Thursday, November 22

Holiday Hiatus


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

It's 10:30 p.m....My belly is still full, the kids are asleep, Scott is trying to figure out why only half of our extra large outdoor wreath is lighting up and watching the last of Thanksgiving day football on television. It's been a good day. A busy day. We've been watching parades, making pies, cleaning bedrooms, squeezing in pre-turkey eating workouts and many other minor details and kid management moments. 

So as the day winds down and this pregnant momma gets ready to find her way to bed I wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope yours was joyful and blessed and full of good food and smiles. I’ve decided to take a holiday blogging hiatus, so this will be my last post for a while. I'm going to spend the next few weeks reading some books I've wanted to read, focusing on my Christmas shopping and preparations and mostly just spending some extra time focusing on the girls, the house and enjoying the Christmas season together. 

I'll leave you with a few photos of our Thanksgiving crafts and preparations...

Ella's preschool turkey creation #1

preschool turkey creation #2

our favorite t-shirt the last 3 weeks

LOVE seasonal foam crafts from Michaels!

Our "Thankfulness" ribbon strung across the kitchen window/doorway

We tried to add leaves to this during dinner as many nights as possible...we'll probably continue for another week or so, just to fill it in! 



Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year...I'll be back in early 2013! 

Saturday, November 17

Momma Said There Would be Days Like This...A Really Long Post About the Hole in My Kitchen Sink



There is a hole in my kitchen sink.

That's right...I'm not referring to the drain or the garbage disposal here, but a hole put there, accidentally (sort of), by me.

It's small, the size of the tip of a pen (or a pair of...ahem...scissors), but a hole in the kitchen sink is no good no matter what size it is.

 "How did you wind up with a hole in your kitchen sink dear Lisa?"

That's what you are asking, isn't it?! It's a good question, really. Though the answer is a little bit embarrassing.

So, before I get around to telling you why there is a hole in my kitchen sink, I'm going to take you back 20+ years to tell you another quick story. A story about...Atari! 

Do any of you remember Atari? I was never a big "gamer" per se, but do clearly remember stretches of hours devoted to Atari!

My brother and I received that Atari on a Christmas morning in 1988 or 89. The system came with one game, Pole Position-- a racing game. It's actually the only game I really remember playing.  I spent hours playing Pole Position. Never enough time to really advance to upper levels, or be incredibly competitive, but it was a personal challenge to try to beat my own race times and complete the harder routes.

I'm sure we had other games and I'm sure my brother spent much more time playing them than I did, but I was happy with Pole Position (and maybe Donkey Kong) and piddled away good daylight hours staring at a television trying to beat other cars in a simulated road race. 

The other thing I remember clearly about that Atari and that game is the frustration that seemed to emerge from deep depths when a race started out poorly or I knew I was not doing well despite my best efforts. Want to know what I did in those moments?! 

Ha! I pressed the restart button. Over and over and over sometimes. "You CAN'T do that, my brother would yell...it's not how you play!" 

Whatever. 

For the record I'm sure he did his share of restarting when I was not looking. 

Could I have just continued on in the game, knowing I wasn't going to place very well? I could have, but at 11 years old  it seemed like a big waste of time. Why would I just keep plodding away in a race I was destined to lose? 

Because, my inner conscience should have told me, it will be a lesson in life...in keeping on when the days are not going as expected. It will be your training ground for motherhood in 20 years! 

Who cares about motherhood and life lessons when you are 10?! 

I didn't care at the time, but maybe I should have. Here I am, 24 years later, wishing some days were an Atari game with a restart button...Do you ever have days like that? 

So, back to the hole and how it found its way into my sink...

 About three weeks ago I was having a bad day. I was crabby, tired, impatient and oh, did I mention I'm pregnant? While the pregnancy has yet to wreak too much havoc on me physically, the emotional impact is another story!

On that day, three weeks ago, there was a period of 16 hours or so where I put a hole in my kitchen sink with a pair of scissors, cried blubbery, slobbery, tired, self-pitying tears in front of my children not once but TWICE! and made my husband late for work on the 2nd of the two mornings because he was kind enough to sit through the second act of my two-day Emmy award winning performance for craziest pregnant wife on the face of the PLANET.

...alright, maybe just Western New York, but you get the idea. 

Did I mention I am pregnant?  I figure that knowledge is at least worth at least a small reduction in points on the parenting/wife infractions I've incurred.  

I'm telling you all of this in my confessional here because I'm hoping you have really bad days like this too... Days where you feel unglued, undone and overwhelmed. 

 I figure that if you do ever had a day like that you'll hopefully, after reading this,  know that A) You're not alone. There is at least one other person in the world (me!) who understands, and  B) God is bigger than it all and full of FORGIVENESS and grace so big that even a hole in a kitchen sink is covered...

Ironically (or maybe not so much so!) I currently happen to be reading Lysa Terkeurst's really great book about emotions right now. It's called Unglued: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Raw Emotions. 

I'm only about 2/3 of the way through the book (and was only on Chapter 3 when I put a hole in our sink!), so I have a ways to go...Perhaps in more ways than just the literal reading!

The beauty of reading this book, (despite the fact that I'm not fixed yet!) is that it is making me aware of the areas I need to work on and that it is O.K. that I'm an "unfinished product"...we all are in one way or another. 

In Chapter 2 Terkeurst anecdotally talks about the sculpture that we all know today as David by Michelangelo. It's one of my favorite moments in the book. What I didn't know is that the David we know today was first started by one artist who began sculpting the legs, feet and torso but eventually abandoned the work. Another artist picked it up 10 years later, but also never completed the work. 

Terkeurst says, 
 "It was nearly twenty-five years before Michelangelo, just twenty-six, picked up a chisel and dared to believe he could complete a masterpiece...When at last the seventeen foot David emerged, Michelangelo is reported to have said "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." When asked how he made his statue, Michelangelo is reported to have said, "It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn't look like David."

Think about that for a moment. What would it look like to chip away that pieces of your  life that don't look like you....or at least the you-- the mom, the wife, the friend-- that you really want to be. You know, if time, or money, or EMOTIONS didn't do their part at getting in the way. 

Listen to what Terkeurst says next...it's SO beautiful...
"God doesn't allow the unglued moments of our lives to happen so we'll label ourselves and stay stuck. He allows the unglued moments to make us aware of the chiseling that needs to be done. So instead of condemning myself with statements like, I'm such a mess, I could say, Let God chisel. Let Him work on my hard places so I can leave the dark places of being stuck and come into the light of who He designed me to be." 

I find that comforting and encouraging and full of hope...to know that despite my feeling stuck in the mess that God has a more beautiful and chiseled plan.

So, how did the hole end up in the sink you still want to know? 

It was 6 p.m. and I was hungry and trying to put dinner on the table. The girls were being GREAT but had destroyed the playroom (it looked like they just had a 4 hour frat party in 15 minutes!)...I wasn't so much upset about the mess as I was overwhelmed that there is ALWAYS a mess. That despite my best, tireless efforts to clean and organize and put things back in their place the house seems to always look like I never clean or organize or put anything back in its place! 

