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4.07.2014

More of That, Monday

Hello friends!  Happy Monday to you...from our neck of the woods, we are enjoying a GORGEOUS spring day, finally!!!  It's sunny, warm (50's) and there is no snow in our forecast!!  To say we are thrilled is a major understatement!  Minnesotans have been waiting and waiting for this weather to arrive and we are all celebrating.  I'm not even a baseball fan, but I do know it's the Twin's home opener today and boy did they get a perfect day!  An outdoor stadium in Minnesota is a gamble but when the weather cooperates??  It makes total sense to me  :)  I'm sure there are some happy fans enjoying an afternoon at the ballpark today!

We're getting our ducks in a row over here, after being away last week over Ava's Spring Break.  Today I am re-charging, so to speak, and looking at another week away very soon! Before you get any ideas that we are vacationing fools, I should let you know that this past week we enjoyed a "stay-cation" right here in the Metro, while we housesat for a girlfriend of mine and in a few more days we'll be spending some time at my parents house while my sister and brother in law are in town.  No tropical locations for us this year, but very fun nonetheless!!  That's one perk of condo living, it's pretty easy to come and go when you don't have lawn care or snow removal to worry about!  I've got a bunch of things I'm thinking about today, and as I'm sitting here with my feet up, I decided to share some of those thoughts in a "I'd like more of that on this fine Monday" kind of post.  Just because I feel like it.  

For example...

1. I'd like some more of the things that make me laugh these days...
 ...like an afternoon at a movie that tickles my funny bone.  We took the kids to see the Muppets Movie, mostly because Trav and I just needed a light afternoon and we knew they'd think it was silly.  And it was, but sometimes a little more silly, is really an necessary addition to anyone's day!  Life is serious and there are things that feel heavy sometimes, but really it just feels good to laugh too!  We've been doing a lot of laughing lately and I think that's medicine for the soul.  But I could always use more of it!

2. I'd like to be more of this kind of friend.  An intentional one who writes notes.  And communicates love with intentionality.  I used to be so much better at this, a few years and a few kids ago, but I want to make more of these kinds of gestures.  It's always worth the time and effort.
 This is how my dear friend greeted us when we arrived at her house to spend a week with her little dog, Maddie.  Isn't she the best??  Super creative, always thoughtful and one of a kind.  We love her.  And we felt very welcomed!  Thinking there are other people in my life who need some of this from me.

3.  Impromptu treats with my kids.  I'll take more of those, please.
 Sometimes paying the bills carries a weight with it that turns you into a "no" Mom.  In an effort to make sure all the ducks are in a row, I can very easily forget that there are little people who don't need to hear about when we pay the mortgage but who just need to be little and enjoy the perks of childhood.  Like stopping for ice-cream with your Mom in the middle of the afternoon.  So easy, so simple and such a delight for all of us.  Doesn't need to be all the time, but it was a good reminder for me to not always be so concerned with the "responsible" things in life...this is why God gave me a husband who isn't just like me!  I need to make sure I invest in memory making with my kids too.  Nothing says "let's make fun memories with Mom" like blue, cotton candy ice-cream with sprinkles!  We need to do more of this.  Maybe not weekly though or I'll have way more than extra baby weight to worry about...

4. Wow, do we need more date nights together!!!  We were able to get away for a little shopping and dinner to celebrate Trav's birthday last week and it was so, so great.  Just so nice to be together and to spend time without the little people we love  :)
We haven't been out very much at all lately, life just got in the way, but I am reminded each time that we need to do it more often.  We love to eat out, that's all it takes for us to get our tanks filled and it's always fun to try new places.  By the time we got to the restaurant I thought I might cry I was in so much pain from walking around the mall, but as it turned out just sitting down and catching up, laughing and sharing a great meal was a really good distraction.  We need more date nights.  Maybe the more kids you have, the more you need them??  Ha!

5. Speaking of food...I need more summer stir-fry and summer cooking in my world!  When you live in a cold weather climate, winter cooking means lots of soups and stews and baked things...you know, all that comfort food that keeps your bones warm??  I love that kind of cooking but about this time of year I get a major itch for things on the grill, salads, cold dishes and things that are fresh.  
 So many of my favorite things involve peppers and onions.  I was making fajitas the other night and started thinking of all the stir-fry dishes I am craving.  I can't wait to cook some lighter fare these days.  We need more of that!  And more olive oil too!  Like seriously, I think I need some more at the store, we're out :)

6.  We need more...
 ...time at the park!!!  You didn't seriously think I was going to say SNOW did you????  This was last Thursday after a warm week when a crazy storm blew in and dumped 8 inches of snow all over our green grass.  Ok, brown grass.  But still.  We went from almost no snow, to 8 inches.  It wasn't a welcomed sight here.  It was pretty, I will admit, but not welcomed.  However, the sight of this little guy with a "shub-ell" is extremely welcomed.  And loved :) He was the best part of the snowfall!  But we are ready and waiting for GREEN GRASS and many park dates again!!
 By the way, his sister and her shovel were also adorable, but I didn't get a picture of her.  I don't know why.  She was pretty darn cute in her pink rain boots and leggings too!

