Friday, January 30, 2015

Confession Friday!

I'm baaaack!

Well. I was all ready to jump on here and be excited, because for the first time in three weeks our entire family was feeling well for a whole day. Then Grace woke up this morning with a fever saying, "I'm sooo thirsty." Seriously? I give up! This would be round 6 for us in the never-ending sickness saga. I'm homeschooling next year. Not really. But for real. This is ridiculous.

But at least I am feeling okay once again, so I can stop neglecting the blog. It's about time for a Confession Friday...it's been too long.

 Reagan dropped my camera on the floor last night, and I had a panic attack. (Noooo! I'm going to get blamed for this!!) I turned it on and took a quick picture to see if it still worked, and this is what I caught....

Ahahaha...poor kid. He knew he'd gone and done it! Of course, he wasn't in trouble after I saw this picture. :D

I confess that I could never own a vehicle again that doesn't open the door for me. I have seriously tried pressing buttons on my keyring to open the front door of our house. Haha, whoops. Habit.

I confess that sometimes...I am not smarter than my preschooler's homework. "What is this paper asking me to do?? I don't understand. I am an idiot!" Not good for the self-esteem.

I confess that I finally treated myself to some high-end make up and realized that honestly...it's not better than the (good) drug store products I use. At all. Maybe I'm just really good at finding the best drug store stuff. Or maybe paying more for something is a great placebo for the population. I'm not buying it. Literally. Fool me once!

I confess that the most exciting thing that happened in our house for a while was that Eric began parting his hair on the other side. I'm not even exaggerating. That was a rough week.

I confess that I had to have the baby delivery talk with Evelyn last night. The real "HOW do they come out??" conversation. I've been side-stepping it for two years and giving her the little kid answers, and she was NOT buying it anymore. Haha. Hopefully she isn't too traumatized. I might be. :)

I confess that Grace and I had a huge argument this week over this little get up....


I mean, I'm all for choosing your battles, but I could not send my child to school this way. "They MATCH because they are FLOWERS!!" she insisted. No my dear, they do not. And let's not start on the socks with sandals...in the middle of winter, no less. She tried. Haha. We settled on her at least wearing the shirt - once it was turned around the right way. :) What a mess!

I confess that Evelyn came up to me while I was making dinner this week and started talking her head off: "Today at lunch recess was like, the best recess ever. I was playing with Holly and Lucas and Lucas was chasing us and pretending to eat us. It was like...the best playtime I've had in years. Today was the perfect day of school." She was dead serious, and I was trying so hard not to laugh. "That's awesome, Ev!"

I confess that the most head scratching joke someone can make to you when you are pregnant is, "You know how that happens, right?"  No, I don't. Enlighten me.

I confess that all three of my children have simultaneously become bottomless pits and I cannot keep any of them FULL. They finish a snack and immediately want another. They finish a meal and they want something else. Let's not even talk about the drinking going on over here. Not that kind. I'm officially afraid of the teenage years.

Because I have pictures of the other two....


Both of the girls have had dental work done this month. I confess that I was convinced that Evelyn would throw a giant fit and not let them come near her with the scary tools for a filling...but nope! She was a champ. Look at me underestimating my own children.

I confess that there is so much fun stuff happening at the end of next month, and I won't let myself buy tickets or plan for any of it.  It will be BABY TIME. Bah. One month to go, and I'm not ready yet! I've had a couple of scares with crazy contractions lately. Charlotte, you cannot come until everything is perfectly planned and laid out and washed and ready and bought, okay? ;)

I confess that I am SO ready to kiss January goodbye and never look back. Looking forward to a fresh start - and hopefully a healthier one - in February! See you on the other side!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Is it February Yet?

So many things I want to talk about. So many things I want to share and recap and all of that. And all that my brain will produce at the end of the day is, "poop." Because if my life for the past week could be summed up in one word, that would be it. Since I'm fairly certain you don't want the details on the latest wave of sickness to hit the Robert kids last week (or at least two of them) I guess I don't really have much material to drum up here.

