December 31, 2009


I did not take a single picture on Christmas morning. Or Christmas Eve. Or the day after Christmas, for that matter. I just didn't feel like it. I did shoot some video of Jack pulling the Wii controller out of the bottom of his stocking, but no photos.

For a while, I felt a bit like I was shirking some sort of parental responsibility for not taking any photos of Ben's first Christmas, but I don't think he cared. And I'm not sure he ever will. I do have some pictures of him from the day before Christmas Eve, so we'll call it good.

I will admit that I would have made the effort to take out the camera and snap a picture of them in their coordinating pajamas had they not BOTH wet through them. I actually might try and take one tomorrow just for posterity's sake.

On Christmas Eve, we went to my Aunt Kathy's house to celebrate with my mom's side of the family and on Christmas day (after some family time and Kyle's amazing crunchy french toast) we went to my mom's house to celebrate with them. On the day after Christmas, we went to Ohio to celebrate with my dad's side of the family. By that time, Jack had been without a nap for three days in a row and anyone around him could tell. I think he through a major temper tantrum within our first 10 minutes there.

On the 28th, we celebrated with Kyle's family and starting the 30th, his dad's side of the family came to the lodge at camp and will be here until January 2.

The boys both received some great gifts, and we are literally overwhelmed with what to do with all of the toys in our house. It's ridiculous. Our house feels so much smaller and for the first time EVER I wondered if we should think about buying a new house. I love our house and pictured us being here for the long haul, but seriously . . . that's how many toys we brought home. And as the boys get older, they're just going to have more and more stuff. Enough to make me want to buy a bigger house. Only in America . . .

Last year, we were able to shove them all in a closet and bring them out one at a time over the course of a few months. But this year Jack remembers each and every thing he opened, so that's not going to happen. At the beginning of this week, I was having panic attacks over the number of tiny pieces and boxes laying all over our house. I still kind of am.

So, that was our Christmas in a nutshell. Happy New Year!

December 27, 2009

I need Africa

My friend, Kristi, left for Africa yesterday and she'll be there for two weeks. I'm committing to pray for her, and her team, every day. Would you consider praying for her too? Here's part of the letter she sent yesterday:

Hello Family & Friends!

I hope that you are all having a joyful holiday season and are finding time amidst the busyness of the season to rest in the peace that Christ offers.

This is my last update to you all before I leave on SATURDAY(!!) for Ethiopia. It's been a crazy and amazing past few months as I've witnessed God work in completely unimaginable ways throughout this preparation time. He's taught me that He provides in perfect timing and perfect ways--even when I doubt. When I was first accepted to join the Mocha Club trip to Ethiopia I remember thinking to myself "If I can just raise $1500 (half of the support I needed), that would be amazing." But how silly was it for me to doubt that God was capable of providing all of the financial support that I would need. Through your prayers and generosity I can thankfully say that I'm fully funded. In addition, many of you have provided other donations via supplies for the children we'll be working with which is just an incredible blessing.

  • Pray that we would all be able to make it to DC without any major issues. We're coming from all over the country and weather is, of course, a bit of concern at this point.
  • Pray that we would have safe travels to and from Ethiopia and that we would be safe traveling around the country.
  • Pray that we would be able to see past cultural differences to see that Christ is Savior for all nations and all people.
  • Pray that even through exhaustion we would be able to love with the love of Christ and to give all that we have.
  • Pray that we would be free from illnesses while we are there and when we return.
  • Pray that this experience would not end after 2 weeks. Pray that when we return we take action from what we have seen and learned.
  • Pray that we are reminded that even though there is injustice around the world, God hates injustice and will one day come to rescue all victims of injustice and redeem this world. (I'll be honest...I think this is the one I probably need most prayers for right now. I've already thought to myself multiple times "How can just 2 weeks possibly make a difference? There is so much injustice all around the world and no matter what I do, it won't be enough." My heart is heavy thinking that even as I type this to you there are children dying from malnutrition and preventable illnesses and there are women giving their bodies to provide for their families. But I know that all will be redeemed and given new life when Christ returns. I pray that my team and I can find peace in knowing this.)
  • Pray that we would stay hopeful and keep our heart and eyes open to the work that God is already doing in Ethiopia and has been doing for many, many years.
  • Pray that we would be able to learn from the people of Ethiopia. I keep thinking about everything we're going to share with the people of Ethiopia when we go, but I have this sneaking suspicion that I have an awful lot to learn from them, too.

If you'd like to be praying for our specific projects, here's the schedule of where we'll be on each day:

Monday 12/28 - Little A Hope in Addis Ababa
Tuesday 12/29 - Women at Risk in Nazareth
Wednesday 12/30 - Women at Risk in Nazareth
Thursday 12/31 - Women at Risk in Nazareth
Friday 1/1 - Travel to Ambo
Saturday 1/2 - School time and activities with children in Ambo
Sunday 1/3 - Church and activities with children in Ambo
Monday 1/4 - School time and activities with children in Ambo
Tuesday 1/5 - Classroom time and activities with street children in Ambo
Wednesday 1/6 - Classroom time with children in Ambo
Thursday 1/7 - Fistula Hospital/Hannah's Orphanage in Addis

Thank you all again for your support and prayers. This Christmas season has been a truly special one for me and I'm thankful that I've been able to share it with you all.

