Christmas Letter 2017

It can’t be December again right? Somehow we now have an 8 month old boy who is on the move and a 3.5 year old princess. This year has been full of blessings. January and February were pretty quiet as we prepared to transition to a family of four. In March we celebrated Princess K’s birthday and awaited baby brother’s arrival. We are so very thankful that he arrived in his own timing with no induction necessary and no epidural needed for momma. I know some of you think I’m crazy but the recovery was so much easier! If we want to do it again is still to be determined. 🙂

I was able to be off from work for 8 weeks, and Dustin’s company has amazing benefits and he was able to be home with the kids for 12 weeks before returning to work. All completely paid for him. I seriously need to figure out how I can be a pharmacist/wellness coach or something for Automattic. 🙂 During this time I was able to launch my new blog PharmToTable. If you haven’t followed me over there please go check it out and share it with your friends and family. You can also find me on facebook and instagram.

June and July were also pretty low key, but I didn’t get much sleep because buddy boy liked to eat all night.  We did get to head to Nashville in early July to visit our good friends Bethany and Josh. Bethany and I went to pharmacy school together. Princess K and their daughter had a blast together. Wish we could see them more.

Late July we had a bridal shower for my youngest sister Ashley in preparation for the big day in September. We also spent a weekend in early August at Grandma and Grandpa Hartzler enjoying the pool and catching up with Dustin’s cousin and friends from high school that he has stayed in touch with. It was a lot of fun and the kids enjoyed playing together. Hopefully we can make it an annual event.

_AAP4397

September is sort of a blur, we headed to Daytona Beach for a week of vacation the week of Labor day. We took Dustin’s parents with us as they enjoy Florida and enjoy being with us and the kiddos for a week. Unfortunately despite us traveling to Florida the last several years in September, this year hurricane season was in full force and we had to evacuate due to Hurricane Irma. It was a little bit of a stressful end to our trip but we made the trek to Atlanta and took a flight back to Cincinnati. Daytona ended up not  really getting hit much but they didn’t really know which way Irma was going.

After we got home, Dustin turned around and headed to Whistler, Canada for the Automattic Grand Meetup. He really enjoys this week of learning and engaging with his colleagues that he typically only chats with text based. I held down the fort for 8 days and went to work (let’s just say i’m not doing that again… if I can help it!).  Then the last week of September we celebrated my youngest sister’s wedding to Ryan our new brother- in-law. Our kids have two Aunt Ashley’s, and now one is married to a Ryan and one to a Brian. Not confusing at all. 🙂 We love them all. Check out our post and some of the wedding photos here. I’m a little biased but my nephew and my kids were so cute all dressed up.

October also went quickly. Dustin had a WordCamp in Michigan, and we also took a weekend to travel to DC to visit our good friends Rebecca and Glen who were living there while Glen was teaching in the Cedarville DC semester. Dustin hadn’t been to DC and I haven’t been since the 8th grade trip. It was fun to go and stay with them and see real DC living. Princess K and their little boy have literally been buds since they were born.

November was a bit more low key, Dustin attended WordCamp Cincinnati where he was the Keynote speaker!  And I went to Charlotte, NC for a few days to speak. We enjoyed Thanksgiving at the Hartzler’s this year and got to see Brian and Ashley’s brand new beautiful home they built down the street from Dustin’s parents.

December is off to a great start. Princess K had her first dance holiday show and both sets of grandparents were able to attend. And we celebrated my nephew’s (Jaclyn’s little one) 1st birthday a little bit early.  As in the past, I’m writing this letter on my flight to the American Society of Health System Pharmacists Meeting. This year it’s in sunny Orlando. Excited for a possible dip in the pool tomorrow morning for my exercise. It’s supposed to be 80 and and sunny tomorrow. It’s a quick trip this time since baby boy is at home with Daddy.

We are looking forward to our first Christmas as a family of four and are excited to spend time with our family and friends this holiday season. We hope our home can reflect the true meaning of Christmas and celebrate our Savior’s birth.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” ~Luke 2:11-14

Washington, DC

Our friends Glen and Rebecca had the opportunity to spend a semester teaching in Washington DC this year. I haven’t been there since my 8th grade trip, and Dustin had never been there, so it was a perfect time not only to visit them but also for us to visit the city.

We were going to drive, but we got a great deal on tickets. We got the flights there for $97 round trip each! Travel deal of the century that saved us so much time in the car. They already had an extra double stroller so we didn’t need to bring that, and public transit allowed us to travel as light as we could with the two kiddos in tow (ie no car seats). We arrived late afternoon on Wednesday and Glen met us at the airport and we made our way via the metro to Union Station and picked up dinner. We enjoyed great conversation and dinner together.

