Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Monday, July 28, 2014


10 random headlines from my first day back to work...

1. After 6 months of not having to listen to it, I confirmed this morning that I still loathe the sound of my alarm clock.  
2. Much to my disappointment, Jonah decided that sleeping through the night would not be a good going-back-to-work present. On the plus side, at least I get extra cuddles with him around 3:00 every morning :).
3. My new team is a lot of fun. I already like them all a lot. 
4. Team dinners are also a lot of fun, but it made for a very long first day back... I finally got home to my babies a little before 9:00pm and thankfully they were all still awake. 
5. Add up #s 1, 2 & 4 and you've got yourself one exhausted lady. 
6. Jackson proved that you can in fact be too proactive... the past few days I had been noticing annoying little gnats in our house and couldn't figure out where they were coming from. Dan found the source: JP had at some point went ahead and packed his lunch for school several weeks early and then put his lunchbox in his locker in the den. GROSS! Dan cleaned out the unidentifiable rotten "lunch" tonight.
7. Jonah missed his mama- he greeted me with waving his chubby little arms for me to pick him up and then proceeded to pull me in for several very wet kisses. Adorable.
8. I would like to take a moment to "thank" coffee for getting me through this day. Don't ever underestimate the power of (several) cups of coffee to get you through emotionally draining days. 
9. Not only do I really like my new team, but the work itself is going to be a lot of fun. I have really good feelings about this new assignment. 
10. ...and now time for some late evening cuddles with 2 very sleepy monsters.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

ripping off the band-aid.

2 out of 5 Engels agree that this lady went a little overboard with the cleaning today. Audrey told me (a few times), "oh goodness, all this cleaning is making me tired" and "oh, mommy, I just need to rest" as she would dramatically throw herself onto the couch. And before he went to bed Dan told me that he thinks that "we're all cleaned out for this 'funday sunday'." Don't feel too sorry for them- Jackson LOVES to clean and organize and they were rewarded with their very first slush-puppies. 

I can't help it, I canNOT go to work with an unorganized house. It's still not as perfect as I'd like for it to be, but I'm learning that's just the reality of living with 3 little monsters and 1 husband who maaaay not require the same level of clean as I do. Knowing that my home is in order and that my babies are taken care of are 2 necessaries for me to work full-time. It helps me feel at peace, allowing me to let go of the worries and focus on what I need to do during the work day. 

I have been thinking... that I've just been thinking too much about going back to work. The anticipation is what is killing me- that fuzzy time in between two chapters when every little thing is analyzed... and then analyzed again. I know that at this time tomorrow, when my first day is over, I will feel a lot better. I just need to rip off the band aid already. 

And until then, here's a little bit of life lately from the past few days: 

Lots of play time with the babies. That face in the swing? That's his opinion of swinging most of the time. Not a big fan just yet. 

We've also taken care of lots of last-minute errands and as anyone knows, errands are best capped off with ice cream. 

And last night was date night with Jackson & Audrey to see Disney Junior Live with their cousins. I don't think the peanut has ever sat still that long- she was star struck... and let the record books show that you can indeed eat an entire bag of cotton candy by yourself and not throw up (leave it to Jackson to inhale that much sugar without me realizing it...).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I'm been in a rut all morning- Monday is getting too close for comfort, it's raining outside and despite my best efforts, my house seems to have entered a new level of chaos. I know I'm the barometer for this family, I know that and yet I can't seem to shake this mood. So, time for some gratitude. Time to be more thankful for all the good in my life because Lord knows the good far, far outweighs the bad. Today, I am thankful...

for three healthy, beautiful, funny babies who I love more than the world itself.
for a hard-working, loving husband who balances me out in all the ways I need balancing.
for that same man who is the most goofy, fun, caring dad to our monsters.
for dreams- LOTS of them- and knowing that we're making them come true.
for sound machines and all the chaos they block out so that my smallest little guy can nap.
for washing machines and dryers & clothes to express ourselves in and keep us warm and comfortable... laundry is not fun, but at least we have laundry to do.
for so, so many dirty dishes- evidence of having more than enough to feed our babies. 
for disney junior. because sometimes I just need 20 minutes to get things done. 
for coffee. no explanation needed. 
for having the choice to work. too many women around the world don't have that choice- I do. I will work for them. and for the ability to work at something I enjoy, for a company that values me so much. 
and even for what I see as "messes" but what they call  "mountains" that some little people made when they were supposed to be making their beds. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

oh, monday... last sweet monday of maternity leave.

