life the past 19 days

July 30, 2015

{ i wrote this a few weeks ago and am just now able to devote time to get pictures uploaded and post published. i am pressing forward to do it so that i have *some record of life these – crazy – days. the format is wacky after my multiple copy & paste attempts so i’m gonna just let it go and hit publish ;) }

the last 3 weeks of my life … my hubby was gone on his longest ever trip away. ended up being 19 days when his

return flight was canceled. my deep hope and plan as he prepared to leave was to bless him with the gift of a joyful

report when we talked; no deep venting sessions about how drained i was, how hard it was to chase and wrangle and

care for boys round the clock for almost 3 weeks (although it was). he was in jackson, ms – preparing for and

then overseeing an event of tremendous scale; the actualizing of vision, the coming together of dreams and plans and

relationships years in the making. the making of history. i wanted his mind clear and free to focus.

and i am so thankful that i do believe i achieved this goal! :) i chose each day, many times a day actually, to see the

joy before me: these precious kiddos, resources at hand to choose a fun activity and do it, opportunity to eat meals

out, cook lightly, and do a lot of playing.

also, the opportunity to implement and work on carrying out, the daily jobs i had created for my kids. each boy has a tracing

of their hand with their 5 JOBS: bathroom, bedroom (these done with sissy), dressed, teeth and vitamins. most days, we did

these (despite protests – from all – lol) before moving on with any fun activity. my deep desire is for my kiddos to really live

and learn: work before play. serve and sacrifice and extend before expecting to receive.

i ordered a fabulous book used from amazon with excellent concrete tips for organizing and home management and was

(awesomely, unusually) motivated to tackle some work projects of my own.

we kept the car almost totally cleaned (maintenance! ah, such an elusive concept!). i cleaned and cleared out the laundry

room, our bathroom, some of my clothes. it felt good to *purge.

i missed my man every day, throughout the day. nights were usually the hardest. he is my partner and there is that

indefinable sense of psychological relief that comes from not having to be “on” caring for little ones 24/7. for us, it is round

the clock as neither boy sleeps well and both ended up inbed with me, every night.

so there was very little space.

i am crazy beyond thankful for the help of my maddie – the way that she would suggest i make that quick trip to the store

alone some days. offering to play with her brothers, bring them upstairs with her just when i really needed just a little space.

and my mama came over and helped twice – the first time, hanging with all 3 while i got a pedi (bday gift, hooray!) and next,

*watching the boys alone for the first time* while maddie and i had a lunch date at applebees, which was totally awesome.

yahoo :)

the last weekend of his trip was 4th of july weekend and my cousin, her hubby and their 2 darling kiddos came to visit. what

a treat! the boys LOVED playing with their (second?) cousins.

i am sharing lots of pics here mostly as my own journal to keep and store and remember … ;)

these double decker strollers at the mall were a sanity-saver on a few trips to the mall :)

these double decker strollers at the mall were a sanity-saver on a few trips to the mall :)

sweet big sister suggested a movie night with brothers one night and they had a blast camping out on the living room floor while i had a glorious bit of time alone in my room :) perhaps with a glass of wine, some chocolate and a magazine

sweet big sister suggested a movie night with brothers one night and they had a blast camping out on the living room floor while i had a glorious bit of time alone in my room :) perhaps with a glass of wine, some chocolate and a magazine

a few trips to fro yo :)

a few trips to fro yo :)

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park adventures

park adventures

father's day at the grandparents

father’s day at the grandparents

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our little local library - a sweet spot of comfort

our little local library – a sweet spot of comfort

applebee's lunch date with my girl

applebee’s lunch date with my girl

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going to atticus' bday party

going to atticus’ bday party

lily love

lily love

that time in walmart where they would NOT keep their hands off each other and i was pushing the 92 foot cart and i was just about done.

that time in walmart where they would NOT keep their hands off each other and i was pushing the 92 foot cart and i was just about done.

so much fun with luca & lynnea

so much fun with luca & lynnea

lynnea & josiah

lynnea & josiah

grandma &joy

grandma &joy

cuties

cuties

40th birthday!

