Top 8 As Of Late

We have had quite a bit go on in the last few months!  Lots to catch up on!

(1) We took (survived?) a family trip to Puerto Vallarta again this year!  Anyone who has traveled with kids knows it's a lot of work for a little bit of relaxing--especially considering Evelyn and I got some sort of icky food issues--but it's all about making memories, right?!  We enjoyed some time at the pool, lots of play time with grandma and grandpa, good food and some new restaurants, and a little bit of exploring on the town.

(2) Other big news in our house is that we now have a three year old living under our roof!  What in the world.  Avery continues to amaze me at how smart and sweet she is.  She is also becoming quite the extravert and taking after her daddy in many ways!  She loooooooves "school" (pre-pre school) that she goes to a couple of mornings a week and just adores her teacher.  She'd live at the library if I let her.  That kid also never, ever tires of stories.  Made up ones.  By me.  And her dad.  It's so funny... without fail, whenever I ask her what her story should be about, she names a couple of animals, and when I ask what should happen in the story, she says, "The dragon and the puppy wanted to go to the park, but their mommy said, 'Not tooodaaaay!'"  So we do that story nightly.  She gets two stories before bedtime, so her other request as of late is a story about mommy, daddy, Avery, and Evelyn going to the beach.  She's in her dream little world as I describe building sand castles and splashing in the water.  We are learning and talking about God, that he loves us sooo much and is always with us and that he answers our prayers.  Deep spiritual truths for a 3 year old!  I'm not sure if this is a common toddler trait, but one distinctive characteristic about Avery is that she likes to correct people.  Like, if I say, "Avery, go put this in the bin," she'll say, "It's not a bin, it's a bucket!" etc etc ETC!!  Nothing gets by her.  Anyway, I'm not sure yet if this is a positive or negative quality--I guess it could go either way depending--but it either cracks me up or worries me that she'll be doing this to her chemistry teachers someday. :-)

We are working on potty training (Avery) at the moment!  My game plan for potty training was to wait as long as possible and then just go cold turkey.  So about a week ago I realized we had no plans for like 5 days in a row, so Avery's diapers "were all gone."  The only ones that were left were for Evelyn!  (We had been talking for a long time about how her diapers were going to run out soon.)  Anyway, it took about 3 wet accidents for her to get the hang of #1, and well, #2 is a whole different story for which I will spare you the details.  All in all, though, it's going faaaar better than expected, so I'll take it. 

Candyland themed!

I let the girls fill their buckets with candy as a party favor.

We also had a small celebration with Matt's side in Cedar Rapids at Chuck-E-Cheese.

This is Avery's class on Valentine's Day. 

We attempted a soccer class at church with the next door neighbor Zoe. 

And I just had to put this in here.  I cannot believe how much Avery looks like Matt when he was young.  Can I get a "what the heck"?!

(3) And then there's Evelyn.  There is something about cuddling with, baby-talking with, holding and kissing your own baby that is just like nothing else in the wold world.  I told Matt something like, "If every baby we had would be as sweet as Evelyn, I'd have a million!"  She WAS saying "Hi," but since has refused.  She used to be an avid nurser, like just LOVED to nurse and would do it all day and all night if I let her, but recently she has become quite fond of real food! (But she is still nursing too mom, don't worry. :)  So anyway that's been fun to let her try new things.  She loves loves loves being around people and in on the action and she gets super fussy and bored when it's just me and her if I'm not entertaining her!  I just love her to pieces and am so grateful God put her in our family!!     

(4) A couple of months ago, Matt and I got a little get-away to Vail.  We enjoyed awesome food, some quality time together, and a nice hotel... what more could you ask for?!  Oh, except for your mom to get your 9-month old to sleep through the night?!  Done!!  Yep, my mom got Evelyn to finally SLEEP at night, all night! Turns out all it took was a little ignoring and flipping her on her tummy.  Badda bing badda boom! (Not quite like that, but you get the picture.)

In January we celebrated FIVE years of marriage.  We ordered one of our wedding cakes to celebrate as well as spent some time with a few friends in our bridal party.

(5) Avery and Evelyn are just beginning to really play together.  It's like the cutest thing IN THE WORLD. 

(6) Grandma broke her ankle, so we were recently in Cedar Rapids visiting her in the hospital.  She since has had surgery and is feeling much better!  You can tell from the second picture that Avery was a little shaken up seeing Grandma not doing well!

(7) My FIRST NEPHEW Cooper was born!  Maybe this will begin a streak of boys... or maybe not!  Only time (lots of time, I might add, wink wink) will tell!

