Saturday, December 31, 2011

Amazing Discovery

After many unsuccessful attempts to put Nola to sleep, we've finally discovered that (at times) she likes to sleep on her back.  This back-sleeping phenomenon is a new one to me since the other two always slept on their tummies as babies.  And it seems that back-sleeping is only required at night after her first wake-up.  Strange.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Worship time. (aka children's energy release)

Please excuse Nathan's whining at the beginning.  He wanted to "see" the music, and of course there was nothing to see.  Glad there was no full-blown meltdown caught on camera!

Playing with trains

It comes. And then it goes.

I really have no idea why I've felt so strangely about Christmas this year.  Apathetic would be a good way to describe my approach to it this year.  I think I might be in sort of a state of shock at how fast this year went by.  It's hard to believe that Nola is over 10 months old and closing fast on a year.  It seems like we just had Thanksgiving a week ago, and now Christmas is over and New Year's Eve is in 3 days.  I don't remember a year that went so by and held in it so many blessings. 

All that to say we had an enjoyable Christmas.  The kids had a blast with their presents.  Nobody was sick on Christmas.  We spent quality time with our wonderful family and friends.  The Christmas eve service at church was one of my most favorites ever.  There were many quiet nights of sitting and watching our beautiful tree twinkle in a darkened living room.  There were cookies in abundance.  There was Christmas music.  And there was a delicious Christmas dinner prepared by my talented parents.

Our twinkly tree after Santa visited

The children were nestled...

...all snug in their bed...

...while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

The three amigos on Christmas morning before the unwrapping craziness started

Nathan's favorite present...his front-end loader that makes NOISE

Natalie's necklace from Mommy

Nola is introduced to her baby doll

Unwrapping another truck..with a little assistance

Natalie's drumbeats toy

Nola's xylophone

Nathan and his race cars.  Big success!

Legos....another hit!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Proverbs 4:23

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.

I've read this verse frequently in the past couple weeks and just last week added it to my list of verses that I want to memorize in the coming year.  And it just hit me as I read it tonight that if I teach my children nothing else, I hope I effectively teach them this.

Guarding their hearts will be my job for a few more years yet, but I hope that by the time they begin school and start to make some bigger choices for themselves they will have this embedded in their hearts and minds.  

I pray that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit and all the good thoughts and attitudes that come along with it.  It is my hope that they learn that the contents of their hearts will spill out into everything they do.  I want them to learn to guard their hearts and be aware that not everything in this world is good for them even though they have no reason to walk in fear because of parts of life that aren't so good.  Father, just protect my kids and help me teach them to appropriately guard their hearts.  Help them to be filled with all the good things you have for them.  In Jesus name, amen.

Nola's 10 (and a half) months

Nola was 10 1/2 months on the 10th - her "golden" month birthday...haha.  The past month and a half have been amazing with Nola.  She's a full-time cruiser now and loves going back and forth while holding onto the couch.  I love this age - especially this time around because I can really appreciate its fleeting nature.

Size/clothes: She's over 19 lbs now.  Poor baby has been to the doctor a few times in the last couple weeks due to ear infections and a lingering upper respiratory infection.  Still in 18-24 months clothes.

Eating:  She still loves to nurse and will spend most of the night nursing as she sleeps along with enjoying 6-8 nursing sessions during the day.  I have finally begun to consistently offer meals along with the older kids.  She really loves to eat.  Some new favorite things are beans and rice, toast with jelly, and bagel chips.  She still loves her fruits and vegetables, and I went ahead and made some avocado/banana and raspberry/banana/baby oatmeal purees to freeze and give along with fingerfoods. I've offered cheese and yogurt, but so far she's not a huge fan.  We'll keep trying.  She has started to hold her own cup and drink instead of requiring help from me.  My girl LOVES to eat, and whether she's hungry or not, she's always willing to give food a try.

Teeth:  Two new teeth this month!  So she got the proverbial two front teeth for Christmas.

Sleeping:  Getting better.  But that's probably mostly due to the fact that I'm just waiting for her to be tired instead of putting her to bed at a predetermined time.  Just in the last week or so, she's begun taking a consistent 2-3 hour nap starting around 11am.  She still starts the night in her bed, but usually she only lasts until about 11:30 or midnight at the latest before joining us in bed where she will contentedly alternate sleeping and eating until about 7:30 or 8.

New skills:  Besides cruising, Nola is clapping, dancing, singing, talking, and showing signs of attitude.  She learned to clap right on the 10th, and that morning she was laying next to me in bed clapping as she nursed.  It was adorable.  She loves to dance and sing, so anything that makes music in this house is Nola's favorite.  She's talking - words include ba-ba (my boobs), nuh-nuh (no no), ah-duh (all done), buh (book), and of course dada and mama.  She cracks me up saying nuh-nuh since she usually tells herself that when she bites me.  We've started having serious issues with biting, both during nursing as well as any other time.  It's sort of become her way of getting my attention.  Fortunately, I think she's starting to get the idea that it's not appreciated but we're still working on it.  She's also showing signs of girly attitude by throwing a fit when I take away her washcloth so I can wash her during her bath - she growls at me too.  Frightening.  She knows what she wants and when she wants it.