Lots of love,

"I need Africa more than Africa needs me." Learn more about the Mocha Club and how your $7 a month can help people in Africa. Visit

December 26, 2009

New things

Bennett is 3 months old. So why is he wearing 9 - 12 month clothing? I started packing up the 6 month stuff a week or two ago. I don't even want to talk about it.

I think the best "new thing" this month is Ben's laugh. He doesn't belly laugh (yet) like Jack did, but he has this deep, throaty chuckle that cracks me up every time. I'm smiling just sitting here typing this.

And just so his brother doesn't get left out . . . here's a picture of Jack. Looking at this photo, it's hard to believe that this 2 1/2 year old was responsible for the diaper rash cream fiasco. Jack's biggest "new thing" is that he's starting to recognize words. He's constantly asking, "What does this spell" or "What does that say?" And he remembers what we tell him.

When we were in Chicago we passed a billboard and he said, "J for Jack!"

And I said, "Yep, but that doesn't spell Jack."

And he said, "Yeah. J-O-Y. Joy." Caught off guard doesn't adequately describe me at that moment. I'd like to thank Sesame Street and the ornaments on our Christmas tree for taking the time to educate my son.

I'm so grateful for these two boys. I'll post an update on our Christmas soon!

December 25, 2009

Let us hold close one day . . . .

Whatever else be lost among the years
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing:
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.

- Grace Noll Crowell

Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2009

Dear Ben, Month 3

My sweet Bennett,

You are so much fun to play with. During tummy time, you'll sometimes roll to your back and yesterday morning, I caught you on your side almost all the way back onto your tummy. This new development is making diaper changes more difficult. You won't sit long in your bouncy seat anymore because you prefer sitting. Your bumbo has become a friend, but you spend most of your sitting time propped up with pillows on our bed or on my lap.

Your legs are incredibly strong! You push yourself in circles on your playmat on both your tummy and your back. You can grab onto toys dangling above you and seem to love that activity the most. Tonight, after a diaper change, I leaned down to kiss you and as I lingered there talking to you, you reached up and grabbed a hand full of my hair! And then you wouldn't let go . . . ouch.

For the most part, you've become a GREAT sleeper. We can normally put you in your crib and let you fall to sleep on your own. You're sleeping 8 hour stretches at night, and now that my busy season is over, I can actually enjoy it! Nursing is becoming increasingly difficult because, well, you're HUGE! And also because you want to look at everything in the room while nursing. I often have to turn off the television so that you can focus on the task at hand.

You are now three months old, and a happy 3-month-old at that. You have this deep raspy voice that always makes other people laugh when they hear you "talk." And last week when you started laughing out loud, we couldn't help but laugh along, because it's also deep and husky. You're such a joy to have around.

Many of these new things you're doing are called "milestones." When you're an infant, people will watch very closely to see when you reach them. In fact, that's what most people will ask about. Is he rolling over? Does he sit unsupported? Is he walking?

But the truth is that whether you take your first steps at 9 months or 18 months . . . no one really cares when you're 20. It's kind of like a high school ACT score. People make a big deal over it at the time, but it really doesn't mean much in the long run.

That said, you've begun reaching milestones left and right and I am proud. Yes, I've been through this all before with your brother, but I'm not any less thrilled with your achievement and growth than I was when Jack was your age. It's all brand new because it's YOU doing it! But it's important to me that you know that while these things do hold some importance, they aren't the things that really matter. The age at which you meet milestones means very little to me compared to the kind of person you're becoming.

It's funny to think that a year ago, I was pregnant with you and didn't even know it. I didn't even think it was possible, actually! But here you are and I can't imagine life without you. I don't think it crossed my mind last Christmas that we'd have another little boy to celebrate with next year . . . what a blessing you are.

At the beginning of this month, I was rocking with you in your room and you were startled when we heard Jack run by. Because Jack doesn't walk through the house. He runs. Everywhere. And when he runs, it sounds like a heard of elephants charging. It's a wonder that you sleep at all. But I continued to rock with you and was thinking about how not so long ago, I was doing the same thing with your brother. Rocking that little boy who was now barreling down the hallway in fits of laughter trying to escape your father.

As I was listening to that, and rocking you, I realized that it won't be long before you're running up and down the hallway in fits of laughter. It made me hold you a little bit closer. You're growing so fast and if I could slow you down, I just might. But because I can't, I'm trying to take it all in and enjoy every moment that I can.

I'm so glad that you're here. I love you, Ben. Merry Christmas!


December 22, 2009

I had a rash

Oh, the things I could tell you about life with a 2 1/2 year old right now. Let's just say that there are ups and downs. Good days and bad days. He says so many funny things . . . and does so many frustrating things.

Today, I put Jack down for a nap and sat down to nurse Bennett. As I was nursing him, I was thinking, "Wow . . . that was the easiest naptime ever." I should have known better.

As I was headed to Ben's room to put him down for a nap, I decided to check and make sure Jack was really asleep. It had been quiet in his room for about 20 minutes.