This title reflects this week's theme: drown in the sorrows that are the end of my maternity leave. I have a to-do list about a mile long of things I want to get finished this week. Today we took care of a few, including:

1. Taking some toys and supplies to Nanna's house. And by "some" I mean about half of our house. 3 babies come with a lot of gear :) 

2. We made a trip to the pediatrician this afternoon to get a shot for both Jackson and Audrey. Since we do an alternative vaccination schedule (i.e. just one shot at a time), we try to go every few months and so I wanted to get one more visit in before my work schedule got hectic. They were so brave- up until the nurses came in with shots in hand. Then, it took 2 nurses helping me to get Jackson up on the table and held down. He quickly recovered when I reminded him that we were getting shakes after his appointment. Audrey is usually the brave one. This time, not so much. She screamed LOUDLY while they gave her the shot and then was apparently a little bitter because she yelled alllll the way out the building, "that Doctor CUT me, she CUT me so bad, it huuuuuurts." Fun times. 

3. As I write this, Jonah is sleeping in his own room for the very first time! Dan has been installing a barn door on his room (almost finished), he raised the baby bed and installed the video monitor on the wall. I'm hoping we can fully kick our cute little roomate out of his bassinet in our room in the next few days so he's comfortable and set up in his own room before I go back to work.

And a little life lately from the past few days...

Jonah bear does NOT like bath time. At all. As soon as I carry him into the bathroom he starts wailing. I have no idea why this is so adorable, but it is. 

Jackson enjoying a cupcake at our sweet friend Lainey's welcome home/birthday party. 

Daddy, Peanut time. Doing her favorite thing: reading books. I hear countless times every day, "Mommy, I'm going to go get a book for YOU and for ME." :)

It's baby-food-makin' season! I'm hoping the peaches will be ready this weekend at the local orchard... Jonah has no idea what he's been missing out on.

Lots of random baby fun, including a nature scavenger hunt outside. That ended abruptly when we ran into a snake in the middle of one of our trails. That's a liiiiitle too much nature for this mom.

Dan and I started teaching again in the "runner's room" at church. We had taken time off while Jonah was so young, but now he goes to the nursery and we take care of all the 1.5-3 year olds during one of the services. They love Mr. Dan and all the crazy games he comes up with. 

I hear someone waking up from his mini nap... 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

someone (finally!) slept through the NIGHT!

It's true... Jonah finally, finally slept all night long! He didn't go down until later than normal - around 11:00- but he slept alllll the way until 6:00 this morning. I was paranoid (shocker) and was up a few times to check on him. So, I'm hoping that my sweet boy will sleep all night again so I can force myself to relaaaax and actually sleep when he does. 7 hours straight of sleep? Yes, please!

Side note: today, Dan and I visited with friends who just had their first baby. I shared the good news (that Jonah finally slept through the night)- that was a mistake. Oh, their poor faces when they realized that it might take more than 5 months for their little guy to sleep all night- so funny and heartbreaking all at once! Welcome to parenthood, friends :) 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

10 day forecast.

Earlier today I was checking the weather for the upcoming week and realized that July 28th now shows up in the 10 day forecast. It will be partly cloudy that Monday, with a 20% chance of rain and a high of 80. 

And I'll be back to work. 

How is my time off almost over? I don't know. I guess time flies when you're not sleeping having fun. But, I do know that the next few weeks will bring a slew of self doubts and irrational fears. The emotional roller coaster has begun. 

