Almost three.

June is right around the corner and brings two big milestones this year.....

   Our sweet Charli-girl turns 3, although I'm not sure how that can possibly be true, and somewhere right around that same time we will welcome our first son into the world.  Wow.  Could the arrival of June get any sweeter?!

   Birthdays make me so nostalgic and wistful, as they do every mama.  I actually have very fond memories of Charlotte's birth.  In spite of being induced at 41 weeks (because the fluid levels in my placenta were getting too low), everything still went incredibly smoothly and without intervention or drugs or complications, and I was still able to have the natural birth I had hoped for.

   Charlotte's birth showed me that there really is nothing to fear about the hospital.  I found everyone so easy to work with and on board with my birth plan and was free to move around and get in the water and do pretty much whatever.  As before, Randy was the perfect labor partner and stuck by my side through it all.  Both moms were there too which was definitely an interesting experience:), but it was pretty special in its own unique way.

   I will always feel like I missed out a little bit on Charlotte's first year....having an 18-month-old and a baby is not for the faint of heart!  Sometimes I look back on it and find it to all be a bit of a blur.  I was worried about neglecting my toddler with the arrival of a baby and so now of course I wonder if I neglected the baby.  Or both.  But such is hindsight!  It doesn't always fight fair.

   But oh, how fun the twos were.  She isn't perfect of course, she is human after all, but I just never bought into the whole "Terrible Twos" thing.  2.5 is still one of my favorite stages EVER.  They are  blossoming into their personality and character and talking and learning and discovering so fast, and they're still so small it seems hardly possible they aren't your baby anymore.  I love that stage.

   And so while I am so sad to let her time in the Twos come to an end, I am so excited for what Three will hold.  She will become a Big Sis, and will be an amazing one at that.  She is already ALL about baby brother and gives him big sloppy kisses each time she gets a chance and remarks on how BIG he is growing! Yes Charlotte, I know we're getting huge.  Trust me.

   My second-born has had many of the typical second-born character traits.  She is my brave one, and I fear sometimes I expect too much out of her because of that.  Jocelyn and her are truly kindred spirits as I'd always hoped they'd be.  They love fiercely and can fight fiercely, but they always have each other's back in the end.  I can't wait to watch their friendship grow and I am determined to guard it throughout the years.

   I worry a little that her birthday will be a little overlooked this year because of the baby, but knowing my luck I will be overdue and have plenty of time to throw a birthday party, like it or not!  In any case, I am so looking forward to both of those milestones, and for obvious reasons, June can HARDLY come soon enough.

Read about her first birthday and second birthday here. 


Sun River.

Once again, it has been awhile.

   Things have been busy around here lately, and the blog has taken a back seat.  It doesn't help matters much that for most of the time, I feel as if I could sleep for about 75% of my day, and go to bed early and get up late and still not feel quite rested.  Growing this little man is hard work!  Or maybe it's because I'm older?  Or maybe it's because I had my last baby 3 years ago and so I just don't remember?  Or maybe having them 18 months apart really is actually easier, as far as the pregnancy goes?

Yeah, I highly doubt that. :p

   We like to take a baby moon before a new member joins our little family, and you can read about our first two baby moons here and here.   But this year, with several different things factoring in, we decided to forgo a bigger trip with just the two of us, and do more of a family vacation close by.  And I LOVED IT.  I love traveling and I love getting away just as a couple, but I love family vacation so much too, that it really is a win/win either way.

   We invited some friends to go with us and we had a wonderful time at Sun river in Bend, Oregon.  We swam, rode bikes, grilled hamburgers, walked to the nearby coffee shop, and played games and watched movies after the kids were in bed.  It was a lovely, low-key, laid-back, relaxing time, just perfect for my 8-month pregnant self that really wasn't up to anything much more adventurous anyway.:)

I really didn't take a lot of pictures, but a snagged a few for Instagram.

  The last two were taken at the High Desert museum and it got me on such a wistful "Pioneer life" kick.  I mean obviously a lot of aspects of their life were SO very hard, but so very simple too, you know what I mean?  Everything revolved around survival.  If you darned socks and made soap and kept babies alive one day, that was the highest achievement any modern young mom could hope to achieve.  If you canned tomatoes and swept the floors and patched the roof and butchered the chicken and kept babies alive the next day?  Once again, gold medal of motherhood/wifehood goes to you.

Today it just feels like it is never enough.

   With social media and stay-at-home moms working practically full-time behind the scenes with Etsy shops or photography or blogging or other endeavors, it honestly feels like you could never even begin to achieve enough.  And so sometimes it makes me long for the days when nothing more was expected out of you than the sheer basics of survival.  Anyone know what I mean?

   Jocelyn wanted to be Mary Ingalls but of course I thought she should be Laura with that brown hair.  But the more I thought of it, the more I realized I really do have two daughters that resemble Mary and Laura, just in personality and with completely reversed looks.  How funny.  In any case, I think she makes a pretty darling little prairie girl.  Now if we could just go back to that time of life.....

Anyway, that is all for now.  An attempt at catching up a bit that hopefully I will be able to maintain.


A royal baby is born.

Have you heard the news??!  

   The royal baby has been born, and it's a GIRL, and perhaps the best part of all?  They named her Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.  She is now fourth in line for the crown (ahead of Prince Harry) and will be called, "Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge".  How lovely is that?!  

   Obviously I am quite partial to the name Charlotte, and have always found it to be lovely, elegant, and totally classic.  I also love the homage paid to Diana with her second middle name, and I can't get over how flawless Kate is, mere hours after giving birth.  It's making me seriously rethink the whole "leaving the hospital in yoga pants" thing.  I mean...are those heels???!  She is such a style icon. 

