The Good Things that Happened Today

Sometimes these days seriously get away from me. My only goal this morning was to get a package from my Etsy shop to the Post Office. It’s now 4:15 and that’s just not going to happen today. My first thought is to feel like a failure for my ONE goal of the day getting away from me, but I’m choosing to consider the good that happened today.

  1. Not having the correctly sized box led to an impromptu trip to my Mom & Dad’s new house to steal one of their boxes. On the drive, Rosie (4) asked me, “Mama, why do firefighters save people?” (No clue what prompted the question.) I told her “Because that is their job, because they are brave.” She responded that maybe when she grows up she will be a fire fighter. Sam (almost 3) chimed in that when he grows up he will be a big fire engine. So I guess that will work out nicely for them.
  2. The kids played a lot of “pretend” at Nana’s house. (AKA NO TV) They got out puzzles and I watched Sam, who is really into puzzles (and any type of problem solving) lately, put together a 1-10 numbers puzzle. Afterward, under Rosie’s leadership, they pretended each puzzle was a baking sheet of cookies. Under the couch was the oven, the sofa table behind it was the pantry. I was proud to see their little minds work. 🙂
  3. All that play led to an awesome nap. Which is partly why I won’t get the box to the post office on time… They are napping so long!
  4. I got to nurse and rock my baby in some peace and quiet while she napped. Today, I will continue to breastfeed. Part of me already wants to quit, and part of me can’t give it up yet. And all of me knows I will go until at least 6 months, and then probably 6 months more… 🙂 But, still. One day at a time.

Just writing for smiles and my own sake. I’m not good at journaling anymore, so this will do. ❤

H

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Our Little Gender Reveal

One of my goals this month was to find out the gender of this baby. It’s not super fair to call that a “goal”, but it was something I was anxiously waiting for! Well, last week we went and had our gender sonogram, and if we’re friends on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll already know, but…

It’s a GIRL!


We had our sonogram on Thursday, and invited my Mom, Kip’s Mom, and Kip’s sister to come with us. We brought Rosie and Sam too, so we felt like quite the parade walking through the halls and into the sonogram room. Haha. At first when the doctor went over the baby’s legs, I thought I saw something there… and then the angle changed and the picture settled on a shot of two obvious little legs. I felt dumb because my first impression was that it was a boy, but then suddenly I didn’t see anything there. The doctor was just kind of staring at me like, “Do you not know how to tell the difference?” Hahaha. Finally he said, “So… it’s a girl!”


Rosie had already been saying the baby was a girl, so our shock and excitement was strange to her. Her expression kind of said, “Yeah, guys, I knew that already… I’ve been trying to tell you!” And Sam asked if it was a baby fish. So. He obviously understands what’s going on here. 🙂

I had decided at the last minute that I wanted to do a gender reveal party if we could, because, why not? I’ve always shied away from doing anything like that, because everything felt cheesey and overdone. But I’m trying to embrace the cheese this time around, and I’m so glad we did it!

I kept calling it a mini-party because the only people there that didn’t know the gender were my Dad, sister, aunt, uncle, nieces and nephews. My Mom managed to keep the secret from my Dad for two days, and then he showed up and within 2 minutes tricked Kip into telling him it’s a girl. And then I accidentally spilled the beans to my Aunt before we ever did the reveal… which I’m still laughing about. WE ARE NOT GOOD AT SECRETS.

Ps, the cupcakes had little bees on them. /theme.


Anyways, I made cupcakes and only made one pink in the middle… so when everyone took a bite only one person got the gender reveal! My nephew, who apparently didn’t know I was pregnant until that day, got the pink cupcake. It was really fun to watch and see who got it… I wasn’t even sure which one it was. If we ever decide to do a gender reveal party again, I think I will have to find out at the party too, so I don’t mess it up again. Lol!

Now that we know it’s a girl, it’s time to think of a name… which may very well occupy my time for the remaining 20ish weeks until we meet this babe! We have two names now that are in the running, but suggestions are welcome! 😉


H

July Goals (Also, hey, I’m pregnant.)

I’m approaching my 18th week of pregnancy, which means I’m well out of the first trimester woods. Out of the three pregnancies I’ve experienced, this has been the hardest one yet. I was super sick from week 6 until about week 14. We survived on a lot of take-out, a lot of help from Nana, and a lot of Curious George & Octonauts.


