At about 9 1/2 months, Ruby is now all over the place! Jude never really crawled – maybe for about 2 weeks right before he walked. That was at 11 months for him. It was SO nice to not have him mobile for that long. I wish little Miss Rubes followed that same pattern. Life with two is an adjustment, but once both are into everything it’s an even BIGGER adjustment. Ruby will no longer sit on her designated blanket and play with the toys around her. She scatters things everywhere, rips out night lights, dumps over trash cans, and puts everything she touches in her mouth.Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love watching her learn, grow and explore. We have just had to up our game now!
Ruby turns 10 months in about a week – been crawling for one week now – and already has the whole pulling herself up and standing at any chance she gets. Why do they grow up so fast?! She’ll be a toddler before we know it. And started wearing 12 month clothes this week. SLOW DOWN!
Ruby has darling hair. It curls on the top of her head and grows like weeds. She gets compliments on it often when we are out and about. I do love it! She is spunky and always wants to be the center of attention. She squawks at the top of her lungs a lot of the day (in an ear piercing high register). And absolutely LOVES her brother. Especially bathtime together with him.
She has her two bottom teeth, and four coming in on top – just one has cut through, but you can see the others about to. We have her eating pretty much all table food because I’m over buying baby food, and well, she can handle it. She love avocados, cheesy spinach scrambled eggs, peas, ground chicken, and pb&j (of course!). And thank heavens she finally started holding her own bottle. That is one milestone I applaud.
I had thought I would be better at documenting these monthly milestones, but life happens. I am just proud that these pictures made it up within a week of my taking them! Serious achievement.
This summer – on Sunday, August 6th – our sweet Jude boy turned THREE! Goodness, we love him so. We celebrated with donuts and homemade chick-fil-a nuggets. What more could a toddler ask for? (I keep our kid birthdays pretty simple.) He was still spoiled and really understood the excitement of a birthday, which made it so much fun. After waking up, he would point to the birthday banner in the kitchen and the minions balloons and tell me over and over, “Mama, Jude’s bidday!”
He had a hard time holding up three on his hand!
We gave him trick sparkler candles, which may have been a little mean for his age, but turned out rather entertaining for all of us!
– In visiting the long neglected blog, I realized that I had this post here that I had failed to publish. I may have written it two months ago, but It was a good reminder of something we need to constantly work at. –
Growing up my mom always prepped me that “marriage is not easy, it is a lot of work.” Of course, I never thought too much of it when I could see my parents happily married and I wasn’t in that chapter of life yet. Then I got married, and I heard plenty of newly wed advice like, “have a date night once a week” and “make time to date your spouse” and “never go to bed angry.” Sure! I was now living with my best friend and we hung out all the time. Life was fun!
(^^ throwback to our engagement photos ^^)
Then real life settled in more. If you’re married, you might be smiling to yourself because you know what I’m talking about. Sure, there may be quirks you hadn’t noticed before or petty arguments about picking up after each other or who is hogging the bed. – Or perhaps your husband gifts you a really nice box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day and then eats it himself because you didn’t “eat it quick enough!” There can be nothing more devastating than going for that favorite piece you have been saving to find an empty box of crinkled paper. – I have since learned to hide my chocolate. But jokes aside, there can be really tough things to deal with. Adapting to a new second family and their way of doing things isn’t always easy, not to mention balancing time spent with each family. Finances can definitely put a strain on the newly wed bliss. And all of your decisions now affect not just yourself, but another person and your life together. It’s true, marriage is not easy.
What I have been dwelling on frequently is where James and I are at right now. We have two kids and are coming up on five years of marriage. It has been such an adventure so far! We have had some really low lows and also some incredibly great memories. But we are definitely at a stage in our marriage that is requiring the most work so far. When we decided to have children, we decided to not just share our hearts with each other, but with these beautiful little people. Hands down that has been an easy thing to do! However, it has also been easy to let those little people come first before our marriage.
