Our Little Girl Turns Two!

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Monday, May 22, 2017


I could have sworn it was just yesterday that we were celebrating Gracie's first birthday, but now here she is, our big two year old!! She woke up to our family's birthday tradition-- breakfast in bed + her favorite movie and then coming downstairs to balloons and streamers. To our little kids that beats any party!


I love that Gracie's birthday tray was cooked and prepared by her sweet Daddy! Her favorite breakfast right now is cinnamon french toast.

She picked out her dress... and high heels;) If I ever go into the living room and she's not there playing or reading, then I know she's either rifling through the kitchen drawers (ha) or making herself riiight at home in my closet.


From the time she was 8 weeks old, she has spent her whole life in Croatia, traveling and going on adventures with her family. We are so excited to see all that the Lord has in store for her ahead!

Emina Grace, our wild and sweet little girl, we love you more than we could ever say. Happy second birthday, Darling!!

Almost Two!

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Thursday, May 18, 2017


(one year ago today!)

Somehow our baby Grace is turning two on Saturday!! When we moved to Zagreb, she was just an itty newborn. Now she is a firecracker with enough personality for about ten people! Here are some fun Gracie things lately...

She loves arranging and rearranging the jars of flowers I always have throughout the house... dramatically smelling every one and bringing us each a flower.  I love that!! She also picks lavender every day in the backyard and happily skips around singing for Dadda! For Mama! For Bubba!

When she falls or she cries because she got hurt, I always know she's just fine when I ask if she wants a piece of chocolate? Her sobs and tears immediately stop and she beams and tells me, YEAH!!

At bath time she "washes" her big brother's hair by pouring pitcher after pitcher of water over his head, so proud of herself and laughing hysterically. He just patiently endures it.

Lately, when it's time to pick up toys before bath time, she follows her brother around while he does all of the work and stands over him, sternly pointing and yelling out commands or saying, "NO NO NO NO BUBBA!"

She lovvvvves to dance and sing and twirl in her dresses.  She's also always the first to the table when it's time to eat and is usually halfway through her plate by the time the rest of us sit down. Ha.


We can't wait to celebrate our sweet girl who fills our home with belly laughs, silliness and kisses!

Friday Morning at the Market (Britanski Square, Zagreb)

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Friday, May 12, 2017


When we first moved to Zagreb, I found myself a bit intimidated by the people... I knew basically nothing in Croatian and on the surface people seemed unfriendly to me (maybe because I was butchering their language!) As the months passed, I came to realize that I'd failed to understand their culture. We've learned that relationships and friendships here take time... The same people I felt so nervous trying to speak Croatian with, are the same people today who kiss our cheeks, hold my babies, ask how we are, tell me stories about their kids and grandkids and exchange recipes. Part of what I love about going to the market throughout the week is talking with the same ladies and families I've been buying from over the past two years. This is also the place where I've become the most confident chatting and making mistakes (many, many, ha!) in Croatian and learning new vocabulary because of it.

It is without a doubt my favorite place in all of grad Zagreb, so I thought it would be fun to take you with me today!


Homemade fresh cheeses... even though I've had it a million times now, I'll never pass up an "izvolite!" to try each kind again. I took home one of the large domes for the equivalent of $2!


10 kuna / $1.50 for a bouquet


I brought home a big bouquet of my beloved peonies (called bo┼żuri here) for $4, happy day!!

If you ever come to Zagreb, please take time to slowly sit at one of the outdoor cafes for coffee and walk through the markets. You'll be so glad you did!

I hope you have a beautiful weekend!

Practical Ways to Teach Personal Responsibility for Toddlers

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Cam and I have been thinking a lot lately about how to teach our kids personal responsibility and make it fun since they're little. I have the HUGE blessing right now of having Cam home part of the week with us when he's not in school, but on the days it's me flying solo with the kids, my mind is pretty much always trying to come up with more ideas to get our toddlers to help out since I'm so often holding, feeding, changing our newborn and don't have enough hands. Some days I'm good about implementing them (thanks, coffee!) and others I'm tired and admit, I am a slacker.

