Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tis the season to "light em up!"

It's Christmastime! Of course, Christmas I the perfect time to love others and tell them about Jesus. A blog I recently read encouraged me to step it up this year with my girls and "light em up." Here's what we've been up to this season.

We've passed out candy canes to store clerks, museum volunteers, our mailman, librarians, firemen, and other community helpers. Usually we just say "Merry Christmas," hand them the candy cane, and continue on our way. It's been a great way to encourage Lilleigh to speak clearly and loud enough to be heard when talking to another adult. The responses she has gotten have definitely been a confident booster, as seen by how much more confidently she has passed the last few candy canes out. Most people smile and say "how cute." Our cashier at Trader Joes was so excited that he gave her a roll (not just one but like ten!) of stickers and a lollipop! Her confidence sky rocketed! Of course, we didn't set out on this mission for Lilleigh, but the confidence has been a perk. 

Below is a picture of Lilleigh walking through TJ's with her mini cart. Before giving the cashier a candy cane.

Next on our list was baking! We baked cookies and passed them out to our immediate neighbors. We try to have a presence in our neighborhood and on our street, being around to talk, invite others over, grab mail for out of town neighbors, chicken-sit... We felt the cookies were just a nice gesture to love those around us. We actually do this periodically during the year. Our neighbors love it, and Lilleigh loves the baking!

Perhaps our biggest outreach of this season was our birthday party for Jesus. The girls and I invited friends to a nearby park to play, tell the nativity story, sing happy birthday to Jesus, and eat cake. It was a great turn out. Last year's party was a little simpler. This year I added in telling the story of Jesus' birth, by giving each child a piece of the nativity and then telling the story piece by piece with the kids' help. (I typed something up and am glad to share with anyone interested!) Of course, with a group of preschoolers, the attention span was minimal, but I expected this which is why I was brief. The kids really seemed to love the storytime. And the cake - duh! For my kids (or Lilleigh at the point) baking the cake is a great way for us to be reminded of the reason for Christmas.

Lastly we also plan to take an apple pie to our local fire station on Christmas Eve. Our friends bring them cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning for these guys, which I love. I made an extra pie this season, so I figured we would join in the fun. Firefighters don't get the day off, so what a better way to say thank you then to remember them on holidays!

Two more days until Christmas, friends, so if you haven't started "lighting em up," it's not too late! Steal my ideas or those of others. Or get creative on your own! I would LOVE to hear what y'all are doing! Please share!

Friday, December 5, 2014

On Turning 30

This post is long overdue! I turned 30 last month, and my hubby, friends, and family spoiled me!! It was such a wonderful birthday! Between a fun date night with my hubs, a girls night with friends, and then my dad and Marla coming up to celebrate with shopping and dinner, I really could not have asked for more. It was truly such a special birthday. This gifts and acts of service girl felt so loved! 

So far, the 30's are treating me pretty well!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

These sweet girlies

Adeline is now 15 months, and Lilleigh is 3-3/4... The latter is very important, as I am constantly being told new ideas for her next birthday party. Apparently I outdid myself last year with that castle. This year's goal is to scale back!

Because Adeline is still at an age where she is changing constantly, here's an update on that sweet one...

  • Adeline loves to say "mama" and are totally sounds like a little French girl when she does. Other words she says: sisser (sister), sissy, sing (swing), yiyi (Lilleigh), dada, mo (more, though she's said it only once), hi. 
  • She crawls everywhere and is into everything! She's climbing also and loves to go to the play areas at the mall and Chickfila! She also loves to swing in the backyard and playground.
  • When we read books at bedtime, Little One has started crawling into Daddy's lap. Lilleigh is such a Daddy's girl, and Adeline is following in her footsteps! It's really sweet to watch.
  • Adeline just took her first steps! Eek! She definitely still prefers to walk around with assistance or crawl, but we are working on it! 
  • As for napping, she started dropping her nap around 11 months, but she has since then gone back and forth between wanting that morning nap and being totally over it. It's exhausting to keep up with quite honestly, but I am thankful that she's a good sleeper in general, and that she is happy to be on the go and miss her nap if that's what our day entails!
  • She has gotten a little pickier in recent months, but overall she still eats pretty well. Half of it is just momma needing to figure out what she will eat and then making those things! She loves egg, oatmeal, fried rice, sausage, berries, whole apple... she's not really one for veggies, but I'm trying to get those in there as I can. For example, pumpkin puree in oatmeal is a recent favorite!
  • After a few months of crying at church childcare drop off, Adeline has warmed up and decided to be happy at drop off time. She's always been happy while she is there. Drop off was just an issue for awhile. It seems she's grown out of that though - I hope! 
  • Adeline loves to give kisses and blow kisses! And Lilleigh blows them right back!
  • Our little peanut is in size 12 month clothes (as of recently!), size 3 shoes, size 3 diapers. I think she's destined to be petite, just like her Momma!

