Not because…

Friday, March 30, 2012 10 Comments A+ a-

Not because…
… I think we have it all figured out.
… I’m trying to come across as prideful.
… I want to make anyone feel bad.
… I’m trying to say that our marriage is perfect.
… we have all the answers.

But because…
… after 10 years of marriage, we recognize the hills and valleys.
… after one of the longest valleys to date, we’re enjoying our current mountain.
… after 14 years, I never expected to have the butterflies again.
… he is still my best friend.
… his eyes and smile are still my favorite features.
… we wanted to celebrate his 31st birthday (15 years of celebrations together) in style.

A new favorite photo of the two of us.Lightbox_1333075177149 - Sophia

P.S.  I’m enjoying the view from the top of this mountain.

Wordless Wednesday *

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 4 Comments A+ a-

 
* alternately titled Anatomy of a Tickle.

Monday Morning Mish-Mash

Monday, March 26, 2012 8 Comments A+ a-

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter M.  And a very sleep-deprived, foggy mind.  So bear with me through the randomness.

I’ve talked about my cousins on this blog before.  The best post to describe our relationship is this one.  Most don’t know their cousins from Adam, but its just not the case with us.  We were raised more like siblings than cousins and I never lacked for a brother relationship growing up, because I had them.  So that’s why when Daniel started bringing Olivia around, it made me happy.  I adore her, and just knew she was going to be the one.  And she said yes a few weeks ago. 

Daniel and OliviaThey’re planning a whirlwind of a wedding and will be saying their “I dos” within the next four months.  I’m very aware that the bride and her family tend to take center stage during the wedding planning process.  (We’ve done this four times in our family!)  So I wasn’t sure if we would get to have a part in this special time.  And I was more than ok with that!  This is their time and I was here to help if needed, I certainly didn’t want to step on any toes.  After all, emotions run a little high while planning a wedding so I decided to sit back and enjoy the ride, offering any advice IF asked, and otherwise play the quiet, supportive role.

Imagine my surprise, and delight, as I was asked to help with Save the Date cards.  Seriously.  I may have squealed.  It was such an honor to be entrusted with that piece and I was more than happy to help.  And then as we finished up that project, Daniel and Olivia surprised us again by asking our Littles to serve as their ring bearer and flower girls.  Nothing could have floored me more, and without hesitation, we agreed.  This will be Devyn and Hudson’s 5th trip down the aisle serving in that capacity, so they’re becoming quite the experts in these roles.  And Reagan’s third time.  P.S. They don’t know about this yet as the bride and groom want to ask them in person on Easter Sunday.  So if you see them between now and then, mum’s the word.

And Olivia and Daniel, thank you!  You have NO idea how much it means to us to be included.  We’re so very excited for you both and know you’re going to rock the marriage thing!

DevynPaigeSpeaking of Miss Devyn Paige.  The girl is growing up, there’s not a doubt in anyone’s mind.  Her legs seem to go on forever, and she’s growing out of her pants faster than we can buy them.  The other morning I looked over and my heart skipped a beat as I realized how fast this time is going.  She looks closer to age ten than seven, and what a beauty she is growing into.  I’m just in awe of this girl!

We’ve reached a new stage with our Devyn.  It is fast becoming apparent that she is starting to be too old for some of the activities that she once loved.  During a recent visit to The Children’s Museum, there were several times I looked over to find her bored and preferring to stand with me while watching the younger ones enjoying themselves.  I’m unsure if this is how she really feels, or if she thinks this is how she’s supposed to be feeling.  I’m sure it’s a little of both.  Regardless, this mama’s heart is breaking over the maturing process.  And entirely unsure of how to handle this next phase of growing up.

HungerGamesOn Saturday, my childhood friend, Annie, and I got a rare, much needed date alone.  With Jon’s permission, we escaped to the movie theater and saw The Hunger Games.  To say that I loved this movie would be an understatement.  In my experience, book to movie adaptations are rarely good.  In fact, often times, I find myself cringing through the entire thing.  That is not the case with The Hunger Games.  The casting… perfect!  The acting… really good!  The storyline… pretty close to accurate!  All in all, we left very pleased!  And Annie and I even rewrote the ending to the trilogy on our way home.  We like our version better.

ChurchesLast week Jon and I sent off an email that was extremely hard to write.  And while I felt peace once I hit send, there was also a sense of sadness.  After 14 years at our church, the one in which we met, started our relationship and our family, we have decided its time to find a new home church closer to home.

Every week we traveled 30-40 minutes, each way, to our church because it was home.  Jon and I had ventured out in search of a church in our early twenties but returned to that church because nothing felt like home.  Its been a long way to travel but we’ve made it work over the years, even if it did hinder how involved we were with small groups and children’s programs. 

