Holden's 3rd Birthday Wishlist

In just 11 short days, my middle child will be three whole years old!  As cliche as it sounds, that just doesn't seem possible!  I always struggle to come up with gift ideas for Holden.  One, because he likes whatever his brother likes.  He wants whatever his brother wants.  And two, we already have all. the. things.  Nonetheless, I rounded up a few ideas/plans for his third birthday!



Kids ATV Ride On 4-Wheeler - Yes, we got the boys a Powerwheel truck as a joint Christmas gift a couple of years ago.  But Brantley usually highjacks it and Holden enjoys driving the neighbors' smaller Powerwheels anyway.  This one is a little smaller than our truck, but is recommended up to age 6 so I feel like we can still get plenty of use out of it.  And the price is much better than the price of some of the bigger Powerwheels!  (There's an even better price on the 6V version here.)

Dueling Stomp Rocket - We had a stomp rocket and both boys loved it.  However, some parts are broken, other parts are lost.  This dueling version looks to be a good replacement as it may eliminate the need for the boys to fight over who gets to play with it!

Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks & Boards - I actually bought this during a Melissa & Doug sale at Christmastime and have been saving it for his birthday.  These things remind me of tangrams and math teachers love tangrams!  And you can never go wrong with M&D!

Youth KU Baseball Cap - We've got every other team covered, but Holden is lacking a Jayhawk baseball cap.

Wooden Toy Ukulele - A couple of our neighbors have toys similar to this and Holden loves them!  In fact, he has a blow up guitar he always "plays" but there's a hole in it so it deflates quicker than we can air it up!  I know he would love one of these!

Toy Drum Set - A few weeks ago, Craig asked Holden what he wanted for his birthday.  Holden didn't know so Craig suggested some drums.  And now whenever his birthday comes up, he insists on wanting some drums.  Go figure.  (Craig, next time how about you suggest something a lot quieter, mmmmmkay?)

Assorted Anti-Slip Socks - I'm a plain Jane.  I always pick out white socks for the boys, but Holden adores anything but white socks.  This looks like a fun set for toddler boys!

Football Guys - And finally, these Iowa Hawkeye football guys.  As much as I'd love something without a million pieces, I know Holden would love playing with these!

Any other suggestions for a 3-year old?  Send them my way, if so!

Rhett Kauffman: 4 Months Old

 
I feel like I just wrote one of these.  Oh, right, because I did!   I was incredibly late on your last monthly update and I'm trying oh-so hard not to let that happen again!  So here we go - four months.  One-third of the way to one.  You are growing before our eyes.  Though I don't know how much you weigh (4-month appointment is next week), you seem so much bigger!  I still think you're a little guy for your age, but you are growing nonetheless, there's no doubt about it.  And even though you're four months into this life of yours, I still look at you as my near-newborn.  I feel like each of my babies have aged slower than the last, though the time goes faster.  Does that even make sense?  Probably not, but I definitely remember feeling similar things with Holden.

You seem to be getting a little fussier in your "old" age.  We can't hardly leave you alone in a room anymore.  The minute you realize there's no one to entertain you, you act out.  You often join us at the dinner table and demand we hold you more often than not.  Daddy isn't fond of your constant need for attention, and I can't say as if I always am either, but the moment I get frustrated, I remind myself that you are our last and suddenly, all of the frustrations melt away.  And despite your extra fussiness, you are still a great baby - and we are so lucky to have you!

I believe four months is when our pediatrician recommends rice cereal - I can't believe that time has already come!  I'm waiting for the go-ahead at your appointment next week, but I look forward to that next step!  Meanwhile, you are still doing great on your formula diet, minus the pooping part.  Your poor belly seems so uncomfortable at times and you only poop every few days - a far cry from your brothers!  Feeding you can be a big pain in the booty, too.  You squirm and turn your head away like it's your job.  But the moment we take away the bottle, you throw a huge fit.  At first, I thought you were just distracted by everything around you, then I thought maybe you had a sore throat, then I thought the nipples were bad.  But I've ruled out each of those options and now I don't know what to think, especially because it's not at every feeding.  Again, I remind myself that you are our last and as annoying as it can be, someday I'll wish for a little baby to bottle feed once again, turning head and all!

