Friday, December 28, 2012

Mobile This N That!

Check this out, people! I'm mobile!

(Of course, I'm sitting here in the spot from which I always blog, but if I WANTED to, I could be in the doctor's office waiting room!)

Little Lou wanted to help, so there she is in all her "I've been torturing brothers all morning" glory. :)

The awesome part? I don't have to wait for hours (and likely forget) to tell you my thoughts.  There you are, friends, wherever I go!

Wishing you all a beautiful December Friday!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Senseless. Tragic. Incomprehensible.


Watching my own 5 year old play with Play Doh at the kitchen table. 



 Praising God that he was safe at his school today. Remembering that the last words I said to him before he got out of the car for kindergarten this morning were, "See ya later, Pal! I love you!" and that the last words he said to me were, "I love you too, Mommy! I'll make you proud today!"

I'm feeling SO grateful that tonight I got to pick him up from school and hear his giggle. I can't imagine...CAN NOT IMAGINE...a world without that little guy.

Praying desperately for the mommies of those little ones who lost their lives today. 
 What a senseless tragedy.

 In their honor, I'm letting my own kids laugh just a little louder than normal, be a little more silly than normal, eat cookies before they finish their food. Why? Because some mommies aren't getting the chance to give their babies cookies tonight, or hear their laughter, or snuggle on the couch to watch movies. 

 My heart breaks for those mommies.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Life...it happens.

What happens is that every once in a while, life gets all life-y and I don't know for a minute or a month whether I'm coming or going or which way is up.  Sometimes life gets all full-filly and overwhelm-y and chaotic all in one big breath and if I stop and sit down for just one second I notice that it's all passed me by.  Occasionally I look around and suddenly notice that my house is an igloo built of laundry waiting to be folded and papers waiting to be graded, and I am simultaneously filled with dread and desire.  Life's like that.

Three months ago I was a stay-at-home mommy and I loved and hated every minute of it.  I needed those babies with everything in me, and I needed to, at least occasionally, talk to grown-ups.  It was delightful and devastating to start working in August, and amazingly blissful to change jobs in September to my "made to" job!  And if I'm going to be honest, I have to tell you that I love and hate every minute of it.

You see, I love love love what I do each and every day.  Love it.  My "day job" is amazing.  My day job puts a smile on my face and in my heart and renews that sense of purpose I'd been missing.  My day job puts me into the sphere of influence of 80 or so teenagers every day.  My day job lets me breathe a little bit of God-breath into them each and every day.  My day job rocks.  My day job is everything I have ever dreamed it would be, everything I have ever wanted.

Also, I hate what I do every day.  I wake my night-owl self up before 5 every morning.  I wake my night-owl toddler (and two early-bird school-agers) by 5:30 every morning, and we're out the door by 6:30.  I hand my toddler over to a daycare teacher (Nana, but still...) and go about my day, NOT being his Mama.  It hurts my mommy-heart every single day to take that little sweetie of a boy to daycare.  I spend my day NOT being the one to wipe his tears when he cries, NOT snuggling him at naptime, NOT being the one to wipe his bottom when he starts pooping in the potty.  It's hard being his mommy and also NOT being his mommy.  Very hard.  It's not just him, either.  We're back in the "Little Lou's sick; how are we going to juggle her today" routine.  We're in the "Bugsy's got to have surgery, how can we shift him throughout the day so we miss as little work as possible" routine.  We're in the "get home at 5, feed the kids dinner, check homework and put them to bed" routine.  We're in the fast-paced, never-a-spare-minute routine.  Sometimes it stinks.  

Working-mom is a hard job!  There's this amazing balance of who I am and who I am becoming and who I will be.  There's this brilliant mix of mommy and PERSON that is unexpected and real. 

There's this tiny voice that says to me every day, "Make your students proud, Mommy!" and makes me smile because I'm doing my best.  There's a bigger voice, one no one hears but me, that says, "Make your God proud, Elizabeth."  And so I try.  I try so very hard to do everything for His glory, all day every day.  

This life?  Sometimes it gets all life-y.  Sometimes it gets overwhelming.  Sometimes it gets to be a little too much.  But everyday?  Every day it's amazing.  Every day it's a challenge and a job and a duty to live for Him.  

Every day it's beautiful.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Becoming


Here I sit, in my school gym, watching the ebb and flow of parents.  It’s parent teacher conference day!  It’s my first time.  I dreaded it.  How terrifying to sit face to face with parents I've never met, discussing with them the progress of the students I have come to so dearly love.  What if I say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, hear the wrong thing, and ruin the budding relationships we’re forming?  What if I am not patient enough, not caring enough, not loving enough…or perhaps too patient…and somehow, single-handedly, ruin their entire education futures?  (Perhaps I over-think these things.)

Our conferences are student-led.  Parents and students come together and sit down with me at the table my table in the gym and we chit-chat about progress and behavior and life.  Students and parents alike are surprisingly transparent.  Amazingly, even.  This student-led idea is brilliant.  The students can’t hide…and neither can their parents.  There’s so much honestly flooding my table in the gym, it’s almost overwhelming at times.  My students are flourishing and struggling and sinking and swimming and growing and learning and becoming.

Becoming.  Wow.  Becoming: any change involving a realization of potentialities, as a movement from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality.  They’re doing that, and I have a teeny tiny bit of a hand in it.

It’s a privilege to be here, to be in their heads, to worm my way into their tender little lives, to make an impact.  It’s a pleasure, a joy, to watch the transformations materializing in the backbones of their tender lives.