(8) I don't normally talk about my job on this blog--it's mostly devoted to family life--but it has been a good year teaching at the college.  I espeically enjoyed teaching a class called Teaching English Language Learners to students who are studying to become teachers.  Another highlight of the semester was presenting at a conference with one of my colleagues on the topic of the transition for non-native English speakers from ESL courses to college level English. Anyway, my work continues to be a fun 10-hour/week hobby for me--with summers off, of course!

Speaking of... it's almost here and I couldn't be more excited.  I cannot wait for Clear Lake, taking the girls to the pool, going to parks!!! Just imagine! 


Evelyn - 7 month pictures

So grateful I get to wake up to this sweet face and these chubby cheeks each day!  So grateful for this baby.  Thanks photographybynealy for another amazing shoot. :)


Our Life As Of Late

Oh my goodness, it has been a LONG time since I’ve posted!  I could make something up about how I am so busy teaching my children Greek or grinding my own wheat or something like that, but truth be told, I’ve chosen to spend my “free time” on Facebook or Pinterest! J  But perhaps (perhaps!) in the new year I’ll devote some more of my time to Our Minnesota Family!

Speaking of... here are a few of our Christmas pics, compliments of photographybynealy. :)

Anyway, I’ll begin with our Avery Sue who is ALMOST THREE. She is something else.  I’m sure everybody’s 2.75 year old is contstantly cracking them up, but verily verily Avery is so funny.  Jahnaya told me the other day after she had said something outrageous, “I hope you write this stuff down because you’re going to forget and it’s too funny to not remember!”  So I suppose I’ll have to document her antics (NYResolution #1?!). But she is really growing up to be a very sweet, thoughtful, gentle young lady.  She is a very considerate big sister (most of the time).  She is super dramatic and likes to explain things with tons of hand gestures and longer-than-necessary descriptive explanations.  Two days a week Avery attends a short pre-pre-school program for 2s and 3s.  She LOVES “school” and has really come out of her shell in a lot of ways due to it.  Avery also recently completed a ballet class with one of her friends, Julianna!  It was about the cutest thing ever to see her prancing around out there… but I’ll tell you one thing—that girl lives and breathes dancing. She has been spending a lot of time with the next door neighbor, Zoe!  And last, she loves to be silly with her daddy when he gets home from work!

Julianna and Avery and "Baby Ballerinas"
Snow Day with Zoe
Evelyn-ey-Sue, as we have so pet-named her, is THE SWEETEST LITTLE BABY I’ve ever met.  She’s 7.5 months old.  She has two little bottom teeth sticking out.  She LOVES her big sister, daddy, and mommy, and pretty much just loves looking at and “talking to” people!  While Avery got a little scared of strangers at this age, Evelyn liked to study them and talk to them. She still loves to nurse and lets us know when she’s hungry (Eeee!!! Daaa daaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!! Etc!).  Just like Avery, Evelyn likes to be carried around the house and involved in everything, like making dinner or doing laundry.  Bottom line is I’m cherishing these baby days because I know they go by quickly; I’ll like blink and she’ll be 25! J 

I guess I should update on Matt, too!  He’s still working at Boston Scientific and recently got a new position at their Maple Grove location working on a new therapy.  He’s had some fun travel opportunities through work lately, including Belguim, Salzburg, South Carolina, Orlando, and Miami.  In his free time, he plays with the girls and lovingly completes things on my honey-do list! 
Let’s see!  Then there’s me!  I am enjoying teaching two days/week.  I typically just teach in the ESOL department, but this past semester I taught a new class in Century College’s Education program called Teaching English Language Learners.  My students were aspiring educators and paras.  It was a lot of work, but I personally learned a lot and enjoyed sharing my passion for teaching with others.  Next semester I’ll be just teaching 1 class again which will be a nice (little bit slower) change of pace.  I’m also still doing MOPS and my mom’s book club—both of which I could not live without. 

We just finished up our last Christmas celebrations.  This year, the Waites came up to our house to celebrate mid-December, and the Rebarcaks just had our Christmas last night at Nealy's house. 
Elizabeth and Evelyn

Everyone in their new Christmas Eve jammies

Grandma got all five girls matching jammies!

Another jammie pic! Can you tell we've been lazy around here lately?!

We have had some very exciting times on both sides of our family.  LeAnn and Mike just had their third daughter, Elizabeth, born in October, and Brady and Jahnaya just had their first, Kinsey!  I had the privilege of being at Kinsey’s birth on December 17 and it was SO exciting.  She had a long (24+ hour) labor at home and seriously rocked it.  They are adjusting to life with a newborn, and I am getting my tiny baby fix in the form of a niece—which should hold me over for a few more months.  Wink wink!! ;)

Baby Kinsey! 



