Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Life Lately

This has been a dreary month. I had been so looking forward to January with all its shiny brand-newness, and it hasn't actually been that great a month. Honestly, it's just been, well...mostly bad. Maybe February will be my month. (?)

But here are some things that made me smile this month:

Taking Levi to the library for the first time
Technically not the first time, but out of his car seat and interacting for the first time. I looove going to the library but just haven't had the desire for the past several months. And this library is adorable! With free adjacent parking! Can't beat that. :) Getting to our old one was much more of a hassle and yet we went all the time. What's wrong with me?

I've been watching two girls after school for just a few minutes each day, but this day they were with me for a lot longer, so they came to the library with us. The younger one kept bringing the animals to Levi and he would just keep looking from his left to his right, back and forth, not smiling or anything. It was funny! He likes to study things and take it all in.

Hey, Mr. Gorilla, how YOU doin'?

Hey little bear, I can poke your eyes out ;)

 Levi's favorite part about being at the library?
Playing with big brother's sweatshirt cord!
 I wish I'd gotten a picture with Isabelle, but she is a tornado in the library. She would take home everything if she could.

And these two in the morning. Can't even take it.

Inauguration Day
The high school boys had midterms that week so our schedule was very different, and Ethan was home with us that Friday by 10:00, so we started watching together. We've been praying (a lot!) for our country and our new president, as well as other leaders.

Levi was super impressed with the pomp and fanfare

He's really starting to want to play with Ryder and the cats. Ryder doesn't mind, but the cats? I wouldn't call them fans just yet.

Going for walks
This hasn't been one of our coldest months ever, but it has just been SO gray.
Dreary and blah
 Look at that face!!!

Nearly everyone complains about getting outside, but once we're out, they usually switch gears and have fun. Usually. :/

What is THIS?
Blue sky? Shadows in the road?
It didn't last long, maybe twenty minutes, and then back to gray.
I was having a moment on Saturday and bundled up Levi to take him for a walk, but the wind was really bitter cold and I didn't want his face to get chapped - we do have a plastic rain guard for the jogger but of course I can't find it. I turned around after half a mile and discovered that he'd fallen asleep leaning into the blankets (yes, two, because cold!) and with his lumberjack hat turned sideways. Poor baby. Crazy Mama. It was a hard weekend.

Caleb has wanted to fly since we both can remember, and he is working hard toward his goal with the Civil Air Patrol. He was promoted again earlier this month, and then became an assistant - he has a ton of extra requirements and responsibility now!
I can't wait until his dreams come true. And then he's flying me to Hawaii. :)

This is the photo I took for Ethan's club soccer badge. I mean, seriously. Look at him! He is as friendly and thoughtful as he is incredibly handsome. :)
How on earth do I have a son who's nearly ready to go off to college?
I'll tell you, it's a hard thing. So many emotions. Wondering if I've done well, if I've done enough, if if if....

We've settled into such a nice nighttime routine, and on most nights now Levi goes right to bed in his crib happy and satisfied, and gets himself to sleep.
Most nights. Sigh

Dad is in charge of the nightly bath, it's their thing
Lately, Levi is obsessed OBSESSED with dropping his favorite little fisherman captain over the edge and climbing up and out of the tub to get it. He has flopped face first into the big bathtub more than once so we're trying to teach him to stay put when in his little one. We haven't had much success with this.
That face, guilty guilty

Either drawing or reading, every single night
She was listening to These Happy Golden Years on audio while sketching on this night

All clean and fresh!
Oh he is trouble. Do you see it in his face? Trouble!
And we couldn't love him more  

I finally painted my nails with my Christmas gel polish- very pretty...

...and the very next day went on a tirade painting all.the.trim
If you think about it, your average house has so much trim around windows, floorboards, and doors. The doors are still killing me!
But everything looks so much nicer and brighter, and it was really the only major thing "wrong" with this house. Needless to say, bye bye pretty nails 

I discovered the joy that is the large barrel curling iron.
AND I discovered that I don't have to blow dry prior to using it, which is great, because my hair is naturally frizzy/curly and tends to dry out quickly. So now I air dry when I've got the time, and voila!
You can hardly see it here, but I was really loving it, especially the back! 
Confession: I don't normally wear make up
I am so not a girly girl. Either I'm in a hurry and I forget, or I end up making my eyes look squintier, and my skin is generally pretty healthy. So I go without. I do wear Burt's Bees tinted lip balm a lot, though, but not on this day. 
Confession #2: this was also the day that I was running errands aaaaand realized in the checkout lane that I'd left my wallet at home - I'd been trying to be all adult-like and responsible with budgeting and tracking expenses...HA! I got burnt. I remembered, though, that I'd put some gift cards in my pocketbook, so I could buy the bias tape I needed at JoAnn's. But nothing else. Well, I didn't spend any money, so there's that. Ugh

This boy
I'm loving our newish morning routine, and the fact that Levi has been regularly taking a two hour nap around 9:30. That's how I get the painting done, ha! When he wakes up, he's so happy!

