Saturday, June 24, 2017

A tour of Miss Sophie's bedroom.

Last summer, we were renovating our bathrooms (future post coming soon....hopefully!) and realized we also needed to turn our former guest room into our little girl's bedroom. As anyone who has gone through renovations can tell you, they can add up in cost, so we needed to decorate on a tight budget. This meant that we would be hitting up the major chain furniture/home decor stores- i.e. IKEA, Target, Amazon, etc.

But admittedly so, these are some of our favorite places to shop, so it wasn't a major issue. The only question that always drives me is, "how do you personalize what may appear generic or blah?"

I am no where near being an interior designer (I'm actually quite horrible in terms of spatial intelligence), and I don't tend to stick to "themes." But with Pinterest being a kick-starter to get the creative juices flowing, I decided on some focal color schemes to tie it all together, and added the pieces (many gifted!) to complete what is now Miss Sophie Grace's bedroom. 

In all honesty, it was her oldest brother's temporary bedroom for awhile (until he started complaining about the amount of girlyness around him), and she still hasn't really moved out of our bedroom ^^. It isn't quite "complete," and I've been swapping random knick-knacks on the shelves. However, it's functional and the room will continue to evolve and grow along with her!
All wall shelves, baby crib and mini table lamps are from IKEA
The midcentury-style dresser (replaced with raw brass knobs found on Etsy was on clearance (last I checked, it's still on sale!) from Threshold, Target
Stuffed unicorn head, pink penguin, pillows and wall clock, also from Target.
Amelia the bunny blankie from Elliefunday.
Little house-shaped shelves and Lightbox on clearance from Michaels.
All books (some second-hand) and stuffed cloud pillow from Amazon.
Gold polka dot wall decals from Polka dot wall stickers.
Glitter eyelashes wall decal, DIY.
Watercolor calligraphy art made by a dear friend.
Wallcolor from Benjamin Moore (I actually don't remember the color, will have to look it up if anyone is interested!).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

One, two, three.

Three kids. I still can't believe it. Six months later, I still pinch myself whenever I see three sets of eyes staring right back at me. So what is life like with three kids under five? Surprisingly enough, we're all still alive (can't say that all my houseplants are), and the transition from one to two was actually tougher than two to three. Many of the factors revolved around several transitions our family was going through during that time, and the most challenging part was our oldest child rebelling and scoffing at the idea of sharing his throne with his baby brother. There were many dark moments during that time when I felt so alone and completely incapable of raising my children.

Fast forward to the transition of having three kiddos, and I still feel incapable of most days. Often times, us Mamas are guilty of portraying parenthood on social media as being a walk in the park (literally, figuratively), filled with eventful, craft-filled days and excursions. And yes, there are wonderful moments that we don't want to forget, and use it as a bragging tool to pat ourselves on the back, but it is merely 10% of our days. Don't get me wrong, being a Mama to the littles is too indescribable for words, and I would never trade it for my life pre-children (I still have my moments). However, it is the hardest job I have ever had to take on, and there are no real "lunch or potty breaks" involved.  When you think you've got it down, an event seems to knock you back down on your feet-- take last week for example, when I silently cheered myself on for getting all three kids out the door and into the van somewhat on time, and then realized when I heard a loud scrape, that I had left the trunk door open as I was exiting the garage...ouch.

On the other hand, having three littles definitely hasn't been easier physically-- in fact, it can be extremely physically taxing. Emotionally, I haven't been as much of a train wreck, but I do have my moments, especially when the Husband is out of town. Never have I whined and complained as much as I do now (probably explains the Hub's extensive wine collection, heh heh ^^), and clearly it is something I need to work on. And just when I am filled with Mama-guilt, thinking I'm the only one feeling these awful feelings, I connect with other Mamas and realize this "thankless slavery" (as one Mama terms it) truly is the ultimate form of sanctification. It is a glimpse of what it means to "lose your life" for the sake of little beings that sometimes seem ungrateful and more devilish than angelic. I find myself fighting against my nature of wanting to hold onto myself pre-kids for selfish reasons, and it is a constant battle. It makes marriage feel like riding with the training wheels still attached.

So how is a Mama to survive? Some things that have helped me get through the transition...


Reach out 
Again, no Mama can live on an island, and it truly does take a village to raise a child or children. We've been extremely thankful for our church community and friends who have brought us meals during the early months of transition! There were a couple weeks when I was battling major pinkeye (thanks, Lukey!) and feeling miserable, and it was such a blessing to have meals lovingly delivered when we needed it most. I am also thankful for my fellow Mama friends out there, who lend an ear or time out of their busy schedules to empathize/sympathize/rant/pray with me. I honestly don't know where I would be without their support.