Being a parent is absolutely a priority. They say that having children is like having your heart walking around outside of your body. I understand that completely! As a mother, I decided to quit my photo business because I wanted to give my baby and almost three year old more of me. Taking care of them and being there for them is my life. It can be too easy though to make my kids become more important than my marriage by letting them get more of me than James does.
(^^ our attempts at a family picture this year on Easter haha ^^)
James is in school full time right now and working full time. He is SO busy. I’m at home with our two babes, trying to keep up with their needs, our home and our yard. We also both have responsibilities at church and often commitments with other people and events. At the end of the day, we are both pooped. I will readily admit that our marriage has suffered. We get stuck on auto pilot. I deal with the kids, he has work and school. Our lives could easily stay very separate because there is lack of communication with each other – it’s so easy to feel frustrated and worn out. We don’t take time for each other to bond, connect, work things out and take care of one another’s needs when life is hectic – but that is when we need it the most. It causes distance and maybe even bitter feelings toward one another.
I know that James and I aren’t the only ones that face this struggle.
I think about this a lot lately because it is the biggest thing James and I are working to improve: that each other – our marriage – should come first before our kids, our jobs, our other family members, or hobbies. It can be a really hard thing to do! And it is a lot of work. A lot of communication. We have become so much more open with each other and know that we don’t want to be the empty-nesters facing retirement that are uncomfortable and scared about having to live life alone again with a spouse we have allowed ourself to become disconnected from because of years spent focused on work and children instead of each other. (longest sentence ever!)
I really don’t know what the purpose of this post was, just that this afternoon James and I had to revisit how and where we can fit time in for each other. A time each day where we know we push pause on everything else to reconnect and talk or just spend time together somehow uninterrupted. Every marriage needs and deserves that. It reminds me of a quote I love…
“If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.”
When I woke up this morning I did not plan to be writing a blog post. Although I had been anticipating this day – and feeling many emotions regarding it, I did not think I had anything to say. What do you say on the anniversary of a loss? It is certainly not the type of anniversary to “celebrate”. If anything, it is just a reminder of what happened a year ago today. We lost Grant. My dear, sweet, feisty nephew. It was awful. It was painful. He was only four. Reliving the memories of that day isn’t exactly something I want to do. And I am not even going to begin to pretend like I know what it’s like to lose my child and how the last year has been for June and Michael. Or any other parents that have lost their little one.
This morning I was pulling laundry out of the dryer to fold, and pulled out a shirt I have seen many, many times. The words on it read, “If Grant can do cancer, you can do this.” I immediately got very emotional. Grant may not be here physically, but he is still so very much a part of how I live my life. His journey has taught me – and should show all of us – to view things differently.
Perspective. If anything, I have gained an entirely different perspective on life from little Grant. His may have been far too short, but it left a large impact. Make the most of each day. Make the most of each relationship. It also gave me a new perspective on loss. On pain and suffering. On understanding a little better how to not just sympathize, but empathize with others. I may not always know the right words to say, but my heart has been opened more and feels deeper because of Grant.
Family. The day Grant passed away, we found out we were pregnant with Ruby. Very bittersweet, but Grant taught me to see my children and family differently. To cherish every moment. To spend more quality time together as a family. To love my husband more deeply. You never know when things can change or when you may no longer have them. Life passes too quickly. Cherish relationships and cherish family. Over this last year, it has be so hard to look at Jude and not think of Grant. He is two, the same age Grant was when he was diagnosed. They also have so many similar personality traits and interests – I swear they are kindred spirits! I would have loved to see them grow up together. Jude even just started pointing using his middle finger – the same thing Grant always did that made us laugh. These things that make me think of Grant remind me to hug a little tighter, read more bedtime stories together, get on the floor and play more, and make the most of the present. Not just with my kids, but to soak up more time with James too. Life is just far too short.
^ Grant and Baby Jude ^
Strength. Again, if Grant can do cancer, you can do this. I still remember walking down the halls in the cancer wing of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and just losing it when I passed room after room and bed after bed holding the tiniest of bodies. Little children, babies even, in pain and fighting for their lives. Grant is my hero.