When I opened my door, I gasped audibly. He was laying in bed with his diaper next to him and diaper rash cream from head to toe. COVERED. It was all over his bed, his clothes, and literally covering every inch of his body. His head was the only thing not covered.

I just stared at him in disbelief and finally found it in me to mutter, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

How did he respond?

"I had a rash, mama."

Oh, a rash? My bad . . . carry on.

I put Ben down and picked Jack up and took him right to the bathtub where I proceeded to scrub the cream off of him. I distinctly remember thinking, "There will never be a time that I find this remotely humorous."

Fortunately, I can laugh about it now.

December 15, 2009


Yesterday, Kyle and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. It took two babysitters, but we were able to spend some time sans children yesterday and even got to see a movie.* In an actual movie theater. Wonders never cease . . .

I don't take our marriage for granted. It's a lot of work (probably moreso for Kyle than for me) and it's well worth it. I am a lucky girl.

*If you are going to see a movie in the theater, go see The Blind Side. It does not disappointed. Kyle loved it. I loved it. I've heard it called a "football movie." And it is, kind of. But honestly, no one hates football more than I do and I loved the movie.

December 13, 2009

Catching up.

I had this plan back in September that I was going to have some posts written up and ready to post so that I could have something to share even when I had no time to write anything. But then Bennett was born, and before I knew it, the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year was upon me.

And upon me, it was. The last few weeks have been crazy . . . sometimes good crazy, sometimes bad crazy. I've had some difficult situations in which I was able to refine my customer service skills and some frustrating moments in which I learned to be more concerned about doing what is right than about what people think of me. I have so much I could write about that I wouldn't even know where to begin with all of that. So I'll just let it go.

Our Christmas decorations are up, but quite a few of the decorations that came down to make room for the holiday decorations are still sitting on the floor and against our walls. Needless to say, our house is a mess.

Jack has saying so many funny things that I can't keep up and throwing so many temper tantrums that I sometimes feel like my head might explode. Potty training has its ups and downs, but we did get #2 in the potty twice last week, which was a huge accomplishment. I think it'll go a lot better after the holidays when we have more time to focus on it. Then again, after the holidays we head right into winter retreats and when those are done, we'll be winding up for summer. Ahhh . . . summer. Warmth. I can't wait.

With the exception of a few nights here and there, Ben is a great sleeper! About half of the time, we can put him down awake and he puts himself to sleep. And about 1/4 of the time, he falls asleep with a few minutes of rocking and soothing. He switches between these high pitched squeals and this raspy "ga-ga" gurgle that makes him sound like a smoker. He rolls himself over every so often, but honestly, I don't give him enough tummy time right now to know if he'd do it regularly. He's pretty good at lifting his head up and will push himself up on his hands so that he can look around. He'll bat at his toys like crazy and we've even caught him smiling proudly when he hits them hard. He brings me so much joy. Both of my boys do.

OK, back to work!

December 5, 2009

Dear Jack, Month 30

Dear Jack,

We celebrate Christmas this month and I'm excited that you will get what's going on this year more than you did the last two years. This morning, we were hanging stockings and I asked, "Do you think you'll get any presents in your stocking?" And I wish I would have had a camera to capture the look of confusion mixed with hope on your face when you glanced at me out of the corner of your eye and said, "Presents?"

One side of your mouth curled into a smile (when you do this, it's one of the few times that I think you look more like me than your father) and you started asking questions like, "What will Santa bring?" and "When does Santa come?" Ever since Halloween, you've asked what you get to dress up as for Christmas, and you were no longer disappointed that Christmas doesn't involve costumes. Because THERE WILL BE PRESENTS!

One of my "parenting goals" this month is to teach you how to graciously accept gifts . . . well, as much as a 2 1/2 year old can. By the way, have I mentioned yet that you're two and a half? As of Wednesday, you're closer to 3 years old than you are to 2 years old. Ugh . . . I can't talk about that right now.

Anyway . . .accepting gifts. I'm of the opinion that far too few people can 1) talk naturally about Jesus in their every day lives and 2) accept a gift graciously. I'm sure there are more things on that list, but those are the first two that come to my mind.

When people give us gifts . . . in any way shape or size . . . we are to accept them with gratitude. Not always because we necessarily love what they're giving us, but because they thought enough of us to give us something. It's not about how much they spent. It's not even about how much thought they put into it or the attitude with which they've given it. If someone gives you something, it's reason for gratitude. So, we thank them for it. We comment on how useful it might be, or how it's our favorite color, or how it will come in handy. Non insincere comments . . . honest thoughts of appreciation about the gift. There's always something positive that can be said about a gift.

Over Christmas, you'll be getting quite a few gifts. And at times, they'll come rapidfire . . . one right after another. Too often, we look at our gifts, say "thanks" and move on to the next. I'll be there to encourage you to take your time and show sincere appreciation. I know . . . you're only two. But I can try, right?

You've played with your toy nativity set enough over the last week to know about the basics about the real Christmas story. We've talked about Mary and Joseph . . . the shepherds and the wisemen . . . the angels. I've even tried to tell you about the culture during the time when Jesus was born . . . which was met with blank stares and repeated requests to stack the characters of your wooden nativity set in a tower so that you could knock them down.

