When the Husbands Away...

Brad has been in India for a two and a half weeks now. He will be gone for another half a week. This is what I've learned while he's been gone-
Brad in the traditional veshti clothing of India
- taking care of our kids isn't the hard part. Yes, I know I still have one more week and anything can happen. BUT it's the day to day stuff that is easier than I thought. Which is actually a really great thing to learn!

- that being said, I'm gaining more faith in my abilities as a mother and homemaker. My house is kind of a disaster (though it's getting better because i'm slooowly cleaning it), but my kids are happy, we're having fun, we're eating good food, and we are all still alive. I am capable of more than I realize and that is really empowering :)

- i'm lonely. And I'm surprised at how lonely I am. It's kind of pathetic how much I just miss him being around me. Being able to talk to him (in person), text him when I want (cuz that ain't happening), couch cuddles, going to bed together, waking up together. Just him being with me. Basically it sucks. I miss my husband.

- distractions are a must. The day after he left, we left with my sister to go down to my grandmother's funeral. Two days after we got back my wonderful mother drove up and stayed with us for six days. She kept trying to help out, silly woman. I seriously just enjoyed having another adult around and wanted her to just hang out with me! I thought she was just a distraction for my boys, but after she left I definitely missed having her around and felt Brad being gone pretty heavily. So I've been trying to do more home projects or cleaning (... or binge watching Netflix shows...) to make time go faster. We've also been getting busy visiting people which leads me to my next lesson...
James being an awesome big brother and teaching the little(r) ones to blow bubbles in their drinks
Off the Waffle! This place never gets old
- take people up on their offers to help. Oh. My. Goodness. Can I just say how awesome and amazing people are??? I am so humbled by how much our friends want to help me and the boys out while Brad is gone. I have a hard time accepting help, but I knew I couldn't do this by myself. And when people are genuinely offering, take them up on it! It's funny, because when I'm the one offering help, it is in no way inconvenient to do whatever needs to be done. So happy to help. But being on the receiving end of it all, so hard to not feel like you are a nuisance and people are being TOO kind. This week basically every day people are opening their homes to us or coming over to keep us company. Friends are amazing. Plus all the people who are just asking how we are doing, how Brad is holding up, and being concerned for us. It all means so much and I am seriously grateful for it all.

- my schedule is off. I had these grand plans of getting on a real schedule (because i totally am NOT) . Yeeeaaaah... not happening. I had no idea Brad being gone would mess with my body clock. It probably doesn't help either that I stay up way too late because I have nothing to go to bed for. Except sleep. But that's totally overrated, right? (wrong)

- gives plenty of time to get things done! Knowing everything falls on me has really motivated me to be more proactive in checking things off my list. I did before, but I'm trying harder to make the best of my time. What else am I going to do, sit on the couch? Pine for him? Might as well pine while getting stuff done. Cue distraction again! Plus it feels a lot better, getting something done, that's for sure.

Brad and I (and the boys, for that matter) are ready for this trip to be over. Brad has had a great time and seen some pretty neat things. I'm excited to look at all the pictures he's taken. He even gets a couple days in Amsterdam on the way back. To say I'm jealous would be a gross understatement. But I'm grateful he gets to experience it... though I told him next time, it's my turn ;) The last thing I'll say that I've learned is, it really has shown us how much we mean to one another. In the day to day of things, it's easy to get in a rut and take each other for granted. I hope we keep this experience close to our hearts and continue to learn and grow closer from it.

Now I am going to anxiously/frustratedly/excitedly wait for Sunday to come, when the jet-lagged man finally comes home! 


Much Belated Birthday(s) Post

James had his sixth birthday a little over three weeks ago. Six! He is growing up so fast. Right now James loves learning, being crazy, drawing, dressing up as a knight, viking, or whatever tickles his fancy at the moment, being sweet to others, and just loves life. James is seriously such a sweet and amazing kid.

We were still in California for his birthday but Jack decided to get sick that morning and we kind of cancelled the food celebrations. We were leaving the next morning and wanted to make sure all of us felt as good as possible. Ha. Though there was no cake (actually, there was. i just didn't make it. my parents had picked one up the night before, I was just super lame and so focused on Jack I forgot to have him blow out a candle. mom of the year, right here) or fun dinner, he still got to have both sets of grandparents over and get fun presents. He got a baseball mitt and ball, a bag of balls, new pants and a shirt, and a hiking backpack. Well, that day. I was awesome and forgot some of his birthday presents at home. Did I mention I'm super excited to not be traveling for the holidays/his birthday next year? Because I am. When we got home we gave him the rest- new church sweater and shirt, winter boots, and a Star Wars AT-AT shirt (which is basically the coolest shirt ever).
We partied hard
The Saturday after we got back, I was finally able to make his birthday dinner and cake. The morning we headed back home, I woke up feeling horrible and was out of commission for basically the whole week. Yay for winter... or not. James had requested a Transformers cake and I did what I could- not too shabby, right?
 In his new church clothes. And first of the year church picture- all boys are in Primary! Crazy!
AND going through pictures, I realized I never posted about Gavin's fourth birthday. I'm telling you, mom of the year!! Not that forgetting to blog about your child makes you a bad mom, but when you have a yearly habit of doing it and you forget... makes you feel kind of bad. That's just me :) On a somewhat completely different tangent, these pictures also make me miss summer. Which is silly, because winter has been great (so far). I don't think I'll ever get used to colder winters, though. And Oregon is so mild compared to Idaho. But it's no California. OR I just don't like winter.

