Hello Baby

Last night I lay in bed not able to sleep for the excitement of today. Today I had my 20 week ultrasound.

Long after Allan had drifted off I quietly thought about baby and how amazing it is that there is a brand new life growing in my belly. I felt so very blessed and just plain lucky that this gift was given to me.

As I lay there thinking about baby, there was a sudden, firm kick. I smiled at the perfect timing.

The loveliness of the moment didn’t end there. Baby kicked and twisted and jumped and turned for the longest time.
My eyes teared up as I brought my hands to my stomach and felt the tiny little body moving beneath my fingers. Feeling your child move for the first time is so amazing. I can imagine that no matter how many times you’ve been pregnant that first moment of feeling that there is indeed life in there is stunning.
Last night wasn’t the first time I’ve felt movement, just the strongest 🙂

I’ve known I was pregnant since I took a pregnancy test back in January. It was confirmed through an ultrasound and heartbeat. But feeling baby? Magical.

Just as magical… seeing our munchkin this afternoon.

We got to find out the gender today.

And I can’t possibly put into words how happy we all are!

And I’ll let you all in on a secret. All of these clothes were bought in the last four months. Yes, before I knew it was a girl for sure!
I’m so in love with my baby girl.
Oh and I should add, baby girl was measuring right on with how far along we think I am. 20 weeks and 1 day. October 5th is for sure the due date!

Visiting Sedona and Flagstaff

On Saturday Allan got back from an eight day business trip to South America. We thought it would be a good idea to do something as a family.

We’ve been looking online at cabins to rent in the Sedona area but you really can’t make a good decision on something like that without visiting the place first, right?
So off we went!

The drive ended up taking so very long because the North 101 had the worst traffic. It was so boring! (For the kids, Allan and I had a great time talking during the traffic!)

We stopped in Payson for food.

We finally got to the cabins around 4pm, I think. We explored the place for a little while.

It was a nice place and the kids had a blast and everything, but we decided that the drive wasn’t worth it and when we do rent a cabin we’ll pick somewhere else.

We walked down to a creek.

And Payson got very mad that he was stuck in a stroller. Speaking of stroller, that one needs its seatbelt majorly tightened! lol

I let Payson walk but he kept running straight for the creek. I could tell he wanted to go swimming.
He wasn’t happy with me when I wouldn’t let him.

We checked out one more cabin. Everyone loved the loft.

We left the cabin and Payson heard a dog barking.

We then drove on through Sedona. Sedona is freaking gorgeous! We didn’t stop so I didn’t take pictures (I hate taking pictures out of the car window) but trust me, goooorgeous. We’re going to get a state parks pass and go back there to camp and hike.

Since Sedona is only like 30 minutes away from Flagstaff we decided we might as well keep driving and go see the Arizona Snowbowl.

While I wouldn’t personally call it pretty at this time of year, it was cool since it’s so different than what we see every day.

I love that when Allan took this picture of me he got the girls in the background. How cute is it that they were holding hands? I didn’t even notice that until I got home and was looking through pictures 🙂

Allan gave me some great poses when I wanted to take some pictures of him. ha

The snow was melting and dirty but the girls were not deterred. They had a little snowball fight with Allan.
Though Sierra got a kick out of throwing them at me, too.

Brooklyn’s hands were freezing so Allan warmed them up for her 🙂

And she apologized for being a so rude a little earlier in the day (different subject. lol)

The girls saw the ski lift and were excited when we let them sit on the chair.

It was 6 by this time so we decided to go eat and go home.

Yay for daddy being home!

Mommy Takes Back Control (aka Baby Gates!)

Your reign of destruction is over, my child. Over!

I don’t know what you’ll spend your day doing now that you don’t have access to your favorite rooms in the house in which to create chaos. No more stealing your sisters’ gluten-laden food (and therefore giving yourself terrible diarrhea), no more getting into the trash, no more messing with the TV and DVD player, no more playing in the dishwasher… no more, child. No more!
These gates put me back $300. That was unpleasant. Worth the sanity I will surely now get back, but still.

Just Leave Me Alone

The drawback of homeschooling for me.
Having my kids around all of the time.

I don’t know where I thought I’d go with this topic. Sharing the negative can be great for some reasons but personally I’ve never been good at doing it in a way that doesn’t come off as complaining.
Who could get tired of being with such cute kids all day?

