Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2019: Year in Review

2019 was a joy-filled year for the Renner crew. I know a lot of people truly despised 2019 and were so glad to see it go, but for us, it was an incredible year. I know not every year is a year you want to hold on to forever so I am praising God for this incredibly sweet season and want to remember all of it's goodness.


We started off our year with the excitement and anticipation of a new baby! We didn't have to fix up a nursery, but we did start prepping Aiden's room to add Alder by adding bunkbeds. Aiden started sleeping on the top bunk to get used to it and he did great! I thought for sure that August would arrive before his due date and before our scheduled induction, but he stayed put, which was very nice for this Type A Mama. We had a big snow that we all enjoyed, then Alder fell on the playground at church and had to get stitches in his lip just days before August's arrival. That was a long and exhausting day, but he was a trooper and has a cute little battle wound on his lower lip.

I worked my last day at my job, which was bitter sweet, but that means my role changed this month to STAY AT HOME MOM! August came quickly on January 25th and all our hearts grew and we were instantly smitten. A few days after August's arrival, Alder turned 2 and we celebrated with a superhero party and pizza with our family. January was a BIG month for our family and a perfect way to kickstart the year.


Drew got a glorious three weeks of paid time off so we enjoyed February thoroughly! There was lots of fort building, the creation of a rocket ship out of cardboard, lots of kisses for August, lots of family walks and adjusting to our lives as a family of five. We also had lots of special visitors who were anxious to meet August! It was a very sweet time for our family and was so nice to all be together as we learned how to be a family of five.


We took our first road trip as a family of five in our new Ford Transit and went to visit my Aunt and Uncle in Michigan. My Uncle works for Ford so he took us to the Ford Rogue factory where the boys got to see real cars on the production line! We also went to the Henry Ford Museum and got to visit my Uncle's office at Ford. Our car-loving boys loved this trip and August was a champ and slept through most of it. At the end of the month, we spent a day on the farm and Aiden and Alder got to ride horses and be "real cowboys."


April brought sunshine and lots of park play dates. Drew started working on building the boys a playground in our backyard and we spent a few days at an AirBnB on the river with my family after my cousin's wedding. We all celebrated Easter together there and had a sweet time together with a gorgeous view of the river.  I also started reading books again and heard August laugh out loud for the first time!


We had both Alder and August dedicated at church on Mother's day. It was a very sweet day! The other big event of May was the opening of our community pool! We spent many summer days there! Drew also finished the playground and we had some neighbors over for the "grand opening."


We had our annual Rootbeer stand date with our friends to kick off summer vacation. Went to several Touch a trucks, lots of park play dates. Celebrated Father's day at the Red's game (Alder's first time and Aiden's second time at the ballpark). Drew accepted a new job this month as well, which included a pay raise, which we were extremely thankful for. I turned 34 this month and had a wonderful day. Lunch with my Mom, a family hike and Toy Story 4. I read a few more books and went with my friend Alison to Charm at the Farm.


We celebrated the 4th of July in our cute little downtown, got spoiled with free box seats (and unlimited free food) at the Reds game with our dear friends, visited the Air Force Museum and took another road trip to Nashville. We visited the Storybook houses at Cheekwood Gardens with our cousins and had a sweet time visiting together. Drew and I also celebrated 10 whole years of marriage and I got to go to Indy for a girl's (and August) trip. Our little baby also turned 6 months old.


I helped host a bridal shower for my sister in law in Columbus this month, we made more visits to parks and got lots of visits from the Ice cream man. We spent a lot of time at the pool since both boys were not able to go down the "big" slides by themselves. Alder rocked potty training and spent his last night sleeping in his crib to make room for baby brother. It was a very big month for this kid! He handled all of the transitions so well.


August started sleeping through the night in his own crib and got fitted for a helmet to round out his sweet little head. Aiden had his last first day of preschool this month and started soccer! We went to our first football game in Drew's new school district, had a blast with family at Kings Island where Aiden rode his first roller coaster and then went on to ride it 5 more times. (We then decided we were going to have to invest in passes for Christmas.) We started our celebration of fall early by Apple picking and the boys helped me bake an apple pie with our apples. Drew officiated his sister's wedding and the boys were the cutest ring bearers. We had a lovely day celebrating and I got a new brother in law. While there were many things to celebrate this month, we also lost my sweet grandma, Junebug. She went to be with Jesus very peacefully after living a very fully life. I'm so thankful she got to meet all three of my boys. We will miss her presence terribly, but are thankful for the influence she had on my life.


