My daughter, my middle child, My Girl!

About a week ago I started to feel like I was missing out on my little girl growing up…she is changing SO fast.  Okay so maybe I’m not really missing out since I am with her every day, however I’ve started taking those moments to really look at her sweetness, listen to ALL she has to say, and realize that her heart is EXACTLY where I want it to be.  This moment below happened last week and it’s what really opened my eyes to the beautiful little girl we are raising…

I’m in the kitchen doing dishes and Ry walks into the room with her backpack on and looks at me and smiles…

Ryann: Hi teacher!

Me: Oh hello student, are you ready for school?

Ryann: Yeah!

Me: Great, what do you want to learn about today?

Ryann: Um, Jesus!

Melt my heart!! We do our best to raise our kids in a Christian home and to show them all the ways that Jesus loves them.  Other than signing “Jesus Loves Me” every chance she can get, Ryann just hasn’t talked about Jesus or asked many questions, which at 2 1/2 years old, I don’t think we should expect much more.  The fact that she asked to learn more gave me the perfect opportunity to talk more about Jesus with her.  Then it wasn’t but a couple of days later and Garrett was in the living room and crying (probably hungry b/c that’s about the only time he isn’t happy), and Ryann says “It’s okay, Garrett, God is with you!”  Moments like these two are signs that we are on the right path for now!

Now, onto what it is that makes My Girl the sweet, spunky little princess-tomboy that she is…

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She LOVES the outdoors, just like Mommy!

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Mommy’s scarves and heels are the best accent to any dress!

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See the band aids? That’s almost weekly, however, it doesn’t stop her one bit!

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This is usually what happens when I ask the 3 kids to “pose for a picture”…she has to do a dance, or make a funny face!

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She LOVES ice cream, just like Daddy…this is a special treat for these two (and Parker)!

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See the band aids? Dressed up like a superhero!

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Pure beauty!

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She still holds my hand…

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And smiles!

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Yep, ice cream again!

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This is sweetness…watching a show in my bed!

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Spiderfireman…you know them right?

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She loves to play hairdresser and do my makeup! We love to paint nails too!!

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AND, this is how she eats a donut! Why not?!

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Adoration!! She adores her big brother more than I can put into words!

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A true sense of style!

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Joining in on dressing as Mr./Mrs. Opposite for Parker’s preschool.

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Ready for the zoo…look closely, we managed some cute pigtails!

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PRECIOUS…she says “Garrett, don’t you love the fish?”

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Her favorite animal at the zoo, the giraffe!

Do you have someone in your house that randomly says “I love you so much!”?  This happens so often from her and I’m totally milking it…I’ll be honest and say that I’m not naive, I know what the teenage years mean for her (and me)…I was a teenage girl at one point too. <<Cringe>> I should just start tallying how often she says it now and remember it on those challenging days later in her teens.

One of my favorite things Ryann will say is “Smile, Daddy!” and it’s usually at the dinner table.  She knows how to get to his heart…it’s not that he’s unhappy, it’s just that she wants to see him smile At Her!  It’s too cute!

I’m grateful to have a daughter, this daughter!  As a mother of 3, I sometimes feel like it’s not easy to make those special moments with each child individually, but really all it takes is slowing down and looking at the small moments in life that God gives us each and every day!

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So I’m THAT kind of Mom…

You know the sayings “I’m not sure whether I’m coming or going.” or “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” or “I can barely keep my head above water.”?  These are usually stated because we are over-scheduled, overtired or unorganized…and then there are days when it seems it’s all of the above.  For the past few months my goal has been to S-I-M-P-L-I-F-Y!!  This goes for everything that I do for my family so that we can all be more relaxed, less rushed and all around joyful.  However, not all days run that smoothly and I am still learning how to not be living in those idiom moments.  I’m learning that “I am still THAT kind of Mom.”

I’m THAT kind of Mom who just wants a peaceful shower…that’s it…you see this shower curtain?  It’s like the Great Wall of China–no intruders, please!!  Yet I still hear “Mom, Mom, Mom” from the older two or crying from the baby in the johnny jumper bouncing in the bathroom doorway.  However, I’m also THAT kind of Mom that answers to “Mom, watch this” so I can see my child’s latest dance moves even if it means standing with my shower curtain partially open freezing my tushy off.  The reaction my kids receive from me depends on the day…

I’m THAT kind of Mom that if I’ve had that blissful shower and actually got myself ready (hair and makeup included) and then I show up to preschool pick-up I hear “Oh, where are you off to today?”  As if I needed somewhere special to be going?!  Ha!  Truth is, they are right…if I’m going to be “seen in public” (eg: Drs. appt, museum/zoo visit, lunch playdate) then I attempt to fix myself up, otherwise I am THAT kind of Mom that walks around day or night in her infamous Black Yoga Pants and all natural, aka no makeup!