I was overwhelmed by the fact that I would have little time to write, or read or relax that evening (after they went to bed) because I needed to pick up some groceries and go through backpacks and pick up not just the mess in the playroom, but several other messes around the house that I won't bore you with describing at the moment. 

Sigh. 

I know, I know, I KNOW! Leave the messes, or skip the grocery store, or just come to terms with the fact that this is what motherhood is all about. 

I know all of those things...but you also know how it is...you try and try and try and...some days you do leave the mess, but some days you just must pick it up. 

AND, on that very day your (poor, unsuspecting) husband walks upstairs at the end of the day from working in his office and the supportive wife you want to be gets buried beneath the toys and scattered papers and glue sticks and scissors and craziness in the playroom...

You start blah, blah, blahing about getting dinner on the table and the stinkin' mess in the playroom...

And he says, "At least the girls are having fun!" 

And you think, WRONG ANSWER. 

"They're having fun and NO ONE (implication the poor guy standing across from you) else in this house EVER picks up the toys. Or at least when they do, no one else in this house ever puts ANYTHING away where it is supposed to go!"

(For the record I had also just found several random games and puzzles jammed into a small storage chest with all of the pieces spilling out and completely disorganized...probably the work of my very messy 3 year old...)

He got upset and defensive...naturally...and started saying something about not having time for this. 

I, in my very ungluedness,  felt disrespected because whether I have time for it or not this stuff seems to fill my WHOLE life...and I just.wanted.help. (Note...Scott is a very helpful husband...the problem with being a busy couple with young, active kids is that there truly is never enough time.) 

So, I took the kitchen scissors in my hand and very aggressively threw them into the sink before storming off to cry in the front office of our house (the only place to close a door, besides the bathroom, downstairs).

Apparently I threw them so hard, Scott reported to me later via cell phone while I was walking through Wal-Mart, that they literally, in his words, "were stuck in the kitchen sink, standing up, like a shovel in dirt." 

Fantastic. 

He poured some superglue into that hole to temporarily patch up my moment of being unglued. There is some odd irony in that, isn't there?

I wish I could say that was the end of it...

I went to bed with better hopes for tomorrow and after apologizing to Scott and buying him his first carton of egg nog this season (a FAVORITE!) from Wal-Mart as a peace offering. 

And then, the next morning, I got up at 7 a.m. to squeeze in a few minutes of journaling and Bible reading (that I REALLY, obviously needed!). Both girls had been sleeping until at least 7:20 pretty consistently...

...until that morning. 

My quiet moment ended at 7:10 when a sweet faced turned the corner. I was not upset at that sweet face, I was simply discouraged that it seemed IMPOSSIBLE to find time to pray or think or journal on a regular basis. Right after I turned Micky Mouse on for Ella I found myself, in tears, AGAIN, in the office...Scott found me there...

Where does a woman manage to consistently carve out a few minutes of quiet time? I wanted to know. An introspective woman who processes life best by journaling and reading, but most importantly, praying. Where? How? When? NEVER?! Sigh....

Next thing I knew it was 7:55 and the girls hadn't been fed and Scott was going to be late and we were all rushing around the house.  As I drove Ella to school that morning all I could think about was....


And so I looked up at the sky and pondered the beauty of the cloud formations, and the incredible display of fall trees in breathtaking hues. They reminded me of a 4th of July grand finale. 

I talked to Ella about taking a bike ride later and called Scott to apologize (again) that he was going to be late. I figure I couldn't literally re-do the last 16 hours, but I could start by shifting my focus upward, rather than outward and work on being grateful for the beauty that surrounded me. 

I know it sounds simple and trite, but I think Ann Voskamp ( author of One Thousand Gifts) was right on when she implies in her book that the ONLY way out of ingratitude, irritable living and a general frustration about life is to start be thankful for EVERYTHING. So I pressed the internal re-start button and started finding ways to be thankful...for that moment and day at least (it is a daily process). 

 I also realized that after a night and a morning like I had it is not just the "re-set" button that is the answer (though sometimes it helps!). On some days, the answer is simply staying in the game...or the race...that hasn't turned out the way I thought it was going to. A race in which you've crashed your car and have driven off the road. A race in which you might come in last, but where you learn to realize that it's o.k. 

Sometimes, just staying in the race, despite the bumps and crashes and wrong turns, is more important than trying re-start it, so to speak. Perhaps it's in those humble moments that the hardest parts are being chiseled away... and God is faithfully completing the work He has begun. 

So, I now have a daily (the hole!) reminder of what happens when I become unglued...other things in life need to be glued together...but I also can laugh because I know that God has more than superglue to  fix this weary momma's heart and that gives me a whole lot of hope to stay in the race. 







Sunday, November 11

The Demanding Life of 3

I realize that in just a few short months the title of this post will have a completely different relevance and meaning in my life....

Then...I will be living (and probably having no time to write about it!) the family life of five; two adults outnumbered by three children ages 5 and under (for a short time anyway, our oldest turns 6 in June).

Oh my...I get tired just thinking about it!

In the meantime, this post is about the day to day of just one three year old under my roof. The one crazy, busy, mood swingy, often irrational, highly energetic, vivaciously creative and full of spunk three year old that I have the pleasure of hanging out with one on one from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. when her sister finally gets home from school.

When Ava first started school I thought that having just Ella home would be easy peasey compared to having them both home, and on many accounts that was an accurate assumption. She's got the run of the house without anyone threatening to take her toys, boss her around or tell her she's doing just about EVERYTHING incorrectly (poor little sisters!).

And on some days the independent run of the show is enough to keep her happy and humming and satisfied all day long.

On other days...Oi...the other days...

My mother-in-law and I actually have a special name for Ella when she is really grouchy, crabby and sour apples...we call her Elga. It's kind of funny actually and even if she is in one of her most terrible moods, a reference to Elga always cracks the tiniest knowing smile...full knowledge the she is being certifiably, unreasonably, and irrationally a stubborn, crabby 3 year old.

For the record were at Tim Horton's having a donut with her bestest little friend Courtney after dance class on Friday and Courtney's mom told me that Ella taught Courtney how to pout...

"Ella! My Ella? How do you know?"

"Because Courtney came home from play school last year and said,  'Ella taught me how to pout...See!'  And then proceeded to make the grouchiest pouty face possible."

Oh dear...Although I can't say I'm completely surprised. When we're not calling her Elga I have called her the "Queen of Pout"... it looks just like this and it can be turned on in the blink of an eye...


and this...


and this...



So besides the pouting and crab faced shenanigans what else is Ella up to? I'll use this past Thursday as an example because I still happen to remember it...

At lunch time today I asked Ella if she wanted to help me make her sandwich...I, trying to be the 'with it' mom, knows that Ella likes to do these sorts of things and tends to eat better when she has taken part in the process of making her food.