7.  Family dates at Starbucks.  Who knew??  I could use more of these.  It would be nice if we engaged "with" the kids, but we were without internet last week (it was down at the house we were staying at) and I just wanted to get Trav's birthday post up.  And pay some bills.   So, this is how we did that...
2 kids and 2 ipads.  I'm not saying it was great parenting, but I am saying that it bought us a few minutes to get our stuff done!  
A little reading, a little blogging and some peace and quiet.  I'm sure we were judged, we were definitely the parents who employed the "ipad babysitter tactic" but whatever.  Sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do!  Perhaps we need some more of that down the road :) I mean come on, Carter knows allllll of his shapes due to the Toddler Teasers app!  That's legit learning, right??

8.  Girls day out with my main girl.  Oh man, do I love her!!  
This age is golden right now!  In 2 weeks Ava turns 5 and as we are finding out, she is so much fun.  She's always been fun, but this age in particular is so great!  She talks constantly and the thoughts of an almost 5 year old are fascinating.  Seriously entertaining too.  We spent a little afternoon together last week and got our hair cut.  We both needed a fresh shape-up and it was so sweet to go to my stylist friend together.  Part of Ava's birthday gift from us this year is a date night with Mommy and Daddy to spend some quality time with our girl, but also to do a little shopping.  She is all about dresses and shoes and we really don't ever go to the store for that stuff.  We usually save clothes shopping for holidays or special events, so we are excited to have some time to spend with her and on her!  I can't believe she's 5 already, well almost 5.  Time is flying and I'm looking forward to more and more girl dates together!

9.  Snuggles from this guy...I LOVE HIS HUGS and while he's still compliant, I'm asking for more and more of them.
He's all boy and so wild, but that tender place in his heart...we're always tapping into that.  Carter's a lover for sure and we adore that about him.  I'm happy to report that our BIG boy is 100% potty trained now!!!  He did so great, it went way faster and much, much easier than I could have ever dreamed.  We seriously can't believe how well he did, but we're proud of him!  It's so hilarious to see him running around in big boy undies now, another sign that he's growing up, and all the more reason to get more of those hugs while he's offering.  I took him in for his 3 year well check today (6 months late, I might add) and he's doing great.  Hard to believe how fast time goes...

10.  These three. 
We had as sweet week together on our little "stay-cation" and lots of family time.  Everything about it was good.  The benefit of all these years in student ministry??  We know how SHORT this season of being little is, how quickly the years go while they're under our roof.  We have both been talking so much lately about spending these years well and intentionally.  So many things pull at families these days, trying to take everyone in different directions.  Some of it's good and healthy, some of it isn't.  We can't imagine a day that we won't care about their lives or not want to be a part of their future.  Parenting is intense for a season, but it lasts for a lifetime in many ways.  We want to invest heavily in our family time now so that later we'll have a great foundation for them to cherish and launch from.  Trav turning 40 sent us both down a reflective path these last few days and gave us some further clarity about what we want to be about.  Lots of things that are important to us, but our little family is a big priority for both of us.  And I'm so glad.

So there you have it.  Ten things I'd like some more of on this Monday afternoon!  I didn't add sunshine to my list and that's ONLY because it's actually forecasted this week!!!!  Like more than one day of it!!!  Praise the Lord and Hallelujah!!  These Minnesotans are ready to receive, I'm just sure I'm vitamin D deficient this year.  Bring it on!!  

But what about you, my kind blog friends?  What do you need more of today??

4.02.2014

Look Who's 40!!!