But, for me, when I think of Grant’s journey and what it has taught me about strength. I think of mostly of June – and in no way am I overlooking Michael, but as a mother and female, that is who I relate to. When I think about today, as sad as it is for me already – I think about a mother’s love. About a mother’s pain and suffering when it comes to her children. And my heart aches for June and what those two+ years in the hospital were like and what this last year without her baby has been like. I have indeed been blessed by her strength and her faith. No doubt there are many dark moments behind closed doors, but I am in awe of how she has handled everything and I hope she knows how inspiring she has been to me and I am sure to many others. She is a rock. She reminds me that if she can do the last difficult four years of heartache, I can do whatever cards life deals me as well.
Faith & Hope. Lastly, Grant’s journey strengthened my faith. My faith in people that reach out, love, serve, and support in times of need. And my faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. That because of Him, families can be together again. We will see Grant again. I know that. That hope makes the current burden of physical loss easier to bear.
So today, when I didn’t think I had anything to say, I am grateful I came across that shirt in the laundry. I am grateful that it made me reflect on the many things gained out of a painful and still ever present loss. I am grateful for the happy memories – for his smile and cute little voice. That so much about Jude reminds of Grant in ways that make me smile. I am grateful that, in hard times, Grant has given me more hope and strength to know that – I can do this.
Many hugs and prayers for peace going out to family today – And to those who are in the cancer battle or dealing with loss. xoxo
New Year’s 2016 my only goal was to simplify my life. I had found myself with a lot of anxiety and constantly stressed. I was learning to juggle life as a first time mom, running a photography business, keeping up with our home, trying to fulfill my responsibilities at church (teaching early morning seminary, for those of you that are lds), and searching for time to be a good wife. I was so overwhelmed and worn out that my sweet husband too often was left with my cranky attitude lashing out at him over nothing.
I have never been one that could handle a lot on her plate very well. Maybe some people think I have it all together, but, surprise! I don’t (or maybe it’s not a surprise, lol). As a photographer, I was very active on social media. My feeds were full of other photographers, female business owners & “mompreneurs”. They were inspiring and supporting one another in the spirit of community over competition – which the world totally needs more women empowering each other instead of cutting each other down. BUT. I constantly saw the word “hustle”. Good things come to those who hustle. She has that girl boss hustle. Last name hustle. First name always. Every day I’m hustlin’. Hustle. Hustle. Hustle!
Ok. I get it. You absolutely have to work hard to make your dreams come true. No doubt that is truth and a positive message to get across. Always striving for your best or better is a good thing.
Though suddenly I hated the hustle. I was tired of being tired. I hated the pressure and mentality to do and be everything and be awesome at it all (as a mom and female in general). That if we are going 50 mph all the time with little sleep and functioning off of caffeine – that is a successful woman who gets a lot accomplished! A lot of women feel that and strive for it. And I’m not saying it doesn’t feel great to get 20 things done in one day – But I wanted some calm in my life. I was tired of getting caught up in comparison of others’ seemlingly “well-rounded” lives. Having my own photography business was always my dream, but then I had a baby and the hustle to stay on top of everything and keep clients happy and pampered and still be a present mom and wife on top of many other things was so overwhelming. I felt like I was half-assing so much in life. “The hustle” left me exhausted and cranky and was it worth it? Does life have to be so fast paced all of the time? I guess if you want it to be, sure.
My mom’s favorite quote is “less is more” and suddenly that rang so true to me. I wanted less. I wanted to simplify my life. I wanted to be present for my son and not be trying to work while he’s tugging at me for my attention. I wanted to have quality time with my husband and not be so busy and tired that he got my cranky leftovers. I wanted to not constantly have a looming cloud in my head of all the things I was behind on. And I wanted to slow down and take time for my well-being and for the well-being of my marriage, family, and home life – both physically and spiritually.