I thought about explaining that your book that tells the story of Christmas was lying when it said, "Mary, and her husband Joseph, were expecting a baby" but decided that it might be too soon to unwrap the mystery of the virgin birth. We'll just hold off on that one. You do, however, know that Jesus is God's son and that he came to earth to live among us. You know it, but you don't really understand it . . . and if I'm honest with myself, I guess I don't really understand it either.

You'll get lots of gifts this Christmas, but we both know that the most precious gift was the one we actually celebrate during this time of year . . . Jesus, coming to earth as one of us. Coming to save us. You'll unwrap gifts and empty your stocking, but my hope is that as you grow older, you'll become increasingly overwhelmed with gratitude at the magnitude of that most important gift. May your heart swell every time you hear the story and may you be inspired by the wonder of it all.

Emmanuel. God with us.

I love you, Jack. Merry Christmas.


P.S. My apologies for not having any pictures of you alone this month. I'll do better next month.

November 30, 2009


I had forgotten how much babies drool. Ben started last week and between that and the spit up, I am never wearing a clean shirt and I always have little bits of nastiness in my hair. Nice, huh?

With Jack, I remember being ready for the drooly, spit-up stage to be over. To be done with bibs and bringing 10 burp cloths every time we left the house. It's not any more fun this time around, but I know that it won't last too long, in the grand scheme of things. Before long, we'll be potty training him. And that's a whole lot messier.

Potty training Jack has had its ups and downs. On Saturday, we went all day without one accident and he told us EVERY TIME he had to go. I felt like it was all coming together. Then on Sunday, we had three accidents before 11 AM.

We were going to try and skip pull-ups and go with underpants only, but after cleaning the couch cushion four times in one week, we decided training pants might be the way to go. And honestly, he tells us that he has to go just as much when he's wearing those as when he's wearing underpants. He will not (WILL NOT) go #2 on the potty though. But we're not pushing it. Uh, not pressuring him, I mean.

It goes without saying that Jack does better when he has our undivided attention. That's obvious. But undivided attention is running low these days. Not a day goes by that I don't mourn the loss of diapers. They were so much easier.

I think potty training might be the most labor intense part of parenting up to this point.

November 28, 2009

2 months . . . 8 hours

This beautiful, two-month-old boy slept a whopping 8 hour stretch last night! And I actually got to sleep for about 5 of it . . . it was glorious.

Bennett had his 2-month check-up this week and he's just under 15 lbs. and just shy of 26 inches . . . which means that he grew almost two inches in the last month. He weighs 3 ounces less than Jack did at his 2 month check up. He's wearing mostly 6 month clothes now, though there are some 3 - 6 month things that still fit him.

When I look at this picture, it's shocking to think that a year ago, he didn't even exist. I'm so thankful that he does. I can't imagine life without him!

November 24, 2009

Dear Ben, months 1 & 2

Dear Bennett,

One of my deepest regrets is not taking many pictures during the first few hours that you and I had together.

When your brother was born, the nurse reminded us to use the camera. But this time she didn't, and we were so overwhelmed by everything that was going on that it just didn't occur to us.

Of course, I don't need pictures for me to remember. Our first moments together are etched into my memory. I will never forget seeing you and hearing you for the first time. I'll always remember the nurse putting your slimy, gross, beautiful little body in my arms. If I close my eyes, I can go right back to that instant . . . my heart overflowed with emotion. It still does.

I wish I had the pictures to show you. I wanted you to be able to look at a picture and try to imagine how much love I felt for you during that first time we had together. It was in those few moments that I realized that I could, in fact, love another child as much as I love your brother. In those first hours, I started praying in ways that only your mother can . . . that God would protect you, that He would give me what I need to be your mom, and that you would grow to know him and to love Him more and more every single day.

I don't know. . . pictures probably wouldn't have been able to do the moment justice, so maybe we're better off without them. But I want you to know that you were deeply loved from the moment you entered this world . . . and even before.

You are now two months old. You might be thinking that I missed your first month's letter, but you're wrong. With Jack, I started letters at his two month birthday, too. So, in what will likely be the first of many attempts to keep things "fair and equal" between the two of you, I put off your first letter until now. And this way, when Jack's someday complaining that you got the brand new car that he never had, I can say, "Yeah, but I wrote you the SAME NUMBER OF LETTERS!"

You're in a unique position in our family . . . you're the only one who ISN'T an oldest child. You're the youngest and none of us can really relate. We'll try not to hold that against you. I have a feeling you'll teach us quite a bit. I can already see the differences in your tolerance level for chaos and the ease with which we can put you down to take care of Jack.

You have your fussy moments but you're really proving to be a happy, content little boy, as long as your needs have been met. Your smile still melts my heart and holding you helps me to relax.
I think the best part about being a parent the second time around is that I'm not as scared of messing you up. Don't get me wrong . . . I'm still worried that you have every condition and illness that I read about online. But I'm less tense and more laid back . . . well, for me at least. I think you'll benefit from the little bit of experience I have. I guess that's one nice thing about being the youngest.

