Sunday, July 31, 2016

Branson + My Plan for the Week

Hey there!

We are on our way home from Branson, MO where we had a great time celebrating a full year as a family of four.

We mostly hung out at the hotel to swim, but we did leave for a few adventures: go-karts, bumper boats, and a water park.

Ina has been a little under the weather, but we are hoping a day of rest and car riding is what she needs to feel better.

The week after a weekend away is always totally crazy, so I made it a point to have a plan in place and the shopping list made before we left. The plan is to stop by the store while the girls are still sleeping peacefully on the way home. That's totally going to happen, right?
Here is what the dinner plan is for this week:

  • Sunday: LEFTOVERS: we cooked a lot at the hotel this weekend, so we will have plenty to eat when we get home
  • Monday: skillet chili mac with salad
  • Tuesday: skyline chili over sweet potatoes and roasted brussels
  • Wednesday: Indian Turkey Meatballs with brown rice and roasted broccoli 
  • Thursday: salmon patties with peas and corn
  • Friday: grilled flank steak with chimichurri, roasted potatoes, and salad
  • Saturday: party at Dan's parents' house to celebrate his step-dad's life. We are supposed to bring a Mexican dish and a dessert so I am thinking tamale pie and monster cookies. (Update: Dan's step-dad (Papa Gordon) is currently in hospice care and the doctors have predicted that he doesn't have much time left. It is just heart breaking. However, his spirits are up and we are trying to squeeze in as many visits to see him as possible). 
On the fitness front I am finishing up my last two weeks of Jillian Michael's Body Revolution. Whew. While this was a doozy I am so glad I did it and feel significantly stronger, particularly in my arms, back, and abdomen muscles. 

I hope you have a fantastic week. I will see you again soon!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Things Ina Says: What She Wants to Learn

The other day Ina and I were discussing the possibility of her going to pre-school (which we later found out isn't a possibility for this year). I asked her if she wanted to go to pre-school and she responded, "Yes! I want to learn to read!"

Oh, that is so sweet, I thought, and probably not going to happen when you are three, but still, so sweet.

"That is great!" I eventually said. "What else do you want to learn?

Without even missing a beat she replied, "Back-flips."

At this point I pretty much lost it, but managed to ask, "What else?"

She had obviously put some thought into this, because she started rattling things off:

"I want to learn to drive. I mean, I can drive my Barbie Jeep well, but I want to drive your car."

"I want to paint my finger nails and only get paint on this part (pointing to her nail) and not this part (pointing to her skin)."

"I want to jump way up to the sky! Oh, no, wait, that would be scary!"

"I want to not be scared of wolves." (???)

I was so excited to tell her that she would be able to do all of those things. Very soon. All of those things and so, so much more.

I simultaneously can and cannot wait to watch her. <3

Have a great Friday friends.

Thursday, July 28, 2016



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This week I was thankful for:


  • Blackberries from our bush in the backyard. Enough to make a blackberry crisp!
  • Knowing my babies are safe every night when I put them in bed. 
  • A gift card from work. Big Momma’s going shopping. 


  • Dan mowed the yard. Seriously, I love a freshly mowed yard.
  • I took the girls grocery shopping by myself and no one (including me) had a melt down. Win. 
  • Time to read (my own book) before bed every night. Even if it is just a few pages. 


  • All my friends and family who helped/offered to help for the party. 
  • Everyone who came to Cora’s party. This girl felt the love. 
  • Dan’s sister and her boyfriend helped us load everything from the party in our car and their car, then drove to our house, helped us unload it, and then stayed and played with the girls for a few hours. It was great. 

