Monday, November 23, 2015

My little Sweet Potato

This is Genevieve. She is a mellow, sweet baby who likes to cuddle. I don't seem to get enough time with her during the day, so she takes it at night. I love her more than words can say.

Tonight she had her first food... Sweet potatoes. She loved them. Well, mostly. 

I wish I had more time to say more things about this incredible little baby girl. But I'm too busy loving my kids, homeschooling, coordinating MOPS, and keeping our house a home for us all to have time to write these days. And that's ok. My priorities include family first and that's just how it has to be right now.

Maybe I'll find some time to write a few words here and there though... Maybe. 😊

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Being Me, Bravely

This year I embarked upon a new journey, one that I didn't expect to take but have stepped out in faith in nevertheless. I became a founder and coordinator for a MOPS group at our church, one of only two in our whole area.

 I'd never attended a MOPS meeting before when the idea was suggested to me by a pastor at our church. Doing my research led me to a place where I felt equal parts overwhelmed and excited, wondering if this is something I could actually DO. You see, I am not an outgoing person. I've been an introvert for as long as I can remember. I've had some leadership roles in my careers that have forced me to be social and friendly, and I think over time the Lord has used that to shape me and overcome my introverted-ness and insecurities. But I've also been hurt by friendships in the past and struggle with worries of abandonment, and risking that part of my heart held me back at first.

 But I had this longing... longing to have friends who could pray with me, could laugh with me, could sympathize about those nights of no sleep or the frustration of taking small children grocery shopping. Friends who I could truly be ME around, not this pretend perfect-mother social-butterfly version of me that I have for so long worn as a costume and taken off at home only to shed tears for being so lonely and isolated. My heart broke at the idea that there were others out there just like me, so very tired of the facades and putting on a "brave face" (though it is everything but), others who also longed for something more but felt too scared to take that risk of relationship... too scared to be themselves and reach out to other mothers who are unknowingly similar and harboring the same longing as they fold the laundry and do the dishes.

You see, this year I struggled with the idea that I was "brave" because I made the first steps in starting this group. God equipped me with the talents for it... organization, leadership, craftiness, planning skills, non-profit business education, etc etc. It didn't seem like a brave thing to me to use these skills to benefit others. It just seemed like a natural way I could serve given what I have to give.

But I see now that being ME Bravely was not at all about beginning this group nor about leading it... it was instead about my courage to build relationships with other women based on something real, somewhere where I couldn't hide my flaws and frustrations. I learned to share the burdens and the joys of motherhood with my leadership team who are no doubt the best and closest friends I've ever had. I became brave enough to admit to them that I am too tired to clean my house, that I yell at my kids when I'm exhausted, and that I need prayer (and lots of it). They encouraged me to ask for help, to lean on them, to not do it all on my own (as I have for so long).

I've realized that to be me, bravely, meant I needed to find other moms who made me be brave by forming friendships and taking that risk right along with me. And now as our group grows and grows, I am able to see clearly that longing in others... that fear of letting go and being ourselves for fear of rejection or judgment coupled with the fierce desire to have relationships built on something more than parenting fads and complaints. At MOPS I've seen relationships grow, and not just my own... I've watched as experienced been-there-done-that moms encourage new moms and reassured them that they will survive this and be stronger for it, that it is all worth it. I've witnessed moms grow closer together over the shared burden of losses too great to carry alone. I've seen a community of women band together where once there was just an empty space. Looking around the room at this amazing group of tired but happy women, this verse repeatedly resonates in my heart: "A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul" (Proverbs 13:19)

In the course of finding my courage, others have found their own. To God be the glory.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ellie is TWO!!

A month ago today our little girl turned two years old! We were very busy recovering from our big trip to Alaska, but we still found time to celebrate with a Cinderella party. Ellie wore her Cinderella dress (supported with her brother's Prince Charming costume) and had a blast! She had a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting (since she loves chocolate), and enjoyed playing with her brother and cousins at her party. She loved opening her presents, sometimes more than the presents themselves! She is so silly and fun and loves to laugh. Some things Ellie loves at age 2: Callie's wild west (She calls it "yee haw!") Cookies Fishie crackers Minnie Mouse (which is kind of an obsession, she can't sleep without her Minnie pillow) Wearing necklaces Having tea parties Dancing (especially with bean bags on her head) Jumping off things Reading books Singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Kitties Doggies Broccoli Tickles Eating with spoons and forks (and not her fingers) Castles and princesses who sing Splashing in water Swimming Doing whatever James does Ellie is also talking up a storm. Today she said, "Where's Papa?" when he went away for a minute. She also likes to sing any song that she hears, to the best of her ability. It's really really cute. :-) I love my little girl so much, she is such a joy in our lives. <3

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ellie is 23 months old!