I’m THAT kind of Mom who will…run through McDonald’s and get my kids the unhealthy quick lunch but not buy it for myself.  Also still getting them Chicken McNuggets when I have seen what they are made of and, I’m also THAT kind of Mom that says “Dang it, yesterday we had McDonald’s and today really needed to be a drive-thru McDonald’s day, ugh!”

I’m THAT kind of Mom that will sing at the top of my lungs in the van with my kids.  I’m also THAT kind of Mom that will yell at them and beg for 10 minutes of peace and quiet while we are driving because they are making me go bonkers.  It depends on the day (and traffic too, if you live in the city-yikes)!

I’m THAT kind of Mom that will drop all my “to-do’s” no matter the time of day because the snow is falling and it’s the perfect time to build a snowman or because the sun is beaming and we need to go on a walk or run off some steam at the playground.  I’ll drop everything and go.  Yet again, I’m THAT kind of Mom that will turn on the TV and ask that you sit there for 20-30 minutes through one show…just one, please?! so that I can have some peace in the kitchen and actually get a meal made without you asking me four times if you can have a snack, if lunch is ready or are you done yet?!  Yes, TV is used in my house as a babysitter…I’m THAT kind of Mom!

I’m THAT kind of Mom that wants to blog all the time, like the other million Mom bloggers, and share my stories, the successes and failures, in hopes that it can impact someone.  But, I’m THAT kind of Mom that knows my limits and the truth is, time doesn’t allow for me to sit down uninterrupted at a computer long enough to unload my brain.  So I blog what I can about our life to share with our family and friends, along with whomever’s eyes this reaches, and hope that as my children get older, I’ve memo-ed the big stuff and left them a mini paper trail of memories.

There are days when I feel “Okay, I got this Mom of 3 thing down!”…and then there are days when I feel like I’ve lost all control of my life…the house and kids are running me instead of the other way around.  But every night, I lay in bed next to my beloved and pray–we pray!  We thank God for our many blessings and for guiding us through the struggles we face in our daily routines which in return He gives us the opportunity to teach our children valuable lessons.

Then every morning I wake, I thank God for His Grace and the privilege to try again to be THAT kind of Mom HE wants me to be!

Ziplist–helps get dinner on the table.

One thing I struggle with as a wife and mother is getting dinner on the table. It sounds simple…just make dinner. But this is one huge process that I continually battle.  There is so much to think about in order to just get one meal prepared (from planning to shopping then preparing). But thanks to Ziplist, I’ve kept this New Year’s Resolution of ‘cooking more’ alive…past the first month of January anyway! Here’s how it helps…

1) Menu planning–I hardly use a cookbook unless it’s our “family cookbook” with our favorite go-tos.  Some of my dinner ideas come from a folder I’ve gathered of torn out recipes from magazines such as Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, etc.  However, the majority are found online from a quick Google search on “crockpot” or “easy chicken dinner” or “healthy kid meals”. Over time I have gathered recipes on mom blogs and by following food bloggers, and I just email myself the recipe. Well, I now have 168 emails in my cooking folder and 48 in my favorites folder. What a waste of time it is for me to dig through those emails to decide what’s for dinner.  Ziplist solves this problem, here’s how:  add a “Ziplist Recipe Clipper” bar to your toolbar (found on their website) then when you find a recipe you like (from anywhere online) it adds it to your online account. No more torn out pages for me…everyone is digital now so I find the magazine recipe on their site and add it to my Ziplist. All my recipes are organized in ONE spot!

2) Grocery list/shopping–This has been a hard transition for me because I like a pen and paper list, however, saving time is becoming more of an appeal to me. Once I have added the recipe to my account, I can open it and click “add to list” which then pops up a screen with two parts: “Items We Think You May Need” and “Items We Think You May Have”…all you have to do is uncheck or check the items and BAM! they are all on your grocery list. You can have a template shopping list of your “staple” items, ie: milk, eggs, fruit, which you can also add with one quick click.

3) Ziplist also has an app for the smart phone! Although I know it’s not a must to have a smart phone, I will say it’s been an added bonus for me as my menu and grocery list go wherever I go! When I am sitting in the van waiting for a child to wake up from a nap or picking one up from school, I can quickly search a new recipe or add some items to my grocery list.

Keeping things planned, and organized yet simple, are essential for me in order to be successful in cooking dinner for my family. Otherwise it results in unhealthy options of ordering out or the boring staples for the kids of mac & cheese or hot dog. (Don’t get me wrong…my kids LOVE those options, but if I don’t offer new and exciting things for them, they will continue to be picky eaters.)