Moving on...
 THIS FACE!! Says it all
Sometimes I forget Gavin is as young as he is- he is just so sharp, funny, and articulate for being four! But then he reminds me with some tantrums and fits and brings me back to reality :) But really, Gav is one amazing little guy. He is such a ham, very honest, a hard worker (really, he gets mad at me if i do chores without him), loves to learn and can't wait for kindergarten next year, and is so sweet. We are so blessed with these sweet and awesome boys of ours, for reals. 

His birthday started with balloons, streamers, and donuts. So perfection, really. I don't think we did anything out of the ordinary that day, but I do know it was a good one. We then had our friends come over for some cupcakes and ice cream. Gav got lots of books (which we loooove. and that isn't sarcasm. book nerds over here), new clothes, art supplies, and a Star Wars toy.

We sure love these two boys of ours (and the third one, obviously... but i blogged about him already). They really are such good kids and I have to remind myself that a lot. James is a great oldest brother and Gavin has really taken to his middle brother role. As much as I want to stop the clock with these boys of mine, I wouldn't pass up on watching them grow and learn and develop their awesome personalities. 


The Big Day and Horses

You know what I wish? I really, really wish I could be that person who takes over 350 pictures (oh yeah... guess i'm making up for all those times i didn't take pictures), chooses 10 awesome ones, and says, "Look what a fantastic holiday we had!" And that's the end of it. But I'm not. Just shows you how horrible I am at decision making and my kids are just too dang cute to not put as many pictures as possible up on here. Never fear, pretty sure this is the end of the Christmas posts. And what a wonderful Christmas it was.

Christmas Eve found us spending time with my family and making sugar cookies for ol' St. Nick.
Let's take a look at these next pictures... notice Gavin in the front. Take a look at the flour and what James has decided to do... yup, flour up to his elbows...
Judging by his face, may not have been his best idea...
Trying to get excess flour off arms...
Well, that was fun! Tried to slap it off and you know what happens when you do that with flour
Totally worth it
That evening was spent with my awesome in-laws for dinner and back to my parent's. The boys got their first Christmas Eve jammies and I'm thinking they were pretty thrilled with them. Might have to jump on that bandwagon of a tradition...
Christmas morning! I love opening presents. And I love taking our time doing it- watching others open their gifts, hearing the "thank-you's" and giving hugs, kids getting so excited for what they are getting and them also getting excited seeing what others got. This year did not disappoint (does it ever? methinks not). One of the bigger, and surprising, hits for the boys was How To Train Your Dragon 2. I knew they would love it. Duh, it's a great movie. James literally watched the first one almost daily for a year. We love Hiccup and his gang in our household. But that was years ago. But I didn't know how much they would love it. I'm talking screams and yelling about what they got. It was pretty awesome. Once the presents were all unwrapped and we all got ready, we headed over to my Gramma in her new care facility. She showed the boys the birds that live there and Gavin and James held her hand while Brad wheeled her to different rooms. It was so sweet. We wish we could have stayed longer. We love you, Gramma (great)!

Over to the Westmoreland's for family and more fun! It was another full house and we loved it. Brad and I even got to have some extra fun and played Ticket to Ride. It's been way too long since we've played and reminded me that I should have followed my instinct and bought it when it was on sale at Target. Next time, for sure.
Showing off their new superhero jackets
Heading out to see the horses
Jack the entire time we were out there. Slipped on mud, ruined his life forever
All the grandkids that could make it! Add in 9 more and you've got the whole bunch
Silly face time
Gavin and Luke
James and baby Jace. James loves babies and was so in love with this little guy (so was i!)
Saturday we were able to ride my in-laws' horses. The boys had been asking us every day when we were going to finally do this and were so excited they could!
And with that, I bid our Christmas vacation adieu. It was so wonderful to be around family. Our kids tell me daily how they miss everyone. It's hard to hear them say (because we miss them too), but also means a lot that they are old enough to understand how important family is. I'm so grateful to be a part of two amazing families, where my kids and us feel so loved. Thank you all for making our holidays extra special.