Reason Number 84 That I Am Thankful to be a SAHM

Let me start by saying I’m not sure if this is really number 84. It could be 37 or 115 or 271. I’ve lost count. My thankful list for the opportunity to be a Stay-at-Home Mom grows almost daily. This is the latest reason I am thankful.

You see, last week was busy. It seemed busier than usual. We enjoyed having Andy home with us for a day off on MLK Day. We ran a couple of errands together, did a couple things in Andy’s classroom and enjoyed a lunch out at Olive Garden with one of my Christmas gift cards. Nathan enjoyed his first taste of breadsticks, too! Tuesday was a school day for me, which meant Nathan was at his Grandma’s while Andy and I taught. Wednesday saw Andy home again with a surprise ice day. He drove me to my dentist appointment and entertained Nathan, before we came home and baby-sat my cousin’s boys for the rest of the day. Thursday was MOPS in the morning (love those ladies) and school in the afternoon. By Thursday night, we were all worn out and looking forward to Friday. And that’s when it happened. Nathan caught another cold.

I knew it was coming. Last week, the doctor had commented on Nathan’s slight wheezing and named bronchilitis as the diagnosis. He said not to be concerned as long as there was no fever or rapid breathing. That’s what happened. Lots of coughing ensued with this cold before the runny nose started on Sunday. Nathan’s remained (mostly) happy through it all.

Friday was spent cuddling – as was most of the weekend. I knew Nathan wasn’t feeling well when he crawled onto my lap (several times) and laid his head down on my shoulder. He wanted to cuddle – more than usual. He wanted to be held – more than usual. He wanted to nurse – more than usual. He wanted to read books – even more than usual. He didn’t want to eat much. He didn’t want to sit on the floor and play. He tried to sleep but couldn’t. Our good sleeper has not had a good couple nights as a result of this cough. When he did finally sleep, it was on me, limiting my activities but allowing him to breathe and sleep. I snapped this picture as he napped on Sunday morning after church.

Sunday Morning Naps Instagram

I’m thankful that I’m able to stay at home and cuddle my baby when’s not feeling the best. I’m thankful I don’t have to scramble to arrange a substitute so I can do so. I’m thankful we can sit on the couch and read books. I’m thankful we can (both) recover from sleepless nights during the day.

Yes, Nathan still had his cranky, sick moments, and yes, I admit I had my frustrated moments in response. Still, I’m thankful to be just where I am. At home. Taking care of my baby. This is what I need to be doing. This is what I want to be doing. I have several friends who wish they were at home with their babies. On the longest of frustrating days, I remind myself what a blessing it is that I can be home with our baby. I’m also thankful to my husband for his willingness to work hard and sacrifice so this dream of ours is a reality.

And that is reason 84 and counting.

A Day Just Like I Needed

Andy and I both had to return to school on Tuesday. I confess that even after a lovely Christmas break, I wasn’t ready yet. When I saw snow was in the forecast, I hoped for a snow day – or a delay. We didn’t get as much snow as expected so no snow day – and we didn’t even get a delay like most of the other Fort Wayne schools. The roads were still snow covered so I drove slowly and carefully. I love snow…when I don’t have to drive in it. Even after 11 years of living up North (15 if you count college), I still am not crazy about driving in winter weather. Add Nathan into the mix and I left extra early. The first day back went well, all things considering, and the children were excited to finally learn what our musical for the year would be. By the time I taught music and my piano lessons, and picked up Nathan, it was 6 o’clock when we got home. Time for dinner, bath and bed. It was a busy and tiring day of jumping back into a school routine.

After Tuesday, I needed the Wednesday I had. Nathan slept through the night, before waking at 5:30 am to nurse. He didn’t want to go back to sleep so I brought him into bed with us. He crawled in and cuddled with us for quite some time. He wakes so instantly and so cheerfully! Nathan and I played, ate breakfast, and waved to Daddy as he drove away to school. We played some more before he cuddled and fell asleep in my arms for a brief 30 minute early morning nap. I decided then to make the most of our day and savor as it was.

It was too cold to go out (-5 wind chills in the “warm” afternoon), so we stayed in. It was a no make-up day for me and Nathan stayed in his pajamas all day. I gave myself full permission to just enjoy being at home with Nathan and not worry about my to-do list. It was funny, though, because by doing that, I suddenly had the motivation to accomplish some things.

Nathan’s short morning nap meant he slept over 2 hours in the afternoon so I made the most of that quiet time. I brought down the bins from the attic for our Christmas decorations. I didn’t put anything away but at least the bins are down. I made a loaf of homemade bread. Yum! I sorted through our Christmas cards and updated my address book. I did the dishes and vacuumed. Nathan and I skyped with his cousins in North Carolina. I blogged and read my book for book club. I even closed my eyes for a bit while Nathan napped.