I’m thankful to be feeling better, though my energy levels crash pretty easily. Before we got pregnant this time, I felt like I had finally found a good routine that kept our house running. The kids were hardly watching any TV, they were playing together well, and household chores had begun to find their assigned time during the day. And most days, I got everything done that I wanted to. I can’t lie, that felt pretty stinking great. I knew that being pregnant meant I was about to walk right back into the fog I felt like I had only recently walked out of, and I still know that it’s all worth it.  I am just really missing that sense of accomplishment and peace that a routine brings!

random photo from Sam’s birthday, pre-baby 3. 😉 

I don’t want to wish the year away, but I am already so ready for Winter for more than one reason. Mainly because I am due December 4th ;), but also because I miss the cold weather. I am not naturally a lover of summer (I’m trying really hard not to say “I hate Summer”, but there it is), but if I spend the next few months just waiting for them to be over, I know it’s going to draaaaag on. So, I want to try to take it a month at a time, trying to enjoy being pregnant and the opportunities that only Summer brings.

July Goals:
Buy the kids a kiddie pool and maybe a sprinkler 🙂
Fix my front flower bed (It is seriously embarrassing at the moment.)
Make my back porch less crowded & more enjoyable
Visit the public pool! (I grew up swimming at the same pool, so I think it will be weird/cool/fun to take my own kids there!)
Figure out bedroom arrangements for Rosie + Sam + new baby!
Find out the gender of baby #3! Eeeeek!
Potty train Sam. Maybe.
Get a haircut
Take steps back to a normal routine, starting with running the dishwasher every night & unloading first thing in the AM

Our Trip to the Magnolia Market Grand Opening at The Silos!

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This post is long overdue, but better late than never! In case you missed my excessive amount of Instagram posts or my overreaction on Facebook, back in October my best friend and I met up in Waco, Texas for the grand opening of the new storefront of Magnolia Market, a.k.a, the #Silobration. As with most things in life, it took me a while to jump on the Fixer Upper train, but once my Mother-in-law introduced me to the entire first season last Summer, I was hooked. Like, to the point where I really have to watch my Fixer Upper intake or I get weirdly obsessive about it. I have problems.

When the announcement for the grand opening came out, I didn’t think much of it. There was the opening of the store all day, which was free to attend, and then there was a JohnnySwim (heart eyes emoji) concert set to happen on Friday & Saturday evenings at the Silos, which of course cost some dollas. There was ALSO an option to buy tickets to meet Chip & Joanna at this event, which was a lot mo dollas. Because we don’t tend to make room to spend money on these things, I had the half-thought that maybe I could stop by the store that day just to see it. Obviously I was dreaming big here.

Waco, Texas is the closest thing to a halfway point between my best friend and I. We had met there back in January while she was visiting family, so I mentioned the grand opening to her off the cuff. As The Lord would have it, she was already planning to be in Waco that weekend. All the praise hands. (Can’t we just have emojis for everything?) We made tentative plans to get together and visit Magnolia at some point that weekend, as well as Common Grounds, because coffee shops have a natural gravitational pull on us.

Cool. No big plans. Totally chill.

As the weekend approached, the plan was to meet in Waco on Friday, where I would spend the night with Breanne and her family and then we’d do the coffee/shopping/totally calm Magnolia thing on Saturday. Well, since Friday apparently decided to bring Texas some record-breaking rainfall, our drive to my in-laws (where Kip & babes would stay while I was having fun 😏) took 5 hours instead of 3. The highways were backed up, some even closed, and none of us blinked the whole drive. Stressful with a capital S. So, I opted to stay with my family that night and see Breanne the next morning.

