August 22, 2016

Our First Day of Kindergarten

I woke up this morning with so many thoughts going through my mind.
It's the first day of school - for our oldest kid. The exciting and scary first day of kindergarten.

What do I pack him for lunch?
Do I let him pick out his own clothes to make sure he matches?
How long will it take to drop him off at school on the first day?
Do I get dressed now or feed the baby first? 

Soon after I got dressed, I hear Simon's alarm ringing, and my husband reminding him that the glorious first day of school has finally arrived. Simon has been excited for weeks about kindergarten! Simon's first comment of the day, "But it's still dark outside." Poor kid. I hope he still enjoys school once the reality of a full day at kindergarten sets in.

Simon did get out of bed happily though. He started eating breakfast while I fed the baby. The other two girls woke up before Johnny left for work. No tears, no crying - so far a good morning - and we still had tons of time left before I had to drive Simon to school. "I got this!" I thought to myself.

Our sweet neighbor came over around 7:00 to watch the girls while I drove Simon to school. I was grateful to have the first day of school with just him in the car. We snapped his grade picture, we laughed at his ginormous backpack full of school supplies, and we took seven pictures together to finally have one that wasn't photobombed by his siblings.

He couldn't wait to get out the door!

During our short drive to the school, I felt the need to remind him of all the life lessons we've tried to cram into his mind the last week. Simon has never been in preschool; he's always been home with me. The great, big world seemed scarier to Johnny and I than it did to him. Luckily, five year olds don't watch the news.

"What do you do if a stranger asks you to get into their car?" I asked.
"Say no, and tell my teacher," he dutifully responded.

"What if this. . . and that. . . and this. . .and that. . . " I asked him.
He calmly answered every question. 

It was an awkward interview about strangers, underwear, body parts, friends, kindness, following the teacher's directions, and lunchtime. Even though I know he'll love school, and I know he'll make friends, and I know he'll be the sweet kid that charms people, I still worry. That's what parents do, right? Did we teach him enough at home? Will he make good choices? Will he be happy? Please don't be the kid that whines or sets a bad example.

We walked together down his kindergarten hallway. Simon ran into his classroom before me - he was not nervous at all. We found the hanger for his backpack and dropped off his school supplies. After a conversation explaining that he can't play with the Legos yet because he needs to sit in his assigned chair, Simon was all set. Luckily, one of his friends from church was assigned the seat next to him, and we swapped parent photos. This was their first kindergarten drop off too, and I was happy to see them. By now, Simon was already coloring away, and I wasn't sure what to do. Do I just leave? Do I hug him again?

The teacher's aide was ushering parents out of the classroom with reassuring tones of "They'll be fine." As I walked away, Simon didn't miss me. He was fine.

Surprisingly, I was totally fine. As I walked away with our friends I asked out loud, "Am I a bad mom if I'm not crying?" I've dreaded the kindergarten drop off for months now, but this morning I was fine. Will I suddenly burst into tears this afternoon when I pick him up from school, and he tells me that he loved it? Hopefully he doesn't have a bad day, then I'll bawl for sure.

I called my husband on the way to the car. "He's officially dropped off," I announced, "and I'm not crying. Is that normal?" My husband reassured me that I'm fine because Simon is fine. If he had been crying or nervous or scared, it would be harder to leave him. Since he ran into the classroom happy as ever, it was easier to let him go.

Something definitely felt different leaving him in the giant elementary school. Being home without him has been strange too. It's just me and the girls now - who are dressed in princess dresses while they play with Simon's car and plane Legos. 

But I still wonder . . . 
Did I spend enough time with him before he started school?
Did he get the one-on-one time he needed?
(The last couple weeks I tried to give him more time while the girls napped, but I usually took a nap too instead of playing with him. Newborns and tiredness go hand-in-hand.)

Did we baby him too much? Will he be tough enough for school?
What crazy things will be come home saying or doing?
He's out of our protective bubble and out in the real world! Gasp.

Yet, I also know that everything is fine. I feel peaceful. I am excited for him to love school and make new friends and continue growing into an awesome little guy.

I have pizza and a cookie cake ready for dinner tonight. We'll have treats when he comes home from school, and I'll try to give him as much one-on-one time as I can to talk with him about his first day. With three other siblings to care for, I know I won't be perfect. Luckily, Simon won't expect me to be the perfect Pinterest mom. Luckily for him, I'll keep trying to be the best mom I can.