And a Lilleigh update...

  • This girl loves to play with her little sister! It's so fun watching them play together because they really have the best time. I am constantly telling them that they'll be best friends one day, and I love watching that come true, even now.
  • She's tall! I can barely hold her. Really. It's not that she's weighs too much. She's just so tall! 
  • Lilleigh recently came to me one morning and said she wanted her hair in a pony tail like mine. Looking in the mirror, I realized I had a poof bobby pinned on top, so I did the same to her hair and put it in a pony tail. She looked in the mirror and said, "No. I want my pony tail to be curly, like yours." Sweet girlie! We are always wanting what we don't have, as evidenced even by this 3-year-old! So we set out for foam rollers at Target! 
  • Some of Lilleigh's favorite things to do include playing outside, singing, doing crafts, learning in "Explorer School," baking with Mom, and reading. 
  • Anyone who has been around Lilleigh for a lengthy period of time knows that she is quite the thinker. She processes things deeply. I find I have to be very careful what I say around her or how I share information with her. I've heard to only share with a child as much as they ask for and nothing more. That's not a rule I can follow. She really asks for more information that I feel comfortable giving her at the moment. We had this come up recently with a situation I was preparing her for, and I was truly shocked by her perceptions at age 3 and how her little mind fits different puzzle pieces together. She's a smart cookie! Nothing gets by her.
  • Lilleigh is a 4T (as of recently) and a size 9/10 shoe! She's definitely going to be taller. I love seeing how God has made each of our girls uniquely and wonderfully, in every realm from size to personality to their personal milestones. 
Well that's the latest on these two! These sweet girls are keeping me laughing and on my toes!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Our Kansas Road Trip!

A few weeks ago we road tripped to Kansas to see family on my mom's side. RMom and Pierre joined us for our trip. We stayed with my cousins, who are just as crazy crunchy as we are. ;) Love it! It's always fun to talk about our weird natural ways with others who are like-minded.

During our stay, all of our other Kansas family (cousins, aunts, uncles..) came over to visit too. It was so great to see everyone! Unfortunately I did a terrible job photographing our trip. We saw way more people than this, but I'll have to remember to take more photos next time!

At the family gathering, we did try this awesome berry oats bars recipe. So yummy! Check it out. We also were inspired to buy a grain grinder when we got home! Hooray for freshly ground flour that still has nutrition in it! Check out our bread!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sibling college tour and HFM

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind! Brace yourselves for a long post! 

Three-and-a-half weeks ago we went on a "sibling college tour," starting on a Thursday and driving down to Waco to see Meg and then to Austin on Friday to see Anabelle and William, returning on Saturday to come home. Adeline woke up with a fever on Thursday, but since she had no other symptoms I assumed it was teething and pressed on. 

We loved getting to see Meg! She showed us her dorm room, the Baylor bears, and some of campus! We went out to eat to Ninfas (reminiscent of Brendon's college days). 

Meanwhile back at the hotel, Adeline cried off and on all night, and I vowed to be done with hotels forever. I also decided we weren't going to Austin but going back home because I could not handle another night of that.

While Meg was in class on Friday, we took the girls to the Waco zoo, which was so impressive! Best zoo I've been to, for sure! Great kids area, a baby chimp, bears (why does the Dallas zoo not have them?), and an easy layout! 

Then we met Meg and a friends I hers for lunch at Vitek's (omg so yummy... I'm still dreaming about it!). 

As we were pulling out if the parking lot, we decided to go for it and turn south for Austin instead of turning back for Dallas. We live on the edge. With this decision, we also decided to book an adjoining room for Adeline so as to avoid a repeat of the night before. 

In Austin, we got to see the sorority house, where Anabelle lives, and William's back house. Then we all went to Hula Hut and sat outside overlooking the lake.

Thankfully that night Adeline slept! Though Lilleigh did get up one million times to go to the bathroom. Oy! Our own room never sounded good...

