Monday, August 25, 2014

Simple, But Not Easy

Oh, Lord
I find in myself such doubt and fear
About this adoption we are pursuing
More children
Added to our family

My arms are already full
How will I care for more
How will I have enough love
How will I keep safe
How will I have enough energy
To do this

This is no pursuit
Of confidence on our part

Following You is not easy
But it is simple

Monday, July 7, 2014

But first, Jesus.

I am getting up in 5 hours to hit the pavement with my running partner.  I just had 2 mojitos and feel slightly invigorated to write.  So much has gone on the last couple of months...the last year since I wrote.  It's nearly impossible to catch you up on all that my brain has processed, so I will just start where I am without making apologies or excuses as to why I haven't blogged.  And if you'll have me, I'd like include you back on my journey figuring out stuff.  Regardless of how polished it may be.  Tonight, not so much.

Most days seem like a whirlwind of children, tasks, buckling and unbuckling, flushing toilets, and arriving at the finish line of bedtime.  This motherhood thing isn't for the faint of heart.  I question God often what He was thinking giving me all these little people to care for.  I suck at being a human, then He's got to go and give me children to love, train up to be decent people, and women who chase after the heart of Jesus..I pray.  Hard job.  Hardest ever.

I have been doubting a lot lately the Who and whys and how comes of God.  His nature.  His sovereignty.  His love.  I am a person of doubt and have always had to wrestle out my faith.  But I can't just pretend I haven't felt His presence or seen His mercies.  I know for certain that He is real and worth wrestling over.  So I keep coming back to Him.

In fact, that's how I start my days.  No matter what beckons my attention, I have got to first meet with Him.  It centers me, sustains me, gives me perspective, quenches my thirst, bottles my tears, embraces my flailing arms.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

8 Years


Today we celebrate 8 years of marriage.  Looking back, we have grown and changed a lot together.  We have had our highs and we have had our lows, together.  When you're married to your best friend, most of life is just fun.  I thank God for him daily.  Everyday spent as his wife is just a gift.
 2005  Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris 
2006  On a bridge in downtown Austin

 2007  Hiking in Phoenix, AZ
 2008  Doing our laundry in a laundry mat
2009  Seeing the beautiful cherry blossoms in Manhattan, NY
 2010  Family portraits in Austin, TX
 2012  on a date in Austin
 2013  Family portraits in Austin, TX

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Missing My Auntie Anna

I can still hear her voice in my head calling me "Sweetie."

One of my earliest memories of her is sitting on my parents' front porch swing with her.  We held little kittens and fed them milk with a bottle.  She loved kittens and had a soft spot for cute animals.

I used to spend a week at her house in the summers.  She would take me shopping and out to eat at their town's fancy riverside restaurant.  She helped me make my first scrapbook and I distinctly remember coloring a picture of Donald Duck while sitting at her dining room table.

She gave me a book about sex before my wedding and loved hearing details of my love life when Chris and I were dating.  When I was in grade school, she and I would write, sending letters back and forth to each other in the mail.  Since getting married, I used to give her a call every couple of months.  I loved talking to her but would call less often near the end because her raspy voice was too hard to understand on the phone.

The other day while running, a song started playing that brought me back to a moment with my Auntie Anna.  We were in my childhood bedroom, with my mom, and I was singing to her a song by Ginny Owens--"If You Want Me To."  I was probably in high school.  It was a song that I had sung at church and my mom wanted me to sing it for my Aunt.  I remember not being able to look at them while I sang it because they were both in tears.

You see, my Auntie Anna lived with lupus for about 40 years of her life.  Her health had been on the decline for a very long time.  Many times when she was admitted to the hospital, we weren't sure if she'd make it out.  A little over a year ago, she was admitted for the last time.  Her body had had enough and there was no physical strength left for her to fight.  She died shortly after I had a conversation with her, telling her that I'd see her in Heaven.  But, boy, was there ever spiritual and emotional strength in that frail, little woman.  She fought hard for those 40 years and she was ready to go Home.

I've heard some people say that after a loved one dies, it takes a year for the shock to go away, then you really start to grieve.  My thoughts have been on her a lot lately, along with all of my grandparents and another aunt who are no longer living.  I hold on to memories of them, going over them in my mind, searching the corners of my brain for more from my past.  They are precious to me and I hope I never forget.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Earring Storage Solution

We are in full packing mode for our upcoming move (in less than 2 weeks!).  Today we took down everything off of the walls, which automatically makes it look and feel less homey.  No pictures, no artwork...just a lot of holes in the walls that need patched up.

One of the last things I took off the wall was my earring holder because I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them to keep them somewhat organized.
 
