The Girly Things Box

In my last post, I showed you a picture of our child clothes storage closet. In the bottom corner of that closet was a box labeled “girly”.

The Box. And my teddy bear from when I was little.

The Box. And my teddy bear from when I was little.

That box was filled with stuff when Calvin was born in the hopes of pulling it out again in the future. Now, 4.5 years later, I get to use the contents! I have only looked at the stuff a couple times in the past years, and nothing has really been added, but now you get to look with me! Some of the stuff is unremarkable and I’ll probably get rid of it. But some of it is kind of special!

I received these mini Chinese lanterns from a friend for a birthday, and thought they would make a great mobile! I had them up in the nursery before Calvin was born, but took them down and replaced them with some blue tissue poms my cousin made for a  shower decoration. They are yellowed and fragile now, so they’re likely destined for the garbage.
The pink wash cloths were a throw-in in when I purchased my diaper bag online, so I could get free shipping. I’ll probably get rid of them. There is really no need for specific baby cloths.
And then there are a few handmade items. The hat is from a family friend; keeping. The blue sweater I believe was given to me by a coworker who bought it at a random market in Victoria; not keeping. The yellow one I don’t remember who made. Maybe Tim’s mom? I’m keeping that. It’s cute!
girl-box-1 And then a random assortment of clothing. The blue one is the free onesie from Thyme Maternity, the pink one I believe was a shower decoration, the sleepers were from my Oma who thought they could be boyish, the green stripes came in a hand-me-down box, and that plaid shirt….no clue. Not keeping that, but all the rest is staying!fullsizerender-1 And here are the special items. We have my own blankie from when I was a baby. Still in pretty pristine condition because that was the child I was. Also my piggy bank.
And a couple more blankets. The white crocheted one is from my great aunt, before Calvin was born. She asked what colour I wanted for the trim, and when I replied “purple!”, I was met with “Are you sure you don’t want something more gender-neutral?” I said “No way! I like purple!” So now I have a beautiful, fresh hand made blanket for Baby Girl.
Under that one is a flannel blanket from Tim’s Aunt, when Calvin was born. The colours are boyish, but the pattern is butterflies and flowers. I could have easily used it, but we had so many blankets already, I decided to keep this one back to stay fresh for a possible future girl.

Baby me in a bonnet, with my blanket and my aunt.

Baby me in a bonnet, with my blanket and my aunt.

And that’s the box! Other than this, I’ve already been blessed with a handful of hand-me-downs, and of course I’ve made a few purchases of my own. Just waiting on them in the mail!

Girls are fun!

It’s a Girl!

It’s a girl! It’s actually a girl!!

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Today we had our ultrasound and the tech confirmed it. We are so thrilled to be adding a daughter and sister to our family! The boys are excited too, although they probably don’t super understand what a girl actually means. Here’s a little video of us telling them. They aren’t the most excitable or expressive children, so don’t watch it with too high of expectations. Haha!

Only a few people know, but this was actually our second ultrasound. Our first one was last week, and the tech then said the thought it might be a girl, which is probably the worst answer you can get. A definite Boy! or Girl! would have been better. But he showed us something on the ultrasound (three lines…if you know what that means, great…if not, google it) that had me pretty convinced, so hearing it confirmed today wasn’t an ultra amazing experience, but we are so happy to have a girl to welcome into our family! One part of me is saying “of course it’s a girl, was there any other option??” and another part is saying “we get a girl? For real?!” It’s a weird experience.

And then there’s this…I get to dig into this box in the bottom corner of the closet that has been sitting around for 4.5 years.image2

My 4th Pregnancy

Hello again! It has been a handful of months since I’ve been here, and I told myself that I wanted to finish documenting our summer and such, but I think I’ll just skip right over it (because nobody will miss it, and I broke my phone and lost a bunch of photos anyway). So, skipping over…

…We found out we are pregnant again! Baby number 4 is on its way, due March 20, just a couple weeks after my 30th birthday. I guess I’ll have to over look my unofficial goal of being done having kids by the time I’m 30. 14021492_10157192166415315_1104246136592307456_n

I feel like going from 3 to 4 is a big jump. 3 is still normal and very acceptable. Having 4 kids puts you over into the world of “wow, you have a big family!”. Only one other person in my peer group has a fourth child on the way. How in the world is it going to be okay for me to ask somebody to watch our brood now?!