June 14, 2015

i’ve really struggled with anticipating turning 40. it really just feels “old” – sounds lame, i know – but it feels like a turning-the-corner, round bend … from youthfulness to the inevitable downward sag of skin & gravity. i feel silly admitting to these very trivial, superficial concerns. because i *know* it’s a gift to BE alive, to be aging! it’s all grace and a gift. i get it.

yet.

40.

i remember my 30th: i had just married the man of my dreams; the future lay open before us; i felt young and healthy and vibrant and just so happy & excited. i had *zero* turning-30 angst.

i’ve received such sweet wisdom and encouragement from both friends and strangers who describe the 40s as the best decade ever: a time of sweet self-awareness & understanding; great capacity for fitness gains and adventures; settling in to one’s skin, and savoring the contentment of what the season brings.

i wasn’t sure what to expect on my actual birthday (yesterday) other than sweetness from my family – my hubby and daughter are always so attentive and spoiling on my special day. i do love it. :) my mom had called a couple weeks ago to invite me to lunch which was sweet – a bit unusual because for several years she’s had us over on my birthday evening for the whole family cake & gifts. and i wasn’t sure that my hubby wouldn’t be planning some day outing for us, but … i was going with the flow. :)

i woke and had a totally contented morning of leisure … long conversation with my hubby as he rubbed my feet (my very fave); calls and texts from family & friends; coffee … just relaxing. i asked maddie if she wanted to join us for lunch (since it would be at a winery i wasn’t sure initially if mom had invited her but i really wanted her to come) and she said she would love to, so we both got ready to go as we prepared for mom and grandma to pick us up at 2pm.

the *only* hint i had that something was up, was a look mike & maddie exchanged as i reminded them of the plans for lunch with my mom. *wink*.

so, mom and grandma arrived … i had thrown together something to wear … we hopped in grandma’s cool air conditioned car and headed to 2hawk winery. as we left, mike encouraged me to have a great time and not hurry home. :0

when we pulled up to the winery, i noticed a familiar car in the parking lot and commented that it was so cool that my friend autumn was here today! still, no clue. we walked to the front door and i looked out over to the far right … on the lawn … and i noticed a familiar face. kristi! then another, ernestine! i seriously was thinking – this is SO COOL that some of my best friends are here today! and, i didn’t know that they knew each other?! LOL.

then i think maddie made some comment that indicated i wasn’t supposed to have seen my friends and it hit me – what!!!??? i ran through the lobby, out the back door and seriously exploded with laughter and tears and hugs!

BEST SURPRISE EVER!

i could not believe it. the complete awesomeness of having some of my very favorite women, gathered together, for me … just too good to be true.

we laughed and ate and laughed and talked and the hours passed so quick. i felt like i had a permanent grin on my face. i texted mike, “am i in a dream??:)” it was just too good to be true. and they brought gifts – what?? just their presence was my gift. i loved seeing the way connections were made; i loved having dear ones that hadn’t met finally meet and connect. it was so good and so beautiful. these gorgeous, lovely, amazing, Godly, fantastic women gathered together under the warm sun on this beautiful stretch of lawn overlooking the valley … just doesn’t get much better.

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40th bday2

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lori & grandma :)

lori & grandma :)

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this gift from mom was SO pretty!

this gift from mom was SO pretty!

and one of the most extravagant blessings of the entire day came from my daughter, and the gifts she had taken such time & love to prepare … a letter “E”, decoupaged with pictures she had printed; a sign she painted and framed that said, “i love everything about you” and finally, cards that were individually decorated with colored cardstock and were “40 things i love about you”. OH MY WORD. pretty much nothing in the universe sweeter & more encouraging to  my heart, than the words my daughter wrote on those 40 cards.