I took my 2016 goal to simplify seriously. After recognizing what mattered most to me, I shelved my photography business and quit booking. The extra income, though nice, was no longer a factor that mattered. We made things work and today I am home with my two babies having just them and this home life to worry about. I use the word “just” lightly there – Life is still hectic sometimes, that is expected – but I feel like I have more room to breathe. I can focus on my children. I can be present. Our marriage has grown SO much from time better spent together. And maybe it’s lame to some people, but I was actually able to have an amazingly successful vegetable garden last summer because there was time for it. We even still have homemade spaghetti sauce in our freezer because of the crazy amount of tomatoes we grew! (go back and see my garden post HERE)
You know, I don’t want this coming across as “you should quit your job to be happy”.That is just one step I took since I was drowning in the hustle of my every day life. It was not healthy. A huge part of my seeking simplicity wasn’t just cutting out my business, but finally learning to say “no” – to others and myself. I don’t need a Pinterest perfect life. I don’t need (or want) something scheduled on my calendar every weekend. I didn’t have to say “yes” to everything. There were so many details of things that I stressed about being close to perfect that really didn’t matter at all! And other things like getting rid of Facebook (over a year strong!) and decluttering the house – like getting rid of SO MUCH STUFF! – actually really did a lot to help me. I even got rid of Instagram for a few months to really be able to focus and enjoy life without being so plugged in to what everyone else was up to. Less is more, folks. It really is.
Everybody handles stress loads differently. Some may even thrive in the frantic chaos. But today, although my to-do list is still long and aspirations many – and we have two kiddos instead of one – I am grateful for the room I have given myself over the last year to breathe. To be present with my babes and wonderful husband. And to live life more simply than I used to.
A constant reminder to myself: Who said you have to do it all? There is a time and season for everything.
Screen time on the iPad is definitely not something that happens too often at our house. In fact, I keep the iPad out of sight as often as I remember. For Jude, it is totally out-of-sight out-of-mind. Though for those long days of running errands, road trips, or for those extra rough times when I need something to keep my toddler still and quiet for longer than 15 minutes – These are our favorite learning apps for toddlers for teaching and motor skills…
Zoo Train – Jude is obsessed with trains, and this cute app contains five train games that involve puzzles, music, building, and spelling. Now that he is older – 2 1/2 – he is doing great with the spelling and actually trying to repeat the words! It has helped with speech because he NEVER will say what I ask him to repeat.
Peekaboo Barn – This app is adorable and VERY basic. The barn doors shake and you tap on the door to reveal a new animal. It goes through 16 and a cute nighttime scene of them sleeping. Although basic, Jude still loves this one and while playing, this was the first time I ever heard him repeat words. Since he has struggled so much with speech, it was huge!
Duplo Trains – Again, for the train lover! This one has a lot of interaction to build the train, load it, punch passenger tickets, fill up with gas, build bridges, blow the whistle, pick the train’s speed, and more. Very cute! It keep him engaged for quite a while.
Daniel Tiger – I bought the bundle of 4 apps. They pair perfectly with the show he loves to watch. One has all the things Daniel Tiger does when getting ready in the morning and then when he goes to bed at night – bathtime, brushing teeth, going potty, getting dressed, setting the table, bedtime story etc. . . The Grr-ific Feelings app includes mini music videos of each of the songs from the episodes and Jude will play these OVER and OVER. And lately in the Explore app that has the entire town that you walk through and full of activities – he is a huge fan of cake decorating in the bakery lol…
5. Nighty Night – This is my favorite! There is Nighty Night Circus and James has the Nighty Night Farmhouse on his phone. Designed as a bedtime activity, you click on all the lights in the tents/rooms and turn out the lights to put the animals to bed. Each animal makes noises and does cute little things when you tap on them. Jude giggles so loud every time the bear in the circus pops his balloon animals that he’s trying to make. I love how things rarely get old for toddlers!
6. SoundTouch – This was the first and only app we had for a long time when Jude was younger. It is kind of like sound flash cards with lots of animals, vehicles, household objects, and music instruments that when you tap on it pulls up a real life photo of that thing with the noise it makes. It does not show the same picture or make the same noise each time either – but has about 5 or 6 variations for each. I’m pretty sure this app is why Jude connected noises to everything before words. He still loves it!
