A month of gratitude...

Thursday, November 28, 2013
All month I have been secretly adding to this running list.  As I think of things or God gives me perspective, I add to the list.  This list is certainly not exhaustive or any particular order...it just serves to remind me how much I have to be thankful for EVERY day and how little time I spend worshipping our Heavenly Father in praise of what He has done for me!
  • Running water
  • Warm HOT shower
  • comfy bed
  • clean clothes
  • washing machine and dryer
  • dishwasher
  • money in the bank
  • a reliable car
  • friends who I can be "ME" with
  • Our God, creater of all beautiful things, who never gives up on me
  • God's teaching and stirring in my heart
  • Willing friends who run with my ideas
  • My kiddos - they melt my heart 
  • Solon's teachers who love him when I can't be there
  • library filled with great librarians and lots of good books and DVDs
  • Our backyard view and incredible sunsets
  • warm slippers
  • comfy pants
  • playmates for my kiddos
  • awesome neighbors
  • a hubby who takes out the trash and throws away the poopy diapers
  • a full night of sleep
  • vacations as a family
  • warm shower all by myself
  • someone helping me get my stuff out at the gym
  • Gym nursery workers who love my kids
  • devoted Sunday school teachers
  • serving as a family
  • having friends over to our house
  • cooking with the kids
  • a clean kitchen floor
  • putting my feet up
  • catching up on some favorite tv shows
  • an encouraging scripture
  • Christmas decorations
  • family date nights
  • egg nog in my coffee
  • a supportive hubby
  • laughter
  • the first minutes I get into bed at night and take a deep breath
  • waking up after a full night of sleep
  • a hard sweaty workout
  • cable TV (after a 3 year hiatus)
  • a decorated staircase 
  • simple craft projects that make our house a home
  • Diet mountain dew (I have a love-hate relationship with you)
  • Lisa at the Target Cafe who we have gotten to know and her story
  • Esther the Target checkout lady
  • smell of a Christmas candle
  • a clean home
  • McDonald's french fries
  • friends who come and hang out
  • girls nights
  • date night
  • fire in the fire place
  • relaxing under a warm blanket
  • flannel sheets
  • heat on my feet in the car
  • socks on a cold day
  • comfy pants
  • my kids singing together
  • good friends who stop by with coffee
  • leftovers
  • my kiddos singing together in the backseat
  • Belting out Christmas carols
  • good friends to text when I am so exhausted I want to cry
  • surprise gifts in the mail for our vacation (thanks Lance and Grace!)
  • coupons
  • Christmas scented candles
  • warm socks
  • relaxing at home
  • play dates
  • Prayer
  • cancelled meetings for Scott
  • encouraging words from friends
  • the best friends a girl could ask for (no gossip and no competition)
  • photos
  • the blog
  • being able to encourage others
  • a hot cup of coffee
  • a sip of diet mountain dew
  • washing machine and the quick cycle
  • ornaments that hold special memories
  • kiddo snuggles
  • Disney Jr
  • PBS kids
  • homemade chex mix
  • twinkling Christmas lights
  • sharing the nativity story with our kiddos
  • their excitement for things in this life (its contagious)
  • Vera and Solon's big deep blue eyes from their daddy
  • ...and their long long eye lashes
  • crafting personal gifts 
  • a good report from Solon's preschool teacher 
  • being on the same page with my hubby
  • my hubby's willingness to do whatever
  • head massage during my hair cut
  • fresh hair cut and highlight 
  • the smell of essential oils
  • a strong body and a hard work out
  • texting across the world
  • encouraging stories of God's faithfulness
  • answered prayers
  • talking to God
  • sweet neighbors (new and old)
  • how little things bring our kiddos so much joy
  • the couch
  • working fingers and hands
  • legs that can walk
  • remote control
  • devotionals that speak to my soul
  • ladies who love me and hold me accountable
  • my mom, dad and sister
  • family
  • candles
  • lights
  • thrift store finds
  • traditions
  • memories
  • Our God
  • singing praise music to Him
  • His scripture
  • fingerprints on the window panes
  • slobbery kisses
  • reading books with my kiddos
  • bedtime talks with Solon
  • a quiet moment
  • being able to take and pick up Solon from preschool
  • being home with my kiddos
  • Hardworking hubby
  • Stable income
  • sunshine
  • beautiful sunsets
  • winter flurries
  • girls nights
  • the smell of cut grass
  • pool time
  • the feeling of sand in my toes
  • the smell of saltwater as we walk along the beach
  • the sound of ocean waves
  • Disney world and being a kid with my kids
  • family vacations
  • generous parents
  • the love I have for my children
  • the love God has for me
  • forgiveness
  • patience
  • a winning basketball game
  • insurance
  • good health
  • a deep breath
  • Faith
  • Thanksgiving food
  • forgiving pants
  • leftovers
  • hanging out with family
  • memories
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34

