Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013 // Resolutions

Photos from a rare sunny day last week at Holland State Park.
I slipped on the ice and fell right on my fanny. And pulled a groin muscle. It was fun!

Hi again. Sorry, no baby yet. But we did have a nice (very fast) Christmas - and can you believe tomorrow starts a new year? 

2013 was a crazy, crazy year. Some highlights:

We moved up to Michigan from West Virginia. 
We almost died carrying our kids up about 1,000 ice covered stairs to see a very big lake. 
The kids turned 4 and 1 in the same week. 
We experienced our very first Tulip Time! 
We spent a lot of time cooling off and having fun in downtown Holland. 
We visited Chicago for the first time. 
We took a tour of the hospital where the baby will be born (and made the huge mistake of taking the kids with us.) 
Can't forget the epic moment where we spotted the Tardis at our favorite coffee shop!

2013, you were busy, messy and crazy - but I wouldn't have had you any other way. You were a great year! I'm actually going to miss you!

But I can't help looking forward to all the craziness 2014 is going to bring. Which leads me to...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

1. Have this baby. (She obviously decided having her own birthday month was more important than giving her old Mom and Dad that 2013 tax deduction. Rude.)

2. Complete another Whole 30 to combat the 30 I've packed on this pregnancy. (Again, baby...rude.)

3. Be more patient and present with my kids.

4. Refuse to let having more kids than I have hands stop me from having lots of adventures with my family in 2014. 

Thanks to those of you who read my silly ramblings here on The Sweetness, and especially to those of you who leave me sweet comments/e-mails. You encourage me and make blogging a lot more fun.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Christmas Eve!

This will likely be my last post for a little while. We have a lot going on in the next week, with Christmas (!!!) Matt's birthday, New Years, and the imminent arrival of baby number 3. (My doctor and I have a hunch that she wants to be a December baby, so we shall see!)

The good news is, all the presents are wrapped and ready for tomorrow, and even though we are far away from our much missed family, our amazingly sweet Michigan friends have "adopted" us yet again and are having us for dinner tomorrow, so we are very much looking forward to celebrating Christmas with them.

Also! The crib is actually set up with clean pink sheets, the newborn clothes are in the dryer as I speak, the car seat is installed in the van and we even have a few packs of diapers in the closet! We are finally ready for you baby-no-name-yet! :)

Despite feeling really physically uncomfortable this week, I feel so happy. I've enjoyed this Christmas season so much. It's such a privilege being able to relive that special childhood wonder of the holidays through your kids' eyes. And you can't ask for a better, more exciting Christmas present than a brand new baby, (but please don't surprise us tomorrow, kiddo - anytime after December 25th would be perfect!) ;)

A very, very merry Christmas from our family to yours! Be back soon!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Oliveisms, Part III.

[8AM, Monday.]



(VERY melodramatically:) "So far today everything has gone wrong."

"Like what?"

"You gave me a plastic spoon for my cereal because all the real ones were dirty."


"And you made me take off my tights and put on pants because my dress was too short."

"Uh huh."

"So, I'm running away from home."

"Oh. Can I help you pack a bag?"


"Well, dress warm, there's a lot of snow outside."

"Hmm... I think I'll wait until after supper."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Totally Unrealistic (But Fun!) Wish List

Christmas is one week away (how??) and my husband has been asking me for weeks what I would like as a gift, and I keep coming up totally blank. I mean, besides not really needing anything anyway, I'm totally preoccupied with getting gifts ready for the kids and, oh yeah, getting ready to have a baby any minute now. Realistically, I'm going to be too post-partumy (shouldn't that be a word?) to enjoy wearing anything pretty for a while, and I'm going to be too busy with three kids to enjoy any type of project or book, etc for the rest of my life for a bit.

As I thought about it more, I realized the things I do keep on my secret mental wish list are either (A.) unrealistically expensive, (B.) impractical or (C.) both. But they're all so awesome and fun that I'm sharing them here. ;)

I've been lusting after these boots for years. (I'm pretty sure every popular blogger in the blogosphere owns a pair.) They come in a wide variety of beautiful colors. I like that they're slim fitting and fun. Muuuch cuter than the hideous black Ugg-style boots I've been hauling my big pregnant booty around in for the last 2 months. I also love that they're practical for snow and rain, two things we get in abundance on the Lake Michigan lakeshore.