Jude also spends a lot of time with Disney’s La Luna app – you can just watch the short film or put it in storybook or interactive story mode. He also really like Tony the Truck – if you child is into Mighty Machines type vehicles, this is a great app!
If you look into it, you’ll notice that all of the apps do cost money – generally $5 and under. Some have “lite” versions that are free and only have a few features, but in my opinion, it’s worth paying a few dollars for full versions. I had a handful of the free ones and ended upgrading and paying for them all anyway. Besides, it gets annoying when Jude is constantly clicking on ads or stuck in the “purchase more” section of the free apps.
Side thought: Isn’t it crazy and scary how quickly little people catch on to navigating tablets and phones? They get addicted quick, too! Which is why I try to stay on top of minimal screen time. Though at the same time, some of these apps are what got Jude speaking better. Ugh – So bittersweet.
I feel like we have spent a lot of this winter sick. Between croup, ear infections, and colds we have also spent a lot of time cooped up in the house. It doesn’t help that with a new baby #2, I also don’t feel very brave to go out in public juggling a newborn and a toddler. I am getting better at that.Getting out the door takes so long. SO long! Even when I try to plan ahead, we are still running late. Always. Trying to get Ruby into the Ergo carrier by myself in a public parking lot is also not something I want to tackle (with that newborn insert it is complicated – or my arms aren’t long enough for the back buckle), so I just make sure that if I have to go out – I go places that have carts large enough to accommodate the carseat and Jude + groceries. So that narrows it down to Costco and the big car cart at Publix that Jude loves pretending to drive. And it helps out our budget when I go to Target because Jude and Ruby take up basically the entire cart and I can’t buy as much.
There was one Saturday that I convinced James to stop by Target really quick – we were on our way home from getting breakfast with the kids – so I could get diapers and such while they waited in the car. And I may or may not have kept them waiting an entire hour. Ooops! I didn’t have the kids, you know, and I was trying to “quickly browse”. I was judging my time off of whether or not James would text asking if I was done yet…which he never did. An hour in Target flies by so fast, I swear! And James has learned that there is no such thing as a quick Target run. Even if he is waiting in the car.
Having two children is a definite adjustment; however, I can’t decide if life is difficult right now because we have two kids or because Jude is a firecracker of a toddler. Either way, my hands are full. I tried the potty training thing with Jude – which was a complete success after a couple of days – and then it was a complete failure. More on that some other time, but the kid is in diapers (per his request) until I have the mental and emotional capacity to tackle that again. He is only two and a half though.
Life is crazy right now. James is super busy with his last semester of school and still working full time. He gets home late and leaves early. I am losing my mind most days, but that is just motherhood in general. We are looking forward to Spring + graduation like you wouldn’t believe. Until then, we anticipate our weekends and pack them with as much family time and “rest” as possible.
Our family was blessed with a sweet new little love – Ruby Lavinia Gossling – on November 27th 2016. (She was named after my Great Grandmother – Lucy Lavinia – We get a lot of questions about that middle name)
Sometimes we refer to her as Ruby Sunday because she was born on a Sunday instead of the Monday we had her scheduled for. Ruby was a repeat c-section and we had it all planned for the 28th of November – two days before her actual due date. Jude was six days late, so we figured that our scheduled delivery would work out well. But the little girl just could not wait another day, and Sunday morning it was.
Contractions hit me – like they usual do – in the middle of the night about 3:30am. Luckily, since I already had a scheduled repeat c-section for the following day, it was not as long of a wait to head to the hospital. I really was hoping to avoid the whole contractions bit of delivery, but at least it only lasted about 4 hours before I was in the OR and numb.
Everything went well enough. I was nervous (surgery does that to most people I think). I remember the first thing that the doctor mentioned was that Ruby had plenty of hair and was a chubby little thing. 7:55am – 8lb 8oz. She was beautiful and I was in love.
