Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend-ing

 We spent an amazing 3-day weekend at my favorite place on Earth - the family lakehouse in Hot Springs, Arkansas! It's a decent drive (five hours plus stops), but getting there and seeing the beautiful lake and mountainous scenery always makes it worth it. The kids were SO excited!

We spent Saturday boating, fishing, eating delicious food, and just spending some sweet time with my parents. 

Kate was less than thrilled with her life jacket. ;) 

Sunday was pretty cool outside, so we played Putt-Putt in the morning and did a little more boating. 

Sunday afternoon, we went and bought crickets to fish with because we were determined to get Carter his first catch. It was HILARIOUS because when he caught his first fish, he FREAKED OUT. He said he was expecting to catch a goldfish, so when the fish was huge, he PANICKED. 

The next few catches were much more exciting once he knew what to expect. :) 

Meanwhile, Kate had fun swinging on the porch with Gammy. :)

We had a WONDERFUL weekend and got back to the house yesterday afternoon just before the big storms hit. This rain has been NUTS, but the sky last night when it had all passed was INSANE. This doesn't really even do it justice, but it was amazing. 
God is an amazing artist, isn't he?!!

Happy Tuesday-like-a-Monday to all!

Summer Goals

Preschool is officially over for both kids, the splash pads are open, and we have very little on the calendar (during the week at least) for the foreseeable future. That must mean one thing...summer is here! :) 

This year absolutely FLEW by, and the kids have grown SO much I can hardly believe it. Although Kate physically grew the most, Carter's social development has been IN-SANE this year, as he really made his first true friends in school this year, and for that, I'm SO thankful.

If you know me in real life or have read more than one or two of my blog posts, you know that the days with no agenda are the ones that stress me out the most...so, summer is usually pretty hard for me because there are a LOT of those days. I have gotten much better than I used to be...in college, I had a minute-by-minute schedule in my planner each day that included travel time between classes and snack breaks...no, really. I was so tightly wound and thought that going to two classes a day was SO BUSY that it's amazing to me I had any friends back then. (And if I could go back and shake that girl silly, I'd do it in a minute. You have no idea how easy you have it, college girl!) Nowadays, I generally tend to live somewhere east of Dictator Diana and west of Free Spirit Francis. As the kids get older and I'm realizing how fast this whole preschool age goes by, I'm learning the happy medium.

This summer, I want to be more intentional about spending quality time with my kids. Don't get me wrong...there is a LOT of togetherness around here since I stay home and there are no longer any school days. But, if I'm being honest, I think I am very guilty of thinking that since there is such a large QUANTITY of time together, that it's quality. And that's definitely not the case. I have been very convicted lately that I spend most of the day trying to get the kids involved in doing things without me - I put on a show, set them up with coloring books, dump out the Legos...but then I walk away. I get on my phone, do chores, or try to read while they play. I'm not involved. And I'm missing such good stuff!

So, that's my goal for this summer. Since the fall promises to be absolutely NUTS with starting a new job, MOPS commitments, and just ALL THE REST OF IT, I want to let go some days of the schedules and my incessant need to be on a timetable and just BE PRESENT WITH THEM.  

I want to blow up the inflatable kiddie pool, run through the sprinklers, eat popsicles, picnic at the park, just WHATEVER.

I want to move slower, accomplish less, and ENJOY more.

So, those are my goals for summer. We'll see how long it lasts. ;)
Wednesday, May 20, 2015


So, better late than never, right?!! :) Today's Show & Tell Tuesday (or Wednesday...) is all about our momfessionals - a term that basically means our mom confessionals. In other words, how we all survive this NUTTY motherhood thing without LOSING OUR MINDS. 

So, let's go!

After Kate's horrific first year and surviving all of the colic, I was so desperate for a little "me" time this year that I convinced my husband to let me send the kids to two different preschools since she was too young to attend Carter's...and the cherry on top was that I somehow managed to also get him to drop off the little one on the way to work! WHATEVER IT TAKES, people!
I was reading about naps one day in "Baby 411" (a must read for new parents, by the way), and I have lived by the line in the book that says, "Nap time should last at least one hour. What the child chooses to do for that hour is up to him." Let's be honest...naps are more for the parents than the kids. Yes, kids need sleep, blah blah blah. Naps are MY sanity, MY favorite part of the day, and MY time. If one of my kids only slept for 45 minutes at nap time, they sat in their beds for the remaining 15. And I felt absolutely no guilt about it. After all, it was written in a parenting book by a DOCTOR, so it MUST be true. :)