We like to sing songs, cuddle and read books

His hair is finally starting to come in a bit more, and I think it looks reddish again - does anyone else see red?

This has been a big week for sure because someone has learned how to move. I can't leave him for a second anymore, and he is SO curious.

About evvvverrrrrryyyyyything, ha ha

I can hardly believe that he'll be ten months old in five days! 
Some days, I'm at peace and totally ready for it.
Other days, you can find me sobbing in the corner.

I think I'm excited about the changes that are coming, and I think I'm ready to have my bedroom back! But ask me in ten minutes and you may get a totally different answer...

Oh yeah, and I quit the big boy car seat.
But clearly someone is really too big for it.
Maybe we'll try again in another week or two. 

Happy {early} February 1st!
February, I'm ready for you!
I just created a Facebook page for 4 Sons Plus 1 - why, I don't know. Too much free time? ha ha
I'm still having an identity crisis I guess because I keep mulling over the idea of Celebrate the Everyday Things (which I LOVE too), but for now, it is what it is :)
Pop on over HERE and say hello!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cookie Friday: A Collection of our Favorites

Somewhere along my Mommy line, Fridays became designated as "Cookie Fridays." I can't remember it ever not being that way. This has become such a fun little family tradition for us, so I thought I'd share some of our favorite recipes:

These soft, chewy chocolate cookies are prepared in a saucepan instead of using a mixer like a traditional cookie. They are so, so yummy!
Triple Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

 The perfect chocolate cookie, in my opinion =)

Double Cocoa Dream Cookies

 If there's oatmeal in it, it has to be good for you. Right?
Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

These pan, or bar, cookies take no time at all to make, which is perfect for busy Fridays
They are so gooey and rich!
Easy One-Bowl Blondies

If you really want to treat your family, make these!
They're time consuming and make a huge mess, but they are SO worth it!
The creme filling is the real deal, not made with gross fluff.

Whoopie Pies with Real Creme Filling

Since I can't stop thinking about it, I'm going to share something: I was reading in my devotional this morning - something I have NOT been very disciplined with at all lately - and I've been thinking about ever since.
First of all, I am a rule keeper through and through. I may not like or even understand certain rules, but I am consistently annoyed by those who challenge them or fail to abide by them. Believe me, I don't view this as a big plus in my personality, it's just my natural bend. And I struggle with it in every area of my life, as it pretty much affects everything.
Especially how I parent my children.
The devotional mentioned an old fashioned letter seal, the kind where you stamp the wax, which then bears the impression of the stamp, and how our love for Jesus should make a deep impression on our children like that. I think the author used the phrase "affection for Jesus."

And it's like a light went off.

I wondered, do I even have affection for Jesus?
Have I let myself get so bogged down with everyday life- and its problems- that I've kind of lost that affection? Or rather, lost sight of it?
Furthermore, am I showing my kids that I adore and love my Savior? Or am I constantly trying to "teach" them ABOUT his love with rules and explanations and expectations... ?

 Just something to think about! I'd love to hear your thoughts, too!

It's kind of cloudy and chilly here today, but not as cold as it normally is! I'm thinking regular ol' chocolate chip cookies just might be in order for today's Cookie Friday. Yum!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What's Up Wednesday: January 2017

Good morning! I'm linking up HERE today for What's Up Wednesday! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Today is a Wednesday that feels like a Monday. We had a snow day yesterday, which made yesterday feel like a strange Saturday/Sunday kind of day, and all morning long I keep thinking that today is Monday. But we're halfway to the weekend already! I'll take it!

What We're Eating This Week...
Since today is Wednesday, it's Donuts & Coffee Day - don't even ask me when that tradition started, but it's been going strong for quite a while now. I think we have so many "food days" now that I keep track of the weekdays based on what we're eating!

And since it has been so cold, we're eating lots of hot, yummy comfort foods, too.

Yesterday's Snow Day was the perfect day for Beef Stew & Homemade Rolls- I think the recipe for both are in the link below. Yum!

One of our favorites for slower weekend mornings! This is the best coffeecake I've ever eaten!

These are a bit time-consuming, but they are to die for. Seriously.

Last night we had Brownie Volcano for dessert after enjoying steamy hot Beef Stew and homemade rolls...I can't believe I've never blogged that recipe because I make it all the time and it's a family favorite! Maybe this weekend...

What I'm Reminiscing About...
Birthday parties from when our kids were younger. It seems like so long ago, and time is moving along too quickly!
Poor Isabelle. Because her birthday is the end of December, and Caleb is in the middle of December, we typically push her party out until January. And now it's almost February, and I've completely lost my momentum. I feel awful. Maybe her Dad and I will bring her and a friend to the AG store in Boston (soon!), and then she can have her coveted pool party this summer for a half birthday. #momguilt
I'm currently redoing some of my older posts, so they don't have links, but I hope to have them done in the next few weeks. I have LOVED some of their birthday parties over the years!
Aaaand now if anyone needs me, I'm the one over here snot-sobbing into my cup of coffee because why do my babies have to grow up anyway?