Loves:  Baths, eating and nursing, her brother and sister, her daddy, sleeping in our bed, the Christmas tree, getting into things she's not supposed to have, books, sleeping in her carseat, and the humidifier.

Loathes: Homemade peach puree with baby cereal -- just found this out today.  Funny story.  She literally spit it out over the side of her high chair.  Hilarious.  She also is not a fan of diaper changes, having the washcloth taken away in the bathtub, being too cold or too hot, and having to sit still.

Girl loves to eat, I'm telling you.

Nola and Mama at the Nutcracker

Pretty little toofers

Lookin' at the new love of her life -- Daddy
 *admittedly, I was horrible about taking pictures this month.  These shots resulted from only two separate attempts at photographically documenting my baby's life.  I promise to do better this month (especially since it's already half over).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

best moments ever

In the past couple weeks, we've had two amazing moments as a family.  Moments that make me proud to be a mother to MY children.  Moments that I've been dreaming of for years.  Moments that I want to breathe in, bottle up, wallow in, and bathe my soul in at the times (like today) when life with three kids under five is hard.

The first one happened at the end of dinner about a week and a half ago.  Kevin, Natalie, Nathan, and Nola were still at the table, and I was in the kitchen.  Nola had just learned how to clap her hands, and we were all saying, "YAY!!!!" And Nola would just giggle and clap and look around at each of us smiling at her.  It was one of the sweetest things I've ever experienced, and I remember as I was standing there watching that I was just reminding myself to totally soak up that moment.  Tears came to my eyes, and joy filled my heart.  All of us were blessed in that moment.

Then last night, Kevin and I were having a conversation as the kids were playing when I overheard Nathan say his foot hurt.  He didn't make much of a fuss about it, so I didn't either.  Just a minute later, I looked back over to where they were sitting and Natalie had his foot in her hands praying for him.  I sat in complete awe as she led him through the prayer.  She would say a line, and he repeated it back just like I do with each of them.   They finished, and I praised Natalie for taking the initiative to pray for her brother.  Then Kevin said his shoulders hurt and sort of hinted that they should pray for him.  So they went behind the couch where he was sitting and each of them put their hands on one of his shoulders.  Natalie led the prayer again.  Short, simple, to the point.  "Jesus, please make Daddy's shoulders feel better.  Pain, go in the name of Jesus. Amen!"  Kevin said it felt a little better, so I told the kids to pray again.  They happily obliged, of course.  After Kevin, they prayed for Nola's bronchitis to go away.  And then my little prayer warriors were back at it this morning praying for anything and everything.  I am sooooooo proud of them.  Can't even find the words to express what this means to me.  I am so in love with the fact that they do listen and follow my example, especially when I least expect it. 

So thank you, Jesus for my amazing children.  Bless them as they go about their daily lives and give them courage to pray for anyone and everyone who needs to be touched by You.  Help me to continue to live out your example for them so they will grow into the people they are in Your Kingdom.  Thank you for loving us, Jesus!  Amen!!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's a *gasp* artificial tree

It looks good....for being an imposter.

If you know anything about me and Christmas, you know that having an artificial tree is the next thing to blasphemy.  That being said, I decided that this would be the year to go with an artificial one because we don't really have the layout in our living room that would make it easy to use a gate to keep Nola out of the needles that would inevitably fall from the tree.  So, with a heavy heart I went to Wal-Mart and picked out this beauty.  It was a lot easier to put up than I thought it would be since it's just in three sections with the branches folding out from the "trunk."  I added some of our flashing LED bulbs because the pretty colors flashing against the wall (or blinds in this year's case) are one of my favorite things to watch late in the evening during the holidays.

As I was putting it up this morning, I was already looking forward to a couple years from now when we can go back to a live tree and I can pass this one on to someone else to enjoy.  Probably when Nola is two or three, so this will be the tree for at least one or two more Christmases.


As we were driving home from a morning out with my mom this afternoon, the song "Oh You Can't Get to Heaven" came on on the CD we were listening too, and Natalie was quite amused by that song.  The conversation went as follows...

*song* Oh you can't get to Heaven (oh you can't get to Heaven) On roller skates (on roller skates)
Natalie:  You can't get to Heaven on ROLLER SKATES?!?
Me:  No, I don't think so...
*song* Oh you can't get to Heaven (oh you can't get to Heaven) In a rocking chair (in a rocking chair)
Natalie: You can't get to Heaven in a ROCKING CHAIR?!?!?
Me: (laughing)
*song* Oh you can't get to Heaven (oh you can't get to Heaven) In a limousine (in a limousine)
Natalie: What's a limousine?
Me:  It's a really long, pretty car with lots of seats in it.
Natalie: You can't get to Heaven in a limousine?!?!?!  (pauses to think)  I think you have to get a rocketship to get to Heaven.
Me (thinking to myself):  I guess I better do a better job of teaching her about the importance of Jesus in her life.
Natalie: No, Mommy, you need Jesus to get to Heaven.
Me:  *SMILES*  That's right, Natalie.