Playing with Friends...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
It was really by God's divine plan that I met Emilie last spring at the library.  We didn't know one another but she looked "new" so I introduced myself and we hit it off.  Finding out later, a mutual friend tried to hook us up but God got to it first - crazy!  We try to meet up weekly for a play date and last week, Em had a girls weekend with her mom and sisters so the kiddos came over to hang out for the day.  They all had a blast and wore each other out.
It was a decent day out - sunny at least so the kiddos begged to ride the power wheels around and had a blast!
These girls just sat there neither knowing how to drive...Vera looks comfy doesn't she?
And Vera loves to swing...
The boys also played "Cyclone Football Players and coaches" it was the most hilarious thing to listen in on!  They are all so good friends and Em and I enjoy our time together so much!  Glad God put them in our lives :)!

It's Beginning to Look A Lot like Christmas...

Monday, November 25, 2013
We love tradition around here and Christmas has a lot of them, starting with getting ready.  We choose a weekend day to pull out the boxes, put up the tree, drink egg nog, listen to Christmas music and belt it out and have a fondue dinner...while the kiddos decorate the tree with our help ;)!  We had to do it early this year (and I have gotten so much heat).  My response every time is that i should be able to celebrate the birth of our savior longer than halloween! AND we are on vacation until December 1 and I want to enjoy it the minute we get home - so there (my tongue is stuck out at you too!).  Scott spent some time making our outside look delightfully festive - he even used the staple gun - it looks fabulous and classy (in my humble opinion!).
Then he whipped up the fondue (out of the box - thanks TJ's)
While I tackled this...it was fun to think of how to decorate our new home.  My decor didn't go quite as far (I guess I will have some after Christmas shopping to do).
We got out all the Christmas books and the kiddos were excited to get reunited with them and the Little People nativity set and all the singing animals that we have for Christmas...
Our old tree looked dwarfed in our new home and then the lights didn't all work so Scott decided to speed up buying a tree to before Christmas and I am so thankful!  It looks great in our family room!  Solon was so heartbroken over the old tree, it is in our front window.  I am hoping to rectify it into a "pretty" tree next year after the sales post- Christmas!  Our family room tree holds all of our family ornaments, the kiddos get one each year to carry on the tradition both Scott and I had as kiddos.  They love getting them out each year and reminiscing as do we!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Vera's 1st Haircut...

Saturday, November 23, 2013
I have a wonderful hair stylist, Natalie...she really is a gift in the hair department :)!  She and I also work out together so I asked if she could fit in a quick Vera cut while my highlights were percolating and she said "YES!" so Scott brought her in.  She didn't say a word (typical) and sat like an angel, following directions and everything.  Natalie and I were both impressed for her first cut.  She thought she was hot stuff being like mommy!  Natalie just trimmed the back up to be a bob.  I didn't get a final pic because V left and went home to nap and it was a crazy hot mess when I got home :)!

I see many salon dates in our future...we are just waiting for her hair to start laying to the side by itself.  She has fine hair just like her momma so it will take some training :)!  Until then, we will do the little side pony holding back the hairs mommy doesn't want to turn into bangs.  Mommy has bad memories of her own bangs so no bangs for Vera!