As I sit here, I feel it happening, just a little bit—the becoming.  Unexpectedly, though, or perhaps expectedly, the becoming I’m noticing isn’t theirs.  It’s not that of my students or their parents or the world around me.  I feel it inside.  I notice, little by little, and sometimes in dynamic rushes, that while I’m doing my best to teach them, to train them, to get to them, they’re wiggling their way into my life and they’re changing me.

They are changing me.

I am learning, a bit more each day, who I am and what I am and why I am.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I am becoming.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What's on your face?



Friday, September 28, 2012

Tonight

I covet your prayers, friends.  Tonight I will take my "story" on the road.  This evening, in just over an hour, I'll be sharing a bit of my story with a bunch of women from my church (and the women they bring along) in an effort to encourage and empower them.  God is so good.  He's been so very good to me and my family.  I am praying my words will be His words tonight.  Please pray with me!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My awesome job

The other day I told you about my awesome new job at my kids' school.  What an amazing opportunity, even though it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for or dreaming of when I set out to find a job.  I love being in the building with my kids, checking in on Bugsy each day at lunch, working school hours...

And tomorrow is my last day.

All of our last day.

Monday I'm starting a new new job!  It was less than ideal, the way it all came about.  It was less than ideal, putting in my 2 week notice just 2 weeks into a new job.  Tomorrow will make the 1 month anniversary of my first day at work...and it'll be my last day at work.  

Monday I will put all my fears, all my worries aside, and step into a new classroom.

And this time, I'll be the teacher.  The real, honest to goodness teacher!  The English Teacher.  My dream.  My plan for ever and ever and ever, ever since I was in 1st grade and they asked me what I wanted to do.  

Wow.

I'm ready...and I'm SO not ready!

I can't wait...and I can.  

I can't wait to tell you all about this amazing new journey!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Riding bikes rocks!! (So does Schwinn.)

When I was a kid--13, 14, 15 years old--I rode my bike all the time.  I rode everywhere.  If I wanted to go to a friend's house, I rode my bike.  Dairy Queen?  A short (5 mile) bike ride away.  Around the corner to feed the neighbor's cats?  On my bike.  I rode and rode and rode.  I loved riding my bike!

When I was almost 17, I moved.  I moved to a different town in a different state.  I didn't know anyone.  Most of the friends I made lived a little further away than I could ride, or down roads I didn't want to ride.  Oh, and also, I could drive.  

The trouble is, biking is an activity I always loved. I remember going across the street with my daddy to PJ and Bradley's "field" (I have a feeling that field isn't as big as I remember it) to practice riding.  That's where I learned to ride without training wheels!  I remember riding my bike to Autumn and Amy's house, to Emily's house, to Carrie's house...I rode everywhere!  I always loved it.  And then?  Then I grew up and got out of the habit.  You could probably say I got lazy.

Last summer, when Little Lou was 6, she said she wanted to learn to ride without training wheels.  We tried once or twice but she was slow and distracted and terrified.  We put the bike away for the winter and decided we'd try again in the spring.  I told her I wasn't putting the training wheels back on.  My baby girl learned to ride!


Then the inevitable happened.  She asked me to go on a bike ride with her.  People, riding a bike is NOT always like...well...riding a bike.  You've heard it said that once you know how to do it, you know how to do it, right?  Sometimes you're taller than you used to be, or heavier than you used to be, or don't have the balance you used to have.  Sometimes it's scary.  And sometimes you have to pretend it's not scary because your favorite 7 year old girl ever wants nothing more than for you to ride around the block with her.  I sucked it up, pulled out my bike, and rode two laps around the block with that little princess!  It felt GREAT!!  And we both wanted to do it again.  Lots more times.

There was a problem, though.  You see, there are 5 people in my family.  Three of us are big enough and strong enough to ride bikes without training wheels and go for real rides.  One of us really wants to be that big, but just isn't strong enough quite yet.  One of us is 2.  It's really hard to take family bike rides when you've got 3 riders, 2 potential passengers, but no transportation for those 2!

My kids were so very excited (almost as excited as their mommy!) when this giant box showed up at the door!


We ripped it open, pulled out the parts, and put together our brand new Schwinn Trailblazer Bike Trailer!  (This video is actually the second time I put it together, later that day.  It just shows how quickly you can set it up!  Ignore the part at the end where I put the shade on backwards.)


My kids LOVE it!  


Bugsy prefers to ride his bike, but some days we want to take rides that are too long or fast for his legs.  Some days his asthma is really bothering him and even though he begs and begs to ride his own bike, his actions tell me he doesn't have the energy to do so.


On days like these, the Schwinn Trailblazer is perfect for both of my boys to ride in together!  They're both comfortable, there's plenty of head room, and they both get to feel the breeze on their faces as we speed through the neighborhood!

Some days, though, Bugsy's feeling strong and we're not rushed and he can ride his bike.  On those days, Stinky is the king of the bike trailer!


I LOVE that the Schwinn Trailblazer Trailer is a double trailer, so both boys can ride, but that there's a third "crotch strap" in the center, so that if Stinky's riding alone, he can ride comfortably right in the middle!  (Make sure that, even in a trailer, your little ones ALWAYS wear helmets!)  I also love the huge compartment behind the seat!  I use it to store a tire pump, my keys, a couple diapers, and whatever else I need while we're out.  There's more than enough room for a picnic lunch, and if I needed to grab a few groceries, there'd be room to store them too!

