Monday, September 26, 2016

What I'm into these days

The biggest thing I'm looking forward to right now is fall weather. It's officially fall on the calendar, so let's bring on some cooler weather! It looks like this week will be in the low 80's and high 70's so we're getting there...albeit slowly...

TV stuff:
Season 3 of Blacklist - it's on Netflix so I'm down with it. At times I want to turn it off because it's a bit much, but then other times I can't wait to binge-watch to see what will happen - the storyline is brilliant!

I'm finally watching the last season of Downton Abbey. It's the end of an era...

Broadchurch - have you seen it? You should watch it!!

Stranger Things - creepy and nostalgic all at the same time - am I right??

A Chef's Life - Y'all. I want to go to this restaurant so badly!! It's located in Kinston, NC in the eastern part of the state. I just love how they use local ingredients and how the chef, Vivian, comes up with her menu items based on what foods are in season. Brilliant! Delicious! So fun!!

Food stuff:
See A Chef's Life above :)

I went through another Whole 30 last month. It was liberating! I have to admit that it's amazing. It's not easy, but totally worth it.

Coffee!! I am honestly an addict. I love the stuff. And I don't mean the froo froo stuff - just a regular ol' cup o' joe.

Nourish - my group went to lunch last week and we have 3 new members! Loving it! So great to get back in the swing of things with these ladies - schedules, predictability, routine. That is making my heart sing right now.

I went to a Wildtree party last week. It was great - and the food we prepared is so yummy! If you don't know about it you should look into it. So fun!

Brave stuff:
I gave up the book club. It just wasn't for me. I tried a lot of things last year to enter into community in my community. This was one of those things that just didn't pan out for me. I'm happy to say that some other things did, but I decided to let this one go and focus on some other areas of community.

I feel like I'm always doing this, but it's worth saying that one way I am being brave is by intentionally loving my husband. Trying not to complain too much. Trying to be supportive and encouraging when he has to work late or when he's stressed out. He's an amazing man and I want to help him in any way possible. The best way of doing this is by loving him unconditionally and with intentionality.

And that goes for my babies, too - loving my children is top on my list. Sometimes I have to be courageous and bold and brave to love them in the way that is necessary. I cry sometimes when I have to discipline them or give them consequences for their actions. That's the part of parenting that is really tough for me. I'm glad I have great kids that don't require too much of that - I don't think any of us could handle all the crying. :)

Being a more intentional friend is right up there, too. I have some very dear friends who I am trying to love on with real vulnerability and intentionality. It's not always easy - we lead busy lives - but it's incredibly necessary. And as I've said before, being brave means being vulnerable.

And I am asking God to reveal himself to me each and every day. This, my friends, is one of the boldest things we can do.

Church stuff:
Hope City Church - we've been going there for a few months. They're an amazing church who is doing amazing things for Jesus. I have been proud to be part of the ConnectHer gatherings, to meet new women, to take my kids to their Sunday classes, to listen to what's been said in the sermons, but it never quite felt like home. David and I attempted to make it home, but we've realized that our home is

Ridge church.

We're going home y'all. Last weekend the kids were gone to my parents' house and David and I had some time just us. We talked and shared our hearts. We decided that it's time. It's time to go home. We'll be headed back to Ridge church. Our only issue before was the distance and lack of community because of the distance. But honestly, I've found community in other ways. I'm not relying on the church to make community for me and I've been able to branch out and meet new people right where I am. My trusted friend, Crystal, helped me work through some of my concern in not being able to serve, volunteer or be as involved as I would like to if my church was near my home. David and I believe so much in what Ridge is doing for the gospel that I feel compelled to be part of it. God's got this. I looked back at this post and this one and I love seeing all the things God has done in and through us since these words were written.

Song stuff:
Take a listen. You'll be glad you did. These songs have, at times, been salve to my broken spirit and encouragement to get me through, while reminding me of the One I serve.

Friday, September 23, 2016


This has been a hard week. Charlotte isn't just a place to me. It's my home. The people here are my people. The streets that have been filled with violence and hate are streets my husband and I walk on almost every day when we go to work. A couple of my programs are in the area where Mr. Scott was shot and killed. Some of my friends and neighbors are policemen on these streets.

I am thankful for the people who have been encouraging and supportive. People have reached out and offered prayers and thoughts and love.