I am most thankful for this...

Friday, November 22, 2013




Our FAMILY is a circle of strength, founded on faith, joined in love, kept by God, together forever!

Solon's preschool Art: September - November...

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Solon has been whipping up some real masterpieces at preschool this fall.  They do a craft/art project at least once a week so we implemented an art wall by the back door and then I take a picture of each piece before making room for the next wave of art.  I have been saving a few for keepsakes but he has a lot of school ahead of him so I thought taking photo evidence for the blog book would be great too.  So here is our first art installment for Solon!

Lemon Art

Circle Art

Hand Art

Dot Art Leaves (done at home with mom!)

Sponge art caterpillar

Monster art

Fire Truck shape art

Pumpkin plate art

Acorn shaking art
(put paint on an acorn and shook it around in the box to make this effect)

There you have it - my budding crafter/artist.  He has brown hands today so I am thinking more art is coming home after Thanksgiving break, good thing we made room on our art wall...


Vera, The Little Mommy...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Recently, Vera has gotten in touch with her little inner-mommy!  She is very into caring for her babies, feeding them, having tea parties with them, rocking them and strolling them in their stroller.  She is so gentle and whispers to them....it is so cute to watch :).  She plays for hours by herself with her dolls...


video

Impromptu Jumping in Leaves...

Monday, November 18, 2013
Solon has been quite disappointed that our new house had minimal leaf action this fall.  We do have 2 trees but we live in a wind alley it seems so they blew off to someone elses' house with no chance to jump in them first.  Our old house had some pretty established trees on the perimeter of our lot which was great for minimal raking but lots of jumping!  So one Sunday as we were walking to the car, Solon noticed the side lot of our church had quite a lot of leaves and decided to take a moment to play in them.  I had seriously contemplated posting to FB that I would come rake someone's leaves and take them home with me - that is how much he had talked about it.  Luckily God gave Solon an opportunity....it made for lots of laughs as the other church goers were exiting the lot.  I even got a text from a friend asking what we were doing...
We did everything from the tradition run and jump to burying Solon and V to an all out leaf fight!


video
So glad we could cross this activity of our fall to do list...It was certainly at the top of Solon's favorite fall activities list!!!

Pizza Making...

Friday, November 15, 2013
We are trying to overhaul our diet to 80% healthy 20% non-healthy around here...man, that is much harder than it sounds once you really look at the average American diet.  The last few Fridays we have been making homemade pizzas and having family movie night.  We even squish the two couches together to make it bed-like and all snuggle in together!  I got refrigerated pizza dough at Trader Joe's and the kind lady told me I could freeze it and just thaw before use!  It is really good and fun for the kids to roll out and make their own mini pizzas...it does make a mess (so I always ask myself why at the end!).  

Another favorite is to make tortilla pizzas for lunch...tortilla, pepperoni and cheese on top!  It make a good, fast lunch and the kiddos love making them!

Solon's 1st School Picture and a little pre-school update...

Thursday, November 14, 2013
2013-2014 3 Year Old Prescchool

I can't believe Solon has been in school for nearly 3 months and it has been a wonderful experience.  Besides, missing the first day for flu, we haven't missed a day since.  He is thriving in this new environment which makes him momma take a deep breath of relief.  He is a homebody and likes the security of the familiar so I was really worried about the transition but God was faithful in answering our prayers.  He has 3 teachers in his classroom and 22 kids.  They sing songs (while a teacher accompanies on a good old upright piano).  They read books, count, experiment, craft, play, and of course I get a daily report on the weather and snack.  He comes home singing all the songs and his teacher reported he is one of the most passionate singers in class and asked if we ever sang at home (I politely smiled and said yes, I didn't tell her to what degree ;).  

I drop him off in the morning, he hangs his backpack on his assigned hook and I barely get a kiss and love you mom before he dashes off to put his sticker on his attendance card.  They have all the toys that say quintessential preschool classroom and things I remember playing with when I was a kid.  He loves the science table, this week there is an alligator head and snake there.  He also loves the car garage during play time.  His other favorite activity is the parachute, it was one of my favorites as a kid too.  