I'm just putting this out in the cosmos for anyone who might be listening...thank you for thinking of our family and making sure we're staying on our toes this year by granting us every illness under the sun. We appreciate being among the elect. So...it's totally cool if we could uh...move on to someone else and grant them the honor next time. No no, I mean it. We don't want to hoard all of the lessons in patience and endurance and gratefulness. If there is one thing we don't want to be, it's selfish. Thank you...and have a nice day.

I spent an entire week stuck inside of my house without so much as stepping my big toe out of the front door, so you'll have to excuse me if I seem a little nutty.

I really do wish I had something of value to share today, but I don't. I haven't even picked up a camera in what feels like ages, for obvious reasons. No one wants to see our mess. This is literally one of the only pictures in our iPhoto photostream for the month of January:

Evelyn brought this poor doll to us and said, "Hey she has hair like Grandpa Greg!"
We laughed. 
And took a picture. :)

In the middle of it all, and as I was stuck in the Robert family infirmary, I have turned my attention to getting ready for baby. (Shopping!) I have a wishlist about a mile long of things I still want to get for the child. Things we need, things I want - things that just seem fun because I can and this might be my last baby ever. (Eric is seriously trying to butter me up to #5 already. Baha.) I think I'm done, though. Pretty sure. So I'm just going with the "last chance" philosophy so I can get some cool stuff.

We are 34 weeks along now, and we had yet another doctor's visit this week. Pointless if you ask me, but whatev. She's still kicking up a storm in there. Still giving me heartburn, the little sweetheart. :) And also...weird dry skin patches on my arms...not sure what is up with that. This has seriously been the most bizarre pregnancy ever for me, which I'm pretty sure I've mentioned half a dozen times already. So many strange symptoms that I've never had before. I don't know what kind of child I'm cultivating in there, but she's nothing like her siblings so far, haha. 

I actually did have plans to take some photos of the kids this week, but then Grace tripped on the way to school and caught her fall with her face. On the concrete. And she seriously looks like she has road rash on her forehead, nose, and cheeks. Poor thing. She's sporting the Rudolph look at the moment, which is a little late, sister...and not so great for pictures. So there goes my one plan to help us get back to "normal" around here. Ah well. There's always February, right?

So as not to leave you with the impression that life has totally sucked so far in 2015, I will say that I have enjoyed all of the cuddles and family time that the last couple of weeks have given us. One good hug from my kids has some sort of mystical power to calm everything else around me. And I'm still holding them a little tighter these days. A big "thank you!" is in order to our moms who totally stepped up do whatever they could to help while I was home with the sick ones. No, it wasn't all bad. Being sick is not fun, but being forced to slow down for a little while? Not entirely awful. 

Still, I can't resist posting this picture....


It just cracks me up! :D

I hope that you are having a good day wherever you are, and that you can always try to look on the sunny side! I'm trying my best. Can you tell? :) Later taters!



Monday, January 12, 2015

Whose Side is God On, Anyway?

Well. These are not the kind of Mondays I like to blog about. There have been a few in the five or so years that we documenting our life here. The kind of Mondays where whatever we did over the weekend just seems insignificant and irrelevant, because there is just too much hurting around us.

I know not everyone who visits us here will know what's going on, so the very condensed version is that our community suffered a great loss over the weekend. There was a very bad accident involving girls that were much too young on Saturday evening. When you live in a community the size of the one we do, it's almost impossible not to know everyone in some way or another - especially when you have lived in the same place for nearly your entire life. Even if you don't know each person individually, it's likely you know someone in their family. Nearly everyone is affected in some way in the face of a tragedy.

Our sincerest sympathies are with the families who lost two beautiful young ladies this weekend, and we are praying for healing and peace for the girls who are currently recovering in the hospital. Life is precious, and it is short - for all of us. But for some, it seems much too short.