Glen prepared to start teaching that evening in the basement of the home, but prior to that we had a slight “emergency.” Kenley and Declan locked Reese (Kenley’s favorite doll)  in the master bedroom of the house. Kenley was hysterical, students were arriving. This house was built in the 70’s and the safety unlock screw was stripped. So after about 30 minutes of attempting to get in the room, Dustin got lucky with a combination of a hammer and screwdriver and got the door open. Reese was saved and Glen was able to start teaching downstairs while most of us went to bed early after the trek with the kiddos. Dustin and Glen took a walk after class was over to see the Capitol at night.

On Thursday one of Glen’s students took us on a tour of the Capitol Building. The kids loved the “subway” that the congressman use to get from their offices to the Capital building. We had yummy burgers for lunch at a place called Good Eats. Super good, but they need gluten free buns in the future. The rosemary fries were AMAZING. That afternoon I think we actually got all five kids to take a nap! (win!) During this time Glen and Dustin checked out the Library of Congress. We cooked dinner that night at home, and we had fun taking the kids pictures on the Capitol lawn that night. Afterward Dustin and I splurged on a little walk to get gelato!

On Friday we had planned on going to the National Museum of American history, but when we got there it was closed for a big event. So we came up with plan B and headed to the white house next just to see it since Dustin hadn’t been there before, unfortunately all the tickets we could request in advance for the tours weren’t available for that day from our congressman’s office.

We had lunch and unfortunately I wasn’t clear enough with instructions on Princess K’s smoothie and I think she got a vegan protein powder with lentil and pea (which are the only two things she’s allergic to now) so we had to make a CVS run (thankfully it was around the corner) for some benadryl. Thankful as well it didn’t knock her out and she was still able to enjoy the rest of our day.

We headed to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. They had the actual Wright brothers first plane. That was really cool and Dustin wishes we could have spent some kid free time there to enjoy the place :). And the most random crazy part of the trip was that Princess K had told us on the way to the airport that two of her friends from school were coming to Washington DC that weekend, we thought no way, she probably just said she was going and they said oh me too. But we turned around and K was shouting look mom there is M! We were all shocked out of all the places in DC and the limited number of people K knows at 3.5 years old that we were in the same place at the same time. Fun memories.

We stopped at the Native American History Museum which had a great kids area. They got to stamp their “passports” at all the stations. We ended the night trying out &Pizza, the gluten free pizza was great. The next day Rebecca and I enjoyed a latte and everyone headed to the park while Prince K napped and I packed up. We headed out late Saturday morning. Since the traffic wasn’t bad Glen was able to drive us to the airport which was a bit easier than the public transit with both kids in tow.  Crazy small world as someone Dustin knew from the WordPress community was in line right behind us at security.

Such a fun trip with great friends and wonderful memories with the kiddos.

Ashley and Ryan’s Wedding

This is just a quick blog post to highlight Ashley and Ryan’s special day. They got married at Evans Orchard on September 29th. They had BEAUTIFUL weather. Thursday night was the rehearsal and dinner. Dustin’s parents were able to tag along and help with the kids since I was in the wedding, Dustin was an usher, and Princess K was the flower girl.

Friday we got all dolled up early and took lots of pictures. The ceremony was beautiful and we all got to enjoy the reception. The yummy food included apple cake and apple cider doughnuts! Princess K loved the dance floor, and was exhausted the next day. She normally goes to bed at 7 pm and that night the party was just getting started at that time.

Ashley looked gorgeous and so did the rest of the crew. It was a beautiful setting. I am so glad I splurged on getting the babies (Prince K and my nephew) matching outfits because I will forever cherish the photos of them together with our family, especially the one with my dad holding them. They are 3 months apart but about the same size. Prince K is a bit of a chunker like his daddy was as a baby. Seriously the thighs on this baby!

Such a great weekend, I’ll leave you with an excerpt of my speech at the reception…

My advice was a “prescription” for a successful marriage.

  1. Pray without ceasing..(pray to start your day, pray throughout your day, and spend time in prayer together each day.)
  2. Grow in God, Study the word, together and separately.
  3.  Know each others needs/expectations, keep open communication. Over communicate at first if needed.
  4. Seek mentors that are in a different generation who have rich wisdom from God to share.
  5. Invest.. invest in one another, invest in people and your community, invest in God’s kingdom, and someday in your children
  6. Ryan keep tabs on Ashley’s shopping budget. 🙂

I’m going to close with the scripture verse that we had read at our wedding just over a decade ago (I know I can’t be that old right?) Ephesians 3:14-21. Paul was writing to the church at Epasehus to encourage them, so I pray that it is encouraging to you and one that you book mark and underline significant portions as you journey with God.

