Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gratitude is one of life's great antidotes!


 

I was sitting in the parking lot just putting the car into gear after a sweet shopping trip with my 3 year-old mini me (that is something to be greatful for ;).  My heart was happy and full.  Nothing extreme happened.  It just hit me, there sitting in the parking lot, how extremely blessed I was to be home doing what I love to do.   My heart was full of gratitude and there nearly choked up, I thanked God for all I do have.

Lately, it seems God is pouring into me the notion of true gratitude.  I am stopping to see more of my life.  Fully breathe in the scenes playing out before me.  The simple things that I so often take for granted.  He is helping me to see how full my life is. And when I focus on gratitude, the rest just kind of falls away from my mind.

I have always been a person to map out what's next, look down the road and plan.  But my plans have not been his plans lately and I have spent a lot of time re-mapping.  Maybe it took me to get to "this" place to realize the "next thing" is NOT going to satisfy me.  To realize my satisfaction is eternal and understand maybe I have never reached the point of being content and satisfied.

Giving credit where credit belongs.  You will never be satisfied otherwise.   
-Matt Chandler (from To Live is Christ.  To Die is Gain)

To ponder who He is, how vast His authority and somehow I am worthy to be called His.

Gratitude is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. - Matt Chandler

Normally for the last 8 months this day (the day that I get my time of the month), brings great frustration, fear and sadness but today remarkably by the grace and sweet love of God, I am filled with peace....

And for that I have great gratitude...

And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior."
Luke is 1:46-47



He isn't finished with me yet...Gratitude abounds.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

August is a Birthday Month...


Apparently August is a popular birthday month - it starts with Solon, then Scott's Dad (Dale), followed by me, my dad and then Emilie.  Throw my parents anniversary in there and back to school and as I mom use to say, you have yourself the most expensive month of year besides December :).  Besides the expense, comes a lot of fun and fanfare!  Birthdays for us moms are fun but a bit anti-climatic compared to the weeks upon weeks of celebration we provide our kids.  We go through a whole box of candles per child per year.

Justin texted a week before Emilie's birthday and wanted to surprise her with a meal out at her favorite restaurant, PJ Changs, and wanted us to surprise her by coming as well.  It was so fun, we were able to sit outside, the kids entertained each other and we laughed the night away.  It was so fun and we were so glad we could share in Emilie's special day.  She has been a true gift during a very difficult season of life!  We can't wait to meet the littlest "M" in just a few short weeks. 

Our couples courtesy of a much shorter photographer :)
My hunny and me!

The kids huddling to come up with their game plan...

Best buds...

Apparently the cold winter months bring lots of August babies and lots of fun celebrations!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A trip to the zoo...

Between preschool and other obligations, we let our season passes expire but a bonus to the summer reading program was two free kids admissions so we took the opportunity to go one more time before school began (but after public school started).  It was a beautiful day and fairly quiet!  The kids pretty much go for the train, the big play area and carousel mixed in with a few of their favorite animals and a fun picnic lunch watching the train pass by!
Solon chose to ride backwards in the caboose of the train...

Driving the jeep in the tiger exhibit...

The lions were fun to watch and kind of on and off awake the day we were there.  We were told lions sleep up to 20 hours a day which explains why most of the time they are snoozing when we visit.

We ventured over to the butterfly area...


And of course rode bunny and dragon on the carousel...

The giraffes weren't out due to the heavy rains, apparently they don't like slippery areas and the rain scares them?!?!  We did see the rhino out and walking about which was a new experience and of course the sea lion and seal exhibit is always fun too.

We had lunch and played hard before Vera fell fast asleep on the way home.  She does not transfer well so if I want her to sleep, I hang out and read blogs,etc in the front seat while she snoozes in the back, parked in our driveway.  It never fails, she falls asleep about 15 minutes from home and so I try to hang out for at least 30 minutes so she gets a decent nap in.  We can't let her sleep too long these days or she parties late into the night these days!!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Last Trip to the lake and we took friends...

My parents had a couple of family weddings this year and so there were 2 open lake weekends that they offered up to us for our use!  The first weekend we took Scott's sister's family and then this last time we took our good friends, The Porter's.  They go to Lake Okoboji on summer vacation so we knew they were vetted lake people!  Off we went on a weekend in August, boys in one car and girls in the other.  We stopped midway for dinner before arriving and playing before turning in for the evening.
Dinner break...