You are so special, so unique. You remind us a lot of your brother, and I think you favor the Wietholter side of our family more than he does, but whenever we start talking about who you resemble, your Grandpa Wietholter always says, "He just looks like Ben." And he's right.

You'll figure out soon enough that your parents aren't perfect and that we make mistakes. You'll find that we don't always parent the way we should and that, on some days, it is by the grace of God alone that we live to see bedtime. But I hope you'll also discover that we love you as much as we possibly can and more importantly, that there is a God who planned for you and loves you more than we ever could. You were so meant to be.


November 23, 2009

My week(s) on twitter

An abbreviated look at a few of the things you might have missed if you don't follow me on twitter . . .


I'm working on the camp video while bouncing up and down with a 13 pound kid strapped to me. I like to think of it as my morning workout.

Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past." - author unknown (to me, at least)


As I was hugging Jack goodbye this morning, he said, "You need to brush your hair NOW." Nice.

I didn't know why Jack wanted to play with my memory cards so badly. Then I realized he was talking about the card game, not media storage.


The stupid world series is the reason we haven't seen glee in two weeks. Ridiculous.


I don't steal from Target because it's wrong to steal, not because I'm afraid of getting caught. The Internet should work the same way.

Screaming infant and wailing toddler . . . I miss the days of peaceful rides in the car.


I went 24+ hours with nary a twitter update. See . . . I can quit anytime I want to.


Any day in which I make until 4:03 PM without getting spit up down the front of my shirt is considered successful.


Murphy's new family just sent us pictures and I loved it! It's like the canine equivalent of an open adoption . . .

I couldn't find a clean blanket big enough, so Ben is swaddled in a lovely gingham table cloth. Whatever works . . .

Jack's in time out yelling for his imaginary friend, "Lillian," to come & help him. Wondering if I should be worried about my 2-year-old...


Watching video footage from the summer is making me so excited for 2010 . . . despite the insane amount of footage of kids playing tag.


Jack asked what he's going to dress up as for Christmas . . .

Unbeknownst to us, my OB's (who is female) middle name is Bennett.


Watching the Today Show . . . and again wondering where the line between "news" and "gossip falls.

True words: @kylewluke just said, "With all of these white noise machines, it sounds like we live at the bottom of Niagara Falls."

Nothing says, "Good morning, Mom!" like projectile spit-up.

The "waterfall" white noise is great for keeping Ben asleep in my office, but I've peed a record number of times . . .


I'll likely hit 3000 sales this week . . . what should I do to celebrate?


I thought postpartum hormones would have subsided by now . . .

Me: Jack, you're smart. Jack: Yep. You're welcome.


Jack's watching me type and saying, "Don't press that one! It's my favorite letter!"

I'll probably hit 3000 sales tomorrow . . . which is fitting because also happens to be the 2-year anniversary of opening my shop.


Ben and I are off to buy party supplies and breakfast for "no more diaper day!"

My new computer has a 27" monitor . . . which is bigger than our television. I'm just sitting here admiring it.


Jack's yelling "HOLD THAT LINE!" and "DEFENSE! DEFENSE!" Kyle says football coach, but he definitely sounds more like a cheerleader.


Enjoying the morning with my friends Illustrator and Photoshop . . .

Headed with Jack to the Jackson Christmas parade.


I get an e-mail every time the debit card is used . . . I know you went to Tim Horton's without me, @kylewluke

Dear 127 new e-mails . . . not all of you will get answered tonight. Only the ones I like best. Love, Sara


I have 791 etsy items to leave feedback for . . . I'm a procrastinator.

We're in the MIDDLE of the IKEA maze and Jack says, "I have to go potty." Lovely.

Calling me tired would be like calling the Titanic a "big boat."

November 21, 2009

The one that almost got away . . .

This week was a little nuts and I'm SO glad the Corrells called to confirm their session because ashamedly, I almost forgot. It was really cold outside; therefore, it was a short session. But none of us were really that bothered by the temperature because we were running around after the kids so much!

For me, this was honestly a great break in my week of chaos!

November 19, 2009

Easily entertained

Bennett rolled over for the first time yesterday. I told someone last week that he was a long way from doing it because I give him so little tummy time. But then on Monday, he was pushing up with one leg and looked like he might do it. I swear, the kid can't even push himself up with his arms for more than 2 seconds, but he can do this?

And then laying on our bed on Wednesday morning, he squirmed enough that he did it. He won't be doing that regularly anytime soon (but watch him prove me wrong) but it was a fun moment. He couldn't have cared less . . . he was just glad to not be on his tummy anymore.

He's been sleeping longer stretches . . . something that I hope to be able to take advantage of once the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year dies down a little. He's been napping like a champ. And yes, I realize that merely typing those words means he will not nap or sleep well for at least three days.

He's very content and smiley and has really grown to like watching Jack. He'll turn his head all around searching for him when he can hear his voice (which is quite often, given Jack's usual volume) and smiles virtually every time Jack talks to him. Of course, Jack loves this.

Ben's main source of entertainment these days is reaching out and batting objects with his fist. He looks like a little boxer. He misses a lot, but he sure does have a good time trying. Because of this past time's ability to keep him entertained for longer stretches, I am showering more regularly. You can thank him later. You can see more pictures of him playing here.

