Thursday, January 15, 2015

Loving my babies

“Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost.”
Proverbs 22:6 (MSG)

I read this fantastic article by Tasha Via a couple of months ago and have been sitting on it.
I also read this article recently when I was looking up information to help me with my almost-six-year-old.
We've had some excellent conversations in our small group since the majority of us have similar-aged kids. Conversations about how to help our kids, how to discipline our kids, and how to avoid letting our frustrations with our children bleed into our marriages.

I find myself at a loss on many days as to how to respond (not react) and how to love my babies in the best way possible - for them. I can love them the way I need to be loved or the way I think they need to be loved, but I want to be sensitive and attentive to their needs. I have to continually ask myself, "What's the best way they need for me to love them?"

I ran across this article the other day and it has expanded my prayers for my babies. I am striving to be more intentional in my prayers and more aware - I'm also trying to pray at least daily for those little blessings.

I had so many conversations with Xander this past week that were challenging for me. Challenging due to his persistent nature (and maybe due to some whining thrown in there), because of his sensitive heart, and because of difficult topics.

From Xander -
a) (Through tears) "I do not agree that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback. I think Cam Newton is the best."
b) "My friend, Nandhana, isn't a Christian, so she doesn't celebrate Christmas."
c) "I want a snack right now. I can't wait 15 minutes until lunchtime."
d) "What did Martin Luther King, Jr do? How come he died? Who killed him? Can I see what they look like?"

And my responses -
a) "You're entitled to your opinion. This is nothing to cry over. We don't have to agree on who the best quarterback is." (insert rolling of eyes here)
b) "There are lots of people in the world who aren't Christians and don't celebrate Christmas. We should pray for Nandhana. Maybe one day she'll have a relationship with Jesus just like you do!"
c) "There are many children who only get to eat once per day or even not at all. You've already eaten twice today and will probably eat a couple of more times! You need to be patient and wait for your lunch." (insert clenched fists and jaw here)
d) "Martin Luther King, Jr helped people to see that everyone is created equal - that all people deserve to be valued and respected. He died because someone disagreed with him and chose to kill him. James Earl Ray killed him - he assassinated him. Here, we can look up pictures of what they looked like." (insert tears here)

Sometimes I feel like everything that comes out of my mouth has to be a "teachable moment" kind of conversation. This makes everyday conversation difficult. I mainly want to make sure I'm not alienating my children because of my need to teach them. I want to have a good relationship with them and I don't know if I can do that if they only see me as "teacher." But then again, I know that being "teacher" is one of the biggest parts of my job as their mother.
This is an opportunity to go back to James 1:19. I pray that God would give me the wisdom to know when to listen much, speak little, and not get angry with my kids. And I need to rely on Him - the Master Teacher.

As I've been pondering these thoughts for a few days, and tweaking this blog post, I visited one of my favorite blogs that I haven't read in awhile.
I read this article and was blown away.
My dilemma is exactly what she is talking about! My kids are little so teachable moments are important and necessary, but some of the best moments come from just being with your kids. (Did you get my emphases there? Did I use enough italics?)
And that's what I want to cultivate and embrace with my children. Now it's time to just be.

"School is good and necessary, but in my heart I long for home."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Peace - 2015

I know we're a couple of weeks into the new year. 
My legalistic nature says it's too late to write about my new word for the new year. 
My procrastinator/free-spirited/creative side says to do it anyway. 
I'm going with the latter.
I am not bound by rules.

This is the word I've decided on:


I have felt peace this year. I have felt Christ's peace, and it's addictive. I want more of it. I have felt peace in making decisions, in certain relationships, and in many life experiences. But there is so much more. I know God wants me to have peace and to be confident in who I am as a parent, as a friend, as a wife, as a daughter. These are areas that I often second-guess myself or live in a state of discontentment and disappointment. I am excited to seek God this year and ask him for more of his "peace, which surpasses all understanding."
Some verses that I want to keep in my mind and heart this year:

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Proverbs 14:30
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Proverbs 12:20

Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.

I'd love to hear about your word, if you have such a thing. What are your thoughts on this and the coming year?

Happy New Year, friends.


Friday, January 9, 2015

14 Simple Pleasures from 2014

Remember this post?
Well, here are 14 simple pleasures from 2014. I love reflecting back over the year and pulling out some of my favorite things.

In no particular order...

1. Going to dance class with my baby girl.
We did a Mommy & Me class early in the fall and then she joined a big girl dance class (tap & ballet) in December. I love taking her, walking or working out with a friend while she's in dance, and then getting the rest of the afternoon - just the two of us.

2. Being able to support and love my husband through his job changes this year.
He's been through some challenging work moments over the past 5 years. Some have been fantastic, but most - not so much. This year has been fairly challenging. He left one job for another in April and after only 6 months he moved on to another. I know he was torn and hesitant to make these changes, but I'm so proud of him and how he's handled each situation. I am so glad to see him thrive and enjoy his current work environment. I haven't seen him this excited about architecture and going to work each day in a very long time.

