Saturday, March 3, 2018

Bow Ties and Tiaras

Last Friday, Kate and Kevin made some special memories when they went to their second ever  Daddy/Daughter dance. 

Kate's school puts on this event each year. It is something Kate starts hearing about in January and looks forward to for the entire 6ish weeks until it is time to go. This year the theme was Bow Ties and Tiaras, and Kate picked out her entire outfit herself.  She found the dress, picked out her boots, borrowed my necklace, picked out a tiara and requested that I braid her hair (a small one, not the whole thing).

So that is just what we did.

She was so proud. And so beautiful. Where did my baby girl go? 

I love that these two get to spend evenings like this together, where they get to dress up and get to spend some one on one time with each other.  Unlike last year (when Kate ditched Kevin at the door to go play with all her friends), I'm told that they danced together at least a few songs. Of course Kate danced with all of her friends too.  Let's be real- she is a 6 year old little girls.  They stayed the whole time, ate lots of snacks, and went to McDonald's for ice cream afterward. What girl could ask for more? 

Kevin gave flowers to both of the girls, and even though Karsten was a little bummed that she didn't get to go to the Daddy/Daughter dance, she and I had a great evening ourselves.  But I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Choosing a Non-Mini Van Family Vehicle

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I got my first car when I was in high school.  My mom was actually in the market for a car, and I saw a gold Nissan Pathfinder at a local car lot.  I told her about it, but she ended up getting something else.  Well, fast forward a few months and that same car was still sitting up at the car lot.  One of my friends at school worked at the same lot, washing and detailing cars and doing odd jobs for them. He knew I’d had my eye on the car, but I never really said anything to my parents about it.
One day I came home from school, and that gold Nissan Pathfinder was sitting in my driveway.  My friend said that his boss told him to drop it off and let us drive it for a while to see what we thought.  These are the kind of things that happen when you live in a small town where everybody knows everybody. Two weeks later, I was still driving it.  About a week after that, it was officially mine.  It was one of those "happy birthday, merry Christmas, happy new year and happy graduation" type of deals.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!

I drove that car for ten years.  I took me through my senior year of high school and graduation.  I drove it to Clemson and through both undergraduate and graduate school. It took me back and forth from the restaurant where I waited tables.  I drove it to my very first full time job. I drove it through my first few years as a newlywed.  When we adopted Kate and became a family of three, that car was still with me. I would have kept driving it, except that the summer Kate turned one was one of the hottest on record, and my now 11 year old car did not have air in the back seats.  Put that together with a baby who was already hot natured and by law was required to be in a rear facing car seat, and I knew it was time for something new.

Since I’d already driven my first car for 10 years, I wanted to make sure to get something that would last at least that long again.  My only real requirement was that I wanted something with a 3rd row.  We already had Kate, but knew we would want our family to expand again eventually. Originally I thought I wanted a Toyota Highlander.  But after a few months of debating options, I ended up getting….. a 2012 Nissan Pathfinder!  Original, huh? 

I've now driven my new Pathfinder for 5 years, and while I still love it, there are a few things that I wish I’d considered sooner.
Mainly, I wish that I’d considered what it means to be driving a car that has multiple car seats.  Both Kate and Karsten are in car seats or boosters right now, and I can’t even imagine what it would be like to drive a three car seat car.  I’ve always said I am NOT a mini van driving mom but I can definitely see the convenience.  Never say never, right? Well I’m definitely not to that point, but I do have to say, even having two car seats in my Pathfinder is rough.  My car is one that has a bench seat on the middle row instead of captain chairs.  Essentially, once two car seats are properly installed, my third row is useless because there is no access.    
I love so many things about my car that I can't complain too much. There is plenty of room for all of the gear that comes with having kids.  I love that my seat is completely adjustable and that my pedals are also adjustable.  As a pretty petite person (5 foot tall), this is huge!  I can adjust everything so I sit up high enough and can see out well.  So basically, the pros outweigh the cons in this car for me.  But I'm not going to lie, captain chairs would be awesome right about now.  That mini van would also be pretty convenient, but that's just not me.

Hopefully I'm not going to be in the market for another car anytime soon, but when I am, I'll make sure to think through it all just a little bit more.  Do you have any regrets about your car purchase?

Monday, February 12, 2018

My Little Valentines

These two.

I am so very thankful for them.  They gave me the title of "Mama"- one that I don't take for granted. It's a title that I prayed for for a long time, and even though I might hear it ten thousand times a day, I still love hearing it.

These two are silly, and loud.  They are best of friends and sometimes, they are each others biggest enemy.  They love building things together with their magnatiles.  They love wrestling. They love pizza and salad. They love sharing a room in their new bunk beds and Kevin and I hear them giggling for hours before they fall asleep. 

Their days of matching are numbered and so I'm taking advantage of the fact that they LOVE to wear the same clothes as each other right now. Pretty soon they won't be caught dead in the same outfits so right now, I'm buying all the matching things and taking all the pictures. Six and three are good ages.