August 15, 2016

Seven Year Anniversary

Once upon a time, a girl met a boy.
They talked for a few minutes.
She thought he was cute; he thought she was a happy person.
The next day she left for three months.

When she came back to town, this boy really caught her eye! He was kind, adventurous, and generous. When he finally asked her for a date, she was beyond excited. And even though she spent the better part of dinner talking about psychological theory and Sigmund Freud, he liked her anyways. As the story goes, they fell in love and got married.

Our group of friends all went to a carnival, and we just happened to sit by each other on every carnival ride.
We hadn't gone on a date yet, but I was hopeful he secretly liked me back.

He came to meet my family during Christmastime, and we took him to Amarillo's famous Cadillac Ranch.

Seven years later - here we are!

I love reminiscing about our dating days. we had so much fun together! We built model cars, we face painted, we went for long walks, and we played games in the park. Everything about dating Johnny was so easy and comfortable. Everything seemed normal and free. I knew I would marry him after our first date, and that peaceful feeling made dating him blissful. Marriage to this man has been the greatest blessing in my life.

Seven years later, we have almost completely remodeled our house, we have four beautiful kiddos, a gorgeous piece of Texas land we'll build on someday, and lots of hope and dreams.
Life is fun.

Here's to another joyful seven years and onto eternity.

August 1, 2016

Garage Time with Daddy

If Dad is in the garage, kids will be in the garage.
Our kids love spending time out there with their Dad, and he loves it when they show an interest in building and creating. Awhile ago, he decided they each needed their own toolbox, so one night while I was working, they helped build their own toolboxes.

Then, he made it super fun by letting them paint! I think that was their favorite part.

When I noticed his bench was tagged, I asked him why he painted the "Daddy." He responded that he wanted to paint too, and so he marked his bench with his name. I don't think the word "Daddy" has ever been so sweet and dear to my heart. Each time I see it, I smile. I love that I married a man who enjoys being a daddy.

Isn't that was parenting is all about?
Enjoying these precious moments with our kids.

July 26, 2016

5 Issues to Discuss in Pre-Marital Counseling

I often joke that I didn't put much stock in pre-marital counseling until I became a licensed counselor that works with couples and families. Many times, the issue a couple struggles with in their marriage has been around since their dating days. I have often wondered what would be different if they had overcome those challenges though pre-marital counseling before the wedding day.

Asma Rehman wrote a great article on FamilyShare discussing the importance of pre-marital counseling - and the typical issues to discuss in more detail before the wedding. 

"Planning your wedding is stressful enough, but it's a piece of buttercream-frosted cake compared to the day-to-day reality of actual marriage. Indeed, so often couples get caught up with everything involved in prepping for their Big Day and romanticizing the concept of marriage that they forget to (or don't realize that they should) address all of the less-romantic issues that will inevitably arise when two people commit to sharing their lives together. Premarital counseling is an excellent way to confront these issues upfront and establish a stronger, healthier relationship moving into matrimony."

Hop on over and read the rest of her article here, and enjoy!

Her tips are also fantastic points for married couples to discuss. Knowing more about each others' needs, wants, and goals can bring a couple closer together. If disparities are present, then each spouse has the opportunity to serve and learn compassion for the other.

July 19, 2016

Re-Creating Family Photos

At our recent family reunion, my aunt had the amazing idea to create some of their old family photos. I've seen lots of funny re-creations with kids, but not with adults. Here are some funny photos of my father's family trying to bring back the glory days of the 1970s and 80s.

And here was the fun part - seeing them copy outfits and poses and hairstyles.
Eyeliner created some quick mustaches.

Aren't they cute again?

Of course Grandpa needed a new toupee!

And then onto their younger days.

Some added hair was necessary again.

Fun, right?

Have you re-created any of your old family photos?
If so, I'd love to see them. Share your link in the comments! 

July 13, 2016

Blending Families: Love is Key - Happy Families

I have had a few counseling appointment requests lately about blended families. It can be a challenge to merge different families together, but I appreciate the simple message of this video.

"Love is the key."

June 16, 2016

Expectations and Healthy Communication in Relationships

I read a fantastic article about marriage expectations lately. You can see it here.
In the article, the author describes the importance of understanding how your expectations affect your perception of the relationship. I've pondered his words frequently since then, and I've reflected on the spouses I've helped in couples counseling sessions. He describes "unmet expectations" as the silent killer of relationships, and so I would prescribe that the antidote is healthy communication.

