When All Else Fails...

Write something.

Apparently blogger doesn't like my attempt to upload any photos today, so at the risk of my sanity, I'm going to stop trying.  Lord knows I've spent enough time on it already.  Instead, I'll just give you the most random list of things going on in my head and call that good enough for a Monday :)

-It's beautiful here.  Really, really nice.  The sun has been shining like everyday, the temps are on the rise and there is grass sprouting up all around the metro.  There is NOTHING like the hope of Spring to make all those bad winter memories go away.

-Ava is in a phase that I'm currently loving.  She is getting so independent and spending a lot of time exploring around the house and playing on her own.  It's really nice.  Not only does it give me a few minutes to get things done, but it's also so sweet to watch her play.  Today I stood in our bedroom doorway and watched my "baby" talk to herself and amuse herself for quite awhile.  It was precious and a tiny bit sentimental.  She's growing up.  BUT, what I really like about this phase is that while it's true she's able to entertain herself now, she still breaks out into a huge grin when she sees me and makes an immediate beeline to be with me.  And I secretly love it!!  That part makes my heart swell, no matter how much longer it takes me to do the laundry!

-I'm kind of sad that this is indeed the last season of 24.  After resisting it all these years, I finally gave in and have dedicated our Monday nights to watching it with Trav.  It bums me out that we only have until May to do that.  It's really, really good.  I guess the only redeeming thing is that we have 8 previous seasons we've never seen, so we should have plenty of catching up to do!  I did hear that they are making a movie about it however, so that will be fun to go to!

-Speaking of movies, we bought the Blind Side this weekend and watched it again.  Not a great idea for an emotional pregnant woman!  I basically cried through the whole thing...It is the BEST movie!  I just can't stop thinking about it.  I even looked over at one point to see tears streaming down someone else's face (I won't name names).  It's just such a good message about reaching out to love someone who needs  it.  Makes me want to take a few kids in!  I just have no idea where we'd put them :)

-I'm on a mission to find a cute Easter basket and some little things to put in it for Ava.  It appears that would have been a good idea a few weeks ago.  I'm running into lots of picked over stores and not finding what I was hoping for.  Note to self, next year, start much earlier!

-In a moment of pure Mommy bliss, I spent some time online this morning ordering cute things for Ava's first birthday.  We are doing a lady bug theme and I wanted to cry over all the little things I found! I can't believe she's almost one!!  She's going to be a well-celebrated girl, as there are currently 3 parties being planned around the big event!  I can't wait though.  I know she'll never remember it, but there is something so fun about creating a special day and memory for your child.  I didn't know how that felt until I became a parent.  My heart wants to burst over her :) My wallet wants to as well.  Good thing I have some common sense to reign it in!

-I am officially exhibiting some of my classic signs of pregnancy.  With Ava, I woke up every single night at 3:15 am to go to the bathroom.  With this baby, I wake up every night at 4:30 am to go.  Just like clockwork.  It's crazy.  I also find myself in the kitchen sometimes, eating a small bowl of cereal in the middle of the night.  I keep waking up hungry and craving Special K with ICE COLD milk.  It becomes so strong that I have to get up and satisfy it :) I'm also getting heartburn with everything I put in my mouth.  Tums are once again making their appearance in my purse and getting me through the day.  Just like last time, I crave anything that's fresh.  Fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and salads.  I can't get enough!  I'm trying to be good about keeping my diet balanced, but those are the three things I consistently want.

-I know this is riveting, but I'm afraid I need to wrap it up so I can catch a quick nap before the rest of the night begins. Maybe I'll try the photos tomorrow!  Have a great Monday night!!


11 Months Old!

Ava, you are 11 months old already!!  We can't believe it.  Where has this year gone??  You are changing every day and we constantly see you learning and understanding more and more.  We have loved each stage, but this one is especially fun.  You make Daddy and I laugh and smile all the time!  We just can't believe you are our daughter!!  Here are your stats for the month:

-You are now wearing 9-12 mo. clothes, although you are still very thin and lots of things don't fit you in the waist.  It's an adventure to get you dressed every day!
-You're still in size 3 diapers.
-You're drinking 4 bottles a day and eating lots of food in between.  Your favorite foods seem to be toast, applesauce, apples, watermelon, ham, cheese, pears, chicken, and yogurt. Veggies are a hard sell these days, but you will eat them if we give you baby food.  
-You're napping twice a day and sleeping really well at night, around 11 hours.  
-This month you had your first ear infection, in both ears and we're still trying to get rid of it with a second antibiotic. 
-You have at least 6 teeth now, although you WILL NOT let anyone look in your mouth to check it out!
-You are standing all alone often now, and you've taken a few steps here and there, but we can't quite convince you to start walking yet.  You're just too fast at crawling and cruising!  We don't think you have any motivation to slow down and walk :) 
You've become a more independent girl lately, playing on your own and looking through your favorite books by yourself.
As soon as you catch us watching you however, you quickly abandon that and come after us!  Your grin kills us. You are so CUTE when you flash all of those teeth at us and these days, you are full of smiles!
Sometimes I look at you and I no longer see my little baby anymore.  You are looking so much like a little girl, so much taller and older.  We're proud of you and we love watching you grow, but we desperately want time to slow down too!
Your favorite activity this month is to walk/run/bulldoze all over the house with your little car.  You LOVE this thing and you go so fast in it!!  You have learned how to back it up, turn it around and improvise when you get stuck, but sometimes you forget that and we hear you yell and grunt in frustration.  We think that's hilarious and we almost always die laughing, but you're not so amused.  You have quite a little temper when you get stuck!  Sometimes you like to carry things in one of your hands while you walk.  You especially love to carry your plastic spoons.  You're so quirky Ava and we love it!
The bathrooms are your newest discovery and we have to keep them closed off as often as possible because you want to be in EVERYTHING.
But occasionally we let you explore and you're just out of your mind with joy!  
Everything in there is so interesting to you.  
You've also reached the stage where you like to unload everything you can.  You love the dishwasher, the cupboards, your toy baskets and your bookshelf.  Mommy does a lot of picking up after you, but that's ok.  You love to take every single book off your shelf and then you'll sit and look at them for awhile.  I can't clean them up in front of you however, because you'll just do it all over again!  
Of course the big news this month is that God has chosen a sibling for you!  You're going to be a big sister and your Daddy and I think you'll be a wonderful one.  We know you're eventually going to love having a playmate to grow up with, someone to boss around and look after.  You have so many classic firstborn tendencies and we are confident that you will fit right into your new role.  
We love you so much Ava!  This year is flying by and we are soaking up every minute with you.  We could have never predicted how God would mold you and shape you, what kind of personality He would give you and what would make you tick.  But we love discovering the unique ways He's made you and we know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, just as He intended.  
You are perfect just the way you are!

Happy 11 months sweet Ava Page!


Like Arrows in the Hands of a Warrior...

Yes, we did have a great vacation last week.  It was priceless to be able to get away, relax and spend some quality time together...We needed it and we were thankful to get it.
But, we had a little something else on our minds too.  
A little surprise.
An unexpected blessing.
A sudden twist of events.  
A baby.
(Besides the one who's about to turn one)  
Another little Armstrong.
I'm happy to announce that...
We're officially expecting Baby #2!!!
Oh what a surprise this has been!  Somehow, what I thought was just a stomach bug or a schedule that was too busy, turned out to be the greatest little surprise ever!  I discovered I was pregnant days before we left for Florida and you can bet that after we recovered from the shock, we had a good time celebrating and getting used to the idea of becoming a family of 4!!  
Travis and I are thrilled, still a little shell shocked, but incredibly grateful for this sweet baby.  We probably wouldn't have chosen to have two kids only 18 months apart, and yet that was exactly what God had planned for us and so naturally, we are excited about it.  We are hoping this means that Ava will have a sibling who will become her closest playmate.  Unbelievably, I missed most of my first trimester and tomorrow I will already be 11 weeks.  I'm very grateful to be feeling pretty well, just a little nauseous and extremely tired.  But that's ok, I'll take that in exchange for a little life safely growing inside me.  
Travis and I are amazed at the way the Lord chooses to work in our life.  The wait for Ava was so long, so full of ups and downs, lessons learned and ruthless trust.  When we learned we were expecting her, she became a picture of God's faithfulness to us.  He granted us the desire of our hearts, in His perfect timing and He gave us little Ava.  He did have the best for us and His ways were perfect.  

To now be blessed, with the news of another little gift, is to experience his generous grace in a way we couldn't have imagined.  This baby is an unexpected blessing straight from the Lord's heart to ours.  We aren't missing the significance of that.  Months ago, I chose to release the process of even thinking or planning for another baby.  I believed it would probably be a long struggle, like it was for Ava, so I wanted to keep my heart guarded and not give in to any false expectations.  How sweet that He would know that about me and choose to add to our family, without Travis or I even realizing or thinking about it.  A bonus baby!  A surprise in its truest form!  A gift from God.  
So here we find ourselves, with a daughter who is 11 months old and another baby who is still being formed and shaped, 11 weeks after conception.  
What a miracle.  
Our little Ava is now about to become a "big" sister, which is hilarious in itself!  She might be the littlest "big" sister I've ever seen.  In fact, in an effort to announce our news, I spent the better part of an afternoon searching high and low for a "big sister" shirt for her to wear.  After much frustration, it became abundantly clear that they do not make "big sister" shirts for such "little" girls.  I finally settled on a 3T shirt that we turned into a little dress with some leggings!  Every sales clerk that helped me said the exact same thing.  "Wow! A second baby already...You sure are going to be busy!"  
Believe me, I know.   
Because my parents were vacationing with us, they were thrilled to take part in our joy!  
Two grand babies in under 2 years is pretty good, don't you think??  
"Children's children are a crown to the aged..." Prov. 17:6
We've got much on our minds to process, now that we are adding another member to our family.  We've got a big sister who isn't walking yet and hasn't even reached 20lbs!  
I think we have our work cut out for us!!  
I had an ultrasound 2 weeks ago and got to see the baby and watch it's little heart beating so strongly.  
I can't believe I'm going to be the Mom of 2 kids, but I'm so grateful that God would choose that for me. We are so thankful, so happy and so blessed.  