There is a lot I could say today about darkness and light. About which "side" God is on, and how we all have a common enemy that seeks to destroy everything we know and love. There is a lot I could say about spiritual warfare and why we often shake our fists at the wrong source - the very one who wishes to grant us peace and comfort. We make light of the evil around us, saying things like "See you in Hell!" thinking that it's cute. And we blame God for everything that goes wrong.

Why is that? I have no idea. It's all very sad.

Today I have one sick child at home with a stomach virus, one kid who colored with markers all over my new rug, and one who took a pair a scissors and cut a chunk out of his sister's hair. For real, our first few hours this morning have been awesome.

Thank you, God for our beautiful mess. I'm not even mad. I've got all of my babies here, safe and sound.

For all of those who are hurting today, no matter what the reason, I hope that you will seek solace from the source of peace that loves you, cares about you, and who knows you better than anyone. Even if you aren't sure that source exists. Even if you have doubts and fears. Ask him to reveal himself to you, and I promise he will. In some way, he will. Perhaps the biggest misconception about God is that people think he expects perfection from us before we come to him. Even our churches do a rotten job of enabling this lie. What God really wants...is you. Just you. As you are. With all of your junk and your baggage. He wants you at the very moment you realize you can't do it alone. He wants to be the one to take those burdens away. Give it to God.

Go ahead and have a chat with him. He's listening. He's on your side.

In the meantime, we will grieve with you, pray for you, and help you in any way we can. What is one way God shows us mercies? By using other people to walk the road with us. If you are reading this today, it's not a mistake, so don't hesitate to ever share anything you need with myself or with Eric. We have certainly had help in our own lives, and we consider it a privilege to help others in return. Love you, friends.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Nursing Saga :)

If you don't like boob talk, this probably isn't the post for you.

But first!

We had our doctor's appointment on Monday, which went very well. Charlotte is still looking practically perfect in every way. :)

Updated pictures-of-pictures.

Charlotte sends you kisses!


But at said appointment I received some shot or another in my right arm...which is the arm I do everything with and was told that was a good thing, because it would be sore and needed to be moved around. Well. Yeah. They weren't kidding. I can barely lift my dang arm, and I can't sleep on my right side either, which is incredibly annoying since I am already limited in the ways I can sleep. Our dryer went out yesterday, and you should have seen me trying to drag a bazallion pounds of wet clothes, two kids, and my pregnant belly to my parent's house to dry our laundry with one good arm - if you can call my clumsy arm a "good" arm. Thank goodness while I was over there it was discovered that one of the tires on my van was flat as a pancake, and my dad fixed that for me. When it rains it pours, haha.

It probably wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't been averaging 3-4 hours of sleep per night, which if you've been there done that, you know makes everything in life seem way worse. The sleep deprivation thing is kind of something I brought upon myself, which brings me to the point of today's post.

Nursing. It's a beautiful thing, it really is. I've been incredibly LUCKY over the past 5+ years to nurse three babies with barely any complications whatsoever...just one infection when Reagan was small that knocked me out for a few days, but...still...not too bad. My kids have always been champion nursers, and since I stay home, there was never really a reason for me not to do it.

With almost a badge-of-honor, I had been able to say, "I've been nursing nonstop since June 2009!" Most friends grabbed their chests in a horrified sort of way when learning that, haha. I certainly wasn't breaking any world records, but even I was surprised when I would sit and think about it.

When it came time, the girls were ridiculously easy to wean. I didn't have to do a thing to get them to stop nursing. By the time the next baby came, they were barely nursing anyway, and a couple of nights away from mom while I was in the hospital was all it took to stop completely. And then there was Reagan. Reagan, Reagan, Reagan.

My son is older than either of the girls were when they were weaned. But since turning two, Reagan wanted to nurse MORE than ever before. What the heck?! It had gotten to the point that I couldn't sit down during the day without being mauled, and we had many many nights that he wouldn't sleep a wink unless he was attached to his mom...all...night...long. Aside from being annoying, it was becoming incredibly uncomfortable for this pregnant mama. Tears were shed, from both of us, when I was in so much pain (mostly back pain!) and nothing would make my son sleep except for the cause of that pain. It sucked. It needed to END.