But within the past year, it was laid on our hearts that perhaps we needed to search for something closer.  We’ve prayed, we’ve discussed, and recently I realized that at Devyn’s age, I had already met one of my childhood friends, Kamma, who was with me through the tumultuous junior high and high school years.  And we realized how important those friendships are, there when foundations are built on faith and values, friendships to carry you through the doubts, insecurities, and temptations.  We want those friendships for our Littles, but they’re hard to cultivate when you live two cities over.  Not to mention that youth group activities will be starting soon and add one or two mid-week trips, and we saw both time and gas being siphoned away.

So we bid adieu to an amazing church family, great memories, to faith building and commissioning, to sermons both encouraging and convicting.  It will always hold a special place in our hearts!  And we now look ahead to a new journey.  One where we could desperately use your prayers as we find a new church home.  Pray that we’ll be the place where our Littles will prosper, where we’ll continue to grow in our marriage and as a family, where we could be used.  I’m nervous and scared.  I’m not a big fan of change, and this one is monumental.

JonDavidAnd last, but certainly not least, a very special Happy Birthday to my man!  He celebrates 31 years today!  This is our 15th birthday celebration together and I’m not exaggerating when I say each year is better than the last.  Jonathan David, I am so very thankful for you!  You are an amazing father and husband, you are an incredible best friend, and I can’t possibly put into words how much I admire you.  I love being on this journey with you!  I have big hopes for this coming year; I know its going to be one of our best! 

Presenting: My Other Half

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 13 Comments A+ a-

So, we did it.  Our first vlog.  He swears its his last, but I’m totally going to get him to do this again.  It only took 2 takes and some of it is barely audible, but we had a good time.  That man makes me happy!  Which I believe is one of the requirements for Mandy’s Stop and Smell the Roses vlogging meme.

We hope you’re entertained as well!

I’ve been here before.

Monday, March 19, 2012 3 Comments A+ a-

Its those moments when I swear I’ve been here before.  That sense of déjà vu, when I stop where I’m standing and flip through my memories trying to figure out why I’m certain this moment has already happened.  This has happened over and over again, all week long.

Case Point #1
On Wednesday of this past week, we ventured out and met some friends in Denver.  It was the first time in almost a week that Devyn’s cough had moved from “who is that mother that brings her kid’s germs around my babies” to a somewhat passable “obviously its just a cough and she’s not contagious” sound.  It was a great way to start Spring Break.

So we started at the Children’s Museum, enjoyed a picnic lunch, then moved further south where we ended up at Parks Meadows mall.  The first stop of our window shopping involved a stop into this store, where Reagan and Devyn’s eyes opened wide in amazement at display after display of dolls.  Where Aunt Alli, Uncle Brian, and I also exchanged wide eyed looks… over prices.  ($20 for a braid?!  On a doll?!  Really?)

Now I’m not about to spend that kind of money on a doll when the books have never been read.  I LOVED these books as children and desperately wanted my own American Girl doll.  And I’m sure Devyn will one day find her own doll under the Christmas tree or as a birthday gift, but only if she loves the books.  The books are half of the fun!  So we looked over the girls’ stories and when Devyn made her choice, we added Book #1 and #2 of Felicity to our book collection.

417095_10151413903745193_754505192_23463307_1626554833_nAnd when I came across this on Friday, I couldn’t help but smile.  This was me.  All the time!  I could be found cuddled up in some corner or chair, oblivious to the world around me as I devoured whatever book was in my hand.  I can’t begin to tell you how happy this makes me, watching my girl fall in love with the same books I loved as a girl.

Case Point #2
Growing up, my mom would create these special evenings that we started calling “Surprise Nights.”  She would get all four of us girls ready and loaded into the car, telling Dad to turn right here or left there, until we arrived at the first destination (or the first surprise) of the night.  From there, we would move to surprise #2, then on to surprise #3.

423694_10151397557715193_754505192_23400294_1214255991_nUsually “Surprise Nights” would entail a dinner/meal of some kind, a fun family activity like putt-putt golf or a movie, and the night would end at our local ice cream parlor.  Sometimes the nights were a little more extravagant like the times she’d take us to a dinner playhouse or the circus or one time, a Broadway play.  Even my dad, who hates surprises, would get into the night and we’d all have a blast.

On Thursday of Spring Break, Jon and I pulled into the parking lot of the theater close to the house I grew up in.  As I stepped onto the asphalt, I paused.  This was familiar to me.  So familiar in fact, that I was instantly transported in time, to the times our “Surprise Nights” would include a new movie at that same theater. 

And now here I was, years later, with my own family of six.  At the same theater.  Enjoying the latest kid movie with Littles of my own.

Case Point #3
Then tonight…  Jon and I were driving home from couples group, chatting about our friends, the study, the new studies coming, and I was suddenly struck by a strong sense of déjà vu.