I love love LOVE that I can pack up my kids and take bike rides now!  We don't even need to wait for The Hubby to get home, because Little Lou's a good enough rider that I can manage.  (If Bugsy's going to ride by himself, I wait for The Hubby.)


Did I mention that the Schwinn Trailblazer Trailer can also convert to a jogging stroller?  It does!  And it's a very smooth ride, too!  Comfy for my boys, and easy for me to push!  The handle's adjustable to whatever height the jogger needs.  It's great!  

I love the Schwinn Trailblazer Trailer!  I honestly have very few negative things to say about it!  It is very easy to assemble, very easy to attach to the bike, and I can't even feel it behind me.  I can definitely tell I'm doing more work to pull 80 pounds of little boy, but that's just because I am moving an extra 80 pounds.  It's not any more difficult to ride with the Schwinn Trailblazer than without it!  In fact, I love it SO much, that when I saw a similar Schwinn trailer on clearance at a local store a few weeks ago, I called my sister, who drove an hour and a half to come get it!  Schwinn's bike trailers are THAT good!


Friends, I am not just telling you about Schwinn's bike trailers because I love them.  I'm telling you about them because it's fall.  It's cooling off a little.  The weather is perfect for you to get outside and ride bikes with your family.  Some of you have kids.  Some of them are little.  You need a good solution to safely manage those little ones while you ride!

I'm also telling you about the Schwinn Trailblazer Trailer because I want you to be active.  I want your kids to be active.  There's a growing childhood obesity issue in the United States, and the only way we're going to reverse it is by teaching out kids healthy lifestyles.  It's a great idea to tell your kids about exercise.  It's a great idea to take your big kids out and run with them, play with them.  It's an even better idea to start when your little ones are...little...involving them in your exercise routines, so that they will be ingrained into them.  

Take your little ones for a bike ride!  If you don't have a bike trailer already, consider a Schwinn Trailblazer Trailer!  You won't be disappointed!  (And you might just end up being able to capture a snapshot like this one of "Poppy's Posse!!")



I received this item at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are strictly my own.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Expecting

Sometimes in life you get exactly what you think you're going to get.  Sometimes you don't.  

I'm a planner, people.  I look at the landscape and figure out exactly how the ride is going to run.  I take it all in and figure it all out before it actually happens.  That's just the way I am.  I know what I'm getting into before I get going.

And then sometimes the landscape isn't what I think it'll be.  Sometimes, I find myself in a glorious oasis.
I have a job now.  A full time job.  I'm an aide at my kids' school.  I have to be at the drop-off line at 7:30am.  That's not so bad.  I had to have Little Lou at school by 7:45 last year.  Sounds like it wouldn't be much of a change, right?  Except.  Stinky's daycare isn't right down the road.  It's not even in the same town as the school.  It's not in the town where we live, either.  It's 15 minutes in the opposite direction from school.  Fifteen minutes there, fifteen minutes back to school.  Add in time to actually drop him off and my required "buffer zone" just in case, and we need to leave the house by 6:30am.

Have you ever had to get 3 kids up and ready by 6:30am?  I mean, every once in a while it's not a big deal, but every day?  Dreadful.

Or so I thought.

There I go expecting.

Friends, it does us good, sometimes, to expect the unexpected.

This


has become my absolute favorite time of day with my kids!  

(Don't judge the seat belts, people.  We were sitting still in the driveway.)

My kids have been early morning rockstars!  I was DREADING mornings.  How will we have time for breakfast?  How will I wrestle them into clothes?  How many meltdowns will we have each day?  But those kids up there?  They've got this thing down!  Most every day, 1 or 2 or all 3 are up on their own by 5:45.  They've eaten breakfast at the table every single morning!  

And on the way?  Not a single meltdown.  Not one.  Instead, we sing and talk and laugh, every. single. morning.  We start our days smiling.  We are all kind and blissfully in love with life.  Every. single. morning.

Friends, expect the unexpected.  Sometimes, when you are busy making plans for what your life's going to look like, life will surprise you.  Sometimes the things you expect to be horrible turn out to be a breathe of fresh air.  Sometimes you fall a little bit more in love with your life and your family every. single. day.

Expect the unexpected!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dip Dip Hooray! Dinnertime is EASY!

I'm one of those moms.  You know, the kid of mom that cooks dinner for her family every night.  The kind of mom that try really hard to feed a balanced diet, a healthy diet.  

And now I'm also one of those moms.  The full-time working kind.  

Two weeks ago, when I was a stay at home mom, it was easy to make dinner every night. If need be, I could start cooking at 3...or noon...or 9am.  Maybe I was actually showered and dressed, maybe I was still in my jammies.

Friends, I am still that kind of mom that tries really hard to feed a balanced, healthy diet.  Sometimes, though, it's really really hard to find the time to fit it all in!  Believe it or not, I was delighted last week to make dinner on chicken nugget night.  (I like to keep a few "easy" meals on hand, but prefer meals that I can at least sort of justify as "healthy."  When we were shopping at Walmart early last week, we stopped to check out the variety of chicken nuggets to toss in the freezer!)  The kids chose Tyson chicken nuggets (dinosaur nuggets), and I grabbed a bag of Tyson chicken chunks with general tso's sauce for the grown ups!  We haven't tried ours yet.


It was a crazy evening, and I'd forgotten to throw dinner in the crock pot in the morning.  Thank goodness Tyson, Heinz Ketchup, and Ore-Ida French Fries came to my rescue!  I simply pre-heated the oven, and 30(ish) minutes later, dinner was on the table!