We started our Halloween (and Aiden's birthday) countdown and did a halloween themed activity almost every day! Lots of costumes and visits to pumpkin patches and lots of "spooky" books were read. We pulled off my favorite family costumes to date and dressed up as the Peanuts Gang (Totally Aiden's idea!) Aiden was the Great Pumpkin, Alder was Linus, August was Snoopy, Drew was Charlie Brown and I was Lucy. We also celebrated Aiden's 5th birthday that same night with the coolest and most spooky cake ever made by my Mother in law and Sister in law.


We spent our Thanksgiving with my family in South Bend at Camp Raybird, where my sister works and my brother in law is the Director. We had the whole camp to ourselves and all bunked up in the camp lodge. We used the lodge kitchen to cook our meals, the guys got to go hunting and the kids got to hike and climb on the rock wall! We had so much fun just doing life together in the lodge! We also took the boys to see Frozen 2 and started our countdown to Christmas with a fully decorated house.


December was full of holiday themed activities both at home and out and about. We drank lots of hot chocolate, had another countdown (of course!), did lots of baking and made cookies for our neighbors, watched lots of Christmas movies, visited the zoo lights and Winterfest, had a snowy play day and rode on the Polar Express! August loved all the Christmas lights and dancing with his brothers to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. We had lots of fun celebrating with our families and felt so blessed and thankful to wrap up the best year together!

Friday, January 3, 2020

August's Birth Story

August Terrence Renner.
The story of the day my little sunshine baby was born.

Friday, January 25th 2019. I woke up to a cold morning, small snow flakes dancing in the sunshine out my window. We had been anxiously waiting for this day. We woke up knowing we would be welcoming a new baby in to our family! My induction had been scheduled for a week and a half because of how things went with my delivery with Alder (quickly) and I was already pretty far progressed, but we thought August would come on his own since everything about him was not quite according to our plans. A week earlier there was a lunar eclipse and a super moon. I thought he was coming that night, but he graciously waited until my Mother in law could be back in town and my Mom was over a cold so they could both help with the big boys and so we could have everything settled and ready.

At 10 am we took one last picture as a family of 4 and then Drew and I loaded up the car and waved to Aiden and Alder out the window as we pulled away. Being induced is just such a different experience from actually going in to labor. No rushing around or panic. No having to hurry and make a plan for the kids. Drew compared it to going to pick out a piece of furniture. You want a couch, you go purchase one and come home with said couch. Induction is similar. A baby is coming, you go to the hospital and have it and come home with said baby. This was my third induction so we were not complaining about being able to calmly say bye to our boys, have someone we trust to watch them, etc.

We arrived at the hospital and checked in at 11, I was hooked up to pitocin by 12:30. Then we waited. Drew went and got lunch in the cafeteria, I ate a popsicle and blissfully listened to August's steady heartbeat on the monitor and tried to soak everything in knowing it would be the last time I would experience the wonder of childbirth. The nurse came back in and broke my water at 1 and things started happening after that.

My contractions started picking up and the plan for me was always to get an epidural, but I wanted to wait on the epidural until I felt I absolutely had to have it. There's just something about feeling the pain of contractions, knowing you are that much closer to meeting your baby. I felt like i needed to "work for it" at least a little bit (as if carrying the baby for 9 months wasn't work enough). I bounced on the ball for a while and walked around the room, rolled on some Stress Away and then we watched HGTV to pass some time. 

Around 4, the doctor came in again and I was really starting to feel stronger contractions. I was 5 cm, 80% and the doctor suggested if I wanted an epidural to go ahead and call for one in case things picked up quickly (good advice because spoiler alert, they did.) 

I was given my epidural from the sweetest man ever. He was 75 and could be retired, but chooses to continue to work because he loves it. I know a lot of people have issues with the amount they can feel after an epidural, but this man did his job right. I did not feel clumsy and still could feel pressure, but no pain. Glorious. Good work doctor. Around 5 o'clock I started feeling a ton of pressure. Basically it felt like I had a bowling ball just pressing down on my uterus. I thought maybe the epidural was not quite working properly, but then the doctor came in and checked me and all that pressure...that was the baby ready to get the party started. I was fully dilated and 10 cm. With each of my babies, when I know they are about to physically enter the world, I can't help but cry when I think about actually meeting them. It is so surreal knowing what you have been anticipating for so long is actually happening. So many happy tears. 

The doctor started getting her scrubs on and the nurse asked me to do a practice push. So I started pushing and she immediately yelled to STOP because she could see his head. So the doctor finished getting her scrubs on, I pushed twice, the doctor told me to open my eyes and our boy was here. He came out yelling and ready to eat at 5:13 pm.

