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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Girl Chat: Reintroductions

Happy (late) Thursday!  One of my favorite bloggers, Emily, is cohosting a monthly link-up and I thought I would join in for some girl chat this year.  :)

Today's topic is reintroductions, so here's a little bit about my family and me.

I'm Erin.  I'm an introverted home-body who loves everything about being a mom.  My kids are my whole world and if I hit the lottery some day, I would simply want to live the dream of being a stay at home mom.  

In the meantime, I'm a full-time working mom and I love my job!  My career started out as an elementary teacher (mostly Kindergarten- the best age).  I spent two years as an elementary principal and have been a central office administrator for a few years now.  I never even considered another occupation growing up.  I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was in first grade.  I've always loved kids and am the daughter of two educators. :)  In my role now, I get the opportunity to work with a variety of teachers and administrators providing professional development, instructional coaching, curriculum work, among other things.  I am blessed to work with a great team who makes such a positive impact on so many students' lives!

I love sports, especially football and tennis.  The Green Bay Packers have been my favorite team for as long as I can remember. Hello, Brett Favre! ;) We are also a family of U of M fans. Go Blue! I love shopping and while I've done more online shopping in recent years #kids, I really enjoy walking around browsing in a real store.  I've been a coffee drinker since middle school, but I switched to decaf and gave up caffeine altogether after Dane was born.  

Troy and I are high school sweethearts.  We grew up in Port Huron, Michigan and after graduating from Central Michigan University (where Troy also played football), we knew we wanted to continue to live in our hometown.  We love our city, especially the beautiful blue water (St. Clair River and Lake Huron)! Summer is my favorite season because I am always cold, but also because there are so many ways to enjoy the outdoors in our town.  Our favorite outdoor activity is boating.  We enjoy finding new restaurants, eating yummy food and drinking wine.  

We have two kids, Dane (3) and Mila (14 months), and they are definitely stars of this blog.  Dane is a typical toddler boy in so many ways: loves sports, cars, and running all over the place.  He is also the most sensitive and loving little person that makes my heart melt every day.  One of his favorite activities is singing and listening to music.  Mila can be a super girly girl who loves to wear mama's bracelets and carries anything around like a purse.  Then a minute later, she'll be pushing her brother's cars around the room-sound effects and all. #vroom  Her little sense of humor has really developed lately and it's adorable watching her personality blossom.  These two have such a sweet bond.  Seeing them light up and give each other spontaneous hugs and kisses is the best!

So, that's our little family!  Thanks for reading! I'm looking forward to finding some new blogs in the link-up. :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Day in Our Little Life

I always love reading day in the life posts from others and I finally decided to document one of our days, which happened to be Monday of this week.

Now I didn't get any pictures first thing in the morning because well, it was Monday. :)

5:50am I usually try to get up between 5 and 5:30 to get ready before the kids wake up, but I apparently turned my alarm off and didn't realize it, so Mila waking up at 5:50 was my alarm.  Luckily, I had showered the night before so I could get ready rather quickly while she hung out with Troy in bed for a bit.  I started getting Dane up at 6:30 and since he likes to take his time waking up, it was a bit of a struggle.  We had a whirlwind of a morning getting the kids dressed, teeth and hair brushed, fed, in the van and dropped off at school. 

7:45am  I arrived to work with my decaf coffee in hand.

This is a snapshot of part of my desk.  Love seeing those two sweet faces each day while I'm working.

Our district does NWEA testing and on this day, it was the first day for the winter testing window.  So being the district testing coordinator, I had a few troubleshooting things to help with throughout the day.  I was at my desk all morning working on a couple training presentations and another big project that has been in the works.

11:00am  This was a little earlier than normal, but I left to head home for lunch.  Since our Monday morning was a bit rushed, I didn't eat breakfast so I was STARVING by this point.  I made myself a sun butter and jam sandwich and snacked on a few other things at home.  I also got a jump start on packing my suitcase because I would be leaving to go to a conference later that day.  I refilled my coffee mug because it's so cold outside and headed out to work with a teacher at one of our elementary buildings.  After that meeting, I went back to my office to continue a project and also spent an hour providing training for some of the building assessment coordinators about upcoming state testing.

4:00pm  End of the work day.  Time to head out.  I got outside to see my car covered in snow.  I must have tried to hit my remote start a little too far away and when I got to my car I had some brushing/scraping to do. #firstworldproblems.  