He is a sponge coming home everyday with some tidbit or fact and has been asking some really good questions at home on all sorts of topics including his faith.  Just the other day he asked us "How do you get to heaven? and then in the next breath talked about toots.  He is all toddler boy!  He just came home and told us autumn is another word for fall and was particularly excited to learn where the library books go in the chute on their recent field trip.

His teachers are super sweet and kind, we haven't had a formal conference yet and it is taking every teacher-y fiber in my body not to ask them how he is doing academically!  He has recently wanted to learn how to count past 100 and he was very determined for about a week to practice until he got it.  Wow, counting to 120 takes a lot of time but we got it!  

We are so proud of the little man God has made.  We continually work on his attitude at home but sounds like he is very obedient, good friend and listener at school which is good news.  Thanking God for such a sweet little man!

Teach Me Titus Tuesday: Let's talk Fear...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Fear...it is a 4 letter word and yes I know it really is, but it is one of "those" 4-letter words in my book.  I have been held in bondage to fear for more of my 30 years than not and so when I was assigned to teach on the subject I thought I was the least qualified for the job.  I mean I am in the thick of it.  That is the funny thing about God, He often uses your weakest points, each word I write today is cathartic as I take this sage biblical advice and practically apply it to my own life...let's dig in!

Let's sit in a rocking chair, shall we?


“Fear is like a rocking chair, It is something to do but doesn't get you anywhere.” Joanne Weaver

We all know fear is futile and unfruitful and alas we still] do it.  We worry and live in fear.  We live in a nation that is in a anxious epidemic.  I have read that 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 people will deal with an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.  Fear is pervasive.

But God is seriously opposed to fear, he mentions "not to have fear" just over 250 times in the bible.  He has this to say on the subject...

The Lord is my life and my salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is my stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

The lord was not just your "salvation" on the day you were saved but He saves us EVERYDAY from our sin even the sin of fear.  And fear is a sin, because we are not trusting that God is big enough to handle it.  (Let's repeat that together - He is big enough for my fears).  He has numerous scripture promises to combat nearly every fear.  I encourage you to memorize a few so you can recite them when you mind becomes captive to fear.  The greatest weapon we have against fear is our loving heavenly Father and His word.

Anxiety weighs down the heart
Proverbs 12:25a

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Matthew 6:27

Fear and worry is bad for our health.  When I was in bondage to fear this summer you should have seen my symptom list everything from diarrhea to muscle spasms, etc.  I mean I was physically a HOT mess.  See our mind, body and spirit are connected and so if one of those is out of sync it effects the others.  And here I thought a little pill would be cause for more side effects than fear, oh how I was wrong!

So if know the ill effects of fear, let's learn how to practically overcome it...I want to share an illustration with you that my friend Misty shared with me...

Our thought life is like a road and when we have thought these thoughts over and over again it makes grooves and the path is easy to go down.  When we purposefully try to take each thought captive, it is difficult because we can no longer go down the easy road, we must now beat down the grasses, weeds and rocks to forge a new road and sometimes we will veer back to that old road because it is comfortable and easy.  With each thought taken to the Lord, the new road will become easier and we will be able to train our mind.

Two roads diverged in the woods and I – I took the one less traveled and it has made all the difference.  
-Robert Frost

Do not worry about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, present your requests to the Lord and the peace which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

This is one of my life verses but I have often thought of this verse as unattainable but it is because I have looked at the first part without practically applying the 2nd.  I worry about everything because I pray about next to nothing.  I don't approach God with all the little stuff that bugs me, if this study has taught me anything my prayer life needs a facelift ;).  See I often "hide" things from God just as Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden of Eden hoping to figure it out in their own strength.  