The next morning everyone got up early and despite the cloudy skies, the weather and water were warm and the kiddos were excited to test out all the toys!
The adults played and also enjoyed lounging while the kiddos hopped from the "heated pool" as Max referred to it (aka hot tub) to playing in the water, playing golf and whatever their heart desired.
The girls played in the sand for the majority of the weekend and loved it.
The boys built a tube house...
...and my mom even left a birthday cake to celebrate with!  How special!
We stayed up too late after the kids went to bed sitting on the porch by the fire and chatting...
The boys in the heated pool...
And my parents arrived home from the wedding before we left so we could spend time with them too!

It was a relaxing, no make-up, comfy clothes, lots of coffee and relaxation kind of weekend.  It was so much fun to share it with good friends!  And another lake season is in the books, we look forward to it all year and it is gone in a flash. Thank goodness for awesome memories that carry us through the year!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Solon's BirthDAY...

We had a great day celebrating August 7th, the day Solon came into this world :).
Grandma came down for the event and when we got up in the morning, he was greeted with presents at the table and a big surprise in the basement (a fb swap score for $50), a bounce house!
The kids loved testing out while grandma photo bombed!

The big 5 year old and his gifts!

An ISU helmet from grandma and grandpa!

A birthday doughnut!

Kiddos get to pick where they eat on their birthday and Solon chose Jethro's, he loves their mac n'cheese and look at the complimentary dessert - it was enough to share!

Then that afternoon, we headed with grandma to see Planes 2 on the big screen complete with all sorts of yummy treats...they have Grandma twisted around their finger!  We had so much we didn't need dinner!

It was a great day filled with lots of fun and I think Solon felt pretty awesome all day long!  We love to celebrate around here!!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

End of Summer...

We had an awesome summer (as evidenced by my lack of blogging).  We played outside A LOT, with friends A LOT, swam A LOT and made lots and lots of memories.  Summers are jam-packed full and we try to soak up as much vitamin D as humanly possible to carry us through the chillier months.  The pictures below display all the fun!  I have a post to write about our neigbhorhood one of these days but we hit the jackpot...I find it so interesting that the only thing we all have in common when we meet is that our houses are in close proximity and then we start doing life together and they see me in my bedhead state more days then I care to admit.  We love our neighbors!
Emma our sweet neighbor and V...on a daily play date in the front yard.

Maleah and V...sweet friends, we spend a lot of time together :)

Max and Solon...

The cornfield is so intriguing, we have had to set up some parameters as they could get lost easily :(...the cornfield produces lots of "live" things to catch!

Equal amounts of lazy mornings to busy afternoons this summer....Vera loves to play mommy.

We got our annual swim passes again this summer and enjoyed visiting often. We even snuck in a few dinner picnics and Daddy joined us after work :).


Library time...



These two can be the best of buds and come up with the craziest things to do.  They also can get on each other, such is life with siblings.  Their love is so sweet for one another, it melts this mommy heart.

We snuck in a few late summer activities to check off the last few summer bucket list items, before fall takes over for good, I need to blog about our last lake trip, the zoo, and drive-in movie and of course the start of ISU football!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Back to School & Routine...

After labor day, School started for us again and back to a routine we went.  I was thankful for our longer summer that will be cut much shorter next year when we follow the public school schedule.  I need a paper bag to breathe into at the thought.  We are not morning people around here so getting to school by 7:50 (albeit it is just down the street), is going to be a real stretch.  So as God tells us, let's not lets not worry about tomorrow's stuff today!

Solon is in pre-k!  Thank goodness for my later summer birthdays, I get to sneak in one extra year at home with my kiddos!  Solon goes 3 mornings a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and school is from 9-11:30am.  He is surrounded by 2 of his 3 teachers from last year and a vast majority of the kids returned as well.  It is a wonderful program filled with equal parts play, movement and structured activity.  Solon is often tuckered out after just 2.5 hours and needs a little downtime to decompress.  We are thankful we know many of the families and his bestie Max happens to be in his class.  It will be a sad day when they go to different elementary schools :(!

5 and Looking so grown up!

Sweet sibling love

Daddy and our Pre-K Stud

Mommy and her sweet love..l

A close up shot of his styled hair and duds!


...and they are off with their sweet teacher Mrs. R

We are still settling into our new routine between running to school three mornings a week, bible study another morning, we are only left with one lazy morning home - Thursdays!  Boy we need it too.  We all sleep in, laze around the house, wear our pjs until we don't, and get caught up on a whole lot of nothing.  It's a welcome treat to finish out our week strong.  Luckily, our public school offers late start Wednesdays, I have heard it is a nice break from early mornings.  I think it will be a peace of heaven mid-week next year.