So happy Valentines day from these two, and from Kevin and me.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Snow Day 2018

A few weeks ago, we got snow. We typically get snow about once a year, and usually just a few inches. It snowed back in December, which was crazy, so this snow was sort of unexpected for me since we'd already hit our one-snow limit. 

We went to bed with nothing, and woke up to a winter wonderland.  TV reports said we got 3 inches but we measured with a ruler and got 6 inches at our house. There was plenty for the girls to play in - and play they did!

Karsten is more like me.  I loved seeing the snow, and enjoyed going out in it for a bit, but then I'm ready to go back inside. Karsten was the same way. It took 30 minutes to get her bundled up, and she enjoyed the outside for about 10 minutes, but then she wanted hot chocolate.  Oh to be three again.

Kate would have stayed outside all day long if we'd let her. She is an outside girl and the cold didn't bother her a bit!  If only I could be a bit more like her in this.

The boys think snow is the best thing ever. They have a nice warm house, filled with cedar chips. You'd think they would cuddle up inside but nope - they like to sleep on the snow.

Now that we've had a snow day in 2018, I think that's enough for this year. We love it.  Just not all the time. :)  Us southerners aren't equipped for snow, and being stuck at home for days is difficult with two little ones!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Wasted Time or Purposeful Time?

I hate commuting to work. I know I'm not alone in this when I say that I hate traffic. We definitely don't live in a huge city but it's not small by any means. Over the years traffic has progressively gotten worse and worse. I've often thought that the person who creates a machine for teleportation will be the richest person alive.  You know, a machine that instantly zaps you where you want to go?  Won't that be the best invention in the history of time?  Maybe not, but it probably seems like it would be to someone who has been sitting in traffic, stuck on the interstate for 30 minutes or more.

To be honest, there probably will come a day when that invention actually does exist.  I'm sure some of us can't wait for that day to happen.  But if we really think about it, will something like that necessarily be a great invention?

We often think of time in our cars as wasted or useless time.  We view our driving time as time that we could be spending doing other things.  If we didn't have to drive places, we could have more time at home or at work, or what ever the case may be.

Sure we might be more productive in those places, but think about the things that we will miss without that so called "wasted" time in our car.  When I'm driving alone, this is often the only time that I ever really listen to music.  Well, it's the time I listen to music that is not geared toward children! Because I listen to Christian music, I'm filling my head with the word of God, singing about how great He is and worshiping him.  Maybe you do the same.  Or maybe ...

  • You're listening to a book on tape. 
  • You are running through your daily to-do list in your head and organizing your thoughts.
  • You're driving your kids to school and this is the one time when they're trapped in the same small area as you so you're able to have meaningful conversations.
  • You are listening to a podcast about a topic that interests you.
  • You are talking to out of town family members on the phone because you finally have a little peace and quiet to make phone calls to other people.

I was reminded this week of just how special that car time can be when I drove Kate to school early one morning. She's getting to the age where she is starting to understand and think through some of the things that she has been learning about since she was born. On the drive to school, she started asking me questions about Jesus and I was so thankful to get to share with her and talk to her one-on-one. Sure we could have had that conversation another time, but it was on her heart then and this is one of the rare moments in our week when she and I are alone together.

We live in an instant world. We live in a place where we expect everything immediately. But sometimes we need to thank God for the traffic, the times when we are forced to slow down and prepare for our day, organize our thoughts, talk to our kids or maybe just listen to Him.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

No More Diapers

We have bought diapers or pull-ups nonstop since August 10, 2011.  Luckily our kids ages are spaced apart so that we didn't have an extended period of time where we had two kids in diapers.  But as soon as Kate was out of them, we welcomed Karsten into our family, so there was never a time where we didn't buy any diapers.  We have made it a solid six years, 5 months and a couple of days of buying diapers.

But NO MORE!  We are officially diaper and pull-up free in this household.

And all the people said "Amen".

After a full year of trying to get to this point, Karsten is potty trained!!

I'll be honest. Potty training has probably been the hardest parenting task to date, and either Kevin and I are just no good at it (entirely possible) or our kids are just super stubborn (also entirely possible).  We tried charts, we tried positive reinforcement, we tried the whole three-day method... you name it, we tried it.  Karsten just didn't care. But I finally figured it out!

For the sake of full disclosure, we tried bribing multiple times over the past year. We THOUGHT we had really good bribes too! We offered a trip to ChuckECheese, or to Carowinds. We offered candy, treats, and other goodies. While she was excited about those things, they apparently just didn't offer enough motivation for her to follow through. 

Then a few weeks ago, we were at the dinner table and I was talking to Kate about her behavior at school, which has been overall great but I wanted to give her an incentive/reward.  I told her if she went a whole month without negative consequences at school, I would take her to get her nails done.  Well Karsten heard this and quickly (and loudly) piped up with "I WANT MYYYYYY NAILS DONE."

And so, the ultimate potty training bribe was born.  And you guys, IT WORKED! Like immediately. Since that day, we have had one accident and that was it.  Praise the Lord!

The deal was that she could get her nails painted after 5 days, so exactly 5 days later we were off to the nail salon with one excited little girl!