Saturday we met up with Anabelle and one of my college friends for breakfast! 

And then we noticed sores on Adeline's hands and feet... Ga, hand foot mouth! Ugh poor girl legitimately hadn't been feeling good. What a trooper she had been, considering how we were dragging her across Texas! 

It took is THREE hours to get from Austin to Waco! (That should only take 1.5!) 35 stinks. But after 5 hours in the car... Really 6 with stops... We made it! 

It was all uphill for Adeline from there. But then on Sunday night I got a fever. And Tuesday I got sores on my hands and feet... HFM is waaaay worse for adults by the way! Twisting PB jar lids, changing diapers... It all hurt my poor fingers. By Wednesday it hurt to walk. It was so bad I texted SMom at 5:30 in the morning to see if she could drive up to help with the girls. Thankfully she came to help me! (Yay! Thank you times one million!) Wednesday it got progressively worse, and Thursday it remarkably got better throughout the day. It still looked bad but I felt normal by Friday morning. It was the strangest thing! 

There weren't many remedies I found for HFM, and since it's viral, antibiotics aren't an option. I took oatmeal baths with lavender and frankincense EO's, and I covered my hands often in melaleuca, lavender, and purify (diluted). (None of my sores that I used EOs on pussed. I did get some on my elbow that pussed though... Who would think about getting HFM sores on your elbow?) Other than that I just had to bear it. Sleeping was hard because in stillness my hands and feet burned and itched like crazy. The next week, after I was better, my hands and feet started peeling. Shea butter worked wonders.

Adding to the list of things people don't tell you - You get way more sick with small children. And your second child gets sick much more often than your first. Good to know.

And I was totally thinking this would be a never ending post, but I'll finish filling y'all in our last few weeks in the next post. Ciao!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sharing Each Others' Burdens: Samaritan Healthcare.

Until about a year ago Brendon and I have been on health insurance through his work. For us, it was super frustrating each time we needed to use the insurance for a major medical need, like say having a baby. Tons of bills come in, and you're supposedly paying a deductible and then your insurance is covering the rest or a percentage of it. In our case, we had a high deductible, and then our insurance paid everything over that, supposedly. In the end though we definitely paid more than our deductible for each birth because insurance decided certain things weren't covered, which seemed ridiculous. And on top of paying an arm and a leg per need, we were also paying a sizable chunk to insurance each month out of our paycheck, in addition to whatever his work paid, which I believe was about the same amount. The cost was crazy expensive in our book, and it was so vague as to what was covered (and a headache to gain clarification) and how much we would really end up paying for an accident or a baby's birth. Additionally we didn't love that we (and work) paid all this money to a company every month, and honestly we didn't know what they did with it. I mean clearly it wasn't benefiting us. And our prices were only raising each year. The laundry list goes on... Bottom line we were ready for something different.

Back in the fall, we decided to look at the Christian cost shares about which we had heard. By cost share, I mean that believers in Christ follow the example of the Acts 2 church, pooling our resources together to help whoever is in need. It's not a guarantee, but it has a very strong track record. And in our experience, insurance is definitely not a guarantee.

(By the way, these cost shares that I'll mention are expempt from the tax that President Obama placed on those not partaking in his healthcare plan; they count as healthcare - meaning no tax penalty.)

The two cost shares we looked at were MediShare and Samaritan Ministries. When we looked at MediShare, we honestly weren't impressed because it's modeled to look like insurance, and in case you didn't fully grasp, we were spent (literally) with insurance. Also our friends that were on it had a bad experience and had to wait 8 months to be reimbursed for their daughter's birth. I'm sure others have had a better experience, but nonetheless we decided against MediShare.

Then we looked at Samaritan. The way they are modeled is not like insurance, which was a plus for us. They send you a "need" each month and you write an encouraging note and check to that person to cover their medical need. (Beforehand the person with the need submits their bills, etc. I'll get to that.) We spoke to some friends of friends' who were (and are) currently on Samaritan who sang it's praises. They had over $64,000 in medical bills covered in full with Samaritan! Everything from children's births to a kidney issue in one of the children to an accident. We decided to go for it and give Samaritan a try! 

We have now been on Samaritan for almost a year. (It'll be a year in December, I believe.) We are loving it. We are so thankful to be able to send money directly to the person in need and to send a card encouraging them as well. We are also asked to pray for them, and what a joy it is to do so. We are thankful to have a personal connection with the other cost share members to whom we are sending our monthly share! 

