Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hunter's Second Birthday Party! Disney Princess-palooza

With Michael in school right now, we don't have money for many "extras," but when it comes to birthdays and holidays, I have a hard time reigning myself in.  Luckily, I found several amazing deals on food and decorations, and I utilized what we already had around the house to make Hunter's birthday party special.

We already had the Disney princess barbies and books.  They made for great table centerpieces!

Huge balloon I found on eBay for a great deal

Castle centerpiece and hanging decorations were another eBay steal

Thank you to my parents for having Mr. Pockets the balloon guy come.  He was such a huge hit!

Amazing cake made by my friend from church

Gift explosion

Another huge hit and the most surprising gift.  Thanks again to my parents.  :-)  

27 members of our family were able to make it

She was tired for much of the party but warmed up just in time for cake, gifts, and puppies.  :-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hunter's first birthday

**I started this draft a year ago and am now going to finish it and post it:

I cannot believe it has already been a year since our precious Hunter graced our lives.  I was so nervous on the way to the hospital, not knowing what to expect.  My breeze of a pregnancy should have let me know what was in the future: a fast and easy labor followed by the most perfect little girl.

Michael and I watched her playing the other day and tried to imagine what our lives would revolve around if we didn't have her.  She seems to bring more meaning and joy to anything we do.  This first year with her has been a whirlwind.  She has surprised us with her reddish hair and spunky personality.  She has impressed us with her strength (holding up her head from day 1...climbing the stairs at 7 months) and amused us with her sneakiness (getting the TV remote no matter where we hide it...watching all day for the bathroom door to be open for her perfect opportunity to get to the toilet...quietly opening cabinets so she can get to the pans before we realize it.)

**I had just become a stay-at-home-mom when I started planning Hunter's first birthday party.  I was so excited to make it the most special party ever!  We had friends at church who were in the hospital at the same time as us having their precious son.  He was born the day after Hunter, and at the time of their first birthdays, he had been battling brain cancer for several months and had been given just a few weeks left to live.  Out of respect for him and his parents, we decided to make Hunter's party a small family party.  I have not posted any of the pictures from her first birthday yet.  Our friends' son passed away on July 31, just a few weeks after they turned one, and it never seemed appropriate to me to put pictures where they might come across them.  However, with Hunter's second birthday tomorrow, I wanted to look back and remember her at this fun milestone.

"Cake pops" (oreos and cream cheese) that I made to go along with the orange and pink theme

 Tutu that I made from a Pinterest tutorial :-)

Sweet birthday girl in her dollar tree crown.  She picked it out herself.  :-)

 Party favors:  Bubble wands, rock candy, and pixie stix

 Pink and orange juices with paper umbrellas

 Precious shirt by my friend Ashley of Pumpkin Butter Kids

Homemade birthday banner courtesy of Pinterest

The spread.  These cakes from Cutie Cakes cost waaay less than if I had made them (and they look much better too). :-)

Hahaha I love her face here!  I know that sick, low-blood-sugar feeling oh too well.

There will not be a birthday of Hunter's that goes by without us thinking about sweet Scout and wishing he were running around right alongside Hunter.  We cherish every day and every milestone with our precious girl.  It is hard to believe that another year has passed so quickly, and that she is out of that baby stage.  I miss those days, but it is such a blessing to see her growing into the person that she will become.  We love you sweet girl!  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 6th, 2010: Hunter's Debut

I sat in the doctor's office with about a week and a half left in my pregnancy.  We had just returned from a trip to Orlando, during which I had obsessively looked for hospital signs along the 16 hour drive in case I went into labor.  I had also just had my maternity pictures taken in the July heat, which was one of the last items on my "to do before baby" checklist.  I felt like a swollen, itchy, blimpy whale and couldn't find relief from the heat anywhere I went.

(Miserable despite the smile.  One of my favorite maternity photos by Cindy Isom Photography)

With this being my first pregnancy, I was anxious about the unknown:  What do I do if my water breaks?  How long will my labor last?  I was not nervous about the pain.  I knew I had a high pain tolerance, but I also wasn't opposed to an epidural if it looked like labor was going to last awhile.