I have the privilege of working predominantly with the minority population in Charlotte, NC. In the Outreach department of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library I am tasked to work with the at-risk community in our area. I go to home daycares, preschools, Headstart programs, refugee support services and underperforming schools.

I also work in an extremely diverse department. There are nine of us total - five African American women, one Indian-American woman, one Mexican-American woman, one Venezuelan-American woman and one Caucasian. These people are my friends. I am incredibly thankful to have opportunities to speak candidly, ask personal questions, get opinions, and learn new things that I would never know as a white woman in this country. I am overwhelmingly grateful that they will share their lives and their truths with me. Yesterday we cried together, encouraged each other and found hope together.

I feel the pain on both sides. I empathize with my black friends and what they're going through. I understand the fear and mistrust. I cry that we live in a world where people are treated unjustly.

I don't really know what to say except that LOVE is the answer. And, since I can't do anything greater than that, LOVE is what I'll do.

Please take some time to listen to this sermon by Andy Stanley. It is incredibly moving.

And please:

Friday, September 9, 2016

Books I've Read - May-August 2016

The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers
1. A Voice in the Wind
2. An Echo in the Darkness
3. As Sure as the Dawn
I've read these before, but I thought it was time to reread this series. It didn't disappoint. My mom still hasn't made it through the first one, but I just love this series. To each his own, I guess, right? I like the historical elements Francine Rivers brings into her novels. She must've done a crazy amount of research for these books. Quite fascinating to me.

Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen
Eh. I don't think I'll be reading anymore Klassen. It's not very well written, the storylines are only okay and the character development is poor. This was my second attempt - I read another one of her novels earlier in the year. In theory this is exactly what I would like - she writes period pieces typically set in the 1800's or early 1900's, British, and Christian. But they're just not that good.

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
This was the last book in the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children trilogy. It was definitely my favorite of the three. By this time the characters and plot line had developed nicely. I enjoyed it - weird for sure, but definitely worth the read.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
I was skeptical of the style of writing (it's a screenplay), the fact that Ms. Rowling shared the writing with others, and that she was revisiting such a beloved series that we thought had been completed.  I mean, don't mess with perfection, am I right? But let me tell you - do yourself a favor and READ THIS BOOK! If you like the series (and who doesn't??), you'll love this story. It was a fast read, captivating from the beginning, intriguing to get a glimpse of Harry Potter's future, and just downright good. I loved it.

The BFG by Roald Dahl
The kids and I have really started getting into chapter books. I loved The BFG when I was growing up, so I thought we should give it a try. Xander loved it. Amelia Jayne liked it but on certain nights I could tell she was growing restless. She always asks lots of questions, though, so I know she's paying attention. We finished that book and went to see it in the theater as a family. It was a tiny bit scary for Amelia Jayne (but I really think she was just tired and feeling restless that afternoon), but it was pretty good overall. The book was better.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Since we made it through The BFG, and my kids love Harry Potter, I figured we could go ahead and start the first book in the series. It's been slow-going, but we're making it through. We haven't quite finished it, but I'm adding it here because I think we'll be done in the next couple of weeks. The kids are having a good time comparing the book to the movie. Xander is typically enraptured, but it doesn't hold Amelia Jayne's attention as well as I wish it would - I'm pretty sure it's just too old and too British for her. ;)

And the kids and I have REALLY gotten into audiobooks! Xander told me that his first grade teacher read The Absent Author by Ron Roy to them in his class last year and that he really enjoyed it. I told him I would grab a couple for us to read. This was just before we headed to the beach, so I thought this might be a great opportunity to try out some audiobooks. The kids LOVE it! They ask as soon as we get in the car if they can listen to their books. We've made our way through the entire A to Z Mysteries series. It's been a really fun experience and I think Xander's concluded that he loves mysteries now. I highly recommend this for families - it's given us things to talk and laugh about and something fun to do together, especially in the car.

