We are in the dead of winter. It is cold, it is snowy. As much as I want to daydream about Spring being right around the corner, I know how late winter in Colorado is… it is a tease.
Here are some great books, some of our favorites, to help you enjoy these last little bits of winter.
From top right clockwise.
1. Ollie’s Ski Trip- HERE A beautifully written tale about a boy who skis into the woods to visit with King Winter. Pretty illustrations and a great book for kids who are almost ready for chapter books and are ready to take on something with a bit of a challenge to it. We love this story!
2. The Snowman- HERE This is a lovely wordless story about a snowman who comes to life. I love this especially for younger ones, they can begin to tell the story in their own words. What is happening now, in this picture? Questions like that help kids learn to love books and reading.
3. A Stranger in the Woods- HERE This book has the most beautiful photographs! I really really love this book. The story is about a snowman who is built in the woods and all of the woodland animals are trying to find out who this new “stranger” is among them. It is such a sweet story with real photos of the woodland creatures. Such a beautiful children’s book.
4. The Story of Snow- Boys and science seem to go hand in hand. Lucas especially loves to know how things work. There are so many great questions in this book about all things “winter” that have great detailed answers. Questions such as : Are all snowflakes really different? How do the crystals form?
5. Under the Snow- HERE Where do snakes, voles, spotted salamanders, carp, beavers, and red-spotted newts and frogs live during the winter? This book gives wonderful information with lovely illustrations about where some animals spend the winter months.
6. Snow- HERE Kids love sing song books with a lot of rhymes, especially about things they love. And kids especially LOVE the snow. Great first reader style book. Easy for them to follow and great for them to read on their own.
7. The Tomten- HERE I have sung the praises of this author before. In a previous post I spoke about The Tomten and the Fox. This book is just about The Tomten going from barn to barn to remind each animal the summer will soon be here. A great book to help children understand the rhythm on the season.
We adore these books and love having them out during these winter months.
I am so excited that I am finally sharing with you all pictures of our kitchen update. This project began last spring with our pendant light being changed out and it just snowballed into our entire kitchen looking completely different.
When we bought this house almost three years ago I loved the layout of the kitchen, however stylistically it just was not our taste.
This shot was taken the first day we moved in, hence all of the boxes and mess everywhere. That is how before pictures go right?
I liked the countertops, they are dark and have a lot of different color variations and rock shapes. The realtor told us the previous owners had gotten the granite from a local quarry, which seemed to make it feel sort of special. The cabinets however, were a bit yellow for my taste. It had the feel of a cabin, which is not really what I was going for.
I knew I wanted to go white. Remember our old white kitchen? I had been seeing many kitchens with two tone cabinets like this and this, so we decided to give that look a shot. I mean, its only paint right?
Here are the results of our cabinet makeover.
We left the doors off of the top cabinet her and painted the interior the same gray tone. I love being able to see my cookbooks and access them easily.
the knobs and pulls we chose were simple and from Home Depot. I love the rounded farmhouse pulls on all of the drawers. Little details like that make my heart happy.
Here is a shot from the back of the kitchen into our dining nook. We painted the built ins to match the cabinets. (I guess I will need to find a before picture of the fireplace for that post)
One more before shot just to have a comparison!
This picture is all kitchen taken from the fireplace forward. Such an improvement from the before pictures.
The colors we used for the cabinets are Behr Ultra Pot of Cream for the tops and for the bottoms we used Behr Ultra Elephant Skin. The colors have similar undertones and work well with the rest of the house.
Life around here has taken on a new flow this year.
As I mentioned here, I have taken a job at my sons private school as the PE teacher. This has been such a rollercoaster of fun, frustration and yet has fulfilled me in a way I had forgotten about since having Lucas. It is nice…SO nice, to have a purpose outside of the kiddos.
And yet, it is for them as well, it helps us afford to send Lucas to this AMAZING school, and I get to be there with him for part of his day.
These first few months of me working, really working, outside the home were a HUGE adjustment, for me and for the rest of the family.
We have finally fallen into a rhythm with this huge change and I can say things are starting to feel fluid.