Some of you may ask, “but isn’t this a lot like Pinterest?”. In terms of searching for recipes the answer is YES.  For me, it does avoid the option of getting on there for a quick recipe and an hour later realizing I’ve found 5 new projects that I’d love to do in my free time, 10 new sweet treats I’ve pinned for after the diet’s over and the new solution to curing my winter dry hands (lots of those on there too) and then darn it, I have to go change a diaper or break the kids up from fighting and I am still asking myself…”What’s for dinner?!”

So just try it…check out Ziplist, add the recipe clipper to your toolbar, download the app, start adding your favorite recipes, plan the 5 meals you are willing to make this week, add it to your grocery list, and take your phone and go make some healthy meals and make your life a tab bit easier!

Our REAL life!

98% of the time I love to blog about our fun adventures, milestones the children are reaching, or even just a funny quote or video…but this time it’s about the realness of our last few days.

Last Thursday, Chris was off to Breckenridge, CO for a weekend of snowboarding with his college buddies. I couldn’t have been more supportive of this trip considering I planned it for him as a Christmas present. Well, I got the ball rolling for the guys and of course they set out all the details…a house with a hot tub, and lots of bacon and beer! The kids and I were doing great…had our friends here for a couple days, a trip downtown for lunch at Rainforest Cafe and then Saturday Garrett started running a fever and became fussy and that night, the awfulness began…Ryann woke me up at 130am with a bad tummy ache, and she started vomiting. Fortunately, I have the best 4-year old helper who was running to get me towels, wipes, etc. She could not manage to make it in the trashcan as she was miserable. I had to change her sheets 4 times that night (yes, that means I was doing laundry at 2am and also using her brother’s extra set). Between her getting sick the 3rd and 4th time, Garrett was up for his early morning bottle…I washed and changed my clothes for fear of spreading this to him. He finished just in time for me to put him back down and get back down to Ryann for more vomiting. She finally settles down and falls deep asleep that she’s snoring at 5am…phew a break! Nope, I get upstairs, wash, change again, crawl into my bed and Garrett wakes up at 5:15!

Sunday was full of anxiety for me…every cough, hiccup, or burp made me think someone was going to throw up. It’s not the easiest to keep a 2 year old contained when she’s sick. I am SO thankful Pottery Barn made a slipcover couch…the cushion covers and the entire back portion of the couch is a slipcover that can be thrown in the wash…yep, had to wash a couch cushion, blanket and scrub the carpet. I barely left her side unless I was taking care of Garrett who was still miserable himself…low fever, not eating, and fussiness. I am also SO thankful for TV and the iPad…Parker stayed out of the way of the other kids, helped when I needed it and just laid low! I owe him!

That evening Chris came home to a house of disarray…it sure wasn’t the welcome home I’m sure he was expecting. I’m glad Parker was feeling good because the two of them had some great bonding Sun night and Monday…All while I continued to care for Ryann and Garrett. Garrett cried and screamed all night Monday with little to no sleep for him or I…we got Parker off to school, Chris off to work and Ryann & I took Garrett to the Dr and found out he has an ear infection. We came home and as I was about to give him his first dose…he started vomiting. This time my little 2 year old knew what to do…towels and wipes for Mommy and she even started singing “twinkle, twinkle” to Garrett (even in all the madness, my little kids seem to light up the situation). Once I had him all cleaned up, I got a dose of meds in him and he napped the majority of the day. This day I was SO thankful for Parker’s best friend from school’s Mom…she picked up Parker from school and brought him home…thank goodness b/c Garrett had just vomited when he walked in the door…that would not have been fun to clean up in the van!

Wed evening came and it was bath time…whoa, what is all over Garrett? A newly popping out rash…of course, he was allergic to the medication after only 4 doses. Ryann is also allergic to these meds but it wasn’t until day 6-7 that we started to notice hers which is very common…Garrett’s being a rare case since he was already showing signs. So by 720am this morning I was off to the Dr again with Garrett. This time Daddy stayed home with Ryann until I could get back. Sure enough they confirmed his reaction and now we have to wait it out and hope the ear continues to improve as it did even after just 4 doses.