My kids just feel so "big" these days.  I just texted a friend, I miss Solon a lot these days.  He is growing up and wants to play with the neighbors and the last few days the weather has been perfect so he has spent the majority of his day outside until supper time with his buds playing football, digging in the dirt and riding scooters.  Today I am stealing him away to spend time with him and Vera alone...

Solon also started Awana this year at church and we have been working on hiding scripture into his heart.  We went back and forth in this new season of what to schedule and what not to.  Spent a lot of time in prayer and are still negotiating some activities around in our head.  Awana was a great platform and accountability to teach Solon biblical principles and work as a family at doing a daily devotional.  We all have enjoyed learning about sin and learning our first memory verse Romans 3:23 "All have sinned..."

I think the further we get into our new routine, the more we will get use to it.  I am trying to grocery shop on Sundays after church and prep for our week so we are ready to go and hit Monday running!  It's a new season and one thing I know about myself, change is hard for me at first but once we get going, it ends up being fine - so we are issuing some grace in the interim!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Due Date...

I have been dictating this post in my mind for the last few days as I process my thoughts.  I have sat down to compose it on a few occasions and I get busy.  As I watch the cursor blink, I am not sure exactly what to type.  This is a season of life, I have to remember that.

So how are you?  Today was our due date...never in a million years did I think I would be here not pregnant.  I have grieved the loss of our child.  It's not that, that I am feeling today.  I am stuck.  I know it's a choice in my mind I am making, but if I am honest, this is where I am. I look around and everyone is pregnant or having babies and I ache for my turn.

But I am STUCK.

I go in waves.  Waves of complete trust and gratitude to my God.  Waves of despair, frustration.  I recently read a post by an acquaintance going through a difficult season in her marriage and she said she needed a sign that said, "Tread lightly, fragile heart inside."  I shouted amen in my heart as I read her post.  I have this overwhelming sensation of sensitivity.  I have always been an emotional soul but this season has heightened my awareness.  I am SO sensitive. About everything.

Things that normally I could brush off or let roll off my back, hurt me.  I need lots of hugs and human contact. I need reassurance that God's got this, I know it, but I need to hear it. I am a delicate, fragile soul.  I hate that I have to be handled with care, but I do.

This season, if you will, has been going on for so long (in my opinion) with no noteworthy change, I feel like a broken record when people ask how to pray.  I don't know, just pray, I say.

I have realized just how fragile and week I am in my own skin.  I am weak.  If it weren't for God, I would be in a puddle most days of self pity.  My thoughts often revolve around me, me, me.  And then the guilt creeps in that this is nothing to be pitied for.  A vicious cycle.  Days go so much better when I am in His word, crying out to Him in prayer and asking for the strength I need.  I need more of Him then I have ever needed in my whole life.  I have tried to look to friends and family and Scott to fill that pang of pain, and they help but I need more of God.  More of Him and less of "me".

He is teaching me, he is refining me and I can feel it. Uncomfortably feel it.   It is through the fire, we are refined.  Through the fire, we see our great need for Him and through the fire, that He can slip out of the cracks of our broken vessel.

We still pray every,single,day for more children.  Our children pray every.single.day for more siblings.  Our hearts still desperately yearn for more.  So we wait with expectant hope because that is what we are called to do.  He knows our heart.  He knows me by name and He doesn't delay.

I desperately want to move past this moment in time, but until that day comes, I pray people see God in us, in this time, and that we trust Him completely and be thankful.  There is so much to be thankful for.

But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  
2 Corinthians 12:9

Maybe you know someone going through a season of waiting and you feel helpless, how can you help...


  • Ask them how they are?  They won't tell you unless you ask and if they say "ok", ask again!
  • Tell them if you are pregnant, it hurts more when people keep it from you, we can be and are happy for you!
  • Give them a hug, they need to feel their Father's love through his people.
  • Send a note of encouragement, knowing someone sees you, goes a long way.
  • Pray for them.
  • Saying things like spice up the bedroom, be thankful for what you have (we are!), loosen up, gain weight, lose weight, stop running, don't eat that, don't stress or think about it are meant to be helpful but if you have ever been waiting, you try to not think about it, keep things "fun" and loosen up but at the end of the day, you can't help but think about it and are things always fun in your bedroom, I want to say :).
  • If you have been there and done that, share your story.  I have been so blessed by people who have shared their story with me.  Stories of waiting and hope and babies after months/years of waiting. 
  • And if you don't know what to say, a sweet smile is perfect.  Chances are, just knowing you care makes a world of difference!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Little Miss Vera is 3...