The A to Z Mysteries
A - The Absent Author
B - The Bald Bandit
C - The Canary Caper
D - The Deadly Dungeon
E - The Empty Envelope
F - The Falcon's Feathers
G - The Goose's Gold
H - The Haunted Hotel
I - The Invisible Island
J - The Jaguar's Jewel
K - The Kidnapped King
L - The Lucky Lottery
M - The Missing Mummy
N - The Ninth Nugget
O - The Orange Outlaw
P - The Panda Puzzle 
Q - The Quicksand Question
R - The Runaway Racehorse
S - The School Skeleton
T - The Talking T-Rex
U - The Unwilling Umpire
V - The Vampire's Vacation
W - The White Wolf
X - The X'ed-Out X-Ray
Y - The Yellow Yacht
Z - The Zombie Zone

Special Review:
Xander and I (and Mimi at one point) read Captain Awesome and the Missing Elephants by Stan Kirby and Xander gives it two thumbs up - he's going to read some of the others in the series soon.
A big hallmark moment - he finished reading his first chapter book all by himself!! It was Bird & Squirrel on the Run by James Burks and he highly recommends it! They're cute graphic novels that are appropriate for his age and, according to Xander, very funny. There are three more books in the series that I recently placed on hold from the library. He is currently reading Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown. He thinks it's super-funny, too. I'm looking forward to seeing what he picks next! :)

I snuck these two pictures this morning while he was at the bus stop. It makes this book-loving Mama's heart sing!!

Oh, and GO PANTHERS! (We're still die-hard fans even if their first game didn't end so well...)

First Days of School

Xander's first Day

His new teacher, Ms. Ni

The many face of Amelia Jayne:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

She gave up the swimmies

Amelia Jayne learned to swim underwater this summer! We went to my dad's a couple weeks ago and she didn't wear her swimmies once while we were there - even in the deep end! (Be still my quickly beating heart.)

My girl is independent. She can buckle her own seatbelt without help. She gets up and picks out her clothes and dresses herself each morning.  She runs out and gets the mail all by herself. 
And this independence has hit me like a ton of bricks. She's a big girl. She's not starting kindergarten this year, but she's only 2 months away from turning 5.

It's a weird thing moving out of the preschool years. I've been in them for so long now and they are truly a part of who I am. I feel like I've been down in the trenches for the past 7ish years. And it is a hard place to be, y'all. Maybe not for everyone, but it sure was for me.

I won't lie. There are things I miss about the baby stages. Their sweet smell and soft skin. Their funny dances and silly word pronunciations. Their littleness that cuddles so easily. Their amazement at anything new or different.  Rocking them to sleep at night. Oh, so many beautiful memories.
The kids and I found some old videos of them on my phone just the other night. We watched until my phone died - just silly things, but stuff that made me tear up and reminisce and count my blessings all over again.

But you know what? I really like where we are now. I like that everyone can use the bathroom by themselves and clean up their dishes after a meal. I like not having to schedule activities around nap times and not having to pack up the whole house just to go to the store. I love how I only have to get up a couple of times during meals to get something for the kiddos, instead of the 72 times  per meal I used to get up for them as toddlers. I love the conversations we have and how each day brings new questions and a different kind of curiosity than they had before. I like that we honestly like a lot of the same things and can sit down and really enjoy conversations with one another.

She gave up the swimmies. And honestly? Though I feel the overwhelming nostalgia at times, I'm pretty happy about it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What we're into...

I love doing a recap on what my kids are up to, and even what we've been doing together as a family! When they were little I was documenting more of their milestones and developmental processes, but now this seems more appropriate.

Star Wars. But the desire and love has waned a bit over the last couple of months. I'm sure it will have spikes when new movies come out or new books are found.

Pokémon Go. Yes, the craze has hit the Little Family! I think it's cute, but I'm not crazy into it. My nephew knows all kinds of stuff, though, so I had him give me a tutorial so Xander and I can do it together. David and Xander even went uptown early before a soccer game to go Pokémon hunting. :)

Soccer. David and Xander recently went to a soccer game uptown between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. They both enjoy going to sporting events so much - I hope these professional soccer games can become a tradition and teams will play in Charlotte annually so they can do it each year. This is their second year in a row to go. I haven't yet asked Xander if he wants to play soccer this fall because I know he'll say yes. Our schedule looks fairly full already and I don't relish the idea of adding anything else to it. We'll have to wait and see.

Legos. He wakes up most Saturday mornings and goes directly into the game room to tear apart his latest creation and make a new one. He has a Minecraft set that can be made into 8 different things, so he's enjoyed following the instructions and making each one on his own. He's starting to branch out a little bit and get more creative with some of his freehand structures, and I love seeing that. He's such a rule-follower that it makes me smile when he goes rebel and does his own thing. Ha!