I love my schedule, I love that I still have plenty of time to take care of our home and I love that I can be at the school with my son during part of his day.
Here is Lucas with one of the amazing teachers at this school. He adores her.
I have tweaked how our home runs and how I handle certain chores, as any change would insist happens.
I have had to become pretty strict with my schedule. My free time, honestly, doesn’t always feel like my own. Each day is pretty meticulously planned out. This is annoying sometimes. Sometimes it is a comfort. I always know what the day will bring.
Some other things that have greatly shifted in my life because of this choice to return to work.
1. Gym time had to change a bit. Between working, running the boys to their regular activities and sports, doing the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning my days were suddenly very very full. I had to switch up when I made it to the gym to happen while the boys were in their activities. This took some of the guilt away for me as I was not sacrificing time helping them with homework or hearing about their day. That being said, Gym Time is impiritive to my mental health these days. It is such a welcome stress release everyday.
2. Paul volunteered to help with dinners here and there. I can pretty much count on him to handle dinner two nights a week. Since late afternoon early evening are my busiest times of day knowing he is willing to come home and grill up dinner take a TON of stress and pressure off of me. Man, I love him.
3. Friends and Family. This one was hard to let go of but I had to get honest with myself and with others about the amount of free time that I have to spend. Honestly, I just don’t have it in me to sit and coffee on a regular basis these days. If you want to go shopping with me, you have got to get that planned out. Its a bummer sometimes, but again living purposefully feels good!
4. Volunteering- I often have to refer back to my “if its not a Hell Yes, its a no” policy on this one. I still volunteer my time here and there, but I don’t sign up to help with anything I know I don’t have the time for. Again, I just don’t have it in me. I feel completely ok with this, I give where I can and I move on.
5. Blogging- I do miss blogging! I have meant so many times to sit down and begin again, and time and time again I feel at a loss as to what to share. It seems I have missed so many things that I am unsure where to begin. There were so many vacations, so many home updates so many events and it feels strange to share without going backwards. So the first step for me to getting back to sharing all of the amazing things we are doing as a family is to back track a bit to cover the majors (holidays and such), and then just pick up. So here I am! As you can see, the posts have been quite sporadic. I am hoping now that things feel a little more rhythmic in our schedule to have time to share some more. We are still plugging away at this house and I haven’t had a chance to share a thing. We will see.
6. Paul and I have made it our mission to plan small affordable getaways for just the two of us. We quickly realized with him working so much and then now me working (albeit only 17 hours a week), that we didn’t feel like we were connecting. We took a trip in early October and have another planned for February. These small getaways seem to really let us connect again and enjoy eachothers company without the rush and frazzle.
The holidays felt extra magical this year for some reason. Maybe it was my enthusiasm, maybe it was the boys, maybe it was having time off from school with them, or maybe it was just in the air, but this year blew us all away with the wonder of the season.
We threw in the usual traditions.
The advent calendar this year was filled with different sorts of surprises, organic fruit snacks, soaps, chapsticks, lego kits, chocolates etc.
Gingerbread house creating with my brothers children.
Of course, all of the beautiful décor. I just love love love Christmas decorating!
Setting the table is always one of my favorite things to do during the holidays. This year the boys helped me create these sweet little cranberry wreaths for each table setting. I made the silverwear pockets with some extra burlap I had from another project. I just love how sweet everything turned out.
After all of the wonderful traditions, we were blessed with a great gift from mother nature… A WHITE CHRISTMAS!
One of the gifts the boys received from us was a series of ski lessons at a couple nearby Ski resorts. Right after the holiday we took them out for their first ski trip! I was a little nervous as to whether they would enjoy it, but we all had a great day! It was great for Paul and I get get back out there together for the first time in 8 years!!! Wow!
New years was spent enjoying our usual tradition of Fondue.
All and all, it was a wonderful Holiday season. We feel so blessed to have this life, this amazing, sometimes crazy but always always magical life!!!
Lucas was very adamant about his choice. He wanted to be a White Ninja. White! Yes, white. I really tried to talk him into any other color. Nope, he wanted a white ninja costume. Ugh. He did look adorable in it. I may or may not have had to wash it in between his school Halloween Party and Trick or Treating as it got covered in dirt, food and grass stains.