That feeling when they put your baby on your chest is a feeling I won't ever forget. And since August is our last baby, it is something I am sad that I won't experience again. I already miss his tiny body scrunched up on my chest. It is very euphoric getting to meet your baby and be in such a natural state with them in their first moments outside the womb. It is the closest to heaven I feel like you can get on this Earth.

I spent the next hour skin to skin with my boy soaking him in and studying his tiny features. He had no trouble latching and wanted to eat and eat and eat. Then they took him to get measured and it was Daddy's turn to hold our boy. August looked right up in to our faces as if to say, "here I am Mom and Dad!"

Our nurse, Anne told me that she felt like angels were in the room all day because everything went so smoothly and I was so calm.  Everything about the day was wrapped in sweetness from the kind nurses to the anesthesiologist. I'm forever thankful for being able to experience pregnancy and birth one last time. Staring in to August's face for the first time I knew that he was always meant to be part of our family. What a gift he already is to us.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

BUSY MOMS CAN COOK {SIMPLE recipes from a busy Mama of 3}

As a busy Mama of three little boys ages 4 and under, I am ALWAYS on the hunt for simple meals that are quick to make and don't require 20 different ingredients. One of my goals for 2019 is to cook more for my family and eat out less so the recipes I am sharing today are all recipes I have made within the last two months that we have enjoyed eating and that I haven't stressed about cooking! Win, win! But first a few things that have been making my life easier when it comes to cooking dinners for my family...

+Make a "Meals for the week" Pinterest board. Save all your meals you are making that week to this board and then you have the ingredients and recipe easily accessible when you go to make them!
+Plan out your meals each week. I do this on Sundays and then my sweet husband goes to the grocery store for all the ingredients or I will use Kroger Clicklist and pick it up Monday morning.
+Make a meal board to display in your kitchen. Display it where you can visibly see your meal plan so you can be more likely to put it in to action! You got this!
+Group your ingredients for each meal together. As I unload my groceries for the week, I put ingredients together for each meal. Obviously they can't all be put together because some are refrigerated and some aren't, but having them grouped together helps me out big time!
+PREP anything you can in your spare time during the earlier part of the day. I can't begin to tell you how much this simple change has helped me. While Aiden was at preschool and while the other two nap, I cut up veggies, thaw meat, mix spices, etc. I do anything I can to make the evening meal making easier! This has been a game changer for me.
+Get yourself an Instant Pot! Knowing I can cook frozen chicken or frozen beef quickly with my instant pot has been huge for me. Honestly, in the past I would simply not cook dinner if I had forgotten to thaw the meat needed for that nights recipe. That sounds terrible, but it was so discouraging to me when I went to start cooking and the meat was rock hard. So this gives me no more excuses! I know not everyone has an Instant Pot, but I decided to share a few Instant Pot recipes I've loved at the bottom of this post.

Real Mom confession:
You guys, I was making so many excuses about why I couldn't get dinner on the table (the baby wouldn't nap, I didn't have the ingredients I needed, I was too tired, I didn't know what to make, etc.) and then I would feel so guilty. We were wasting so much money and even though we were eating healthier options when we would eat out, it still isn't what was best for my growing boys. I know there are nights where I still won't cook for my family, but I am actually giving this whole cooking every night thing a whirl and I am making it happen slowly but surely. If I can do it, you can do it! Trust me!

Please let me know if you try any of these recipes or if you have any I should add to my ever growing list!!! 

EASY MEALS: (with few ingredients)

+Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups {I always double this recipe. So good!}

+Taco Pie: {A family favorite and the first recipe my husband and I ever cooked together as a married couple. 10 years later we are still making it!}

+Oven Chicken Fajitas

+Rotini with Salsa di Limone

+Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

+Bubble Up Chicken Bake

+Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

ONE PAN MEALS: (because who has time to cook annnnd clean all the pots & pans)

+Ranch Porkchops and Potatoes

+Italian Sausage and Veggies

+Sausage Pesto & Veggies with Gnocchi {Our absolute favorite!}

CROCK POT: (or use the slow cooker setting on your Instant Pot)

+Chicken Taquitos

+Chicken, Potatoes +Green beans

+Steak Fajitas

+Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potatoes {Don't knock it until you try it. YUM!}

INSTANT POT: (I am obsessed with my Instant Pot)

+Instant Pot Taco Meat {You could make this ANYTIME during the day or even the night before and refrigerate it until you are ready to eat it then just reheat and serve taco bar style!}

+Instant Pot Beef Stew

+Instant Pot Salsa Shredded Chicken {2 ingredients! Salsa and chicken! Use as the meat to your tacos. So yummy and couldn't be any easier!}

+Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Chicken {I did not cook the noodles in the IP, but cooked them separately and added the cooked noodles to the dish after it was cooked}

+Instant Pot Chili Mac {Kid Approved}

+Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni: {Kid Approved}

+Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta

+Instant Pot BBQ Meatloaf + Potatoes: {My husband's favorite Instant Pot meal I've made. Yum!}

Thursday, January 31, 2019

From my baby to big brother

*I meant to post this pre-baby, but forgot and still wanted to hit publish. New baby post coming soon.
I am currently 38 weeks pregnant so Alder's days of being the baby of the family are numbered. I really can't believe he is about to be a BIG brother. But instead of being sad, I'm feeling confident that this will be a good thing for him. I think he will do great in his new role mainly because Alder has always acted older than he really is. I know it's because he has Aiden to watch and learn from, but Alder has always done things more quickly and independently. He is not even two yet, but can talk in complete sentences and you can't tell him that he can't do something because he will prove you wrong. He is one tough cookie, so besides having to share me, I think he will embrace his new role.
I remember taking a series of pictures like this with Aiden and my heart was just breaking thinking about him not being my baby any more, but this feels different. Maybe it is because I know giving my boys another sibling is just adding to their future fun and that it means they are gaining a forever friend or maybe it is because I'm a calmer more chill mom now, but either way, it feels nice not to be worried about this transition for him. I know we will have hard moments, hard days and even hard weeks, but I am confident there will be more smiles than least after a few weeks.
I love you my sweet Alder J. and I am praying for your heart as you get ready to welcome a new baby to our family. I know you will make your Mama proud and teach your little brother all kinds of new things like how to "hi-ya" and how to beat up the bad guys. Things like where to find the clean cups and spoons and all the good places to hide mommy and daddy's things...the trashcan is a fun place right? I know you will teach him things like where to find all the choo choos and cars, how to fight bad guys and the names of all the Incredibles characters, how to play Hungry, Hungry Hippos, the best foods to eat (fig bars and yogurts), how to ride a plasma car through the house, how to give hugs and say sorry when you make someone sad and how to love big. I can't wait to see you in your new role. You will be amazing!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Dear August: A letter to my last baby

Dear August,
I can't believe my pregnancy with you is nearing an end. I have one week left of feeling you kick and hiccup and squirm from the inside. Next week at this time, I will be holding you in my arms, will feel the weight of your little body on my chest and will be breathing in your newborn smell. It makes me tear up just typing those words. My pregnancy with you has gone so quickly and has been so different than my pregnancy with either of your brothers. I felt you kick way sooner and I feel you move way more than I did with them. You are definitely making yourself known as part of this family already.

You have been a sweet and unexpected gift since we first found about you. You have already brought me so much joy and I know that God has big plans for you. In fact, your name means revered and exalted. I truly believe you are being born and raised up at this exact time for a reason.

While this may be my first post about you in this space, know that you are so very loved and we are eagerly anticipating you joining our family. Your brothers are so much fun and you have the best daddy in the world. I can't wait to see how perfectly you fit into our family.

Here are some pictures of my pregnancy with you:
How we announced that you were joining our family.

First ultrasound where we got to see you for the first time.

Our gender reveal party. We were so excited that you were a BOY!

18 week appointment and learning you were a BOY.

A random date night with your Dad to IKEA to look for baby stuff!

Most of the pictures I took with you were in the bathroom mirror.

Picking a name for you took us longer than usual, but we love your name and it's meaning. August Terrence.

Aiden predicted you would have orange hair and blue eyes. He loved feeling you kick.

Being pregnant with you at Christmas time was very special for me. 

January came quickly. Baby month!

With your arrival, Alder becomes a big brother too. I can't wait to see your relationship with your brothers form and grow.

Monday, January 14, 2019

2018 {A Year in Review}

2018 was a very FULL year. A year full of surprises, full of baby announcements and births, full of new roles at work, full of making plans for a new baby! This will be a hard year to top, but I know having August join our family in 2019 is already going to make for an exciting year ahead. Here's a look at our 2018 in review so I don't forget some of the amazing blessings this year held for our family.

We kicked off 2018 with a big snow and took both boys sledding, which they LOVED. It was Alder's first literal taste of snow and he loved it! Aiden's love of cooking truly took off and he started putting his chef outfit that we got him for Christmas to good use. Alder turned one at the end of the month and we celebrated with a lumberjack themed party.

Alder and Aiden started really playing together so the teacher in me decided to start creating all themed activities I could think of and my love for creating sensory bins for the boys began. We also had lots of playdates with friends and Drew and I got not one, but two date nights in. Our new favorite date activity: pedicures. That's right friends, my very manly husband loves to go get a pedicure with me and he's not ashamed to admit it. HGTV, massage chairs and a foot scrub? Yes, please.