My kids were so excited!  Nuggets and fries are NOT the norm around here.  Dinosaur nuggets are REALLY not normal!  I couldn't bear to feed them just nuggets and fries, though.  I balanced it out with baby carrots and peaches.  (The plates looked pretty boring to me, but the kids were thrilled!)  There were even shouts of #DipDipHooray!!


I knew it would be a crazy week, so I decided that I'd let the kids help me pick out a new game that they could play to (maybe) keep themselves entertained while I accomplished a few things at home, and (hopefully) play at a Family Game Night soon!


After dinner I had some work to do, so the kids had a Hasbro Game Night with their new game: Ants in the Can!


The kids had a great evening munching, playing, and laughing together, and Mommy had a nice "break" and time to get things done!

As if the silence and peace I experienced on chicken nugget night weren't enough, Heinz Ketchup, Tyson, Ore-Ida, and Hasbro have a really great sweepstakes going on!  There's no purchase necessary to play, and you can enter once a day!  If you want to unlock the "weekly games" (with great prizes), all you need to do is enter UPC codes from a Heinz product, an Ore-Ida product, and a Tyson product!  Easy peasy!! (You will need to create an account to play, but that's simple too.  Simply visit diptoplay.com to get started!  Good luck and have fun!!


I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias Tyson and Heinz #CBias #SocialFabric

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kindergarten. Amazing.

A little over 5 years ago, I gave birth to a little boy who was perfectly and wonderfully made, even though it took me almost a year to realize it.  A little over 5 years ago I gave birth to a little boy we hoped and prayed would not only live a long life, but a "normal" life as well.  A little over 5 years ago, I gave birth to...myself...as the mother of a special needs baby.

And a little over 10 hours ago, I walked that little boy to his kindergarten classroom!


(I should mention that I walked Little Lou to her second grade classroom as well!)


Friends, I have to admit, for a good portion of the first couple years of his life, I didn't know if he'd ever do this:


And to be honest, I wasn't sure we'd ever see this:


But today, friends, I had the very distinct privilege of delivering my sweet Bug to his first day of school.  He was both excited and nervous.  He couldn't eat breakfast.  He wouldn't wear tennis shoes.  He did not speak to anyone for a full hour before school started.  He was so excited to go, but he really wanted to stay with mommy, too!

~~~~~~~~~

I'd be lying if I said it was easy today.  People, I've kept a pretty tight reign on that little guy.  It's scary in this world of unknown, this world of what if, this world of special kids.  Terrifying sometimes.  Paralyzingly so, sometimes.  It's also beautiful and refreshing and amazing sometimes.  Today?  Well, today was one of those "sometimes" days.  

Terrifying and beautiful.  

Scary and refreshing.  

Paralyzing and amazing.

I learned today (again) that my little boy isn't quite so little anymore.  He's not quite so "fragile" as I like to tell myself he is.  He isn't what I think he is, he isn't what I expect him to be.  He's so very very much more than that!  

I learned today that today I have to let go a little, lest I hold on forever.  Holding on forever sounds wonderful, until I really think about what that means.  I want my little boy(s and girl) to grow, to change, to thrive.  They won't do that, they can't do that, if I don't ever give them a little slack on the reigns!

~~~~~~~~~

I learned today that not only is that little boy stronger than I ever thought he'd be, but so his his mama!  Friends, I underestimate me sometimes.  A lot of times.  I don't give myself the credit I truly deserve.  I am SO much more than I allow myself to believe.  

You are too, you know.  You are infinitely more than you tell yourself.  You are worth more.  You are capable of more.  You are more!




Sunday, August 12, 2012

Things are changing

I spent the first nine months of the year searching for a job.  Considering it's only August, you can see I've been busy!  (Admittedly, I'm a bit of an overachiever.)  During that time I applied for literally hundreds of jobs and interviewed for 2.  I even made it to round 2 interviews for one of those positions!

Then it was 2 1/2 weeks until school would start.  We'd sort of resigned ourselves to the fact that I'd still be at home (which I LOVE) and we'd still be squeaking by while The Hubby worked full time and went to school in the fall.  We were okay with that (mostly), because we had to be.

God's funny, though. 

It was 2 1/2 weeks before school would start, when the principal of Little Lou's (and Bugsy's in a couple days) called me to see if I would be interested in interviewing for a position.  I would be SO interested in interviewing for that position.  You know, that position I didn't even know existed.  That position I didn't technically apply for (although I'd applied there very early in the year and not been called).  That position that needed to be filled immediately because, well, school started in 2 1/2 weeks.

So I went.  I interviewed.  I walked out of the school pondering all the things I'd said wrong, what I would say differently if I could please just go back into the principal's office, just one more time.  Please.  And then I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Because she said she'd call "next week" and she didn't call.  (Of course I'd told her not to worry about it if she didn't get to it, that I knew it was registration week and she'd be super busy.  But still.)  I waited and hoped and prayed and nothing happened.

We sent the kids away that weekend.  We do that from time to time.  Typically about one weekend a month we pack their bags and ship them out to Mamma's house.  Usually I spend the weekend cleaning like a mad-woman because I can't stand to have a messy house when people come over, and when the in-laws bring the kids back they'll be...well, people.  This weekend, though (last weekend, to be exact), we'd decided that we'd spend the weekend discussing what happens "next."  What's our 5-year-plan?  Our 10-year-plan?  (People, our 10-year-plan involves a college search?!?  Holy cow!  We've got to start thinking about how Little Lou's going to pay for college because in 10 years she'll be a senior in high school!)  What do we need to do to meet our goals?

