Sunday, December 30, 2012

13 in '13

Okay, I gotta do something. I have seriously been one the laziest people I know for the past four months. For the past three years I have had the pregnant/nursing/new mom excuses, but now that sweet Lil is 15 months old (already?!?!?), I really can't justify that anymore. So it's time to find my inner-runner... the one who used to crave the pavement, live for the long runs, and not hesitate when signing up for a race. She's in there somewhere I'm sure.

My friend and fellow blogger, Jan, has become quite the runner herself over the past two years. She was inspired by a blogger she reads frequently and followed suit by committing to doing 13 races in 2013. I guess I'm just one more to jump on the bandwagon and join this revolution. I figure it can't be too terribly hard. I mean, even last year when I actually was a new mom I still managed this list:

Plus, I considered, but didn't sign up for, the Sharks on the Run 5K right here in the neighborhood and the Reindeer Ramble 5K. If I just commit to repeating that list, it covers half of them already. And here are some other ones that I'd consider:

I'm sure there will be a few other 5K's that pop up here and there, and those are easy add-on's to meet this goal. But dare I say that maybe in the fall one of these will happen:

Yikes. Throwing around that M-word again leaves me a bit nervous, but I figure that I've done it before, so surely I can do it again, right? And if you notice, I'm not even considering one of those until the fall considering this lady needs plenty of time to get back into that state of mind. But it's a definite possibility... we shall see.

So cheers to finding my passion for running again in the new year! And cheers to 13 in '13! Who's in?

Monday, December 24, 2012

From our Family to Yours...

Have the merriest of Christmases!

I hope you have an amazing few days of celebrating the season. I believe with my whole heart that Jesus is the hope of the world, and while I know we should celebrate Him every year, my heart swells with joy as we celebrate His birth. If you feel like you've lost your hope or that this world keeps getting darker, I pray that you find His peace this season and the comfort and joy that He brings to all. It truly is the greatest gift. And if you're just seeking and are not sure where to turn or who to ask, please feel free to email me, as I am always happy to share my story and how His love has impacted and changed my life. May your days be filled with love, joy, and family this Christmas season.
And just because I can't stop listening to this today, here's a little tune that sums up this day perfectly:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Crafty Christmas

Guess who actually had a successful crafting project for once?  Yep, it's yours truly! I rarely blog about crafting becuase (a) I hardly ever do it and (b) my project usually ends up looking like a kindergartner made it. I'm the person who would rather spend the extra money to buy something already made than save some money but spend my time working on something that, in all honestly, ends up looking homemade. So many crafters out there make things that  could be sold in stores, but I was not born with that gene. But alas, from time to time, I do try.

Last week our mom's group had a Pinterest party, which is pretty ironic that I went considering my thoughts on Pinterest. But more than anything, it was just a fun reason to get together. Since I don't Pinterest, I surfed some blogs and saw a bulletin board covered in fabric and ribbon, used to display Christmas cards, and thought it looked easy enough (seen here). Plus, I love looking at all of our cards and have absolutely no good place to put them up in this house.

I went a bit rogue once I got to JoAnn's (probably due to a curious 1-year-old running amok in the store... who knew Lilly would find crafting supplies so exciting!) and ended up purchasing a thick piece of rectangular styrafoam, 1 1/2 yards of fabric, a spool of ribbon, buttons, thread, and a needle. All told, I probably spent around $25, mainly due to the fabric.