Sleep is still going well!  I've heard about that 4-month sleep regression, but so far, it hasn't affected us.  Knock on wood.  Naps are still a bit of a mess--very inconsistent--but I assume that's the norm for a third child who must adjust to everyone else's schedule.  I have noticed that you're not falling asleep as often on the 25 minute drive home from daycare each afternoon, but then you get so tired by evening's end.  It usually makes bedtime easy peasy, but can make for quite a few moments of fussiness before that.

The biggest update from this past month - you rolled over!  But not from belly to back like a normal baby typically does first; nope, you rolled from back to belly!  I didn't believe your dad when he informed me of this (or I thought it was a fluke) until the next day when I left you on your back and came back 30 seconds later to find you on your belly!  And then we watched you with our own eyes again and again!  We immediately stopped swaddling you at bedtime, though we have yet to find you sleeping on your belly.

It's been another fabulous month!  Four months into this zone defense thing and I can't imagine it any other way.  Love you, Rhetti!



4 Months of Rhett

Size: Will update after your appointment next week!

Words: Lots of raspberries and babbles.

Activity: Time in the Bumbo and other baby seat, time under your play gym, lots of being held.

Food: 5 ounces five to six times per day.

Sleep: 10 to 11 hours overnight.

Bedtime/Waketime: Bedtime around 7pm and you typically wake around 6am.

Hair: Still not a ton, but it's growing.  You have more than Brantley had at this age, but less than Holden.  The color is blondish-reddish.

Eyes: Blue

Teeth: None.  You have been constantly chewing on your fingers, but no other signs of sprouting a tooth.

Wardrobe: Some 0-3 months, some 3-6 months.

Diapers: Size 1s, but will probably switch to 2s once we're through this current box.

Likes: Your paci, car rides, sleeping, being held, being talked to, chewing on your fingers, your mama, observing everything around you.

Dislikes: Being hungry, being tired, being left alone.

Mommy Update: The postpartum hair loss began right before you turned four months.  Ugh.  But I'm pretty much down to my normal weight again so I'll gladly take the hair loss.

Mommy's Fave - As much as I cringe when you wake up early on weekends, I love feeding you while sipping my coffee in the peace and quiet of the early morning hours.  I love that it's my special time with you and you only and *almost* makes up for all the time I spend away from you during the weekdays.

 











My 21-Day Fix Recap

If you follow me on Instagram (@sarahbsides), you know that I started a 21-day fix awhile back.



Let me back up.  In late January, I was feeling down on myself because I was still carrying 20+ pounds of baby weight.  By that point postpartum with each of my first two kids, the baby weight had basically melted away with little to no work on my part and that just wasn't happening with #3.  (Apparently it doesn't "melt away" when you gain 50+ pounds!)  Anyway, I didn't feel good in anything except my standard maternity leave outfit of leggings and an oversize tunic and getting dressed for the boys' baptism resulted in a hot mess of tears.  I had to do something.  So I contacted my friend, Brittany, who is a Beachbody coach and promptly signed up.  I decided to jump start my Beachbody program with a 21-day fix.  21 days straight of working out, eating healthy, and drinking their nutrition shakes.  I was gung-ho about losing the weight and fitting into my summer clothes before shorts season!

Let me also point out that I hate working out.  Despise it.  I always have.  I've gone through small phases of my life when I was devoted to working out, but they were just that - phases.  Chasing around active little boys all day every day keeps me pretty active, though it probably doesn't count as cardio. 😉  I've also never been one to "clean eat".  My motto has always been--and still is--everything in moderation.  I wouldn't describe my eating habits as unhealthy by any means...but if I want three cookies, I will eat three cookies.  So to say this was going to be a pretty drastic "diet" for me was a huge understatement.  Whatever, if it was going to help me cut a few (15) pounds and feel good in a swimsuit, it would be well worth it!

(But, once back to my pre-baby size/weight, I was resuming life as normal!)