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  • New church clothes for Cora. So exciting. 
  • Chipotle gift card from our friends for watching their dog. Lunch tastes better when it doesn’t make a line in my budget spreadsheet. 
  • Time to see Dan’s parents and my grandparents


  • Naked baby booties in the baby pool.
  • Slightly re-organizing the toy room. Cora’s new stuff needed its own space. 
  • The last two weeks of JM’s body revolution workout. I have to say I am thankful for this or else I will cry. It is tough cookies. IMG 6066


  • Frozen leftovers. We desperately need to go grocery shopping, but instead I pulled a “mystery” bag of leftovers out of the freezer, which ended up being pasta sauce. A little heat up on the stove and dinner was served!
  • Cora’s first year check-up went great (other than 4 shots - so sad). She finally put on a little bit of weight and the doctor told me she is the cutest one year old she has ever seen. Ha!
  • My dad stopped by for an errand and then stayed to read the girls some books before bed. It was fantastic.

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  • Danielle took the girls to a children’s museum. Ina had a blast.
  • Finally getting my hair trimmed and eyebrows waxed. Things were looking scary over here. 
  • Dan making dinner! Walking in the door to dinner on the table sure is a treat.

We are headed off to Branson tonight for a little family weekend getaway! I hope you have a fantastic end to your week and a blessed weekend. 

Thank you for you.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Happy First Birthday Cora Lee!

Happy first birthday Miss Cora Lee!

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I cannot believe that a year ago she entered this world and our family instantly felt like she was always there. 

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As she has grown, her little personality has started to shine through the baby complacency. 

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She can’t help but smile, even when she is crying. 

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Her red hair screams that she is a different baby than her sister.

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She has very recently decided that she will start screaming as well, mostly when she doesn’t get what she wants or when Ina has decided she is having too much fun with a toy and takes it away. 

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She can clap, wave, dance, and give the best open mouthed kisses that are more like dive bombs if you aren't expecting one. 

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She can entertain herself for an hour or so just by going into the toy room and picking up a toy, holding it for a few minutes, then putting it down and moving on to the next item of inspection. 

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She loves blueberries, Goldfish crackers, sweet potatoes, and pizza and does not usually accept others eating while she is not.

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She crawls with a “limp” with one leg up on her foot, gorilla style, and the other leg dragging behind on her knee. 

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We call her Gingersnap and Sidewinder due to the reasons above. 

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We celebrated her first birthday on Saturday at a local splash park. Once again we were blown away by how incredibly blessed our family is to have so many people we love and love us at our fingertips. My living room is perfect evidence of that love, with new toys scattered about. 

I am looking forward to what the next year brings!

(Thanks to my awesome friend Chessa, who took pictures at the birthday party, edited them, and emailed them to me within a few hours!)

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Hey there!

This week I was thankful for:

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Day 1:

  • Our volunteer squash(?) plant that is thriving right next to our back door. I can’t wait to see what it is.
  • Dan found the last library book we were missing. Why is it that there is always one that is nowhere to be found on the day they are due?
  • Cora laughing at the dinner table with the rest of the family, which of course made us laugh harder, which made her laugh harder, which made us all hysterical.

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Day 2: 

  • Dan’s grandma watched the girls, which I love. Ina always comes home with a new interesting perspective. 
  • Dinner at the Nyberg’s. It is always lovely to catch up with friends. 
  • Jeans day at work!

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Day 3:

  • Shopping at Target with just one child (bonus for her being the one not able to walk)
  • Make-up time with Ina 
  • Celebrating my aunt’s milestone birthday party with some other ladies in my family.

Day 4:

  • Our church’s worship. It is just fantastic. We missed last week from being at the lake, and I was excited to be back.
  • Time to visit with Dan’s step-dad. He is officially in hospice now, which just really stinks. Although I will say that his spirits were up, the same as always, when we saw him.
  • A restful evening. I didn’t get home until 1 AM from the concert, which is far later than my typical 8:30 bedtime. 

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Day 5

  • Ina’s dentist appointment was amazing. These types of things are always hit or miss with kids, and the appointment was a grand slam. She had so much fun she kept on asking if we could go back. 
  • My mom watching the girls this week while Danielle is out of town. Having a support system is priceless.
  • Ina’s last t-ball practice. I am glad we signed her up, but I am also glad it is over. 

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Day 6

  • Help with birthday party decorations from my mom, along with some unsolicited help from Ina. If you see me in the next few weeks I will likely have glitter on my face.
  • The ability to work from home. I love lots of things about my job, but this is one of the best.
  • Pinterest and DIY tutorials that make me believe I am crafty enough to do anything. Ha!