I had been dilated about 1 cm at my last two visits, so I expected to be there still.  "Well, McKenna," my doctor said, "You are at about a 3."  ("Woohoo!" I thought).  "I'm going to be out of town next week, and chances are you will have this baby while I'm gone."  (My mental celebration screeched to a halt.)  "If you'd like, we could induce you on Wednesday."(That was just a few days away! My mind reeled with all of the unfinished projects I had left to finish).  

(One of the last photos of my pregnancy.  This was at our church shower)

After talking to my husband, we decided to go for it.  This would give me an extra week with my precious baby girl before I had to go back to school (making my maternity leave 5 weeks instead of the 4 that I had thought that I would have). With his family in Orlando, we thought it would also be nice to know the exact timing so they could be there. They quickly arrived and helped put the finishing touches on the nursery on Tuesday night.  Michael and I woke up bright and early on Wednesday morning to arrive at the hospital by 6 am.  When we got there, all of the lights were off, the doors were locked, and no one was around.  A nurse walked up and scanned in for the doors to open, so we followed her in.  We made our way to the deserted New Life Center.  We had not taken any classes and were unfamiliar with the hospital (which I was starting to feel uneasy about at this point.  Oh well!)  We walked up to the nurses' desk and said, "Um, we're here to have a baby?"

(Our room.  Friends on TV and lots of visitors until the last 45 minutes of the labor and delivery)

They got me started on a few of the induction meds, but there were several patients delivering ahead of me, so they didn't break my water until about 1 that afternoon.  In the meantime, Michael and I enjoyed watching several episodes of Friends.  I was glad we had brought all 10 seasons on dvd with us.  :-)  Family popped in and out in between card games in the lobby.  I was uncomfortable because I had to lay flat (which I thought meant on my back), and because my IV was not taped down very well, but my contractions were not bothering me at all.  The nurses were standing around the nurses' station watching massive contractions come over my monitor and "drawing straws" over who had to come check on me.  One nurse hesitantly peeked her head into my room and was amazed when I told her that I didn't even know that I was having contractions.  Ha!
(A minute apart but I still couldn't feel them)

That all changed after they broke my water, though.  The contractions began to get more intense, and after a few rounds of visitors through the pain, I told my sister to tell everyone that I had said no more visitors!  I found out that through the whole day, from 6 am-2 pm, I had only dilated 3 more centimeters, putting me at a 6.  That did not bode well to me for the last 4 centimeters, so I asked for the epidural.  Only 15 minutes later, though, I was complete and ready to push (one of the younger nurses looked really concerned that I was about to deliver without the epidural), so Michael turned off Friends (haha!) and once the doctor arrived, just a few pushes later, Hunter was here!  

(Tired from the whirlwind last 20 minutes of the labor and delivery)

She had the sweetest, fattest little face and a good set of lungs!  No one could figure out who she looked like those first few days.  She was already her own person: perfectly-formed, precious, and deeply loved.  

I can not believe her first two years of life have flown by so quickly!  We love you so much, our beautiful, spunky, Elizabeth Hunter!

End of Reboot

So, the Reboot Challenge ended awhile ago.  I managed to get quite a bit done around our house above and beyond the everyday grind.  My big trifecta tend to be laundry, dishes, and trash.  I feel like if I take a breather for one minute, my house (especially the kitchen) goes from pristine:

to a disaster zone:

It was good for me to have time to reset and get focused again on keeping my house organized.  One of the projects I undertook was organizing the pantry.  This was the only project of which I took a picture, and I only took the after.  It looks so much better and is so much more functional!

And of course, while I was doing that, the babies were doing this:

Hahahaha!  Gotta love it.  :-)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reboot Day 8

Well, I decided to be really brave two days ago and try to put both babies down for a nap in the same room.  So far, the cleaning challenges have kept me upstairs in my bedroom, which meant that I could work hard and make noise during nap time without waking anyone.  I am now ready to do my own cleaning challenges downstairs, though.  Thatcher has slept downstairs in his pack n' play for most of his life, which makes it hard for me to do anything in the kitchen during nap time.