That evening, I’m not sure if Bree had an extra cup of coffee or a flood of pregnancy hormones 😉 but she had the idea to see if she could find two tickets to the JohnnySwim concert/grand opening party for Saturday night. Long story short, she’s awesome and she did. She was smart enough to comment on @magnoliamarket’s Instagram asking if anyone had tickets, someone responded, and the sweetest woman who couldn’t go ended up GIVING us her tickets. We were no longer calm. We were ecstatic. Breanne might have cried a little bit, but she gets a pass – like I said, pregnancy hormones. 😏

Saturday came and I met up with Bree while she was wandering around downtown Waco taking her cousin’s senior portraits. I have to say, that city is not what I expected. There are some really cool areas to visit and a feeling of history and community there. Also, I drove past what looked to me like an in-progress Fixer Upper, and I promptly freaked out. I saw Shorty outside and just knew it was the real deal. Then I wondered, “Are the people of Waco just used to this?!” I don’t think I would ever be.

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We took some photos on the bridge, drove around a lot, and found ourselves at Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant for lunch, where I stocked up on as many baby cuddles as I could. (Possibly the hardest part of living so far from my soul sister… not getting to spoil eachother’s kiddos!) I started to feel paranoid, because it was getting late, and I thought the silos would close at 5:00. We still had to freshen up and find parking, and it was getting close to 4:00. Breanne reminded me that the store would re-open at 7:00 during the concert, which made me feel like royalty. We were getting to visit the store after hours. Fancy Schmancy.

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We waited in the long line at Common Grounds for our coffee, saw our friend Rachelle for a few minutes, and then decided it was time to freshen up for the evening. (I have to note that at every stop around town that day, it was obvious who was headed to Magnolia. We were all basically trying to dress like Joanna Gaines and no one was ashamed. Ankle boots and olive green jackets for days. I love it.) We opted for a bathroom in a random hotel conference center, which felt pretty scandalous at the time. No one seemed to notice two non-guests changing clothes, fixing hair, and re-applying make up in the public bathroom. Whew!


We drove to the Magnolia Market Silos, anticipating a lengthy search for a parking spot, and most likely a long walk from that spot to our destination. What we found, however, was a close spot courtesy of FBC Waco, and a golf cart ride from the lot to the end of the line, courtesy of Magnolia. Such a pleasant surprise, but simultaneously so like how Chip and Joanna seem to be. Hospitable and caring in every way they can think of.

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Breanne brought fingernail polish, since we were also anticipating a long wait in line for the doors to open, and we thought we might be semi-productive in that time. 😉 Instead, we ended up talking to the others in line behind us, and we all started moving toward the doors within a few minutes. We were having so much fun making friends with the sweet people around us, the time just flew by! We checked in, got our wristbands, and then it happened: Chip and Joanna came out of the doors and did their super-cute “Are you ready to see our Fixer Upper?”/pull-apart-the-huge-picture thing. I posted it on Instagram and said it was the cutest thing of my life, and I wasn’t lying. My heart swelled with such joy to get to be there.

We had the option to wait in a line that went straight into the store, or one that just went onto the property. We chose the latter, which was absolutely the right choice. We found ourselves on a large, green lawn between the Magnolia storefront and the stage. Beyond that were picnic tables with lights strung overhead, food trucks, a vegetable + flower garden, a pumpkin patch, and the most precious tee-pee for little ones. We walked around, took a million photos, and just tried to take it all in. It was almost unreal.

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Magnolia Market Silobration

Behind the store, which I would call a “garage” of sorts, was filled with various booths: a tattoo bar, a cupcake stand, a photo booth, a gourmet popcorn table, and a place to purchase event swag. Every corner of the place was beautiful, even in the simplest of ways.

Instead of fighting the crowds to get into the store, we got in line for a pizza from one of the food trucks. (#Priorities.) This was the only truly long line we waited in, but even then, someone on event staff came to talk to us, just asking how we were doing and obviously trying to just take care of guests who were waiting and getting hungry. Of course we were busy catching up and Instagram-ing a good part of that time, so it didn’t bother us too much. 😉 At every turn, someone on Magnolia’s staff was going above and beyond to ensure everyone was enjoying themselves. Furthermore, it was obvious that they were happy to be there. The buzz in the air was undeniable.

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While we were in line, Chip and Joanna announced JohnnySwim and the concert started. It was around this time that I realized I had left my debit card in the car, which was probably the Lord just being my guard. Haha. Breanne had my back for Dinner (thanks B) and we sat down at a picnic table with an older couple to eat. I think we talked their ears off, but they seemed amused by us, and pleasantly surprised that we were both young mothers. JS serenaded the crowd, and we took the opportunity to finally head into the store.

