To Samuel: Year 1

I have already written 3 letters to Luke, now I can't believe I'm writing my first one to Sam! How he got so big, so fast is a mystery to me.

My sweet baby Samuel,
I have never known a baby that is as loving and stubborn at the same time as you are. You already know exactly what you want, you want it right now (you got that from your mama!), and if you don't get your way, everyone knows about it! But you have the biggest smiles for your favorite people: mommy, daddy, Luke, and your grandparents. You are a complete mama's boy, and I totally love that! You hate to be put down. You always want me to carry you around, which gets kind of tiring, but the fact that you love me so much makes me enjoy you clinging to my legs.

Some of your favorite things right now are your blankie and pacifiers. Giving up pacifiers is not going to be easy, I have a feeling. You also love climbing up and down everything. You love cars and you can already make car noises while you're driving them around. You like to "race" Luke around, you pushing your walker and Luke pulling his suitcase. Or basically doing everything Luke does. I'm pretty sure you like to get into trouble. You know what you're not supposed to do and continue to do it, even after being told no. You loooove being in the bathroom, mostly because you're not supposed to be in there. You love food, but mostly starchy foods (like bread, pancakes and macaroni) and fruit. It's become a challenge to get you to eat meat or veggies. You eat a banana every morning and I think that would be classified as your favorite food! You LOVE to be outside. Anytime you can, you race for a door that's opened.

I hate that you've already had to have surgery. Your tear ducts were blocked, and the in-office procedure didn't work, so you had to go under general anesthesia and get tubes put in. It made me very sad to know that you had to do this, but you were a trooper and did perfectly fine!

You can already say several words. Your favorite phrase is "uh oh" as you purposely drop things on the ground. You can also say "mama," "dada," "nana," (banana), "bye bye."

I am so in love with you, your big blue eyes, the way you love me and snuggle me, and even your stubbornness. I love that you have such a big personality at such a young age. And I pray that God will use you in mighty ways. That you will be a man of God, following his path for you.

Love you,

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To Luke: Year 3

I've gotten into the habit of writing Luke a letter every year for his birthday. (Read year 1 here, and year 2 here) and wanted to keep the tradition going, so maybe someday, he can read all about his life through his mommy's eyes.

To Luke on your third birthday,
Three? I cannot believe you're three years old. How did this happen? You're (obviously) the only three year old I've been around in large quantities of time, but you seem more brilliant to me than any other three year old. Your daddy and I are constantly amazed at the words and phrases that come out of your mouth. You have an amazing way of figuring things out. One day you asked me to go on a bike ride. I told you we couldn't because Sam had to take a nap. You told me, in a very serious way, to go put Sam in bed, then we could go for a ride while he slept. You're so logical, as logical as a three year old can be.

This year has been a crazy year of change for you. You made the move from a crib to a big boy bed. You have done really, really well with that transition. We had a few difficult days where you wouldn't stay in bed, but we told you if you stayed in bed all night you could have chocolate milk in the morning. And you did! You know your letters (and can spell your name) and numbers, now, so we can tell you to stay in bed until your clock says 7. Most of the time you do really well with that, too. You're learning so much and retaining more than I realize.

We brought home your brother, Sam, who you pretty much ignored for the first few months of his life. Then he started smiling and laughing at you, and you thought that was great. After he started being able to crawl and play with your toys, you didn't seem to like him very much. We're still working on you purposely antagonizing him and not wanting to share. You can make Sam laugh easily by singing silly songs to him (which you're just starting to make up on your own), or you can make him cry easily by bulldozing into him and knocking him over (which seems to be one of your favorite things to do). You also have screaming matches to see who is louder. You were potty trained this year. Mommy was so close to giving up on the first day because you were so young and scared to go. But we made it through and you very rarely have accidents anymore. Great job, buddy! I'm so proud of you. You learned to drive with Daddy. No, not a car, but your four-wheeler. And you are excellent at it. You hardly ever crash into things unless you mean to, you love when Daddy pushes you to the side and you can drift (which we did not teach you how to do, you just figured out on your own), and you always want to "make a lap."