I have been feeling like such a supermom lately that I figured, "Why could I not put them down in the same room?"  They are both finicky sleepers, but both had slept through a thunderstorm and power outage the day before, so I figured it would be no big deal.  Boy was I wrong!  What a nightmare!  After 30 minutes of double screaming, I decided that it wasn't worth it and put Thatcher back downstairs.  We will try again in another 9 months.  Haha!

Because of this, I'm only about half way through on the laundry and dishes.  I took all of the excess clothes and baby gear to storage.  I still need to do a Goodwill trip and deal with the mail.  I hope to finish this over the weekend.

The Mary challenge from yesterday was to think of houses that I have visited that have made me feel loved.  I immediately thought about homes that have hosted Bible study groups over the years.  Most homes that have had me overnight also have made me feel loved.  Most of these have several elements in common:  Food, Laughter, a sense of Family.  They were also neat and clean.  Not spotless, but tidy.  They were comfortable.  I always felt at ease to make a mess (and help clean it up) while cooking in the kitchen or to walk barefooted on the carpet.  My husband and I have always said that we hope to someday have a "Bible study house."  We would love to have place that is big enough to host big groups of people.  Our kids' friends, the youth group, college students...we would love to have a home that could be a home away from home for many and hope to create that same comfortable atmosphere.

The Bible app that is on my iPhone sends a daily devotional and verse to my email.  This was today's verse (The Message paraphrase):

"So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good.  At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit.  Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith."  Galatians 6:9

This made me think of my family.  I can't wear myself out trying to see to everything.  I just need to do what I can, when I can, and make sure we are growing in the right direction.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 6

What are my reasons for cleaning and wanting to keep a straight house?

1.  So I can find stuff!  It is amazing how much more smoothly life runs when you aren't having to search for something to wear or eat on.  :-)  Organization and cleanliness brings peace of mind.

2.  It is a service to my husband.  After a stressful day of school, he deserves to come home to a haven where he can relax and recharge.

3.  It will teach my children how to be good managers of their homes someday. (Plus, Hunter loves to clean and it gives her an activity she can do with me).

4.  It saves money.  When I know what is in my fridge and pantry, we tend to waste less due to expiration.  When the kitchen is clean and organized, I am inspired to cook more, which also saves money.

5.  Having a clean house always inspires me to be more hospitable.  I love being able to have people drop by, and it makes me feel like a worthy hostess when I have a sparkling home into which to invite them.

Having only two bedrooms, I completed all of the bedroom tasks last week.  I have decided to go ahead and finish up day to day tasks and get the overflow out of the house.  My challenges for this week:

1.  Load the car with the boxes for Goodwill and storage.
2.  Drop off boxes at Goodwill and storage.
3.  Get all dishes washed and trash taken out.
4.  All laundry washed, folded, and put away.
5.  Mail and important documents filed away.

Day 3, 4, and 5 of the Reboot Challenge

The past few days have been wonderful for helping get me motivated to finish up cleaning our bedroom.  In true Martha form, I finished organizing my night stand, cleaning under the bed, and managed to get several boxes packed up for storage.

The Mary challenges over the past 3 days have really given me a lot of food for thought.  So much food, in fact, that I had no idea where to begin to put it into words, which has delayed my blogging about it.  Here's what I've come up with so far:   

1.  When I have been tempted to sit and watch TV or browse Facebook, I have been convicted to ask myself, "Am I being lazy?  Am I being selfish?"  I had really never equated the two of these until I began these challenges.  As a stay-at-home mom of "Irish twins," I have had so many people tell me to be sure I take time for myself lest I lose my ever-loving mind. :-)  I am still grappling with this.  Isn't it selfish to take time for myself?  But isn't it also important that I keep myself on my priority list?  I'm not sure where I will land on this yet, except for the thought that taking time for myself does not have to mean being lazy.

2.  Diligence (the opposite of laziness) means "constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind."  It hit me when I read this definition:  there is no in between!  If I take a day to kick back and not worry about the laundry, I am no longer being diligent.  I have seen this happen.  I can spend every spare second keeping the house straight, and then if I take one afternoon off, the house seems to revert back to a week's worth of mess!  Wow.  The thought kind of makes me tired, but in a way it is also encouraging.  I know that if I am not pressing ahead, I am not being diligent. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day 2 of the Reboot Challenge Link Up

You can check out Sarah Mae's blog here if you would like to see more about the 31 Days to Clean Reboot Challenge.