Fast forward six weeks.  The 21-day fix is over.  I followed through {fairly religiously} for 16 or 17 days and then I got sick (with a fever and all) so I never finished the full 21 days.  But, I did stick with it for over two weeks and I feel like it was good for something, so I want to blog about my experience!

On Working Out

The 21-day fix workouts were a mix of cardio and weight training.  There was a different workout for each day of the week and it was meant to be repeated for three weeks.

Monday: Total Body Cardio
Tuesday: Arms
Wednesday: Legs
Thursday: Pilates
Friday: Cardio
Saturday: Dirty 30
Sunday: Yoga

My favorites were Pilates and yoga (aka the easiest!) and my least favorite was the Friday cardio (oh the killer).  Other than Pilates and yoga, I dreaded the workouts every. single. day.  The only positive is that they were 30 minutes long.  Had they been any longer, I probably would have quit three days in.  It was much easier to work out on maternity leave (obviously) because I could knock out a workout in the middle of the day.  Once I went back to school, I had to either a) get up at 5am to workout (which I did twice) or b) workout at the end of the day after the kids went to bed.  Both options sucked.  I never have any energy after 7pm and that 5am alarm came way too quickly each morning, which is the main reason I couldn't hang.  I also felt like I had no time or energy for anything else (blogging).  I know working out is supposed to have the opposite effect...apparently I just wasn't to that point yet!

In addition to the 21-day fix workouts, I tried a Country Heat dance workout on one of my yoga (easier) Sundays and honestly, I liked it a lot!  In a sense, it was an easier workout, but Country Heat requires you to move for 30 solid minutes versus in the 21-day fix videos, you have 20 second breaks throughout so the trainer can demonstrate the next move.  And dancing to country music is totally my jam!  I want to say I could commit to doing Country Heat on an ongoing basis (with a little Pilates and yoga thrown in), but then again, I've never been one to stick to a workout period...and I haven't done Country Heat since, so who knows!  In addition to these Beachbody videos, I also went on a lot of brisk walks during my fix.  I was lucky to be on maternity leave for half of my fix and the weather was gorgeous so I logged quite a few miles around our neighborhood, while pushing a stroller, which I think can be just as good a workout!

On Eating Healthy

Here's the deal, I'm not a huge fan of grilled chicken breast (it's just too plain for me) and I figured we'd be eating that for much of these 21 days.  Isn't that what always comes to mind when you think "clean eating"?  However, to my surprise, there are plenty of healthy meals out there that don't revolve around chicken breast!  I scoured Pinterest (thank God for Pinterest) for 21-day fix approved meals, meal-planned, and had fun trying some new recipes!  Most of the recipes were delicious and definitely things I would make again!  (I linked my favorites below!)  And to my surprise, the eating part was actually the easy part for me!  I enjoy cooking so I guess that makes sense!  (Disclaimer: I did sneak in a few Girl Scout cookies here and there (2/3 of the way through), but limited myself to two, we partook in Chinese and pizza with neighbors when the weather was just too nice, and I enjoyed some wine on Mondays (The Bachelor!!) and cul-de-sac beers here and there on the weekends.  Did I mention the weather was gorgeous?!)

I should point out that I didn't follow Beachbody's container system--that was just too much---but I did make a point to shop healthy, cook healthy, and eat healthy for most of the 21 days.  (Again, once I got sick towards the end, things kind of fell apart.)  Oh, I also cut out creamer from my coffee (I used to drink my coffee black...why did I start adding creamer anyway??) and I only had one Starbucks drink (a non-fat) during the span of my 21 days.  (And only because a coworker offered to bring me one on my first day back!)

Once again, it was much easier to follow through with the clean eating while on maternity leave.  I was able to make an egg or cut up an avocado for breakfast and/or lunch and start prepping dinner mid-afternoon before I went to get the older boys from daycare.  It was harder to find the time to prepare meals (that often included so much produce chopping) when I went back to work and didn't get home until 5pm...unless we ate a super late dinner, which I hate doing!  I definitely saved the easier meals for the week I returned to work.

