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

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2017 Recap - Part 1

Well 2018 started with two feet on the ground, running at full speed ahead!  I don't think that I've had a minute to catch my breath. I love being able to look back at these yearly recap posts though, so despite the fact that we are halfway through January, here we go.  These were just a few of the highlights of 2017. 

  • Kate Clemson played in (and won!) the college football National Championship. My girls wore their orange and supported Mama's team.
  • It SNOWED, and not just a dusting!  This isn't normal in SC. We got plenty to play in and were even able to do some sledding! 
  • We visited my grandmother, Mitzi in Charleston, SC. 
  • Kate's birth mom had a little girl named Anneliese, and Kate got to meet her half sister. 
  • I traveled back to my home town for an annual friend's dinner.  
  • Kate went to a birthday party at a trampoline park. 
  • Kate celebrated her 100th day of school by dressing up like a 100 year old lady. She was the cutest little old lady that I ever did see!!

  • Kate got silly putty stuck in her hair - on a Sunday morning no less. 
  • Kevin and Kate attended Kate's very first Daddy/Daughter dance
  • My mom and I took the girls to the circus. 
  • I got an Apple watch and Karsten was OBSESSED with it. 
  • We had lots of fun with our small group. Karsten especially loved playing dress up with her friends. 
  • My brother in law had the grand opening of his State Farm agency. 
  • Kristen's 2.5 year love affair with her bunny is still going strong. 

  • I took a time out from work and went to eat lunch with Kate at school. Love my girl! 
  • The weather warmed up a bit and we got to spend some time outdoors. 
  • We celebrated Grandma Betty's 90th birthday! 
  • A few friends and I took our girls to the movies to go see Beauty and the Beast. 
  • I recorded what I thought was going to be Karsten reciting her weekly Bible verse, but turned out being this.
  • We met my parents, sister and brother-in-law at Cheesecake Factory to celebrate the MARCH birthdays in our family.

  • Because of the warm weather, we got to go to the lake and go out on the boat. 
  • The girls started swim lessons. 
  • Kate had gymnastics and Karsten wanted to go SO badly, but wasn't old enough yet.  So, we let her wear a leotard and pretend she was taking gymnastics. 
  • We celebrated Easter and the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Best part of the month! 
  • The girls had a bast dying Easter eggs!
  • I got a little overwhelmed with work and life, and was quickly reminded of where my JOY really comes from. 

  • Karsten wrapped up her first day of Parents Day Out with the last day of school. She had a GREAT year and we have loved the preschool that both of our girls attended. It is absolutely ridiculous how much she changed in a year.
  • I got to celebrate my sixth Mother's Day as a mom.
  • We went to the lake again, and the girls did some swimming.   
  • Karsten went to the dentist for the very first time. It was 7am but you would have thought she was going to Disney. 

  • Kate graduated Kindergarten! I may or may not have shed a few tears. 
  • We celebrated with lots of ice cream dates after church on Wednesdays. 
  • We took the girls to Carowinds and a few weeks later, went to Fripp Island for vacation
  • Kevin did lots of home improvement projects around the house. Thank goodness for a handy man, who likes to save us money by being a DIYer (even though he would never call himself that). 
  • Kristi and Davis announced that they were having a baby!  Yay for being an aunt again. 
  • Kate and I went to see a broadway production of the Lion King with my mom, Kristi and Davis. She loved it!

  • I put my girl-mom skills to the test and learned to french braid Karsten's hair to satisfy her requests to look like Princess Ana or Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen.  And then Kate requested curly hair like Karsten's. 
  • Karsten was FINALLY old enough to start gymnastics and got to attend her first ever class.  The girl is hooked. She is in love.
  • We are thankful for where my parents live, and got to spend the 4th of July on the lake. Kate built up enough courage to jump off the dock!
  • Our church had a water day, which is always one of our girls favorite events!
  • Again - lots of ice cream dates for our family. It is summer! :) 
  • Kate got to take part in our church's mission trip to a children's home in Tennessee.  We put her to work and I was impressed by how much effort she put in!
  • Kate put together a lemonade stand to earn money.  We live on a road with 2 neighbors so it was a bit iffy as to if she would even have a single customer.  Luckily she did have a few people stop by and ended up making a little money. Karsten was her biggest repeat customer. 
And this is just Part 1 of our year!  I am always amazed at how much we pack in.  This is most definitely a crazy season of life, but I love it and wouldn't change one single thing. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Eve & Day

Our Sunday Christmas Eve started off with our church family, celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We went out to eat with some of our church friends and then spent most of the day at home with our family.  Sunday night, we took the girls to go get hot chocolate and went to visit a very sweet lady - Kevin's grandma. 

The girls love Grandma Betty and love visiting her at her apartment.  Before we knew it, it was 9pm and time to get home and get ready for Santa!  But first, we made ice cream sundaes!  Of course after hot chocolate and ice cream, it was nearly 11 before our kids fell asleep.  And then finally, Santa came!!

Kate woke up at 730 and then patiently waited until Karsten woke up at 830.  She was SO excited though. She snuck into our room, tiptoed around to my side of the bed, and then tried to tiptoe out.  I sat up and looked at her and she said "Mommy! Santa came!"  Oh the excitement of a 6 year old!

And y'all.  She was so excited about every single thing. I mean look at this face... pure excitement and joy over a TOOTHBRUSH. If only we all had this reaction to life's everyday blessings.

The ONLY thing Karsten wanted for Christmas was a black car.  We think she wanted one she could ride in and drive, but that wasn't going to happen since the girl's already have a green Jeep that they can drive around the yard. She DID find a black car in her stocking though, so Santa didn't forget her!

Both girls got Fingerling monkeys and I have to admit, they are kinda funny. 

Their big gift was a basketball goal. Kate has said the past few months that this is what she wanted Santa to bring. 

She was pretty pumped and said "I knew that was what was in that box!!" 

After what seemed like 15 hours (which was really about 4 hours), Kevin got the goal put together and Kate had a blast. She told us she couldn't come back inside until she made 30 goals. Ha!

And yes - This was at 5pm and Kate still had on pajamas. My kids stayed in their PJs all day long. 

We ended up going to IHOP for dinner because by the time we finished all of the assembly, nobody wanted to cook! They were crowded but we weren't in a hurry.  Karsten wanted a selfie with Mama, but said she had to wink. Ha!

At some point, Nana and Papa came by with Grandma Betty to check out what Santa dropped off.  The girls had fun showing off their new toys and we enjoyed visiting with more family.  

And that was that. Sure there were lots of presents and toys, but the biggest present of all came to earth as a tiny baby so many years ago.  And that was the real reason for all of the celebration. Jesus. For Him we are most thankful!


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