March was a big month. We took Aiden to see Disney on Ice with my brother in box seats he hooked us up with from his work and seeing Aiden's face light up was a big highlight. We also found out my sister was pregnant with her first baby and then I helped host a baby shower for my sister in law who was expecting her first baby on my birthday!

Sadly we spent our Easter in the ER with Aiden. He had a weird virus with a high fever and hives. He was a trooper, but we missed out on our usual Easter fun on my Aunt and Uncle's farm. This month included more sickness than I would've imagined, which eventually led me to start using essential oils. I started using them and haven't looked back. I'm now on a continued journey to rid my house of chemicals and it has been truly empowering. When Aiden was well we took my Mom to see Beauty and the Beast at the Aronoff Theater and Aiden also got his first dentist visit in.

May was a big month for us too. Our favorite local playground got a big facelift so we went to the grand opening and spent many hours there throughout the summer months. We also got pool passes to our city pool for the first time and took the boys there many times. They both went down the water slides for the first time with their Daddy and loved it. At the end of the month, I started feeling a little off and so I took a pregnancy test, which turned out to be positive, surprise! So Drew and I wrapped our head around the news and were excited to begin planning how we would share it with our families. Finding out I was pregnant again helped push me in the direction to end my breastfeeding journey with Alder after almost 15 months. It was harder on me than him of course, but this is always a milestone for me as a Mama.

We celebrated my 33rd birthday in June and I got a very sweet gift, a new nephew! We shared with our families that I was pregnant, which is always fun to do. I had both boys wearing big brother shirts so Alder's new title gave away our news. We tried to surprise my sister in law and brother in law in Nashville with our news via FaceTime and they in turn, surprised us with theirs, they were pregnant and due in January as well! We took the boys strawberry picking for the first time and they both ate more strawberries than they picked, oops. And of course we chose the hottest day of the summer to do this, but still had fun. I also busted out my big girl camera and snapped some newborn pictures for my sister in law.

We headed to Douglas Lake in Michigan for a trip with immediate and extended family. We had a lovely time. We rented a boat to fish off of and the boys loved it even though only one fish was caught. We made a lot of good memories, but then all came home sick. Later in the month, Drew and I celebrated 9 years of marriage and Drew got a new job offer as Assistant Principal. We had a lot to celebrate in July!

I planned and threw a "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" themed baby shower for my sister. We had to take a few bump pictures together of course. We also made our pregnancy official on social media. We took the boys on the Thomas the train ride, which they loved of course and then found out and shared with our families that we were having another BOY!!!

The fall brought the start of school for Drew, his first school year as an Assistant principal and our baby started preschool. Everyday he asks if he is going to church or school. He is clearly an extrovert! I attended another baby shower for my sister with my aunts and cousins and we did our traditional onesie making party, which is always so fun to do! I also took my dear friend Bekah to see Lauren Daigle in concert and it was amazing.

October was full of lots of fall festivals and the anticipation of Halloween. We made a countdown chain because Aiden and Alder were both so excited about the upcoming holiday. After deciding on our family costumes (Peter Pan themed), Aiden decided he wanted to be a spooky bat, so his very kind and creative Dad made him his own bat wings out of a black umbrella. We had a fun Halloween and Alder was very into it this year just like his brother. He said Trick or treat to everyone and held out his little fingers for candy like a pro. Aiden turned 4 on Halloween and we celebrated with a Dinosaur themed birthday party.

We had some beautiful fall days in November to play in leaf piles with friends and collect buckeyes. Alder got his very first hair cut and did surprisingly well even though he was also recovering from Hand, foot and mouth disease. We got family pictures taken and spent some time together cooking (and tasting) in the kitchen. At the end of the month we headed to Nashville to celebrate a joint Thanksgiving and Christmas with Drew's family. We visited the zoo, Alder saw his first movie in the theater (The Grinch) and all the cousins got Grinch Build-A-Bears together.

December brought with it lots of holiday fun. We took the boys on the Polar express train ride, made our own homemade hot chocolate, visited the Festival of Lights at the zoo, had a fun pizza night and went to Christmas in downtown Mason with the Brittinghams, had breakfast with Santa and did lots of advent activities to celebrate the season. I went on an underground tour of Cincinnati with my coworkers and had a fun girl's night in. Drew and I's traditional Christmas date looked a little different this year, but we still got one in and we ended the year by purchasing a new car to fit our growing family!

2018 was a great year for our family and we are excited for what this new year will bring.