web analytics
Masthead header
  • Welcome to Counting My Kisses!

    Counting My Kisses is all about finding that silver lining, even on our most frustrating days. It’s about cherishing my little girls and enjoying being married to my best friend. It’s about taking a minute to stop & remember what’s really important in life—and to discover that each & every experience gives us something to be thankful for.

    I’m a daughter, sister, friend, writer, and most importantly these days, a wife & mother. My life is full of fun chaotic moments, and this blog helps me to capture the laughter and love that fills our house every day.

    Thanks for joining me on this adventure!

Try. {a six month break}

So…remember that one time I took a blogging break for six months?!?

Sigh. Me too.

 

I think it’s safe to say that a thing or two {or twelve hundred} has happened since my last post right before Christmas. Sweet milestones and unexpected challenges and all the happy, wonderful, messy moments that weave together to form our days, weeks, months.

 

Typically I try hard to keep both our life and this space positive. There’s enough negativity in the world and I just don’t want to add my voice into that mix. But…it’s also important to keep it real, so here we go. {deep breath}

 

In a nutshell: the past six months have been tough.

 

The autoimmune disease that I refuse to let run my life started to run my life.

 

I’ve had Rheumatoid Arthritis since 2008. It’s not a secret, as family + close friends know about it. I haven’t brought it up on the blog for one reason: I haven’t needed to. I didn’t ~ and still don’t~ feel like it’s a defining characteristic of me. It’s an aside, a little blip on my radar that pings twice a day when I have to take my meds. The rest of the time I shove it as far back on the burner as I can.

 

And yet.

 

I wasn’t a mother when the RA first made an appearance in my life; we had only been married about a year and a half. The first thing I asked when I was diagnosed: will we still be able to have children? And once we were blessed with our three beautiful, spunky, fun daughters, I vowed to myself that the girls would never, ever have one day of their childhood compromised because of Mommy’s RA.

I’ve held true to that vow. Our girls still don’t know about the RA, which is the way we’d like to keep it for now while they’re still little.

 

 

But here’s the thing: when you try so hard to protect someone from something~ you lose a bit of yourself in the process. You’re only human. You can only bend so far until you’re ready to break.

 

 

Change up our home life/routine a bit~ say, with a hubby whose travel schedule unexpectedly ramps up in intensity, a darling one-year-old daughter who turns mobile and recklessly dangerous {read: I turn around and she’s standing on the kitchen table}, two lovely busy-bee biggies with school + dance + swim~ and all of a sudden, just like that, I was barely hanging on.

 

Many nights I’d sink to the floor in the hallway outside the girls’ bedroom doors, beyond-words relieved to have made it through another day + have everyone safely tucked into their beds.

The house became an unmanageable chore. My little-bit-a-day cleaning program fell by the wayside.

And writing? Forget about it. I was too tired to form words at the end of each night, let alone spend time pouring my heart out in this space that I loved and missed and yet could not even wrap my brain around.

 

After some gentle and not-so-gentle encouragement from loved ones, I got a second opinion on my treatment plan and ultimately switched rheumatologists. Together, my doctor and I discussed tweaking my RA meds. She emphasized the importance of sleep~ 7-8 hours a night. She stressed the importance of working out~ at least 30 minutes a day. Eating better, less caffeine, overall life change.

I know you don’t have the energy to do this right now, she said. But you have to. It’s going to make everything better. The pain will decrease. The energy will come back. 

 

Slowlyyy I got into a new groove. Those first few days back on the elliptical were the living struggle. I found a Netflix series to binge on + that helped make the workouts semi-tolerable. I made it a goal to head to bed by 10:30, which is typically when I fire up the Mac and start writing. The RA meds that my new doctor tweaked had a long lead-time but ultimately started making a positive difference in late spring.

 

I felt like I could breathe again.

 

Everything came into sharper focus. I could be a better momma, a better wife, a better person. The house became more manageable. Life became more manageable. I felt like me again~ the me that wants to write and capture and connect and share.

 

I’ve debated and second-guessed the decision to come back at all to this space I love. What if I jump back in and can’t make it work? What if the RA pushes its way back into the forefront? Or the words don’t come and I’ve lost my writing mojo? What if, what if, what if? So many reason to just keep sitting on the sidelines.

 

But.