And so I started doing what I always do when something is upsetting me:

1. I went for a run. It didn't happen until almost 9:00pm tonight but I went and ran a few miles until it was too dark to be safe. The thing with running for a person who's head won't stop thinking is that it gets to be too exhausting even to think, so you can finally turn off all the worries for awhile.

2. I wrote. Writing for me is therapy because it's how I best process things. 

3. I organized (well, still in the process of that one...). When in doubt, organize :). I make lists, write out instructions (more like manuals) for how to care for my babies, I start throwing out clutter (or what the children refer to as toys ;)), I write strategies for how I'm going to keep the house in order once I'm working full-time again. I go a little overboard. But, that's okay. I know it won't all last- the organization- but it helps me realize that it's all going to be okay because we can always take a time-out when things get tough and re-sort, re-organize, re-evaluate where we're at and what we need to do to get to where we want to be.

4. And lastly and certainly not least importantly, I can very easily articulate why it is I'm doing what I'm doing. This purpose-driven clarity was the one thing that helped me the most when I went back to work after the peanut- being clear with myself on why I'm working. For me, it's a great many reasons, but they are good, solid ones that are in the best interest of our family. They are reasons that are laying the foundation for our future.

Friday, July 18, 2014

just a little story about curious george.

...attempting to bottle up her little voice forever. it's my favorite.

The year was 1994.

I was in 4th grade. I remember a lot from that year actually- I remember loving my teacher, Mrs. Walters, I remember learning about Indiana history, making peanut butter pie the week we studied the Amish, I remember learning about currency with monopoly money and I remember when a girl in my class lost her dad through suicide. I remember really hating my bus ride and being scared of my bus driver who was mean with a capital M. And I remember winning my class spelling bee (later to lose big time against the other 4th grade champions).

And then, today, I was reading this blog and saw "1994" and "genocide in Rwanda" together in a sentence. This confused me because while I, of course, have heard about this, I don't remember learning or even hearing anything about that back then. Were teachers not teaching about it? Were people not even talking about it? I honestly don't know, but I'm guessing not because I know myself and I know that if they were I would remember it. 

How shameful is it that now I have to learn about something I was living through by googling it 20 years later?  

Goodness, people. What kind of bubble are we raising our kids in?

My gut tells me that we are not doing a good enough job of opening our kids' eyes to realities of this fallen world outside of America. And this is partly because we are not opening our own eyes. I know this because I myself am so pathetically naive. As much as I try to educate myself I am still not trying hard enough because I am still blind to at least 99% of what's happening. 

But, I do know a few things. 

I know that yesterday- nearly 300 men, women and children were murdered when the commercial airplane they were riding in was shot down by a missile. A missile.  

I know that 10% of all girls in Rwanda are sexually abused every year. 10%!

I know that in the US alone, sex trafficking is a $9 billion a year business. Yep, you read that right... in the good US of A.  

I know that it's estimated that at least 5,000 women a year are murdered in honor killings. (and most experts think it's actually at least 4 times higher than this)

I know that today there are more slaves than any other time in history. About 27 million of them.

I know that hundreds- hundreds- of babies are abandoned every single day in China. Just in China, just one country. And most of those precious babies are never adopted. 

Another thing I know is that I will make a lot of mistakes as a parent, but one thing I have committed myself to doing is being honest with my kids about this world. Because the thing is, they have zero chances of helping- if helping is something they want to do- if they don't know that help is needed. I owe that to them and I owe this world a whole lot more than what I've been giving it. 

PS: A few people have mentioned that they have tried commenting on posts but can't ... I just realized that I had "commenting" blocked. I have no idea how or why, but if anyone other than my mom actually follows along then you should now be able to comment now if you want to. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

well... hello there, soccer mom.

Tonight JP had his first soccer practice. That's a big time big boy milestone for him and a slightly less thrilling parenting milestone for me- I'm now a soccer mom. And I own a mini van. Lord, help me, when did I get so old? Slightly kidding. On the plus side, it was so sweet to watch him. He was nervous- big time- but we had talked lots about how while new things are scary at first, they always turn out to be the things that are the most fun. There were some quiet tears at the beginning of practice, but he slowly started coming out of his shell by the end and I'm hopeful that each practice will give him more confidence- leaving more room for fun and less for worries. But, that's life, right? Pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones because we know- we just know- that it's going to be worth it... and I want my little man to learn that much earlier than I did. 