I just love it when she shows me that she listens to what I'm trying to teach her even when she doesn't always seem to be paying attention.

the new Biblical definition of me

Galatians 6:10 NLT
Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

This is my new favorite verse because it describes how I do life.  You know how people ask what your favorite verse is or to pick one that describes you?   This is it for me.  I love, and I mean LOVE helping people.  Giving things away that I don't need or don't use, sharing anything with anyone, just helping.  I love it.  I have things that I still am using now that I think about passing on to certain people that I know will either love it or really need it.  People and their needs are on my mind all the time.  

I say "new" Biblical definition of me because when people used to ask my favorite verse, I would always say Proverbs 20:11 because that is the verse that my parents chose for me when they gave me my first Bible when I was little.  Proverbs 20:11 is this, "Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right."  Pretty sure they were just telling me to behave by choosing that verse for me, but for the better part of my life that verse has lived in my mind as a reminder to consider how my actions might define who I am.  I'm going to teach Natalie this verse in the hopes that it will serve as the same reminder to her as she grows.

Nothing like passing on good words to grow by.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ah ha!

I've discovered why Nola is considered "small."

Different growth chart!  The WHO (not the band) has an international growth chart which is based on weights and lengths of babies who are breastfed exclusively for at least 4 months and at least partially until 12 months with no solids until 6 months. 

And by those numbers she's exactly average for weight and a little above average for length.

Check them out here for girls and here for boys

Nola's 9 (and a half) month check-up

Best thing:  NO shots!

Size thing:  18 lbs 6 oz and 27" long

Crazy thing:  She's only at the 30th-40th percentile for weight and height.  Someone please explain to me how my long and chunky girl is into 18-24 month clothes when she's only in the 30th-40th percentile for height and weight.  Does this mean that 9 month old girls who are at the 50th-60th percentile are in 3T clothes?  Nola hasn't fit into her 9 month clothes in like 3 months.  I don't get it. 

Worst thing: Nap refusal day for Nola was yesterday which resulted in her crying every time somebody at the doctor's office touched her.  Or even when they looked at her at one point.  Did I mention how glad I am there were no shots yesterday?  That would have been complete disaster.

Side note thing:  Nola got her third tooth last week - her first on top.  And she's working on the other top front tooth right now.  Can't wait until they're both through and she's gotten used to them in her mouth so she doesn't need to use me as a teether every time she begins to eat.

John 17:4

"I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do."

Reading this verse makes me realize how close to (or maybe even still behind) the starting gate I am.  Finishing well is a goal of mine.  A very long term goal.  But a shorter term goal is to begin the work God is giving me to do.

Just recently I started to feel led to form a small group as I prayed and read my Bible on a more consistent basis.  Can I just say how much easier it is to hear God if you're actively listening?  What a revelation, right?!  Then at the last VLT training at church, I received some words from some friends and fellow M2M leaders that have really begun to push me.  Some of the words were leadership, responsibility for others, influence, and teaching.  After leaving VLT, I prayed the whole way home.  And I got a clear answer that I am to start a small group.  So I sat on that for longer than I probably should have, but I did finally reach out and talk to and exchange emails with one of the small group pastors.  And I filled out all the information for our group to start in February.  Phew.  My assigned work commenced: check. 

So now what?

I wonder every day who (if anyone) will show up.  I wonder if we'll even make it through the first month with any regular participants.  I fear failure.  I worry about how the kids will behave.  I know that I'll have to be stubborn enough to push through when Kevin wants to quit because his expectations for immediate success sometimes supercede any patience to see it all the way through. 

And despite all the anxiety that I feel, I know that it's not my plan.  It's God's.  And in a way, the anxiety is comforting because I know that I'm feeling this way because I'm doing the right thing.  It's like being crazy-nauseous when you're pregnant.  At least for me when I was without that awful feeling, I would worry that the pregnancy is okay since the nausea is a clear sign to me that things are going according to plan in there.  In that way anxiety is a great thing.

I'm already getting ideas of certain people and families that we should invite to participate in our small group.  I know God already has people picked out for us to get to know and do life with.  And every once in a while it's like He lets me in on his secret plan by showing me somebody that I should be pulling into our circle.

I can't say enough how excited I am to see where this goes.  So pray pray pray for us as we begin this new work that we would enjoy it, have amazing times with new people, and stick with it no matter what.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This is just too dang early

4:30 am ... Nola wide awake.  Roll over to other side to attempt to nurse back to sleep.
4:45 am ... Realize this is probably going to be the end of my night.
5:00 am ... Take Nola to her room to nurse because it feels like she's going to tear my poor, thrush-laden nipples off (Curse you antibiotics.  Screw you ear infections.) while simultaneously scratching the skin off my chest and face with her sharp little fingernails (Stupid Mommy fear of nail clippers).
5:10 am ... Get her wrapped up and under control.
5:15 to 5:30 ...  Nurse nurse nurse.  Ow ow ow.
5:35 am ... Nola pops off and says, "Mamamamamamamamamama!!!!!"  Crap.  Now she's being cute.
5:40 am ... Turn light on in her room.  We both do the squinty eye thing.  Change diaper and admit defeat.