Of course, as soon as we walked inside the store, the Gaines’s appeared on the outdoor stage. Actually, Joanna was on the stage and Chip was repelling down the side of one of the grain silos. Go figure. Breanne went out to see/listen to them, and I took the opportunity to look around the store while it was practically empty, knowing that scenario would probably never happen again. I snapped a few shots, but they were quick and thoughtless because I just wanted to take it all in. Like I said, it was a good thing I had no money with me.

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The night passed too quickly. Among what I’ve already mentioned, we tried a Steel City Pop, watched a preview of Fixer Upper’s third season, I met Clint Harp and his wife, Kelly (and took a photo with them that ended up in the Magnolia Newsletter the following week), we got temporary tattoos and mine was crooked, and snapped a quick photo of our muddy boots on the #MagnoliaWelcome entryway. Edit: I forgot to add that just as we were about to leave, we happened to be in the perfect spot for Chip and Joanna to walk right by us, about 3 feet away. We only freaked out a tiny bit. Okay, a lot.

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Chip and Joanna Gaines have not only opened a successful store, but they have managed to create an enchanting atmosphere that is inspiring and restful, and throws its arms open wide to families and offers a warm welcome. I still can’t believe we got to be there and be apart of something so wonderful. I can’t wait to go back…. with money. 😉

(Thank you again to Breanne for scoring the tickets and letting me use your photos for this post, to my mother-in-law for keeping my babies, to Mama Judy for letting me crash your family weekend, and to my husband for letting me run off to restore some rest to my soul. I love all of you!)

Why We Moved Again and Didn’t Tell Anyone

Hello people of 2016!

Remember that time  we moved back to our hometown and fell in love with our little house? Like, last May? Well, that didn’t last terribly long. We moved away from there mid-December, and we are currently staying with our parents until we can move into our new place.

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Bye, House.

What Happened? 

In May of last year, Kip became self-employed so he could work from home and we could live in Denton, because we love Denton forever and ever amen. May also happened to be the beginning of 8 months of one trial/struggle/hurdle after another. While I still adore that house, the amount of things that happened to us while we lived there was almost ridiculous. I love the house, but am hoping to leave behind all the craziness with it!

Anyways, my parents recently moved home from Austria, and they have been secretly and slyly pulling us toward their small town in Northeast Texas since the day they moved back. One day, they finally sort of accidentally hooked us when my Mom half-jokingly sent Kip a link to a job opening in Smalltown, USA.

Kip thought he could pick them up as another contract he could work on from Denton, but when the interview went really well and we realized what a great opportunity it was, we decided it was the best decision for our family to move. The fact that a lot of my family lives here was also very helpful in making that decision. 🙂

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Why Didn’t We Tell Anyone? 

Well, we did announce on Facebook that we’d be moving away from Denton, but we didn’t know exactly when. Breaking our lease on our sweet little house felt really complicated, and at some point one Monday we realized we needed to move out by that Saturday. It was right before Christmas, so we didn’t want to impose on anyone’s holiday plans. And truthfully, everything was so hectic, trying to pack EVERYTHING and move with two active toddlers… I just didn’t have time to tell more people than those we talk to on a regular basis. And I think even some of them were confused on our plans, because I wasn’t even certain what they were haha.

So What Now? 

Right now, we are staying at my (very gracious, loving, patient, wonderful, attractive) parents’ house while we wait for a rent house to open up. We’ve looked at several homes, but the best one we’ve found needs some work. It’s absolutely worth waiting on, so we are trying to be patient and not drive my Mom and Dad absolutely crazy with our little circus. I just told them that we’re trying to make up for all the time we missed with them while they were overseas. 😉  We’ve also had a ton of fun spending time with my sisters and their families. Rosie and Sam love their cousins, and it is so unreal to me that we live so close to them!

We are hoping to be settling into our own place in a couple weeks. In the meantime, I am praying for patience and meditating on Hebrews 10 and 11, remembering that God has prepared a city for us; the home we long for cannot be shaken. Our true home.

In addition to prayer, I am looking for plenty of distractions to pass the time the next couple of weeks and not think about the new house too much, or impatience starts creeping up on me. The Fixer Upper marathon last night helped that a little. 🙂 I’m also searching for fun blog prompts, new Trim Healthy Mama recipes, and reading #HopeUnfolding, by Becky Thompson.