3. My small group.
This is definitely the best couples small group I've ever been a part of. I love each of the couples in the group (3 of which have been in groups with us before) and I'm amazed at what each person brings to the table. I like hanging with them each week, whether at group or outside of group in social settings, sitting with them on Sunday mornings, serving alongside them in Waumba, or just anytime really! Such a fun group of people!

4. Quinoa.
I've been eating quinoa for a couple of years now, but more recently have been subbing it for rice in almost all recipes. I love it in soups, stuffed peppers, burrito bowls, salads, even for breakfast. It is a go-to, yummy, delicious and nutritious food.

5. Discovering and becoming more of who I am.
Each year I feel like I "find" myself more and more. I have learned so much about myself through my husband and children - those alone have been the best teachers. But I also just feel like I'm learning what's most important to me - when to let go and when to pursue things, when to be intentional and make the most effort, and when to ignore things or say no. I'm nowhere near completion in this area (and I never will be in this lifetime) but I am so thankful for the things God has taught me about myself in relation to Him.

6. Reading books.
Still a favorite pleasure of mine. It feels like such an accomplishment to me when I finish a novel. I love disappearing into another world for the few minutes or hours I spend reading a book. And I've been able to read some good ones this year.

7. Reading books to/with my kids.
I love watching Xander read.* He can read basic easy readers now, with help. He's doing so well!
I love watching my littlest "read" to herself or haul one of my novels around the house and pretend to read it. I love that she often asks me to read books to her.
And I love, love, love reading aloud to my sweet kiddos. I do it every day at work, and enjoy it immensely there, but it's even more special to put my "skills" to use with my own children. We are all LOVING Mo Willems - mostly the Piggie and Elephant books, but also the Pigeon books and Knuffle Bunny.
*I fully admit that watching a new reader attempt to read is fairly painful. So when I say "I love to watch him read," well, what I mean is that I'm so glad he's learning. :)

8. Watching my boy get baptized, take his first communion and being a witness to his relationship with Jesus.
I wrote a whole post about his baptism. And another about his first communion. Being a part of my child's spiritual journey has been even more of a joy than I expected, and I'm so thankful!

9. Spark.
David and I discovered a new drink through a friend of ours who sells Advocare. Spark has changed my life, man. It is rejuvenating and full of vitamins that make me feel better every morning (and the occasional afternoon). I admit that I still love my coffee and don't plan to give it up completely, especially in the cold months, but Spark is an excellent alternative!

10. Celebrating 10 years of marriage with my husband.
Our trip to Savannah and time alone together for 5 days straight was heaven-sent. This was definitely in my top 5 of favorite events of all-time. :) I love my husband more now than ever and realize every day what a blessing and gift he is.

11. Having inside jokes with my kiddos.
As you probably know, it is extremely difficult to explain inside jokes. So I won't. But I love having little sayings, looks or moments with my kids where we burst out laughing.

12. Being invested at church.
In January I stepped down from my role as Waumba coach and stepped back into the classroom. I taught Xander's class (the 4 & 5 year olds) from January-August. Then I stepped back into my role as coach with the new school year. It's been so fun. I'm renewed, reenergized, and have a better understanding of what my role and purpose is through serving at church. I love investing in the volunteers and seeing the kiddos each Sunday. I also love my church so much - and having had both kids dedicated through Baby D, and now Xander having been baptized and involved in Upstreet while my baby girl enjoys Waumba - these things make my heart smile.

13. The new holiday drink at Starbucks - Chestnut Praline latte or frappucino (made with soy milk - because I like it better, not because I don't do dairy).
This was the bomb! It wasn't as sweet as some of the other drinks at SB. Nice, nutty flavor while being smooth, warm and delicious.

14. Watching that boy of mine go off to kindergarten and seeing him flourish in an academic setting.
I've written enough about this in earlier posts here,  here,  herehere and here. But he still loves it and I am so proud of him.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Back in August, my friend Keith (whom I met through my aunt Karen over 20 years ago) gave Xander a picture of the official US Navy flag (which Xander lovingly called the "Old Navy" flag). It proudly hangs on the wall across from Xander's bed where he can look at it while he's lying down.
My aunt Karen, aunt Cheryl and Cheryl's sister Paula came to visit us last week. They had told me just before Thanksgiving that another friend of theirs who was in the Navy, Marc, had recently passed away and had wanted to give his flags to Xander because of my boy's love of flags. What an unusual interest in a child so young. And what a sweet and thoughtful gift for my little vexillologist!
These are all official flags that were flown on US Navy ships, so the ends are tattered and the colors faded. As we pulled the flags out, Xander knew where almost all of them came from. He really does love flags. :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pictures of Amelia Jayne

As is typical, time is getting away from me. I have so many posts that are partially written, or titled but not written at all. I hope to share them all with you, but if not, please know that I'm still here. My thoughts are so much faster and plentiful than the time it takes to write them all down.
Until I can get to some of the grittier parts of my life and heart, here are some pictures of my dear, sweet little girl.
This big girl peeled her orange all by herself!

Reading at the library after dance class!

She LOVES to read! Maybe more than anything else...except TV.
Drop-off with Daddy

...and mommy!