14 years ago, we were also sitting in a car discussing our friends and bible study on Sunday nights after OFG, our high school youth group bible study.  14 years ago, our fingers were interlocked over the gear shift as Jon drove me back to the church parking lot to pick up my car.  14 years ago I had fallen hard over the tall, lanky boy with the beautiful eyes and great smile.

And now we’re doing it all over again.  Fingers still interlocked over the gear shift.

I love when life comes full circle like this!

Whoa Nelly!

Friday, March 16, 2012 1 Comments A+ a-

Son, we need to have a chat.  While I realize that you idolize your father and want nothing more than to be just like him, I can’t help but think that this growing up thing is incredibly overrated.  And while I know the growing up is inevitable, do you think we could just slow it down just a tad?  The following statements, while funny, are simply daggers to your mother’s heart. 

“Grandma!  Do you see that my beard is growing in?!” Said while stroking your sideburns and chin.

 

“Mama,” as you flexed your biceps. “Do you see my muscles?! Do you know why they’re growing?” Pause as you puffed up your chest. “Because I’m a growing man.”

 

“Mama?” you asked, as you pointed to your chest.  “What are are these?  The man parts, not the girls parts.” As I explained what pecs were, you kept peering down the front of your shirt and asked “When do you think my pecs will grow?”

 

As I finished tying your shoes, you pulled up the legs of your jeans and asked me, “Do you see it?  The hair on my legs is getting darker and longer!”

HudsonI’m not sure what’s changed in the past few months, but there has been a definite transition from preschooler to little boy.  Maybe its because you’re enjoying school so much, or it’s the magical age of five (which you are more than excited to tell everyone you know, and some you don’t know, that you’re five now) but you’re more than a little excited about growing up.  A little too much for this mama’s heart.

But between you and me, I’m so very glad that you’re not too old to cuddle.  Because as much as you want to be just like daddy, you still love crawling into my lap and stroking my hair.  I’m soaking it in while I can, Buddy, because at this rate, I don’t know how much longer those moments will continue.

Can we slow it down?  Just a little?

It took this…

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 8 Comments A+ a-

Lightbox_1331782649552

…to bribe my husband into joining me for next week’s “Stop and Smell the Roses” vlog.  I mean, he makes me happy and I love him (most of the time).  And he’s featured so rarely in this place.  I’ve been doing this blogging thing for almost seven years now and he’s yet to make an appearance by vlog or guest post during that whole time.

Most everyone that reads this little ol’ blog of mine has the pleasure (or curse depending on how you look at it) of knowing my husband in real life.  And those that do, know this is HUGE for Jon.  So much so, that he’s sworn he’s drinking a beer or two before we record it. Ha!  (I wish I were kidding.)

So I’m opening up comments (yes, even anonymous comments) so we can get some topic ideas.  Who knows if there’s anyone that even wants to hear us dialogue for four minutes?!  But hey, maybe y’all will have some good ideas.  Topics? Questions?

Oh dear.  I don’t think Jon knows quite what he’s gotten himself into. You definitely need to stay tuned next week.  At the very least, you’ll get a good laugh.

Rumour Has It

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 11 Comments A+ a-

So one of my roommates at Blissdom was the lovely Mandy from House of Rose.  (Side note.  All of my roommates were incredible women and I really lucked out, seeing as how I didn’t “know” any of them before the trip.)  Anyway, back to Mandy.

She just recently started a weekly vlogging meme over at her site and I’ve been coerced into doing one.  Mandy even did a great Blissdom vlog with lots of other ladies participating and when I say avoided it like the plague, that’s an understatement.  We’re supposed to talk about something we love, or makes us happy.  Hence the title of her meme, Stop and Smell the Roses.Stop and Smell the Roses

Well, that’s what Reagan and I attempted to do here, I tried to capture my Reagan singing along to Adele’s “Rumour Has It” but I think we failed miserably. 

Here’s what you won’t see in this vlog:

  • One single coherent sentence.
  • An intelligible explanation of what we’re doing.
  • Anything intelligible at all.
  • My normal hair and makeup.  I’ll completely own the t-shirt and jeans, but I rarely put on makeup or do my hair (aside from the typical ponytail) on the days that I’m home. (Just keeping it real, folks.)

Here’s what you will see in the vlog:

  • Reagan lip-synching.  Not really.  She REALLY is singing in her chipmunky-type voice but you can’t hear her over Adele. Sad.
  • Yours truly waving the older Littles away when they attempt to interrupt our video.
  • Reagan hitting her stride at the end of the video.  You’ll see just a small glimpse of the sassiness that is our Reagan.  No one messes with her, especially the brother.

So without further ado… My first “Stop and Smell the Roses” vlog.