  Of course I am a little worried that this (coupled with Chelsea Clinton's daughter Charlotte) will only serve to cause a steep uptrend in the popularity of the name, and pretty soon every playground will be crawling with Charlottes.  Oh well.  I will happily overlook it because I am just so stinkin' tickled, and there is something just so purely magical about the birth of an actual princess.  

   Watching the videos and news coverage makes me stop and think about the stark contrast of this precious baby's entrance into the world (or her brother George's) and the entrance of our King's, all those years ago.  No Twitter blasts of millions announcing his grand entrance into the world, no motorcade of SUVs with darkened windows to protect his journey back to his homeland, no press and media coverage, and certainly no sterile, clean, pristine hospital environment to assure a safe delivery.  

He was born in an unclean place.
He came after a long, hard journey.
He came in poverty, humility, and anonymity.
A baby boy who would save the world.
The God of all creation.
A King.

   There was no royal "town crier" or extensive media coverage, only lowly shepherds.  Who, in that time, were basically viewed as our society views homeless people today.  Can you grasp the contrast?  It is incredible to think of.

   I am so happy for them, as I have long admired Kate's style and femininity and effortless grace, and it will be a sheer delight to watch them raise a real, live princess.  Can you imagine the little outfits??!  This will be way too much fun.  :)

What do you think about the royal baby name? I'd love to hear.


Best Bran Muffins Ever.

   First of all, I want to thank you all so much for your feedback on my previous post!  It gave me a lot of food for thought, and I can't wait to touch on those subjects in future posts.

   And speaking of food for thought..*chuckle*...I have a FANTASTIC recipe for you today.  I will just start by admitting I don't know whose it is originally.  I got it from my lovely mother-in-law but she may have gotten it from her friend Anita?  So I will let those of you that know this community sleuth that out on your own time. :)  But regardless of whose it is, it is definitely one of my all-time favorites and one I turn to time and time again.

   I would never claim to be a gourmet chef or a baker.  My kinds of recipes are the ones that require few ingredients (and all of them common, please?) and very little time or fuss involved.  I cook because:
A. It's a lot cheaper than eating out every day.
B. I want my family to benefit from home cooked, healthy meals.

   But if it wasn't for those two reasons?  Yeah, I'm pretty sure I would never cook.  I keep waiting for it to thrill and inspire and delight and entertain me like it seems to do for countless other women, but that just hasn't happened yet.  I don't meal plan, and so 4:00 pm every day usually finds me standing in the kitchen with a dazed look on my face, fighting back tears and wondering what in the world I'm going to make and why in the world I don't just MENU PLAN ALREADY.

  But, thanks to this fabulous recipe, breakfasts have gotten a whole lot easier around here!  I love making the girls a breakfast and cringe every time I have to resort to cold cereal.  So having a healthy alternative that is quick and easy has been a lifesaver for us.  So, without further ado, my favorite bran muffin recipe.

1 Cup All Bran
1 Cup boiling water
3/4 Cup butter
1 1/2 Cup sugar

   Mix one cup bran and boiling water and let stand one minute.  Cream butter and sugar together and add to bran.  Then add 2 eggs and 1 pint buttermilk.  Or add vinegar to regular milk like I do, because I never have buttermilk on hand.  But I hear buttermilk is best!

2 1/2 Cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 more Cups of bran

Mix flour and baking soda and add to bran.  Fold in 2 remaining cups of bran lightly and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes in a greased muffin tin.  (I usually take them out a few minutes early!)  And now for my favorite part.......cover and store the leftover batter in your fridge for up to one month.  Fresh muffins and no work every week?  Sounds almost too good to be true.

Let me know how you and your family liked them, I'd love to hear!


Talk to me.

   The other day my husband was working the evening shift at work and so he graciously allowed me to sneak away to this oasis of refuge for a latte and life goal/dreaming/planning session.  I'd be lying if I said I couldn't seriously use one of those about...oh...every other day or so.  But I am so grateful for the chances I do get!  And maybe the rarity of them just serves to make them all the more special.

   It is so difficult, perhaps more than ever before, at this stage in my life to pursue certain "goals".  Dreams, ambitions, ideas, inspirations, whatever you'd like to call them.  It is much, much easier to default to merely surviving the laundry and the cleaning and the groceries and the children and call it enough.  Because sometimes, it seems that is truly all one can do.

But, the dreams remain.

  Time passes, and goals change shape and form and ideas either lose luster or grow in intensity, but nevertheless, you still feel like you reach the end of the day with too much idealism and not enough time.  And I'm not sure if it's the baby growing inside me that is spurring me on to think of the future, or if it's a little too much coffee, but it seems I've had no shortage of dreams lately.

Just a shortage of me.

   Sometimes I'm not sure what I'm doing over here on this space of mine.  It is a hobby and an interest foremost, but I want it to be so much more than that.  I want it to be a place of inspiration and encouragement.  I want it to be a place that leaves you feeling a little more motivated, a little more brave, and a little less alone.

   So now, dear readers, it's your turn!  What are some questions on your mind lately?  What roadblocks are you up against?  What are those issues that run through your mind like a hamster wheel and keep you up at night?  What is something, no matter how good or bad, small or silly, you just want to share with someone, or hear someone else's thoughts about?

  Obviously I won't claim to have all the answers, but we can wrestle through them together.  We can talk and discuss and challenge each other, and really, that's my whole goal with this space.  And since sitting down with each of you in a nearby coffee shop isn't exactly a possibility, let's just do that here!  So leave me a comment below, I'd love to hear from you.

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