3) TV
Neither of my kids were big fans of television before about 18 months...and as much as I know it was bad for them that young, it made me SO sad! I so desperately wanted to let Elmo or Mickey Mouse babysit for just 30 little minutes a day, and neither of them had interest! I seriously didn't understand what was wrong with them...Carter FINALLY got into shows around two, and Kate is FINALLY beginning to enjoy small chunks of a few shows, and it is a blessed MIRACLE.  I can occasionally shower, cook dinner, clean up, etc without a shadow! :) 

Um...how about five minutes (Carter) or five hours (Kate)?!! With Carter, I usually gave it a few minutes...but he was my first child. Second child, I'm so sorry. I occasionally catch Kate walking around the playroom with something in her mouth, and when I ask her what it is, she usually says it is a Cheerio, Goldfish, etc. I will then think through when those snacks were brought upstairs, and as long as it was in the last 24 hours, I usually let her eat it. If you're mad at me reading this in 25 years, Kate, just think about all the immunity you were building at a young age! 

So, I lie to my kids at times. I lie and tell them the stupidly expensive rides at the mall are broken or that the toy store is closed on Tuesdays or that the ice cream store ran out of M&Ms. It makes it hard for them to argue with me...and that's always a win. One of the places I lie is at Rosa's - our usual Friday night dinner spot. They have a giant gumball machine by the exit that has a sign that says 50 cents on it. For a while, it was meltdown city every time we left the restaurant because Carter wanted a gum ball. Since I am not a big fan of putting my kids' lives in danger with candy they'd choke on, I always said no. It was always ugly. Until about six months ago when I decided to tell Carter that Rosa's had a rule that you had to be at least 5 to get gum. I pointed to the 5 on the machine, and he couldn't argue with the sign. Leaving dinner has been blissful ever since.

Yeah, I know. It's gross. It's public nakedness. He could probably get a rash. But he's 4, and when he has to go pee, he has to go NOW. So if there's a nearby tree and I can shield him, I let him "water the tree." He tells me his pee has superpowers and that it'll make the tree grow big and strong. And you know what, I tell him that's he's EXACTLY RIGHT. 

While I am certain I could list about a million more of these, those are the top six that come to mind today! This was SUCH a fun topic! Happy Hump Day, everyone!!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Feeling Thankful...

This week was not an easy one...

Kate came down with a virus on Monday that was ROUGH, she completely forgot how to sleep, and she didn't really get back to her normal self for five days.
My dad underwent his third back surgery for a disk that degenerated and caused nerve damage.
Carter finished preschool for the year. 
Hubby had to decide whether or not he would stay at his current job or make a move to a new company.
 A good family friend is currently having a double bypass heart surgery.
Yeah, it's been a doozy.

I have lost my temper more times than I care to think about. I have yelled. A lot. I have put myself into several "mommy time-outs." I even put a brown paper sack on my head at one point to create a diversion when Kate was throwing a fit. (Thanks for that one, Momastery! Brilliant!) 

But, I've been more reliant on Jesus (okay, and coffee) this week for strength and patience and compassion than I have been in a long time. When I got to a point where I just wanted to quit and run away, He gave me strength. When I felt overwhelmed and unable to handle the tasks of the day, He gave me wisdom. When I felt unable to comfort and console my daughter for one more minute because I was just COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY EMPTY, He filled me again. 

And for that, today, I am thankful. 
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Carter is FOUR!

I cannot believe my baby boy is FOUR!!! 

We had a great weekend celebrating this big guy with family and friends. We started the morning with pancakes, headed off to church, and then came home for presents. He got his first bike and was PUMPED! It took him NO time to figure out how to go, and I am now running after him on walks. So much for those negative exercise Jeep rides! ;)

One of his favorite shows right now is Bubble Guppies, and that's the theme he chose for his birthday party. After throwing out a lengthy list of possible locations for the party (which were all rejected), Carter decided he wanted to have his friends over to our house to celebrate. He's a total homebody, so this was not super surprising to me now that he's become so...ahem...opinionated. So, two bounce houses, two bubble machines, and 36 cupcakes later, we had ourselves a Bubble Guppies bash for Cart and 12 of his friends!

Carter has really come into his own and developed quite a goofy, independent, and protective little personality this year. He is growing and learning every day, and it has been so much fun to watch him blossom from the quiet and shy little three year-old toddler into the fun and playful four year-old. Over the past year, he took swim lessons, attended preschool three days a week, played soccer for the first time, and developed his first real friends. He is changing everyday, and I cannot wait to see what adventures come his way this year. Couldn't love you more if I tried, buddy! XOXO.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Little Eyes Are Always Watching...