4:20pm I stopped at Kroger quickly to grab a couple items we needed for dinner before picking up the kiddos from school at 4:45.

5:00pm We made it home!  Mila had fallen asleep on the short drive back because she only slept 30 minutes all day. (She's not the best napper).  When we got in the house and unloaded backpacks, Dane asked to watch Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas while I started working on dinner.  Mila snacked on some bunny grahams while I cooked up the ground venison for tacos.

5:40pm  Troy had to head out to pick up our nephew from hockey practice so the kids and I ate and we left the food out for him to eat when he returned.  Dane jumped right in to serve up the corn.  (Don't mind my super lazy serving. I usually am so much better and put everything into serving dishes, but it was a busy weeknight and I just didn't really care). ;)

6:15pm We cleaned up our dishes and left the rest out for Troy.  Dane watched more of Mickey's Christmas and Mila kicked back with some books. ;)

And took a few selfies with Mama. :)

We read one of her favorites, Dane's Trip to the Farm, at least 7 times.  This is a board book I created after we took Dane to Upland Hills Farm for the first time via Pint Size Productions.  

Troy got home, ate dinner, then went into the garage to clean the perch he caught ice fishing earlier in the day (he had MLK day off).  

6:50pm Bath time for the kiddos.

Mila had a few minutes to play with her toys in her tent (her birthday present from Aunt Katie).

7:15pm  Troy was done cleaning fish and I fixed a bottle for Mila.  (She just weaned from nursing last week insert sad face).  He stayed with Dane downstairs while I took Mila upstairs for her bottle, one more book, and we rocked until she fell asleep (which didn't take long at all).  She was in the crib at 7:38 and I started the sleep timer on our WebMD Baby app.

Dane and I snuggled and read a couple books.  Troy would get him in bed around 8:30.

On a more typical evening, we would get Dane in bed around 8:30 and I would work out, take a shower, and watch a little tv on the couch before heading to bed shortly thereafter (or simply falling asleep on the couch).  However, on this day, I had to travel to Lansing for a work conference.  I left the house at about 8:15 and drove super slowly due to the lovely Michigan weather and arrived in the hotel parking lot at 10:48.

I got in my room about 10 minutes later, got comfy and opened up my computer to read a few blogs.

1:00am  My room was FREEZING and no matter how many times I tried turning the heat up, the thermostat never got higher than 68 degrees.  I was very happy I packed a sweatshirt because even with a few layers and curled up under the covers, I was still cold. (Eventually, I had someone come take a look at it and I had to change rooms because the heater was busted).   I finally fell asleep around 1:00.  This was the latest I've stayed up in a loooooong time!  

With as long as this post is, it sure felt like one of those days where you blink and it's over!  Whew!  If you made it to the end of this super long post, thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our day. :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mila: 14 Months

Mila's Likes:
Food Mommy & Daddy are eating
Playing chase
Dane's cars
Playing with bowls, pots, and pans in the kitchen
Cheese and crackers
Mighty 4 pouches
Bunny grahams

Mila's Dislikes:
Diaper changes
Getting in her car seat (although she's getting a little better)
When Mama leaves the room

Our 14 month old is finally into solid foods.  She still gets picky at mealtime, but it's funny because anytime Troy eats anything, she is right there asking for a bite. She's constantly signing "help" or "more" in front of the pantry door.  If we would let her eat cheese all day everyday, she would be one happy camper.

The separation anxiety is still in full swing, especially in the evening.  When I step out of the room, she cries so loudly and tries to climb the baby gate.  Her sleeping has improved, though.  For so long, she would wake up in the middle of the night and would not calm down until I finally gave up and brought her into our bed or slept with her on the couch.  (I know I was creating a bad habit, but mama needed some sleep).  When I was home for the two-week holiday break over this past month, one of my goals was to get her to sleep through the night again.  It took a while and it sure is tough watching and listening to her cry on the monitor.  But, we got to the point where if she did wake up and start crying, she put herself back to sleep within 10 minutes or less.  So, she has been sleeping through the night much more consistently lately and if she does wake up, 9 times out of 10, she can get herself back to sleep rather quickly. Naps, on the other hand, are a little different story.  This is still a work in progress. 

She continues to sign several words and can say dada, Dane, Dusty (Duh-tuh), mama, bar (cereal bar), hi, uh oh, baba (bottle), and wawa (water).  She loves her Dusty doggie and is always saying, "Hi Duh-tuh" and pretends to bark at him.  She loves to play games like chase and likes to "trick" us with her snacks when she offers us a bite, then pulls it back and eats it herself and laughs.  Her little personality is so much fun!