And that was just one side of the craziness.
5:00 am ... Natalie is up, FULLY DRESSED, TV on, and ready to start her day.  I growled something at her like, "Turn that off and go to bed.  grumble grumble grumble."
5:02 am ... Pretty sure she already had the TV back on just a few minutes after I told her to turn it off.  Because, you know, Natalie can do whatever she wants and I'm powerless to stop her at 5 am and she knows this.
5:05 am ... Natalie wakes Nathan up.  Nothing to say but....grrrrrr.

Amazingly, they stayed pretty quiet while I finished with Nola.

At 6 I put cinnamon rolls in the oven.  Kids ate, I ate, Nola started rubbing her eyes.  When we were done I put the kids back in their room, put Nola to sleep, and went back to bed.  Thankful for my awesome husband who got up with the kids when they started getting noisy so that Nola and I could sleep until almost 9.

Nathan is spending the morning with Grandma since he's usually the one who stays home.  They're going grocery shopping, so I'm hoping he'll come home tired enough for a nap.

Here's to a better day than what I started with!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Daily Devotion

I've started doing a Bible reading plan through YouVersion by Joyce Meyers.  There's a piece of scripture along with a short devotion, and so far I'm loving it.  It is exactly what I need to "hear" right now.

Yesterday's devotion was about keeping the presence of God close to me to help me focus on what He would have for me rather than all of life's extra distractions.  She referenced John 14:23 which says "Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them."  I love that it's that simple.  All I have to do is obey.  Strangely that's what I keep telling Natalie..."Life will be so much easier for you when you just do what I say!"  And then I read something like that, and I feel about as big as a peanut and my response is, "Ok, God.  I guess that applies to me too."  And then the best part is that Jesus promises that He and God (and the Holy Spirit) will come and make their home in me.  Love that!  I'm so thankful for the renovations that are going on in my heart right now to make a home for Jesus.

Today's devotion blew me away.  It's something I've been thinking about and having lots of visions and direct instructions about lately.  Dreams.  Not sleeping dreams so much as dreams of who I want to be and who God wants me to be.  For a really long time, those two dreams couldn't have been farther apart.  But I'm starting to see who I am in the Kingdom, and it's really, really exciting.  The verse for today is Proverbs 29:18 which says this: "When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.  But whoever obeys the law is joyful."  Oh my goodness do I remember running wild thinking I'm running this show that is my life.  Still do sometimes, but not like I used to.  I'm enjoying the joy that comes with obedience, and I have a feeling it's only going to get better as I continue to follow the instructions I've been given.  In the devotional part of today's reading Joyce Meyers wrote this: "That means you...need to find a balance between contentment and ambition. Here's the key: Learn to enjoy where you are on the way to where you're going."  All I have to say is thank you God. 

Growth is an amazing thing.  And it's something that I'm finally seeing in myself while I'm going through it instead of seeing it in hindsight.

So thank you God for all you're doing in my life and in the lives of those around me.  Help me to stay focused on you and what you have for me so that I can remain obedient to your instructions and see the promises in your word.  Help me to live my dreams even as I do the footwork to make it all happen the way that You see it.  Thank you for loving me Jesus.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

John 14:27-29

The enemy is all over so many people I know lately.  People are sick, dying, sinning, imprisoned, depressed, confused, desperate, crying, and hurting.  Everyone from young children to older adults, no one is spared.  I ran across this verse tonight in the book of John.  Some context: Jesus was giving instructions and promises to his disciples before his capture and eventual crucifixion. 

And this is what he says John 14:27-29  “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.  Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am.  I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe."

I pray that Jesus will bring his peace to everyone I know who is suffering right now.  I pray that they would not be troubled or afraid but would instead rest in knowing that the peace of Jesus is covering them.  And I really feel like God is saying that He is going to use all these horrible things for the purpose of building stronger faith and making a lasting impression on those who do not believe yet.  I pray that He shows me the way to minister to all those that I know are hurting.  And that I'll be bold and obedient in stepping out to pray with them.  

So thank you, Jesus, for your promise of peace.  And thank you that you died so that we might live.  I lift up all my friends (who are really more like family) who are experiencing some hard times which are really more like impossible than hard.  Help their experiences to be faith-building and inspire new growth and belief in them and all those who surround them.  Thank you for giving me a heart for their hurts.  Help me to follow your lead in praying for and with them.  Give us all more of you.  In Your name I pray, amen.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

9 months old

Nola Grace is 9 months old.  She's the sweetest little baby who loves everybody in her family and squeals with delight when she sees each of us. 

It never ceases to amaze me how much a baby changes in such a short amount of time.  I mean, how do we go from this....