Last Wednesday, I was stopped at a stoplight. We were on our way to drop off my son at preschool, and the day had already been...well, special. I glanced up at the rear-view mirror and realized in the chaos of the morning, I had forgotten to put on any makeup. I am not a big make-up girl, but my daughter had been up with teething pain the night before, so I decided my tired eyes needed a little help. I dug into my purse and pulled out my concealer, and as I began dotting it underneath my weary eyes, I caught a glimpse of my baby girl in the backseat. She had taken her tiny little finger and was mimicking my motions on her own face. It stopped me completely in my tracks. I watched her closely as I continued to apply my makeup, and I saw her mimic each and every motion I made...unscrewing and screwing the tops, blending the blush, brushing on the mascara. Although it was the first time I had noticed it, it was clearly not the first time she had decided to do this. She was focused, soaking in each and every motion, as if she was memorizing a new skill.  

She’s 20 months old.

Later that day,  I began to think about what had happened in the car. It made me wonder what ELSE she had seen me doing and how those moments had affected her. (And I kind of panicked...I really thought I had at least a few more years before I had to deal with this stuff?!!) It dawned on me at that moment that even at a young age, I was already teaching her what it means to be a woman.

While this little copycat situation may have seemed cute and innocent on the surface, I take these sorts of things very seriously because if I’m being completely honest, raising a daughter in today’s selfie-obsessed, social media crazed world TERRIFIES ME. I never, not for one second, take it lightly that I am the first female role model my daughter will have.That thought is never, ever lost on me because for years, I was told I would never have children. I shouldn’t, according to doctors, have been able to conceive and carry children at all because of the damage I did to myself many years ago.

But, because we all know God is the ultimate fancy-schmancy miracle worker, here I sit today blessed with not one, but two beautiful kids. If you had told me at 17 that I would one day be a mom to a tender-hearted, sensitive little blonde boy and a vivacious little lady with piercing chocolate brown eyes, I would’ve laughed in your face. It shouldn’t be possible.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I battled Anorexia and Exercise Bulimia for nearly four years...a battle that should’ve cost me my life. My disordered eating began young at just 13 years old, but it peaked at 17 when I was hospitalized for a heart condition. I had done so much damage those four years waging war with the enemy for control of my weight that my body was literally breaking down its own muscle to stay alive. By God’s grace, my gynecologist caught the condition in time and put me in the hands of an amazing pediatric cardiologist who literally saved my life. The road ahead of me was long and not without struggle, but God carried me through it all, and the hope of one day defying the odds and becoming a mother motivated me to stay the course and fight the fight.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day, 2013.  I am sitting at the perinatologist’s office for a sonogram of my second child at about 13 weeks along.  I knew prior to that appointment that there was a chance she would tell me the gender that day. She was able to tell me at the same sonogram that my firstborn was a boy, so I kept my fingers crossed that I’d find out again. As the doctor took all of her measurements and showed me various things going on with the baby, she kept saying that she couldn’t determine the gender just yet and needed a different angle. After about 20 minutes of still undetermined gender, I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t know the answer that day. And then, in the eleventh hour, the doctor smiled a big smile, looked down at me and said, “I can see it clearly now. You have a daughter.”

Cue the ugly cry.

Through big giant crocodile tears of disbelief, I asked her, “How sure are you? Like 90%? Or more? Because I’ve heard it’s too early to know that it’s a girl...”

“Oh, I don’t guess,” she said. “If I wasn’t 100% sure, I wouldn’t tell you anything. That is clearly a girl.”

That’s when my panic began. Memories of everything I had been through as a teenager came to mind. I immediately wanted to put that precious girl in a bubble and protect her from all the cruel things I knew she’d inevitably encounter in the world. The thought of my perfect baby girl experiencing bullying, gossip, heartache, and body hatred was just too much for me.

But I’ve learned that the miracle-working God who helped me overcome my obstacles and answered my decade of prayer is the same God who is wise and guides me every day as I model true beauty for that baby girl. We may not be sitting down having heart-to-heart conversations about mean girls at school yet, but my actions today matter. It matters that we eat meals together. It matters that she sees me look in the mirror with a smile on my face. It matters that we go out for walks as a family. In these little years, we are planting the seeds of contentment.

That morning in the car as I watched her mimic me putting on lipgloss, God reminded me that I have an incredible responsibility and obligation to be sure that my children grow up in a home where they see true values - the good stuff like honesty, generosity, service, and love. If what they see instead is me hiding my dark circles, obsessing over having single-digit clothing sizes, or worrying about the way my chin looks in a selfie, I’ve missed the mark. The way my children approach the world and view themselves starts early, and it starts with me.

Those little eyes are always watching...so today, I am going to choose to show my daughter that what is beautiful is not the makeup on my face, but the way I love my family, my faith in God, and my kindness toward others. So I challenge you today to think...when those little eyes look at you, what will they see?

[NOTE: This post can also be found on Heather Creekmore's blog, Compared to Who. :) It was featured in her series on helping our daughters create a healthy body image. If you or someone you know is struggling with body image, Heather's blog is a great source of information.]
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