And now if someone could go ahead and give me that same pep talk before my first day back to work in a week and a half that would be grrrrreat. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

so, I've been thinking...

...that days like today are going to make it really hard to go back to work. I mean, look at these faces. And this weather? It's like the perfect fall day just fell into our lap in the middle of July, making it impossible for anything to be on our to-do list except being outside- sorry, laundry, you didn't make the cut. Maybe tomorrow. 

Jackie checking to see if his new soccer cleats are indeed the fastest shoes in the world. Confirmed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

::Video Catch-Up::

When cleaning off my phone yesterday I came across a few random videos from the past month or so...

This was from yesterday. Jackson and Audrey played "Doctor" ALL day. They had their "doctor coats" on and brought every stuffed animal and baby doll into their hospital set up in the great room to work on the sick patients. When Jonah woke up from one of his naps I set him in the jump-a-roo while I did some dishes and I overheard them starting to tend to their newest patient... Jonah Bear. I snuck behind the corner and taped them.... poor Jonah!

This is pretty much the normal scene around our house. Jackson and Audrey giving Jonah their endless- ENDLESS, I tell you- attention. 

This was from one of our hill-running nights. We decided to set up an obstacle course to run through. Gotta wear those babies out! Jackson was ALL about it (shocker...) and Audrey loved doing it too as long as she had ample water and rest breaks- a peanut, after all, does need her rest!

Just a random little clip from having dinner one night with the cousins at Mamaw's house. I try to remember to do this every once in awhile so we can look back on their little voices and adorable conversations.

Jackson getting a hit during a cousin baseball game.

Cousin baseball. Cracks me up. It was pure chaos- and they loved it. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

life lately. ((phone dump))

I'm working on being less 'connected' (a la getting rid of facebook for awhile)... and leaving my phone off or put away on purpose, but one plus of having it with me is capturing some of our 'every day' moments. The moments that aren't anything special on the surface and the photos themselves are usually blurry and not perfect at all, but that's our life. Our crazy, messy, imperfect beautiful life. Life lately has included...

-LOTS of ice cream runs. I'm pretty sure Jackson & Audrey think "ice cream" is summer's 4th meal of the day. 

-Late night hair cuts by Daddy.

-Lots of grocery trips. There are weeks where I feel like I have lucked out and spend very little time in the grocery store and then other weeks where we seem to make multiple trips. 

-Playing in the water and riding bikes... sweet, sweet summer.

-Jonah Bear is LOVING baby food. So far he has had sweet potatoes and bananas. And tonight I plan to make him a batch of either squash or peas... depending on what's ripe at the farm stand Dan is going to stop at. (Don't you just want to squeeeeeze those cheeks!?)

-Family dinners. A cook-out at our house and then lunch out yesterday for Mamaw's birthday. Gotta love a table-full of babies. 

-Soaking up as MUCH baby time as possible since I go back to work 2 weeks from today (holy anxiety attack).
...when I get home from running Jackson loves to go and do hill runs in the backyard with me. This is my work-out buddy with his hair band on like I wear when I run :). 
...reading books with Jonah Bear. Honestly, how am I going to leave him for the office every day?
...Date night with Audrey. Love my peanut time.

-This child. She is going to give me a lot of gray hairs over the years. For the second time in a few months she busted her lip badly. This time from running in the house which is a big "no no" around here. It's hard to see in these pictures, but trust me, it's preeeetty gross. 

-Late evening runs. I'm thankful for this time of the year when I can go running late and still do it outside with the sun setting past 9:00. This allows me to still have the whole evening with Dan and the babies, have Jonah either in bed or ready for bed and then get out to run. Bonus? It's usually MUCH cooler by then. 

redefining the 'bear' hug.