I’m going to be brave and hit publish.

 

Because as we remind the girls daily: all we ask is that you try.

Try

Counting My Kisses: My friends, thanks for coming back and reading my words even after months + months of radio silence. It means the world! xo

 

Back to Top*Share on Facebook*Tweet this post*Email Me
Laura

I was literally thinking about how much I missed your blog on Monday. I am so glad to see you getting back to it. Thank you for being real. You are an amazing mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend. Though RA doesnt define you or control you, it WILL slow you down sometimes and that is ok. You are amazing and you are a fighter and an amazing writer! Love you!!

[Reply]

Mommers/Mimi

My Amy Doll —-

So proud of you for making the commitment to put yourself as a priority the last few months. I see the sparkle back in your eyes and the spring in your step. What do the airlines always remind us of “if in the unlikely event of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first. Then take care of the children.” We have all been where you were === so glad you are back feeling the sun on your face. So proud of your courage and the bravery you show every day, but feel such pride on the wonderful mom you are to all three girls and the fantastic daughter you are to dad and I every day!! Love you to the moon and back.

[Reply]

Michele Donahue

love you!! You are one of the strongest people I know and your family is lucky to have you. We are all blessed to have you as a friend and it’s nice to see you writing again.

[Reply]

Lynn

So glad to hear that you’re starting to feel better. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through all of this. I know it’s hard to put yourself first when there are so many demands on your time, but I have no doubt that a happy and healthy you will be better for everyone! Thanks for writing and sharing your struggles. You’re doing a great job! xo

[Reply]

Sara

I so missed your blog! Very glad to hear you are feeling better.

[Reply]

Oh Amy, I totally relate to.how you feel. I’m a mom blogger with RA too. I got it when my oldest son was a newborn, 13 years ago. My 3 boys know I have RA and they know they have to help me and they want to find a cure. :) Asking for help is one of the most pride swallowing things I had to do. I’m on pretty strong meds. I saw a nutritionist and she told me to make some diet changes and they have totally made me feel better. My husband said the other day he was so happy he was getting his wife back. I still don’t exercise everyday and i gave nit given up coffee yet but I try. Great post, I’m sorry your RA was flaring but glad you are on the mend and taking back your life. I’m so happy your rheumatologist is helping you find alternative ways to feel better. I know how hard it is to deal with RA both physically and mentally. Hope you stop by my blog, it’s called Mom’s Small Victories because I wanted to focus on the things that I can accomplish with RA, every little thing is harder to do but a small victory. :) I helped start a bloggers with chronic illness facebook group too if you are interested in a safe forum to talk with others going through similar experiences.

[Reply]

Erika

❤️❤️❤️EVERYTHING about this, Amy. Writing is obviously only one thing at which you are amazing!

[Reply]

The Not Perfect Christmas

Hello, friends!

 

Happy December! And Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!

Is it just me or did it seem like I blinked twice and the holidays arrived? I know the Hubs + I are in good company with the many, many parents across the world who are so excited to share the magic of this amazing season with their families…and also looking forward to taking a nice, long nap once all of this wonderful hustle + bustle wraps up.

 

This year has truly been a lovely one for our little family. It hasn’t been without challenges or heartache or loss. But it has been full of wonder and fun; adventures and love. It has been filled to the brim with giggles and snuggles and hugs. 2014 was full of many big fantastic moments and some of the very best small quiet ones.

 

I didn’t want to write a Christmas post this year because I knew I couldn’t make it perfect. There are presents that still need to be wrapped, a house that {desperately} needs to be cleaned + roughly 78 loads of laundry that need to be washed, folded and put away before Christmas arrives. I wanted this post to be magical and beautiful and to wrap up a fantastic year for our family with touching words that I could look back on + instantly be taken back to this spot~ this crazy, fun, sticky, messy wonderful spot~ in our lives.

 

And yet…the perfect Christmas post isn’t happening. And the perfect Christmas I’ve been focused on the past month isn’t happening either~ at least not in the way I originally planned. It took having our entire family go down from the stomach flu yesterday to realize that I need to let go and let God. And in that spirit~ I decided to sit down and just write.