Little Ellie is 23 months old today!! :-) I know I missed when she turned 22 months... life has been crazy busy here with Eliot's summer courses and starting a new job. I've also started a mom's group at our church and, of course, been preparing for our upcoming Alaskan cruise, so blogging has made it to the bottom of the list sadly with all the sewing, crafting, cleaning, prepping, and packing I've been doing! Ellie is very busy getting into everything. Her word for anything she wants (and that she can't say yet) is "Buckle!!" because she loves buckles! Ellie has also started stringing words together, even saying, "I got it!" "Car Go" and "Bye Bye Ducks." A very industrious girl who loves trains, necklaces, Callie's Wild West, shoes, climbing, and anything her brother is doing. Often I will see Ellie pick up a book and "read" to herself. She also has gotten into duplo legos and the train set James got for his birthday. Pretty soon she will be moving into her own toddler bed (sniff!) and doing even more big-girl things (like the kind of training every parent dreads doing and yet it must be done). Ellie is also doing pretend play... she will feed her stuffed animals tea that she poured and pretend to sip things, etc. She loves dressing up, and has also taken to swimming like a fish (she even takes a breath and puts her face in the water!). Ellie also gives great hugs and kisses, but usually only on her terms. She is such a blessing in our lives, a silly dancing, wiggling, happy girl who loves to laugh! James has been a busy bee this summer, with swimming lessons and making new friends. We've explored many new parks and he's gotten really good at his bike (with training wheels still). I often go for walks with Ellie in the stroller and James riding his bike. James is also getting pretty good at writing his name, we are just starting to work on the last name and some sight words. He seems to enjoy numbers naturally. He also watched Wall-E for the first time recently so we've been talking a lot about robots, space, and some of the bigger words in the movie (like Directive, which has been fun for encouraging him to stay on task). He also loves the show Octonauts, which is about Ocean creatures. He and I made a lego Gupp-E today (a little underwater submarine used to rescue marine animals). James also has completed his summer study of Alaska and nautical terms, and he knows we will be going to see Salmon, which side of the ship is port/starboard, what is a glacier, how you pan for gold, etc. It's been a true joy to learn all about it right along with my kids. Homeschooling is hard at times but rewarding all around!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ellie is 21 months old!

I am a week or so late with this post...but out little girl is 21 months old!! She is saying more words, specifically Hi and Bye to almost everyone. Her word for most things is Uh-oh, but she also likes to say Mama a lot. And she has gotten pretty adept at please and thank you, and up as down! :-)

Today Elle had her first Popsicle, which she loved slurping on and licking till it melted all over her. James also enjoyed his Popsicle a whole lot. 
Ellie is a climber... She climbs on almost anything anywhere and has no fear of heights. She goes down big slides in the park and climbs big ladders (which freaks me out). Ellie loves to do whatever her big brother does, from coloring to eating blueberries off the bush in the backyard. She is also doing great in swim lessons with daddy... She's progressed from water babies to water kids! James is doing well in his lessons too, he had almost done a full bob under water and is working on floating on his back and keeping his kicks small.

The tomatoes are ripe in the garden today, which excited James. He kept calling them strawberries, and when I reminded him they are tomatoes, he said, "oh right, TA Mos!! I almost got! (Forgot)" :-) He eats those things like candy.

Not everything is sunshine and roses over here... James has decided to start lying about things (which we quickly managed) and Ellie throws giant tantrums when she is tired and doesn't get her way. But mostly they are good kids who are super silly and sweet. We are truly blessed. <3

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy 4th of July!!

Happy Independence Day everyone! We had a nice day hanging out as a family... We played at home in the morning, James helped daddy pick some rhubarb and then helped me make a pie. Ellie helped Daddy water the lawn. 

After naptime, we went over to the lights of liberty celebration here in Springfield. The kids went "fishing" for prizes, went down a big slide, got some balloons, listened to some marimba music, and had a blast seeing some turtles and snakes. Then we went home and had BBQ dinner of chicken, corn on the cob (the kids loved both shucking an eating it), potato salad, chips, and watermelon with the strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert. The kids munched happily and we talked about our military and what they do to protect our freedom.

After dinner we went back to the park for fireworks. Ellie was so tired (10pm) she pretty much dozed through most of them while laying on my lap. James loved them, and he said a lot of "wow" and "that was a GREAT one!" It's the first year he actually loved fireworks and it was wonderful to share them with him.

Now we are all super tired so it's time for bed!

Happy 4th everyone!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

James is 4 years old!!!

How is it possible that I've become a mom of a 4-year-old?? James is 4 years old today, and I can't believe how much he's grown. It hit me when he was cutting the ribbons off his gifts all on his own (with safety scissors). He didn't need help unwrapping his gifts anymore. :-( How blissfully wonderful that he is independent and yet bittersweet... all these steps are steps farther away from us. Necessary, but sad nonetheless. Anyway, James asked for a party with an "Up theme and one big train." We delivered! The whole party was themed after the Disney movie Up... James had a Russell costume (he only wore the sash for a little while... he was cranky after his nap and it kept falling off him). The kids all got Wilderness Explorer scarves and the adults got Ellie badges. I had a blast blowing up balloons and making a little house fly around the room. I also had some travel posters from Paradise falls, an adventure book featuring James's adventures from the last year, a "Paradise Falls" savings jar, some stuffed and paper characters, Balloons and clouds cupcakes, clouds hanging from the ceiling, and an Adventure is Out There print. I plan on using a lot of these things in the kids room since I am redecorating James's room to accommodate both the kids and it will have an UP theme. :-) The kids all had a great time running around with balloons and playing "Find the Squirrel." The adults participated in a "Guess the skittles in a jar" game which my mom won. James loved blowing out the candle on his cupcake (and eating it). He got lots of cool gifts, including a big LEGO duplo train, "big boy" LEGOs a helicopter, some planes, a mini cooper, some toy story figurines, and books, among other things too numerous to mention. He was one happy kiddo and loved assembling the train with his cousins and sister. Tonight in the tub, without any prompting, he told me Ellie was his best friend in the whole world. <3 And now some pics of the birthday boy!