But how do you get a kid that's so attached to something that's attached to YOU to stop? Unlike a bottle or pacifier, the usual tricks were not going to work this time. I couldn't hide them. I couldn't throw them away, mail them to other babies, or tie them to helium balloons and watch them fly away.  There would be no cutting the tips off or pouring hot sauce all over myself. :)

This kid was seriously addicted, and it was going to take something drastic. But what??

I turned to two totally reliable sources...Google and YouTube. Turns out that something was something I didn't think would actually work in a million years. "He is way too smart for this," I thought as I taped band-aids over myself. "Owies? Is he really going to believe that I suddenly have giant owies on my boobs?" No, surely he wouldn't.



But he did. I wish I had his face on tape the first time he saw them. Hahaha....

I warned him ahead of time. I groaned and said, "Mommy can't nurse, I have owies."

Of course, he smiled and looked at me like I had lost my mind. But when he lifted my shirt and saw the band-aids there, he stopped dead in his tracks. "Ow - owies?" he said, confused.

"Yes," I said. "Mommy can't nurse today." I was feeling equal parts amused and guilty at that point that I was lying to my kid, but seriously, I was willing to do anything!

Without much hesitation at all, he put my shirt down, turned towards the tv, and started watching cartoons. No way. There was no way it was going to be that easy. Months and months of frustration and that was all it would take?

Reagan wouldn't even nap without nursing before, but now suddenly, with just a couple of fabric bandages he was (mostly) over it. There have been times he forgets and I have to show him again. With hardly any fuss at all, he just accepts it. I suppose kids understand "owies."

But some old habits die hard. Reagan has spent his entire life with the same bedtime routine. He always nursed before bed. Now suddenly that has been completely disrupted. The poor kid didn't know what to do with himself at first, and even I wasn't sure how this was going to play out. That's where we are now.

It takes Reagan foooorever to fall asleep. Now instead of nursing, he lays next to me and rubs my pokey-outie belly button. :D It seems to do the trick, except that it literally takes me hours to get him to finally give up. If he's snoozing by midnight, I am extremely lucky. And then, he's up and down throughout the night. Once he wakes, it takes him forever to get back to sleep. We are slowly but surely getting there, but it hasn't been easy. I can't even get frustrated, because I don't blame the kid for feeling a little topsy-turvy at the moment. I'm a walking zombie, but at least I'm not a nursing zombie. :)

I haven't nursed a single day in 2015. I can't believe it! I wish I could say that I "have my body back!" but I don't, haha. Still pregnant. And in two months I get to start allll over again. But a two month reprieve? I'm taking it. Part of me is sad that the chain has been broken for a little while, but it couldn't be helped. When nursing becomes less of a bond and more of a resentment, you know it is time to stop.


It's so funny, but since this whole thing started I have had more than one person ask me questions about nursing and if it is "weird" to nurse a kid as old as Reagan is. My short answer is, "nope." It's not weird. You'd think it might be, but it's not. It really feels totally normal when it's all you've ever done. I encourage anyone who nurses to do it as long as possible! Let your kids self-wean if you can. MOST of the time, it's not going to last forever anyway. Evie was practically over it by the time she turned a year old. Funny thing is, it's mostly BOYS that I hear have a hard time letting it go. But if you ever find yourself in the same situation that I did - band-aids. I'm telling you. It's strange, but it works!

And that's my nursing story for the day. I'm sure it was important for you to know all of this, haha. But that is our life at the moment, and it's kind of a huge milestone for this mom! This is a family blog after all, and that's what's new in this family. :) Eric finds the whole thing quite amusing. And no, I never showed him my band-aids boobs. In case you were wondering. :D

Okay. That's enough over-sharing for one day. Hope you all are having a good day!

Monday, January 5, 2015

First Weekend Wrap Up - 2015!

Seems so weird to include New Year's Eve on this weekend wrap up, but that's just about where we left off! I gotta say, this year hasn't been too bad so far. We're only five days in, but not too bad.