8 lbs 6 oz, 20 inches

to this....
18 1/2 lbs, not sure on length except LONG
in only nine months.  And yet, as far as animals go humans are some of the slowest to develop as babies and children.  If there's one thing I'm learning as a third time mom, it's that God's timing is truly perfect.  He orchestrates our lives to the smallest, most minute detail.  And as a mother, it's such a gift to be able to witness every second of my child's God-designed life.

Nine months was definitely a month of changes for Nola and me.  Here are a few of them.

Growth: Exact numbers to come next week when we see Dr. Schuster for her check-up, but she was around 18 1/2 lbs at a doctor's visit for an ear infection earlier this week.  Looking forward to the fun 9-month check with no shots. Woo hoo!  I'm hoping he doesn't make a big deal of her not gaining the half ounce a day, but with her chubby legs I don't see how he could really be too concerned.  Either way, it's still primarily mama's milk for Nola!

Clothes: Wait for it.....Nola's in 18 months clothes for the most part.  Especially now that it's colder and I really want her legs totally covered.  So we're rolling sleeves because her arms aren't as long as her legs are.  Love that I have one of those chunky babies.  And just in the past week, I've really started to enjoy dressing her in little outfits instead of keeping her in sleepers all the time.  It makes diaper changes more challenging since she has very little patience for those, but she looks so cute that it's worth the trouble. 

Eating:  Still primarily nursing, and I've really been enjoying a nice boost in my supply as a result of a growth spurt that she had a couple weeks ago.  It's such a satisfying noise to hear the milk splashing around in her mouth as she swallows.  Sometimes she gulps so hard that she gets ahead of herself and I have to stop her before she chokes.  She has also been eating a lot more real food.  She loves sitting in her chair at the table with the rest of us and munching on whatever we're eating.  She tried blueberries the other day and absolutely loved them.  She also loves bananas, apples, toast, cheerios, chicken, and beans.  Nola has mastered her sippy cup.  And she will very adamantly demand it when she needs a drink.  Next up for Nola to try are dairy products - cheeses and yogurts especially.  She had a little taste of yogurt off my finger tonight and seemed to like it.  So far, no tummy upset so we'll continue to cautiously try it. 

"This is yummy, Mommy!"

Even with only two teeth, she gets some apple....and she loves it!

Sleeping:  She's had some trouble over the past couple weeks, but that probably had a lot to do with a brewing ear infection which we caught early, THANK GOODNESS!  She's been much better the last couple days, so that's quite the relief.  Thankfully she sleeps well with me in bed if all else fails, so at least we always have that to fall back on.

Don't let the peacefulness fool you...this was only a 30 minute nap.

But she is soooooo beautiful, I can't help but watch her.

What she's doing:  This is my favorite thing...she's making sounds that I understand as words.  At bathtime when I take her back to the bathroom, she'll say "baaa  baaa" for bath.  When we finish a diaper change, she says, "ahh duh" for all done which is what I've been saying to her since birth.  And after getting dressed for bed, she starts saying, "buh buh" for her book.  Sometimes she'll say it at other times when we're reading a story, but I've mostly noticed it for her bedtime book.  All these verbal developments make me think of Natalie.  She was about the same at this age if not a little more advanced.  It's incredible that they're able to "talk" at this age.  She has also fully mastered crawling and pulling up on anything and everything.  She's beginning to cruise along furniture and has let go in an attempt to walk on her own a couple times.  Of course she lands on her bottom when she let's go, but it's fun to see her try.  She absolutely loves her brother and sister and shrieks and squeals when she sees them coming toward her.  She and Nathan are becoming good pals, which is so sweet to watch.  And she's really falling in love with her daddy.  She'll sit on his lap for the longest time -- especially when he has a snack for her. 

This has been a very exciting month for Nola in a lot of ways.  She was dedicated at church this past Sunday, and that was really special.  I had a new realization of how important this commitment is.  More on that in another post.

All ready to go on dedication Sunday morning

In the front of the church being introduced and prayed for
 Nola is such a joy, and we are so blessed to have her.  Here's to your nine months, baby girl, and many many more!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I need to get with it.

So here I am, going about my every day life, passing up all kinds of blogging material.  Don't know what my problem is, but I promise I will rectify the situation.

Perhaps it's that I've been processing so much lately.  Like big stuff.  Really big stuff.  Stuff that is still not processed enough to post on a public blog because I have yet to figure it out myself.

So a brief rundown of the past several weeks...

 I turned 27 on October 17th.  I've never really experienced any really big changes or transitions around my birthday, so this year is a major exception.  I almost feel like I've actually aged instead of feeling the same the day after my birthday as I did the day before it.  It's quite an interesting feeling, and I'm still getting used to all that it brings.

A week after my birthday, I spoke at Mom2Mom on forgiveness.  Even though that's a topic that I'm sure I'll never master, preparing that talk gave me a lot of new insight on what it means to really forgive.  We had some really awesome and honest discussions followed by some amazing worship, great words of knowledge, and powerful ministry.  And I'm still hearing from ladies that were touched and challenged by my story.  God is so good, and I'm so blessed to have this refreshed perspective on His goodness.