The actual Pinterest party was a blast... this is the second time we've had one. Basically, everyone picks a craft and makes two of the same thing, or if they run out of time, they make one and have all of the supplies in a bundle along with instructions to make a second. We hang out, eat, make our crafts, and at the end we either exchange one of the finished crafts or the project bundle for someone to make at home. This party was Christmas-themed, so we had our holiday tunes blaring, hot coffee, and plenty of festive snacks... it felt so festive and really got me in the holiday spirit, which has been difficult to do this year for some reason. And after some debate, I ended up fabric gluing the cloth to the styrofoam and literally sewed the buttons on through it. I chickened out on the snowflak pattern and ended up with this:

I must say, I was quite impressed with myself, and since it didn't take too terribly long I decided to give it away in our exchange and make the one for my own house at home. As a sidenote, I took home a jar of homemade brown sugar body scrub that smells delicious and leaves my hands and feet so silky smooth! I would share how to make it, but I forgot to grab the directions. But back to this...
At home I got a little bit braver with the design and thought a Christmas tree pattern would be simple enough. Here is how it turned out:

The ribbon is literally sewn on through the styrofoam backing. It was kind of hard to find the button holes and I poked myself a lot, but it worked:

I'm sure I could've used hot glue and it would've been fine, but I could not find my hot glue gun. I added the cards, sliding some through the ribbon and used a couple of thumb tacks for the others, especially the heavier ones. Anyway, I still need to add a piece of ribbon to be the "trunk," but all in all I think it dresses up a blank wall in our dining room and I love how it looks with the cards:

And I bet some of my blogging friends can spot themselves on display:

I have to say that this has reinstilled my faith in my crafting ability... there is hope! I probably won't attempt anything more this season, but next year I have my eye on this wreath that was made at our party, and was surprisingly super simple (and under $20) to make! (sorry for the picture discoloration)

But for now, I think I'll just quit while I'm ahead. How do you display your cards each year?

Monday, December 17, 2012

There Are No Words

Our hearts are so very heavy today. I don't know a single soul who lives in or around Newtown, Connecticut, but this weekend I grieved as if I did. I cannot remember a single event that hit me in the gut this way... not since 9/11 anyway. I've had to take all of it in small doses, and I realize that I'm lucky that I can do that since I'm far away from it all and can turn on and off the news as I please. My heart breaks for every parent, grandparent, sibling, teacher, and friend of those children, as well as to everyone who will have to cope with the horrors that they have witnessed and experienced. I think we all feel helpless, confused, shocked, and deeply saddened, but there are no words that can make it all go away. I so wish there was.

I debated about whether or not I would even bring up this tragic news on my blog, especially since it seems to be everywhere and that town and those families need some time to just mourn and grieve. But I decided earlier today that I can mention it only to put more love out there, to be one more grieving mother who is sending every bit of love and prayer she has to those families. This morning I finally forced myself to listen to every single child's name and really look at every face, just so I could take a moment and breathe a prayer over every little soul and their loved ones. In times of dispair, it's all I know to do. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results [James 5:16]. Let my prayer be one more lifted up.

Today I encourage you to do the same. While we cannot do much, we can pray for this town and for all people involved. We can pray for our teachers, those who so selflessly protect our children when we cannot be there to do it ourselves. I come from a long line of teachers and can honestly say that I have never been more proud of all of them... I know every single one of them would have done all that they could to protect their class. We can pray for our government and our leaders, those who are trying to find a "why" behind the "what" that could possibly prevent these things from happening again.  We can pray for those battling disabilities and illnesses, and the parents and doctors who are trying to navigate the best path for their care.  And we can pray for our nation, our communities, and the people in them. I believe that most people are inherently good, and there is still plenty of good in this world. God loved us so much that He allowed us to choose to love Him, with the understanding that by giving us the choice to love, He also leaves room for the choice to hate. So today I'm choosing to love and I'm choosing to pray and I'm choosing to hold my loved ones a little tighter. I know it doesn't seem like much, but maybe if we all chose to do those things everyday, the good in the world would outshine the bad. It's worth a try anyway.

"And I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow- not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No powers in the sky above or in the earth below- indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus." [Romans 9:38-19]

Monday, December 10, 2012


Bet you've never seen that blog post title before!