 
So, that’s where we are. And for the sake of distraction, my voice here may pick up once again. 🙂 I have missed this little space!

Love,
Hannah

 

My Top Five Tips for Trim Healthy Mama While Nursing

I have received a couple of emails asking for advice/tips for following Trim Healthy Mama while nursing a baby, especially from those who want to try THM but are nervous to start while breastfeeding. And I totally get that! We want our bodies back, but we don’t want to sacrifice milk supply to do so. Both of those are excellent goals to strive for. So, is it possible to start Trim Healthy Mama while breastfeeding? I think it is! (I will also say, I am not a health professional by any stretch of the imagination, just a Mama who’s followed THM for the better part of two years. The following is based on my experience with Trim Healthy Mama while breastfeeding. Always listen to your doctor or midwife!) 

Trim Healthy Mama while NursingMy Top 5 Tips for being a Trim Healthy Mama While Nursing a Baby (or while there’s one in the oven!)

1. Protein, Protein, Protein!
Keeping plenty of snacks and ingredients for quick meals is absolutely essential for me to stay on plan. I am always hungry while nursing, but without enough protein I am ravenous and grumpy. Haha. Blocks of cheese, eggs, pistachios & almonds, canned tuna, canned wild-caught salmon, greek yogurt, protein powder for smoothies, and individual portions of cooked chicken breast are my go-to’s. This is my favorite method for preparing chopped chicken breasts, but if I’m hurried or feeling a little bit lazy, I’ll just throw them in the crockpot and shred it once it’s cooked. Use plastic baggies and store the smaller portions in the freezer, and you’ll always know you have something healthy to fall back on when you’re hangry. 😉

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2. Do not fear the Crossover.
Seriously. Go for it. Now, I am not a Trim Healthy Mama Facebook approved admin or anything, but my advice is this: it’s better to eat a combination of good protein, healthy carbs, and good-for-you fats (a “crossover” in THM terms) than to find yourself starving an hour or two later and fall prey to the kids’ Teddy Grahams because you’re too hungry to make an on-plan decision.

So, for example, say you want to have an “S” breakfast of eggs cooked in coconut oil + half an avocado + berries + coffee with cream. That’s an awesome breakfast with tons of good fats for you and baby. But if you’re still hungry, or feel hungry again an hour later, or you just feel totally drained, eat something “E”, like half a banana + yogurt, or a piece or two of Ezekiel toast, etc. You will still be eating foods that are good for you and on-plan, but you also won’t be sacrificing your milk supply for a “diet”, if you can call it that.

That being said, if you want to continue to alternate between S & E meals every three hours as Serene & Pearl recommend, there are more options to make your meals more filling if you find yourself with plenty of milk for baby and you have more weight to lose. Increase your protein in your meals and make sure you are drinking plenty of hydrating fluids. You may find yourself able to alternate S & E meals, lose weight, and keep putting pounds on your nursling just fine! That wasn’t the case for me (as I wrote here), but if you can, more power to you! Go girl! The bottom line is, I’d rather eat more on-plan foods and fudge the three-hour rule a little bit, than sacrifice milk supply or feel super hungry all the time.

Trim Healthy Mama while Nursing 3. Keep healthy desserts on hand at all times.
I have a major sweet tooth. I can’t hide it. If anyone even mentions cinnamon rolls, I can’t turn them down. I always do better at staying on track when I have a sweet option for myself in the house. I love these chocolate chip cheesecake bars, this pumpkin chia pudding (topped with homemade whipped cream, it tastes like pumpkin pie!), the choco pudding recipe from the book, or just a simple bowl of greek yogurt + blueberries. Also, keeping in tune with Tip #2, making a couple pieces of cinnamon toast with butter or coconut oil, stevia, and cinnamon is a comfort food for me and always satisfies my cinnamon-sugar craving!