James snagged all the first photos in the OR on my phone since I was numb and strapped to the operating table. One downside to c-sections. But I am okay with knowing that each of our babies get their first hour in the world snuggled with their daddy.
Ruby is the sweetest little thing. She slept wonderfully from the beginning, nursed well, and cried only when she had to be unswaddled and changed. Or when she spit up – which was frequent those first couple of days. The poor thing had a lot of amniotic fluid coming up and lost about one pound pretty quick.
(^^Meemaw Tutt & Grandma Goose^^)
We were fortunate to have my mom fly in from Arizona the day after Thanksgiving, and Ruby was born two days later. She brought Jude to the hospital that first day. I was anxious to see how he would react to the baby, and he loved her from the beginning. He asks, “hold?” often and is constantly covering her with kisses and hugs. He calls her, “Beb- bee!”
Jude’s delivery left me super sore and I was hardly getting up and moving for a week. This time around, I forced myself to get up out of bed on my own and move. I mean, it may have taken me a couple minutes to lift myself out of bed and I walked around at a glacial pace, but I was moving! They always told me that the more you move, the easier the surgery recovery would be. So true! Granted, I did not labor naturally for 16 hours before the c-section like I did with Jude. My body and muscles were so worn out from that day.
This time around we actually were discharged from the hospital after 48 hours! We could have stayed for four if we really wanted, but we were ready to get the heck outta dodge and be home with Jude.
Below is a photo of her from the hospital right before we left. I swear her face looks so chubby straight on!…
I can hardly imagine life without our little Rubes. She is so perfect to me in every way.
With a new baby, we had lots of family visitors coming to see her in the month of December. My oldest sister made us a copycat of Panera’s Cheddar Broccoli Soup – and James has already requested it a couple times since, so we have eaten it plenty lately. Turns out, the leftovers are great over a baked potato too!
I am more of a dump and pour cook, so I don’t exactly measure everything out exact each time. We also put the carrots and broccoli in the food processor to chop it up and make things quick and easy.
After a handful of requests for the recipe (after posting about it on Instagram) – Here you go!:
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
1 tablespoon melted butter
½ medium chopped onion
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups half-and-half cream
2 cups chicken stock
½ lb fresh broccoli / about 1 cup – (I process some fine and leave some larger pieces chunkier)
1 cup carrot, julienned (or throw it in the food processor and pulse chop it a couple times like I did)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onion in 1 TB melted butter and set aside. In a large pot make a roux by whisking together the melted butter and flour over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes (this is what will thicken your soup as it cooks).
Whisk in slowly the half & half and chicken stock. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the veggies! broccoli, carrots, and onions. Let them simmer on medium low for about 25 minutes until tender.
Add nutmeg, salt & pepper, and sharp cheddar cheese. Let the cheese melt and then serve with some warm crusty bread for dipping!
You can tweak it too – add cubed potatoes. Add more cheese or different varieties. Add more or less broccoli and carrot. Maybe top it with some crispy bacon crumbles when you serve it?? YUM. Though I guess these things make it less of a Panera Bread copycat recipe. Whatever.
Maybe with the new year I will FINALLY catch up on some blogging? Maybe. Maybe not. I have tons of pictures of this new sweet babe of ours that need to be posted!
Come October, the weather has been nice enough for boots and more time spent outside before evening. Jude, as always, loves helping with chores and going on long walks down by the river. I am always snapping pictures on my phone of our everyday moments, so this is a iphone pic post. I am trying to get better at doing things with all the photos I take.
Nights have been crisp, which is perfect for campfires. Perhaps we can fit in an evening camping before it gets too cold.
I always try new pumpkin recipes every year – and usually am disappointed. Maybe I can blame it on my oven, but whenever I try baking breads, they are dry or underdone in the middle. With pumpkin cookies – they are too cakey or doughy or with hardly enough flavor/sweetness for my liking. This time around, I realized that I prefer the cookies after they are fully cooled or even chilled in the fridge as opposed to hot out of the oven. And I would say the recipe was a winner; however, I have a couple more from friends that I want to try out.