Just this past week I was home with the kids by myself and put them both to bed. When this happens I always lay down with Amelia Jayne first and then with Xander (he's better at occupying himself alone while he waits). When I went in to lay down with Xander he was reading a book. I think it was the first time since he could read well that I've found him reading a book for pleasure. Either he's ready for school to start or the love of reading has found its way into my son's heart. I hope it's both, but I certainly want the latter. Of course, I immediately went to work the next day and pulled some books for him that I thought he might like. Right now he's settled on the Captain Awesome series by Stan Kirby which is silly, dumb and completely ridiculous, but means it totally appeals to his little 7-year old brain. :)  I haven't seen him giggle that much in a long time. It made my heart sing.

Amelia Jayne:
Dolls. All kinds. As long as she can change their clothes she's happy. She has an American Girl itty bitty baby that she's named Rosie. They have a lot of matching outfits that she likes to change in and out of. She also loves changing the outfits on her barbie-type princess dolls.

People. My little social butterfly continues to be a huge people person. She is so cute! (And mortifying at times, I won't lie.) She loves being with people - those she knows and loves, strangers, acquaintances, and basically anyone off the street - as long as I talk to them first. She doesn't usually run up to people and start talking to them, but if I start talking to them then they'd better watch out. She not only talks, but hugs, touches and clings. Have I mentioned that her love languages are quality time and physical touch? Yes, even at 4 years old this is obvious.

Her brother. Oh man does she love that boy. She wants to marry him. She wants to do whatever he's doing - karate, soccer, even scouts. She looked over at Xander the other day and said, "You're my best friend." Of course he informed her that they were siblings and that they weren't really friends. Oh, brother.
But he also wrote her a note telling her he loved her. He can be sweet sometimes, too. ;)

Swimming. She's great at swimming on her own now and has taken off the swimmies! I still put them on her in the lake (but I still make Xander wear a life jacket in the lake, because murky waters are a bit terrifying to me.) but outside of that, she's swimmy-free!

They've been to karate camp for three weeks this summer and love it. Xander tested this past week and is now a blue belt - his seventh belt. Amazing.
Amelia Jayne isn't officially in karate right now, but she has been accompanying Xander to his classes since they offered a "bring your friend to class for free" all summer long. In fact, she could also do classes the weeks she was at camp and often would do two classes a day - on top of camp! Boy were they worn out!

The Olympics! We've had so much fun talking about the different countries, looking at their flags (hello, vexillologist), discussing the different events and the amazing abilities these people have, and just generally being together while we do it. That's what I think is so fun about the Olympics, it's meant to unite people, right??

Family Time - I have really coveted our time together this summer. It doesn't matter if we're at home helping each other with chores, putting legos together, having Family Movie Night, or out on the town. We have had so much fun together this summer! I love my sweet fam. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

12 Things I learned this summer

1. The Avett Brothers still rock my world.
Have you heard their new album, True Sadness? It is so good! Squeeee! It is folk-y and moody and blues-y and rock-y and beautiful. There's even some yodeling, y'all. This is some good stuff.
I love that we've been following them for over 13 years and that we "knew them when." I love that they're local (from Concord, NC, baby!). I love that mine and David's first dance at our wedding reception was one of their songs and the last song played at our reception was one of theirs, too.  I love that we've been to see them in concert almost a dozen times and that we still love listening to their music. I love that this is one more beautiful part of mine and David's history together.

2. I have amazing willpower. I don't always use it, but when I do - it is freaking amazing!
We did Whole30 back in April. I'm on day 18 of my second time through. I feel so much better when I eat fresh fruits and veggies, cut out the dairy and sugar, and lay off the grains and alcohol. I'll admit it's not the most fun experience and going out to eat is a nightmare, but it feels so good to exercise that willpower and have some restraint. I've found a load of great recipes that I have in my repertoire and can pull out at random. I feel like every time I do this I'll get better at it and reinforce in my own mind that I CAN do it. Eating healthy is the new ice cream. Or something like that.

3. I truly love what I do.
Just see this post if you're wondering what I'm talking about.

4. I enjoy a challenge.
See #2, first of all. But also, one of my business partners posted a challenge to use our face regimen every morning and night for 30 days. And I only missed ONE night! If you challenge me to something, especially if it's something I love and believe in, then I will do it. Also, I need reminders. My brain sometimes forgets about things.
My 2016 Reading challenge is another example of enjoying a challenge. I'm almost finished, but I need a few reminders to help me along the way. Phone reminders are super-helpful, btw!