Following that meeting I've had all kinds of stirrings for changes in my life.  This is the part where it becomes unprocessed and personal, so I'll omit details.  But let me just say that this time next year and maybe even just months from now, my life is likely to look completely different in many ways.

Then the week of Halloween was really crazy and busy, and I really don't even remember much of it.  Natalie went trick-or-treating with her dad and Liz and (of course) had a great time.  Then this past weekend she was with them as they were joined in marriage.  Congratulations to the both of you, and I wish you all the best!  Natalie had a blast being the flower girl and getting to spend time with all of her out-of-town family.

This past Sunday we went to church where Nola was dedicated.  It's really special when I think about what that really means.  The promise that we make publicly to raise our children so they know Jesus is so important and profound.  Again, so blessed for a new perspective on that.  The message was amazing.  Love when Jeff Augustine speaks.

Yesterday was VLT (Vineyard Leadership Training), and it was literally life-changing.  Still processing, so I'll get back to you on that.  You ladies who were there, I love you.  I am so thankful for the influence each of you is having on my life.

Mom2Mom today, and again amazing.  This group of women is incredible, and I really feel a new sense of unity and togetherness this year that I didn't feel last year.  I don't know if it's because I was new last year or if it's just because it's really happening that way this year, but I feel it.  And I love it.

There's the update on me.  Sorry it's a little vague, but stay tuned for more later.  Kids post will come later.  For now, it's quiet in my house.  Kids are at school, and Nola is asleep.  Sounds like lunchtime to me!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Could I PLEASE get some sleep?!

Although this will not impress my friend Emily at all, I am really missing my sleep lately.  Nola is back to her completely unpredictable sleeping schedule which consists of one or fewer naps and "sleeping" in bed with me every night from about midnight on.  By 4:30 or 5:00 every morning, my back is killing me from laying in one position so long.  Sometimes I try to put her in her own bed at that point if she's asleep enough and all the stars align.  We had one amazing night this past week where she slept from 8:30 until 3:30, ate, and went back to sleep.  Can't wait until she does that again.  Thankfully she's still a pretty happy girl for most of the day and will play and crawl around without fussing much. 

She snuck up on me and started biting my toes one day...

Friday, October 28, 2011

it's been awhile...

Can't believe I've gone over a week without posting, so this will be one full of randoms.

I've been a little tied up around here lately because Nola has not been sleeping well and is nursing every five seconds (or so it seems).  All that adds up to a growth spurt in my book.  Tonight at her bedtime feeding, I think my body finally caught up with her because she was having trouble nursing well because it was flowing so fast.  We'll know for sure if all is well by the way she sleeps tonight.  Cross your fingers!

Had a crazy week around here too.  On Sunday night we thought Natalie and Nathan may have come down with Hand Foot and Mouth disease.  They both had a body rash, and Natalie was complaining of a sore throat and mouth.  And she developed a fever Monday morning, but that only lasted until that night.  Nathan never went beyond the rash, so maybe it was something else or maybe it was a mild case.   Either way, they were both home until Natalie had been fever-free for 24 hours.  They went to school on Wednesday, but on Thursday school was out due to parent-teacher conferences.  So we got a visit at home from all three of Natalie's teachers and both of Nathan's on Thursday morning.  We got very good reports on both of them.  Nathan is adjusting to life in the classroom and is developing friendships and learning the routine.  Natalie is advanced (surprise, surprise!), so her teachers are going to begin challenging her with learning to read some sight words as well as how to tie her shoes.

Natalie gets to go to ice skating lessons tomorrow morning, and then she'll be at her dad's for the weekend and Monday for trick-or-treating.  (side note: since when is Halloween such an important holiday that festivities HAVE to occur ON the 31st?)  Anyway, next week will be a busy week for her as well with her out-of-town grandparents and aunt coming for a visit. 

Nathan is blowing us away with his vocabulary.  A couple days ago, Kevin asked Nathan to come, and Nathan said, "I can't right now. I'm busy."  Today he surprised Kevin by grabbing a jug containing just a little juice and a cup off the counter and sitting down on the floor to pour the juice into the cup.  Such a smart, self-sufficient little boy.

We've been enjoying the entertainment that the World Series has provided.  Can I just say how insane Game 6 was?!  As I type this, they just got the final out and have won.  After last night's game, I'm glad that this one was far less dramatic.  Congratulations to all you Cardinals fans!  If it couldn't be the Cubs, at least it's you guys. 

Going to bed now, and looking forward to a very peaceful day tomorrow. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

New snacks

Banana with nutella
I'm trying to be more conscious about getting more fruits and vegetables, and even though this banana is slathered in chocolate, I'll call it a win.

hilarious. plain and simple.

So, the back story...

