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 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!

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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 (  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? 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!

It's Potty Time!!

A hundred million years ago, when I was a little girl, my parents’ good friends also had a little girl.  Her name was Rachel and she was as precious of a friend to me as her parents were to mine.  I remember cookouts and bonfires and Toss-Across.  I remember countless hours of fun, often way too late into the evening.  I remember listening to Rachel’s daddy play his keyboard.  And I remember that Rachel couldn’t hear me.   Rachel’s parents became huge advocates for the deaf community, founding an amazing organization called Silent Blessings and being a blessing to more people than they will ever know!

During our growing up years I had my first experience with sign language as a form of communication and it has always fascinated me.  Perhaps it’s because I am a lover of the written and spoken word.  Maybe it’s because I have just always been a talker.  Perhaps it was really preparation for the job I would have raising my boys one day.   Whatever its purpose or motivation, I cannot begin to describe my gratefulness for organizations that promote communication in those that can’t quite find the words themselves!

One such organization is Two Little Hands Productions.  You may have heard of Signing Time.  It is a really neat set of videos and resources that incorporate sign and the spoken word.  I love that the videos give a voice to children who don’t have words, and at the same time open the ears of those with words to “hear” their non-speaking (and often non-hearing) counterparts!  My kids have always loved Signing Time videos.  I love the catchy tunes as well, and I love being able to pick up some simple sign myself!

Two Little Hands has another program as well: Potty Time!   Potty Time is an excellent video for use during potty training! 

Now, I know that a lot of you are EC (elimination communication) believers.  Guess what!  Potty Time is PERFECT for you!  Before your little one can talk, he will be able to sign to you that he needs to go!  You’ll still have to watch his body language, of course, but pretty soon he’ll have signs, and maybe even before he can talk he’ll be letting you know when he needs to go!

I know, too, that some of you are “go with the flow-ers.”   You may have tried potty training and it wasn’t successful, or you just follow your little one’s lead from the beginning.   She doesn’t seem interested yet, so  you’re not pushing it.  She’ll be ready when she’s ready.

Some of you, like me, have toddlers that walk and talk (and climb everything) and sometimes tell you they’ve pottied in their diapers.  You’re desperate to be rid of the diapers (even the adorable cloth ones) and are trying to get into the potty training routine.

No matter what your feelings on the potty training process, Potty Time is the perfect addition to your “line-up!”  Before he can talk, Potty Time will teach him the signs.  If she’s not interested yet, Potty Time will help her get excited about it.  If he’s already got the words and the “moves” for pottying, Potty Time will re-enforce the Potty process!

At my house, not only does 28 month old Stinky love the Potty Time video and get into the dancing and signing, but his (almost) 5 year old brother adores the videos, too!  In fact, Bugsy often says things like, “I need to listen to my body!” before running to the potty!

If you haven’t heard of Potty Time yet, you should look into it.  You’ll be impressed by the video and your kids will have lots of fun singing and signing along!  Potty Time is very worth the price!

I was provided this product at no cost in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are 100% my own.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.