Posa (Butterfly) Party

Ethan's Tenth Birthday Party
When my oldest turned double digits, but the others were still so small, it didn't feel as bad. Now that Isabelle is ten, I really feel it. Not sure how to handle all these emotions!

Isabelle's Frozen-inspired party

 I posted some of the parties to another blog during my blog identity crisis a few years ago, but a lot of them are here under the label "birthday parties"

 What I'm Loving...
Baby snuggles. All day, erryday.
My heart was utterly broken after our failed adoptions. And then God gave us this beautiful boy, this miracle baby, and I am so humbled and amazed and thankful. So thankful.

From when he was teeny tiny...
...and now.
I adore him

What We've Been Up To...
Shoveling snow. ha ha ha
No seriously, shoveling snow.

And painting trim. So.Much.Trim!!!

What I'm Dreading...
More snow. I've said it before, I just feel so done with harsh winters. I love snow, really!, but only a few times each year would be lovely.
And painting trim. HA! Actually, the trim isn't so bad; it's the doors that are k-i-l-l-i-n-g me. If I could afford it, I'd buy all new doors JUST to not have to paint them!

What I'm Working On...
I've got one custom order nightgown to finish and then Rose & Ruffle is taking a little break. I need to start planning a first birthday party!!!
I've made over 35 flannel nightgowns, like this one, this season!
THANK YOU so much to my wonderful customers!!!

 This spring, I'll be back with nightgowns, dresses & bonnets...

...and hopefully some cute things for little boys, too!

What I'm Excited About...
See above! I've had ideas swarming around my head for months now about Levi's First Birthday. It's going to be so cute!
Also, I'm nearly finished with this pretty lilac room- it has been painted for a while, but I'm adding the curtains this weekend, and we put up shelves and other wall decor last's so pretty!- AND we are moving Levi into his own room next month. I'm both sad and excited about this one. But super excited to create an adorable nursery for my sweet baby boy!

What I'm Watching...
The baby just started sleeping better but I'm still in bed by 8:30/9 pm. Not much time for TV, although if you follow me on Instagram then you know what I watched yesterday! Gotta make up for nine months of three to four hours of sleep each night.

What I'm Reading...
Lots of Dave Ramsey's articles, a mother's devotional book, Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood by Melissa B. Kruger, and every board book Sandra Boynton has ever written. =)

What I'm Listening To...
We got Jeremy Camp's I Will Follow CD at his concert back in November, and I still listen to it all the time. So, so good. And... the Annie soundtrack. It's so fun!

What I'm Wearing...
Many layers
ha ha ha
 And boots!

What I'm Doing This Weekend...
Our family has had the hardest time staying healthy this year, well, technically last year I guess, and I'm hoping we've broken that trend because we've had to postpone and reschedule tons of get-togethers with friends. This weekend should be filled with 4th grade basketball, Ethan's first soccer game with his new club, my niece's sixth birthday party, and a potluck with friends from church. I'm also hoping to sneak in a nice, long walk, and maybe a little family hike through the snowy woods. Hooray!

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month...
Valentine's Day! Some people loathe it but I am not one of them. I LOVE Valentine's Day! Not for presents or lofty romantic gestures or chocolate- well, okay, yes for chocolate!- but because I love every chance I get to do something special for my people.

Daddy does something special with Isabelle, like making homemade pasta for a fancy dinner...yummy!

What Else Is New...
This one stinks, but it's life - we bought a car a couple weeks ago and had to take it to a garage already...only to find out that it had been totally wrecked, bought at auction, put together (obviously not that well), and then sold to us from a local dealership without disclosing to us verbally or in writing that the car had been totaled the year before. Seriously!?!? Because it's a "salvaged" vehicle, insurance won't cover any damages EVER, though we have to pay to have it insured by law, and the warranty is now null and void, another big reason why we'd chosen this vehicle. Now we're waiting to hear from the lending office to see if they completely cancel the loan. Thankfully it's a small one, but still big enough to do some major damage to our budget. Regardless, it looks like we will lose our down payment and a few hundred dollars for some other things. Ouch. We've been trying to be SO careful with our finances, so this felt like a major burn. We trust God to provide everything we need, so we know everything will work out in the end. It's still hard, though.

Question of the Month - Who Is Your Favorite Bachelor/Bachelorette?
Don't hate me. I don't watch the show. However, I must say the few times I've tuned in, I liked Emily and how protective she was of her daughter, I thought Jason was a really nice guy- admittedly, breaking up with the girl on national TV and then kissing the other one that same night was not his finest moment - and I thought Sean was very respectful and genuine. I'm actually impressed that I know that many names, ha ha ha

If this was your first time visiting my blog, then welcome! You can follow along here or with bloglovin'. I'm on IG @bethanylivs_life

I hope you're having a great day! And if you're a Mom with teens and a baby, I'd love to connect so please say hello!
Share your wisdom with me! Or at least tell me I'm not all alone. :)

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