Natalie likes to build towers with blocks in her room.  Fantastic, right?  Yes, most definitely.  The thing is that she likes to show me each and every one before she can knock it down and make a new one.  Normally this is no problem, but when I sit down to feed Nola I can't get back there to see it.  So of course, we run the risk of having a disastrous event if Nathan happens to get to the tower before I do.

That is, however, before I came up with a brilliant plan.  Let Natalie take my camera and take a picture of her towers if I'm nursing.  She loves this.  It allows her to show me what she does as well as be a big girl and get to use my camera.

Fast forward to the hilarious part.  This is what happens if you send a 4-year-old out with a camera that is not on the right setting.

And the final product...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

freaking. out.

Ok, maybe not fully freaking out.  But getting apprehensive.  There are four days until I speak at my mom's group at church, and although I know what I'm going to say (and may or may not have it typed out word for word), I'm starting to get nervous.  Kevin says I'll be fine, and I'll do a good job.  And that may be.  But for now, I'm anxious.

I'll take that as a sign that I need to pray and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to settle my heart and mind. 

So come Holy Spirit and relieve my anxiety.  Help me to know that my words are not mine but instead are yours.  Thank you for the opportunity to heal some of my past hurts in preparation for this talk.  And help me to speak sloooowwwly and clearly.  In Jesus' name, amen.

one is the loneliest number

Reading my One Year Bible this morning, I came across this passage.

1 Timothy 5:24-25
Remember the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment.  But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later.  In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious.  And some good deeds done in secret will someday come to light.

This helps me realize that we ALL have some areas in which we fall short.  No matter how together I think some people have it, there are certainly things about them that I don't know.  If all of us could realize that deep, dark secrets exist in every human being, it might just be easier to call Satan a liar and dismiss the shame that comes from thinking "I'm the only one."  We might be more willing to share our shortcomings and confess our sins to each other. 

This is what I'm praying for today.  Will you join me?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Risotto with Shrimp and Peas

This is another new dish that I made tonight.  I think it is my favorite yet.  Absolutely delicious!

Risotto with Shrimp and Peas
14.5 oz can of chicken broth
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
salt and pepper
8 oz cooked peeled small shrimp
8 oz frozen peas
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth and 1 3/4 cups water over high heat until steaming; cover and keep warm. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. 

Stir in 1 cup of the broth mixture, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Maintaining a low simmer, continue to add the broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and allowing the rice to absorb the liquid. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Add the remaining 2 tbsp. butter, the shrimp, peas, and 1/2 cup cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  

Absolutely amazing!! 

27th birthday

Well, my 27th birthday will definitely be one to remember thanks to some very special people in my life.

On Saturday, I got to celebrate my birthday a couple days early with my parents.  We went over for brunch - waffles, eggs, bacon, homemade blueberry sauce with blueberries from my dad's bushes, and good company.  Just what I needed that day.  I got some awesome cooling racks that I have needed for awhile.  And I got a giftcard to Kohl's.  I went shopping after church on Sunday and got some new jeans.  Can't wait to go back and get some new tops to go with them.  Kids were getting restless, so we had to get home.

I woke up on Monday morning to a beautiful ring from Kevin.  Natalie began the day by informing me that she was going to plan to have me out of the house for the day so that they could prepare my party...haha.  She has all these big plans and she's so into the details.  Cracks me up. 

We had a wonderful breakfast and a peaceful morning, and I had almost 50 birthday wishes on Facebook throughout the day.  Perspective:  I think I got about 15 or 20 last year.  God has blessed me with tons of new people in my life.  My most favorite new person since my last birthday is the person who gave me the best birthday present I have ever received.  Holly gave me a beautiful Clavinova electric piano.  I still have to pinch myself to believe it's real, and I feel so alive since I have music back in my life again.  It's like free therapy. 

Bonus:  I was able to find my huge box of piano music in the garage, so I have plenty to keep me busy!

On Monday night, my mom came and babysat Natalie and Nathan so Kevin and I (and Nola) could go out to Red Lobster for my birthday.  It was such a relaxing and delicious meal.  Nola was hilarious as usual, and adamantly demanded more biscuit every time she finished a bite.

All in all, an amazing birthday.  I'm so grateful to God for each and every person He has placed in my life, and I'm so grateful for all the wonderful presents and well-wishes.

I am one blessed human being.

Nathan's got it rough

Playing with Nola.  Thank goodness she doesn't mind.

"Take a picture of my piggies, Mama"

"Take a picture of my belly, Mama"

"Take a picture of my other one piggies, Mama"

Nathan has needed lots of cuddle time over the past several days.

We've had a rough couple of days with Nathan.  Not exactly sure what his deal is, but praying over him seems to help at times.  It probably has a lot to do with not getting enough sleep since he and Natalie get up around 6 am and don't take naps in the afternoon 4 days a week.  Tonight he was in bed at 6 pm and asleep at 6:45.  I just hope he's not getting sick because we just got done with that yuckiness with Nola.  When he's in a good mood, he's a very inquisitive little guy.  He loves asking questions, reading books, helping ("helping"), and playing with his sisters.  Can't believe his half birthday is coming up in just three days.  I'll have to post his "stats" then.