Well, me!

From the first day of hearing about homeschooling I felt like I needed to make a choice. A choice to homeschool, to send my kids to private school, or to send them to public school.

With most things I consciously plan, a pros and cons list is my go to means of decision making.

In the early days I had ten or twenty pros for homeschooling and one con: never getting away from the kids.

Today my list would have many, many more pros and still that one con:

Never getting away from the kids.

Having my children with me all day every day impacts everything about my life.

The kids are there when I clean, when I cook, when I make calls, when I run errands, and they even try to be there when I use the bathroom! ha
They are there for 12 hours of my day. 7 days a week. 365 days a year.
(More like 363 days since Allan’s parents watch the kids sometimes)

Most of the time I really enjoy being with my kids. We have a lot of fun together.

75-84 hour weeks, however, really take a toll on me. I don’t possess an infinite amount of patience. I don’t even possess enough patience for a 50 or 60 hour week!

I have internal breakdowns from the stress several times a week.

Once in a while (three or four times a week) it gets to be too much internally and I will be moody with my kids, almost always in the late afternoons.

After 4pm is the worst time. If you were in my home during that time of day there’s a strong chance you’d hearing any of the following:

“No more talking to mommy for 15 minutes. I’m now on a break, go play.”

“I really don’t care about _____ and don’t want to talk about it anymore today.”

“If you come into my kitchen while I’m making dinner you won’t get any. I’m cooking alone right now.”

“Quiet time in your bedroom until dinner is ready. Go.”

“I don’t want you to open your mouth for 5 minutes.”

“I don’t want you to open your mouth or make any sound for 5 minutes.”

It definitely gets to me having to do everything every day.

I’ve had women tell me that they could never homeschool because they couldn’t handle being with their kids all day long.

Oh do I get that!

Almost every day as I kiss the kids goodnight I look back at everything I did that day with all the chaos that accompanied it and wonder how I managed to do it with a smile and pleasant voice (except maybe that wretched hour between 4 and 5pm) when my inner feelings at times were anything but pleasant.

Over the years I’ve come up with lots of “helps” to get me through the patience-ran-out phases.

Today around 4:45pm all three kids were being psychotic (they always get hyper and loud before dinner) and I was just exhausted from doing so much so I told them I was going to the bathroom but I really sat in there on the floor and ate a mini hershey’s bar! (Not in the toilet room, yuck, in the main part of the bathroom!)

I don’t know how to sum up this post since it’s just random talking about a certain struggle I have with homeschooling, but I will say that it has gotten better as I go along.
The stress and workload don’t lighten up by any means, but I find myself being able to handle a lot more in a more mellow, pleasant way.
I guess that’s just maturity and experience finally catching up 🙂

So I’ll end with… despite being very productive, doing lots of fun things with the kids and enjoying and being pleasant with them the vast majority of the time, I do struggle, at times I struggle a whole heck of a lot, it’s just part of life, part of homeschooling life, part of motherhood.

Oh and the good things about having my kids home all day and homeschooling them far and away outweigh that one [huge] bad part.
More on that at the end of summer, of course! 🙂

Why We Homeschool

Allan tells me that the story of why I decided to homeschool will not be relatable to many.
He thinks that (and is probably right) because I have always had a naïve view of life.

I go about my days with dreamy images popping into my head. Some lovely outing or activity with happy, smiling children. And then I make that happen, even if it happens in a less dreamy way. lol

The year I decided to homeschool, the naïve way I approached it all happened in the same way I approach most things.


It was early 2006, Sierra had been born that January and Brooklyn would turn three that summer.

My sister-in-law, Mary, called to chat one day. Her oldest daughter would be starting school the next year so she had been researching schools in Texas.

Because some of the schools in the area weren’t that great, she told me she was considering private schools or homeschooling.

Unknowingly I had just experienced a life altering moment.

I had never known anyone homeschooled or anyone homeschooling their children. I knew nothing about homeschooling. I do mean nothing!

I sat imagining what a homeschool life would look like. It was a natural, happy vision that came to mind.

Me, with kids nestled around me, reading.

Me and the kids seated around a table stacked with books and paper, and scattered with pencils, crayons and paint.

I imagined talking, laughing, and learning together in every moment of life.

I imagined field trips to anywhere we pleased at anytime we pleased.