She was so excited and immediately dragged the bar stool over to the counter to help and reported that she would be the peanut butter spreader.

Great! I think. She's cooperating and involved and wants to help with the peanut butter.

Until...

Until I explain that I am going to scoop the peanut butter out of the canister and make a pile on her bread that she can then spread (knowing that having her try to get the peanut butter out of the container on her own would result in a stickier, gooier mess than I was willing to clean up.)

"Noooooo! I. WANT. TO. DO. IT. I'm not helping mommy. I don't like mommy."

Since I had already scooped the peanut butter onto her bread the defiance escalated quickly. Once she looked down and realized she was not going to get her way with the peanut butter she practically jumped off the bar stool, ran across the living room screaming and threw herself into a corner with all of the theatrical flair she could muster.

I told her this was all quite ridiculous.

The screaming just got louder.

Finally I told her that if she was going to scream about the peanut butter that she'd need to do it in her room. She stomped her feet right up those stairs.

Lord help me, I prayed. I need wisdom with this one.

I let her pout upstairs for a few minutes while I took the opportunity to pop a few crackers into my mouth in quiet.

Eventually I went up to her room to talk to her about her attitude...

"Ella, we can't scream and carry on about peanut butter. Do you understand?"

She says nothing. Just crosses her arms in front of her chest with a full faced put.

"And further more you can't talk to mommy that way. Do you remember when you told me how you felt in school today when that little boy was not nice and said you couldn't play with him? That's what mean words do, they make people feel bad." I think I'm being all smart and connecting the situation to something real in her life... "That's how you make me feel when you say things like that.."

Guess what her response was?

"Well, Mom, he was not a little boy...He was just a boy."

Good grief!

She finally conceded to an apology and came downstairs to eat her peanut butter sandwich. By the time she was done eating she was bouncing around the kitchen with smiles and songs, as if the other little bit had NEVER happened. Truly, it was like a completely different child had entered the premises. She sent Elga back to her hiding place for a while and sweet Ella was back.

I swear I'm going to need a permanent room reservation in a local hotel if we end up having a third girl...I know people say boys are a handful and I believe that to be true in the physical sense, but girls...GIRLS are an emotional handful for sure.

I like to say it's a good thing she is so cute because it makes up for the mood swings! I suppose my husband has probably said that about me on more occasions than I'd care to confess...so maybe it's him that will need that hotel reservation after all!


Wednesday, November 7

Bonding Over Football


Uh Oh. I used the "F" word.

You know, football. 

That word that stirs up all sorts of images of overpaid, hot-headed athletes, scantily dressed women on the sidelines and balding men donned in incredibly expensive suits accented with obnoxious ties who talk about the details of the sport with a seriousness that could accompany diplomatic international policy. Oh, and those poorly written beer commercials that are supposed to connect with....well, I'm not sure...still trying to figure that one out.

Alright, alright...I'll stop.

I do actually know a lot of perfectly normal, well rounded individuals who love football...my husband, mother-in-law and our pastor included.  I don't actually mind watching a few rounds, or innings, or...uh...downs...myself,  especially if someone has offered a dip that contains cheese and salty chips!

All joking aside, I have one quick short story about football from this season: a sweet story about a daughter, her father, and football.

Scott has reignited his love for the sport this year thanks mostly to his sister's husband Dave who encouraged him to join their fantasy football league.  He has been watching the games with a newfound zest that has been been on hiatus since his own days of playing high school football and Sundays in the dorms with pizza in college.

The poor guy meets me and gets married and his football watching somehow goes down the tubes. Despite the fact that his buddies would probably like to blame that on me, I SWEAR I had nothing to do with it! I swear!

So the games have been on more often this year and the girls think it's pretty funny when Dad watches the guys running around the field on t.v. and especially funny when he starts to yell at said men running around the field on t.v.!

They always look at me, partly out of curiosity and partly to check in...I smile and nod as if to say, "Yes girls. It's o.k. This is normal guy stuff!"

(And then there are the times when they take advantage of Dad sitting on the couch and jump off the edge and onto his lap and he declares that "the next one BETTER be a boy!" Although, sorry babe, not sure a 3 year old boy is going to behave any differently when he could be using you as an indoor jungle gym!).

But the cutest darned thing happened several Tuesdays ago--Ava's library day. She always leaves with her two books from the previous week in her backpack in the morning, and her mom, the book lover, waits with eager anticipation to see what she will bring home in the afternoon.

(I must admit the Taylor Swift book last week left me raising my eyebrows...Where is the poetry? Or the good literature sweet girl?! Taylor Swift? I didn't even know you knew who she was?! )

So several weeks ago, when I picked her up, she was so excited to share her library news with me.

"Mom, I got one book for me and one for Daddy! I got a football book for Dad because he likes football"....pause..."I like football too!"

The Football book

What?! I gave birth to a long legged, blue eyed, blonde haired daughter who likes....football?! Haha, there is great humor in heaven! If you know me, the petite, brunette who would rather read a book than watch sports, you'd see the humor in this. 

During our drive home from lunch this past Sunday Ava also declared that she wanted to watch football with Dad, again! (For the record, the "watching" only lasts 15-20 minutes...it is the gesture that counts, right?!)

It's quite cute actually. Who knew you could learn so much from your child by observing their kindergarten library book selections?!  Last week (before the football bit) I discovered she liked Taylor Swift because the 3rd grader who lives two doors down from us has a Taylor Swift poster hanging in her room. This week it is football because her Dad likes it.

I will admit...I like the football affection and admiration better than the pop star affinities.

At the end of the day all this football and library book stuff got me thinking... that besides finding this all cute and amusing, there were some big things...soul things...character building things...that are unraveling here:

 1) Kids are SO maleable at this age and that it is INCREDIBLY important that we pour as many positive influences into their lives as possible.  We, as parents, must be careful not to undermine their youth and dismiss them by saying, "they're only in kindergarten or first grade or third grade." They are young and not naive, but formable and impressionable. THESE are life forming years and should be treated with great care!

I'm asking myself the question, more and more, How can I proactively be filling Ava's heart and life with good? With positive moral values? With tools to treat others well and to be a light in an often murky world?

2) Secondly, I'm realizing in concrete terms that Mom and Dad are still a big deal in her life! And I suppose that while we always will be I would be naive to think that there will not come a time when, if strong relationship foundations are not laid now, that friends and other influences will have much more sway.  Now is the time for us to embrace that role and be stronger influences than all the other competing voices likely to come her way!

I don't have the answers, only the commitment that we're striving diligently to do the best job we can.

So, as we navigate the funny, full of new experiences, year of kindergarten, I continue to both enjoy the stories she comes home with and also look for as many teaching opportunities as possible...

We are embracing and taking note of the ways that she reaches out to connect with us and how she shows us she loves us. We are taking notes of her "love languages" and interests so that we can use those to love her right back. Whether those ways include sweetly drawn pictures and notes or library books that include unexpected topics like....Football...we are counting them all as important blessings and are grateful for the connecting moments.  