New Year: Star Word

Hi everyone! I'm linking up with The Blended Blog today to talk about New Year's Resolutions.

Last week was Epiphany Sunday at church at which I always look forward to hearing our minister's sermon and receiving a star gift.  Each year on this day, everyone gets a piece of paper with a star on it and a word in the middle.  This is your "star gift" or "epiphany" for the year.  I am using this as my "one word" that has become so popular in recent years.  Instead of a list of resolutions this year, I am using my star gift to remain focused throughout 2018 and wanted to share some thoughts from our Epiphany Sunday with you today.  

As our Pastor spoke about Epiphany and the journey of the wise men, he encouraged us to ask ourselves the following questions. 

What moves me to action and how does God use that?  For the wise men, it was a new star in the sky.  They were drawn to it.  I tend to be a naturally curious person who always wants to learn more and I think receiving a star word this year is His way of moving me. 

What's my posture toward Jesus?  When the wise men arrived in Bethlehem the first thing they did was knelt down and worshipped Him.  How are we worshipping Him every day?  I've reflected on my posture toward, or relationship with Jesus and how I'm constantly working to improve that.  A couple years ago, when I had the star word, devotion, I was intentional about fostering my love for and time spent with the Lord.  I was much more committed to daily devotionals and spending time in prayer.  But what about the rest of the day?  At work? In the car?  When we're running late because my kiddo just won't put his boots on after I'VE TOLD HIM TO 17 TIMES?! How can I change my perspective and posture toward Jesus in the midst of the messiness of everyday life?

What is my "Star Gift" this year?

As I pulled the paper out of my bulletin, I looked to my mom sitting next to me and simply said "whoa."  Righteousness.  Moral justice.  God's will.  I like to think I am a rather honest, kind and loving person, but when I pulled this out I felt compelled to stop and really reflect.  Of course I fall short of this.  We all do.  The word righteousness just seems so perfect and I am certainly not that.  I think about the "What Would Jesus Do" bracelets everyone used to wear as a reminder to do the right thing, show kindness and God's love to all.  I keep this card on our fridge so it's something I see every day as a constant reminder.

How is God calling me to journey to and with Christ? What are some ways that I will keep watch, or keep my ears open, to God's word this year? What's the "Other Road" I'm called to travel?  When the wise men left to return to their home, they traveled on a different road.  How is God speaking to me through words, actions, little nudges from others to go my way via a different route? His routeWhat might that other road be this year as I consider righteousness? 

I certainly will continue to pray on this throughout the year and ask God to open my eyes and ears so that I will come to know His will for me.  I've already been reading more from my Bible, reading about righteousness and how God might reveal more to me as I study and learn.  I will look for ways to show His love in all things each and every day.

What about you? Have you received a star gift?  Do you choose one word for the year or make a list of resolutions?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Favorites

I had high hopes of publishing a couple posts this week, but when our sweet Mila came down with another ear infection (and a scarily high fever), plans changed.  Poor baby was just lethargic, fussy and needed lots and lots of snuggles.  Needless to say, blogging just did not happen.  Luckily, her fever broke the other night and she appears to be on the mend and acting much more like her normal, happy self. 

Onto the Friday Favorites link-up with Andrea and my favorite moments of the week.
One of Mila's favorite activities lately is coloring...and then ripping the paper into shreds. :)

She also loves doing anything her brother does.  This was definitely a favorite moment of mine over the weekend.  Dane loves to wear his CMU football helmet and run plays in the house.  Mila followed right along.  By the way, wearing jammies all day long is another favorite around here. :)

On Saturday, Troy and I enjoyed a rare date night at two of our favorite downtown spots.  We had dinner at Sperry's 2nd Floor Dinnerhouse.  Since it was another evening of subzero temperatures, we decided to head over to the Raven Cafe to warm up with a hot coffee drink.  It was nice to see both places so busy and to enjoy some live music, too.

I had to snap a picture of my favorite little man at Church on Sunday.  I just love his little vest. :)

And another favorite activity of Mila's lately is dragging out all of the pots and pans and making music.  Troy added more baby locks in the kitchen, but on Monday evening, she found the one cabinet he missed. :)

Another favorite is this Winter Reading Challenge for Kids from Read Brightly.  We have the printable on our fridge and have already checked off a few of the reading goals for the chilly month of January.  