October 15th is our due date.  
I'm sure you know by now that there will be lots of updates between now and then!!  
Please keep us in your prayers as we get ready for another baby, as we parent and prepare Ava and as this little life continues to grow inside me.  

This was a big surprise.  But a wonderful one that we will never forget!  
We are praising the Lord for His favor on our family and for this gift to us.  
Is it a boy??  A girl??   We don't know yet, but we can't wait to find out!  
There are fun days ahead of us.  
Busy days.
Challenging days.
Precious days.  

We're going to have 2 kids!  We can hardly believe it...

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
Psalm 127:3-5

Life in Naples (Part Three)

We spent our last two nights in Naples, which was fun because Travis and I used to live there!   We met in Naples after college, fell in love and got married there.  So of course, we have sweet friends and family here and precious memories.  Naples holds a tremendously special place in our hearts.  
My grandparents live in Naples, so we were able to spend some time with them, introducing them to their first great-granddaughter!  
4 generations together!  My Grandpa, My Mom, Me and Ava.  
So glad we had this opportunity to be together.
Grandpa with his daughter and great-granddaughter.
My Grandpa and Grandma.  
My Grandma had some very serious health problems this year and was in critical condition for awhile.  We are praising the Lord that he granted her more time with us and that she is finally feeling better and able to get back on her feet.
We had a wonderful visit with them and were able to watch our UNI Panthers beat Kansas during March Madness!!!  It was an amazing game and since we're all from Iowa, we had a vested interest in this game!!  I graduated from UNI and my Mom currently works there, so we were crazy people yelling and screaming the whole time!  I'm sure the neighbors thought we were wild :) 
On our last day, we headed to old Naples for some authentic and fresh seafood.
Only a student health nurse would find great humor in this!  
She wishes she had more students who believed this instead of making so many poor choices :) 
Ava was a ham during lunch.  She quickly realized that Grandpa would pick her up and walk around with her the second she got bored, so it didn't take very long for that to happen each time we went out to eat!
Travis had his favorite, stone crabs and I had the best coconut shrimp of my life!  
Afterwards, we found a speed boat that Ava went crazy in :) She laughed and grinned and giggled in there for 20 minutes.  And we never even turned it on!  
We went to one of our favorite Naples beach spots.  
It was warm, but it was windy!
Ava was not sure about the whole thing!
But she did love watching the seagulls with Grandma!
We tried to get her to play in the sand, but she was having none of it!
We just about blew away!
My favorite!!  This is what she thought of the sand in her toes...she hated it!!
My parents.
Our little family.
Our dear friends, The Heads.  We stayed with them for our last two nights and had a blast catching up with them.  Travis lived with them when their youngest Jonathan was born.  Now, he's in 5th grade!  We have loved watching these boys grow up and gleaning all the wisdom we can from Forrest and Karen.  They are precious mentors to us and we loved being able to see them. 

Life on Marco Island (Part Two)

Thanks to a dear family in our Church, we were blessed to stay at a beautiful condo on Marco Island for the week.  Although they have experienced their coldest winter in 30 years (of course!!) it was still such a gorgeous place to be and we enjoyed it so much.
This was our view from our balcony...Not a bad sight to wake up to!!
A view down the coastline from their property.
We stayed here.
What a beautiful sight to see some blooming hibiscus, after a long Minnesota winter!
And of course, who doesn't love a palm tree??
Ava took all the sights in everywhere we went.
And she stood at the sliding glass doors and watched everything outside most days.
Their balcony was a perfect (although cold) spot for a great read or a cup of coffee.  
Grandma and Ava, all bundled up watching the fishermen on the dock.
Travis and my Dad spent some considerable time on the docks fishing and they both caught quite a few fish.  
Jesse Brass, this picture is all for YOU!!  Syrup and the ocean, your two favorite things :) Besides my sister of course!
Another palm with the ocean in the background.
And more red hibiscus.
A gorgeous fountain in one of the entryways on the property.
The pool!  Which unfortunately didn't see much action all week.
But we did salvage one sunny opportunity one afternoon.  
And for 10 minutes, Ava swam like a madwoman!  She loves the water!
All of the older residents at the pool got the biggest kick out of her because she was talking, splashing, kicking and grinning the whole time!
Sporting her sunglasses for about 30 seconds :) 
Look at that little sweetie in her new suit!  Can't wait to have her in it more this summer....

We loved Marco and had a great time there.  We ate at some great restaurants, took some long walks, and enjoyed the opportunity to just relax in a beautiful setting.  It was as a vacation should be!