We spent New Year's at my parent's house with the kids. My mom makes up a big mostaccioli dinner with salad and bread and all of that yummy stuff, and well, you don't have to twist my arm to get me to come over for that. They had me at PASTA. :)



The kids pretty much kept themselves entertained for the evening. They had party blowers and giant balloons, and they were set. We didn't make it to midnight, nor did we expect to. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure that Eric and I have ever made it to midnight since we've been married, haha.

What I had really been looking forward to was the next day. This year for Christmas my parents gave us one of the best gifts ever - a gift card and a free night out for a real date while they kept the kids for a sleepover. I can't even tell you how excited I was. I seriously spent most of Christmas break counting down the days to when we could use that offer as soon as possible! So on New Year's Day we sent the kids to grandma and grandpa's while I tried glamming up to the best of my ability in my pregnant state (not very successfully, haha) and we set out for a night on the town!

This was Eric ready for our HOT date. :D

I bet you can guess how this story is going to play out.

Our evening started out very nicely. Even though we were told it would be an hour wait for dinner, in only about 20 minutes we were cozying up at a table and enjoying some conversation. Unfortunately we are no longer very creative in the date department so we still hadn't figured out what we wanted to do after we ate, haha. What is this life without kids? To be honest, most of any of the ideas we came up with sounded like a lot of work...a lot of exhausting work. We could go anywhere and do anything and stay out as late as we wanted, and all we really wanted to do was go home and watch a movie. :) After a quick trip to Target (woot) we did just that.

It's okay to be boring when that's what you want to be, right? We're cool with that.

ANYWAY. Eric and I both got the worst night's sleep ever. Admittedly, mine was not because I missed the kids. It was because I'm pregnant and I couldn't get comfortable for the life of me. But poor Eric does not like to be away from his babies. He worries that they are upset or that they want to come home, and that guy just can't relax until all of his children are all nicely collected back under his own roof. Cracks me up...it's pretty cute. We were happy to have a nice breakfast together the next morning and then pick up the kids for a marathon two days of running errands with the whole crew in tow the rest of the weekend. We paid for that one night out, let me tell you, haha. It actually wasn't that bad. Yes, it's sort of like herding cats in a public place, but they're getting a little better at going with the flow.

On Sunday we had fun at cousin Austin's firehouse birthday party. Austin recently turned the big number "5," and to celebrate he had a unique party at a real firehouse.




There was cake and presents and a pinata and all of the usual party fare, but then there was the really cool part...



...rides on the firetrucks. It was freezing cold outside, but luckily the kids got to ride IN the firetruck and not actually ON it, haha.



We all had a really great time, and it was a super fun way to end a long weekend! We've had Eric home with us quite a bit this holiday season, and it feels strange to be sending him back to work today. The kiddos are back to school tomorrow, and then I guess it's back to life as usual. I was ready for the Christmas stuff to be over, but I don't think I'm ready for the vacation part to be over just yet. ;) Especially since the weather decided to turn from pleasant to ARCTIC TUNDRA. Boo.

It's also time for another baby doctor appointment with ultrasound this afternoon. I actually missed my last regular appointment because of lovely pink eye, so it's been a whole month since we've checked up on Charlotte. Can't wait to see her face again! I am 32 weeks now, and I really can't believe she will be here in less than two months. (Due date is March 1st!) Fastest pregnancy for me - by far. In some ways I am ready for her to come, and in others I am so not. I pray...hard...that she is a good sleeper. Haha. I just don't know that I could feasibly juggle this life on no sleep, like the way I've been doing for the past few days...but...more on that craziness tomorrow!

Oooo...foreshadowing.

Later gaters!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

So long, 2014

Ah...it's like taking that first step into freshly fallen snow, or cracking open the spine of a new book. Endings always make me sad, but beginnings are fun! 2015 is such a nice number, isn't it? I like it.