My Takeaway: My attitude about eating is unchanged.  I still believe in eating everything in moderation.  I am never going to be one to deny myself a big bowl of ice cream, nor will I eat clean 6 out of 7 days and give myself a "cheat day."  That's just not my style.  What I did learn is that I can make an effort to plan one or two healthy meals per week and often these "clean meals" are just as tasty as our normal meals.  I also learned that eating an apple or handful of almonds as a snack can be just as satisfying (if not more) and as easy as a granola bar.  And I've cut the coffee cream for good (for now).  Not only will that cut a few calories from my diet, it will shave off a few dollars of our grocery bill!  Win win.

As promised, here are some of the meals we enjoyed.

Dinners:
Blackened Chicken with Poblano Cream Sauce + Zucchini Corn Side
Dijon Crusted Salmon & Arugula Salad + Roasted Broccoli
Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps
Balsamic Glazed Steak Rolls (with this recipe for the glaze) + Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Asparagus Stuffed Grilled Chicken + Honey Roasted Butternut Squash
Zoodles with Turkey Bolognese + Spinach & Egg Salad
Unstuffed Cabbage with Ground Turkey Sausage
Greek Turkey Burgers + Greek Salad
Blackened Tilapia with Cucumber/Avocado Salsa + Crunchy Kale Salad 

Lunches:
BLT Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocados
Greek Yogurt Egg Salad

Snacks/Apps:
Mini Zucchini Pizzas
Crispy Chick Peas
Quinoa Granola Bars


On Shakeology

When I started my 21-day fix, I also started drinking Beachbody's nutrition shakes, Shakeology.  I ordered the Cafe Latte flavor and quickly learned that if I added dark chocolate almond milk, a scoop of peanut butter, and ice, it tasted similar to a frappuccino.  While on maternity leave, I would make my shake mid-afternoon and drink it on the 20-minute drive to get the older boys from daycare (usually after my workout).  I loved it!  It would satisfy my craving for something sweet, especially at that time in the afternoon, and it was the perfect treat!  Once I went back to work, however, I started drinking them for breakfast.  I hated it.  I hated drinking something so cold in the morning when I prefer to drink my piping hot coffee instead.  (I usually saved my mug of coffee for after my shake was gone.)  In addition, I felt like the shake was just adding calories to my diet when I would otherwise be satisfied with a Greek yogurt for breakfast, and since I didn't love them at that time of day anyway, I have since stopped drinking them.  Perhaps I'll start again this summer when I have the ability to drink them as an afternoon snack or once the weather warms up for good, but again, I feel like a shake would be extra calories I wouldn't otherwise need, so we'll see!

On the Challenge Group

The all-access Beachbody membership gives you access to an online challenge group via an app on your phone.  Think a Facebook group, but it's its separate app.  The app lets you log everything: your before photos, your measurements, your workouts, your Shakeology, etc.  The group is run by a Beachbody coach or two (my friend Brittany) and is meant to motivate you, give you tips, etc.  I can't say as if I was super active in the challenge group.  I felt like it was just another thing on my phone that I needed to stay updated with.  And quite honestly, I like Instagram way better. 😉  But that's just me.  I know some people live for these challenge groups and it's how they stay on track with their program.

On my Weight Loss (i.e. THE RESULTS!)

I wish I could say this wasn't about the weight for me, but let's be honest, it totally was!  When the scale shows you a number that is 20 pounds higher than it was just 11 months prior, it's defeating.  I know I just had a baby (number three, mind you) and I know it takes time, but that's hard to accept when your clothes don't fit the same (or at all)!  The worst part for me was that I was at an all-time low weight last March.  I wasn't trying nor had I planned for that, but one day I noticed I was constantly having to hike up my sagging jeans, so I stepped on the scale and was quite surprised at what I saw.  That could be part of the reason why I gained more this pregnancy; I had more to gain.  My ending weight was probably only slightly higher than my ending weight with both Brantley and Holden because I weighed a good 10-15 pounds more when I got pregnant with each of them.  And my weight has always been one to yo-yo (in college especially - yikes!), but when you know exactly what you weighed a year ago, you kind of expect to get back there and it's hard being 20 pounds above that number....even though it was only 10ish pounds above what I consider my "normal".