Most importantly? I played with my son. I looked at him – really looked at him – while we nursed. We read stories over and over again, for at least an hour, throughout the day. I laughed with Nathan as he drummed with a cardboard box. I cherished the day and thanked God for the opportunity to be at home with Nathan. I still love teaching music but I need days where I can focus on being the mother and wife that God has made me. It is days like these that I need.

Nathan Playing with a Box

One of the changes I am making this year is more actually blogging like this. I want to share honestly what is happening in our lives. I want to actually blog – both for you and for me. I love being at home but it’s nice to be able to “talk” with other grown-ups…even if it’s online! :-) So stayed tuned for more of my musings this year.

Our CHRISTmas Celebrations (2014)

Today is our last day of Christmas vacation (unless we get the big snow and cold temperatures they are predicting this evening). It’s been a lovely – although seemingly quick – Christmas break. It’s one of the times I am especially thankful that my husband and I are both teachers so our breaks align. Here’s a look at our Christmas in pictures.

Our break started out with a visit from Andy’s best friend, Michael, and his wife and daughter. They were in town to spend Christmas with Michael’s parents but their house was full. They came in the evenings and we stayed up late visiting, before they headed back after breakfast. It was so good to see these friends again because Houston is so far from Fort Wayne. It was also fun to watch our children play together. Elizabeth is almost a year older than Nathan but these two hit it off. We were able to capture them giggling on the couch one morning. Precious!

Nathan and His Friend Elizabeth

We spent Christmas Eve at my in-laws. We let Nathan open some of his presents during the day since his bedtime came during church. He was starting to get the hang of unwrapping but the paper and boxes were often more fascinating than the gifts. Some friends gave Nathan this cute elf outfit so he was a festive little boy for the day!

Nathan as a Christmas Elf

We went to Christmas Eve worship at St. Paul’s Lutheran for the evening children’s service. Nathan stayed awake through the first two carols and then slept through the rest of the service. On Christmas Day, we went to worship at Ascension Lutheran. We let Nathan open some gifts before church and some more after. I also set up the tripod so we could get a family picture. Nathan was getting sleepy so Dad tossed him around trying to get a smile until just before the camera took the picture. Here’s one of them.

The Whirrett Family Christmas 2014

After church, Andy’s family came over to our house for a brunch of appetizers. We were having a ham dinner at his parents when his nurse Mom got off work, so we kept it on the lighter side for lunch. Nathan opened a couple more presents and got a nap in his own crib while we watched “The Muppets Christmas Carol.” After Nathan woke up, we Skyped briefly with my parents in San Antonio so they could see Nathan open a present. He got better at it as the evening went on. Nathan was treated so generously this Christmas! We ended Christmas Day at my in-laws. After opening presents, Nathan went to sleep in his pack and play, while we stayed up visiting.

Nathan opening a present

On the Saturday after Christmas, we traveled down to Indy for the extended Whirrett family Christmas. It’s a small affair but it was good to see everyone. Nathan has one second cousin, Waylon, who is a couple months older. We managed to get a picture of the two Great-Grandparents with their two Great-Grandchildren. I took a lot of pictures to get one where everyone was looking – and the boys both smiling!

Great-Grandparents and their Grandsons

The rest of our break flew by. There was no sleeping in with a 9 month old in the house! We did take some extra naps while Nathan slept. We went out together and browsed the after-Christmas sales. We went out to eat together and accomplished a task or two around the house. We spent time playing and tag-teaming time with Nathan. As always, Nathan loves having his Daddy home for bedtime stories!

Story time with Daddy

As I said at the beginning, it really was a lovely Christmas break. It passed much too quickly, as all breaks seem to do. Still, we enjoyed the time we had together as a family of three! I hope you and your families had a very Merry Chrismas, too!

Christmas Vacation Time

Christmas Vacation

It’s time. It’s time for Christmas vacation! I taught my last day for the year last Thursday. Andy still teaches today and tomorrow, but then he will join us on vacation. It’s nice to share a vocation with your husband when your school teacher breaks align. I don’t know what Nathan will do with his Daddy around during the day but I think he’ll adjust quickly.

We have friends staying the nights with us for one more night yet. It’s been so nice to visit with Michael and Clare again and see their growing daughter. Andy’s brother and his wife arrive from Nebraska late Tuesday night and will stay through Sunday. It will be good to have Chris and Jessica here for Christmas.