Saturday, November 3

More in the Mornings

"The Privilege of Morning" by Bridgette Guerzon Mills

Brrr, it's getting cold here in Buffalo! This morning when I woke up to shuffle over to Panera it was
F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G... I had a scarf, down vest AND gloves on and waited impatiently for the heat to kick in while the car seemed to vindictively blow cold air at me!

Alright, technically the car thermometer said 33 degrees, so that is not quite freezing, but it's still cold! It's kind of funny, when you live in a place like Buffalo 33 feels SO cold in October, but by February it's considered "warm"! 

Why do I live here again?! Haha...just joking...kind of...

So here I sit at Panera, a cup of coffee and my computer...This is not my typical Saturday morning routine, but we're giving it a try to see if we like it...like test driving a new car for a week, or trying on a potential pair of shoes.



On most Saturday mornings one of two things happen; if I went to bed before 11 I get up before the girls to journal, pray, and gather my thoughts before the crew comes running downstairs! That's IF I went to bed before 11. 

Otherwise Scott and I both sleep until one or both of the girls coming bounding into our bed (usually by 7:30) and we plead with them over and over again for "5 more minutes!" as they chitter chatter and roll around and continually ask "is it time to get up yet?!" 

Once we do all make it downstairs, there is coffee and cartoons. Scott gets the pancake ingredients out and I typically put my workout stuff on and head to a 9 a.m. Zumba class. 

I have loved my Saturday morning Zumba classes-- in part because they are just plain fun and in part because it's one of the only days during the week when it's easy to get out of the house in the morning to get a workout in (unless I wanted to go really early!).

So why did I give up Zumba this morning for a cup of coffee at Panera?

(I know some of you are thinking...C'mon Lisa, that sounds WAY better anyway!) 

Last week while I was attending the Allume blogging conference I heard several women talking about how they started utilizing their mornings more efficiently, to pray and read their Bibles, to write  and exercise, or whatever else they are passionate about, but have a hard time fitting in. 

One woman, who ran a breakout session titled "How To Use Your Blog to Change the World During Naptime" (great title isn't it!), told us that she gets up every Saturday morning at 5 a.m. to write and work on blog posts until 10 a.m. or so and then she has the rest of the day to devote to her family.

5 a.m.!!!!!!! 

Ironically (or not so much!) Kat's (the 5 a.m. lady!) blog is titled Inspired to Action...it's an incredibly encouraging blog and you should definitely pop over and check it out. There is also a tab for "The Hello Morning Challenge", where women from all around the country join to encourage one another on in using their morning more fully and if you sign up to follow her blog you receive a free e-book titled "Maximize Your Mornings"! 

Let me tell you...hearing her say that was definitely inspiring. I am always impressed when someone is so committed to something or passionate about an idea that they make every effort to do that thing, or fit it into their lives, even if the fitting it in means sacrifice of some sort (um, sleep!).  Those men and women who get up early to train for marathons or stay up late writing pages for their novels...I love their stories and they encourage me to look for new ways to do things in my own life! 

So, I'm channeling a little bit of Kat's energy this morning and decided to give up my 9 a.m. Zumba class, set my alarm for 6:30 ( 5 a.m. was a tad too early for me!) and get over to Panera to work on some posts for this week, an on going writing project and do some planning for the week ahead. 

I'll be honest...I didn't want to get up at 6:30 this morning. Saturday is the ONLY consistent morning that I have the luxury of sleeping past 7 a.m. It also meant going to bed early last night and so I diligently found myself turning the t.v. off at 10 p.m. even though I was warm and comfy on the couch and wanted to watch one more episode of Downton Abbey (I'm a little late to the game here, but just discovered the series and am watching Season 1 on Netflix!) 

But sometimes we have to trade good for better. 

What I mean is that while I enjoy those Zumba classes, I fill more fulfilled when I can squeeze some writing or blogging in. The reality is I will easily be able to fit a walk or quick trip to the gym in later, but the writing takes more time...and doesn't always fit into our busy weekends. 

So here I sit, trying something new. Trying to utilize some of the time in which the girls are sleeping anyway and not much is going on around the house so that I can be there later when it is. I'm more of a morning person than a night owl...I don't love getting up in the morning, but I have more mental focus and energy in the morning and so I do it when I can. 

I'll let you know how it goes!


                              Hugs, 

                             Lisa











Tuesday, October 30

Better Lovin' in the Day to Day

(image borrowed from Google Images)
 
      So, after that wonderful conference I attended over the weekend I came home infused with inspiration and post ideas, a desire to be more focused and intentional in my writing, and a hope to write about things that matter to you and also about things more deeply spiritual and therefore "important" in general.

     As I've alluded to in the last couple of months, my writing time is short and I won't lie and say "sweet"...it's more like short and frenetic when I squeeze it in. A few blocks of 15 or 20 minutes here and there, and a couple of consistent longer stretches when I'm lucky (or planned and organized enough to get out of the house!) With my oldest in kindergarten this year and the little one in preschool I have also managed 1-2 mornings a week for a couple of hours.

     So...after my lovely, inspirational weekend I was all pumped to pack up my computer, notes from the weekend and my journal, plant myself at Starbucks this morning and start typing up a storm of encouraging words.

     Then we get an automated message at 9:15 p.m. last night.

     "This is a message from the Lancaster School District calling to inform you that due to high winds and rains there will be no school tomorrow."

     No school?! No school! Wait, I have plans and they include kids going to school!!

     Blasted high winds...Couldn't you have come on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday when I was planning to be at home ANYWAY?

     I don't mean to make light of the "storm" because in many parts of the Eastern seaboard it was incredibly destructive and my heart goes out to those families...

     HOWEVER...it was nothing more than a slight rain "storm" (quotation marks intended) here in Buffalo. The sun was actually beaming through my window at one point this morning! In other words, the kids could have TOTALLY gone to school and no one would have been in danger...it was a total freebie of a day for them!

     So, after my grumble, mumbles for a short period of time last night and this morning I realized three things:

1) Parenting requires diligent practice in the letting go of our own personal agendas and expectations at a very high rate of frequency. I know this. I even practice this regularly. But...sometimes random weather related school closings throw you a bit of a curve ball and you have to recalibrate the compass.

2) While I hope to someday write deeply honest and moving blog posts that encourage and inspire you...life seems to be necessitating that I keep plugging along with my random day to day mommy musings for now.

3) If you can't ship them (the kids!) off to school for a couple of hours on a given day you might as well jump in and join them.

     I dug into my craft supplies, unwrapped a new Buck Denver DVD I received for free this past weekend (woohoo for cool free stuff!), cleaned up the kitchen and let the girls play around the house till their hearts were content, in their jammies (and mine!), until 4 p.m. this afternoon when I finally declared that it was unhealthy to wake up and then go to sleep in the same pajamas and that we needed some fresh air!