Anyway, when I got pregnant last spring, I weighed in the upper one-hundred-teens.  I hate giving an exact number because pounds can fluctuate so much throughout just the course of a day, but I specifically remember the scale reading 119 at one point.  When I started my 21-day fix, I weighed around 140.  I consider my normal weight to be 130.  After my fix was over, I was at about 134, so closer to 130 than 140, which I was very happy with!  Now, I'm sure the 21-day fix/eating healthier/working out/going for walks had something major to do with that, but I also think being three additional weeks postpartum played a part, as well.   Like I said before, losing baby weight takes time so perhaps just giving my body additional time is what it needed.  And as crazy as it sounds, I think putting an end to breastfeeding also helped me kick a few pounds!  I seemed to have plateaued with my weight loss for a number of weeks before I quit breastfeeding; the moment I quit, I noticed my clothes fitting better.

Three weeks later, I have resumed life as normal, for the most part.  I'm still trying to eat a tad healthier than I normally do, but as of Friday, I was down to 130!!  {HAPPY DANCE!!!}  Most of my clothes currently fit, and overall, I am content with my current body situation.  My belly is still sporting some extra flab, and I'm always going to be a curvy girl with unproportionally big hips, but at 16 weeks postpartum, I'll take it!  And besides, with time (and chasing around three boys) I'd be shocked if I didn't drop a few more pounds along the way.


Even though I didn't follow through 100%, I'm glad I took before and after photos.  I can definitely tell in my stomach.  And like I said, I'm always going to be pear-shaped - at 110 or 150 pounds - and if you try to tell me otherwise, you're crazy!  All of my before photos are on the left, afters on the right!





And one more after photo - in my shorts!  They're a little tighter than normal, but they're on, they're zipped, and they're buttoned, so yay!  Bring on summatime!!!!!


So there's my experience.  Having babies is no joke and gaining 50+ pounds can be terrifying!  Although eating healthy and working out are part of my story, I've also been blessed with some good baby-weight losing genes and for that, I am very thankful!

Friday Randoms

Oh, hey Friday!  I have literally had this Friday post in the works for three weeks now and could never muster up the energy to finish it (i.e. think of five things to post!)!  Finally, though, here it goes!

| one |

Scrunchies...remember them?  Well, apparently they're back!  All the high school girls wear them on their wrists.  I consider myself a pretty trendy person as is, but I feel like my job keeps me really young!



| two |

It's been just over two years since we closed on our home and we are finally getting ourselves a farmhouse table for the dining room!  We are having it custom built to match the style of the table below, but the hubs and I disagree on the finish of the legs - stained slightly darker than the tabletop itself (like the picture) or gray paint (with a stained tabletop like the second picture)?





| three |

I assume everyone has seen this mom-style Bachelor parody by now (I started this post weeks ago, remember?) but if not, you must watch!



| four |

I recently discovered these Bistro pre-made salads (at Walmart of all places!) and have been taking them for my lunches during the work week.  My favorite is the roasted beets & baby greens, but the cranberry walnut and spinach dijon are also really good!  (I'd love to try the kale apple veggie and apple blue pecan, but my Walmart doesn't carry them.)  Speaking of Walmart, have you tried Walmart grocery pickup?  I tried it for the first time over Christmas break and it's amazing!  More user-friendly than HyVee's pickup/delivery option and the groceries are cheaper - win win!  If you've never tried it, use this link for $10 off your first order (and I'll get $10 too!).



| five |

And finally, after reading and hearing about it everywhere, I started This is Us a few days ago!  It may take me awhile to catch up and I'm only two episodes in, but I'm loving it so far!  It's been a hot minute since I have watched anything unrelated to The Bachelor, but I'm excited to have a show  to follow once again!


That's it for today!  I'll be back on Monday with a recap/review of my 21-day fix!  It's taken me weeks to put it together!

Happy Friday!