Like usual, this pregnancy has been fairly easy on me, physically. No sickness or anything. Just my usual nasal congestion, and an added aversion to snack foods. Why don’t I want that delicious kettle corn?!

However, I have been feeling a lot more anxious this time around. I was super nervous going in to my dating ultrasound. My blood pressure was measuring on the high side at a checkup around 12 weeks, which has never been a problem before. You know what I attribute it to?

1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. This is my 4th. I’m due for one now, right? My mom lost her fourth. Like mother, like daughter? Friends and acquaintances are experiencing loss. It can happen to me too! And we are currently in a month of infant loss awareness, where women everywhere are coming out with their personal stories of heartache over little ones they will never meet this side of heaven. As great as that is for those who need to hear – or tell – those stories, it just reminds me of the possibilities and makes me nervous.

Thankfully, at 18 weeks, I am starting to feel the baby move, so that has definitely calmed my nerves. There is just so much time before that of unknown. Is there actually a baby in there?! My growing belly says a definite “Yes!”

And then there’s the thought of what the baby will be. The same thoughts that my friends, family, and strangers alike are thinking. Is it going to be a girl this time?! It is a huge desire of my heart to have a girl! I want to be a mom to a daughter. I want Tim to be a dad to a daughter. I want our boys to be big brothers to a little sister. I want our family to have a different perspective. I want others to have a different perspective of our family. And also, I need more floral in my life!

When we found out Patrick was a boy, I cried in the ultrasound room. It only took a few moments before I was able to say “three boys is going to be awesome!”, but I feel that this time around will be different, as it will likely be or last child. For almost the entire first trimester, this was a more-than-daily thought process:
What’s it going to be?
I hope it’s a girl!
What if it’s a boy?
Oh no! What if it’s a boy!
I get anxious.
I pray for peace and thank God that he knows best.
I think about all the future daughters-in-law.

The anxiety surrounding the gender has greatly diminished since thinking of a boy’s name about a month ago. Knowing that we have a name to attach to a possible boy makes things a lot easier. It’s a real person in there, with a personality and everything! And knowing that a 4th boy would still be different than the other 3 is comforting.

But until we hear otherwise, the hope for a girl is still strong.

15 weeks

15 weeks

 And that’s where we are now. I will have my ultrasound in the next couple weeks. If you can pray for continued peace for us as we go in, and with the outcome, we would be so grateful. Knowing that God loves us and has a plan that shows us that is very comforting.

Camping Elk Island

It had been 5 years since Tim and I last went camping. 4 if you count the time we drove the two hours from Victoria to Port Renfrew with friends, couldn’t find find the rest of our group, so turned around and ended up pitching our tents in our backyard. My family never was super big on camping growing up because we had a family cabin, but the few times I’ve gone, I’ve loved it! So it’s a wonder it took us this long to do it again. So when Tim’s sister suggested going together, we said “yes!” knowing the boys are at a great age for camping (really, what age ISN’T a great age for camping?). We decided to stick close to home and drove an hour to Elk Island.

camping 1 camping 2

Upon driving up to our site, I was a little disappointed because there was literally zero separation between our site and the next, and hardly any sites really had privacy, but it turned out alright. The neighbours didn’t show up until after lunch the next day, saying they had looked at the forecast and there was a chance of a storm (never manifested). So they hung out that afternoon and went back home at supper time because it was supposed to storm again. And they had a son a couple years older than Calvin so they basically entertained each other the entire afternoon. Wonderful!

camping 3 camping 4 camping 5

The storm for Saturday night DID manifest. For about 2 hours (or more…I never checked the time). It was massive and sat right above us, giving us an awesome light show and thunderous thunder that the boys miraculously slept through. If I was a little braver and didn’t care about sleeping the rest of the night in wet clothes, I would’ve gotten out and watched the lighting. The next morning was soggy and it drizzled a bit here and there, but luckily, right on the other side of our neighbour’s site was a large group-sized covered area with picnic tables, so we set up for breakfast under there. Mark and Michelle had actually moved their tent during the night to under it because they ended up in a puddle.

camping 6

All in all, it was a wonderful time of simply hanging out, reading books, cooking food, playing frisbee and resting in a simple weekend. The boys were happy as long as Calvin had somebody to throw a ball with, Victor had sticks to be his “pewers”, and Patrick had a muddy ground to crawl through.

We are all so excited for our next trip, and my secret inner camping enthusiast is emerging!