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be turned into a burden.” 
-Corrie Ten Boom

My greatest fault with fear is that I don't take even the smallest worries captive and turn them into prayers to the Lord.  I don't always renew my mind with scriptural promises instead I sit and stew which only flames the fear fire. Corrie Ten Boom is correct, if I am worried then I need to pray.  The road might be difficult at first so I need to earnestly ask God for discernment and His help to recognize truth from lies.  Satan is smarter than us (not as smart as God - PTL) and he will use our weakness to drive a wedge and send us running from God.  Fear can be a foothold in our lives.

Think on this...

"I am not okay if_____________"  
(My friend Sarah shared this exercise with me and it has proved good for my soul.)

When we hold on to these ideas, God doesn't have all of us.  Our hearts are full and not in a good way.  He can't help us fully if we don't give fully and be honest to Him.

So as you crumple up your paper with "I am not okay if...." and toss it away so there is room in your heart for God to move.  When we stop hiding from Him, he wraps his arms around us and says…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” 
Proverbs 3:5-6

Come all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.
Isaiah 41:10

We have every reason to fear in this messed up fallen world but God has overcome it and He can help us overcome this too.  I was never so glad this summer to relinquish control to Him as he led me to medicine, once I let go of "I will not be okay if I can't fix this on my own" and "I will not be okay if I have to take medicine" he could get to work at helping me.  What "I will not be okay if's" do you need to let go of so God can help you overcome in your life?  God is a loving Father, there is not a day that we have that does not pass by Him first and He has our best interests in mind. Don't let fear hold you captive, let God's love instead!


Just a little lamp update...

Friday, November 8, 2013
I have been on a blogging roll.  I am just doing a little high five, shoulder pat!  Anyway, now that my medicine has kicked in and I am not napping regularly I have a little more time in my day (Praise God for feeling better - more on that in another post!).  I have never been satisfied with the state of our office/playroom.  It felt like a mishmash and it took me rearranging a million and one times to get it where I like it today!  I mean I have a huge yellow house in there so it was not going to be this elegant masterpiece but I knew it could have "some style".  I made a lamp for Vera's room and it ended up being two big so a few coats of navy spray paint later and I had myself a new lamp...this was the lamp I got at Goodwill for $4.  I picked up a drum shade on sale at Target for about $10 and I had myself an almost perfect lamp for $14 (and some change with the spray paint).  
But the lamp shade was just not doing it for me, I didn't want a pattern because I have pretty bold patterned curtains but it needed texture so one evening in a blaze of "aha" I found some twine and got to hot gluing...

And it went from this...
To this...
And here is my expedit shelf serving as a console table and a little adult-ish in a toy filled room.  All those baskets hold toys :)....
Oh and my little bird was a Salvation Army find for a quarter - he just got some spray paint and he was as good as new!  I have another little surprise just waiting to be hung by my super awesome hubby this weekend (he doesn't know that yet ;).  And the mirror will find another new home....that poor mirror is going to get a complex.  It has had several homes but nothing permanent.

Most likely the last biking adventure of the season...

Thursday, November 7, 2013
We spent the last nice weekend packing up for the winter, cleaning up the garage, sorting a few things that had yet to be done from the move and preparing for winter.  Before we put up the bikes for the year we wanted to check one more thing off of our summer bucket list even though it was fall so we hopped on our bikes and off we went to Hawkeye Park to feed the ducks.
Enjoying a nice fall evening as a family :)
Vera was mostly interested in observing... 
(and yes she is wearing PJ's - she is 2, so you can imagine how that went down!)
Solon, however, was very careful to make sure all ducks were fed, that they shared and that he talked to them sweetly as he fed them.  Scott told him what the males and females each looked like so then he referred to the females as "ladies".  "Here ladies, come get your yummy bread."  Those ducks are well-fed, I think they will survive their migration south and hopefully they find another pond where people feed them, I am not sure they know how to feed themselves :).

After feeding the ducks, we headed over to the school I used to teach at.  Solon had wanted to try out this playground forever.  It was fun to watch my kiddos play where I used to watch so many other kiddos play...