Linking Up With:
Momfessionals and A Little Bit of Everything for Friday Favorites 
September F A R M for Oh, Hey Friday
Smidge of This for Five on Friday


Rhett Kauffman: 3 Months Old


Well this is embarrassing.  As of this morning, you are 3 months + 2 weeks + 6 days old and I am just now getting around to writing your three month update!  I debated just skipping three months and posting your 4-month update (in a week and a half!), but that wouldn't be fair to you and I will never forgive myself if I miss one monthly post in three kids' first years of life.  So today it is - 20 days late and 11 days before your next monthly birthday.  #life

Anyway, I had a pretty decent excuse for my delay in posting and it's called being back at work.  Turns out, having three kids plus a full time job plus wife duties is exhausting!  By the time you and your brothers went down for the night, all I could think about was my bed and that's usually where I was by 9:30pm.  Speaking of daycare, you've been there for three weeks now.  Minus the shorter naps, you have transitioned just fine!  The other kids adore you and I think your brothers enjoy having you with them during the days.  You are often in the bouncer seat or strapped to Ms. Stephanie via Baby Bjorn when I pick you up and seeing your smiley face is one of the best parts of my day!

I feel like three months is when you start to look like what you're going to look like as a toddler and less like an alien, so there's that.  I don't have any notes from three months (again #life) but the one thing that stands out is your first giggle.  It happened the night before I went back to work.  It's like you knew exactly what I needed in that moment.  Of course, we haven't heard you giggle since, but the whole fam can vouch that it really did happen.

Other third month things:

You went as Brantley's show-and-tell at preschool.  Pretty sure his classmates thought you were the best show-and-tell ever!

Formula has been so good for you...except for the pooping part.  You went from pooping multiple times per day on breastmilk to once every few days on formula.  Poor thing.

We spent so much time outdoors!  February was just gorgeous this year - record highs for sure!


3 Months of Rhett

Size: Not sure, but I think you've grown significantly since switching to formula.  All of the neighbors have been commenting on your size and even though it's hard for me to witness when I'm with you every day, I agree!

Words: Still occasional coos and ahhhs and plenty of baby noises.

Activity: Your head control is great and your neck muscles are strong, which means time in the Bumbo and a baby seat similar to this one.  You swing, you hang out in your rock & play and Dock-A-Tot, and I've been putting you in the Solly wrap.  You definitely like interaction with others and get mad when you're left alone.

Food: Upped to 5 ounces six times per day.

Sleep: At home anyway, you're transitioning to more legit naps--in your crib even.  Despite a couple of these longer naps, you still take some shorter cat naps throughout the day and often in the car.  You are also sleeping for 10 to 11 hours overnight.

Bedtime/Waketime: Once I started back to work, we moved your last bottle to 7:30ish and put you to bed right after.  You will generally wake sometime between 6 and 8am.  And good news, that 4am need for your paci quit after we let you cry it out a few times.

Hair: It's definitely growing!  Sometimes it's blondish, other times reddish.

Eyes: Blue

Teeth: None

Wardrobe: True to size.  Still in 0-3 month clothing, but you've outgrown the newborn size.

Diapers: Size 1s.

Likes: Your paci, car rides, sleeping, being held tightly, being swaddled, being talked to, your mama, observing everything around you.

Dislikes: Getting your bottle taken away mid-feeding and being hungry.

Mommy Update: Doing well and feeling good!  I love that I'm living a more normal life without pumping!

Mommy's Fave - I love that you are becoming more interactive and more observant of the world around you.  You have definitely lost that newborn look but I love that we are entering this next phase!



 







Third Time is....not the Charm

Spoiler alert: leaving your baby to go back to work after an amazing maternity leave isn't any easier the third time around.  In fact, it may just be a tad harder.  Because not only is this the end of this maternity leave but also the end of my maternity leave forever.  No more babies.  No more coming home from the hospital.  No more day-old baby snuggles.  No more newbornness.  This is it - my life from this point forward.  Rhett is growing and it's time to return to the real world.  So as I did with the other two, I wanted to write him a letter on this emotional day.