I made The Hubby take me out of the house on Saturday.  I can't concentrate on relaxing while I'm at home because I see all the STUFF.  We had lunch (free hot dogs provided by a newly forming chapter of Christian Motorcyclists' Association) and were trying to decide what to do next.  We were discussing how things were looking for the fall and what we'd be doing and where we were headed.  (We were headed to Walmart to return some bike inner tubes, but that doesn't matter.)  

I got THE CALL.

They want me, people!  They really really want me!  Can I start Wednesday...no, Tuesday??  Of course I can!  (It's EASY to find daycare in 6 days, right?)  And then another call...The superintendent wants you to start Monday.  Can you start Monday?  Of course I can!  (It's EASY to find daycare in 5 days, right?)

Friends, I'm telling you this for a few reasons.  #1, God is SO good, and when we least expect it He reveals His plans.  Sometimes they're surprising.  Always they're perfect.  #2, I found daycare.  It took 4 days to decide, but Thursday afternoon I turned in the registration check and paperwork and trained the teachers in cloth diapering.  #3, I am super duper excited about my new job!  I'll be the Title 1 aide at my kids' school, and I'll likely get to visit with Little Lou and (more frequently) Bugsy in their classrooms!  #4, I'm dreading dropping Stinky off for his first day of daycare.  This mama's gonna miss that little boy like crazy!  And finally, #5:

I START TOMORROW!!

Pray for me tomorrow, would you?  Big prayers.  Because tomorrow, for the first time in 2 1/2 years, I will be "on the clock" for the day, and for the first time ever Stinky will be spending a day in daycare.  I'm going to miss these people tomorrow!  (And I'm going to love it.)




Friday, August 10, 2012

You'll love the view


I sent a message to a friend this morning, and then thought perhaps she wasn’t the only one that needed it.  I hope she doesn’t mind me passing it along to a couple thousand other friends as well, because we’re all in the middle of something, and each of you could probably use a bit of encouragement for something.  I shared this with some other people recently, because they were upset that someone had said their fight was a "harder fight" than the one these people were going through:
                                         
You'll get through this. You will. The way I see it, whatever you are going through RIGHT NOW is the biggest battle you've ever dealt with…or anyone has. Your battle RIGHT NOW is huge. But in a little while, you'll be past this (at least for a bit) and it won't feel quite as huge...and your NEXT thing will be the biggest battle ever. We're still in the middle of the "battle" with Bugsy, but since we're kind of in a lull, I don't think about it much. But when Stinky broke his leg? That was the hardest thing I've dealt with as a mommy...because I was in it RIGHT THEN. When I look at them side by side, obviously the 6 surgeries Bugsy’s has had, particularly the three 12+ hour skull surgeries, are WAY bigger than a broken leg.  But in the thick of it?  THIS battle is the hardest.


I don't know if that's helpful. Maybe not. But I guess I just mostly want to say hang in there, because in a year...2 years...10 years...you'll likely look back and remember that this was the hardest thing you'd ever dealt with to that point...but you'll have come out a stronger, better, fiercer mama because of it, and you'll be at a point where you'll be able to see where God's hand was all along. Your perspective will have changed, and while you will probably never be "grateful" for this journey, you'll be able to see some beauty in what it's done in your life.


I'm praying for you. It's HARD to be "that mom." Super hard. There are so very many emotions EVERY minute of EVERY day. There are some things you just have to learn to accept, and that is terrifying. But you'll make it out. You'll get to the other side. And you'll love the view from there.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where has the time gone?

Nine years ago today I linked arms with the man of my dreams


and he ushered me (while telling jokes to "lighten the mood") down the aisle into the waiting arms of the man of my dreams.


I married him because for 4 1/2 years, every time I'd walked into a room and found him, my heart had fluttered.  I married him because he made me laugh like no one else ever had.  I married him because my hand fit perfectly into his.  I married him because he taught me calculus with the patience of a saint.  I married him because he appreciated my quirks.  I married him because he loved hockey almost as much as I did.  I married him because he was my best friend.  I married him because he loved Jesus.  I married him because we shared our dreams.  I married him because I loved him.

I'm still married to him, 9 years later, not because life has been perfect, but because through it all, he has never left my side.  He has never failed to help me to my feet when I've fallen.  He has never failed to share a joke when my smile's faded.  He has never stopped being steadfast when I've wavered.  He has never stopped holding on for dear life when we've been through a storm.  I'm still married to him, 9 years later, because he's never stopped being exactly who he is: an imperfect man who loves me completely.  I'm still married to him because I love him desperately.  I'm still married to him because, 9 years later, 13 1/2 years later, every time I walk into a room and find him, my heart flutters.

And so, in honor of the man with whom I share my life, a pictorial trip down memory lane is in order.  I remember that day like it was yesterday (which, of course, means that I remember tidbits of what happened, but much of what I remember is only because it was captured on film)!

You need to know that as of 4pm the afternoon before my wedding, my dress did not fit and I was not a happy camper!


It all worked out, though, and I walked down the aisle wearing the stunning dress I'd chosen months in advance!  

I have some silly friends.  One of them, a lifelong "bestie," got married just a few months prior to me, and on her wedding day we chased down the ice cream man for ice cream sandwiches!  The ice cream man didn't make a stop at the church on my wedding day, but we DID have ice cream sandwiches.


My sister is a goof.  She suggested I looked perfect in this outfit:


which, while cute, was not my idea of a perfect wedding gown!