Wow!  Time travels so incredibly fast.  The old adage, "The days may be long but the years go by fast," often plays in my head.  As we are knee-deep in training years.

Vera is 3 and seems so grown-up lately.  I look at her and just take her all in. She holds her own around our house these days, chiming in on everything, and finding a moment to share her thinking.  Between Solon and her, there is always somebody telling us a story. :)  I love to hear what is on their little minds and what pops out of their mouth.  When she shares, you get a glimpse that she is a little sponge, taking in her surroundings and processing it.  Those little gears in her mind are just a going these days.

People say she is my "mini me" and I take that as such a compliment.  She is so beautiful with her beach blonde hair recently styled by my hair stylist into the sweetest little bob (now we really are twinkies).  She has the deepest blue eyes, long luscious eyelashes and the sweetest looks that could just melt your heart.  When she cries, she still makes the biggest, saddest tear drops that just beckon to be kissed away.

She is tender-hearted and fierce all at the same time.  Wants to keep up but sensitive when she gets hurt.  She plays so well independently and will play for hours with her tea set, dollies and in her yellow house.  She is a hoarder and if something goes missing, we normally look in her house first.  We are working on training her domestic side, specifically in home keeping (wink, wink!).

She is SO curious.  Her favorite question is "Why" to which I started replyling "I don't know Margo" (from the movie Christmas Vacation) which always gets a hearty giggle from V.  She is also into wiping my kisses away which has become a bedtime game.  I kiss her, she wipes it away and a tickling match breaks out - all followed by lots of sweet Vera giggles that make this mama's heart melt.

She has an opinion these days from her clothes to the pull-up she wears to the way you tuck her in.  She likes one blanket, layered upon the next and heaven help you if you don't do it right (it is so sweet, it's a battle I don't pick ;).

For her birthday, she was so excited to get matching clothes and jammies for her and bitty baby from her grandparents.  She loves to change babies clothes and is so motherly to her dollies.  They are all named "Baby" despite our best attempts to sway her. She often holds them on her hip (just like mommy does with her) and bobs them up and down.  I guess someone is watching their mama...

She often will put her hands on her hips and cross her legs and it is enough to put us over the edge.  She really is my mini me!  She is also so girly...I mean so girly.  Loves to do "make-up" with Aunt Ellen and got her own set of brushes, lip gloss, and mirror so she can get ready with mommy in the morning :).

She is totally #2 and I was feeling so guilty that she hadn't learned as much as Solon academically...but then all of a sudden she whipped out this week the ability to count to 12 and knows all of her shapes, colors and can recognize signs, places and names so I guess I haven't completely messed her up.  She loves to be read to and that is a part of our daily return before "rest time" and bed time.

She recently has been a turkey for those two times, often crying out for mommy and daddy and we have had to pour on the tough love. She is definitely showing her defiant side and we have been sharing her job is to obey...with repeated trips to time-outs, she seems to get it for a while and then a few weeks later we are back to training (it's just about the time I think, wow, we have a really good week ;) = keeps you humble!).

She is still petite.  Weighing in at a whopping 24 lbs (5th percentile - just barely on the charts) and 36 inches tall (40th percentile).  It now makes sense why even leggings fall off of her.  She needs 3t for height but even leggings need to be sewn in. That is not my mini-me, that is her father!!!  Our little string bean!  She still has teeny tiny feet, wearing a size 7.

She is the pickiest non-eater ever (hence her size).  She eats when she wants to and normally we force her to eat her years in food (3 bites of each item on your plate before you can leave the table) and some nights, she will sit there a LONG time.  When she is hungry, she eats though. Her favorites are snack-type foods.  Clif Z bars, goldfish, fruit snacks, gatorade, grapes, townhouse crackers, pita chips, chicken nuggets, and chocolate milk.

So there is our peanut. She lights up our life and is equal parts sugar and spice!  We love her to the moon and back and thank God for our sweet girly girl every day.  We snuggle her up when she will let us and love watching her blossom into the beautiful creation God made her to be.  Happy Birthday sweet Vera Ann.  We love you so much!!!!

Here is a look back at the last year...
Turning 2

Fall at the orchard


Playing with big brother

Spending time with Madelynne at Disney World


Playing with her favorite, Auntie Ellen

Checking out Santa at Macy's in NYC

The many silly moments of Vera...


The zoo...

Branson in March with Nana...

A nice April day to play with buddies...


Always keeping us on our toes...

Fishing at the lake...


Matching her dolly!

We love you Vera Ann, keep shining :)
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