Ezra could not make up his mind if he even wanted to dress up for Halloween this year. At the last minute, and I really mean last minute, he asked if we could order a Bacon costume. Thank you Amazon Prime for a fast delivery! Haha.
Paul and I dressed up this year for our Crossfit Halloween party. It was such a blast.
I was a Happy Tree and Paul was Bob Ross… you know, the painter. It was funny. If you get it, you get it.
Lately I have been noticing just how mature my boys are getting.
Yesterday I witnessed Lucas, who is now 6, go to the pantry grab a box of cereal, carry it to his spot at the countertop island, pour it in a bowl, and then put it away. He then continued to go to the fridge grab the milk out of the door and pour it in his cereal. He then put it away, grabbed a spoon and began to eat. I stood at the island marvelling at this process in shock. I had missed him learning these steps somewhere along the way, and here he was independently getting himself some cereal.
Some other things I have noticed about Lucas getting big..
He would rather take a nice shower than a bubble bath.
Hanging with Daddy and big brother doing “guy stuff” like working in the yard or tossing around a football is way cooler than being with mommy.
Giving him “jobs” makes him really happy. He really wants to be a helper around the house like his Dad and his Brother are.
He wants to do the opposite of what I want him to do often times, and I have to learn to let him. I will pull out a blue shirt with a helicopter on it and he will insist on a red one with a fish on it, simply because he wants to pick his own.
All things adventure are fascinating, however he still seems to have a sweet little spot for loving his bears and animals, which makes me smile because all the “little boy” is not lost.
Here are some things I notice about Ezra.
He really really wants to have lots of adult conversation. He will try to interject interesting points into conversations I will be having with other adults.
He is very interested in doing things around the house that Paul does. The sprinkler irrigation system is super interesting to him and he likes to be the one in charge of turning the zones over.
Sports are important. Anything that makes him exert energy makes him happy. I often catch him doing pushups. He asks that I drop him at the end of the street so he can get a quick run in on the way home. He likes to feel strong.
Being responsible and getting praise for being responsible make him smile. When he gets up early and takes care of his chores and gets ready for the day without reminders I make sure I tell him I noticed and he gets a big look of pride on his face. (He is often up an hour before Everyone in the morning so he can get his stuff done in peace)
It is bitter sweet that these guys are getting bigger. It means a bit more downtime for mama. I can linger while getting ready in the morning, I don’t have to monitor thier play as much, I can give them chores and they can do them without assistance, I don’t have to fret as much about safety as they understand that certain things are dangerous. It is also a reminder that they are growing up and that someday (gasp) they may not need me even as much as they do now.
I guess it is true what they say, it happens without you really realizing it. And if you are doing a good job, they learn to be independant.
We seem to have entered a very busy season of our lives. With Ezra now being in middle school and Lucas now in full day school, I somehow thought life would slow down. No, that has not been the case. Our weeks fly by so quickly!
Here are some great pictures of the boys on their first days of school.
Ezra entering 6th grade this year!!!
Lucas entering 1st grade.
Between school, sports, activities and committees we barely seem to have time to breathe.
I have taken a job this year at Lucas’ private school as the PE and Wellness teacher. I am loving being a part of the wonderful school that Lucas is attending (and that Ezra attended before entering middle school). I only work about 16 hours a week but it really seems to fill my time. Making sure that I get in my hour every day at the gym has been of upmost importance as well, to keep my sanity of course.
This job has been such a challenge. I have a huge amount of respect for teachers! It is a hard job. There has been much learning and growing on my part with patience, classroom management strategies and ability to push through challenges.
It has been an interesting challenge going from just Mom to Mom and Teacher. However, Lucas and I have figured out how to make it work at home and at school. I am so proud of his great adaptability and personality.
Additionally, we have been making some great improvements on the house that I haven’t even had a chance to share here. I love the progress we have been making. I will try to get some posts up at some point about some of it.