In case you can't tell, I'm a believer in earrings!  I feel like I could put 0% effort into my looks, but putting on a pair of earrings makes me look a little more pulled together--at least this is how they make me feel.
Catching up on one of my favorite food blogs, I came across the idea of using stack-able ice cube trays for earring storage.  I thought, perfect!, since I already had them on hand and they were also the answer to me taking down the metal mesh off the bathroom wall.
Perhaps I need to purge some of these?  I counted though, because I was curious, and more than half of my earrings have been given to me as gifts.  I guess people know my taste for lobal decor, heh.

Back On Track

I've realized that two of the things I am most self-conscious about currently are exercise and eating.

After having my last two babies, I've seemed to pop back pretty quickly with energy.  My body has recovered fast, too, and after a week I was back hitting the pavement in my neighborhood.  I hadn't run since February, so I was really missing it and couldn't wait to get back to it.

Getting back into healthy eating has been the same this time around, too.  I didn't necessarily over-indulge when I was pregnant, but I said 'yes' more often than 'no.'  I'm all about embracing the short season that is pregnancy--weight gain and all.  Now, I'm not saying I felt especially lovely 40 pounds heavier, but I did't feel ugly.  God made our bodies a certain way for a reason and I could never complain that I've been able to carry three healthy babies in my womb, even if that does mean adding on some extra weight for a few months.

A week or so after having Eliza, I was ready to start tracking my food intake.  In the past I've done the Weight Watchers method and it has always seemed to work well for me, so that's what I'm doing again this time, without paying for the program.  And doing it while breastfeeding is KEY because I get to eat so much more than if I weren't.  I love when it's dinner time and I realize the quantity of food that I'm allowed to eat.

With two weeks down, I've really enjoyed feeling healthy again through my eating and exercise.  Are the pounds shedding?  Not yet, but I already feel like I'm doing my body right by simply keeping an account of what I'm putting into my mouth.  And it's not like my running is all that awesome yet.  I've been running two days in a row then skipping a day, then on again for two days.  I'm pretty much sticking to a 1.5 mile loop in my neighborhood until that feels easy.  I'll be excited when I'm up to 3 miles and will feel really good when an hour run feels good.

The reason I have been self-conscious in these areas lately is because some seem to think I'm being a bit too 'hardcore' or ambitious with my health goals so soon after having a baby.  It may look silly when I've measured out my lunch or counted how many cherries or pieces of shrimp I can eat, but all I know is that for me, I feel best when making healthy choices and it was time to get back on track.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Adventure

Vera woke up yesterday telling me she wanted to go on an adventure.  I told her that I would try to come up with something exciting.  We didn't end up getting to it yesterday, so after Eliza's 2 week visit to the doctor this morning, an hour visit at a playground, and then lunch, we were ready for our adventure.

I sometimes save odd things thinking that they will be useful for something.  We usually buy eggs in an 18-count package.  I thought an empty one would be something different to use for an adventure.  So I cut the top off, and split it in half so each girl could have a section of nine little compartments.
 
Our adventure for the morning consisted of finding matching colored objects for each circle.  I simply colored the bottom with a different color marker and told the girls we were going on a color hunt.  As you can see for yourself, they found lots of interesting objects:  leaves, dirt, mini M&Ms, flowers, rose petals, blocks, a ball, grass, cereal, and hair bows.
 Funny kids
 Fun adventure

Friday, May 17, 2013

Post Delivery Snack Survival Kit

After having a baby, eating right is one of the things I most want to do but one of the hardest.  Why?  Because I'm busy taking care of everyone else in my family, because breastfeeding makes me HONGRY, and because it's the last thing on my mind during the day.

By nature, I am a big snacker but I have to put the reins on it at some point.  I've given myself a week, but I'm ready to push restart and be more conscious of what I'm eating.  I know that I feel best when I am feeding myself healthy, clean food.

The way I find it easiest to do this is to plan ahead and be prepared.  Here's what I keep on hand as my post delivery snack survival kit.  After a trip to the store, my pantry and refrigerator are stocked and ready to offer healthy snack options when I feel the hunger coming on.
Grapes:  This satisfies my sweet craving and they are extremely low in their caloric content.  From my Weight Watcher days I remember that one whole cup was only 1 point.  I love that I can eat a large quantity with no guilt.  They are delicious frozen, too!
Prune Juice:  I'll be honest, after having a baby, I get a little stopped up.  In the past I have used an over the counter stool softener, but I prefer taking a shot of prune juice every day instead, or drinking this yummy tea.  Keeps me regular and feeling good. 
Almonds:  When I need a crunchy snack, raw almonds are a go-to for me.  They are packed with vitamins and nutrients and are filling, too.
 