The past year of our lives was pretty spectacular, I have to say. I honestly have no clue how we are going to top it - a banner year. It did not come without it's share of heartache and trouble. Some of that I have never even shared here and don't honestly intend to. Not entirely our story to tell. But for the five of us - Eric, me, Evelyn, Grace, and Reagan I have to say that we were very, very blessed in 2014.

Eric started the year with the opportunity to travel to Haiti with The Pitch. It was a life-changing experience for him, and I would be shocked if he didn't spend part of his 2015 there. He's been trying to get back ever since. We continue to support The Pitch back home, but I know he wants to see some of those kiddos again!


Eric was also asked to speak at various engagements this year and was featured in some promotional materials for the school of business at SIU-E. (Oh my gosh, ask him about that some time, haha.)



I am so proud of the work that he has done, including his advancements and promotions at work. In 2015 he will FINISH his Master's degree and also earn his CFP certification. These are goals that Eric has been working on for several years, and it's one of the reasons he couldn't wait for this year to come. It's going to be a big one for him. :) And hello - no more night classes! Hallelujah!

March 7, 2014 was a historic day for our family...it was the day we changed our family tree.


That morning our family gathered around and hit "submit" on our very last student loan payment. We had spent the first five-and-a-half years of our marriage paying off over $80,000 in debt. Holy moly, what could we have done with that extra $80,000?! Haha. It's something we hope our children will never have to ask themselves. (Student loans are the devil, kids. Go to in-state public schools, for real!!)


A month later, we traveled to Nashville, TN to do our debt free scream on the Dave Ramsey show. The whole experience seems surreal now. It was something we had only ever talked and dreamed about, and 2014 saw it happen. Pinch. Me.

Evelyn graduated from preschool, a bona fide genius...or so they tell me. ;) They sure as heck weren't letting her stick around for another year as we had planned. It was off to Kindergarten for this girl!


At the start of summer we were hit with a roller coaster of emotions as we thought we were experiencing a miscarriage. It would be our second loss in less than eight months. While I do think we lost one precious baby, it turned out that another hung on and we were super blessed to discover that we WERE still expecting!!



Later of course we learned that baby was a girl, and we gave her a name. I can't wait for Charlotte to join our family this year, and neither can the rest of the crew. As Gracie would say, "I can't wait to meet Chaw-let Wose!"

Speaking of Gracie...as summer ended we sent TWO of our children bouncing off to school. Grace fulfilled one of her personal goals in becoming a preschooler. :) And Evelyn began attending a full day Kindergarten program. This is some big stuff for the young ones in our crew!



We were already having a great year, but for the ENORMOUS cherry on my sundae, I finally...after years and years of planning...got to go to DISNEY WORLD!! I still can't get over what a great vacation that was. I mean, I knew it would be. But it was, it really was. I'm pretty sure that made my LIFE, so I can just cease to exist now. Haha.


There were so many other wonderful things...holidays, birthdays, amazing family memories...all sprinkled in amongst some of the "bigger" events. I'll never forget my sister coming home from her military service to surprise my mom, or some of the reunions we've had with old friends.




We will also never forget those that we lost this year, particularly our Grandpa Robert. I know that so many of our friends had some great losses in their families this year, and we continue to pray for peace and comfort in those families.

2014 was definitely the year for met goals in our house. Dreams came true. I don't care how cheesy that sounds, it's the truth! Eric keeps telling me that 2015 is going to be even better, and I still can't figure out how that's going to be. :) But hey, I won't complain if it is! 

If there is one lesson I have learned in my life thus far, it's not to plan too much for anything...and that's saying something coming from an OCD planner. But I've shared time and time again about how some of our very best laid plans have gone awry in the past. At the time it can be disappointing, but in retrospect you can often see how things work out for the best. So going into 2015, I'm trying to remain intentional with our goals, all while leaning on God to direct our paths in each decision we make. At some point I learned to "just surrender, sister, it's not going to go the way you think, anyway." :) So I will leave you with this verse for the New Year:

Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

Happy New Year!



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