Today is a big day in our family!!  It's a day worth celebrating for lots of reasons, but none more than it's the birthday of my man!  And not just any birthday, this is a BIG one :) I get to rub that in just a little bit because I have 6 years to go before I catch up and have to face 4-0 in the face!  But today I wanted to share some pics of the man we love so much and tell you a few reasons why he makes our lives so great!  I just grabbed some photos from my iphoto library today, in no particular order.  They are all pictures that make me smile when I think of Trav and they show the many hats he wears and roles he plays in many lives.  Mostly I hope they show what a GIFT he is to the kids and I. 
We met when Trav was just 28 and I was 22.  Honestly, apart from some grey hairs, some added muscle and lines on his face that make him wiser, he barely looks any different from when we met.  You have aged well, babe!  
Travis a big lover of sports!  And games and fun.  Basically if there's an option to run around, he's all over it.  Of course that comes in handy for student ministry and especially for having kids!  He cracks me up as age creeps up and plays more of a factor these days...talk of "slowing down" or watching from the sidelines every now and then is simply not an option!  I try hard before summer camp to remind him that he doesn't have to keep up with 13 year olds, but as you can see, I usually lose that argument.  He's an all or nothing guy, which I secretly love about him, even if it means I get to play the role of nurse after camp is over when all those muscles are screaming in protest :) ha ha!  I can't imagine 40 will slow him down one bit.  
Even before we met, Trav was coaching a variety of sports at the school he taught for in Florida.  For the last few years he's returned to coaching varsity soccer at a christian school near us and it's been a great ride for all of us.  He's a great coach and he loves the game of soccer, but not more than he loves investing in young men and teaching them lots of important things on and off the field about character and perseverence and leadershipe. etc.   The kids and I love to go to as many games as we can and we make it very clear that no matter what, we love the coach!  I often bring my camera along, not because I need any more pictures of his soccer team, but just because I love to take his picture.  I think he's the best part of watching every game :) 
We found this cute store while celebrating our 10th anniversary last year and of course, I needed a pic!  So thankful for a partner in life that I love and adore.  We've had a decade together of marriage and few more years of growing old under our belts.  In many ways, 40 seems like a page turn into another chapter that I can't wait to experience.   
Nothing like sharing the excitment of baby #3 with a man who knows how to find the joy in the moment!  So thankful that he is the one who I get to do this parenting thing with.  He's the best kind of balance for me, not that that's the only reason why I am thankful for him.  But it's a serious perk.  For all of the worrying and planning and thinking-things-through that I tend to do, ad nausem, Trav is  the one who reminds me to relax, and trust The Lord, and just enjoy life!  He's the product of Solomon's conclusions in Ecclesiastes!  
Nothing sweeter than seeing your husband become a daddy and for us, to see him become the daddy of a little girl first.  He's such a tender hearted man for Ava to be loved by and he does a great job embracing all the things that make her tick.  And naturally, she thinks her Daddy hangs the moon.  In this particular picture, Travis and Ava were about to head out on a little daddy-daughter date last November.  Trav and I were supposed to go to a college play to see a former student of ours, but I was newly pregnant and very naseous, so I suggested Ava take my ticket and of course, she was ready and willing and her daddy was excited too.  I love when they get time together and with another boy on the way, I know this will only grow to be more precious for the two of them.  
Of all the moments between us that I have frozen in my heart and mind, seeing Trav hold our babies in the hospital when they were fresh and new and ours, has to rank right up at the top.  This is a pic of him with our new nephew Sawyer from a month ago,  but seeing him with a newborn in his arms again, only makes me more excited for another little one in his Daddy's arms.  Such a blessing and so sweet to behold.  Can't wait.  
Not only does Ava love her Daddy, but so does Carter.  These two together are something else, two peas in a pod or as they say, "a chip off the old block!"  Carter lives for the moment Trav walks in the door every day and I never take that personally because I hope he always loves his Daddy like that.  They are rough and tumble and loud and wild together, everything they should be.  One of the things Carter told me that he loves about his Daddy is "playin guns and swords!"  Classic.  I can only imagine the noise and the sounds when Walker joins the party!  I love that Trav can throw Carter over his shoulder and wrestle one minute and then get down on the floor to read a book or snuggle up in his bed to read him a bedtime story and sing songs together.  
One of my favorite pictures from our trip to Charleston a couple of Novembers ago.  We left the kids with my sister and brother in law and enjoyed a dinner out together.  Trav is the reason we have driven all over the coutnry and made our own adventures and memories together.  I can usually come up with 10 reasons why we should just stay home, but he is the one who encourages me to live and enjoy life.  That's a good thing for someone like me.  So thankful I get to live life with him most of all!
Somehow I got duped into marrying an outdoorsman!  When we met, he was a Florida guy who loved the beach and running and golfing, etc.  Never had any idea he was into camping or fishing or a million other things that are right up that alley, but surprise!  Maybe more than anything else, those are the activities that make his heart beat strong.  He LOVES to be outside and he's doing his best to pass that on to our kids.  I'm ok with it, I'm starting to embrace more and more of these things that create epic loads of laundry for me or keep me awake at night with worry :) He fits right in with the Minnesotans who fish through ice and think canoeing in the boundry waters of Canada is a "vacation!"  It's all good, I think the term "wild at heart" is especially applicable to my husband!  
I found these old pics of him last summer and confirmed what I always wondered...