He also "talks" to his dangling toys with such enthusiasm that it sounds like he's ordering them around. He has this deep raspy voice that makes him sound like he smokes a pack or two a day.

And if this doesn't break your heart, then it must be made of stone . . .

In other news, Jack went the ENTIRE day on Tuesday with no time outs. It was amazing. Monday and Tuesday were really good days all around.

Jack is doing ok with potty training. He's more prone to have accidents when we're distracted with other things . . . which seems to be all the time. But we've seen improvement just in the last day! We're trying not to push him because if he's not ready, I'm happy to diaper him up for another month or two. But every time I think it might not be time, he does something to show us that it definitely is.

I could tell by looking at her . . .

I was going to do a "bullet" post. You know. The kind that breaks my life down into small, manageable, bite-sized pieces. But I'm not going to. Why? Because my life is not manageable or bite-sized right now.

It's chaotic. The-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year is in full swing (hello to everyone who's here by way of etsy), I have a newborn, I'm potty training a toddler and I have some big projects I'm working on at my real job. Did you know that I have a real, full-time job that has nothing to do with my children or photography or etsy? Lots of people forget.

And my emotions? Well, they can only be compared to a wrecking ball, swinging wildly from high to low and then back again, taking out everything in its path. Kyle would probably tell you plenty about this, but he doesn't have a blog, so I guess you'll never know.

My kids need baths (no seriously, Ben perpetually smells like spit up . . . as do I). I have mounds (piles is not an accurate description) of clean laundry sitting on the floor of my fairly small bedroom waiting to be folded. We actually started using disposable diapers this week, only because we couldn't locate any of the clean ones . . . they were buried so deep that we couldn't find them. And my bathrooms . . . and the kitchen floor . . . I stress out just thinking about how much attention these areas need. And honestly, all I can do is laugh. Not the funny kind of laugh. But the kind of laugh that makes the people around you laugh nervously along with you.

Adding to everything, is my deep desire to lose the excess baby weight I'm carrying. Everything fits awkwardly. It took about 10 months to get rid of it with Jack, but for some reason in my mind, I thought it would come off more quickly this time. As you may have guessed, I was wrong. We had a dinner at camp on Saturday for donors and friends and I was standing and talking to some people at a table. One lady looked at the woman sitting next to her and said, "She just had a baby." And the woman replied, "I know . . . I could tell by looking at her that she hadn't had one too long ago." Awesome.

Then, I was shopping in Target with Jack (the shopping trip that made me want to boycott Target forever . . . don't get me started) and I picked up a pair of jeans in my current size. And Jack says, "Whoa! Those are big pants." Double awesome.

I could go into more detail here and outline every bit of craziness I'm living through, but I won't. Because no one wants to buy a holiday card that says "Merry and Bright" from a gumpy girl with raging post-partum hormones. And because when I go to church on Sunday, I'd inevitably get the "sympathetic head tilt" which I'd then have respond to with the "I'm ok head bob" and I don't want that either.

And this is the point in the post when things turn around, I look on the bright side and explain the happy ending . . . I share the things that I'm be thankful for and explain how good life is, after all. And it is good. I had 10 minutes this afternoon when Kyle, Jack, Ben and I were all standing (well, Ben was being held) in the kitchen and laughing and playing that were so wonderful, that I'd go through all of this even if it were for just those 10 minutes.

But instead, I'm just going to leave it here. I am thankful. I am blessed. I have happier things to post later tonight. But for now, I'm just tired.

November 17, 2009


I will likely hit 3000 sales sometime between now and the morning. Which is fitting, because tomorrow is the 2-year anniversary of my shop opening.

As I was searching for the post that I linked to above, I read through all of my posts from November of 2007 and was reduced to tears as I thought back to life back then.

From outrageous gas prices to my sweet little 5-month-old, reading made me nostalgic. I am shocked that I thought I took good pictures back then. They make me cringe a little now. I'm not a professional or anything now, but I've definitely come a long way. And gas prices . . . I had forgotten how high they were at that point.

Not only is tomorrow my shop's anniversary, it's also official "No More Diapers" day. Well, for Jack anyway. Bennett's got a while.

We're quitting, cold turkey. And I think everyone knows that "we" is Kyle and I more than it is Jack. I might be wrong, but I don't think he'll have as much trouble adjusting as we will. It's gotten to the point that he'll walk up and tell us he has to pee and then tells us he's going to go in his diaper. And I just smile and nod because what can I say? I don't want to encourage that, but it's sometimes hard to put down everything (especially a newborn baby) to take him to the bathroom. But starting tomorrow, we have to make it work. I feel like Kyle and I will need to be "potty trained" more than Jack will.

Our plan? We don't have one. I know . . . rookie mistake. But it's our mistake to make. We're both taking the day off, and we'll . . . . well, we're just going to make it happen. I've got lots of prizes and fun things to make the day holiday-like. We started building it up last week . . . letting Jack know that starting Wednesday, there were no more diapers. We're going to make it a fun day that hopefully will make the potty a positive thing. Then on Friday, we're taking him out to dinner and to the Christmas parade as a "graduation celebration" of sorts. My fingers are crossed that it goes as well as I have it planned out in my mind.