     Here were some of my favorite (and most amusing moments!) from the day (please note, I've switched to using first initials for the girls...it makes me feel better!):

* A told E they were playing "school". They dragged a kitchen chair into the playroom and then a whole bunch of blankets and pillows. Next thing I know E was lying, covered up, on the playroom floor with A announcing that E was partaking in her 2-hour "rest" time at school!

After "rest" time A taught E how to do "show and tell"...here is a picture of them showing and telling each other about their plastic pumpkin scoopers.

show and tell!

*There was a relatively competitive and hilarious rock, paper, scissors competition at lunch time. I had never seen them play this before, nor did I know that they knew how so I was quite amused.

*At one point I walked into E's bedroom in time to see several of their larger stuffed teddy bears dressed in E's good school clothes and I happened to catch them just before they were about to apply lip gloss to their bear's faces!!!

(Along these lines I found one bear yesterday with a green heart drawn in marker on its plush soft face...After yelling about the fact that I did not find it amusing that they were defacing their stuffed animals it was reported to me by A that she thought the bear needed a tattoo!)

*We did finally get the craft supplies out and created fun fall collages with Halloween stickers, foam sticky leaves and stencils. E almost had a meltdown because she felt that her butterfly looked like it was crying and it wasn't supposed to be crying (girls!), but I managed to swiftly swoop in and rectify the situation with a new piece of paper and a happy butterfly!

pre-butterfly meltdown (that was the next project!)
It was a good day. I picked up the house, the girls played really well with each other and I think E was excited to have the company of her big sister on a weekday again.

     I also learned (again!) that the "spiritual" at this season of life can be extracted from being present to my girls' laughter, to engaging in their games, by offering them opportunities to be creative and by responding to them in patience and with enormous amounts of love...in our pajamas, without leaving the house.

    What had I planned on writing today? What important inspirational stuff had I had concocted in my head?

     Well, I had planned on confessing to you that I want to be a better mom and wife; more loving, more patient, more graceful. A mom drawing closer to God more intimately on a daily basis and allowing her reactions to those in her life to flow intimately from that first and most important intimacy; my daily relationship with God. I promise I'll tell you more about why I'm desiring all of that (aside from what might seem obvious) in my next post.

    I had all sorts of plans to start getting up earlier and embracing the wee morning hours...and then my first moments to talk to my husband were at 9:45 p.m. last night and school was cancelled today and the list could go on and on.

     I just started reading a book that has already changed my heart from the very first chapter...It is called "The Fruitful Wife" (about the fruits of the spirit) by Haley DiMarco (I mentioned it on FB last week) and it is profound!

     In my next post I'll also tell you more about the story of how I came across the book and why I was compelled to pick it up, but for now I'll just leave you with a quote...The topic of the first chapter is "love."

     "When I started to see what true love is, when I took a look at the Author of love, I started to get a more accurate, wholesome, and beneficial understanding of this seemingly unfathomable concept. According to God's Word, much to my surprise, love is less about how I feel, but more about what I do. It isn't about getting, but giving. It isn't about reward, but sacrifice. And it isn't about excitement, but endurance...love, if purely lived, strips us of all our self-interest, self-promotion and self-protction." 

    Wow!

    The more that I think about it, the more I realize that God had other plans for me today...He was less interested in my writing about love and more interested in my practicing it...

    Here's to hoping I received a passing grade...

    Hoping to get my next post out to ya'll by Thursday or Friday...

 
          Hugs,

          Lisa




 

Sunday, October 28

Family and Writing and How it All Intertwines...My Lessons from Allume

The centerpieces have been dismantled, tablecloths pulled away, booths taken down and attendees suitcases are being repacked with gifts and new books and knick knacks, making them hard to zipper and rearrange.  It's kind of like the morning after Christmas, or Thanksgiving...hours of preparation go into the details of the event ahead of time and then before you know it the whole thing is...over.





Four hundred women are on their way home this morning. Back to their husbands and children, to their homes and the tasks that lay before them. It was a wonderful weekend, it's nice to get away and be refilled spiritually and as a writer.  It's even nicer to come...home.

In one session I attended yesterday given by a sweet soul named Kat (and titled "Blogging as a Ministry, How to Change the World During Naptime) I was reminded to "Always be a better mother than you are a writer."

Always be a better mother than you are a writer.

That's what I love about these conferences, where women talk about writing and blogging and the impact it can have on the world (and if you heard some of the stories of the ways these women have used social media to impact the world you would be awed), but they are also moms and wives and church members and, most importantly daughters of God. And, at the end of the day the framework we function from as Christian women helps to form our lives and reminds us about the things that really matter...first things first.

So here I am about to head home and I'm full of inspiration and anticipation.

I'm inspired to continue to write and blog and share my honest heart with all of you and hope that in the process you'll share yours with me.

I'm anticipating the excited shrieks of "Mommy" as my girls run to me when I walk in the door this afternoon. I will hug them. I have gifts for them. I will hug my husband.

We hope to carve pumpkins tonight and bake cookies. I am already thinking about parent teacher conferences this week and meal planning.

I am hoping to begin to carve out more morning time for writing and planning my day...hoping. But also, in some strange way, at greater peace with the idea that in this season of life that is not always possible and that that's o.k too.

An art teacher at a school I once worked at told me something I will never forget. She was a mom to two older children when we spoke, but remembered back to her days at home with her little ones. Days that were filled with joy, but also a restlessness on her part at times...a creative restlessness.

She looked at my intently and said, "My children were the best work I ever created."

I want to be able to look at a young momma 20 years from now and speak those words to her heart as well.



THANK YOU to the team of women (and men!) responsible for all of the planning and details and offering a sweet space for all of us women to come and be inspired. And to Jessica Heights and Sarah Mae who, somehow, in the busyness of their own lives, managed to create space for our lives.

I'll leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the weekend:


Impact for God does not occur when we are pursuing impact, but when we are pursuing God.  


Great, impactful writing flows from a greatly impacted heart. 

God calls us to muddied living...A clean heart, but dirty hands. 



We need to rest in the middle of the undone. We tend to use rest as a reward, but rest is a choice. 


When you want to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to the you when you started.
Darren Rowse, Author and creator of Pro Blogger (who is from Australia and has a super cool accent!)


[When writing] You have to bury your fear in faith, otherwise you bury your talents in fear.

A call from God is about relationship and proximity. He desires closeness. God din't give Abraham a map, he gave him a relationship. 



Wednesday, October 24

You're Going Where? For What? With Whom?!





     This week I will have the fortunate opportunity to attend Allume, a conference for Christian women who are bloggers and writers. Doesn't that sound like fun?!!

     I'm quite excited, although I know for some of you having a tooth extracted probably sounds like more fun...women, writing, what?!!

      This will be the second time I've attended this particular conference, the first time as a full-fledged attendee (which means I benefit from the fantastic goodie bags they give away!). Last year was one of those funny God stories about opening doors in unexpected ways...I'll tell you the story if you ever want to hear it, but will spare you the details for now.

     So, while I LOVE writing conferences and know intimately what they're all about, many of my friends and family members still give me the funny eye and a look that says, "You're doing what? Again? With whom?" 