Training toddlers is hard work -- but it's amazing to watch how good it is for them. When John or Gracie tackle something, or don't do something they know they're not supposed to, and we affirm them and tell them what a good job they've done, they beam with pride and walk a little bit more confidently. These are a few practical things we've been working on... though I'd really love to hear your ideas and what works in your homes!


Picking up all of the toys before bedtime. Our kids thrive on their routines. They know we eat dinner as a family and then it's time to pick up, take a bath and then bedtime reading together. It's a battle every night getting them to eat their dinner, but it's become FAR less of one with picking up. Some nights John Shea even starts without us asking, which makes Cam and I high five. We have a huge basket as a catch-all for most of the toys and John has another one just for his blocks and legos. I put Gracie in charge of putting away the books... she's got like a 50/50 track record but we're getting there;) I love going to bed with a clean home - it makes the mornings sweeter and more peaceful, and I want our kids to learn that Mom and Dad are not going to be cleaning up after them their whole lives. So if they take something out, they need to be the one to pick it up at the end of the day. Disciplining does not come naturally to me (it would be sooo much easier to just do it all myself and not follow through with what we've set in motion) so I'm being trained right along with them.

Clearing the table. Right now John Shea puts his dishes in the sink after dinner, but I want him to start clearing the whole table... work in progress... :)

Help Changing Diapers.  Grace is usually great about throwing away hers and Georgia's dirty diapers. Woohoo! She runs to the garbage like she's holding a special package and looks very accomplished after finishing that task. Cracks us up! Today she tried for the first time to help changing Georgia's diaper... which was interesting, haha. That'll be something we'll work on later on.

Brushing Teeth. Thankfully this one is easy. They both love brushing their teeth!

Helping me at the market & in the kitchen.  John Shea is my favorite little person to take to buy produce. He picks out vegetables and fruit and when I have the energy, it's fun to have he or Grace watching how I cook with it for dinner. John is my resident sous chef. That usually means I have spilled herbs/flour/you name it all over but I have to remind myself to get over the mess!!

Vacuuming.  I have no idea what the fascination is with the vacuum, but, I'll take it! John especially is good with the vacuum or wiping up a mess under the table. Not always, but we're getting there! They're both also fascinated by doing laundry... though judging by them pouring a bottle of detergent all over the floor and mixing the clean loads I'd just done with the dirty... um, we are not there yet. Not even close. Ha.


Also...

I just read an awesome post from my friend Anna's blog for encouraging independence which inspired me to finally write these thoughts down! My brother-in-law sent us this article which was an excellent read. My friend Sondra just gave me the book, And Then I Had Kids by Susan Alexander Yates. It's Scripture-based and a fast, funny, refreshing read.

Please share any ideas you have!
Happy Wednesday!

(photos from a rainy day this weekend)

Little Sisters

Thursday, May 4, 2017


Something even better than what we expected with Georgia's arrival is watching Grace have a sister. She has become this little mama, always stopping what's doing to give her baby a kiss and begging at least ten times a day to hold her... for about two seconds and then she's done- ha.  Lately I've been putting her to bed with a few minutes of snuggle time with Georgia in her crib and Gracie is just IN HEAVEN! Georgia's not so sure. But it's really, really precious to watch their sweet relationship growing.


"You're not going to leave me here..... right, Mom????"


Cam and I love hearing her happily reading and singing to herself!


When we ask John Shea who his best friend is, he always says Gracie. When we ask Grace who hers is, she shouts, BUBBA!!! and runs and hugs her big brother.


With each of our children, Cam and I have wondered during my pregnancies who that little soul is and what their personality will hold. Georgia has been such a sweet blessing to each of us. I don't want to forget tip-toeing into the room to watch John Shea gently putting his hand on Georgia's head and his smiling face up to hers, thinking no one is watching him (Moms make the best spies) and hearing Gracie excitedly squeal, "hiiiii!" while smothering her with hugs. We have long days and messes like every family with little children (Hah, I'm trying to get through the humongous pile of laundry on our bed that needs to be folded, just broke up a toddler tantrum, changed two diapers, and am attempting to finish this post and get lunch on the table all with one arm while Georgia is in the other), but man... we are so thankful!! These really are sweet, fun days and Cam and I marvel at the end of every one that the Lord has entrusted us with these healthy, beautiful, precious souls.

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