We will be attending Christmas Eve worship at St. Paul’s and Christmas Day worship at Ascension, as has become our tradition. We won’t be opening gifts with the Whirrett family until Christmas Day evening. We plan to open some with Nathan in the morning before church, and probably some on Christmas Eve too. At some point, we’ll skype with my family in San Antonio so his Barz grandparents can see Nathan open his presents that they delivered at Thanksgiving.

I still have things to check off my to-do list (including wrapping presents) but I’m officially declaring Christmas vacation in the Whirrett household. I’ll check in here occasionally through the first of the year but nothing planned. I’m going to enjoy the time with my husband and baby, take naps (especially if Nathan keeps waking in the middle of the night for an hour or two like he’s been doing lately), read some books, visit with family, and do some after Christmas shopping. It’s Christmas time and I’m ready!

May you and your family be blessed as we celebrate our Lord’s birth! I pray that your Christmas is truly joyful!

One More Week Till Christmas

Oh my. Really? Already? As much as I always look forward to Christmas, it’s hard to believe it’s only one more week away. One week from today is Christmas Eve! It makes me think of my pregnancy. As excited as I was to welcome Nathan into our lives, I couldn’t believe it when our due date actually arrived. Time spent in joyful expectation can pass so quickly. It doesn’t always, but sometimes, we blink and entire days (or weeks!) seem to have passed.

We’ve been keeping busy in our home getting ready for Christmas – and Nathan’s first one at that. The tree is set up as are our Christmas nativities and other decorations. It’s nice to eat breakfast when it’s still dark by the light of the Christmas tree. Nathan smiles and sighs every time we turn on the Christmas tree lights. It makes me smile to see his simple delight.

I’ve been baking but still have more to do. I’ve made a batch of caramel corn, peanut clusters, spritz cookies and two batches of buckeyes. More buckeyes are on the list as well as another batch of caramel corn. I also need to finish my menu planning for all our upcoming Christmas parties.

My piano students had their annual Christmas recital last Sunday after late church. They did a nice job. It’s a slightly smaller group (8 students) but they all played well. I was most proud that even with mistakes, they kept playing. I also was pleased that we had an audience that included non-family members this year.

Yesterday, I took advantage of a good coupon and an open afternoon to get Nathan’s (almost) 9 month pictures taken. He showed off his nice smiles although some of my favorites were his more serious ones. He’s changed so much since we last had his pictures taken at 3 months.

Nathan at 9 Months Collage

Tonight is the school children’s Christmas service. We are leading our final Advent service revolving around the theme, “O Christmas Tree: Reveal to Us the Savior.” We sing 8 different verses of “O Christmas Tree.” To help us remember all of them, I taught the children how to sign the verses in ASL so we’ll be singing and signing tonight. Last year, I was sick with the flu and missed the service so I’m thankful to be back and directing. I’m also thankful for a wonderful organist who will do all the accompanying.

Tomorrow is my final music class before our Christmas vacation begins. Andy still has to teach through the 23rd but I will done for this year. It will be a fun music class since our service will be over.

This weekend starts the Christmas parties. My faculty party is this Friday, although we missed Andy’s due to scheduling conflicts. Then, we have his Mom’s family party this Saturday and his Dad’s family get together next Saturday. Also, we’re excited to have good friends from Houston staying with us this weekend while they visit their family in town. I’m sure we’ll be up late visiting (as late as we can be with two babies between us).

Yes, there is still (a tiny bit) of shopping to do and presents to wrap. My house needs cleaned and menus prepared. In spite of my to-do list, I’m focusing on taking time to savor this Christmas season with Nathan. I’ll be posting sporadically on this blog as I enjoy this time with my boys. The to-do lists will get done. (And what doesn’t get done probably didn’t need to be done in the first place!) Celebrate CHRISTmas with your loved ones. Rejoice in our Savior’s birthday! That is on the top of our list!

More of Nathan at 9 Months

Thanksgiving Musings

Oh my. Has it really already been a week since Thanksgiving? I know I’ve been a bit scarce around here, but we were keeping busy at home and away. It really was a wonderful Thanksgiving. Here’s a bit of a recap.

My siblings arrived late on Tuesday night and early on Wednesday morning. It was so good to see everyone, see how big the nieces and nephews have grown, and meet our newest nephew, Mateo. My parents flew in on Thanksgiving evening and the whole Barz family was together again – all 15 of us.

We caught up on one another’s lives, ate delicious meals and lots of desserts, played with the children, read stories to the babies, stayed up late (the adults) and woke up early (with the babies), ate some more, laughed, and played in the dusting of snow. We went to church on Thanksgiving Day and enjoyed two Thanksgiving meals, complete with turkey and all the fixings. We made the most of our short time together. It was lovely. Absolutely lovely.