    To answer some of those questions I've included the Allume description and mission below...

Our goal at Allume is to minister to the woman, the blogger, the story teller. We want to love well, encourage, and spur women on to shine the Light that lives within them. We want to serve you in ways that cultivate the Light in you, help you expand your influence, use your influence well (in your home, your community, or around the world) and encourage you with stories of those who are living out the Light.


The Allume Mission:
The Allume conference exists to offer a gathering place for kindred spirits to connect, learn, grow, and be refreshed so they can persevere in being a people who bring hope to the world through the social media medium. We want to reflect His Light in all our spheres of influence. Our goal is to go beyond the surface into intentional blogging and real life living, all to the glory of God. Allume is a one-of-a-kind conference that seeks to engage women by teaching blogging techniques and social media skill while also urging and encouraging women to live fully integrated lives with their faith and family.

     So, hopefully I'll return inspired and encouraged. This season of young motherhood is a season wrought with very particular challenges and struggles. The days are long and you are rarely alone. The tasks are numerous and little hands can only do so much to help. You try to set realistic expectations, but viral infections and cranky 3 year olds and third pregnancy exhaustion and nausea kick in. Suddenly nothing seems realistic or reasonable...

    And in the middle of it all I (perhaps too stubbornly sometimes) continue to try to cultivate time to write and blog. To take on the occasional freelance article or submit something to an online journal. I try to encourage other moms that it is possible to be a stay at home mom and still be passionate about a hobby or an interest or something slightly professional-ish. 

      Some days I wonder. Truly. If it's worth it during this season. If it is even ok?! This journey of trying to fit in something that can feel as luxurious or superfluous as writing. It is a journey wrought with frustration, guilt, confusion and doubt on many days. 

     But, I must confess...I cannot stop...It's an inherent part of who I am. I swear I was born journaling and with a book in my hand! It's as important  and as integral to my life as eating (and for those of you who know me, you know how important that is). I don't watch much t.v. at night, I read or blog. I don't take fancy trips to European cities (that's partially sarcastic, but sounds like fun nevertheless!) I go to Grand Rapids, MI and Hershey, PA to hang out with Christian women writers.

     I suppose there are worse things, right?!

     I love processing my life experiences through words. I love when those stories and words find a connection with the heart of  another women who is feeling the same way. I love the camaraderie and the conversation and the spurring each other on to keep going.

     So if the journey is wrought with guilt and doubt, it is also propelled forward by faith and hope. Hope that I am doing the right thing, saying the right thing, spending the right amount of time and ordering my priorities in the right way. Faith that God's divine wisdom will guide my tasks and priorities, inspire my words and use me in ways that help bring light to other's lives.

     So here I am, getting ready to shuffle off to PA tomorrow morning to hear from folks like Ann Voskamp, Sally Clarkson, Mary De Muth, and many others.

     Not to mention actually getting to meet in person many of the  wonderful, fun and inspiring women I've "met" virtually through the Allume blog network over the last year.

      So if you think about it, would you say a short prayer for me this weekend? For safe travel? For God's wisdom, direction and inspiration? And for my husband and my children who will be at home without me?

    I'll let you know next week how it all goes...and what state I find the hubby and children in by the time I get home!

    (Just kidding about that last part...kind of...despite allowing the girls to where mismatched clothing and socks that they seem to dig out from the pit of their dressers when I'm not around, my husband is one of the best and most capable dads I know!)



Monday, October 22

The Life of Lily Lapp-- A Sweet YA Amish Story (Review)


     When I was young (like 7-11 young) one of the television shows that I recall my parents watching more consistently than any other was Little House on the Prairie. We watched many of the episodes on t.v. and then one year my grandmother (my dad's mom) went through the trouble of recording (via VHS) every episode that was on television that year, labeled all of the tapes with episode titles and presented my father with the box for Christmas. A very sweet, homemade, "Little House" type gift.

     As a child I have fond memories of watching the show with my parents, read several of the books and even owned a Little House on the Prairie journal (my very first come to think about it!). As an adult and now a parent myself I have a greater appreciation for why my parents loved that show so much-- the simplicity, the love, the strong morals of the Christian family, the sense and semblance of family and teamwork, and the hard working spirit and commitment to their values.

     Many of these very traits and values seem to have disappeared from current television listings (if they haven't disappeared they are VERY hard to find!) and popular young adult literature.

     So it was with pleasure that I just finished the book Life with Lily, the first book in a new series of young adult books being published by Revell (a division of Baker Publishing) by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. It is a book that reminded me, in many ways, of the Laura Ingalls stories. 

     This particular book takes place on a small Amish farm in upstate New York where five year old Lily Lapp has a lot to do (or help her parents with) and a wonderful community of family and friends. But change comes quickly, a new baby brother, a new teacher at school, and new ways of looking at the world. Lily's days are full of helping with chores around the house, imaginatively making up games with her friends and siblings and taking care of her rag doll. 

     With chapter titles such as "A New Barn for Papa", "School Starts and Stops", "Lily's New Teacher", "Buggy in the Ditch", "Pumpkins" and "Christmas", the reader is taken through the day to day Amish life, as well as the seasonal changes and ways of celebrating, over the course of  18 months or so in young Lily's life. 

     Kinsinger and Fisher are wonderful story tellers and provide well crafted details to help their readers "see" the story as they read along. While I found the story slow in the beginning (most likely because it differs from my typical reading preferences), I eventually found myself wanting to know what happened next in the curious little girl's life and looked forward to the next chapter. 

     Also, as a mom with two small girls (5 and 3) I could easily see reading this book chapter by chapter to my own children and knowing they would enjoy the stories of friendship, birthday parties and horse drawn buggy rides. My 3 year old might be a little young (she doesn't sit still very well), but my 5 year old would definitely enjoy the stories It's a book that works as great bedtime material!  It's also a great book for independent reading in the 8-12 age range.

     Overall, I think Life with Lily, Book One is a wonderful alternative to much of the post modern, edgy,  young adult literature in the secular marketplace. It is clean, sweet, engaging  and easy to read. It also provides a wonderful opportunity to teach our children about the Amish culture of and offers a number of segways into conversations about the differences between their lives and our own. 

     For more information about the book,  its authors and even details about Amish life you can visit the (very cute!) website www.AdventuresofLilyLapp.com. 

     You can also order the book through Revell's website or, of course, Amazon

Friday, October 19

Burning Bushes

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
Albert Camus



Every fall I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

As August turns to September and the September days quickly click by I find myself feeling momentarily sad that summer is ending, that the cold will arrive sooner than I'd like it to, and that the days are getting shorter, shorter, shorter...until it begins to feel strange to be eating dinner at 5:30 p.m. because suddenly it is dark outside...like I'm having an odd dream where we're all eating tuna casserole in the middle of the night.

But then...then...I see a corner of a tree in my neighborhood transforming its hue from green to yellow or burnt orange or a vibrant red.

Oh yes, the leaves. I love the leaves in October. 