It's not simply talking that keeps a marriage strong - a couple needs healthy communication.
What's the difference?
Look at these two examples:


Example One:
A wife texts her husband at work. "I can't believe you left the milk out of the fridge this morning. The milk was gross, and breakfast with the kids was a nightmare. You have some apologizing to do when you get home."
Feeling a bit defensive, the husband texts back, "I was tired because I'm the one that showered off Bobby after he peed the bed at 3am. I can't get any appreciation. Next time I'll just stay in bed, and then I won't be rushing to work and forgetting about the stupid milk."
Even angrier now, the wife texts back, "Oh you poor man, your sleep got disrupted. I deal with the kids every single night."
Frustrated, the husband texts back, "Babe, I'm at work. Leave me alone."

Example Two:
A wife texts her husband at work, "Morning routine was a disaster today. Can you call me at lunchtime?"
At lunchtime, the husband calls and asks about the morning problems. She explains about the finding warm milk on the counter, the kids' refusal to eat their cereal, and almost being late to school. The husband apologizes for leaving the milk out and creating havoc that morning. He explains that he must have been rushing because he overslept. He wanted to help out when Bobby peed the bed, and then he had a hard time falling back to sleep afterwards. The wife expresses appreciation for the nighttime help, and they both chalk up the morning disaster to "one of those days." The husband thanks his wife for managing the kids, and he promises to be more attentive in the mornings.


Okay, hopefully I made those differences obvious.
What did you notice?

First off, the communication avenue was different. Texting is not the same as talking. Over text message, you cannot hear tone of voice or sense emotion. You'll assume the other person's intent based on your own feelings at the time. Difficult conversations need to happen in person, or at least over the phone.

Secondly, did you notice the pattern of blame in the first example? I've written more about the dangers of the "blame game" in a previous post. Instead of passing blame in the second example, however, the couple talked about how to keep the problem from happening again, including a healthy dose of humor and gratitude. It was simply an accident - not a battle of "you always" or "you never."

Finally, I imagine the couple in the second example listened more than they defended their position. Since they were not fighting over who was the winner or loser of the situation, they could listen effectively. The listening led to empathy; empathy led to gratitude being expressed and comfort being provided. Awesome, right? Who knew that spoiled milk could lead to a happier relationship!

Expecting one thing from our spouses, and receiving another, can be frustrating. If those unmet expectations are continually swept under the rug, then someday they'll explode. It's important that couples take the time to discuss their grievances with each other - in a healthy way.

How can you keep those conversations helpful?
-Make sure each person has eaten and rested. Avoid the human weaknesses of "hangry" and sleepy.
-Take time to calm down if the issue is emotional charged.
-Offer a heads-up to the other person that you'd like to discuss something important later.
-Don't vent to all your family and friends before you solve the problem with your spouse.
-Give the conversation plenty of time; don't rush.
-Don't go looking for a fight or to prove a point. Work on solving the problem, not winning the argument. Hopefully these conversations are not arguments!

These conversations will be helpful as each spouse matures beyond the "blame game" into a sincere conversation about wants and needs. Each person needs to be willing to give and serve, as well. It is easier for a spouse to serve and care for the other if s/he knows what is expected of them.

Good luck in all your spousal conversations!

June 6, 2016

Kitchen Remodel Update

As I've mentioned before, we are remodeling our home's kitchen and back family room. What a learning process! The goal for the remodel is to remove all the 1980s memorabilia and update our home into a clean, white, traditional look. This includes lots of painting, wood trim changes, cabinet upgrades, and flooring changes. The family room is still in pieces, but our kitchen is finally coming together! After some setbacks, design changes, and many trips around town, I can see the light at the end of the kitchen remodel tunnel. Whew!

I thought I'd post some pictures of the process thus far. Enjoy!

This was the kitchen when we first toured our home in 2010 (the picture date is incorrect.) Within three days after moving in, we had ripped out those upper left cabinets to open up the room, and the florescent light box came out quickly as well. But the rest of the room stayed the same until a few months ago.

I painted the walls in October, and some of the window trim was painted white. Then morning sickness took its toll, and the remodeling stopped for a few months. This fourth baby really socked it to me! Once I was feeling better, I convinced Johnny to crank out the rest of the remodel before the baby's due date in August.