For those of you who have been wondering what in the world is going on with us, there you have it. Lots of school, lots of Crossfit, lots of fun.
I have hopes of blogging more regularly and sharing some of our triumphs and life stuff!
I decided it was time, I finally feel sure enough to share a journey that I have taken over the last year of my life. It has been a game changer around here so it seems a shame that I have left all of it out of my blog. Strap in and I will share.
Last March my life began to feel a little exhausting. I am not talking about the I don’t want to take my kids to soccer or scramble them eggs kind of exhausting, I am not talking about feeling bored or stressed or frustrated with life. I am talking about being drop dead exhausted. Just getting through the day seemed a huge feat.
I decided this was something that I needed to seek medical attention for (it really was that bad). I went and had a full spectrum of tests done. All of them came back normal except for my vitamins. I was dangerously low in Vitamin D and B12. It seemed a simple enough fix and the doctor told me to take some vitamin supplements and he would check again in a month. I went back for another blood test and guess what? Those vitamin levels were even lower!
I am bravely sharing a picture of myself from last March, 2014. This is over a year ago. Here I was plugging away in the garden. Little did I know that my life would quickly be changing. Looking at this picture now, I can see how tired I was. I can visibly see the inflammation in my body.
My doc was a bit baffled and told me to buy higher end vitamins and try again, this time after three more months. Certainly it was the brand of vitamin I was taking and that should fix it. Meanwhile, I was still exhausted and trudging through life.
I went back and all of the vitamins were still extremely low. He couldn’t figure out why they weren’t coming up. He suggested maybe we talk about injecting vitamins.
I didn’t feel comfortable with this idea. My body was not absorbing them for a reason. I put off making a decision and kept started taking a B12 that went under your tongue. At least that went directly to your body rather than through your gut. It got me thinking. Maybe my gut was the problem?
After our Boston vacation I felt worse than ever. I had begun Crossfit and my energy level was rising because of the exercise but honestly even getting through some of my workouts was a huge feat.
After some discussion with a few friends I decided to look into a Functional Medicine Doctor in our area. He listened to my story, and asked plenty of questions about other parts of my health like hormonal and nutrition things. He didn’t seem at all confused by the state of my vitamins and health problems. It made perfect sense to him.
He explained that when someone eats in a way that causes damage to their intestines (more specifically the microvilli that are on the walls of your intestines) they begin to have enough damage that the vitamins of your food cannot absorb. Additionally it also creates gaps in which tons of inflammatory items CAN leak in and cause many other symptoms.
Some of the things that I had been battling for years seemed to make sense. I didn’t have regular periods. I had a ton of tendonitis on and off for years. I struggled with a fair amount of anxiety. My digestion was all over the place. I had times when I struggled with acne.
He ran a blood test called ALCAT that is sent off. Here is a quick video on how the ALCAT works.
I was given a list of items I was not to eat under any circumstance. That list was:
These were all items that reacted in my body.
I went off of all of these items. I am proud to say in the last 9 months none of these items have passed my lips.
The results? I started feeling better about 6 weeks in! My digestion started balancing.
After about 3 months my periods came back regularly. (not sure if I am super happy about that one…lol)
At 6 months I had another vitamin blood test and ALL of my vitamins were increased! All of them were at normal levels. I am now absorbing vitamins from my food.
I feel great! I have a ton of energy. I am able to handle Crossfit workouts without feeling exhausted everytime. Sometimes I can even handle two a day!
This was not all from food removal. I added somethings to my diet as well. Part of the doctors prescription was to eat one large salad everyday. He also had me remove coffee from my diet for awhile just to help with hydration levels. He put me on a high power probiotic along with a digestive enzyme and a liver support drink.
I have had such success with this process, I will never look back. I know my body cannot handle eating gluten and soy. I know it was slowly killing me.
Here is a current picture of me (I MUST add this is an unedited picture, you can visibly see the health difference)… I am healthy, happy and have plenty of energy to keep up with these boys!
It has been such a journey, and it has not always been easy. Friends and family have questioned my choices more than once, going to dinner parties has been a pain and traveling is much more work.
I can say with 100% assurity that it was worth it!