5. Erin can never be replaced.
Our babysitter graduated in June and left for NC State last Saturday. Her first day of classes were yesterday. (She did well, btw.) Before she left, I took the kids over to say goodbye and to give her a little something. Xander almost cried. The boy who never really seemed to care when or if Ms. Erin was coming over, broke down in tears the week before she left when I told him I was going to the store to pick up a going away present for her. She has left a big impact on my kids. And I'm so thankful we had that time with her. Now I'm working on finding another sitter. Not another Erin, but another sitter. Cuz Mama needs her date nights!

6. I love eaudiobooks!!!
I don't know why I resisted for so long. Actually I do. They are not always the most user-friendly. However, when there was a book I wanted to read and I couldn't find it at the library on disc, but it was an audiobook, I decided to try it again. And now I'm hooked. I can listen to it anywhere - while I'm cooking, doing dishes, in the car, walking from the parking lot, shopping. It's fantastic. I highly recommend checking it out at your local library. I use hoopla, one click digital, and overdrive mostly. Fan-freaking-tastic!

7. Frozen watermelon is the bomb! (And frozen grapes make me happy, too.)
So, if I could have a popsicle while on Whole30, I might. A fudgsicle? Even better. However, I'm not allowed to have sugar. But you know what makes a great substitute? That's right. Frozen watermelon. It's cold, it's sweet. It's yummy. We've been eating frozen grapes for awhile now, so this just adds a little variety. :)

8. It's not so bad reading a screenplay after all.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Who's read it yet?? The format wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I just wish I could get into their heads a little more. I'm not even halfway through, so no spoilers, please!

9. I really don't like scary things.
David and I started watching the show Stranger Things on Netflix. It is so creepy. I had a love/hate relationship because I really don't like being scared. But I do love an intense, interesting story. So to make my way through it I just talk to the TV and tell the characters all the stupid things they're doing and why they shouldn't do them. David laughs at me. I'm thankful for him because he could easily have told me to shut up or resisted watching with me, but instead he chooses to laugh.

10. Camp Mimi and Camp Grandma get 5 stars! (Reviews by both me and my children)
The kids favorite camp this summer was their week with their grandparents. They really cherish each other. I think they all had fun (although everyone was exhausted by the end of the week). My kids and their grandparents are making memories that will last a lifetime. I don't take that for granted and  I realize just how blessed we are. Also, there is really something to be said about getting some time away from your kids. I love my kids and I enjoy them immensely, but after a week away from them I enjoy them even more! This post shows just how much fun David and I had while the kids were away.

11. Who knew sparkling water was good?
I don't really drink sodas anymore. The only time I do is if I have to share a drink with David (and most of the time he's willing to get tea for me if it's available) or if I'm mixing a little something else in it. (My favorite mixed drink is Diet Dr. Pepper and coconut rum, FYI.) However, since I can't have anything except water, tea and black coffee while on Whole30, I've gotten kinda bored with it and wanted something new. A colleague of mine brought in some lime flavored sparkling water (mostly because she's pregnant and needed something for indigestion) but offered one to me. I figured I could have it so I might as well try it. And guess what? I actually like it! I don't like seltzer water or any soda water that's unflavored, but I really like the flavored ones! And they're naturally flavored, so - Bonus! My faves are lime, black cherry and lemon. I don't love the coconut one, surprisingly.

12. It's okay to ask questions and not always follow the rules - even self-imposed ones.
Man, this is a hard one for me. I'm a question-asker, but also a rule-follower. I'm not a yes-man, but I don't buck up against the system too much. But let me tell ya, as I get older this is changing. I want to know why and what for and what's the purpose and who's involved. I want to learn more for myself and not just take everything at face value. I am still struggling with the church thing - not so much because we haven't found one, but I'm more cautious, skeptical and firm in my opinions. I'm not as easily swayed as I once was. I've been reading the book, Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey and it has rocked my world. I'm going to go back and read Jesus Feminist next. Also in my queue is The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle. There are so many things that I think we Christians have gotten wrong. So many things that, if the disciples and Jesus were living on earth now, would make them sad or angry or both. I don't know y'all. And I don't think I'll ever know all the answers, but what I do know is that Jesus commanded us to love God and love each other. So, right now, that's what I'm going to do.