Natalie's News

Natalie has been enjoying ice skating lessons for the past four weeks courtesy of my Mom.  On Saturday mornings, Natalie goes with Grandma to the Ice Arena on campus for a half an hour lesson, and she just loves it.  I haven't been to watch her yet because I'm afraid my presence will bring on the "I can't do it"s, so I sent my camera with my mom last Saturday. 

Walking out onto the ice

Working on "swizzling"

I just can't believe that she's out there doing this.  SOOO PROUD!

This is the pick-up game.  They scatter toys and the kids pick them up.

Confident, pretty smile

Midterm report card -- she's doing very well!!

I'm so proud of Natalie.  My mom says all the time that she's showing real determination to learn and master her skills.  If you know Natalie, you probably know that "determined" is not a word that describes Natalie under most circumstances.  So I'm really happy to hear that she's learning how to really learn something new.  I just can't say enough how proud I am of her.

Nola's latest antics

Almost immediately upon learning to crawl, she also learned to pull up.

She's so pretty.

And there's the stand.

She was talking to her reflection and banging toys on the window!

Nola is so fun these days.  She really enjoys being able to move around and get whatever she wants.  However, she is also discovering that basically anything she's not supposed to have is way more fun than the toys we try to give her all the time.  She has some words that she's starting to use to refer to people and needs.  And she'll repeat back to you in the correct number of syllables.  I'm reminded all the time how different boys are than girls because things that Nola is doing remind me so much of Natalie.  And then I think about when Nathan started getting his verbal skills in particular, and it was nowhere near the time when Natalie and Nola did.  So interesting!

After a brief sleeping hiatus due to an upper respiratory infection, I'm happy to report that we've gotten our good sleeper back.  Usually only 2 wakes at night and two good naps during the day.  Thank goodness.  I had gotten spoiled there for a few weeks and was missing my sleep!

Playing catch-up

I really don't even know where to begin since I haven't posted in what feels like forever. 

  • Nola's crawling everywhere.  And pulling up on everything.  It won't be long until she discovers the fun of chasing the older two down the hallway.
  • Natalie asked me today on this very windy day, "Mom, how does God make wind?"  (I couldn't think of anything intelligent or creative to tell her, so I just said I don't know.  Lame, yes.)
  • Nathan has been in an awful mood for most of the past several days.  Don't know if this is a reflection of the weather which has been sort of dreary or if it's the start of his terrible twos. 
  • I celebrated probably the best birthday I've had in years on Monday.  More on that in another post.
  • Kevin's hanging in there and really getting into his fall football and the World Series.
So that's the Reader's Digest version.  There will probably be an unabridged post for each of us in the next day or so.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spidey snacks

I did it.  I made these adorable little snacks for Natalie to take to preschool.  Quite tedious, but they were worth the smiles on Natalie's and Nathan's faces as they ate them and told me about how well they were received.

Here's the recipe:

Ritzy Spider Snacks

40 Ritz crackers
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp shortening
pretzels broken in half
peanut butter
mini Reese's pieces

1. Spread 20 crackers generously with peanut butter.
2. Melt chocolate chips and shortening in microwave by heating for 30 seconds at a time and stirring in between.  Stir until smooth.
3. Dip broken pretzels into the chocolate on the non-broken end.  Place on crackers with peanut butter to serve as the legs.
4. Dip the top of a cracker in the chocolate and push gently onto peanut buttered and eight-legged cracker. 
5. Place mini Reese's pieces on the chocolate cracker for the eyes. 
6. Repeat until done.  Chill in the refrigerator until cool enough to stack in a storage container.  Store in the fridge.

Don't worry, be happy

I was just reading Philippians 4:6-7...

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

This passage makes me think about all the other things I associate with the phrase "don't worry."

Like this, for example.  Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry Be Happy."  Can you imagine Paul singing this to the Philippians?  And adding that they should pray about everything, of course.  But the basic gist is there. 

The other association with "don't worry" I have is a memory of my grandma.  Whenever she would take us traveling or even when we'd stay at home and one of us would express a concern over details, she would say (in her Belgian accent with a New Yorker twist) "Don't wooorry about it!"  

I love remembering these things when I start to worry about something.  They instantly make me smile and remind me that things are not as big a deal as they seem in my head.

So thank you Paul.  Thank you Bobby.  And thank you Grandma.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Make-your-own-pizza night

Tonight I had the kids make their own pizzas.  I kept it easy by buying those pre-made pizza crusts and just putting all the stuff on it.  Worked out great, and the kids had a ball!  And the pizzas were delicious!

Nathan spreading his sauce around -- he was still sleepy from his nap!

Natalie getting her sauce juuuust right.

His favorite part, you ask?  Oh yes, the cheese.

She asked, "do I just put it on the parts where there is no pepperoni?"

Put some more cheese on there, girl!

Nathan's got the right idea.

Watching them bake in the oven

And they're done!


Eating applesauce while she waits for her pizza to cool