I thought this was a better "costume" for the day.  My sister, ever the clown, made sure to joke about it.  Total sister moment here, but one of my two favorite pictures of the two of us on that day.  (I won't share the other, for her sake.)


If you know me well (and perhaps even if you don't), you won't be surprised to find that one of my very favorite wedding day memories is of pausing to read a book with my sweet little flower girl.  How could I say no?  Her eyes are HUGE and she's gorgeous!  And seriously?  "Would you please read this to me?"  I couldn't refuse!


That very same sweet flower girl, as the music began to play and the wedding party began to move, tugged on my sister's hand and whispered, "I have to go potty!" I can still hear whispered, "Walk slowly!" amongst the wedding party!


I do not know how the photographer managed to capture this EXACT moment, but this is the very moment I realized that my groom had shaved his goatee just for me!  He'd had one the night before at the rehearsal, and that afternoon it was gone!  (I told you he loved me!  It's back now...since about 3 days after the wedding...and now he looks funny without it.)


And so, we had our little ceremony, everything going perfectly other than the ring bearer spinning in circles on his little stool throughout the entire wedding.  (My ring even arrived on time, which is a whole different story.)


And after concluding the ceremony, my daddy pronounced us husband and wife and sent us up the aisle and into life together!




I love you, I love you, I love you!  I can not wait to navigate the next 9 years...19 years...59 years...with you!  Life's been full of adventure, and while I certainly hope the ride levels off a bit, there is no one with whom I would rather live this life than you!  Thank you for standing by me through it all, no matter what.

I love you, Buddy!  Happy anniversary!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

EVERY mom should have a Boba...so I'll give one away!

Tomorrow is our 9th wedding anniversary, and Bugsy has an eye doctor appointment midday at the children's hospital an hour away.  Sounds like a super fun way to spend an anniversary, right?  We debated what to do: should I take him myself (I hate going myself), should we both go, should we find a sitter for Stinky and Little Lou...what should we do?  We decided, after much thought, that we'll (crazily) take all 3 kids to the appointment, and we'll go to the children's museum nearby before (and probably after) the appointment!  THAT sounds like a much more fun way to spend our anniversary!

The trouble, though, is that Stinky is still sporting that bright fading red cast on his leg.  The boy loves to run and play now, but he tires easily.  A couple hours at the museum will be way too much for his little body this week, but the stroller is just a hassle at the museum!

I am SO very glad that Stinky is still as in love with our Organic Boba Carrier as I am!

Last fall I told you about our Boba exerience.  We'd just had our Boba a couple weeks then, but we were in love already!  We've been using it for 9 months now.  We still use it almost daily.  The Boba Organic is my very favorite baby item ever, hands down.  

We use it at the house while I make dinner (and keep him off the counters--literally):


We use it while we're hiking in the evening and Stinky can't possibly handle the hike we're taking:

(Notice a theme here?  Stinky almost always falls asleep in the Boba! He must be comfy!)

We use it for Bugsy on long walks when He and Stinky both need rides!

(He is right at the upper weight limit, but this particular walk was about 3/4 of a mile and we were just fine.)

We use and abuse our Boba!  And we ALL love it!  So, I figured why keep all the Organic Boba love to myself, right?  I mean, you'd love to have a Boba too, wouldn't you?  That's what I thought!

Boba has graciously agreed to give one of my super lucky readers an Organic Boba of their very own!  You are going to LOVE the carrier!  (I'd win it myself if I could!)

Thank you, Boba, for being amazing!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wordless Wednesday: Pray for us in Indiana Desert!


(Looks are a little deceiving.  You see green here.  Those are weeds.  The grass is a lovely shade of tan.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

What do YOU need?

Last night...just last night...I told you about my "ought to."  

It feels like it was a lifetime ago...and it feels like it was an hour ago.  It's been a long day, filled with "get off your brother" and "stop hitting your sister" and "you may not talk to me that way" and "I love you."  And it's been a long day filled with longing, thinking, planing, bouncing around a myriad of thoughts like ping pong balls in my mind.

It hit me, sometime mid-day (3:26 this afternoon, to be exact--yes, I looked at the clock), that I don't know what is is with which women struggle!  I mean, I AM a woman.  I know what I struggle with every day.  I know what plagues my thoughts and pulls me this way and that and makes my mind spin.  But you?  I don't even know you.  How am I ever going to talk to you, to tell you my story in a way that will matter, if I don't know why you need to hear my story?  

Tonight, friends (and tomorrow and the next day and for the next 15 years), I implore you to tell me what it is that gets to you.  I need to know what you need to know.  I want to know what pulls you this way and that.  What pushes you, what pressures you, what really gets under your skin.  I'll never be able to talk to you if I don't know a bit about you.

Please, please take a moment and think about it.  If you're willing, tell me in a comment.  If you're not willing to leave a comment but are still willing to share, send me an email and tell me (mythisnthatlife@gmail.com).  I appreciate, so much, your comments!  

I want to leave you with this, because I love it and sometimes I need it:



Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ought To

"God doesn't waste any part of your story."

Those were some of the first words the pastor spoke this morning.  God doesn't waste ANY part of your story.  People, I was glad to hear those words today.  I was glad because I have a story.  We all do, don't we?  But boy do I ever have a story!

The pastor that spoke today encouraged us to look at the "ought to-s" we see in our every day and really think about whether God is calling us to be the person that, rather than saying, "Someone ought to...," be the person that DOES.  