Like father, like son!  
One of the things that is unique about ministry is sharing Trav with many other people.  I'm so thankful that he has had the opportunity to be like a Dad to many kids whose own Dads have left or abandoned them, that's truly a privilege and a high calling.  I've shed lots of tears over the years reading sweet cards and notes and facebook messages from kids who have thanked him or parents who have let him know the impact he's made.  It's not always easy to let him go when we'd rather have him at home, but I see the way The Lord has redeemed Trav's own story of growing up and the ways he's used his own heartaches to reach out and be a blessing in return.  The Lord has used all the parts of Trav's life that he's allowed Him to heal and redeem and it's a joy to see it in action.  
It's a joy to support him and the ministry God has gifted him for, but I'm also very, very thankful for a husband who works overtime to make sure that his own family never gets the short end of the stick.  He is so amazing at being around for us and making us his priority over his job.  That's a rare thing in this culture of career minded men.  He burns the candle at both ends many, many days and we are the lucky recipients of that effort.  
To be fair though, ministry has also given him some great perks over the years!  Like this Fall when the Duck Dynasty family came to our Church for a fundraiser at the school Trav coaches for.  We got to host Mountain Man in junior high that morning and my man LOVED it!!  So fun to be a part of that and to hear his testimony of how The Lord changed his life.  
Also fun for Trav to pray over him and for the many challenges that the spotlight brings.  I got to talk to him later (mountain man, whose name is Tim in real life) and he told me "what a fiiiinnnnneee man your husband is.  Ha!  I had to agree! 
This is the guy that still makes my heart skip a beat when he comes home .  Really.  I just love him and even though we've been married long enough to really bug each other some days and just step on every last nerve the other one has left, at the end of the night I can't be mad for long.  I just like him too much!  And he doesn't fight very well because he's forgiving and patient and long suffering...all that stuff that's really irritating when you just want to be mad :)  Not that I know anything about that...
On the day we learned we were having another boy! 
Seriously, how can you not laugh with him???  He even makes trick or treating for hours on end, fun! 
He doesn't ever waste opportunities to photo-bomb me either.  Just trying to thank the sweet girl who made this scarf for me and of course, Trav saw that as a perfect chance to thank her too!  
Really, truly I am blessed to be married to a man I love and admire and respect and enjoy.  He is the leader that God knew I would need, the one who can win me over without a word, just by his steady and Godly example.  It's pretty convicting to be married to him sometimes!  He makes our life so much FUN, he is my load-lifter, never putting pressure on me and always trying to get me to stop demanding so much of myself.  He's not perfect, he is as human as everyone, but he's a wonderful work in progress and we love him like crazy. 
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the one thing that makes him so amazing and that is seeing The Lord at work in him. I can probably count on one hand the number of days I haven't seen him with his Bible in hand, pouring over it and letting The Lord speak to Him before he begins his day.  It's the  most consistent thing in his life and the thing that has shaped him the most.  It's an honor to watch your husband grow and deepen his walk with Jesus, it's been life-changing for me as well.  I know that we owe everything to Jesus and to the power of His word in our hearts.  Birthdays will come and go and who knows how many we'll get to celebrate together??  I'm praying and asking for a lifetime of them but the hope we share in Jesus trumps anything we share here on Earth. 

I love you so much Trav.  Forty years looks so good on you!!  I'm so happy to be your wife, so thankful to be raising our kids with you and living life together, serving Jesus.  Let's do many more of these together, ok??  

3.28.2014

So Fresh and So Clean Clean...

You're welcome for that Outkast song stuck in your head now, ha ha!  Anybody else so happy it's Friday night??  Happy to have the weekend ahead?  Happy to be watching all the basketball games?  Happy to be starting Spring Break if you live in Minnesota??  Maybe those things are only making me happy, but I hope you are relaxing with your feet up or enjoying a night out after a long week.  

Today was a soul-refreshing day.  Thank you for the sweet emails and phone calls and FB posts after my last post.  I'm so grateful for the encouragement and the prayers. It's a blessing to be reminded of the support we have and some grace given for the weeks ahead too.  You put some wind back in my sails and I appreciate it! I also got some space to breathe by way of a much, much cleaner house.  We embarked on an "all hands on deck" family cleaning effort this morning and gave every single room in our house some thorough attention.  Floors mopped, carpet vacuumed, furniture dusted, counters disinfected, toys put away, trash emptied...you know, one of those mornings.  We gave it a good 3.5 hours of effort and I can't even tell you how much lighter my heart and mind feels!  I know there are only 5 love languages but if I could add one more, I'd add a "clean and organized" space to my list!  It just makes all the difference for me.  