What We’ve Been Up To

Saturday, March 10, 2012 9 Comments A+ a-

I’ve been wanting to update the girls room for quite some time now.  Not only has Reagan outgrown her toddler bed, but we needed the mattress for Ashlynn’s crib, who up until these past couple of days has been sleeping in a pack ‘n play.  (What can I say? I’m cheap. I didn’t see the point in purchasing a 2nd crib mattress for a few months.)  And I really just wanted to create a new haven for the girls, a place to call their own.

Now currently Devyn and Reagan are sharing a room, and Ashlynn is bunking with Hudson.  Once we finish the basement (within the next two years), we’ll move Hudson to his own bedroom and bathroom downstairs.  We figure that as he gets older, he’s going to need his own space.  Away from the three sisters.  At which point, we’ll move Devyn into Hudson’s room, and move Ashlynn in with Reagan.  Confused yet?  It’ll be a massive project, and I already have a headache thinking about it.  (Side story.  During this most recent makeover, I asked Hudson if he’d like us to move Ashlynn in with the girls.  His response was a resounding “Noooooo!” What can I say? He adores that girl.)

So back to the room… 

I started researching bunk beds and preparing the girls for the upcoming changes.  And when our tax refund hit our bank account, I finally had the money to fund my vision for their room.  I think we succeeded.

Bedroom14This was taken from the hallway, just glancing into their room.  There were squeals of delight and hugs galore when we finally unveiled it to the girls.  Reagan runs up to me four or five times a day, throws her arms around my legs, and tells me, “Mama, I just love my room.”  That makes it completely worth it to me.

BedroomCollage1BedroomCollage2BedroomCollage4

Now pay no attention to the nightstand in the corner.  Its seen better days and we’re planning to refinish it…  We purchased almost everything from either Target, morebunkbeds.com, Ikea, or Hobby Lobby.

I can now check off one item off our to-do list.  There’s only 74 more items left on the list.  Spring cleaning has arrived in full force and while our list is daunting, I’m determined to tackle it one thing at a time.

Hinge Moments

Friday, March 02, 2012 5 Comments A+ a-

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of my trip was getting to hear Jon Acuff as the opening keynote speaker.  I left his speech feeling both inspired and emotionally drained.  He made us laugh, he made us sit a little taller as he called us the pioneers of the social media frontier, and then he broke each of us as he challenged us to find the correct balance in this crazy life of blogging.  Then he shared this story…  Needless to say, there wasn’t a mother in the room that didn’t cringe as we could all relate with stories of our own.

I could talk about balance and how much that part of his keynote meant to me.  But I won’t.  Simply because others have already written about it.  And far more eloquently than I could.  Just know that its marinating in my soul, and a week later, I’ve yet to figure out what to do with those convictions.  And its obviously on the minds of women across the blogging/social media spectrum because women everywhere are posting these same thoughts, even those who didn’t attend Blissdom.

So instead I’ll encourage you to read those posts and I’ll focus on the other part of his speech that spoke to me. 

Hinge Moments.

HingesThose moments when you feel a proverbial shift in your soul and you know your life has changed direction.  Those moments when you knew you were headed in one direction, then a hinge moment happened and you’re suddenly facing a different path.

My whole life seems to be a hinge moment waiting to happen… 

Hinge Moment #1 – Sitting in the financial office of the college with my mom and a financial counselor.  We’d spent all weekend on campus for freshman orientation.  I’d met my roommate, registered for classes, and was daydreaming about walking across the campus in a matter of weeks, when I was told that I didn’t have the finances to attend their school.  It was devastating.  And a complete 180-degree change to my plans. 

I ended up attending our local community college, and a year later was working for our local government in Human Resources.  A far cry from being a successful journalist living in a big city, a dream that I’d envisioned for myself for as long as I could remember.  But this is where I’m certain that God saved me from myself.

Hinge Moment #2 – My family was on a path to nowhere good when my sister, Allison, was diagnosed with anorexia.  And suddenly it was fight or flight moment.  Within a matter of months, our family had a renewed determination to heal and restore our family.  Our family is stronger now than it ever was, but I assure you, had that hinge moment not happened, I shudder to think of what would have happened.  Her anorexia really became a blessing in disguise.

Hinge Moment #3 – Hitting publish on my very first post over at Munchkin Land Designs.  It was only with the encouragement of those close to me did I ever dream that others would want me to create for them.  I can’t begin to describe the utter fear as I went public with this dream of mine and how I sat with bated breath for my first order.

Which in turn led to….

Hinge Moment #4 – I’d been working in Human Resources for 10+ years.  I had worked full-time and part-time as a working mother.  Jon and I really didn’t feel as though we had a choice, and my heart was constantly in conflict with my head.  Then in February and March of 2010, we started realizing that a chess game was being played and with each move, a new path for our family was becoming clear.  After 10 and a half years of working with some amazing people, I quit my job to stay home. 

This is one of the things I love about God and life.  Just when you think you have it figured out and you know exactly what you’re doing… hinge moment.  It keeps life interesting.