4. Stay Hydrated – fill your fridge with plenty to drink!
If you want to have success at Trim Healthy Mama while nursing, drinking plenty of fluids is essential. I like to keep a half-gallon mason jar of Good Girl Moonshine (tweaked to how I like it) in the fridge, and sometimes another container of Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger, sweetened with stevia. I like those because they are quick and simple to make. If I’m feeling more adventurous I’ll make a batch of The Shrinker or the Singing Canary. I am a coffee lover, and sometimes I can forget to drink enough hydrating fluids. I get bored with water, so having an alternative when I’m tempted to want something sweet is super helpful. Other options are Zevia soda, Vitamin Water (sweetened with Erythritol), or La Croix.

Trim Healthy Mama while Nursing 5. Listen to your body.
All in all, it is so important for each of us to realize that we are likely very different from the next woman in how our bodies react to certain foods. What works for one person might do the opposite for another. If you are trying to pursue Trim Healthy Mama while breastfeeding and your milk supply is taking a hit, or you just feel like it’s “not working”, consider what other ways the plan might work for you. More Crossovers? Less Crossovers? More E meals in your week? More S? Are you dehydrated? Does a particular sweetener hurt your stomach, but you find you like a suitable alternative? That’s okay! Figure out how to make it work for you.

I recently read on someone’s Instagram that “Your best weight is whatever weight you reach when you’re living the healthiest life you actually enjoy.” Walk in freedom, dear friend!

On a personal note, I didn’t lose all the weight I wanted to until Samuel weaned. I lost a good bit of it, to the point where I at least felt more comfortable in my own skin, but it took my hormones calming down for the rest of it to come off. So if your goal is to make healthier choices and keep up your milk supply, I think THM is an excellent way to do that! If it feels like it’s “not working”, it may just be from hormones. Over time and change of seasons it will prove itself to work. I am confident in that, because choosing whole foods always works. THM just provides new information and recipes to keep a healthy lifestyle interesting!

Did I answer your question? Do you have more? Keep the emails coming, it makes me so happy to hear from you!

Love,
H

The Need for Resolve

  

  
None of us go into life, into the world, wanting to fail at whatever we try to do.

Whoever we are, whether we are mothers, college students, business women, homemakers, single women, or wives, we all want to succeed.

We all sort of joke about how we once had a pipe-dream that has now pretty much fallen flat, right? We want the gorgeous Pinterest-worthy party but we settle for Kroger cupcakes and streamers.

We had a fantastic business idea, but someone expressed disapproval and we gave up.

We want to be a sweet, gentle, patient mothers, but we’re tired, so we snap at our kids to get quick obedience.

We want to see people know Jesus, but we shy away from the Gospel conversation because it feels awkward.

What is it we lack? If we once wanted something so badly, why didn’t it happen? I have found myself thinking about this often lately, and I have realized that when there is a particular goal I wanted to reach, and I came up empty, it was because I lacked one thing: resolve. 

Resolve: to decide firmly on a course of action.  

Whether the goal is something personal, like losing unhealthy weight, building a savings account, or passing a college class… or bigger than ourselves, like seeing the end of the abortion industry, having a healthy marriage, or entering the mission field, a flighty feeling won’t be enough of a foundation to launch us into action.

You’ve got to be convinced, deep within your soul, that the stand your taking or the end you’re striving for is worth the hardship, the exhaustion, the effort, the potential rejection. It’s even got to be worth the tedious, the mundane, the inconvenience, the discomfort, and the awkwardness. Whatever it is, we must value the end goal enough to walk the road it takes to get there. 

And to be honest, we may find that the effort isn’t worth it in some cases, i.e., the Pinterest-perfect 2 year old birthday party. It takes wisdom to decide what is worth our energy (those types of things come easier to some than to others) so that we can spend ourselves on what matters most to us.

My current resolve? To intentionally seek contentment in my season of life, while actively working to create a restful home for my family & myself, and pursuing the renewing of my mind through scripture and secular education.

I started taking a college class this Fall, Intro to American Sign Language. The school is about an hour away (neither of the two universities nor the community college in my town offer this program… go figure), and every time I make that long, construction-riddled drive, I find that I have to remind myself why this is worth it. To be able to connect with another person in their language, to be able to bridge an otherwise insurmountable gap, and to be able to fluently teach my children to do the same… that is why I’m doing this. The time will pass anyway. What will I have to show for it?

Where do you need some resolve? I’m cheering for you!
Love,
H