Coconut Water:  This is my newest addiction and I am buying it every week at the grocery store now.  It is one of the richest sources of natural electrolytes and also helps with constipation.
Hard Boiled Eggs:  High in protein and easy to make, I usually eat one a day.  They are often my breakfast as I am heading out the door since I often forget or am too busy to eat in the mornings.
Avocados:  On salads, as guacamole, in smoothies, or eaten a few slices at a time, you'll always find them in my refrigerator.  Some days, I feel like my kids would eat zero vegetables if it wasn't for avocados.  One of my favorite ways to eat them is cutting one in half and filling it with cottage cheese.  Mmm.
Air-Popped Popcorn:  This is another that satisfies my salty, crunchy snack craving, and it, too, is low in calories.  When popped fresh, adding some salt is all it needs.

So there you have it.  Oh!  And don't forget to drink lots of water!  Having a full glass before each meal helps your belly feel fuller and most likely you'll eat less, too.

Happy, healthy eating! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Little Eliza Ann

 
We had ourselves another GIRL!  She is one week old and we are thrilled with her addition to our family.  Secretly I had really wanted another girl, but knew of course, that I would be happy with a sweet boy.  I think I'm still a little in shock and definitely on cloud nine.  I couldn't love her more.

Weighing in at 6 lbs. 15 oz., she is our littlest baby yet, but perhaps that is because she was actually on time and came even the day before my due date.  I've already adopted a song for her and sing the chorus to my sweet bundle a few times a day (Substituting Eliza Ann, of course).  Each of my girls have a song of some sort, unique to them, so it's fun to find one so soon for my little Eliza Ann. 
This was the picture we captured on Mother's Day.

So far, I feel like it's been a pretty smooth transition.  But ask me again in a month once I've been doing it by myself during the days.  :)  Chris has been on paternity leave and we have loved having him home.  He's such a natural in parenting and so sweet with newborns.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  James 1:17

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Update On the Potty-Training Front

In January, we started potty-training our second daughter.  This was our second time around doing early training with a 21-month old and I was aggressive from the start.  It took about a month or so, but she quickly was in the clear, having no pee accidents.  She is still doing great and communicates well when she has to go.

But #2 is another story altogether.  I started realizing that she would save her poop for her diaper at naptime or bedtime.  I had heard of other kids who had done this and it seemed pretty common.  It's been 4 months now and as of last week, I decided to go the Pull-Up route.  I just got tired of cleaning up poop accidents everyday either off the floor or in her pants.  I was kind of against using Pull-Ups with Vera, but she never had problems going #2 either.

I'm learning that every kid is different and I should adapt my parenting technique to them specifically, not having identical expectations.

I'm learning that it's okay if it takes her awhile to get the poop in the potty concept.  Though she's gone often in the past, it hasn't been frequent enough where she is accident-free yet.

I'm learning that using Pull-Ups with her has made me way more relaxed and as a result, she is doing a lot better not having me on her back all the time about going potty.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lately

Lydia has done such a great job at transitioning to her big girl bed.  I like to sneek in there and take pictures sometimes.
I tested out a silver cleaning method I found on Pinterest and it worked out nicely.  Now I have shiny earrings again.
This was one of Vera's packing efforts.  My goal lately has been to pack 3 boxes per day.
 Lydia snuggling on Momma's belly
I finished this book recently.  It was recommended by several people, and although I didn't love it, it was eye-opening and an interesting story.  I'm glad I read it.
Another recommended read, I'm now about half way through this one.  I'm not sure what I think about it yet.
Since the Fall, I have had the opportunity to do a babysitting swap with a friend of mine who is also a stay-at-home-mom.  Because neither of us send our kids to preschool (but we would like the occasional break), we have worked out our own system of swapping every Tuesday from 9am-1pm.  It's always something I look forward to and has become quite easy lately.  They play so well together and are great friends.
I ventured out with just Lydia the other night and ended up at the mall, shopping for a few gifts. (I forget how much I hate the mall until I go...it had been since our Santa visit at Christmas time that I'd been.)  The redeeming part of the night was sharing a dessert with her at the Nordstrom Cafe.  They have great food there!  This was a white chocolate bread pudding that looks much smaller than what it really was.  We couldn't even finish it.
I have had a couple of little dates here and there lately with just Lydia and it has been so sweet to enjoy these last few days with my littlest child.  Soon she will be a big sister and that will be so fun, but I'm soaking up her completely adorable personality until then.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

What We're Eating This Week

Sun.
Grilled Chicken with Caramelized Onions
Wheat Israeli Couscous with Diced Zucchini
Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, and Almonds 
 
Mon.
Shrimp, Avocado, and Roasted Corn Salad (I'm omitting the bacon and using frozen corn and feta that I have on hand.)
Toasted Ciabatta with Honeyed Goat Cheese
 
Tues.
Sausage and Hashbrown Casserole--freezing an extra portion
Mango and Kiwi

Wed.
leftovers

Thurs.
Birthday Date Night!  Will not be cooking.