And now that we have had a "need," I can speak to the other side of the equation as well. At the end of April, Brendon went to the ER by ambulance (middle of the night) for food poisoning. (It was bad! But clearly he ended up being ok!) 

By mid-May we were receiving medical bills. When we received them, I called the companies asking for a discount since we are considered cash pay. Everyone but the ambulance gave us 20-40% discount! Is it not amazing how much insurance increases healthcare cost? (By the way, seeking a discount is something you are expected to do, and it's super easy to do so. It was never a hassle for me.)

I submitted these new totals to Samaritan by the end of the month. In July our need was published (It takes a month), and checks came in for every penny that month! Because we were able to discount our bill significantly, the $300 we were expected to pay towards our need was waived. 

Samaritan was super helpful whenever I called with questions. It was truly a blessing to talk to them! They were also very clear on what to expect, who to expect checks from, etc. The process couldn't have been easier! The conversation was very personal AND personable!

This video explains more about Samaritan if you are interested in learning more -- 

We are so so please with Samaritan and thankful to be a part of this cost share! This is not a sponsored post by any means. I really just want to share our experience. However if you decide to join because of this post, please be sure to mention James and Ashleigh Lankford as your referrals. :)

Are any of you a part of cost shares? What's been your experience? 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ballet, standing, and some answered prayers

A new semester has started! We are in full swing with explorer school (what we call our homeschool preschool) and ballet! Lilleigh is loving every minute of dance! Mommy does too! It's through our city, and not only is the facility nicer than our last dance place, but the waiting area is more baby-friendly - clean and carpeted! 

In the photo Lilleigh has the bow.

On the note of dance, I totally have to brag on God for a moment. So I am quickly seeing a challenge of honeschooling is little to no Mommy time. We really feel homeschool is where God is calling us, so that's not a question. It's just a matter of - how do I keep myself filled so I don't run dry? I've been praying about this - asking God to help me find a regular time to work out and to find regular time for myself, whether it's reading His Word at Starbucks (dreamy) or going to Target solo, just some time each month that I can look forward to without my precious girls. 

Answer #1 came last Tuesday. Since Lilleigh's dance class is through our city, it's at one of our rec centers, which means I am within 20 feet of a work out facility, and my toddler is in someone else's care for an hour each week, but alas there's the issue of what to do with Adeline. That's where my friend Jenny, who also has a little girl in dance with Lilleigh, comes in. She offered to watch Adeline each week during ballet while I do the elliptical! Seriously? She's a yoga instructor, so by 7 AM she's completed her work out each day. (Props to her! Can you imagine? With two littles. That's hardcore.) And that allows her to bless me! So thankful!

Then answer #2 came when in an hour of desperation I asked my sweet friend Michelle (who discipled me in college) to watch my girls one morning. I sat at Starbucks and read my bible. I just needed some time with God without someone crawling on top of me or another someone asking every question known to man. It was wonderful. When I got back, she asked me if she could do that for me once a month! I had been praying about this issue that very morning. I jumped on her offer! It is so fun to see God answer prayers. It's not always so clear, but what a gift when it is! He cares about the details!

Speaking of amazing things God is doing, I am taking a discipleship class our church offers on Monday mornings. We've only had one so far, but wow what a blessing! I am excited to practice being more disciplined in my walk and to hear about all that He is doing in others' lives!

Onto Adeline... She crawls fast, and pulls up on everything. Bumps and bruises galore. She's starting to stand unassisted, though she lasts about two seconds. It's so fun though! 

Adeline has also started to drop her morning nap some... Not totally (it may be more because we are on the go so much, actually) but when she does go without her morning nap, she takes looong afternoon naps which is amazing. She also falls asleep in the car after outings some and then stays asleep when I carry her in! It's cray cray. And amazing. Months ago this was unthinkable.

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Turning One and A Not So Sunny Sunshine Birthday Party!

Sweet girl turned one a week and a half ago! We celebrated with a "You are my sunshine" party, during which it was only natural that a total unexpected freak monsoon hit. So our splash party was moved inside! At least we had a ball pit to move inside for the kids to play in!

Mommy and Lilleigh made her birthday cake with a number one on top out of sprinkles! And our sweet friend Katie made Adeline a smash cake shaped like a sun! Adeline ate her cake, but I think she was intimidated by the size of the smash cake. She just stared at it.