A Prayer for the Ephesians

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (and now with you as a couple), to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

*Professional Photo Credit Katelyn V Photography, the rest are mostly Dustin Hartzler. 🙂

Daytona Beach, FL

No summer is complete without sinking our toes into the sand somewhere! In September we headed to Daytona Beach, FL. My parents have timeshares and we found a good deal on an exchange in Daytona at a place with lots of pools and right on the beach.

Dustin’s parents joined us. We flew down on a Sunday. As soon as we got there, we needed to find lunch. We stopped for Thai food on our way in…no vacation is complete without Thai food.

Monday through Thursday was really just lots of beach and pool time with the adults taking turns for Prince K’s naps. One afternoon, Dustin took Princess K for her first theatre experience and saw Cars 3. We also had a round of putt-putt

We took our fancy camera out for the “golden hour” to take some family pictures because our kids were a mess by the time the lighting was good at night.

We were supposed to stay until the following Sunday with plans Saturday to head  to Orlando and go to Downtown Disney, as well as take Princess K to Disney on Ice. But Hurricane Irma was approaching. Despite the fact that it wasn’t supposed to even hit the Florida Keys and Miami until Sunday night, everyone was was in ultra panic mode so our resort ended up closing Friday afternoon.

On Thursday we thought we had a plan we were going to go to Hilton Head for a few days, Dustin’s parents have always wanted to go there and I figured its far enough north that we would be fine there until Sunday. We got our Delta tickets rerouted to fly home from Savanah and thought we had it figured out. Thankfully one of the people I was communicating with on accommodations informed me HHI was going to evaluate on Saturday morning (seemed a little premature) but thankful we didn’t drive there and then figure that out.

So we decided we should just figure out the best way to get home, we called Delta back again and got flights home on Saturday from Atlanta. Unfortunately we had to drive to ATL because the Friday flights from Daytona Beach they only had 3 tickets left and we needed 5. So a normally ~6 hour drive turned into 11 hours. But the kiddos were so good. And we got to enjoy dinner with our friend Vinus who leads the Jamaica mission trip that Dustin and I have been on before. It was fun she got to meet the kiddos since we haven’t been on the trip since we became parents.

We got home a day early, which actually turned out to be a good thing, we enjoyed lunch at Liberty Center with the family, and then also checked out the Popcorn festival that afternoon (Princess K picture below enjoying her Apple Cider Sushi and new purse). And Dustin had time to get some things done around the house prior to heading to Whistler, Canada for his company’s grand meetup. Overall great time, although Grandma Hartzler says she’s not going back to FL in September again. 🙂

IMG_8763

Nashville Weekend Trip! 

