Ina was a tentative driver at first, but by the end was flooring it. Cora was happy to ride, but also liked going inside to play with Bauer. Mira insisted on having a helmet on the entire time and rode along with anyone who would drive her. Kauffman had her the most and would often stop to ask if she was okay. I love that kid.

My dad and grandparents left and my mom and grandma came over to spoil us yet again. We ended the night with more food and cards.

Dan and I loaded up our kids and Jessie's kids to stay the night at our house.

The next day I walked around aimlessly in the way that only a mom the day after Christmas in a house filled with unwrapped gifts, lots of blankets, and six children can. Then by brother in law came and picked up his kids, plus Ina and Cora. I put Mira to sleep with Granny and then headed to the salon to get my hair chopped off.

Eight inches, gone. It feels so good, but I still surprise myself when I look in the mirror and I haven't quite mastered the curl. There is time.

Instead of doing anything on my to do list, Dan and I took advantage of only having one kid who usually plays in the toy room by herself and watched Jack Ryan and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The next morning Dan went to work and I put away all of the Christmas decorations and found a home for all the new gifts. And didn't change clothes.

Last night Dan and I met The David Nashes (what Ina called them when she was little) for dinner on the plaza. We didn't let the rain get to us as we walked the streets to window shop and grab some coffee. This was the first time we have ever seen them without our kids and I so enjoyed the uninterrupted conversation. They are such a blessing and inspiration in our lives and I can't wait to see them again!

Before dinner we completely cleaned and purged my office. Eight bags to trash and ten bags to donate later, we are now ready to paint! Any color suggestions?

I hope you have a fantastic New Year! 2020 is looking bright! Thank you for reading! You are such a blessing in my life. <3
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