I’m working to let go of the perfect Christmas image I’ve been trying so hard to achieve and instead embrace what’s right in front of me: an amazing little family who doesn’t care if my floor has been vacuumed or if my dining room table has an inch of dust on it. The blessing of getting to spend each day with the love of my life + our three sweet, loving, incredible daughters. Parents and in-laws who continue to support us with love + words of encouragement. Sisters + brothers who we can laugh with and commiserate with and just be with. And friends~ loving friends that are extensions of our family and permanent pieces in our hearts.

When you look at it that way~ who needs any gifts? Not this girl. My life is overflowing with them.

 

Our girls are 5, 3 and 1~ awesome ages to sit back and enjoy. Why am I so worried about making Christmas so magical for them? They create the magic. Their love and enthusiasm and sweetness. Their conversations about God and Baby Jesus and Santa make my heart soar.

So this year~ I’m trying to listen. I’m trying to be still and I’m trying to be in the moment. It’s not unfolding the way I had planned~ the jury is still out if anyone in our family will be back on solid food by Christmas Eve dinner~ but that’s okay. I’m embracing it this year.

not perfect christmas 1

Not perfect is beautiful. It’s real and it’s our life and I’m so very thankful.

Counting My Kisses: Happy holidays, friends. I wish you + your families the very best, this year and always!

Siggie-21

Pin It
Back to Top*Share on Facebook*Tweet this post*Email Me
Aunt Patty

Beautiful post, Amy and oh so true. Love you very much, your words touch my heart each and every time!

[Reply]

Amy

Hope you had a merry Christmas! xo

[Reply]

Amy

Hi Amy! Is everything OK? Just worried that you quit blogging or something. :-) xo

[Reply]

Amy

You are the sweetest Amy, thank you for checking in!!! Working on a new post/update now!! :)

[Reply]

Fall happenings! {part 1}

Oh fall.

Your crisp leaves, gorgeous colors + abundance of fun events make me love you that much more each year.

 

We’ve had a crazy busy fall around here, chock-o-block full of festivities + fun! I’ve always loved this season but I must say~ it’s extra-special sharing it with our three little loves.

 

We’ve hit up a family hayrides {props to the Hubs on the selfie, right?!}…

fall 1

and had a blast taking a hike through the forest.

fall 2

Sidenote: our big girls are looking more grown-up every single day~ any ideas on how to freeze time?!

fall 3

Our hiking adventure led us {accidentally} to the lake, which was chilly + beautiful + so fun to watch.

fall 4

fall 5

Sweet Baby J napped through most of our hike. It was so quiet + serene, given the opportunity I would have napped right along with her.:)

fall 6

Seriously, fall~ how pretty are you?! Love!

fall 7

We’ve been fortunate to enjoy this fab season in multiple places this year~ including up at the lake, which is a first for us. Needless to say~ the girls have loved it too!

fall 8

fall 9

Our sweet baby girl is now standing solo at any given opportunity. It’s pretty much the cutest thing ever {video is on my Instagram page if you want to check out her adorableness!}.

fall 10

Naturally, we had to squeeze a trip to the pumpkin patch into our fall happenings.

fall 11

fall 12

I’m sure we’re in the final years of the girls allowing me to dress them all in the same shirts + headbands~ but seriously, how cute?! {thank goodness Auntie Lala is crafty~ ghost headbands are WAY out of my craft comfort zone lol}.

fall 13

fall 14

Oh my heart. Little Miss Pumpkin times three~ could we be any more blessed?!

fall 15

What’s your favorite part of this beautiful season, friends? Hope you are enjoying it as much as we are!

Counting My Kisses: Although I’m *definitely* a warm-weather girl, fall has a special place in my heart. The Hubs + I just celebrated our 8th anniversary on October 28th~ so of course fall brings so many happy memories to us! Stay tuned~ part 2 of our fall happenings coming up later this week~ including Halloween pics + a very special birthday surprise for my dad! Have a GREAT day, friends!

Siggie-21

Pin It
Back to Top*Share on Facebook*Tweet this post*Email Me
Laura

Oh how I miss you friend!! Love the blog and fall! It is just a happy time!

[Reply]

The Great Stroller Debate {Urbini Avi Jogger review}

Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Urbini. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and as a thank you for participating.

the great stroller debate
Now that our girls are ages 1, 3 + 5, we’ve found that our trusty double jogging stroller isn’t fitting our family needs anymore. We’ve been in the market for a durable, functional single stroller~ but haven’t found anything that fit the bill yet.