Despite the old saying, I don't think cleanliness is next to godliness, in fact I've had to check myself a lot over the years about why I like things to be clean.  Since I've stayed home with the kids in particular, I've had to fight one persistent tendency and that is not letting my home dictate my day.  I constantly have to remind myself that I didn't stay home to be a slave to my house, but to be with my kids.  There will always be a list a mile long of things that "need" to be done but only a short window with kids who "need" their Mom.  So although I often wake up and look around, imagining what projects I could tackle that day, I have learned that I'd rather choose to let stuff go, instead of missing out on what my kiddos have to offer.  But, when the house reaches disaster status or when it's simply time to start fresh again, no one is happier about it than me!!  
 This is my perch of late...it's where I spent most of my time resting.  I've also been sleeping out here lately, trying to improve my chances of falling asleep and staying asleep.  Lately it's been cluttered with my laptop, my Bible, journals, the ipad, phone chargers, and my camera.  I have logged many hours out here and normally my kids like to play all around me when I'm sitting with my feet up.  Makes me so happy to see a clutter free coffee table again!  
 It's embarrassing how deep the layer of dust on that entertainment center was, I am the worst about dusting!  It did feel good to see that go and smell that lemon fresh scent from my dusting spray! 
 My desk has been overcome with paperwork for what feels like forever.  Now that the taxes are over, I finally put things away or just threw away piles and piles of old paperwork.  I hate dealing with paperwork and the mail, it always feels like I'm getting buried.  It's cathartic to throw stuff away, isn't it?? 
 Even vacuum lines in the carpet made me smile today! 
 I brought this little table out in the living room so my craft-loving girl could do her "projects" under my supervision, instead of in her room.  It's so cute out here and I love to see her sitting there coloring and practicing her numbers and letters.  I also love that it's metal and it wipes clean very easily! 
 About a week ago I exchanged the winter bedding for our spring/summer bedding and I'm so glad I did.  Our room looks "happy" to me now, despite the fact that it's generally a mess and our bed is usually full of laundry that needs to be put away :) Of all the rooms in our house, ours was definitely the worst! It's always the place I tackle last or the space Trav and I just run out of steam to address.  I've been trying to do some weeding out in here too, we just have way too much stuff.  I have been in a purging mood for a while now and our room needs a lot more.  I always sleep better when our room is clean, I'm weird like that.  I love the feeling of waking up in the morning to a clean room!!
And also?  I love a clean bathroom.  Mirrors with no splattered water marks and clutter free counters....ahhhhhhh, I can breathe again!!  
 We tackled the kids room, which is something we do at least 3 times a week it seems.  Their room definitely gets the most effort from us, usually due to pure desperation and an inability to walk! 
We made beds, Ava tickled me with her pillow and animal arrangement, and we just generally made everything neat and tidy again.  
We've been trying to instill some sort of cleaning responsibility in Ava and Carter lately.  I don't want them to feel like I'm always on them about their room and I really do want them to play and enjoy their toys as kids should.  But when you have a small space, the trick is that you have to clean up periodically as you go or it goes from fun to disaster zone in the blink of an eye.  
 We've had some tears this week over some cleaning up battle of the wills, but after some hard lessons and some patient explanations, they were great helpers today.  I have to be so careful not to make the state of their room more important than them, but I think Ava is finally catching on about how much easier it is to play when the floor isn't full of toys and you have no space to move.  There are good opportunities to instill good habits when you have small spaces!  
For once their closet floor isn't full of discarded clothes, shoes and toys! 
This area will have to re-worked to make room for Walker down the road, but I do love having all this available space for a big, shared closet!  It is so handy to have right now.  
Is it weird that I love my kids' bathroom??  It's become such a kid space, but it's happy and cleaning it up only takes a few minutes.  It did feel good to steam clean the floors and wipe down everything after all this potty training too!  
Also nice to get all those toothpaste marks off the counters again!
I'm thankful for these little helpers and of course for their Daddy who did so much work this morning.  We all enjoyed a clean house this afternoon and were able to relax because of it.  I know it won't last forever, but for now I'm breathing deep and even opening the windows for some fresh air. 
It's starting to feel like Spring to me!  Can't wait for the days of park playing, bike riding, sidewalk chalk drawing, and everything else we can't do inside.  
Also preaching to myself "people are more important than clean houses" but boy does it feel good to enjoy those people in a clean house!!  

Happy Friday to all of you... 
Hope you have a blessed weekend whether you're cleaning, resting, working, or playing.  Enjoy!