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Day 7:

  • Data to play with at work. I love graphs.
  • Dinner with the Nash family. We sat on the patio, which was hot, but well worth it because the kids could roam around. Makiya noticed how dirty Cora’s feet were getting and washed them off with some wipes. So cute.
  • Cora started clapping! Now I just need to train her to clap to the beat of Happy Birthday. Ha!

Have a good week! What are you thankful for? 

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Hey hey!

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How are things going on your side of the internet? Things are moving along over here, in a crazy sort of way. When I found out I was pregnant with Cora I told myself that I would struggle for the first year and then I would get a grip on things. 

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Well, Cora turns one in a week and a half and I don’t even have a loose grip. Maybe I should double that leeway now that I have two kids? Ha! 

I have to be honest and say that I dropped the ball this week and didn’t write what I was thankful for each day, which, looking back, decreased my mood a noticeable amount. I will pick the ball back up this week, but until then I have some random things I am thankful for: 

  • Coffee that doesn’t get cold - thank you Yeti
  • Family dinners where everyone stays seated and eats what is in front of them. Between Cora wanting me to hold her, Ina “thinking” she is a picky eater, and me getting up to get the 10th thing I forgot to bring to the table, this is seriously a novelty. 
  • Cora picked a toothbrush I was almost finished with to use as a toilet scrubber. I never had to worry about this with Ina, but Cora loves to play with all water - even toilet water.
  • Family. We are surrounded by so many people we love and it is amazing. 
  • Jesus and grace and love and hope. All day everyday. 

What are you thankful for? 

Monday, July 11, 2016

This Week's Plan

Good morning!

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(Cora’s cousin Hallaway is determined to teach her to walk. Sometimes brute force is required.)

This weekend was a whirlwind. Friday morning the girls and I made the last minute decision to go to the lake. We had a blast and I even water skied for approximately 30 seconds before wiping out. We came back yesterday morning and stopped by Dan’s mom’s house for a visit. We made it home late afternoon where I was faced with laundry mountain and all the things I left laying around on Friday when i was frantically packing. 

This week looks like more of the same, so I am excited to have a plan in place. Here is what we are up to:

I am still going through Jillian Michaels Body Revolution. I missed a cardio day over the weekend, which I am sure to regret when the next cardio day arrives. 

Have a lovely week! <3

Thursday, July 7, 2016


This week i was thankful for:

Day 1

  • Checkboxes getting checked. 
  • Finally setting up a college fund for the girls. 
  • Finding a Christian counseling center that bills insurance. 

Day 2

  • Coming home to a clean house.
  • Lunch out to eat with one of my sister-in-laws. The conversation was lovely and I had this amazing brussels sprouts-arugula salad with bacon, cranberries, toasted almonds and a honey-dijon dressing that I am going to attempt to recreate soon. 
  • Catching up with friends. IMG 5990

Day 3

  • Having a rainy lazy day to not to anything.
  • The girls playing together. Hearing them laugh at the same time puts a smile on my face. 
  • Pizza. Sometimes it just makes sense. 

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Day 4

  • Finishing a book. 
  • A walk before church.
  • Family get togethers at the park. Genius. 

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Day 5

  • Slow mornings.
  • Visiting my grandparents the same time as my sister without even planning it. We must just think alike. 
  • Friends inviting us over to watch fireworks. 

Day 6

  • The fact that I am not 38 weeks pregnant right now. At Ina’s swim school there is a mom who is due on the exact day I was due with Cora last year and every time I look at her I am reminded about how incredibly hot and uncomfortable I was those last few weeks. 
  • Fresh garden tomatoes. Is there anything better?
  • Our church.