I may be sliiiightly obsessed with this little guy. If I could bottle up his chubby baby cuddles and keep them forever I would. And when he puts his little hands on either side of my face and leans in for a messy kiss? The best. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

den updates.

At the start of my maternity leave I made a list about a mile-long of projects I wanted to do during my time-off. And then something happened. I actually had the baby and got around to only a few with our three monsters in tow. So, with only a couple of weeks left on leave I am anxiously trying to check off more, including a few updates in the den. 

First up, a new desk. We had a desk unit in the den, but I wanted something more streamlined, clean and somewhat rustic. So, Dan built one for me. He used more of the wood that he used to build our bookshelves with- wood from some trees at his parents' house that he planed, sanded and stained. I love how it turned out and the fact that it was basically free is a bonus. I need to figure out a way to hide some of the computer chords and tower on the floor to the left, but other than that I love it. 

The second update happened because I found a set of school lockers on Craiglist that were: A) a good price and B) relatively close by. I have stalked the Craigslist listings here and there for awhile looking for lockers but they always either too expensive or the drive to get them wouldn't have been worth it. 

They were in great shape but the yellow color they were painted was too bright for what I was going for and overall just needed a fresh coat of paint, so Dan helped me lay the lockers inside our little red barn and I went to work. I did a quick rough sanding job to smooth out any bumps, then using an air compressor I cleaned them off (the air helped with getting little pieces of dirt out of the nooks and crannies) and then taped off the metal details. Lastly, using a stencil I taped the first initial of each of our babies, in birth order, on the lockers so that when I painted the lockers I could then remove the tape and their initials would remain in the original yellow for a nice contrast to the metallic deep grey I was using. 

(PS: notice the "E" for baby #4... this makes me smile! Some day baby girl can look back and realize how much she was wanted, loved and prayed for long before she even graced this Earth. The "E" in my mind stands for "Emma" but could always be "Baby Engel" since I don't have Dan sold on that name :)) And to be clear- I am NOT pregnant if anyone is reading this... baby #4 won't come home for a few more years.)

After giving the lockers two coats of paint over two days, we removed the tape and brought them inside where Dan secured them to the wall so that they will never fall over on our little monsters. And it's a good thing he did since Jackson and Audrey think lockers are meant to be play inside- they played in them for a solid two hours after we brought them in the house. 

The last update which I don't have full pictures of are new area rugs. You can see portions of them by both the lockers and the desk. I found these on Joss & Main and love them- they are soft and beautiful and having two of them works nicely with the two "areas" of the den that I'm working towards (learning/activity space for the kids & the desk/reading space for the adults). 

The next update to come (hopefully soon) is a new art desk for the kids. We currently have an old dining room table that we call the "art table" and it is where Jackson and Audrey do crafts, activities, practice schoolwork, etc, but Dan is going to build one that is more their size and in-line style-wise with the rest of the room. I have to pace myself with requesting projects of him so that he actually enjoys doing them. Little does he know (or maybe he does!) that I always have at least 20 more things on my list for him to build...

The new art table inspiration: HERE, HERE and HERE.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

baby. genius.

We've been doing this baby food thing for less than a week and he already knows how to do the sign for "more"... it's like we have the real live version of baby Einstein living under our roof :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

jonah daniel: FIVE months!

Jonah Bear is 5 months. That is an entire hand-full of months. And he is a hand-full of chubby baby sweetness. We are to the age of LOTS of giggles and smiles and rolling everywhere like a mad man. He took his first taste of sweet potatoes today and seemed pretty impressed with mama's cooking skills- more so than the elder Engel boy who shall remain nameless. There's just something about you, Jonah Bear, something so sweet and precious and, well, just priceless. I'm certain that in the midst of all your baby babbling you are saying "Mama, quit squeezing me so hard..." because I do, I squeeze you hard and give you a lifetime of kisses every day because I just can't get enough of my Jonah. 

Jackson at 5 months HERE.
Audrey at 5 months HERE.
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