Dear Rhett,

Today is my first day back to work after almost 12 incredible weeks with you.  I have been dreading it for weeks.  Rather, since I learned of your existence one year ago next month.  In November, February 21 seemed like it was eons away.  I should have known better.  I wish I could say it gets easier, but it just doesn't.  You are my forever baby and it pains me so much to have to leave you and this special time we've shared.  I know my days back at work are going to fly, but that's part of the reason this is so difficult.  Before I know it, you are going to be six months old, and crawling, and then one, and walking.  If only I could hold onto this stage for a tad bit longer, I would do it in a heartbeat.  

We've shared so many days, just the two of us, and for that I will be forever grateful.  I'm convinced that this maternity leave was my best yet.  It came at the best possible time of year.  I was home for the holidays and got to enjoy that extra holiday magic with a newborn in the house.  But then my maternity leave extended into what seemed to be the first few weeks of spring (it's been a mild February!), and we got to enjoy some time outside and plenty of walks around the neighborhood, as well.  I got to see your first smiles and witness you morph from an itty bitty newborn to a still little, but very interactive, happy baby.  At 2.5 months old, you are the youngest I've ever sent to daycare, but at the same time, these 12 weeks have been a gift and one I am truly thankful for.

Of course, there's a small part of me excited to return to work.  For the first time ever, I'm returning to students I already know...the same ones I left just three months ago...and I know they will be overjoyed to have me back.  I'm sure it will be a very warm welcome on my part, but nothing--I repeat nothing--beats your smiles and the sweet moments we have shared.

When I do get sad about returning, I remind myself that Spring Break is just three short weeks away.  And then summer just nine weeks later.  I live for summer and I can't wait to spend these upcoming summer days with you and your brothers.

After three babies, this may not get any easier, but after three babies, I still don't want to stay home full time.  I know there are moms out there who would die for the opportunity, but I am not one of them.  I get to pretend in the summers and that is just perfect.  On the flip side, you are going to love daycare and your new friends.  Ms. Stephanie is the best and you are going to grow to love her just as she loves you!  And, let's not forget, your big brothers are ecstatic about having you join them!

I have no doubt that you are going to be okay.  And I will, as well, once I adjust.  It's just so hard for me to say goodbye to my maternity leave(s).  Especially this one.  You are our last baby and I am never going to have a time in my life like this again, which makes it all the more painful.  There have been tears...and there will be more, I'm sure, but I've done it twice and I can do it again.

As sad as I am to be closing this chapter of my life, I know we are all going to thrive in this new routine of ours.  My maternity leave has been perfect beyond words, but I also know the best is yet to come!

Love you so much, Rhett Kauffman, and thank you for giving me 12 amazing weeks off!

Xoxo,
Mama

My Valentines 2017

Craig and I don't celebrate the Hallmark holiday, but that doesn't mean I can't dress the boys in red and snap some holiday themed photos!  Rhett was easy.  He put on his smile and posed like the best of them.  The other two?  Well, sometimes outtakes are the best takes, right?


I bought this little onesie for some Valentine's-themed photos when Brantley was a baby.  Who knew I would reuse five years later?!


This kid's smile truly melts my heart.  It's such a little thing, but his smile seriously improves my day and gives me butterflies.  Can't. get. enough.


And now for the older boys...
We started with leftover party props from our neighborhood progressive dinner. 
(Theme: Party with a Heart On)


But then ditched them for just the guns, errrrrr roses.



They love to pester each other.  It's not at all obvious, is it? 😳


And this is Holden's "I'm not gonna smile" face.  We see it often.  Ornery little you-know-what.


Then he got mad.  And started pouting.


Fine pout, I'll just take Brantley's photo alone.  The Bachelor 50?


"Noooo, Mommy!"  Well then, cooperate please!


Can I just get one nice photo?


But no, Brantley has to touch (annoy) Holden.


And finally, this.  To which I decided we were D-O-N-E.


At any rate, I hope you had the best Valentine's Day!  Despite their orneriness, I love my little Valentines more than words can express.