You know what stinks about being hugely pregnant in the winter? Not being able to zip your coat is what. I've had coats on my mind since the day I realized I couldn't zip my winter coat over my belly anymore, (about a month ago) and I would love to have one of these insulated North Face parkas after the baby is born. Wind and water resistant, and also insulated while not looking too much like the Michelin Man...

I am so intrigued with this sexy little camera, which is getting rave reviews from professional and amateur photographers alike. If you're a camera/photography nerd like me, read up on it - it's an impressive little machine. Sometimes I feel too conspicuous carrying my DSLR around, and it's also a bit heavy/cumbersome to be toting around with my growing herd of small children. For it's tiny size, this camera takes seriously gorgeous film-like photos, and handles extreme light conditions beautifully. Unfortunately it costs a small fortune, but a girl can dream, right?

I love the look of ankle boots that hug the  really low part of the ankle, and I've found it's a style that's kind of hard to find. I love the look of these Jean Michel Cazabats, though they're really pricey (and sold out on Amazon and Shopbop. Boo.) I found this much more affordable pair on Amazon that look almost identical and I can't get them out of my head.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Staycation Celebration (7 Years)

Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. It has gone by really really fast - probably because we've been so busy since 2006! We've moved seven times, brought home two babies, and will deliver our third little person very soon. I can't believe how much life has been packed into 7 fast, beautiful years. Some bad times have been endured, but those have been totally outweighed by the great times. Each anniversary is a blessing, a gift and a little miracle in itself that we try to never take for granted. We have a lot to praise God for this anniversary. I'm so very blessed to be married to my Matt; my very best friend. I couldn't imagine life without him.

Due to a lot of reasons, we knew it was going to be impossible to do any major celebrating today, so we celebrated a little early (you know, while I could still walk wasn't hobbling.) Over Thanksgiving weekend we booked a room at a hotel downtown while my sister kept the kids at our house. It turned out to be one of the nicest, most relaxing "trips" we've ever taken (and when we realized we had forgotten our toothpaste, it was nice to just drive 5 minutes back home to grab it!) I think it was also a good practice run for my sister and the kids, who will be hanging out together for a couple of days while I'm having the baby.

Our room was very modern and bright. I really liked the unconventional floor plan.

Hotel beds are such a luxury - (especially when you're a 6'2" guy and you still share a tiny full size bed that your in-laws passed down to you 7 years ago [that was originally purchased circa-1990] with your 9-months-pregnant wife.)

We caught a matinee of "Catching Fire" in the early afternoon, though I feel I need to watch it again because I think I got up to pee at least 8 times. 

And then we braved the Black Friday crowds and purchased a car seat for the baby, which wasn't exactly romantic, but still pretty darn exciting.

It was a rare, sunny day so we enjoyed walking around downtown looking into windows for a bit before settling on a restaurant to eat at. 

Then we went to bed early, like the old fuddy-duddy married couple we are, and I think we most likely fell asleep watching House Hunters on HGTV!

This was our first time "staycationing" in our own town, and we loved it. It was so easy, relaxed, and just totally stress free - which is just what we needed before life gets really crazy over here!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Full Term

We are 37 weeks today! Maybe it's because both Olive and Silas were April babies, and I'm not used to being full term around Christmas time, but it feels like everything is happening just a little too fast. At my appointment today, I found out that I'm dilated to 2cm, which made my jaw literally drop because I never started dilating with Olive or Silas until I was well past my due date. I've just been expecting that this baby will be late like my other 2, (and she still very well might! Trying to keep that in mind here...) and I haven't been really serious at all about getting everything in order yet. My doctor lectured me quite sternly today to at least get the crib and car seat set up this weekend, which made me feel just a tad ashamed. Driving home from the appointment, I kept getting these alarming thoughts like - "Oh my gosh, we're going to need diapers! Lots and lots of tiny diapers. Oh my gosh, wipes!" 

Over all I'm feeling ok. Except, I'm starting to walk like John Wayne. And I feel (*am*) enormous, and maternity clothes are just barely fitting. (I keep stealing Matt's clothes. He does not approve.) Lots and lots of Braxton Hicks lately, and they're definitely worse this time than with my first two. Oh, and I thought I would get through a whole pregnancy without craving anything really gross, but sure enough one night last week I woke up in the middle of the night absolutely needing a bologna sandwich. With lots of mustard. This has happened to me every single pregnancy, and I know - I disgust myself too. (With Silas I had to eat tuna-from-the-can every single day for almost the entire pregnancy, so at least it hasn't been that gross this time.)