And as much as I am not looking forward to winter and the dreary gray skies that seem to hover over our Lake Erie town for months on end, pushing their heaviness on my moods more than I'd like, I do love the incredible and natural living art that surrounds me for six weeks before the dark nights move in...It's like the grand finale on the 4th of July...And maybe a a bit of a consolation prize for the long cold months ahead.

As Scott and I drove the 375 miles from Buffalo through Canada to Grand Rapids, MI, and back again this past weekend I felt so fortunate to be driving, through a stretch of gorgeously displayed creation...at one point, I told Scott, "I feel like we're driving through a painting!"

I know, I'm a cheeseball, and a sucker for vividly created artwork, particularly of landscapes, and colors and trees and long drives with my husband sitting next to me.

He just smiled, "That's sweet babe!" He knows I'm a sucker for all such things and smiles because he thinks it's cute.

And then, the other day as I was driving, I saw this bush...this crazy red bush...I almost pulled right over to the side of the road, something  I've actually done quite a lot of over the last couple of weeks (people probably think I'm having car trouble or that I'm lost lost or yelling at my kids), but we were late so I opted to keep going.

Fortunately I saw two more car stopping displays that I did manage to pull over and snap shots of with my cell phone...Here is the one from Tuesday...



And another from yesterday...



And all I could think was, "Wow! It's like the burning bush."

You know, the story in Exodus where God sends Moses a really clear sign that He needs to speak to him. A sign like a flaming red bush (in which the leaves never become consumed) just to make sure he grabs Moses' attention (we humans can be very distractible sometimes!).

And then I was hit with what seemed like such an obvious notion...Every Fall as the leaves change, and become hard to ignore because their beauty is so overwhelming, I realize even more acutely than usual that God still speaks to us today... He wants our attention. He wants our praise. He wants us to know that He cares. His mastery is evident in the changes of seasons and His artistry is hard to ignore in the magnificent grand finale of Fall.

I may not stop to smell the flowers as often as I should, but I do stop to look at the trees!

So now, when I pull over on the side of the road to take in the beauty of a tree, I try to say a quick and silent prayer. Thank you for the trees and for the seasons...AND please give me the joy and energy I need to get through the cold winter (haha...I actually don't add that last part, but maybe I should!).

So, if you are sad that summer has passed and feel as if you didn't take enough time to stop and smell the roses, stop now and watch the trees and remember God is still trying to get our attention all of these thousands of years later.


****

Two more roadside shots-- the first is of our street several weeks ago ( I liked to refer to it as the golden tunnel) and the second is of a random tree appreciation moment on our way home from picking up our crop share earlier this week:




Wednesday, October 17

Finding Time to Write...Suggestions Please!

It's 9:52 p.m. and this is the first real free moment I've had all day.

I reach this point in the day and my head spins in 17 directions...Do I finish the book I'm supposed to write a blog review on? Do I read the book I'm reading for an impromptu reading group...Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst (an incredible book by the way!)? Do I work on a personal essay I've been thinking about? Write a thoughtful blog post about the bazillion things I have to be thankful for? Download pictures from my phone and organize them on my computer? Clean my completely disorganized office that I avoid spending time in because it's so disorganized?

Or...write a random blog post about how I don't know how to focus and make decisions any longer, especially at 10 p.m at night.

Obviously I opted for the later.

When my girls stopped napping I lost any semblance of daily personal blogging and writing time...it was a luxury I suppose. Now I'm forced to find time in the "cracks" or "margins" as I've heard fellow friends and mothers describe their "free" moments.

Sadly, I'm not very good at that...utilizing cracks and thin margins to be efficient.

Sigh...What's a mom to two small children with one more on the way to do?!

A) Join a writer's group (or start one like we did!) and attend it even with your oldest child in tow and even if you have to spend 10 minutes with her in the bathroom of the coffee house talking about how she hasn't "gone" all day and "patiently" responding to her pleadings to just wait "right outside of the stall door so that she doesn't have to flush the toilet by herself because it might make a really loud noise."

Haha...nothing will get your literary juices flowing like good potty talk!

All joking aside, I'm thankful for the women in my writing group. Their persistence to keep writing and journaling and blogging in the midst of their busy lives inspires persistence in my life. Thank you!

(For the record, this is a true story from tonight!)


B) Get to know other writers who are "in the trenches" so to speak, and yet still somehow finding time to reach their goals. Writing mommas like Joceyln Green, the super nice gal I met at the Breathe Writers Conference in Michigan this past weekend. I SWEAR she wrote this post just for me today..."10 Tips for Time Starved Writers" . Thanks for the great post Jocelyn!

One of the things I've been thinking about most is that if I want to find consistent time to write and blog that I need to get up earlier...it seems to be the only way. Guess what? One momma from my writing group (you go Kelly Baesen) just told me tonight how she has been getting up at 5 a.m. to write and then Jocelyn also mentions it in her post about finding time to write.

No more pregnancy, 'I'm too tired' excuses...it may be time to set an alarm clock instead of depending on my terribly lazy circadian rhythm to wake me in the morning.

C) Sigh loudly and tell your husband that you cannot concentrate on your lame, unfocused blog post because he is talking loudly on the phone...only to find out that he is talking to your mother and thanking her for the sweet anniversary card and gift certificate that she gave you earlier that day.

So, I'm feeling like A and B may be moving me in the right direction...C...not so much...Sorry babe.

I'd love to hear your suggestions for fitting "it" in...whatever the "it" is in your lives...reading, writing, knitting, canning, painting, singing, volunteering...what is important to you and how do you find time to do it consistently?


Friday, October 12

Re-Defining "Romantic"



See that photo? That would be 9 years ago today!

It's hard to believe we have been married for 9 years and dated for 3 years prior to that adding up to a grand total 12  years together! I'm 34 this year...that's more than 1/3 of my life!

It's hard to believe that 9 years has passed...a SIGNIFICANT 9 years! We've changed jobs, purchased houses, become parents, moved from one state back to another and all of the crazy and fun life details that happen on the day to day in between. Wow.

And now we find ourselves in a new season of life...a season that is more about maintaining the house than making it pretty (you know, like you try to do when you're young, newly married and without children!) and meeting the needs of others much more often than our own. It's a beautiful season. A crazy season. A wonderful season, but I would have to say at times the most challenging season for our marriage so far.

Don't get me wrong, we have a WONDERFUL marriage. I hear stories of people I went to school with years and year ago and how badly their relationships have gone and I feel sad and grateful all at once. I feel sad for them and for our culture which feeds us all of the wrong information to actually have a healthy marriage...a culture that says focus on you, you, you...We are a selfish culture desperately in need of Jesus whose whole life was not about focusing on his needs, but laying it down for ours.

I digress...a bit...but I felt like I needed to say that!

This isn't a post about all that is wrong in our culture and our world, but about the little slice of life that is mine and Scotts. A slice of life that is good and founded on God. After 9 years of marriage I can honestly say we are so grateful for each other, but even more grateful for a relationship firmly and deeply rooted in our Christian faith. THAT makes all the difference.