We have really amazing neighbors.  There are tons of little kiddos, including a little girl Avery's age next door and another little girl Avery's age the next house down.  It's so nice to be able to walk outside after nap time and have an impromptu playdate! 

Here are a couple of pictures from this summer:


Fun with the Cousins

We've been spending lots of weekends at the lake this summer!  I haven't taken a ton of pictures there yet this summer, but here's one of the three girls in their swimsuits, ready to run out to the beach to play in the sand:

Avery and Evelyn have also gotten to see their Iowa cousins this summer, thanks to them visiting! Here's a picture of the girls at the Como Zoo.


Staying Sane :)

(I wrote this a couple of weeks ago but am just getting a chance to "publish" it...)

I will be the first to tell you that having two kids - especially a toddler and a newborn - is SO not easy.  I'm convinced that nnyone who tells you it is is most likely lying!

Anyway, there have been a few things that have helped me stay (mostly) sane and I thought I'd share...

1. Self-Care.  I read on a blog post at Rage Against the Minivan* that the number one way to prevent PPD is "self-care."  So there are a couple of things I've been doing to keep myself a priority.  The biggest one is taking time every night to take a long, hot shower!  If the kids are screaming, I can't hear them! And yes, I started taking showers at night and it as been a wonderful change.  This way I can (another self-care thing) sleep in as late in the morning as my kiddos.  If Evelyn wakes up first, she is fine grunting (she is such a grunter!) and hanging out for 15 minutes while I get dressed, put on make-up, do my hair, get coffee made, and get breakfast on the table before I nurse her.  If Avery wakes up first, she is perfectly content in her crib singing Happy Birthday and Jesus Loves Me until I get her.  Actually, sometimes Avery is fine in there for almost an HOUR!  I also make myelf take a nap with the girls if I can get them both sleeping at the same time.  This is a non-negotiable around here; other household chores can wait. *This is an awesome blog that I just recently discovered... you've got to check it out.

2.  Accepting and Asking For Help.  I've been SO blessed to have my husband home for 2 weeks of paternity leave.  Also, my wonderful mom and mother-in-law have both been able to spend a few days here helping us.  I've gladly accepted lots of meals from friends.  I usually feel guilty asking for help from Matt with things once he gets home from work because I know he's had a busy, long day, too, but I am so over that right now. :)  He was kind enough last night to basically have "Evelyn duty" most of the night, plus do laundry and clean up the kitchen.  I just can't watch two kids all day AND have clean underwear for us, so I'm taking all of the help I can get.  Also yesterday my sister Nealy came over and watched Avery while I ran to Target with Evelyn; she even brought us a yummy lunch and wore Evelyn in the sling for awhile.

3.  Trying to Not Feel Guilty.  When it was just me and Avery, we were busy bodies, always running errands or going on a play-date or to the library/mall/etc every single morning.  As of late, we have been home most days except for the occasional walk.  I do feel bad sometimes that Avery is stuck at home, so I constantly have to remind myself that this is just temporary, that she will be fine, and that it's a good thing for her to learn to be happy playing with her bajillion toys.  (I'm sure I will regret posting this, but Avery actually LIKES cuddling with me while we watch The Bachelorette!  True story!  It has become our Tuesday morning ritual, and for now, I'm not feeling too much guilt over it!)  Also, we are on a two-shows-a-day routine at our house, which means daily visits from both Barney and Mickey. 

4.  Staying Organized.  One new non-negotiable rule I've made for myself is that I must run the dishwasher right after dinner and unload it before I go to bed.  The morning goes so much better if I wake up to an empty verses full dishwasher!  We've also gone to using all paper plates for now, which has helped with the dish load.  Another thing I've started doing is doing one load of laundry a day.  It just seems too daunting to let it pile up, plus we are going through burp cloths and towels like crazy over here, so I just decided I'd do one small load a day to stay on top of things.  The last way I'm trying to stay organized is by having our lunches ready to go at the beginning of the week, and then we just eat that most days for lunch.  Last week I made a Mexican salad type thing with beans, peppers, onions, salsa, cilantro, and avacado all in a tupperware in the fridge, and then just fried up a couple of eggs to go on top when it was lunch time.  This week I made chicken wild rice salad.

5.  Praying and Keeping Perspective.  I try to pray whenever I am nursing Evelyn, when I'm rocking Avery at night, and when the stress starts to creep up!  I also ask Matt to pray for specific things for me.  I really try to ENJOY my sweet little newborn, as well as enjoy all of the new and often funny things about Avery.  I remember that many people would give their right arm to have the chaos of two healthy, beautiful children and one amazing husband.


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