 

Enter Urbini.

 

When I was asked to review the Urbini Avi Jogger Stroller, this little voice in my head thought jackpot! I had high hopes it was the stroller to fit our family wish list~ functional, easy to maneuver + heavy duty. Added bonus: the Avi arrived just days before we left for our vacation. AND it was red, our family color of choice!

Little O + I put together the stroller in about 15 minutes. Now, if you don’t know me very well~ this is SAYING SOMETHING. I rarely venture into the world of product assembly but my five-year-old and I had it together in record time. #win

A few days later, we left for vacay + put the Urbini Avi to the test. Not only did it hold its own in the airport,  maneuvering around people with either one of our children or approximately 794394893 pounds of luggage loading it down, but it also folded up quickly + easily~ a must when you are this close to almost missing your flight {cough cough…not like that almost happened or anything…cough cough}.

 

A few of my favorite things about this stroller: 

urbini avi 5

~ the handle changes positions. Super helpful when a shorty like myself marries someone a foot taller. We are both comfortable pushing the stroller, the adjustable handle is clutch!

~ smooth ride + easy to maneuver. Friends, we took this stroller on a cruise ship. It fit in our {itty bitty teeny tiny} room folded up. We had read cautionary tales about bringing strollers on the narrow hallways of the ships but we had zero maneuverability issues while on board or on land. And it’s also great for eating your very first chocolate ice cream bar, since the fabric is a cinch to wipe off! 

urbini avi 1

~ speaking of folding up the stroller. super easy. Pull the strap + voila! The Avi folds in half for storage in a snap.

~ 5 point harness. in case your child is a Houdini + can get out of all standard lap belts {ahem BABY J!}. Girlfriend wasn’t budging once we had her buckled in, which was a huge relief. 

urbini avi 2

~ swivel lock front wheel. we kept the front wheel unlocked for our casual vacation strolling, but it’s a quick flip to lock it when you’re ready to run! 

urbini avi 7

~ recline/canopy/peek-a-boo window. all essential for a napping little one. When we wanted Baby J to take a snooze, we’d recline her, put the sun canopy down and stroll her around for a few minutes. Once she was zonked out we’d periodically check on her via that peek-a-boo window to make sure she was still snoozing. 

urbini avi 6

~ inflatable rubber tires. the Hubs said the tires were a cinch to pump up with a little extra air. Woo! The tires also handled the sandy beach terrain like a boss~ I could push the stroller one-handed through the sand, which cannot be said for our double jogging stroller.

~ single-touch brake system. so helpful for photo opps! you know how I love those vacay photos.:) 

urbini avi 4

~ easily accessible underneath basket. one of my biggest pet peeves about our double stroller is that I cannot get to the basket under the stroller without some major finessing. The Avi was a piece of cake to reach in to + pull out the requested zippy cup, sunscreen or stuffed animal that was hanging out in the basket.

~ weight limit up to 65 pounds. because you never know who is going to need to nap. 😉 

urbini avi 3

And for mommas with itty bitty ones, the Urbini Avi Jogger Travel System is the way to go. Your little babe can be snuggled into the Urbini Petal infant seat {which holds weights from 4 lbs – 35 lbs} + the entire system snaps into the Avi Jogger, making it a seamless transition from car to stroller + back again.

Since we’ve been home from vacation, our Urbini Avi has become the go-to stroller of choice. It’s perfect for walks + runs, shopping trips and day-long adventures. Best of all, I can pop Baby J into it without any complaint. She loves being able to see her sisters + the world around her, and I love how the Avi Jogger meets all of our growing family’s needs.

Try it out~ the Urbini line is available at Walmart + Walmart.com. Lots more info, tips + pictures on Urbini’s Facebook + Twitter pages as well!

Counting My Kisses: I’m so appreciative that I was picked to review the Urbini Avi Jogger~ the Hubs + I agree that it was the perfect stroller for our vacation + our everyday life. Talk about awesome timing! Thanks to Mom Central for the opportunity + to Urbini for making a fab product that is a great fit into our lifestyle.:)

Siggie-21

Pin It
Back to Top*Share on Facebook*Tweet this post*Email Me
Colleen

Just wanted to see what kind of pump you used for the front tire. I can’t get either of our pumps to fit between the small front spokes.