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the one intangible

May 25, 2015

the other night, late in to the wee hours of the morning, we were having an intense and important family discussion. hubby, me and maddie … talking through heavy heart stuff, reading through scripture, sorting out and processing things happening within our family. our hearts.

and really, i was really just observing … cuddled on the couch, joining the conversation by my presence but hubby lead the way.

and i was struck by this thought: there is almost nothing that means more in the dark corners of night, in the hard seasons of parenting, than to have a partner whose leadership you respect.

who leads with wisdom and integrity; who my mind doesn’t race to second-guess, correct or interrupt.

if i could speak encouragement to the young woman making that enormously huge life decision in choosing a spouse, i would urge her to get this: find one that you respect, that has spiritual insight and wisdom, that seeks God’s truth first. because there are so many life moments where having that person beside you brings the greatest comfort and peace to your spirit.

mother’s day 2015

May 11, 2015

it’s sunday evening, mother’s day, and i am feeling blessed. spoiled. and so thankful.

i got to spend much of the day yesterday with the ladies in my family: mom, grandma, aunt nancy and my girl. as i thought ahead to the time we’d spend together, i focused on the real gift it was: to be living so close to family, to have these wonderful women that love me so, to be able to spend an afternoon indulging in pure fun & enjoyment. extraordinary abundance, truly.

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grandma requested our adventures be in grants pass, the darling town she & papa lived in for 45+ years and raised their kids – many many memories. we had a sweet patio lunch (treated by aunt nancy, thank you!) and then walked downtown, browsing in fun shops. maddie & i really enjoyed a few of the little shops- fun home decor, accessories, jewelry, candles – fun stuff.

the highlight of the day was when we went in to the adorable shop called blue door and i ran in to the pastor that married me and my beloved 10 years ago! I’ve thought many times of trying to find him and update him on our lives … and so running in to him was such a treat. it felt wonderful to answer his question about married life that it is *fabulous – love love love being married.

also? maddie spotted this adorable dress that captured her attention but exceeded our budget :) and my mom insisted on buying it for her – such a generous gift! maddie was elated.

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we ended with iced coffees and a drive through old neighborhoods, passed their childhood home … so much reminiscing.

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we came home to my favorite guys who of course had a fabulous afternoon with daddy! mall, playing, squirt guns … all good.

and a little aside: the boys are pretty much *totally only all about daddy lately. and this is awesome and i love so much that my man is also pretty much super dad and is endlessly patient, engaged, instructive and wonderful. and. my babies??! who now insist that daddy hold them, they hold daddy’s hand, they sit by daddy. awwww. moments of bittersweet.

so here’s the interesting thing: i felt just totally grateful for yesterday. it *was my gift – the day free to play, hubby taking the time off work with great generosity and no complaint. so as i thought about today, i expected that hubby would return to work and i’d cross off many items on my to do list. a regular day. i even texted as much to my girlfriend last night when she asked about my plans for today.

and i was totally fine with it.  content.

so i was totally shocked when i woke this morning and hubby told me that he’d just told maddie (who’d left on a walk) to be home soon because we were going out to brunch. huh? :) and as the boys woke, hubby quickly met all their needs as i sat with my coffee and bible study on the couch. :)

maddie came downstairs and gave me the most precious meaningful gift ever (her gorgeous design) … i cried & hugged my girl. she had helped each of the boys sign the back.

mothersday5

i happily got dressed and ready, told my babe i was so happy & surprised … and we headed out to our brunch adventure.

so pretty much everyone in town was out to brunch today – surprise. lol. i think we waited at least 30 minutes and of course waiting is not a sedentary activity in our fam:

mothersday2

mothersday3

all about daddy

all about daddy

but finally we were seated and filled our bellies with yumminess. hubby had scoped out other activities including the art in bloom festival downtown that had kids’ activities today, plus the local darling railroad park. given the time (naptime approaching) we headed to the railroad park and had a great time. the boys *loved the train ride and maddie loved the snowcone :).  the boys *almost went on the little kids thomas train ride alone but after much prepping and encouragement and josiah finally agreeing to join caleb (who had been begging to go) it was our turn and caleb changed his mind. after all that. lol.