I ran out of steam on Day 1, and thus did not blog about my efforts.  I am happy to say, however, that I did not run out of steam until well after the challenges had been completed!

With my crockpot meal already in the works and the babies contained in their high chairs, I managed to clean up the kitchen a little bit and switch over the laundry so the babies could "help" me fold after breakfast.  

Right off the bat, with Sarah Mae's encouragement to look at what distracts us from being productive, I made the tongue-in-cheek observation (to myself, of course) that I have two of the cutest distractions in the world.  More than distractions, I would say.  At 9 months and 23 months old this week (where has the time gone!) I would say they are my Entropy:  the law which leads our house towards disorder and chaos.  

I had to face the music, though, when they both took a 2 hour nap at the same time.  No more excuses.  Was I going to let myself get lost in social media or the Food Network?  No.  I was going to be productive!

I was quickly so engrossed in the process that I forgot to turn on the music I had brought to listen to.  I made such great progress on our bedroom closet that I proceeded to clean out the dresser drawers.  I had no idea that this would be the Martha Challenge of Day 2.  Having a head start on it for today was great, and after culling out the items that will go to storage or Goodwill, I was able to focus solely on organizing it.  Never in our almost 4 years of marriage has Michael's sock drawer been so neat! 

Today's Mary challenge also lead me to a verse that has resounded with me.  I think it truly speaks to the heart of homemaking and the 31 Days to Clean process.

Psalm 119:96 - Even Perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.

I think it is a wonderful reminder that even if I spend every ounce of energy and every waking moment doing nothing but cleaning the house, there will always be more to do.  I can't lose sight of what is most important: teaching these everlasting commands to my little Distractions and making sure they see in me an example of how to love and honor Him.  I am grateful for that reminder to take time to be Mary:  to sit and enjoy my sweet babies as I lead them in the Way of the Lord.  

I am energized and ready for Day 3!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wowee Wowee Wow Wow Wow!  What a year this has been.  I look back on my first blog post and see what crazy expectations I had for my first year as a stay at home mom.  Ha!  If only this year's self could have a sit-down with last year's self to give her a little glimpse of what reality would be like… At some point, I will go back and do the posts that I had wanted to do:  my pregnancies and the births of my children, documentation of their milestones and differences before they leave my mind completely, and some glimpses back into what this year has been like.  

I feel like life has slowed down considerably now that Michael is a pro at handling school on the doctorate level and now that the babies eat/sleep/and play together.  I started Emeals last week which has been such a great tool in helping me cook for our family.  I have cooked every night for a week, which is more than I have cooked in my entire life.  Emeals makes the process so easy.  The meals so far have been healthy, cheap, easy, and delicious.  I highly recommend this service.  It is worth well over $5 a month (and I found a Groupon for half off) for the time and money it will help you save as you plan your meals.  I will also put in a shameless plug for any of you out there who might be interested in starting this service:  If you put my name (McKenna Pruitt) as the person who referred you, Emeals will credit some of the subscription fee back to me!  No pressure though.  You should look into it either way.  :-)

I have even been able to read a book over the past week (The Vow.  LOVED it), and I figured blogging could soon be added back into my regular schedule.  Although I am very new to the blogging scene, I have decided to throw myself in full-throttle and link up with Sarah Mae as she leads her readers in a month of cleaning challenges in preparation for her new book.  I have been a fan of the ebook 31 Days to Clean:  Having a Martha House the Mary Way for awhile now, and I am so excited to see the book in hard copy form!  I can't wait to see what new challenges and other revisions she brings to the book. in preparation for its publication.  My main blog focus over the next 31 days will be the process of cleaning and organizing our apartment as I try to make it even more into a home.  The 31 days should be ending right around the time of my birthday, our wedding anniversary, and my daughter's second birthday.  What great reasons to have the house in shape!  Wish me luck (I have basically no clue what the linking-up process involves), and check back to see how I am dealing with the challenges!