I am proud of my husband. A man committed to his family and who loves his children. A man who tries to get up early to read his Bible before the craziness of the day begins. A man who loves to play guitar for our church because he loves being a small piece in helping others worship God and a man who feels the same way (even more strongly sometimes!) about movies and television and toys and all of the other crazy influences we find ourselves saying "no" to in our children's (and our own!) lives.

THAT, my friends, is romantic!

Want to hear another incredibly cute and romantic story?

No, not the story of how we met, though that is quite a sweet story (I was his waitress!)...the story of how we are spending our weekend on this 9th year anniversary because my husband loves me SO much.

We are in Grand Rapids, MI and I am heading off to a writing conference today and tomorrow...

I know what you're thinking. That is NOT very romantic Lisa.

But it is!

I was on the fence about coming because life has been hectic and I've been in my first trimester and tired, tired, TIRED. Did I mention I've been tired!

I was also on the fence because I knew that this 2-day conference started on October 12th, which is our anniversary.

We had talked about celebrating another weekend, or going out to dinner next week or trying to figure something else out. I actually have a second conference I'm registered to attend at the end of the month (I don't typically take off this often, I swear! It just so happened that these ended up being offered in the same month) so I thought the one was more than enough and Scott and I would just do something else this weekend.

But Scott knows how big my heart is to find a meaningful direction and purpose for my writing and wanted me to go...awww...it melts my heart just talking about it.

He said, "Lis, what if I came with you? Would you go then?"

At first I dismissed the idea because I knew it was not what he really wanted to do...but then I started to think about it...I LOVED the idea of 12+ hours in the car with JUST him. And staying in a hotel for 3 nights with JUST him!

I tried to curb my enthusiasm at first..."Well, babe...I mean...we can do something else. That's not very fun for you."

We looked into other options for a couple of days...nothing really came to fruition.

A couple of days later..."If you want to go...I mean, if you're willing...I would..."

He said "sure".

I know it's not because it's what he wanted to do for our 9 year anniversary, but because he knew it's what I was passionate about...

That might just be one of the sweetest and most romantic gifts he's given to me in a long while.))
So, we woke up this morning in a hotel overlooking the interstate...I know that doesn't sound very romantic either, but the sun is shining, the trees are red and yellow and their is a beautiful field on the other side of the interstate.

It's quiet...did I say QUIET!

The housekeeping ladies just came in to make our bad (I would have done this all over again just to have my breakfast and my bed made by someone other than me!! WooHoo!) and said, "You two look all peaceful hanging out over there on your computers...

We smiled..."We are! The kids are at home, today is our anniversary...life is good!"

So yay for the real love that shows up after years of being married...a love that doesn't require roses and fancy dinners or places that fall into the stereotypical "romantic" category...it's really just about being together...even in Grand Rapids, MI.

Thanks babe! I love you lots! I'm so glad we get to do this thing called life together....

Happy Anniversary!!!


Here's a link to the conference I'm attending this weekend. It's still a smallish conference put on by a WONDERFUL group of women that I met earlier this year. I'm excited to see them and to garner wisdom and encouragement from them...

http://breatheconference.com/home/

Tuesday, October 9

The Cat's Out of the Bag!

Haha...get it? "the cat out of the bag"?!
(image borrowed from Google images)
   

        I was walking out of church on Sunday with my long mauve scarf just covering my bulging belly (my husband had asked me in church if I had worn the scarf to try to hide my belly...I hadn't, but it was a good idea and funny that he thought of it!) when I saw a good friend of mine from MOPS. She just had her third baby a couple of months ago and I told her several weeks ago (when I was ready to barf at the thought of all of the kale my crop share kept pushing my way) that I was expecting and that I needed to pawn my kale and cabbage off on her because I couldn't stomach it...(she's a HUGE veggie lover!).

So today when I saw her after church she said, "Is the cat out of the bag?"

Her 3 year old was standing at her side, "What cat out of the bag mommy?"

So cute.

"You can tell her," I said. "The cat's mostly out of the bag!"

"Miss Lisa has a baby in her belly," she said to her daughter who looked very confused as she looked back at me. "It's still very, very small so her belly isn't very big yet."

Oh, but it will be...don't worry about that. This poor 5'1 momma is notoriously big (isn't that the name of a rapper?!) at the end of her pregnancies!

So, the news is  pretty much fully out there after posting it on Facebook Sunday night.

So, yes...Scott and I are expecting #3.

Oh boy. Oh boy! Oh boy...

I'm 11 weeks 5 days...almost through the stereotypically not so fun 1st trimester. I always find it kind of funny that you spend 2 months being nauseous and bloated and tired and telling everyone you're fine  because you don't want anyone to know you're preggo yet!

So we're having #3 and of course the second question I get asked (by my mommy girlfriends at MOPS anyways)  is Was it planned?

Haha, I say. Kind of. 

The truth is we have gone back and forth and back and forth, for MONTHS on the topic....we'd have a good month with life balance and the kids and say "Yes, we should have a third."  Two weeks later we'd be inevitably swearing off the idea as pure craziness..."We can hardly keep up with these two and the mess in the house now...how on earth do we think we can take care of a 3rd child!"

I still stare at Scott some nights, bleary eyed and tired and totally unmotivated to pick up one more thing (even though I think guiltily that my friends with more energy and cleaner houses would TOTALLY pick up those toys staring them down) and say, "What were we thinking?!"

Oh boy. Oh boy! Oh boy... (for the record, I have no idea if it is a girl or boy, I just like the saying!).

But what I do know is that God is not done with our family just yet...no matter how tired I feel, or how crazy life feels, Scott and I both had this gut feeling about having a third.

I tried to push it away...many times. Telling myself that all parents go through this. They think they're going to have a family with X number of kids and then the reality comes to fruition and they realize that maybe that it is not the best plan after all...So I told myself that two was a good number. That we were even. That things were getting easier. That I was going to be able to start writing and blogging more.

But the idea kept pecking at my mommy soul...15 years from now you won't regret having a 3rd, but you might regret not...

That's the one that got me. I know enough to know that my perspective at this stage of life is narrow, and somewhat small...it's about preschool and ABC's and chicken fingers and small toy parts strewn about the house.  I felt that if we stopped at #2 we would be foregoing  whatever texture, detail, and blessing #3 will add to the fabric of our lives...

I like texture and details and didn't want to pass that up.

So here we go....into our kind of planned venture towards a larger family.

Looking forward to sharing the details...and craziness...with you all!



Here is our first photo of Baby #3. The doctor could not get the heartbeat via doppler at my 9 week appointment (which is typical, but not what you hope for!) so to assuage my fears she decided we could play "dumb" about my dates (a.k.a. pretend I had NO idea when I conceived) and ordered an ultrasound for me (:  Notice the little "Hi Ava" note below...Ella was actually with me, but Ava was in school so the technician thought she'd be cute and type a little note for Ava.