Nathan's First Thanksgiving 2014

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye. I didn’t have time for tears since Nathan and I left first with my parents to drive to Michigan. We went to the first church were my father was Pastor. It was interesting to be back and compare what my childhood memories were to reality. I was especially glad that my parents had the opportunity to go back, and thankful that I could accompany them – especially to see the Boar’s Head Festival again.

Nathan was a (mostly) a good traveler but his schedule and sleep were quite disrupted. We didn’t get home until 10pm on Monday evening and I taught on Tuesday. Wednesday, Nathan woke with a slight temperature and wanted to cuddle most of the day. He kept laying his head on my shoulder throughout the day and slept in my arms for three naps that day. This morning, it was time for MOPS and to teach again. The Christmas service is coming along! Oh, yes, handbells played in Advent worship on Wednesday evening, and I’m slowly but surely making order of our house again.

It’s hard to believe a week has passed since Thanksgiving and that we are only three weeks away from Christmas. I love this time of year and I want to savor it. It’s time for me to sit down and make a list. There is lots to do but I plan to take the time to enjoy it all. The boxes will wait when my baby needs cuddles. I’m learning how to balance it all, this season and always in life. I have to balance the need to do with the want to do. For that reason, I’m making myself a list. More to come, but for now? This thankful Mom is off to bed!

Our Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving Plans and Menu - Joyfully Thriving

It’s Thanksgiving week! Already? Yes, already, and we are indeed thankful! This is going to my last post for the week because it will be a wonderfully busy week at our house. Andy and I have been busy getting our house ready for our company. Here are our plans for Thanksgiving this year.

Early Tuesday morning, my sister, Liesl, arrives with her husband and 4 children from North Carolina. They are driving through the night to get here. I’ll still take Nathan to his Grandma’s for the afternoon while I teach music, so they can rest from the travel. Late Tuesday evening (probably around midnight or so), my brother, Joel, arrives from St. Louis. He will drive with our sister, Mikaela, and her husband and their new baby.

Wednesday, we have plans for the children to visit Science Central with the guys while the girls (and babies) go shopping for bargains! We’ll enjoy being together. I don’t think there will be much sleeping late with 6 children in the house – especially since 3 of those are babies under the age of 7 months!

On Thursday, we’ll go to Thanksgiving worship at Ascension. Afterwards, all of us will go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. All 3 of Andy’s siblings will be home for Thanksgiving as well. It will be a full house! On Thanksgiving evening, my parents fly into Fort Wayne from San Antonio. Then, the entire Barz family will be together!

Friday, we’re going to have another Thanksgiving meal for lunch at our house. Turkey, stuffing and all the traditional sides! We’ll have the Whirretts over for an evening meal of chili…and leftovers.

Saturday is our last day together, so we’re going to try and get a professional picture taken of my parents with their now 6 grandchildren. We’ll see how it goes! After lunch, we’ll all start heading our separate ways. I say all, because Nathan and I will be driving with my parents to Saginaw, Michigan, for the weekend. This was what started the whole Thanksgiving get-together plans. The church where my Dad first served invited their former Pastors to come back and preach this year for their 100th anniversary. Dad picked Thanksgiving weekend so we can see the Boar’s Head Festival which he helped to start at Bethlehem Lutheran. I was not quite 5 when we moved from Saginaw but I do have clear memories from my first years there. I am excited to visit again!

It will be a busy week. My menu is planned with main dishes that include poppy seed chicken, chili, the Pioneer Woman’s lasagna and, of course, a turkey. I have homemade crescent rolls in the freezer as well as frosted butter cookies and mini chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. I am going to be trying several new pumpkin recipes out, too. The food is important because we all like to eat, but more important is the fact that we will all be together.

I am looking forward to this week. We are all looking forward to it. We are indeed, truly, thankful! I pray that your Thanksgiving – no matter what you eat or whom you eat it with – is filled with joy. May all our hearts be filled with thanksgiving to God for the countless blessings He bestows upon us!

Nathan in the Gerber Baby Contest

Nathan at 6 Months

After hearing quite a few times how much Nathan looks like the Gerber baby, we decided to enter him in this year’s Gerber Baby contest! There are quite a few babies entered with a college scholarship at stake, but we think he’s pretty cute! Here’s where I come in with a personal plea because we need your help if we have a chance to win.

Would you be willing to vote for Nathan? You can vote daily for him from now until December 14th. It’s simple to do so. Go to the Gerber Photo Search website and enter your birth date and email to register. They do this to verify that all the votes are unique and all the voters over the age of 13. Then, the easiest way is to search for Nathan by his id number – 47414. When Nathan’s picture pops up, click on vote! That’s it. Of course, if you’re willing to do this daily, that increases our chances all the more. And if you’re willing to vote and share it with others? We’d be greatly appreciative! Thanks, everyone!