P.S: Last night we took the kids to a sibling class at the hospital. It was fun for Olive, but I learned the hard way after about 1.5 minutes that it was a huge mistake to take Silas. All the kids were supposed to take a doll and a bottle when they walked in. Silas immediately put the bottle in his mouth and glared at me when he realized it was empty. When I tried to show him how to pretend to feed the baby the bottle he screeched at me threw the bottle at the doll's head, and he refused to touch the doll for the rest of the class. He's obviously not going to give up his privileged position of "the baby" without a fight.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just Some More Oliveisms

Olive: "Can you read me that story about me and Noah?"
Me: ..... ?
Olive: "You know, Noah and my leaf?"
Me:..... ?
Olive: "The OLIVE LEAF, MOM! From the dove!"

Olive, looking at the nativity scene: "What were in the presents that the wise men brought?"
Me: "Gold, frankincense and myrrh." 
Olive, with a disgusted look: "Ugh, well what about a rattle? Didn't they even know babies love rattles?"

Olive: "Dad?"
Aunt Grace: "I'm not your Dad." 
Olive: "I didn't call you Dad..."
Aunt Grace: "Uh, yeah you did."
Olive: "Well, 'Dad' is how you say "Grace" in Spanish."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

While Daddy's Away...

...Mommy and little ones tend to get lonely, grumpy, overly-emotional and bored. (Ok, maybe just Mommy...) While Matt was in NY last week, we tried to keep busy busy busy to make the time pass as quickly as possible. We played at the warm, mall playground and stood staring at the spinning, electronic snowmen for a solid 10 minutes. (Silas was mesmerized.)

We went to an Advent Workshop at church, where we made lots of fun Christmas crafts. I made a bunch of ornaments for the tree - my favorite being this little sheep. Olive was mad at me for the rest of the week for not letting her "keep it."

Most daring and exciting of all, we attended the Christmas parade downtown all by ourselves! I was outnumbered, it was freezing and raining, plus it was dangerously close to bedtime-meltdown-hour, but we survived! We even had fun!

Olive happily begged with the other kids, and was rewarded with pocketfuls of candy.

The worst part was the long, very rainy walk back to the van in the dark. The kids found a little shelter in the stroller, but we were a shivering, soggy mess when we finally got back home. 

I find that these weeks where Matt has to go away for work get easier and easier the more we do it. I still hate his work trips, and probably always will, but I'm thankful that the kids and I are finding our "groove" together while he's away. I'm amazed by how helpful and positive they are while he's gone, especially Olive. She's a big encouragement and good helper to me when I'm holding down the fort alone, and I'm so thankful for her!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

About A Tree

Our rental is tight on space. We knew if we were going to get a Christmas tree this year, it would have to be small-ish. We thought about a getting a nice fakie, but I was sad about missing out on that wonderful fresh tree smell. Smells are very important to a pregnant lady! And since we didn't have a tree at all last year (remember when we moved the week of Christmas?) I wanted to at least look around to see if we could find a small fresh tree before buying an artificial one.

This Saturday was not the best day to look for trees. It was snowing, windy and about 20*F. But we bundled everyone up and stopped at the nearly deserted Farmers Market downtown - with no luck. Then we stopped at one of those roadside lots you see pop up all over this time of year. (It was so cold and windy that when we parked, Olive gave us a stubborn look and said "I'm not going out there!" Our little Scrooge.)

We looked and looked, and were having the hardest time picking one, mostly because there weren't very many small ones. (Picking a tree is always so hard anyway - it has to be perfect!) The owner (who I shall call "Tree-Guy") came up and asked us what we were looking for, and with his help we found the tree. It was the perfect width, perfect fullness - but was a bit too tall. And too pricey. But Tree-Guy said he would shorten it for us, and take off from the price, and I think Matt could tell I had fallen hard with the tree so we agreed to get it.

Turns out, Tree-Guy is one of the craziest-nice guys we have ever met. Really. He took about 2 feet off this gorgeous tree, and took $20 off the price, taking it from $50 to $30. We were so taken aback that Matt stammered that Tree-Guy should take at least $40 for it, but Tree-Guy shook his head and said "I'm a reasonable man!"

THEN he insisted on taking a picture of us grinning proudly with our official tree of 2013 tied to our minivan, because, (and I quote:) "this is probably the last picture you guys will get together before that new baby comes!" And I swore to Matt at that moment that for as long as we live here, we shall never buy a tree from anyone but Tree-Guy! He totally made my day. I'm still grinning like an idiot.