First on the list was to replace and paint the upper cabinets. We swapped the laundry room and kitchen cabinets, so the larger cabinets moved into the kitchen. After countless coats of paint and sealer, we finally hung the shiny, white cabinets in the kitchen. We added crown molding and custom trim around the cabinet and raised it all the way to the ceiling. Luckily we had my brother and brother-in-law to help with these cabinet installs. Being pregnant, I am not much help in the weight lifting department.

Snacks before painting - a preggo has to eat!

Next, the cabinet doors got painted with a million coats of paint and sealer. I wanted them to be bullet proof against splatters and stains. I used Varathane's Polyurethane Crystal Clear sealer on all the cabinets. While I painted in the garage, Johnny built the new breakfast bar. Then we installed the new range. (I love that my husband is a talented guy!) The breakfast bar will eventually get a wooden countertop, which Johnny will also make himself. All those woodworking YouTube videos he watches are coming in handy!

Ripping out the old electric cooktop and base cabinet to make room for the range.

One amazing benefit to a pier and beam foundation is the ability to crawl under the house to move pipes and wires. Johnny had to run a new power line to the breaker box and cut new holes for the downdraft range. It took over a week for a new range to finally get installed, but we sure love it!

Peek-a-boo. I see you down there!
Then it was time for paint colors. After painting three shades of green on the cabinets, we decided to paint the middle shade. Our friends and family members that weighed in on the choice also picked the middle color. First, I cleaned off decades of kitchen gunk and then sanded down the cabinets. Amazingly, my kids watched cartoons and played during all this work. I love my kids!

We primed cabinets at nighttime, so the kids wouldn't be around the oily smell. It had cleared by morning.

The base cabinets only needed two coats of green paint. We then added 5-6 coats of sealer to make them bulletproof against splatters and spills. I painted during the baby's nap time, while my older kids watched cartoons. (Yes, there were lots of cartoons watched during this time!) With all that wet paint, it's a miracle that we only had one kid hand print mishap, which was easily fixed. All three kids were amazing at staying out the kitchen for a few days to let everything fully cure.

Next step: paint and trim out the breakfast bar!

All the painting in the kitchen is finally (sort of) done. Johnny still needs to build a pantry to replace the existing cabinet housing the old microwave and oven, but in the meantime we were ready to replace our kitchen countertops. The kids and I drove all over North Austin visiting slab yards, trying to find that perfect hunk of granite. The kids enjoyed walking through "the big stones" and seeing the forklifts move the slabs around. Finally, I narrowed down some favorites. 

I almost majored in Geology during college, so I love rocks. I knew I would fall in love with a more expensive hunk of granite, simply because the coolest looking slabs are pricey. So, I narrowed down an option in three different price categories before Johnny came to look at the slabs.

Level One granite, Ornamental White

Level Two granite - Colonial White

Level Four granite - White Galaxy

I bet you can guess which slab I fell in love with . . . and luckily it was Johnny's favorite too.
We chose the White Galaxy granite, and I am so excited to see that white streak run along our kitchen counters. A week later, the kids and I took a trip to Amarillo to see my little sister graduate from high school. While we were gone, Johnny ripped out the existing countertops so the granite installers could form their cutting template. He also added Sheetrock to the inside of the breakfast bar and ripped out the microwave/oven unit and cabinets.

Life with no countertops and no kitchen sink has been memorable. I'm glad today is the final day! Johnny went all week washing dishes in the bathroom while the kids and I were on vacation, so all five of us only had to survive the weekend together. Lots of paper plates and disposable spoons later (sorry Earth) we are excited to see the return of the countertops today!

DIY butcher block countertops! Luckily these cutting boards gave us some usable counter space in this section.

Scrap wood from the garage came in handy to hold up some counter appliances.

My kitchen at the moment.

Here is our granite template. The installers should be arriving this afternoon, and I can't wait to see the stone in our kitchen! A new sink and new faucet will be installed as well.

Once the countertops are installed, we only have a few steps left:
Tiling the back splash
Building a pantry (with all the painting and sealing and such )
Re-texture spots on the wall and ceiling where we moved cabinets around
Build a new kitchen table and refurbish our chairs
Change out all the outlets

Almost there, right?

Plus, we're rebuilding our staircase at the same time. More about that dramatic project later. 

Do you home remodel yourself too? If so, good luck in all your projects!