My "ought to," the one that immediately came to mind this morning during the sermon, has never EVER been prefaced by "somebody."  It has ALWAYS been prefaced with "I."

Friends, I was made to teach.  I don't think there's anyone that knows me well that would argue that.  God put it in my design before I was born.  When He knit me together, he knit me with a book in my hand and a passion for kids in my heart.  I was made for that.  

But teaching is not my "ought to."

Don't get me wrong.  I want desperately to teach.  But my ought to?  Well, it's still rolling around in my mind a little.  The pastor's words this morning really helped me to weave some bits together, though, pieces of a plan I've been secretly wrestling with for some time.  My "ought to" doesn't (necessarily) lie in a high school classroom, although that's where I long to be.  It doesn't (necessarily) marks its spot in a book deal, although I have always placed myself there in my dreams.

My "ought to," I think, puts me in front of a group of women, and it terrifies me.  My ought to tells me, over and over, "I ought to tell this story."  Most of you don't know my whole story.  You know the bits and pieces that I am willing to share publicly, but you don't know the whole thing.  Perhaps you will someday, though.  

You might, one day in the future, find yourself sitting in the third row with your conference schedule, and you'll look down and see my name on your agenda.  You'll think to yourself, "That name sounds awfully familiar."  And you'll look at me and think, "Oh, yeah!  She's the one with the 'ought to!' She's got a story!"  And you'll be right.

Friends.  I have a story.  And God's not going to waste any part of it.  He won't let me waste any part of it.  Some of you are going to be hearing it.  I don't know how, and I don't know where, but He's working in my heart, and He's showing me a path I am terrified to take.  

Lord, please take my "ought to" and show me how it will become a part of my story.  Don't let me waste my story.  Someone needs it.  I know that.  You know that.  Show me how my story and my "ought to" fit together in your amazing plan!




Saturday, July 14, 2012

Your baby's gotta eat! ciao! baby portable high chair will help!

Camping.  Grandma's house.  Company.  Restaurants.  Baseball games.  Cook outs.  Small spaces.  Vacation.  Bonfires.  Grandchildren.  Wandering Toddler.

These are just a few of the MANY reasons you should check out the ciao! baby portable high chair!  


Admittedly, Stinky is beyond the need for a daily high chair.  In fact, he's been out of even a booster seat for quite some time.  Silly, then, that I'd be super excited about a high chair, right?  Except the ciao! baby isn't a high chair.  Nope.  It's a life saver!

In our family, we like to "visit."  I'd say travel, but that's probably taking it a little too far.  We visit Mamaw and Nana.  We go camping on occasion.  We typically take a summer trip.  We visit with friends and family at their homes.  We invite others into our home.  We're visit-ers!  (Please don't confuse that with visitors.  We are sometimes visitors, but visit-ers are different.  I promise.  Just ask me.)  The trouble with having a 2 year old and being a visit-er is that toddlers don't like to sit and eat.  They just don't!  Toddlers roam.  Toddlers explore.  Toddlers drive their parents crazy at meal times, especially when they aren't at home!

The ciao! baby portable high chair is the perfect solution to toddler mealtime wandering, especially for "visit-ers" like us!  The ciao! baby folds up small, like a camping chair.  It stores in a bag, like a camping chair.  It fits in the trunk or the garage in a small space, like a camping chair.  In fact, when you take it along to a bonfire, people will think you're taking along an extra seat!  It is SO much more than a camping chair, though.  It is a promise of safety and security that means your little one will stay near your side.  It's the affirmation that your toddler (or baby) will be contained long enough to (maybe) eat 4 bites of food before he's allowed to roam.  It's a comfort for mommy, and a treat for toddlers that don't typically sit in high chairs!  (I know, that sounds crazy, but Stinky gets SO excited when he sees the ciao baby come out!  He gets jealous if we're "sharing" it.  He climbs in if we're not.  He loves it!)


I LOVE how easy it is to wipe this high char clean!  See all that mess?  Here, let me show you:


We have peanut butter and milk and bits of apple all combined into a sticky nasty mess on the tray and the seat!A quick wipe with a wet cloth, though, leave the tray (and chair, and cup holder) good as new!


(I can't say as much for the toddler.  He needed a hose!)

The seat belt buckles behind the seat.  Genius!  Curious toddlers can't reach there to unbuckle themselves!  My biggest complaint, though, goes right along with that bit of brilliance.  The opening in which to put your child is smallish.  It's great for little ones, but if you have a chunky little guy, it's going to be a little on the difficult side to wrangle him in.  It's still VERY doable, and very worth the effort.

The tray is not meant to be a rigid high chair tray.  It's not, after all, meant to be an every day high chair.  It is meant to be an occasional use travel chair.  You will find that as long as you are using a plate, the tray is fine, but if you're planning to just put bits of food on the tray, food will be more likely to slide around.  Use a plate.

The ciao! baby portable high chair is easy peasy with smaller babies, too!  In fact, I used it this week with my 9 month old nephew.  (Stinky was jealous.  He has a broken leg and can't use his ciao! baby right now.)


This little guy is tiny.  He was very comfy in the ciao! baby!  He was very happy--until I walked away with his food.  PLEASE, if you're using the ciao! baby portable high chair, don't forget to strap babies in!  He didn't fall or get hurt in any way, but he did stand up in the seat while my back was turned.  I am not in the habit of strapping Stinky into the chair because he sits still, but with the littler guys it's going to be necessary.  Because the chair is very stable, though, and very well constructed, this little guy was safe despite his amazing aunt's lack of baby-tending skills!