Let go 
There isn't enough time in the day for all your checklists to be completed, and curveballs will always throw you off schedule. I've learned that I need to be okay with not getting everything done, and I'm also learning to stop being so darn hard on myself when things aren't completed (hello, laundry!) by the end of the week. And who's going to tell if the kids haven't bathed in a couple of days? ; ) I'm not SuperMom, nor will I ever be, and I have to be okay with that. My priority needs to be making sure the kids are alright, alive and fed. Sure, we are also responsible for teaching and guiding our children, but we cannot control every situation and how these little people may respond with their big personalities. Control shouldn't be our motive, but so much of our energy is put into "controlling" our children, especially in a public setting. The Hubs sent me a link to this podcast  on disciplining with love, and I found it to be most encouraging and relieving.

We are flooded with a plethora of information in this day and age. And all of a sudden, everyone is telling you how you should or shouldn't raise your child. I've let the criticisms and opinions of others get to me (some with well intentions), and I find that it has been mostly unproductive and discouraging in bringing up a child. The controversies and biases with discipline, diet, sleep, emotional, spiritual and physical upbringing of children are enough to drive you mad. Yes, there are great nuggets of information that ARE helpful, and I think it's always good to read and do your own research when it comes to parenting. However, there isn't a cure-all, one-size-fits-all solution for every child. I still find myself experimenting and seeing what works best with each child, and I still don't have answers to many things...but the more I let the outside noises affect how I raise my kids, the less empowered I feel as a Mama.

Heart Matters
On the contrary, one of the best advice I've received was from a more seasoned Mama, who told me she was praying for the Lord to change her son, only to realize the Lord was telling her that she was the one that needed to change. For some reason, that really resonated with me, as I have been struggling in guiding my oldest child. It caused me to pause and wonder, "is most of my angst coming from whether or not my child's behavior is a reflection of my parenting and self-worth?" If so, that is a huge amount of pressure for a child, and they can sense it. How my child behaves does not define who I am as a person. A bigger question I've been trying to ask myself is, "what is going on within their hearts that is causing the actions that follow?"

Look up
This has been the most important realization for me -- I used to think I had my life somewhat in control, until the littles came along. I've noticed that when I don't begin my day with prayer, I'm a hot mess. I cannot do this mammoth-sized task of raising children on my own, and it takes a super-natural being to help me fight my daily battles. Oh, and grace! I am constantly in need of His amazing grace for me, especially when I fail and lose my cookies, which happens more often than I'd like.

Tri-pod photo of the fam (best way to get family photos without anyone missing, even if it is a little blurry ^^) 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chasing Butterflies at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Our family decided to make the trek to preview the new Hidden Butterfly Jungle* exhibit at the San Diego Safari Park. Since it was our first time to the Safari Park, we were so excited that we forgot to grab a map at the entrance, and had a bit of a difficult time navigating the location of the Inner Jungle, as there weren’t a lot of signs leading to the Inner Jungle. However, the staff were all very friendly, and directed us towards the right direction.

When we arrived at the entrance, we were each handed a butterfly guide with photos of the various types of butterflies inside. As we stepped through the double doors, we were transported into a magical rainforest greenhouse full of vibrant foliage, flowers and of course, butterflies. Our kids have been really into caterpillars and butterflies lately, so they were ecstatic to see the large amount of butterflies fluttering around-- especially the larger, exotic species that we typically don’t see around here. We spotted several large Common Blue Morphos, Giant Owls (they really do look like owls, and camouflage so well with the branches!), Rusty-Tipped Pages and several more. JJ was also intrigued by all the ladybugs crawling about, while the younger one was into chasing the butterflies that were crawling on the floor, or swooping in front of his face at eye-level. We also had some opportunities with butterflies landing on the kids’ hats and backs, but the moment was so quick that we missed most of the photo-ops!

Some helpful tips:

-       Wear bright, bold colors and patterns to attract the butterflies
-       Tell your children to stand still for a possible butterfly landing!
-       Head to the exhibit early on in the day, as there may be less people
-       Strollers need to be parked outside, so plan on wearing any children that are not yet mobile
-       Bring a camera with a fast shutter lens to capture the butterflies landing on you or the children!

Some photos we captured of these beauties!
*The Hidden Butterfly Jungle is open daily at 9am-5:45pm, from March 11 through April 23. 