My biggest favorite of the week is that Mila is feeling better.  There's nothing harder than seeing your little babe in pain (and seeing the number 104 on the thermometer!).  A couple doses of meds sure helped turn things around quickly.  Looking forward to a relaxing weekend visiting the library with the kids.

Happy Friday!

Monday, January 8, 2018

TBB Asks: New Year

Happy Monday!  I'm joining the gals at The Blended Blog for their monthly TBB Asks link-up.  These are always posts that I enjoy reading so I'm joining in the fun, too, this month.

1. Resolutions or no resolutions? 
I like the idea of resolutions and goals.  I also like the "one word" concept that has been popular in recent years.  My church has been distributing star gifts each year on Epiphany Sunday for quite some time and I have been using this as my "one word." Next week I'll have a post about this year's star gift.

2. Love snow or no snow? I am not a fan of snow (and yes, I live in Michigan haha).  I love the beauty of a white Christmas, but then after the holiday, I could totally go without it.

3. Name a new place you want to go this year.  We're taking the kids to Disney World this year!  The last time I was there was when I was about five years old (and Troy has never been) so it will definitely be a new and fun experience for all of us!

4. Would you rather have a new hair cut or hair color? New hair cut.  I've had blonde highlights since ninth grade.  I went back to my natural brunette color once in college and that didn't last very long. Blondes have more fun. ;)

5. Name one special thing you want to do for yourself this year.  I have had a gift card to the spa since my birthday in July.  I would love some time for a mani/pedi!

6. Least favorite thing about January? The cold cold cold weather!

7. Most favorite thing about January? The fresh start of a new year.

8. When do you take down your holiday decorations?  Typically, I like to keep them up until New Year's Day, or shortly thereafter.  However, this year we took them down two days after Christmas only because our little toddler likes to rearrange everything and constantly moving things up and out of her reach was getting old. :)

9. Do you diet in January?  No.

10. What area of your home do you want to organize the most?  Probably my closet.  I still haven't purged all of my maternity clothes and really just need to take the time to do a complete overhaul. 

11. Favorite winter comfort food? I love soups and slow cooker meals in the winter.  White chicken chili and breadsticks is one of my favorites.

12. Favorite guilty pleasure?  Give me all the donuts!

What do you love best about January and the new year?

Friday, January 5, 2018

Friday Favorites

Happy first Friday of 2018!  I'm linking up with Andrea today to share my favorite moments from the week.

We always get two weeks off for Christmas break, but because of when the holidays fell this year, it just felt extra long since we don't go back until Monday.  It has been wonderful!  Some of my favorite parts of break is having the time to do fun crafts and activities with Dane.  This week we focused on nursery rhymes and letter J.  Here he is working on our "J is for Jaguar" craft.  

Mila seems to think coffee is her new favorite drink.  Silly girl kept trying to steal my cup all week.  Don't worry, I only let her do this once the mug was empty. :)

Speaking of this silly girl, she has been the most picky eater since we started her on solid foods at 6 months old.  So I had a good chuckle when Troy showed me that she was stealing sips of one of his favorites, pickle juice!  She loved it!

Over the weekend, Dane got to go ice skating for the first time with one of his favorites, his cousin Cole.  This instantly became one of my favorite moments ever!  He loves watching his cousin play hockey so when he told him about the ice rink in their backyard, he just couldn't wait!  I scored a super deal on some ice skates from Dick's and Cole helped him try them out for the first time.  He was so patient with Dane, who was loving every second. When he brought out the hockey stick and helped Dane score a goal, he had the biggest smile!  My heart just melted!  Looks like we will be signing this little one up for Learn to Skate soon. 

Another favorite of this week was on New Year's Day.  We had our parents over to watch the Michigan game (Ugh. What a mess of a game that was!) and Troy smoked a brisket.  We all ate lots of yummy food, but I forgot to take pictures of it!  I tried a pumpkin cake recipe from Shay's Simmers cookbook.  I had never heard of baking a cake in a slowcooker before, but it came out so yummy!  Her recipe called for a yellow cake mix, but I only had a gingerbread cake mix in the house, so I just swapped it out.  It turned out so delicious and everyone loved the gingerbread and pumpkin combo.  I'll definitely be making that again. :)

Enjoying every last minute of our vacation is on the docket until we head back to work on Monday.  We're supposed to get a heatwave on Sunday (upper 20's haha) so we are hoping to take Dane sledding.  Should be fun!

Have a great weekend!!