Living Simply with Three Young Kids

Minimalism and living simply are all the rage these days. But for me, it’s always been my way of life. I don’t have any specific methods or mantras. It’s just all common sense to me.

A few years ago I made a list of Baby Must Haves I Do Not Have. A cousin who is expecting their first child was wondering if I could do an updated list now that I have more children and an even stronger grasp on what we can live without. But instead of just doing a list, I decided to gather some thoughts on how we live simply and why it’s important for our family.

So here we go!

HOW we live simply

Imperfectionist
I find the accumulation of stuff often happens when you are on the search for the perfect [whatever]. And so many products out there today are created with the sole purpose of making life easier. It’s a cyclical problem. But life doesn’t have to be the easiest or most comfortable it can be. Example: I don’t use a thick warm winter liner thing in my infant seat; I just use nice warm blankets that I use for other purposes and already have. Bonus: it saves you money!

Continuity with stuff
When you have all the same of an item you need a bunch of, it is easy to store and keep tidy. It even looks visually appealing. When I think of this, my thoughts mainly go to our kitchen and the plastic kid dishes. We only have IKEA plates, bowls and cutlery, and Tupperware sippy cups. They all stack super well and keep our cupboards tidy and easy to navigate.

A place for everything and everything (75% of the time) in its place
It’s no secret I love to organize. Tidying up is probably my favourite household chore (not to be confused with cleaning – the two are very different). When you have a designated spot for everything you own (which in our case really isn’t much), cleaning up is a breeze and takes a few minutes at the end of the day. No, my house isn’t perfection when I go to bed, but it isn’t daunting to think of what it takes to get it ship-shape.

A purpose for everything
I love the look of a beautifully styled built-in in a photo on Instagram, but why would anybody need so many ceramic animals and books for the sake of books? Don’t they know they have to dust all of that?! I think I own one thing that does not serve a practical purpose. It’s a cute little bird I got at Target during their closing sales. Okay, I guess I do have a mantra…”say ‘no’ to tchatchkes!”
And kind of related…

I’m not emotionally attached to things
I know a lot of people who have a collection of Willow Tree Angels to tell stories of events that have happened in their lives, or have special items they have collected from their travels. That’s awesome for them, but for me that’s unnecessary clutter. I DO have things from places I’ve visited, but they are all useful things. I have blankets, bowls and boxes from a handful of countries around the world that all get used often. I don’t have a memory box or anything for my boys. I have no clue what they wore home from the hospital (except for Calvin’s super cute hat!).

Say “no” to unwanted stuff
I don’t feel obligated to keep a gift if I don’t like it. To whoever gave us the punch bowl set as a wedding gift, thanks for the cookie jar in exchange! Hashtag priorities. I don’t like having stuff around me that I don’t like or that I won’t use. And purging is a regular occurrence in our house. We don’t have much, but I am always amazed at what I can still thin out of our belongings.

WHY we live simply

Easy to clean up
For us AND the boys. When something has a home, it’s easy to put away when you’re done with it. I can tidy up in the amount of time it takes for Tim to tell them a bed time story. Kitchen and laundry not included. :)

The boys get into less trouble
When there is less stuff around, there is less stuff for the boys to get into. I rarely have a huge mess to clean up of stuff they never should’ve gotten their hands on.

Keeps me punctual
It’s easy to get out the door on time when I don’t have to hunt for shoes and jackets or whatever that could be scattered throughout the house. My house is clear so my head is clear to think about what needs to be done in what time frame.

I am a happier parent
When our house is in disarray, I find I get angry and annoyed at the boys much quicker. My patience is thinner and I do not enjoy parenting. You’ve all seen those images that say the messier your house is, the happier your kids are, or something like that, but I don’t think that is true for our household. When things are tidy, I can breathe easier and enjoy my time with them.

My home is more available
I think hospitality is a (very underused) gift of mine. I enjoy having people over, whether it’s family visiting from out of town for a handful of days, a friend for a day, or half the moms and their kids for a morning. I love it! And I know most people don’t care about the cleanliness status of a house they are visiting, but like enjoying my kids more in a tidy house, I can enjoy the time with others in my own home a whole lot more! And again, clean up is not a daunting task after they leave.

This all focuses mainly on living simply with stuff, and a little bit with finances. What I haven’t touched on it living simply with time. Tim and I are both big homebodies and have very little on our plates. We are not yet at a point in our lives where we are rushing every which direction for the kids’ activities, but honestly, I don’t think we will ever be at that point. I feel that with the basic principals we live by, simple living will follow us wherever we go.