And there she is, in all her lights and finery! We are all crazy about her!

Friday, December 6, 2013


These kids were so good this week while Matt was away for work. Love them so much!

Matt was in NYC all week for work. I always dread his work trips, and they always seem even more formidable when I'm pregnant because he's such a great support and help to me on a daily basis. His absence is sorely felt. But this trip actually went pretty smoothly. The kids were so unbelievably cheerful and helpful (well, as helpful as a 4 year old and 1 year old can be, you know...) The worst part was that I could not sleep. I never sleep well when he's out of town.

He was supposed to get in early this morning, around 1AM, so I waited up to see him. When he got in though, he had to jump immediately back on the phone/computer. Major work emergency. He worked until 5AM. And of course, I couldn't sleep either, mostly because I was brooding and feeling stupid hateful thoughts about his job, so that's my fault. 

7AM came all too soon, with one kid yelling "you can come wipe me nowwwww" and the other crying because he soiled all his crib sheets/blankets. But LUCKILY I had had the forethought to bake cinnamon rolls the day before, and you know there's not many things in this broken world so bad that a hot cinnamon roll and coffee can't fix it. Right? That might just be the baby thinking for me... 

So we are quite the lovely, blood-shot-eyed, weary couple today, but really happy to be back together again. AND - it's Friday! So maybe if we're lucky we'll be able to catch up on a little sleep over the weekend.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

More Oliveisms

Olive being helpful: "SILAS BENJAMIN! Keep your diaper on!"

Olive, the philosopher: "Dad, can I write a letter to God and Jesus telling them I forgive them?"

Olive, on the differences between boys and girls: "Girls are made of sugar and spice and nice."
Me: "What are little boys made of?"
Olive: "Blood, shirts and drool."

Me: "How did you get to be so smart?"
Olive: "It's because I'm so beautiful."

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Four of Us

Sometimes you look up from what you're cooking or working on and realize you're experiencing one of those rare, quiet, idyllic family moments. Kids coloring quietly and amiably next to each other, close to Dad who's working at the kitchen table. Watching them together like this made my heart fill close to bursting. I love these guys so much.

I have really loved being just the four of us. We've made a pretty good team. I am constantly wondering how baby girl will fit into the flow over here in this crazy, noisy house, and now much her arrival will impact the big kids' lives. We're praying it will be a natural, love-packed transition for everyone. We're getting so excited to meet her!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thirty-four Days (Ish.)

I think it's funny-scary what pregnancy/childbirth does in our brains. Like, how terrifying amazing is it that women can go through the long, exhausting, often totally yucky experiences of pregnancy, labor, delivery and recovery - and then seemingly forget about it and willingly go through it all again (and again, and again...)

Even just a month ago, the idea of going through labor, delivery and (probably my least favorite) the "4th trimester" terrified me, even though this is my third go-around. It seemed like time was going too quickly and I was in no hurry to get to the end. Somehow as I have entered the final month, that all changed, and now all I can think about it getting it over with. It's like your brain flips this switch and suddenly you don't feel scared anymore, just totally ready to get it done. (Get this kid out of meeee....)

The last thirty-ish days are tired, sore, swollen, puffy and irritable. Oh, and emotional. Sooo irritable and emotional. (Pray for my poor family that has to put up with me.)

I've been trying to stay as distracted as possible with Christmasy projects - like painting our advent calendar (hello first day of advent!) and making ornaments from cute heart nut shells. 

White Thanksgiving

This was one of the most relaxing, cozy, simple Thanksgivings I can ever remember. I was worried it would be a kind of melancholy day, since it would be our first Thanksgiving away from our families, but it ended up being a really nice day.

We woke up to a good bit of snow, and even though the kids woke us up way too early we made the best of things by making a big waffle breakfast, and just lounging about the whole morning. I only had a couple of small things to cook to share with friends later in the day, so there was ample time to even take a long, relaxing bath in the middle of the day!

Kind friends from church "adopted" us this year and let us crash their family parties for dinner and dessert. It was such a blessing to feel welcomed, and the fellowship was sweet. We are really, really thankful for our new MI friends.

But of course, we still missed our families a whole lot. I miss them all the time, but holidays make it harder. I'm already looking ahead to next Thanksgiving, and trying to imagine how traveling to either OH, WV or NC with three littles in tow would work out...