[Reply]

Stephanie

Hello! I’m on the great stroller search! lol. Were there any down sides you noticed? I’m picking between the Urbini Avi and a Schwin.

[Reply]

Amy

Hi Stephanie! I really can’t say that I’ve noticed many downsides. After almost 6 years of using strollers, the Urbini is one of my faves. Easy to maneuver, my kiddo naps in it, it’s big enough for my big girls when they get tired and I can fold it up and lift it myself. I also LOVE that I can easily get to the underneath basket~ that’s my biggest complaint with our double! Let me know if you have any specific questions I can answer, I’d be happy to! :)

[Reply]

October grace

It’s no secret: life is moving at breakneck speed these days for our family.

 

It’s fun + amazing + crazy + incredible, all at the same time.

I’ve been operating our party of five on a week-to-week basis since mid-August: first we got through Little O starting kindergarten, the next week we got through a marathon business trip to Europe for the Hubs, the following week Cali and so on. I get overwhelmed if I look at the big picture but if I take it a week at a time, it feels much more manageable. We’ve been rocking through it so far + having a ton of fun in the process.

 

However: this week-to-week operating system has it downfalls.

 

It hit me the other day that I’m not taking the time to sit back and absorb. Reflect. Drink in the beauty + the joy + this intricate dance of life that we’re living.

 

I’m here. I show up every day + I dive into our life + our children + our family and friends. And I’m absolutely loving it.

But I want to be even more present. I want to soak in these moments until they are etched into my brain so deeply that I’ll be transported back here when I’m 50, 76, 85. I’m worried I won’t be able come back to this *exact spot* in time~ because even now, as I’m living it, I know this is amazing stuff. I know I’ll want to come back in my memory + I need to remember these details so that I can.

 

I want to slow down time so that I can always feel Baby J’s soft head snuggling that perfect spot on the side of my neck. The way she pats my face and says Mamamamama and lights up + claps when I come get her from naptime.

I want to snuggle in bed with Little O + have her fill me in on all the details of kindergarten that seem to be freshest in her mind right as she’s ready to fall asleep. Hear her thoughts on scuba diving + becoming a marine biologist + the intricacies of learning how to do a flip on the hanging bar at recess.

I want to enjoy H-Berry’s super happy-go-lucky phase that she’s in + absorb all of her loveliness as she insists on helping me every day in dozens of different H-Berry ways. The way she talks {“me want to come with you!”} + adorably insists on wearing only “beautiful dresses.” Her heels + her tiara are never far away.

I want to relax on the couch next to the Hubs and watch our shows and remember that this is the life I’ve always prayed for with the guy who has lived in my dreams forever before becoming a reality, my future, the love of my life when we met in college.

 

And here we are. In this beautifully busy life, juggling careers + house stuff + commitments with three bubbling sweethearts of daughters who challenge us + demand things of us that we didn’t even know we could do.

 

It’s everything.

And it’s wonderful.

 

So today, on this first day of October, I’m praying for grace. I know things aren’t going to slow down for us in the near future~ and that’s okay. But I’m hoping for the grace + the ability to take a step back. Soak in these moments + memories + tuck them into my brain for safe-keeping so I’ll have them for decades to come. 

october grace

What are you hoping for this month?

Counting My Kisses: Is it really October 1st already?! Here’s to a fresh new month full of beautiful fall colors, crisp air, cozy sweaters + taking the time to savor moments both big and small. Have a GREAT day friends!!!

 

Linking today’s post up with Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out. Because sometimes it feels good to pour your heart out.:)

Siggie-21

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...Pin It
Back to Top*Share on Facebook*Tweet this post*Email Me

I think grace is the perfect thing to hope for this month, it seems chaos is abundant right now! It’s always a nice reminder though to think about how important it is to really LIVE in the moment, and to not just hold our breath until it passes.

[Reply]

I want to be able to take that step back, too. Everything goes SO FAST all the time, but I want to really enjoy the small moments.

[Reply]

I’ve been feeling this way too, that things are going way too fast and I need to really focus and take in all the small moments.

[Reply]

Mary

Love this post!! No matter how busy I am, I really try to take time to appreciate how good and blessed my life is. Especially at this point of my life :::: God is good!!

[Reply]

M o r e   i n f o