Fri.
leftovers

The Extras
New York Style Cheesecake with Sour Cherry Compote
Coconut Banana Bread

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Closing A Chapter, Beginning Another

We bought and moved into our first home 7 years ago. It looked like this at the time and we were merely spring chickens.  We had been married almost 1 year and I was almost 22 years old.  We were excited for the new adventure of home remodeling and spent most nights and weekends working on projects together.  We renovated every room in our 1300 square foot house and learned a lot in the process.
Fast forward 7 years and we find ourselves similarly excited once again about purchasing another house.  Though this next home is 'move in ready,' there are still changes we will want to make to make it our own.  In time though.  I feel like one of the biggest things I've learned regarding home design is to be patient.  This time around I want to be more intentional about every aspect, from purchases to remodeling projects.  It will be fun to see the changes evolve slowly.
Though we are ready to make this move, there is still some saddness in the process.  It is a bittersweet feeling to leave the home where we had a lot of our beginnings together.  This is where we continued learning the twists and turns of early marriage, where we brought home our dearly-loved 8 week old English Springer Spaniel, and of course, where we will have brought home 3 of our newborn babies.  Such precious memories that I never want to forget.
And we have incredible neighbors!  This will be the hardest part of leaving.  We will only be moving 5 miles away, but I know that we won't keep the same relationships with them that we have now.  Just yesterday, our family went on a walk and we spent about 45 minutes on our street talking and hanging out with all the other families that were outside.  Our kids have become good friends with other kids on this street.  I have met a lot of great stay-at-home-moms, and we have had some great conversations with so many in our beautiful, shady, 1970s neighborhood.  They will be missed.

We will be moving in one month, so from now until then, there's lots to do.  Such as getting our current house ready for renters (new carpet installation happening tomorrow), packing up our stuff, possibly doing some painting in the next house before we move in, and most importantly, having a baby!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

On May 9th


I'll turn 29.
I'll hit 40 weeks in my pregnancy.
And we will close on our new home.
A lot of changes, but it will be fun.
As long as I don't go into labor that day.
Which is highly unlikely considering my track record of overdue-awesomeness.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lydia Turns 2!

This year I didn't have it in me to do anything big for Lydia's birthday, but I did want to make it special.  I opted for hosting an hour and a half playdate in our backyard.  The kids were asked to come with their pjs on and ready to eat a make-your-own oatmeal buffet.  PJs and oatmeal--two of Lydia's favorite things.
It was fun to do, simple to host, and chaotic (as always) with our fun, normal group of friends.  The problem is all my friends are having at least 3 kids each these days, so we know to expect a circus when we're all together.  :)  It's such a blessing.  I think we had about 20 people total over from 9am-10:30am this morning.
Once everyone was gone, the girls and I did a quick 15-minute pick-up of the house and backyard and we were ready for lunch and naps.  I may have to do only daytime parties from now on.  Seems easier not having to think about the appetite of all the dads.
It really is so special that my kids have so many great friends their age to grow up with.  I don't take it for granted.  They are all precious to me and it's so neat to see them grow from in their mommas' bellies to being big 2 and 3 year olds.
As a family, we went out to dinner this evening and celebrated with cake afterwards.  Nothing fancy, but a rainbow cake seemed to fit Lydia's personality this year.  She really is such a bright and cheery little girl.
Happy 2nd Birthday, sweet Lydia!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Insta-Lately

While in Indiana the last week of March, Chris and I had our first in-person meeting with our adoption agency.  We are so excited as we move forward in this process.
This is my first read of anything by C.S. Lewis.  I love that we have my dad's copy from when he was younger. We found it in a box of books from my childhood.  I'm enjoying it, although it's a slow read for me as I digest about one chapter a night.
First time making a homemade version of Reese's Cups.  I used this recipe and loved the substitution of almond butter and honey.  They were to die for.  I'm totally making these again and they were really simple, too.
Homemade version of Cheeze-Its.  They were more airy and light than I expected and less crunchy than most cheddar crackers.  Next time I'd omit the red chili flake, as the spice made it a little too aggressive for my kids.  But Chris and I enjoyed them.
Super fun new earrings as an early birthday gift from my sister-in-law.  They are from my favorite jewelry company, based out of Austin.
She's really been into kicking balls around in the backyard lately.  Her favorite game is to stand in a triangle with Lydia and I and kick it back and forth to each other.
 Focused concentration on those beads.
 I could never survive a gluten-free diet.
A love note for my man.  Old fashioned candy bars are the best, aren't they?