May 20, 2016

Having Children is Good for Your Marriage

I recently saw an article from the Washington Post entitled, "Why having children is bad for your marriage" which was authored by psychology professor Matthew D. Johnson. Curiously, I read through the author's viewpoints, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for his findings. As a counselor that helps couples successfully navigate marital ups and downs, I wanted to add my two cents about the joys of parenting within a marriage. If couples successfully use the right tools, a marriage needn't suffer because other little bodies live in the same home. In fact, I would argue that it's not the children that damage the relationship; the real culprits are the unhealthy patterns the couple already portrays that may be intensified in a family dynamic.

Having children can be good for your marriage! Parenting offers more soul-touching ways to serve your spouse, show kindness, and form bonds beyond yourselves. There's nothing so loving as a Dad who take the kids outside so Mom can relax after a rough day. There's nothing like seeing your wife fall asleep on the sofa with a sick baby, so you can get some more rest before work. Oft expressed gratitude throughout parenting adventures brings couples closer, and parenting truly can enhance a strong relationship. However, a struggling relationship might feel squeezed, and I worry that Mr. Johnson's article faults children for the couple's existing unhealthy habits.


I'll attempt to deconstruct Mr. Johnson's points below:

". . . as a mother’s bond with a child grows, it’s likely that her other relationships are deteriorating."
Okay. Initially, much of a mother's time is sucked up by her newborn. Sleep deprivation and adjustments to a feeding schedule cause some negotiating. But a mother is not doomed to let her relationships deteriorate; they simply evolve. Single friends come visit during nap time or after bedtime. Friends with kids come over to play during the daytime so hopefully all the kids take good naps! I'll admit that my friendships have changed since having children, but I also know that I have been a slacker at reaching out to all my friends. Sometimes, I am just too busy to take a shower, and I'm not going out in pajamas and greasy hair. . . . but that's my choice. I could choose to go to bed early (rather than remodel the house) and have more energy for a shower in the morning. The point I'm making is that my habits and choices affect the outcome of my friendships. A marital relationship is similar. Couples need to balance bonding with the children and bonding in the marriage.

 "Comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples."
Remember my point that the real culprits behind marital dissatisfaction are the unhealthy patterns a couple already displays? Take this quote as validation. He's explaining that marital satisfaction normally declines within the first few years of marriage anyways, so children seem to speed up the decline. But I think he's failing to address the larger issue - the couple's existing negative patterns. If a husband and wife are already reducing their conversations to work life and scheduling, it shouldn't be surprising that "flirty texts are replaced with messages that read like a grocery receipt." I often see couples in session that only know how to talk about work life with each other. They've forgotten how to discuss hopes and dreams and vacations and soul-touching moments. Luckily, a couple can always re-learn those skills.

Having children only drifts a couple apart if the couple refuses to stabilize their marriage with bonding conversations. Pillow talk, regular date night, evening walks, and/or chats in the car on the way to your kid's soccer practice are important. If you feel distant from your spouse, stop watching Netflix together and start talking. Take up a hobby together. Cook dinner together. Form the vital, strengthening habits that enhance marital satisfaction.

"A common pattern emerges in which dads start spending more time and energy on outside work and moms start doing an increasing percentage of the child care and housework. Cue the feelings of frustration, guilt and distress for both parents."
Cue the need for more communication. The most common complaint I hear from couples in counseling is a lack of appreciation for their work. Unhappy spouses are slow to compliment, express gratitude, and validate each other. In session, I teach spouses how to speak kindly again. While I was finishing the required state hours for full counseling licensure, Johnny cooked dinner and put the kids to bed more than I ever did. Granted, I was lucky to be home with them most days, but I was ever grateful that my husband was willing to care for them at nights while I worked. I frequently expressed my appreciation to him. I heard him express gratitude for me in his prayers. We knew we had a plan together, and we boosted each other through those tough years.

Wives, express appreciation to your husbands for their work. Thank them often for their sacrifices for family. Share your concerns with them, and let them help you with your responsibilities. (Just because he does something differently than you doesn't mean it's the wrong way: bedtime routines, meal prep, housecleaning, etc) Talk to him when you feel stressed. Talk to him when you need a girl's night or a date night. Let him know how he can help you or compliment you or support you.

Husbands, supporting a family is more than money. It's the giving of your time, your attention, and your kindness. Listen when your wife tells you about the kid's barfing all over the carpet, and thank her for maintaining the home. Listen to your kids talk about dinosaurs and rocket ships and basketballs because your wife probably needs a break from hearing about them. Talk to your wife about your job too. Tell her about your stress, and involve her in plans for the family's well-being. Talk to her when you need some guy time or sports time. Let her know how she can help you or compliment you or support you.