But check back with me in 5 years.

My Hair, and Other Superficial Things

My hair and I have been on a journey.

My curls have been a defining feature of myself for a long time. I can’t say I have ALWAYS had curly hair; sometimes it was just poofy…IMG_2773In highschool, hormones changed, and the poof turned into more defined curls. I learned the “dos and do nots” of curly hair. Don’t brush it! Don’t touch it! My hair became something that anybody who had lived through the Perm Age had to comment on. “You’re hair is so beautiful! I hope you appreciate it. People pay big money for hair like yours.” IMG_2758And I did appreciate it. That didn’t mean I always loved it. I straightened it sometimes. That also got comments. “Why would you do that?” And from my Oma, “Will it go curly again?” I also tried having different curls. Because other people’s curls are always better than your own.PicMonkey CollageAfter highschool is probably what I consider my prime, in the hair department. I had learned how to work with it and how to style it, and what cut was the best. It had life and bounce. I loved it.

On a different note...it's so true what they say: you don't appreciate the body you had until after you've had children.

On a different note…it’s so true what they say: you don’t appreciate the body you had until after you’ve had children.

In the last couple years, I have noticed a new shift. Every woman knows that pregnancy and child birth wreak havoc with your hormones, and hair growth is directly linked with that. So of course, in the past 5 years of being pregnant three times, and breastfeeding for four years straight, it has loosened my curls. And I don’t quite know how to deal with this new hair. It feels flatter and like it has less life. Sometimes, if it is in a pony tail for long enough, it can even straighten out completely! It used to take me an hour with a straight iron to do that!

Photo 1 was taken on a particularly good day. Photo two...please excuse the face. I took that to send to my sister.

Photo 1 was taken on a particularly good day. Photo two…please excuse the face. I took that to send to my sister.

For my most recent cut (in January), I finally gave in to the fact that my usual style was not going to work, and got rid of the layers I have had for a decade! I still don’t know if I love it, but it’s better than pretending my hair is something that it’s not. I have also been experimenting with braids and twists to bring make it feel less boring. I don’t know how much this has affected things, but I actually have not shampooed my hair in 5 years. You remember that fad? Yeah. That’s one I jumped on. A fad that actually means SAVING money?! I’m on board! I actually tried it again a couple times in December, but it left my hair so frizzy. Maybe I’ll try it again and slather on the product afterward.

So my hair journey continues.

In an effort to bring more femininity to our home, and just feel better about myself in general, I have also started wearing jewelry! Nothing big and in your face, but simple subtle things that make me feel more put together. Although I would have never described my post-baby style as frumpy, I have never really felt put together. I think it’s about time I change that. Also, my nails! When Anna was visiting, she brought along some Jamberry wraps for us to do, and I kinda got hooked. It is such a simple and quick way to just add another layer of completion. There is no way I am going to paint my nails and have them stay decent looking longer than half a day, so that’s why I love these wraps. But now I’m starting to sound like a sales pitch.

I am also trying to find a clothing style that is me. I am learning about my body and what works and doesn’t work. For instance, crew necks are no good because of my broad shoulders and large chest. Clothes have never been super important to me, and have always occupied a very tiny portion of my budget.  I can’t let myself pay more than $10 for a shirt or $20 for pants. So a full change in my dressing habits is a slow one. I’m not a stylish person by any means, especially when it comes to footwear, but I am trying, and so far I am enjoying how these small changes have made me feel.

I think it’s important to feel good about yourself, and all this superficial stuff helps.

Tim Is 30!

Today my husband enters a new decade. I guess that’s a big deal, but he didn’t want to be made a fuss over, so I didn’t plan anything special. But his dad and brother did! They flew out for Saturday and Sunday just to hang out. I do believe that was the perfect kind of celebration for Tim. Today he took the day off so our little family will spend some time together, after a yummy breakfast of course!

I am so happy for the not-even-6 years we’ve been together. Tim is a steadfast man who is not afraid of going after what he wants. He is creative and confident and brings that into our marriage and family and makes us all the better for it.

I love you, Tim! Happy birthday!View More: http://vanessavoth.pass.us/timandlarissa View More: http://vanessavoth.pass.us/timandlarissa View More: http://vanessavoth.pass.us/timandlarissa