A few weeks ago, Jake started talking about the "See-Kee-Gam-Moo" (which is the best way I can sound it out). At first, I thought it was just a word he made up, but it continued to come up in conversations. I even caught it on film once:

See? He was very serious about it, and very frustrated that I did not know what he was talking about (side note: isn't he just the cutest?... and sorry it is blurry for some reason). The only clues we got was that it was "scary" and that sometimes Jake would hear it at the door and then hide under a blanket. It was bizarre to say the least.

Over Thanksgiving I mentioned that my friend Christie and her two sweet kids came to visit. She was over when Jake brought it up and she immediately knew the answer to our mystery:

"Jake, do you mean the Silly Gilly Gumbo?" she asked. And was then nice enough to catch this small part of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on camera to send to me later. I was amazed at her mommy translating skills (and Clubhouse knowledge as I thought I had all episodes memorized by now).

I'm thankful for my other mommy-friends for all kinds of reasons, but it's at times like this that I realize how much I need other moms in my life. They can relate to what I'm going through whether it's sleep deprivation, the "terrible two's" (which aren't so terrible by the way), feeding and diapering questions (yes, we discuss bodily functions quite a bit), and my favorite, the fun stuff like this. We can swap stories about the funny things our kids have been doing or saying and laugh about the times that we don't quite react in a mommy-of-the-year manner. It's a club that I'm proud to be a part of, and I love dearly.

Looking back at the years that I've known Christie, we couldn't help but laugh about this. We met when we were fresh out of college, starting our first jobs, and had years to go before we'd meet our husbands. We used to discuss fashion, celebrities, dating, and what our weekend plans would be. We've made countless girls' trips to Disney (some of the best weekends of my pre-married life), had many sleepovers, and used to enjoy many lazy Saturdays lounging on the couch watching movies like "The Holiday," our personal favorite. It's amazing to see us know, years later, being wives and moms and truly understanding who we are, who we want to be, and what we value in life. My how times have changed, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Some friends last the test of time and she is one of many... and she's great at 2-year-old translating if you ever need her services.

If you're a mom and you're reading this today, just be reminded that some days we don't have it all together, but if we stick together, we can get through anything. Be blessed this week and know that you're doing the best you can!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How does she do it?

Happy Thursday! Sorry for my recent blog hiatus... I think this gal has needed a little break to get her priorities straight and I'm not going to lie- I needed a little breather. Sometimes I stress about how often I post, what to post, if anyone ever reads it, who is following me, etc., and then I forget that I started this blog for fun. So taking a step back to recenter my focus and remember what this outlet truly is for me is sometimes necessary. And like all most things, absence makes the heart grow fonder so my fingers were itching to type today!
Recently I've had more than one person ask me how I "do it all." On the surface I guess it may appear that way... I have a husband, two kids (who are both home with me a lot of the time aside from Jake's school schedule and scheduled trips to hang with grandparents during the week), a full-time job (from home), a house to keep, and all kinds of adventures with our growing church plant. On some weeks we're out doing stuff almost every night for the church- Sunday is our iConnect (membership) program, Mondays are usually free, Tuesdays I sometimes have MOMSource, Wednesdays are leadership and/or elder meetings, Thursday is our connect group, and finally the weekend rolls around and we have plans with friends or family, and sometimes just veg here with the kiddos, soaking in some quality time. We get invited over to have dinner with countless families (thank you by the way... we always enjoy getting to know our church family better!), and often have people over here, whether it be a new family that we want to connect with more, or friends that we don't see as often now that the church is growing so fast (what a great problem, right?). It seems like a lot, and sometimes it is, but I think it's first important to know that I, like everyone else, do not actually do it all. I will say, however, that the more I put on my plate and the busier we get, the more I realize that I can do- if and only if, those priorities are straight. Here are some things in my life that help keep it all in perspective:
  • People often say, "God won't give you more than you can handle." While I think that's true, I also think it's our responsibility to handle what God has given us well. We are all only given so much time and I've realized that we can either do a few things well, or a lot of things halfway. About three months ago I turned our kids' ministry over to a family who moved here for that purpose and it was so freeing! Becuase I had more on my plate than I could handle, I was not running the program with excellence and was instead stressing out all of the time and running around like a chicken with my head cut off on Sunday mornings. Sometimes it's hard to give up control and not be in charge, but remember that God has gifted others around you who can do it just as well, if not better, than you.