Day 7

  • Our financial advisor visiting our house so that we didn’t have to find care for the girls and leave them after leaving work all day. Speaking of that, apparently Dan had told Ina that our meeting was important so that one day mommy and daddy didn’t have to work. Well, she took that very literally, and was so excited for the afternoon telling me over and over again that I wouldn’t have to go to work after the meeting. Then, after the meeting was over, she looked over our paperwork, asked me how to spell “no work” and after some intense writing, said, “OK Momma, you don’t have to work anymore.” Broke my heart. 
  • The abundance of kale in my garden. I ate it three times yesterday. 
  • Work is starting to pick up, with some more exciting projects on the horizon. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

My Plan for the Week

Hey there! I hope you are having a great holiday weekend so far.

Friday night Dan stayed home to work on the boat while the girls and I went to a dinner playdate at my friend Liz’s house. Ina played cops and robbers, Cora found lots of stuff to chew on, and I sipped on a glass of wine while having adult conversation. Everyone was happy. 

Saturday will go down as my laziest day of the year. We read, watched TV, napped, and lounged. I did made dinner, but when our friends stopped by and we starting talking about a local pizza place, we made a last minute decision to pick some up instead. 

We like leftovers anyways.

Today we are back in our normal swing of church, grocery shopping, and then a holiday family get together. 


Fitness: I start the third phase of Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution. Eeek.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Investing It Forward

Awhile ago my dad stopped by after he had cleaned out an old safety deposit box at the bank. He found my birth certificate (now I have two!) and a few savings bonds my grandparents had given me when I was little. Every year my mom’s mom and dad gave us kids a bond for Christmas. They started out as $50 bonds and then eventually progressed to $100. 

I had already cashed out the majority of the bonds my grandparents had given me over the years to go towards the down payment on our house, but as it turns out there were a few unaccounted for. The amount didn’t add up to a whole lot, but I wanted to do something special with the money.  I decided I would use it to start Ina’s college savings account. I added the bonds to a little pile of cash Ina received for her first birthday and placed them in my “to-do” pile underneath the breadbox in the kitchen and there they have sat until yesterday.

In defense of my procrastination, we are working Dave Ramsey’s plan, and saving for college isn’t until Baby Step #5. Now that we are debt free (#2), have an emergency fund saved (#3), and have a plan(ish) of putting 15% of our income towards retirement (#4), I felt confident in opening up a 529 for the girls. 

I grabbed the stack of bonds and stopped by the bank on my way to work. The nice gentleman at the tellar booth smiled at me as I walked up and told him I would like to deposit some cash and bonds. He asked for my driver’s license, which of course, I didn’t have. After searching in disbelief and only coming up with gift cards and Trader Joe’s receipts, I remembered I had moved it to my backpack the night we went to the Royals game. I offered up my CostCo card in its place, but was told it wasn’t needed.

The teller gave me a weird smile, and I felt like I needed to prove to him that those were my bonds. “My grandpa gave those to me when I was a kid.” 

“Oh” he said as he went to ask a superior if he could deposit bonds with out ID. 

As he left I looked at the bonds and remembered my grandpa proudly handing them out at Christmas. As a kid a savings bond that you can use ten years in the future isn’t exactly the most exciting present (we got plenty of toys as well), but even then I understood how important and special that gift was. 

Thinking of my grandpa made me smile. Gerald was his name. He died of cancer when I was in high school, so while I remember so many things about him, those memories have faded over the years. As I was standing there at the bank, a few came back to me.

He played solitaire. He was an artist and drew a really good Popeye and Mickey Mouse. In his retirement he purchased a sail boat and learned how to use it. He got fully dressed every morning (including shoes), completely changed back into his pajamas to take an afternoon nap, and then fully dressed again when he woke up. He was smart and hard working and worked as a teacher and then as a superintendent. He valued education. 

When the tellar came back and informed me he would deposit the bonds after asking a few security questions, I had this weird sense of completion, like I had finished something that was started a long time ago. I was literally giddy walking out of the bank, knowing there couldn’t be a more perfect thing to do with the money that was invested wisely for me when I was a kid. 

Now I will be investing it wisely for my kids. Hopefully they continue to pay it forward. 


A few college savings resources:

- Financial Peace University

- Pros and Cons of a 529 Savings Plan

- The 529 we chose 

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