"Some marriages do improve once the children leave the nest. In other cases, the successful launch of the children leads spouses to discover they have few shared interests and there’s nothing keeping them together."
Again, couples need to keep the flame alive by keeping bonding habits strong throughout their lives. If a couple focuses only on their kids' schedules, treating each other as mere roommates, then there may be trouble once the kids are gone. This is not the kids' fault though! Again, spouses are pulled apart by their own unhealthy patterns (have I emphasized that enough yet?). It is the couple's responsibility to keep their marriage a priority. To reference Dr. Chapman's research, couples must continually speak kindly to each other, spend quality time together, offer sincere gifts, serve each other, and cuddle together. All the things that made dating fun should still exist in a marriage. Will you evolve together? Yes! Will a fun night out look differently? Yes! But the idea of "dating your spouse" will help you two remember and enrich the sparks that started your entire relationship. The Dating Divas have some excellent ideas for keeping the flame burning.


I hope I've made my point. Parenting needn't be a drag on a marriage relationship. A couple with a strong foundation can only grow deeper over time through parenting lessons learned together. I love my husband so much more because of his fatherly role. I love watching him teach the kids how to use tools in the garage, how to ride bikes, and how to be kind. In some ways, he is more patient than I am, which inspires me to be a better person. I see all his good qualities intensified as a Dad.

Beyond the brag, we see each other more deeply because we see each other as parents and spouses. It is that bond that argues against Mr. Johnson's viewpoint that having children is bad for relationships. The relationship may be different, but it's up to the couple whether they choose to grow closer or further apart. Children will enhance, not hurt, a relationship if the couple chooses a healthy path.

May 7, 2016

Babies, Big Kids, and Bunk Beds

The next couple of months will spell big changes at our household. If we get it all done before the baby is born, then we'll have remodeled the kitchen, remodeled the living room, moved Simon upstairs, successfully combined Grace and Ruby into their big girl room, and gone on a couple family vacations. Phew! Apart from the remodeling work, I've realized this week how quickly my kids are growing up - and it's all happening too fast!

I thought I was ready for them to grow up, but I'm not.
After we decided to make our loft space into a bedroom for Simon, I was on board. I ordered the bunk beds and new bedding for the (soon-to-be) girl's room. I planned how I would decorate it out of a boy/girl room to a cutesy girly room. I imagined how the loft would look as Simon's room and a playroom. We got the contractor hired to fix the staircase railings so the children could actually play upstairs safely. I prepped Simon on the fact that he would soon move upstairs, and he eventually came around to the idea.

I waited anxiously for the bunk beds to arrive, but when the box came, I was hesitant to open it. "Maybe we'll wait until next week," I told myself. But the kids were so excited to setup their bunk beds! Simon started lugging blankets upstairs into his "new" room, Grace started asking where Ruby's new bedding for her bunk was located, and all of a sudden my kids were growing up! They were ready for the change, and I found myself carrying Simon's favorite blankets and toys upstairs with a heavy heart. My baby boy was a big boy.

When Johnny got home from work, the kids couldn't wait for him to assemble the bunk beds and get the room transfers started. There was a quiet moment upstairs where I sat with Johnny on the guest bed (now Simon's bed) and I started to cry. Johnny was a bit puzzled by my emotion, since I had been excited for this day to come. "It's all happening so fast," I said. "We enrolled him in kindergarten, he's moving upstairs, I can't peek on him and watch him sleep as easily, I'm just emotional." Johnny gave me a hug.

The bunk beds were assembled, and when bedtime finally rolled around, Grace was asleep in her new top bunk, and Simon was snuggled into his upstairs bed. They were happy and excited and heading off to new dreamland adventures.

I think I'll keep Ruby in her crib for a little bit longer, only because I'm not ready to move her into the bottom bunk bed. Maybe I just need a couple more weeks to prepare for her transition.

Mommyhood is a roller coaster of emotions, especially when you're pregnant. But I wouldn't trade it for the world! As we come around the corner to Mother's Day, I have a new appreciation for time. Time flies, but I can make those moments count. I want my kids to know that they are loved. I want them to know that they are important. I am so excited to see the fantastic adults they will grow into, but for now, I'll cherish the snuggles and cuddles because they grow up too fast.

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