Some of your favorite things right now are playing with monster trucks, cars, and tractors. You are starting to use your imagination in playing by yourself. You drive your cars around the dining room table in races, use your helicopter to rescue them from crashes, and crush them with your monster trucks. Your "best friends" are Boo (your monkey) and Blankie (your fuzzy blue blanket) and you like to take them everywhere. You love your four-wheeler. You love anything to do with racing. You love to win. And are a horrible loser. We're working on that. You still watch Daddy at the window every morning, where you give high fives, knucks, elbows, hugs, and blow kisses. And now Sam stands next to you to watch him, too. You're big enough now that you run out to Daddy's car when he gets home so you can ride with him into the garage, literally dropping everything as soon as you hear his car.

You went to the dentist for the first time and got to wear a football helmet. And you got your first big boy hair cut, which makes you look so much older!  We went on vacation and you got to go down your first water slide, both with Papa and with Daddy. You loved it! We've been to the Children's Museum a lot this year, too. You can climb in the Playscape all the way to the top of the boats. You are so inquisitive and your favorite question is "why?" When you smile really big your one eye squints closed and you look like a pirate. You had your first nightmare about there being fire in your bed. It terrified you and broke Mommy and Daddy's hearts to see you so scared. You went to the urgent care a couple days before Sam was born because you were having trouble breathing and had to have a nebulizer treatment.

You have so many bumps and bruises from your boyish shenanigans that it doesn't phase you, or mommy, anymore. Except when I heard you screaming and rushed into the living room to find your head bleeding. That scared me, even though I put on a brave face for you. You had fallen off the couch and crashed your head into the coffee table. Mommy bandaged you up, but we still had to go to the doctor to get your gash glued together. They did a decent job, but it re-opened a couple hours later and we had to go back. Papa went with us, and we had 5 people holding you down while they glued you back together. It hurt my heart to see you so upset. You kept saying you just wanted Mommy. And I was right there hugging you and holding you. You will definitely have a scar from that wound. And probably more scars, but hopefully none that bad.

I'm very impressed with you, little man.  And I love you, from your inquisitive nature, to your stubbornness, to your love of sweets, with my whole heart, forever.
Love you,

P.s. Daddy wants you to know he's proud of you for knowing the difference between a Mustang and a Corvette.

Pictures from 2-3 years (not in any particular order)

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Cleaning Schedule

I don't know about you all, but my life keeps getting more and more hectic. And with the chaos that comes with running a house, keeping a toddler entertained and fed, and a very mobile 7 month old out of mischief, I find my household chores getting pushed to the back burner and just plain forgotten about. Which is ironic because I hate, hate, hate living in a dirty house! So I came up with a plan.

I've seen lots of cleaning schedules on Pinterest, but none of the ones I looked at worked for me and what I wanted my week to look like. So I made my own and wanted to share it with you.

I even made it look pretty so I can print it and put it on my fridge.  Click here for a printable version of the cleaning schedule. 

Here's the breakdown: 
The things I do every day include making the beds, loading the dishwasher and running it so the dishes are clean for the next day, putting dishes away in the morning, and a general picking up (which for me is mostly toys, papers, and random clothes that get left out)

On Mondays, I pay bills and do the budget so I am up to date for the week, menu plan (once a month, see post here!), and grocery shop if I need to.

Tuesdays are devoted to the kitchen. Clean the counters, the microwave (if needed), the stove top, empty out old food in refrigerator and clean it, and bleach the sink.

Wednesdays are bathroom days. Clean the toilet (inside and out!), sink, shower, bathtub, and mirror.

I like to do all my laundry at once. I know that a lot of people like doing a load every day, but I get so frustrated if it seems like I'm not making progress on the mountain of it. So, Thursdays are laundry day. Wash, dry, fold, and put away. This is also my day to change the sheets on the bed so they can be washed.

Fridays are general cleaning. Vacuum the bedrooms and the rug in the living room, sweep and mop the wood and tile floors, and dust the living room, dining room and bedrooms.

Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for special projects around the house that my husband and I can do together, like building a mudroom bench (in progress!), cleaning windows, washing the couch covers, mowing and weeding, etc.

Do you have a cleaning schedule you stick to? Did I forget anything?
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