riding the train :)

riding the train :)

we left hot, tired & happy.

home for naps – well, for the kids, at least. hubby and i watched a little nba playoff as everyone slept and i thought, this was pretty much a perfect day.

and i realize that the “secret” was that i had no expectations so everything felt like abundant grace and blessing. and it all was. thank God.

this past saturday, i was able to slip away for a day, night and day … my first time gone overnight from my babies since josiah’s birth four years ago! (i don’t count the overnight at the hospital for caleb’s birth in this tally :))

it can be easy to say that sentence above with a little sigh – it’s been four long years, i’ve never been away overnight, etc etc. compared to the women around me – my friends, those i share life with and those i see doing life on social media – four years is a *long time. there have definitely been times that it’s felt like it!

yet, my conversation last week with my grandma informed my perspective so tremendously. we were talking about my weekend plans and she was sharing her excitement for me! she then shared, in such a lovely gracious way, that when her kids were small, she certainly didn’t get away overnight. my papa owned a business and worked very long days, 6 days a week. when he was home, he was tired. she said she found other ways to fill her cup but leaving overnight just wasn’t even a thought.  she then said, i am well blessed with an amazing husband.

i’ve thought so much about her words. like my girlfriends and i talked about over the weekend, there is something beautiful about knowing our “lanes” and being content in them. my hubby’s lane during this season is our sole breadwinner – his work brings income for our family. my lane? our home … managing our home environment, feeding and training and loving our kids. he so generously and with no complaint, just encouragement, sent me off for the weekend. it meant a tremendous sacrifice in his capacity to get work done that needed doing. love that guy.

so! the weekend! heather was here about 10am saturday and lori arrived shortly after to pick us up. the goodbyes were sweet and tear-free – hubby & i don’t give our kiddos unnecessary info especially around time and future events so they knew only that mama was going in the car with lori and heather and yay! they were hanging out with daddy and sister!

the three hour drive was bliss. coffee, and pretty much nonstop conversation … i am SO thankful for deep, authentic women with whom i can be vulnerable and with whom i share deep convictions and values and passion. totally awesome.

we arrived early afternoon and met our friend jessica at our rental house. it sat just above the beach and was roomy but had this crazy rancid smell that was pretty nauseating. we figured out the people that had stayed last likely left something in the disposal so we left and left all doors and windows wide open for the ocean breeze to blow it fresh!

we ate insanely delicious fish & chips ….

beach getaway7

then headed to the beach. a few hours of walking and talking and being blown by crazy wind and taking in the grandeur of *THIS* gorgeous scenery …

beach getaway3

beach getaway4

then headed back to our house. we put our cozy clothes on, brought out the chocolates and wine and sat talking in the living room late in to the night … best conversations ever.

so then, time for bed and this was the moment i’d been anticipating: first time alone in a bed! in years! no babies crawling over me, waking me! was it too good to be true?! and here’s the funny part: i had picked this twin bed which was … old. with one flat pillow. and my feet touched the base board. lol. so heather comes upstairs and notices that i’m still awake and begins to joke that she is going to text mike and tell him that my feet are hanging over the bed and i can’t sleep.ha. sweet lori offered to switch beds so i was able to get more comfortable in a larger bed and finally fall asleep. i lay there missing my man and my people, honestly.

i woke to rock star heather getting up early, putting on her running clothes and hitting the beach. i fell back asleep deep and even dreamed! then woke to a leisurely morning …coffee and a stroll alone to the beach. i stood overlooking the ocean, laughing and singing and for sure looking like a complete wacko. but i didn’t care. the ocean has always had such a hold on my heart; God speaks through His creation so beautifully and i know i am sensitive to the magic and music of nature. i breathed deep … stretched … and worshiped.  oh, and called my mom. :)

after checking out of our sweet house, we all decided we were *hungry – we hadn’t really eaten since late lunch the previous day and it was nearly noon. we found a perfect breakfast restaurant in old town, then did a little shopping/browsing. we finished our time with another long walk on the beach.