We LOVE our ciao! baby portable high chair!  It's perfect, aside from the opening being just a tad small for toddlers.  It's the perfect size for families like ours; families that don't need an every day high chair anymore, but who need one for "those times."  It's perfect for families like my sister's; families that DO need a high chair every day, but could use one for "those times."  It's perfect for YOUR family!!

Order your ciao! baby portable high chair today!


I received this item at no cost in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.



Monday, July 9, 2012

My Broken Boy

The Hubby didn't used to get weekends.  In fact, for the first 6 years of Little Lou's life, he worked just about every weekend.  That meant, of course, that as a family we didn't get weekends.  I worked a "regular" Monday through Friday job (off and on, between having babies), and he worked all sorts of ridiculous hours, varying from 1st to 2nd to 3rd shift, with random days off.

We've been relishing in weekends for the last year!  We still don't always get them, but usually we do.  When it's the weekend, we try to do at least one fun thing.  We try to make it a free thing, or at the very least, a super cheap one.  That's why, a couple weeks ago, we did this:


The church "denomination" (I'm not supposed to call it that) with which we are affiliated had a big convention 5 minutes from our house.  It was a national convention that brought hundreds of families together, right down the street!  We make it a habit to attend the evening services and as many conferences as we can, and on Saturday we try to make it to the Family Fun Day.  The last couple of years it's been full of bouncy fun.  The kids LOVE it!  We all have a great time.

I wish I could show you a billion pictures, because my kids had a blast.  I, however, took my camera and left my SD card in my computer.  How very disappointing!  I LOVE taking pictures of my kids smiling naturally! They ran from slide to slide, bounce house to bounce house, for over an hour.  (The boys did, anyway.  Little Lou was out of town with a buddy.)  They were having the best time!  My sister and her family were there, too, so the boys got a chance to run like maniacs with their little cousins.  The 4 boys were having a great time!

The Hubby and I followed the boys around, laughing and chatting and doing all the things parents do.  We talked about how our swingset is rusting through and we really need to take it down at the end of this summer because of safety.  (Anyone have a free swingset to give us?  My kids are going to be SO sad!)  We talked about how to replace it.  Should we get rid of the swingset entirely?  Rebuild the legs out of wood?  Replace it with a trampoline?  We'd sort of decided on saving for a bouncy water slide-y thing.  Maybe.

And then...


This is my nephew.  He's 7 weeks older than Stinky.  I wish I had a picture of Stinky on this slide, but alas, the memory card...  Anyway, this slide was big!  And Stinky is little.  He's just a smidge littler than this guy.  

But Stinky is a climber.  A daredevil.  He lives every. single. moment. of his life with wreckless abandon.  I can not tell you how much I admire that quality in the little guy...or how much it terrifies me.  In fact, from the day Stinky was 15 months old and I found him on the kitchen table...standing on the kitchen table...less than a week after he took his first steps...I've said that he'd be the first of my kids to break a bone.  So, Stinky the Wild decided he'd go down that big scary slide.  He really wanted to.  But he was scared.  I'll spare you the details, but he DID go down that slide.  One time.  That's all it took.  And then I heard many many screams and a chorus of, "I weddy go home!" and I knew something was terribly wrong.


Do you ever wish you'd been wrong?  Like, you know, maybe if I hadn't been saying for over a year that he'd break a bone, maybe he wouldn't have?  Or if I hadn't told The Hubby that morning to stop playing rough with the boys before someone broke something it wouldn't have happened?  Because people, I have wished a billion times these last two weeks that I could take back some of those words.  I know, I know, it wouldn't make a difference.  It would feel a little better to me, though, if I didn't feel like I'd been the broken leg prophet or something!

So this little "my do it," "I need cwimbing," boy had to be completely off that leg for an entire week!  It wasn't as hard as it sounds.  I don't know if he was in as much pain once he was splinted or if he was scared, but he didn't attempt to stand.  He was content to be cuddled and carried and loved on.  And then that bright red (or blue, if you ask him) cast went on and he was allowed to walk!  But he didn't.  For a week.  He kept on letting Mama carry him everywhere, and Mama was good with that.

You don't need to worry, though, people.  On Saturday, Stinky decided he was ready.  Have I told you about Stinky?  He's a daredevil.  A climber.  He lives every. single. moment. of his life with wreckless abandon.  I admire him, and he terrifies me.  You can't keep him down.  You can't hold him back from what he wants.  He's amazing.  And he's walking.  And he's doing this:


And this:


And today I caught him RUNNING across the living room.

So, for 2 more weeks...11 more days, actually, but who's counting?...my sweet little guy will have that bright red cast.  And for 11 more years I will worry every time he falls or climbs or twists the wrong way that we'll be on our way back to the ER.  But he'll survive because it's all he knows how to do.

Baby Boy, I love you!  I love you as big as the ocean and then some.  I love you like crazy.  Almost as crazy as you are!  I promise promise promise that I will hold you and carry you just as long as you want me to.  I will tuck you in my pocket and take me with you wherever you want to go with me.  I will be right beside you, even in the middle of the night (like the last 2 weeks) whenever you need me.  But then, I know some day you will figure out that you can do it on your own.  You'll want to get down.  You'll want to run.  You'll NEED "cwimbing."  And Baby Boy, as hard as it's going to be, I'm going to let you down.  I'm going to let you run and jump and climb.  I'm going to let you be.  Dream big, Baby Boy.  And never EVER lose your zest for life.  I admire it...and it terrifies me!