Nathan @ 7 Months

Nathan is 7 months old already! I’ve realized when writing these monthly updates, it is a challenge to keep details straight. Even though he’s 7 months now, I’m recording things he did last month. Here’s our sweet little boy with his 7 month picture that I took.

Nathan @ 7 Months

This month, we planned for a surprise 40th anniversary for my in-laws. My husband and all his siblings worked together to make this happen, but since I was the one at home, Nathan and I did a lot of the little details. Nathan liked the new drink bins we bought! I decided they could make a nice summer wading pool for him.

Nathan Getting Ready for our Surprise Party

In addition to spending his weekly time with his Whirrett grandparents, Nathan also spent time with his Grandpa Barz. My Dad flew to Indiana for a long weekend to serve as chaplain at a Doxology weekend. He tacked an extra day onto his travels so he could stay with us before and after. We read books, had a cook-out and even went for a brisk morning walk together with the stroller. It’s always good to see my parents!

Nathan and his Grandpa Barz

Nathan continues to be a good eater. He eats everything I put in front of him! The orange foods (carrots, squash and sweet potatoes) are favorites, as are the pears and apples. Nathan tried egg yolk from a hard boiled egg this month and really liked his first protein! We also just started Cheerios. He can’t pick them up himself quite yet but eagerly eats the ones we put in his mouth.

Nathan loves to eat!

We’ve had a gorgeous Fall here in Indiana with relatively warm days. Nathan and I were able to take our daily walks until just recently when the rain and cold temperatures arrived in full force. We finally got a picture of him in the leaves at his Great-Grandma’s house. Nathan wasn’t really sure what to think of these crunchy things that we put him in – but it makes for a nice picture!

Nathan in the Leaves

It was a cold and rainy day for Nathan’s first Halloween. His friend, Kate, loaned him her pumpkin costume that she wore last yesterday. Nathan dressed up and we went to visit Daddy at school. He skyped with his cousins in North Carolina so they could see his costume, too. Isn’t he a cute little pumpkin?

Mommy & Nathan Pumpkin

Nathan is so close to crawling! He moves backwards regularly, but just can’t quite figure out what to do with his arms just yet. He now weighs 18 pounds, 9 ounces – up almost 2 pounds in 1 month! Also, Nathan has two teeth now! He got his first tooth days before he turned 7 months, and his second one popped through four days later. Of course, he caught a cold as a result so we’ve had another rough week of sleep. It’s so hard when he just can’t breathe clear enough to sleep soundly! Thankfully, he’s still been a happy baby, regardless of lack of sleep. 7 months, here we are!

The Start of November

Well, I did it! I made it through another 31 days of writing on one single topic. Whew! It was a good month and a good challenge, but now I’m taking a breather. Well, not really because life continues on. Here’s a bit about what’s going on in my life.

Nathan cut his first two teeth this past week – one on Wednesday and the other one on Sunday. He then caught a cold. I don’t know if they are related. Some say yes, but ’tis the season for colds. As a result, we’ve had a couple sleepless nights for him – and his parents. He’s still a smiley little guy even with his nose running and eyes watering. Poor baby. Daytime has brought more cuddles as Nathan wants to be held a bit more while teething, and who am I to refuse this adorable little boy?

Nathan's 1st Halloween

I am keeping busy with music at school. I have choirs singing 3 of the 5 Sundays in November. Plus, it’s time to start working on the Christmas service. Piano lessons continue and we are choosing songs for our Christmas piano recital. That means I probably need to do some more piano music shopping as well.

Basketball season has started for my husband. Practices and games are quickly filling his calendar. We’re going to head to Indy with Andy and the team next weekend for one of their first tournaments. It’s another perk to not teaching full-time. We can go away with Daddy as he coaches!

Most importantly, we are getting ready for Thanksgiving. My entire family – all my siblings, their spouses and children, plus my parents – are coming to our house for Thanksgiving! I am already planning menus and the logistics for having a house full of 15 people – including 3 babies. I am very excited because I have not celebrated Thanksgiving with my entire family since 2001. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s been 13 years since I’ve celebrated with all of them. I am looking forward to it, even as I begin all the preparations. The whole Whirrett family will be together as well so we have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

That’s a bit about our life at the beginning of November. Look for deals and bargains and encouragement to continue as normal! With the busy-ness of November and December upon us, I might post every day but I will be here regularly. What’s happening in your life right now? Are you looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations?

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