Just days before her birthday, Adeline started crawling! She had been army crawling for about a month, but she finally started using her knees to crawl! And just days after she began pulling up on everything! Adeline is now getting all sorts bumps and bruises on her head from falling over, but she's learning! 

Now that Adeline is everywhere, I have to watch her like a hawk! Earlier this week I found her (meaning I turned around from being 4 ft from her) in the laundry basket, head first, dangling, and laughing! And then yesterday I caught her eating Lilleigh's snake she made out of crayola clay, which is thankfully non-toxic! (Thank you, Watermark childcare, for ordering non-toxic supplies!) She's a mess. Keeping Momma on her toes.

On that note, Adeline has also started arching her back and throwing herself back more frequently. Lilleigh did this too, but maybe not as much? I probably just don't remember it. After being head butt last night by this darling and having a small busted lip, I'm ready to nip that back arching in the bud!

Something that has caught me totally off guard is how sensitive Adeline seems to be. On a few occasions, I have told Adeline (in my gentle yet firm voice) not to throw food or not to put something (small plastic ring, etc) in her mouth, and she has just looked down, stuck out that bottom lip, and burst into tears. Sweet thing! I'm hopeful that might make discipline easier, but given her temper she's already showing in her back arching, I'm really not sure! We shall see.

Still, Adeline is such a happy girl! Very content. She's definitely become more of a Mommy's girl and has had a harder time going to others in the last few months. But I am pretty sure once I'm gone, she's great!

Lastly, Adeline looooves her big sis and laughs and laughs at her! Whenever I say Lilleigh's name, Adeline lunges forward as if wanting to go to her or to find her. It is so fun to see them together! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Big sis update!

There are a lot of Adeline updates around here, but let's not forget who came first! #firstbornlove Today's post is all about big sis Lilleigh.

Sweet Lilleigh loves to dress up and sing! She also loves to dance and is signed up to take ballet this fall! Pink and frills. What more does a girly girl need? 

Being 3, she loves all princesses, but Lilleigh has been on an Ariel kick lately and keeps telling me she wants an Ariel dress. This weekend I found a great deal on our swap site on an Ariel dress. I told Lilleigh we could get it if she earned the money by selling some of her toys. She had to choose the toys and help me take photos to post them. She earned the money, and today we picked up the dress! Lessons learned - things cost money, earning money, giving up old toys for new ones, counting money, patience, the list goes on. She was ecstatic to pick up the dress today! Can you guess what she's currently wearing? 

This girl is also bright. So so smart. She picks up vocabulary quickly, loves animal cracker math (school mom), and remembers everything. She also asks a million questions a day. Okay so I haven't counted, but if I had to guess, I'd probably go with 246. My boy mom friends tell me I have it easy not chasing after boys. While my legs may not ache, my brain seriously hurts by naptime! Or "rest time" as Lilleigh calls it these days since most of the time she plays independently and doesn't nap. But you better believe we still have rest time. Did you read the part about all the questions? 

We are still on the homeschool track. I use a curriculum with Lilleigh called God's Little Explorers that I found online from a blogger. I have been so impressed with it, and Lilleigh loves explorer school! 

Lilleigh is a fantastic big sis! Adeline adores her. And though I frequently have to remind Lilleigh to be gentle, she is such a huge help with Adeline and loves her like crazy. I'm constantly reminding Lilleigh when there's a tiff (usually not wanting to share) that Adeline will be (and is) her best friend so she needs to be sweet. 

I am so crazy about this sweet 3-year-old! She is full of life and tons of fun! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Colorado: Together at the Homestead

We recently got back from a family reunion in Colorado! It was Brendon's mom's side of the family. Twenty-one people in all. We drove there (quite the roadtrip) and then stayed in Brendon's grandparents' guest house for the week. It was a lot of fun seeing everyone and having all of the little ones together! We took probably one million pictures (okay, slight exaggeration), and yet the little ones totally stole the lens... so sorry to those we didn't get photos of! {My cheeks are burning... sorry y'all.} I'll post a photo of the whole fam once we get those back!

How was the car ride? Adeline actually did really well that first TWELVE hour day, but after that she was done. Sweet girl. And I had tons of activities for Lilleigh on the way there, but on the way home, she pretty much watched the iPad the whole time. Next time I'd be more thoughtful for the way back too! I think I was spent also though. In fact, I actually needed some mommy time after the trip, so I hired our sweet college babysitter! Money well-spent.

Okay, onto the photos...