We headed to Nashville, TN for our first family trip as a family for 4! It actually is the longest road trip we’ve taken with big Sis too. Our good friends Bethany and Josh live about 2 hours from Nashville in Jackson, TN. Bethany and I met in Pharmacy School and were sisters in Kappa Phi together. It is sort of crazy but their two girls are exactly 3 years and 10 days apart just like our kids! Theirs have birthdays in December so they are each about 3 months older.
We stayed at Opryland Resort & Convention Center courtesy to Marriott Rewards Points. It’s like a little city on inside that you really don’t have to leave if you didn’t want to! I was super thankful for being a Silver Elite member when I walked in and the lobby was packed to the brim with conference attendees trying to check in. I had the double stroller and two kiddos, and a few bags while dad was parking. It was a bit overwhelming but I quickly found someone who directed me to the Elite Check-in and all was good…we walked into a empty suite area with a lady who got us checked in very quickly! #perks!
Friday afternoon we went to the pool for a bit and then grabbed a quick dinner at the nearby Mission BBQ in the mall next door. It was actually pretty walkable because most of the walk would have been indoors through the hotel but we didn’t figure that out until we got there. Its as similar to City BBQ but definitely seemed to taste better!
We got back, put the kiddos to sleep and actually both of us slept pretty early too. Saturday morning Dustin got up to work at 4 am, and I was up with the kids around 6:15 CST. They were up a little early with the time change. 🙂
Our breakfast was from Five Daughters Bakery, which was recommended to us by a friend I went to high school with that lives in Nashville, they had Paleo Doughnuts! However funny story is Dustin tried to order the Paleo ones and apparently the employee didn’t hear “Paleo” for each and ended up with a Paleo one and 3 gluten filled ones. But we both commented how we felt completely fine after the normal doughnuts because of their clean ingredients.
Our friends met us at the pool for early swim around 9am. The girls had a blast playing in the pool together. They were wore out before lunch. We had to get the hungry girls some food. K doesn’t normally naps these day but because she was up early we knew she would probably take one this day and the swimming wore them out. For that reason we stayed at the hotel for lunch and had some gluten free pizza.
 The hotel had an Alice in Wonderland theme going on this summer, so the girls ran into Alice and the Mad Hatter on the “street” inside the hotel.  The Mad Hatter was making ballon animals. They had a build-a-bear station/store set up. So the girls made matching Princess Bears. Both have gotten lots of love in the past few days!
After naps for all kids, we headed to The Pharmacy restaurant for dinner. It had a lot of good reviews and where else should two pharmacists take their families for dinner?!  It was a really fun experience, despite the crazy heat, their patio was very well shaded so we were able to enjoy our meal without sweating. K ate more food in one sitting than she has ever at at restaurant ha! Swimming really does take it out of you. 🙂 The only thing that could have made it better would have been gluten free bun options. Dustin enjoyed his burger bunless on lettuce and still said it was great.
 We finished the day walking around the hotel a bit before we headed back to our room for bed. It really is like a Las Vegas hotel but better because there is no smoke smell to deal with. Sunday morning I headed to the gym, then we took K to the indoor pool since it was open at 7am and our friends met us there. The girls swam again and Dustin and I got our room packed up and ready to go home.
We headed to brunch for one last meal before we hit the road. There were so many great options to choose from, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to wait in line somewhere and we didn’t make reservations soon enough for a lot of the East Nashville places. So we ended up going with Edley’s. It was another BBQ place that had breakfast burritos, and some other southern yummy things. I had the Chicken and Biscuits (another gluten bomb before heading home!) I’m semi- regretting that the last several days with some increase in stomach pain. Hopefully getting back on my cleaner diet it will resolve. All the food was yummy, K wasn’t so sure about the french toast, I think she just didn’t like the taste of maple syrup. It was more like bread pudding (again gluten bomb ha!) but amazing.
We made it back home in about 6 hours and Princess K slept 1 hour, and Prince K slept 4! He is such a good traveler so far. We are planning to drive to DC in the fall because our good friends Rebecca and Glen are living there for the Cedarville Fall Semester and Glen is teaching there. So that drive will be longer but we’ll have an extra day so that will be good! If we happen to find crazy cheap flights we might go that route, but we’ll see! I’d say the first family road trip was a success! So much fun to hang out with our friends.

Princess K’s Birthday Photos

 

Our photographer also did some photos of Kenley for her 3rd birthday! She is a ham right now! Always pretending.. even when Dustin was driving her to school the other day they had to pretend to play hide and seek in the car! She is a great “pretend” mommy.  When I ask her to do a task that is too difficult, she says “but I’m not a real mommy!” So thankful to be her real mommy!

Our Prince is here!

Sorry for the delay in posting this.. it’s been a whirlwind! Can’t believe he is 5.5 weeks old now. A little bit about his birth story… About 1.5 weeks before he was born, we had little bit of a scare with our “birth plan.” I learned on a Friday afternoon that he was transverse which meant his head was on my right side, and feet on my left. So of course I left the office in tears, barely could make it to Trader Joes with our princess. I did some research and learned about chiropractic care being able to help turn him as well as a website called Spinning Babies. Of course we were praying fervently with all of our prayer warriors, and had chiropractic adjustments on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday mornings. When we went to our high risk OB appointment on Monday afternoon he was head down and ready to go! Hallelujah! God is good!

He wouldn’t make his arrival for another week and a half but thankfully he did come on his own, with me trying all the tricks. I tried things like spicy foods (lots of curry!), walking, and a prenatal massage not avoiding the no-no points! (the massage guy said “oh I’m pretty good at inducing labor”). I went into labor on a Tuesday evening having contractions steadily about 11 pm, so I haven’t sleep a full night since March 20th, ha! We called our close friend who came to stay with Kenley about 5 am, and got to the hospital about 5:30 am.

We had switched OB-GYNs so we could go to a different hospital that had a birthing tub to labor in, oh man, that the best decision ever! With that and some essential oils to keep me calm, was fully dilated by around 11 am. They called my doctor and she barely had her gloves on as he was ready to come out. A couple pushes and he was here. Drastically a different story that previously with princess’ induction. So thankful to be able to do it without meds this time. 🙂 We had lots of skin to skin time and soaking in our newest little blessing. He was 9 lbs 1 oz! Big boy!

Here are our amazing photos from Krystal Covington Photography.

He looks so sleepy here but the longest sleep stretch we’ve had is about 3 hours.

Big Sis was super excited and is doing a great job as a helper AKA Princess K Mommy!

Here we are our new family of 4…

Thanks for reading and soaking in our newest blessing! Hopefully we get some longer sleep stretches soon.