I imagined sitting together in the grass drawing the world around us.

I imagined quiet days at the library, reading from whatever books interest us.

I imagined lots of beautiful moments!

Yes, some will say that these images were naïve or idealistic.
But honestly with very, very few exceptions, this is what our homeschooling life looks like. So my naivety isn’t always a bad thing 😉

Within those short seconds of being awakened to the idea of teaching my children at home, the decision to homeschool had been made. I didn’t even fully know it yet, but my mind was permanently altered on the subject. There was, and is, no going back to my previous thoughts on education for my family.

To put it simply, homeschooling seemed like the most natural thing for me to do. Just as natural as imagining Brooklyn’s first day of public school had been for me before that conversation with Mary!

And that right there is my very non-exciting reason for homeschooling my children, because it felt like the natural thing for me to do.

Since then my reason for homeschooling has been added to. From things I’ve heard of and experienced to moments of bliss during school time, the reasons keep piling up. I could type out the reasons I love homeschooling, the benefits I feel my children are receiving from staying home, the blessings to me that this way of life has provided.

But I find the reasons hard to put into words.

I find it difficult to adequately explain just how beautiful certain moments of the homeschooling day are and equally difficult to not come across as thinking negatively of public school.

It may seem that my high opinion of homeschooling would produce in me a natural dislike of public schools.
That’s really not the case at all!

I happen to think there is a definite need for public schools in the world. I think a well-funded, properly-run public school is a value we can’t possibly live without!

I homeschool my children because I feel it is the right choice for our family.

Over the next couple of summer months, during which we spend most of our time homeschooling, I’m hoping to remember to jot down specific reasons why homeschooling has been a great thing for us. If I can remember to do that I will put together another post on the subject. It will probably be more in line with what people intend with the question, “why do you homeschool?” I doubt they want to hear, “I felt a confirmation in my soul that this is what we were supposed to do as a family.” Lol

So, more reasons why I value homeschooling will be soon to come. Well, months isn’t soon in the blog world, but it is soon to me!

And to follow up this fluffy, lovey post, tomorrow I will posting the one [huge] drawback to homeschooling. I will tell you what it is right now: being with my kids all of the time. This one drawback is the only negative I’ve personally experienced with homeschooling but it is, at a lot of times, very hard for me to deal with.

More on that subject tomorrow (or the next day if my always-around-children don’t give me enough time. lol!)

I Won the Train Track War!

My kids adore playing with trains.

Last Christmas I got Payson a simple little track from Ikea. I set it up on our train table and he happily pushed his trains around the track for a few minutes.

And then he took a couple of the track pieces away. And then later a couple more. And eventually not one piece of the tracks was left on the train table. None on the table but many all over the house!

I hate pieces of toy sets all over my house. Hate it.
I’d gather all the pieces every couple of days and put it all back together on the train table. The kids would play for a minute or two and then take off with the tracks again! I got so sick of the tracks everywhere that I donated that set to Goodwill two months after Christmas.

I longingly gazed at the train track packages at Target the other day. I wanted desperately to get Payson a set for his birthday next month because he will play so happily at Barnes and Noble with the train set there.

And that’s when I realized… I could glue the tracks down! It’s so simple…
And it has totally worked!! (And yes, he opened this present a month early, he’s bored out of his mind indoors all day, I had to get him a couple things early!)

First Sewing Experience

At 6 and 4 I decided the girls should start learning how to sew!


Mostly because it’s fun!
It’s also good for small motor skills.
It’s also a great keepsake for when they’re older.
It also goes along with our history learning right now. We’re learning about Jamestown and the pilgrims and what life was like back then. (We have so many things planned to go along with that time period, I’m so excited! And so are the girls!)

We went to the store to pick up some supplies and tonight just before bed we sat down and I taught them how to do a simple backstitch.

Sierra caught on immediately and has been stitching away ever since.

Brooklyn took a good five minutes of one on one teaching before she got it. But it finally clicked and she’s been happily working on hers for a while, too.
Both girls are having a LOT of fun with it now that they have the basic understanding. They’re talking about how they’re going to keep their sewn pictures forever and also about what else they’re going to sew in the future.

My heart is happy. Homeschooling is such fun.


Haven’t done this in forever. Sorry!