Amelia Jayne's classmate, Eloisa, comes running to greet me when I drop off AJ. It's so sweet!
Practicing her numbers.
This girl is loving her dance class!

Funnies from the littlest Littles - November/December 2014

AJ: Mommy...
Mommy Little!!

AJ: (excited about her Christmas party at dance)
Maybe they'll bring bags to the Christmas party! Bags with snowflakes!! I very like snowflakes.

(Looking at a Christmas card from friends)
David: Xander, who's that?
X: That's Mr. Patrick!
AJ: And Crystal! And that's baby Liam. And that's my sister, Keira.

AJ: I very need your help, mommy.
Me: Okay. What do you need?
AJ: The baby's bib comed off and she needs to eat. She's hawngry.

Honestly, I had a hard time keeping up with all the things my kids said over the past couple of months. They say some of the funniest and sweetest things. I wish I could remember them all, but these few are precious to me.

Books I've Read - September-December 2014

I read this article back in the summer and was intrigued with the many books I had read (and haven't read) on this list. I decided to look back through and pick out the ones that seemed interesting to me. I love Young Adult novels. In fact, when I looked over the list I had already read over 30 of these books/series. So, you may see more YA novels on my lists in the future.

*As an aside: number 20 on the list is Paper Towns by John Green. You may remember that I read it early in 2014. Well, they're making a movie from this novel that should come out Spring 2015. Funny thing about this movie - part of it was filmed in my neighborhood! We drove by the "set" for about a week. Though I never saw John Green, apparently he was there signing books. However, I had multiple sightings of Nat Wolff. There were teenage girls lined up and down the streets each day. The houses that were used had landscaping put in just for this event - palm trees and fake leaves on trees. It was so fun to drive by and see...and such a cool experience! I am supremely glad that it only lasted a week, though. The traffic was somewhat trying during that time, although not as bad as I expected!! :)

Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. Montgomery

Don't get all up in arms. Yes, I've read this book. So many times. I cannot tell you how impactful this book has been in my life. I just love Anne Shirley. I like to think that Anne and I would be bosom friends. Sometimes I feel the need to re-read this book when I don't have a lot of frill or fanciful thoughts in my head. Reading about Anne makes life so much happier. I just love the way she sees things - how everything is new and beautiful and full of hope. Sometimes I need that, you know? So, take a minute to read this if you haven't. Or re-read it. You'll be ever so glad you did.

Anne of Avonlea
by L.M. Montgomery

You didn't really think I could read one without the other, now did you? ;)
And guess what I realized?? I had never read this one before! I'd read Anne of Green Gables many times, seen the movies, and generally enjoyed all things Anne…or so I thought! It was fun to make a new discovery. :)
(But Anne of Green Gables is my favorite Anne book thus far...I most certainly discovered that Anne of Avonlea the movie is nothing like the book!)

This is Where I Leave You
by Jonathan Tropper
I initially read this book because I knew it was going to be made into a movie. It ended up not being a type of book I would typically read. However, I did enjoy reading something different from the norm. This may be one of those rare instances where I could see the movie being potentially better than the book. Kind of like Silver Linings Playbook was for me. In fact, the strangeness of family and relationships in both of those books makes them remind me of each other.
And with stars like Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, and Jane Fonda the movie is probably pretty hilarious! David and I are waiting to see it for an at-home date night. I'm looking forward to it!

Love & War
by John & Stasi Eldredge
Our small group is going through this book. We're almost finished, but I wanted to go ahead and include it in this post. Very challenging and interesting. There are parts of the book that thoroughly annoyed me (like most books, I guess), like when they make lame references or talk about certain experiences they've had that I really couldn't care less about. BUT overall it has great information and I'm glad we're reading it. David and I have really enjoyed the discussions that have come out of this book, both in group and between the two of us.

by Laurie Halse Anderson
This was on the list. And then after I read the book and was reading an interview done with Laurie Anderson I realized this was made into a movie back in 2004. With Kristen Stewart. Weird that I never heard of it, but that was the year I got married, so I'm pretty sure I had better things to do. :)  Not sure if I want to see the movie, since I don't love Kristen Stewart.
It was a good book. Fairly depressing, but also intriguing to be in the mind of a young girl who has been through a traumatic experience. I can see why the book was a Printz honor. It definitely hit on topics that teens would have a hard time discussing and that have been ignored up until more recent years.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

This was such a strange book! But then again, what do you expect with a title like that? I enjoyed it, but it was not really what I was expecting. I had no clue it would be as sci-fi as it was. At first it reminded me of X-men (due to the strange "powers" the children have but without the "super hero" aspect) crossed with a mystery novel. The use of vintage photographs is creative, yet extremely bizarre, especially because they are actual photographs. I'm planning to give the sequal "Hollow City" a try soon.

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

Hmmm. How to describe this book. First of all, it took me a looooong time to get into it. Almost too long because I was super-close to putting it down. However, I gave it a chance and it was totally worth it. Somewhere along the way it just grabbed me. Such a sad tale, but full of love and kindness. I would totally recommend it, but don't forget - give it a chance before you put it down. You'll be glad you did.