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the ride home was unfortunately not as smooth & enjoyable as the ride over – we took a different route that ended up being full of windy roads and i was hit with a crazy amount of car sickness. pretty much terrible for a long stretch  … it lifted, mostly, but i never felt that great. but! i was so looking forward to arriving home. my beloved had texted pics of their time over the weekend which i loved. i got a text when we were close to home that they were out and about.

i arrived home and found my favorite girl there! such a treat to arrive to her hug, her smile … to get to catch up and then bless her with this awesome book that she and i had seen on our trip to the very same beach town a couple months ago that she wanted but didn’t get. she was so surprised!

so, funny story … a few minutes later, i hear the door open and my guys arrived. yes!! so happy. josiah runs in, sees me and buries me in hugs and kisses. mama is home! caleb? he comes running in, sees me and keeps running to maddie to show her his new toy. lol. he then circled back to mama and i got lots of love. but when i asked, hubby and maddie admitted that no … he hadn’t really even noticed i was gone.

huh??!  :)  or :(      because, that’s my *baby. who apparently is grown and independent and that is good … i know it’s good. bittersweet.

it does feel good knowing that for sure, me going away is completely doable for my loves. a little change of scenery and some amazing soul-sharing heart-full time did this mama good. 

my sweet friend meredith created this amazing printable!!!  thank you, friend. i can’t wait to print & frame it.

wisdom from my grandma

April 8, 2015

grandma and mike :)

grandma and mike :) from 2011

My precious Grammy just left after dropping off her delicious bean soup for lunch.

the miracle there is that yesterday,  my grandma and I were playing phone tag. I was on the phone with my mom in the late afternoon and jokingly said, it would be such a dream if grandma had been calling to say she’d made us a pot of her amazing beans. my hubby is out of town and I was feeling the end of day weariness and craving the warmth and love of some of grandma’s soup.

I hung up the phone with my mom, checked my voice mail, and the message from my grandma said she’d made us a pot of beans that she’d like to bring over.

I laughed out loud! Seriously?!

And I remembered the words I believe the Spirit whispered to my heart a few years ago: you are known and loved.

by my family and my Father in the most stunning way.

fast forward to today … grandma arrived as the boys and I were just walking in from playing catch/chase with a ball across the street. It was windy & cool … we come inside and as always, grandma’s arms are full of gifts. bags. She always brings bags of something :)

Today’s bags held magazines,  a used sweatshirt she thought we’d like, a darling little frying pan, some fruit snacks for the boys and of course the beans. Mmmm. :)

We sat on the couch while the boys raced and hollered down the hall. The sun streamed in on her shoulders as we caught up on life … family … plans for my babe’s birthday tomorrow  (she insists she hosts pie & ice cream to celebrate him :)). And then the conversation turned in another direction as we talked about strained relationships,  phone calls that feel awkward and get put off. And she says this,

“Do everything you can, so you won’t be sorry later.”

no regrets.

she said when she was young, her father never called or took part in her life (her parents were divorced). She said later in life, her father was always saying sorry for what he hadn’t done. she determined then to never have to say sorry but instead to be intentional and always, do everything in her power no matter if she felt like it, so she would have no regrets.

I love that. How often can I put off making that call, reaching out, doing the thing I know I need to do … allowing my feelings to determine my action or inaction.

but I want to have no regrets. Like grandma said, if tomorrow somethinks terrible happened to that person, how important to have the peace of knowing you had made the call or reached out.

so thankful today for wise words, gentle love & delicious bean soup. :)

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