  • Realize that some things come first. When working at home, it's easy to get distracted. I found that when my kids were here and awake, I would get so frustrated because they continually acted out when I was trying to get something done. My kids are young, so they do not just play alone in there rooms. My frustration was that they were not acting within my schedule, and so I could never sufficiently do my job, and then one day it became clear that their needs come first. When my kids are here and awake, even during my "working hours," I walk away from my computer and focus on them. Jake loves when I get on the floor and play with him, and I have to make a concious effort to do that, especially during my work day. I will still answer the phone if it rings, and it often means staying up late after they go to bed to wrap up some things, but my kids are happier and I am less frustrated, and my work is still getting done. It's a win-win-win. Plus, I don't want to look back on these years and realize that I wish I had played with them more. Kids don't ever seem to nap when you "need" them to.

  • Take a long, hard look at how you spend your time. At the end of the day do you complain that you did not have time to clean your house, but you spent two hours on Facebook, blogs, and catching up on shows? I'm not saying you have to give those things up, but they do burn time quickly without you realizing it. Every January I fast (give up) TV for 21 days and use that time instead to read, play with the kids, talk to my husband, etc. And every year I realize how little I miss those programs. And every year I care less about and watch less TV, and if I do watch something, it's usually while I fold laundry or clean the kitchen. As for Facebook and blogs, I think they're fun, too, but I've found that setting a timer is essential. Fifteen minutes goes by in the blink of an eye and I don't need much more time than that to stay connected.

  • Don't waste a step! On your way to the kitchen to get a snack, pick up the toys in your living room or bring that laundry basket up the stairs. Sometimes I do this so much that I don't even remember what my original mission was! Use your time wisely and pick things that are productive!

  • Ask for help! I'm terrible at this and always working to get better. I come from a long line of poor communicators (sorry, but it's true... myself included!) and sometimes I'd rather assume that Josh knows what I need and then get mad that he didn't read my mind rather than just ask him the in the first place. Never once has he said "no" when I've asked him to rearrange his schedule so I can meet a deadline or take out the garbage because I hate to do it. It's a much better outcome when I ask on the front-side rather than get frustrated after the fact, for something that could have been avoided.

  • Learn to say "no." If we committed to everything we were asked to do, we'd never see each other let alone our kids! Sometimes, even if it's something fun that I really, really want to do, it's just not in the best interest of our family or for what we get done that week. And when I feel like I really missed out, the feeling usually only lasts a day or so and then I forget about it.

  • Find "you" time. Sadly for me, that's only ever found either late at night or early in the morning, so it's accompanied by large doses of coffee. But in order to spend any quiet time in the Word, or just catch up on blogging, reading, working out (which I've neglected to do over these past few months altogether), etc., I have to sacrifice a little bit of sleep to fit that stuff in. It's always worth it, even when getting out of bed is really hard.

  • Lastly, keep in mind that nobody "does it all." If anyone is putting pressure on you, it's probably YOU! Try to stay away from comparing yourself to other moms, bloggers, etc. and just do the best you can with the time that you've been given. And no matter what, remember to use some of that time to just serve, love, and encourage others. A short text message to a friend going through a difficult situation only takes two minutes (if you're a slow texter like me) but can turn that friend's day around complete.

And just so you know, this post was written over a span of three hours, with many, many interruptions from two of the cutest kids I know!

What advice do you have to be a woman (or man, although I doubt any men aside from my husband and dad read this) who "does doesn't do it all"??