The one kink in our plan is that the underwear we have for him are 2T/3T and he no longer fits into those. So it looks like one of us will be making an early morning trip into town . . .

Wish us luck.

November 16, 2009

I knew this conversation would happen someday . . .

. . . but I thought I had a few years left.

Jack: How did baby brother get out of your tummy?

Me: Remember, I went to the hospital so that he could come out?

Jack: But HOW did he get out at the hop-sital?

Me: The doctor took him out.

Jack: But how did the doctor get him out of there?

Me: Uh, she, well, she . . .

Jack: Used somethin'?

Me: Yep, she used something.

Jack: What did she use?

Me: Um, I don't remember. Ask your dad.


Jack: But how did baby brother get IN your tummy?

Me: Um, God put him there?

Jack: But how did God get him in there?

Me: Do you want to watch a show?

November 14, 2009

True words

I've been trying to teach Jack to "use his words" when he gets angry. When he's in time out, I'll sit next to him and ask him how he's feeling and try and get him to explain to me why he feels that way, in an effort to show him there are other ways to express himself than SCREAMING HIS HEAD OFF.

However, I think this morning's conversation is a little too telltale of the bad habits I'm passing to him . . .

When he was in time out and I asked, "How are you feeling right now?"

"Um, kinda bad because dad wouldn't let me go out to the garage, because there's stuff out there, because I wanted to."

Then I asked, "What do we do when we feel bad?"

"We go out to eat."

Hmmm . . .

November 13, 2009


Did you miss me? I'm here, just busy. After all, it is the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year.

I have a confession to make. An embarrassing one. But Internet, I need to get this off my chest.

I genuinely thought that I would beat the tantrums and screaming that is closely associated with this phenomenon known as the "terrible twos." I honestly thought we wouldn't see them . . . we'd skip right over them. Until about 22 months of age, Jack was the picture of a happy, obedient child who sat nicely in time outs when he did something wrong and apologized when he disobeyed. We followed the love and logic system of discipline and it worked like a charm. But then we had that momentous weekend in Chicago that changed life forever.

For real . . . up until then, I would see a toddler embarrassing his parents with a public tantrum and feel sorry for them. I would wonder what they did, or didn't do, to cause that kind of behavior. I patted myself on the back and thanked God that I didn't have to deal with that. I knew that I wasn't perfect and that my parenting wouldn't always be perfect, but I thought that reading enough books and watching enough parenting segments on the Today Show could keep us from melt downs.

And it's true that I do think we're better off with the research and reading we've done on discipline and raising children. But I don't know what I was thinking. Did I think I was some sort of parenting superhero? I never actually said, "My child will never act like that." And I don't think I thought those exact words. But in my mind, I was convinced that we would manage to avoid it. I don't know if I really felt this way, or if I'm just remembering it this way. In any case, I had no idea what I was in for.

Because after that fateful weekend in Chicago, it got worse. And then we threw a brand new baby into the mix and watch out! Life exploded in our faces leaving small pieces of parenting shrapnel all over our kitchen floor . . . which is okay, because it hasn't been mopped in months anyway.

Jack is in the middle of the terrible twos. He defines the phrase "terrible twos." At least I hope he does. I'm praying that it doesn't get worse. Because the bad days are B. A. D.

The good news is that I still love him. And at this point, I consider loving him and taking care of him even in the midst of this stage, a huge parenting success. Kyle and I both beat ourselves up for losing patience with him so often, but we're doing our best. This can't last forever, right?

When I hear new parents, or DINKS watch people dealing with a misbehaving toddler and allude to the fact that their children will never behave like that, I smile and respond, "You're right. They won't." Because those few years of ignorance really are bliss. And we might as well let them enjoy that thought while it lasts.

November 8, 2009

(Another late) Sneak peek

If you think that these sisters love each other, then you're right. But don't be fooled . . . the hugging is less about the love and more about the fact that it was 40 degrees outside when we took these pictures. They were troopers. Pay no attention to the icicles hanging from their appendages.

The irony is that if we had waited ONE WEEK, we could have taken these in balmy 60 degree weather. Who would have thought?

November 7, 2009

(A really late) Sneak peek . . .

A lot can change in a year. Seriously, I didn't realize just how much these girls had grown until I looked at last year's pictures. Amazing.

Most of our session was spent chasing after them, or trying to balance my camera and make them all smile . . . and look at me . . . all at the same time. The family picture below is the ONLY ONE where everyone was looking and no one had any fingers up their noses. We had a good time!

November 6, 2009

6 weeks old

6 weeks. He's 6 weeks old. As usual, in some ways I can't believe he's already 6 weeks old and in others, it feels like he's been here for 6 months.

I think he'll be a lot like his brother in that he doesn't sleep much during the day. He does, however, do fairly well at night. He's a generally happy baby as long as his needs are getting met, but he does have a fussy time at night . . . always around the time we sit down to eat dinner. It doesn't matter if we eat at 5 or 7 . . . he wakes up and is fussy. I think it's his way of helping me manage my weight.

I love this kid . . .