Some comments I wanted to respond to…

My hair looks almost the same if I do nothing to it. Didn’t you say one time you have some mediterranean descent in you or am I nuts…seems like all us lot have wavy thick hair 🙂
Looks very pretty, you always have the best eye make up we really need a tutortial!

Yep, mediterranean. My grandma is full greek; she and her brother immigrated here from Greece when she was younger! I really take after that side of the family.

I know you’ve asked a few times for a makeup tutorial but I suck at that sort of tutorial. Thanks for all the compliments, though 🙂

I’m sitting here in awe, staring at Payson’s plate of food. Why oh why won’t Cayden eat anything but the same three things over and over and over? I pray for him to overcome this pickiness all the time. I offer him everything under the sun every meal, every day, and nothing. I’ve never had a kid this picky and I worry about his health. Just Wow…very impressed (and envious) right now with Payson.
I am lucky when it comes to feeding Payson. I still deal with Brooklyn’s pickiness at every single meal and it’s been 6 years, so I definitely know what you’re going through!! The stress and worry are overwhelming when they don’t seem to be eating a balanced enough diet.

When did you first give him raw veggies (like carrots)? I haven’t tried any with Graham yet. I’m guessing Payson does well with them? I’m trying to decide when would be a good time to try them with Graham.
Raw like not a baby food jar? When he was 6 months old we started solids… I would puree fresh veggies in the food processor and give him that. He has always loved it no matter what combination I tossed together. He did get a lot of baby food jars, too. We went to exclusively raw purees at about a year.

nice… you gotta tell me what that is in the Michael Miller Carnival Bloom fabric. That just might be my favorite fabric print of all time!
It is so pretty. I love that fabric. It’s a cloth wipe, actually. Nothing exciting. lol

I am so excited because I think I’ve finally talked my husband into letting me get a new lens for my Nikon for Mother’s Day. Any suggestions??
I don’t know much about nikon. I’ve been dying to get something in the 24-70mm range. I’m so glad you’re getting (got?) one!

Hi Ariana, I follow your blog regularly and enjoy the pics of your sweet kids. I was wondering if you could tell me where you purchased the cute ABC t-shirts the girls are wearing? Thanks, Debbie
I think it was Kohl’s. Or maybe JCPenney. One of those two places for sure.

And I have to ask you….where did you get those totally awesome flower canisters on your kitchen counter? I must get my hands on some. 🙂
Target (gosh I love that store), I’ve been wanting flour/sugar containers for aaaaaaages.

What kinds of dips do you serve with your fruits/veggies? And what’s in your stuffed tomatoes?
Here are the fruit dip recipes.
The veggie dip in that post is store bought. Usually we just use ranch, though.
The stuffed tomatoes are pioneer woman’s recipe. Ricotta cheese and herbs are in the stuffing. I actually didn’t really like the tomatoes and I’m a HUGE tomato/herb/ricotta lover!

Are you hoping for a boy or girl (besides the obvious “healthy baby response, lol!)? I was hoping for a boy the 3rd time around but of course can’t picture it any other way now than with my 3 girls!
I want another little girl more than I could possibly say.
But I would be just as happy with a boy, just sad that I won’t get to purchase pink and frilly stuff and have another girl to do fairy and princess and foofy parties and outtings for. lol

Cute outfits, do you usually dress them alike?
I’ve loved dressing them alike since Sierra was a baby. I dressed them alike a lot of the time the first 5 years.
I loved to dress like my sister when I was little and it’s just carried on for me, I guess. lol
I stopped dressing them alike last year for some reason and earlier this year they were both BEGGING me to start dressing them like “twinners” again. I was happy to oblige!

I am super jealous at how tiny you are! I wish I looked that good while pregnant… especially with my 4th! And you look more prettier than ever! (If that even makes any sense) It’s the glow!
Must be flattering angles because there is nothing tiny about me right now. lol
I can’t wait to find out what you’re having… I didn’t realize you were that far along already… it went fast! I am kinda hoping for a girl.
It has gone fast! I would really love having a baby girl again.
And I love your headband. Where did you get it? I recently cut my hair and love the look of headbands since I can’t really do much to my hair. I cheacked walmart and they don’t got much but that’s as far as I’ve looked. I was thinking Target would be way better… I need to make my way over there.
Yep, Target! It was pretty cheap, too. I picked up three different ones and some rings and earrings. Really cute stuff there right now. The rings were only $6, too!