 Pink with white polka dots, as requested. Best $12 ever spent. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of this a year ago!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

2017 Recap - Part 2

I'm finishing my wrap up of 2017 because, well, it's almost February 2018. Pitiful, I know. Such is life. It just keeps flying! Here we go...

  • August is one of the most packed months of the year for us, and of course this year was no exception. 
  • Our church wrapped up our yearly mission trip to Wears Valley Ranch. Kate got to go again, and I was so proud of how she SERVED and WORKED while we were there. 
  • We had a few lake days and the girls tubed. They somehow talked their Mama into tubing with them! 
  • Kate turned SIX and got to go eat at California Dreaming. 
  • We celebrated her birthday with a gymnastics party. 
  • Kate started first grade, so of course there were lots of school related things going on - buying school supplies, attending Meet the Teacher, and just gearing back up for a new school year!
  • We played outside a lot!
  • Kevin turned a year older (and he can thank me for not mention which year older he turned!)
  • Last, but most certainly not least, Kevin and I celebrated our TEN year anniversary. We celebrated by just going out to eat.  This is the time of life we are in. We planned to do a trip for our ten year anniversary but August is just not a good time for travel with school and birthdays, etc. SO, we had a trip planned for December to celebrate our anniversary.

  • Karsten started Parents Day Out. 
  • We took the girls to a Georgia football game and Kevin finally broke his streak of Georgia losing when he goes to games because they WON! 
  • The girls and I went back to my home town to attend a baby shower for Kristi. 
  • While we didn't go to a Clemson game, the girls sported their jerseys to show their support. We are definitely a college football loving family.  At least, Kevin and I are.  Karsten will sometimes come into the room, see what's on TV and say "Oh..... not PBSPN!" 
  • My mom, sister and I went to a Tim and Faith concert that we'd been planning for months. 
  • Towards the end of the month, we went to see my parents and Karsten got to open an early birthday present - Teddy Ruxpin.

  • Karsten turned THREE! My baby is getting further and further away from being a baby every day. 
  • Karsten's birthday request was to go to Carowinds, so that's just what we did. She and Kate had a blast, even though it rained on us most of the time!
  • Kate was tested for allergies and was allergic to every single item that she was tested for, except for cockroaches. She is allergic to trees, pollen, dust mites, animals, and basically about anything you can think of. Poor girl and I hate that it took us until now to figure all of this out. She started weekly allergy shots this month and we are praying that this will get her some relief! 
  • We went hiking with friends one weekend and saw several waterfalls. It was a perfect fall day to spend outside. 
  • I found a great deal on a few months prior and we spend a few days at the Great Wolf Lodge over Kate's fall break.
  • Kate had her first field trip of the school year, and Kevin chaperoned! 
  • The girls dressed up for Halloween as Pocahontas and Rapunzel and we went trick-or-treating with friend.  

  • We met Kate's birth mom and her family at the zoo and spent the day seeing all of the animals. 
  • We celebrated World Adoption Day by drawing smiley faces on our hands and taking a picture. The girls love this tradition and Karsten often asks for a smiley face on her hand just because of this. 
  • Kate got signed up for basketball and had her first practice. She is in love with basketball and told us after her first practice that she is going to win the National Championship. 
  • We met up with Karsten's birth family at the mall.  We all ate dinner together and then spent some time in the play area while the kids ran off some energy. 
  • A friend and I went to a Clemson game. It was military appreciation day, so there was a flyover and Lee Greenwood sang. This was actually the 2nd time I'd heard him sing in the month of November, since he was at a work event a few weeks earlier.
  • Baby Rylynn was born and the girls gained a cousin and Kevin and I gained a new niece. 
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving, and the girls sang with our children's group during our Thanksgiving weekend service. Karsten knew every single word to the song, but when she got on stage, she didn't sing one single word.

  • December! The month when we celebrate Jesus' birth. And what a special month it is.  
  • Kevin and I went on a cruise to celebrate our 10th anniversary. While we had a great time, it was hard being disconnected from our kids for 5 days! 
  • We had lots of Christmas activities - parties, gingerbread house building, driving around looking at the lights, and more. 
  • We saw Santa and the girls got to give him their wish list. 
  • The girls sang 2 songs with lots of other kids one Sunday morning. Karsten did so great this time! She must have gotten over her stage fright. 
  • We celebrated Christmas with family.
  • Santa came!  The girls got lots of toys, but Kate's favorite by far is her new basketball goal.  Nearly every day when we get home she asks if she can go shoot basketball. 
  • After Christmas, Kate asked if she could use her own money that she has saved from birthdays and allowances to buy her very first American Girl doll.  Welcome to the family banjo-playing Tenney. 
And THAT was 2017.  There's no doubt that it was full. It's easy to go through life, and not take time to look back because you're so concerned about what is coming up.  It's true that life is busy.  But just going back through pictures and putting these little recaps together makes me that much more thankful for the things that I have been able to experience each year. You really do forget a lot of the things that you've done and been a part of!  It's fun to say "Oh yeah - I remember when ______."  Or, "Wow, do you remember how excited the kids were when we __________." It's so rewarding to be able to have these reminders of God's earthly blessings. 

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.
Hebrews 12:28


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