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido,CA

Catch them before they flutter away! ; )

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sweet Bebe Sophie

On a sweet November evening of last year, we welcomed our third child, Sophie Grace into our crazy family. Of all the birth stories previously written on this blog (here + here), hers was by far the shortest. We had been praying that labor would short and somewhat sweet. To be honest, I hadn't fully prepared mentally for her birth, like I had for my first child or even second child. Perhaps for that reason, I felt a bit wimpish when labor began to pick up in intensity.

Early labor started on a Friday afternoon, around the same time we were supposed to leave to go on a boat ride (could you imagine if we had gone?) with some of my husband's co-workers. I actually didn't notice when I started getting the contractions, because I was tending to my second one. My in-laws had come over shortly after, as they were going to watch the boys as we were about to leave for the boat ride. Timing-wise, this was perfect, since we had no idea when my labor would start, and the whole thought of having the two kids with me alone while it happened, terrified me a bit. But to have the Hubby home AND my in-laws over to watch the kids was an answered prayer in itself, and looking back, it's funny how much I often worry about things that are totally out of my control, but the Lord knew it would all work out in the end!

After a couple hours of consistent, but painless contractions, we decided to head closer to the hospital to walk around, just in case we encountered another near car-birth experience again. We decided to drive to the mall to walk around, and soon my contractions began to pick up in speed and intensity, spacing at 3-7 minutes apart. I was feeling nervous about the timing of the contractions, so we headed to the hospital. 

It was a rather quiet evening at the hospital this time, with one other patient in L+D. We got situated, and the nurse told me I was only 4cm, which was shocking to me, because some of the contractions started to get uncomfortable. They told us we had 2 hours to walk around the halls before they would check me again, and if I didn't progress, they would send me home. I felt disappointed, but the nurse encouraged me with the fact that labor would speed up quickly after 5cm, since this was my third one. 

We walked up and down the hospital hallway for a little over an hour, and my contractions started to become more painful, and each step becoming more unbearable. The thought of staring at another set of hospital tiles made me queasy, and I began feeling weak, imagining different scenarios, worrying that I would be going through the same pain for hours (and feeling as though my pain tolerance has decreased). Mike prayed for me, asking the Lord to show me grace with a shorter labor this time around. 

I decided to go back to the room to sit down and rest, and that was when my mom called to ask how I was doing. I remember telling her I was about to have a big contraction, and so she hung up the phone (haha). Afterwards, the nurse told us to let her know if I began to feel the urge to push, which happened right after she left the room. The nurse ran back in, and started paging the doctor, who was in the OR with a patient who was having a C-Section. Holding back the urge to push has always been the worst feeling, and I was ready to push the baby out, doctor or no doctor! After what felt like an eternity, the doctor rushed in and told me to push once, pause and push again. And just like that, our screaming sweet little girl (with a big set of lungs) was born!
Holding our baby girl in my arms was just as sweet as the first time I held my boys. Seriously, the feeling of holding and meeting your child for the first time never gets old. I can see why some are willing to go through it over and over...the addiction is real, folks. Even though babies all look the same, there was something daintier and more fragile with a girl-- from her slender little fingers to her soft, pink cheeks, sweet smell and higher pitched cry (a bit shrill at times), I loved every bit of it.

One of my biggest fears with having a third has been the whole jealously issue that our first child experienced when our second one was born. So, so many folks had been praying hard over us and our boys-- that they would love and protect her. And by God's grace (see the common theme here?), the boys have been nothing but sweet to their baby sister, even smothering her a bit too much at times. She is incredibly blessed, and we are even more blessed and thankful to have her in our family.  
Our first set of family photos taken by my awesome brother, Spencer (he took these all under half an hour)!
I cannot tell you how long it took to find a decent Christmas photo with everyone somewhat looking at the camera

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fall is finally here!

We recently took our somewhat annual trip to Oak Glen Orchards to visit the apple orchards in honor of a very warm Fall, here in sunny California. This was also the first time we went on a weekend, and boy was it crowded! Thankfully, we had prepared lunch and snacks for a picnic, so the boys just ate while we were waiting in line to press apple cider (which took about an hour!). It was the first time for us, and everyone had loads of fun helping. And in the end, you get a big basketful of apples worth of juice!
Gathering apples for our cider! Lukey was really good at taking the apples out of our basket and putting them back in the washbasin -__-
Waiting in anticipation after all the hard work...
Mama + bebe gotta have their apple cider donuts from Snowline Orchards.