They loved it.  It has lots and lots of fun slides, a little bridge and other fun things. They were in heaven. If the sun wasn't setting so early these days, we would have stayed a lot longer!  The kiddos are playing more and more together and enjoying make believing together.  It is fun to listen to their little conversations.


On the way home they had my phone and I had about 15 photos of their shoes.  Solon is really into taking photos with my phone...had to include one because it made me laugh!
We love where we live now as we can get to so many parks and places by bike path.  We didn't have that luxury on the other part of town.  We hope to have some more adventures next summer and by then we can work on Solon's leg strength and he can pedal along!

Tumble Tots...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
As part of my mass parks n'rec sign up, I signed up Solon for tumble tots under the recommendation it was a good way for them to learn balance and flexibility and see if they were interested in this type of class.  It is run by some young ladies who don't have a lot of passion but Solon absolutely loves it so that is all that matters.  We actually asked for tumbling lessons for Christmas.  Solon asked Santa for a tumbling mat and balance beam too, we will see if he can come through :)!
The class is 45 minutes long and there are about 10 4 year olds (both boys and girls evenly split).  They spend time skipping with each leg leading, doing somersaults, jumping, bouncing on the trampoline, walking the balance beam, and other tumbling type moves.  Solon eats it all up.  The 45 minutes really does go fast.  Vera wishes she could join and every once in a while will sneak into the line up :).
They always spend time stretching...

It is fun to watch him obey and listen intently to the teacher and try his best.  He is totally a first born rule follower :)!  He has a few more weeks.  We are still getting use to having a week night commitment so we forgot last week.  Scott and I felt awful and Solon was not ready to forgive us.

Visitors...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
We LOVE having guests and in the fall we get lots!  My grandparents called one day and said they would like to come the next day to take us out for lunch and to gives us a bunch of meat from their overflow.  YES PLEASE!  We hadn't seen them in what seemed like a long time (just a couple of months really) so we were all excited to catch up.  My kiddos know that when they come we always go to El Charro for mexican.  The extra lucky part about their impromptu lunch date was that Ellen, my sister, happened to be coming to town to spend some time with us while she was on fall break.  So we all got to spend some quality time together.  I love living nearby my grandparents, I can't say enough how blessed I am to have them in my life.
My Grandma always brings a baggie of pennies and after lunch they all go feed the fish some money.  It is a highlight for my kiddos (and I think my grandparents too).  She seriously brings like 50 pennies - so sweet!  After lunch they always head back to Cedar Rapids!

Ellen stuck around for a few days to play with us!
So the next morning we bundled up (right Ellen?) and headed out to the orchard.  We had a lot of fun feeding the coats, jumping on the jumping pillow, sliding down the slide, riding the hay ride, playing in the corn pool and eating yummy snacks (thanks to Auntie Ellen!).


After we tuckered the kiddos out we had a car picnic on the way home and I picked up our babysitter so we could have some sister time.  We went and got our nails done (my first time getting a gel manicure), got coffee (avoided the bees ;), and visited a few local boutiques before heading back to the troops.

We all decided Auntie Ellen needs to visit more often.  We have a guest room so there are no excuses we make people sleep in the basement now!

Driving Miss Daisy...

Monday, November 4, 2013
Vera refuses to even attempt driving her pink car.  She really prefers to be chauffeured.  I have been known to drive her if Solon is busy driving his tractor.  We are trying to squeeze in some Vitamin D before the long winter months ahead so we bundled up and headed outside for some driving time the other day.

The kiddos really like to play drive thru.  They are order from a distance and then drive down the sidewalk to pick up their drive thru order.  It cracks me up to hear how realistic and familiar their orders are :).
Towards the end Vera decided her baby needed to take a ride.  Safety first (kind of).  baby was secure in her seatbelt in the seat but not sure the proper restraints were in place in the convertible :).  I will say Solon is a seasoned and excellent driver and the roadways were pretty quiet!

I always wanted one of those cars as a kid....so that may be why I hop in from time to time.  Imagine what my neighbors must think...

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