All in all I think we are doing better and hoping we are over the hump of this sickness phase…I know more will come! But I learned so much during this time…
#1) I am SHE-RA! I can get through anything on my own with these kids, however,
#2) I need my husband! We are a team and although he hasn’t been here for most of the drama, he has helped out with being present for the healthy ones, getting my groceries on his way home from work and going in late to lighten my load for the Dr. visit.
#3) Moms who do this with traveling husbands (Lana, Robyn, Kristen…to name a few)…YOU ROCK! I’ve always wondered how you manage to do it all on your own (sick kids or not), but God has powered each of you with your own ways of making it work and I’m proud of you…I may be able to manage, but I sure hope I’m not given the chance to test myself much more than needed.
#4) Find good in all situations, even the ones when I can barely open my eyes to see. Ex: I head downstairs to play with kids after getting my 4th cup of coffee for the morning and I had prepared a snack for the kids…Parker says “Yeah, this must mean you are in a good mood!” Thanks, buddy…I hadn’t realized it was that obvious! Time to buck up and play!
#5) Find a moment to be still and pray! I prayed that God would pull my children and I through this storm and to remind my heart that this is just a sickness that will be over far too soon compared to those families that deal with much greater discomfort in seeing their child battle a more serious illness.

So, here’s to tomorrow being a better, brighter day for the Stine Family! Until then…here is what we’ve been doing to keep ourselves sane…

Big sister helping! (Before they were sick.)

Big sister helping! (Before they were sick.)

puzzles!

puzzles!

Kids at Rainforest before all the sickness came alive.

Kids at Rainforest before all the sickness came alive.

a "true" moment...a not happy mommy at a 430am wake up call.

a “true” moment…a not happy mommy at a 430am wake up call.

I did not ask them to do this...they love each other so much!

I did not ask them to do this…they love each other so much!

My girl playing "Mommy" with one baby in the front pack!  Love her!!

My girl playing “Mommy” with one baby in the front pack! Love her!!

Drowsy, sick baby!

Drowsy, sick baby!

TV time in Mom and Dad's bed.

TV time in Mom and Dad’s bed.

Falling asleep face down after having just been sitting up playing.

Falling asleep face down after having just been sitting up playing.

Sick girl playing on her leaptop.

Sick girl playing on her leaptop.

Hot Wheels make a great chewy.

Hot Wheels make a great chewy.

Masterpiece in the making.

Masterpiece in the making.

A gorgeous glow over downtown Chicago this morning as I drove to the Dr. office.

A gorgeous glow over downtown Chicago this morning as I drove to the Dr. office.

Toga Baby...all wrapped up before having his rash looked at.  At least he was happy!

Toga Baby…all wrapped up before having his rash looked at. At least he was happy!

The "before"...

The “before”…

The "after"

The “after”

Could they be any cuter?

Could they be any cuter?

God is everywhere!

The whole family went grocery shopping on Saturday morning and our normal, crazy chore for us turned into a great lesson for the kids, and Chris and I.

Chris and I always divide and conquer the grocery store.  We each take a child (or two) and split the list and get busy shopping.  While we were shopping, there was another gentleman out, filling his cart with goodies for the holiday, but he had something very special he was doing along the way.  He was handing out 26 acts of kindness in remembrance of those who lost their lives in Newtown, CT.  Can you believe Chris and I were both on the receiving end of this wonderful act?  It gave us a chance to briefly chat with the kids that God has given this man a heart of giving.  We did not go into detail as to what happened in Newtown, as we have been fortunate enough to avoid the news and conversations around it when the kids were present.

It’s never easy running errands with three kids in the city, let alone a grocery trip, however Chris and I were very moved by this act and plan to pay it forward.  It was a beautiful reminder from God to enjoy every minute with our children, even if it is frustrating to grocery shop with them.  We will be forever grateful for the children that God has blessed us with and will continue to keep those in Newtown in our prayers and our hearts this Christmas.

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All I want for Christmas is…water!

One of my favorite things that we do as a family is right after dinner.  Sometimes all we can handle is the scramble of cleaning up toys, getting all 3 kiddos bathed, and our bedtime routine, but some nights we manage to squeeze in some special time.  This could be simple as reading a book, doing a puzzle, playing a game, a tickle fight or our fun last night which was the question game.  We started this game right after Garrett was born to give Parker and Ryann some focused attention.  Chris and I would each have one kid on our lap, one of us would ask a question that each child could answer and then we’d smooch the child and then have them switch laps.  This little game turned into way more fun than I’d intended as they’d dive over each other on the couch, and jump on us wanting to be asked the question first.

Last night’s questions:
What is your favorite food? What is your favorite animal? @ the zoo?  @ the farm? What is your favorite activity with Mommy?  with Daddy? and then our favorite responses…

What do you want for Christmas from Santa?
Parker: Nonstop talking Ninja Turtle
Ryann: Dora the Explorer (not sure what exactly but anything will do I’m sure)

What do you want for Christmas from Mommy & Daddy?
Parker: Power Rangers Samurizer Morpher
Ryann:  Water

Yep, she said water and then laughed…she knew she was funny!  This girl is hilarious and tries everything in her power to be the center of attention, which she usually succeeds!  Parker then says, “My sister is hilarious…I just love her.”

A few minutes turned into a wonderful memory!!