Meet Monkey George

If you don't use the babysitters we use, you should be jealous.

We're blessed to have some great girls who live nearby (and not so nearby) to help us take care of Jack. The one who's here most regularly (Kelsey) showed up with an empty peanut can yesterday and told Jack that it was a cage to catch his pet rock. Which of course, caused Jack to all but shove Kyle out the front door so that they could get on with business.

When I got home, he showed me his home for his new little friend (after screaming that he wanted me to go back to work and Kelsey to stay). He had affectionately named him "Monkey George."

They decorated the can, added a "rock habitat" and even made a couple of playdough eyes.

What a fun idea!

November 4, 2009

You might get a cold just watching it . . .

Today has been an awful day. And it's only noon. It's one of those days that I might write about later, but writing about it now will cause me to have a nervous breakdown.

SO instead, I'm just going to post this video. It isn't really anything spectacular. Just 3 minutes of Jack and I talking to Bennett. He's such a sweet little boy. A little boy that won't sleep during the day unless he's strapped to my body. But sweet, nonetheless.

You might get a cold just watching this video because my boys were so congested in it. And I was holding Ben and the camera, so it's a little shaky.

So, you watch this. I'm gonna go eat a bag of Doritos.

Bennett at 5 weeks from Sara on Vimeo.

November 3, 2009

Dear Jack, Month 29

Dear Jack,

Part of being a good parent is teaching your child to look both ways before he crosses the street. It's the very first thing they teach you in Parenting School. And while we've failed you in some areas, this is one area in which we have excelled: teaching you to be careful in high traffic areas.

You always grab our hand and let us know if a car does so much as look like it's going to start rolling in our direction . . . even if it's two or three parking lots away. You hold our hand, look both ways and are usually (but not always) very cautious.

But it's always been a little bit awkward to hold your hand. You just grab two or three of our fingers and we kind of clasp your wrist in order to keep you safe . . . until just recently.

After your brother's doctor's appointment last week, we convinced you that Bennigan's hamburgers were, in fact, as good as McDonald's hamburgers and we all enjoyed a sit down meal together. You disagreed with our opinion on their hamburgers because your basis for judging burger quality lies solely in whether or not a prize comes with it. Nonetheless, we made it through the meal without any major meltdowns.

On our way out to the car, Dad was carrying Ben so you reached up and grabbed my hand as we stepped off the curb. As we were walking toward the car, I realized that we weren't struggling to keep a good grip on each other. Our hands fit together nicely. I squeezed your hand and you squeezed me back. It was such a small, quick moment. One that some people wouldn't have thought twice about. But that moment is lodged in my memory and will probably stay there forever. It's one of those moments that shouldn't really mean much but is of great significance to me. It was confirmation of what I already knew . . . you're not a baby. You're a little boy.

You're also a stinky boy. You sweat. And get dirty. I laid down with you for a few minutes before your nap the other day and I couldn't get over how much you smelled like a locker room after a morning of playing and wrestling with your dad. You and I went on a date tonight to Culver's and I just laughed as I watched you wipe the ketchup from your chin onto your sleeve as if that is why God made sleeves.

You're an active boy, too. While you can still be very gentle you are, in general, pretty rough. You like to tackle and throw and run and yell and roar and jump. Your volume control is lacking and we've begun to explain the difference between outdoor and indoor voices . . . and you have very little regard for our explanation. Have you always been this loud and we're just now noticing it?

You're an appropriately temperamental boy, as well. You scream when you don't get your way. And I mean a high-pitched, piercing scream that sends shivers down my spine. You've actually started to use that scream when you get hurt or are seeking attention, too. It's just lovely.

You yell when you're angry about something. You clench your fists and stomp when we send you to your room to have your temper tantrums. It's hard on me because I don't always know how to handle it . . . especially because I'm simultaneously trying to take your brother. But I know that it's hard on you, too, because you're also trying to figure out how to handle it.

This afternoon was probably one of the hardest afternoons we've had since Ben was born. Your screaming and tantrums were at an all time high and you kept insisting that I pick you up. You also complained over and over that you wanted baby brother to go back into my tummy. It's been almost 6 weeks, and up until now you haven't really shown any signs of jealousy or feelings of neglect. It broke my heart to hear those things . . . not because I really think you want baby brother to not be here, but because we might not be spending enough time one-on-one with you. So, we had our date tonight, but I know that it doesn't solve everything.

You and your Dad and your brother are the most important things in the world to me. I love my work, but it will never be as important to me as taking care of my boys. I hope that if you someday are able to remember this time in your life, that you'll be able to read this and realize that I was trying as hard as I could to take care of everyone. I can't explain it to you so that you'll understand now, but I hope that when you remember me yelling at you or putting you in time out or sending you to your room to have your tantrum, that you'll understand that just because I wasn't perfect at handling every discipline issue doesn't mean that I wasn't trying. It doesn't mean that I don't love you.

Our relationship has changed over the last few weeks, as you've become more of "my little boy" and less of "my baby." And while I miss having you as my baby, I would never go back. Because despite the tantrums and frustration that this new stage brings, I'm so proud of who you're becoming. I'm so proud to be your mom.

I love you.