Friday, December 16, 2011

Take a hike!

It's good for the soul....
We just took the girls on a hike in the hills behind our house.  The sunshine, fresh air, and family time were just what I needed.

At the entrance to the trail

We found a few sticks....

The girls and Brian looking at animal tracks

Skylar saved a piece of dried mud :)

Then, the sticks turned into baseball bats...

That little tiny person is Skylar

This girl...sometimes it feels like she's turning 15 instead of 9.

A few of the tracks we found....we guessed they were coyote prints

These look much more like mountain lion prints...

Reagan's favorite.

The loves of my life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tis the season!

I love Christmas!
The true meaning of Christmas, celebrating Christ's birth, is incredibly special to our family.  We have made it a point to explain the true joy of the season to our girls, but that doesn't mean we don't take part in all the fun that Christmas has to offer.

We decorate, and put lights up.  We buy a tree, and make cookies.  We watch Christmas movies and snuggle by a fire in our jammies.

We talk about giving and go shopping for gifts.  We listen to Christmas music.  Bailey sings "Feliz Nah-me-nah."  She says it's "Merry Christmas in Dora."

This time of year always puts me in a reflective mood.  I think of how much the girls have changed in a year.  I remember the fun times we have had as a family.

I am simply filled with joy.

The girls have odd requests this year and I'm cherishing their simplicity.  Reagan asked for a 3 hole punch. Skylar wants footie jammies.  Bailey wants ketchup.  :)  There are other things on their lists, but those are the most humorous.  I am cherishing their ages.  I know the time will come when their requests involve electronics that begin with 'i', but for now, they are easy.

It's hard not to be "busy" during this season.  I'm trying to take moments to pause and just take it all in.  We are done with school until January so now the real fun begins!

At our city's Christmas parade

Making CornFlake Wreaths

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Balance

No, not the running shoes.  Although admittedly, I have not run in far too long.  I guess that goes hand in hand with what this post is about.

I've discovered the most challenging part of being a wife and mother is finding balance.  Most days it's a struggle to keep just one of the areas of my life in balance.  It's a constant readjusting.  I started to feel like I was failing more than I was succeeding.

Keep a clean house, but spend time with your children.

Make healthy meals, but make them taste good.

Don't dress like you just got out of bed, but don't dress to make other men stumble.

Spend time teaching your children, but let them be kids too.

Budget wisely, but splurge on the important stuff.

Protect your kids, but let them make mistakes.

Exercise, but take time to rest.

Be stern, but be gentle.

Love others, but don't let them take advantage of you.

Have great friends, but spend time alone too.

Be helpful, but don't get overextended.

Be confident in who you are, but be willing to change.

Accept that the Lord is God and He died for you, but....hmmm.  I'm glad there's no "but" to salvation.  That's all that really matters.  Life's pressures are mostly imposed by ourselves or others, not God.  Does he want me to be a good wife and a good mother? Of course He does.  He desires the best for me and my family.  Does he care that I haven't cleaned behind the fridge in two years? Probably not.

Now that Brian's mom has passed, I am replaying our conversations, and cherishing them even more.  When they came to visit this past January I told her that I didn't have a chance to clean as much as I wanted.  She just smiled and said, " can have a clean house or you can spend time with your kids.  You can't have both.  Each day is a choice.  Some days you will choose to clean.  Some days you will sit on the floor and play with Barbies.  As a grandmother, I am glad that your house isn't spotless because it means you're spending time with my granddaughters."  She went on to tell me that there will come a time when your house stays too clean and you miss the mess.  Then she said the kids move back in, along with the grandkids and you miss the clean.  "It all evens out eventually."

Today, I'm striving for a new balance; one that doesn't leave me feeling guilty at the end; a balance that reminds me not to take things too seriously because, "It all evens out eventually."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Victory is not easy

This week has been a roller coaster for our family.

There are major changes going on at the girls' school and we're right in the middle of it all.  Brian has major things going on at work and he's at the center of it too.  That should be enough, but those are the minor parts of our week.

Monday morning, Brian's mom passed away.  She was diagnosed in January with uterine and lung cancer and by October, it had spread to her brain, spine, and lymph nodes.  She fought it every way she could, and dealt with the awful side effects of treatments.  On Monday she was healed completely.  It may not have been the way that some were hoping and praying, but it's healing nonetheless.  I've often heard the term that a person has "lost the battle with cancer".  I've decided I don't like it.  She didn't lose.  Ultimately, she won.  Cancer did not take her life.  It took her home. She gets to be with her Jesus.  When Brian was there a couple weeks ago, his mom said she was ready to go to heaven and be whole again and be with her sisters (and others that have gone before her).  But victory is not always easy.

Victory is not always characterized by jumping, shouting, and rejoicing.  Victory often has a downside.  I'm definitely not a glass-half-empty kind of girl (that's the pessimistic one, right?).  But I'm not a sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns kind of girl either.  I know the reality of life is that for every winner, there is usually a loser.  In a court case, there's always one side rejoicing, while the other mourns.  The Lord's gain in heaven is truly our loss on earth.

I've learned that victory always means change too.  Even when we were ecstatic about the girls' new school, it meant saying goodbye to old friends and learning to adapt to a new school's philosophy of learning.  Likewise, we have been praying for my dad to find a wonderful job after his department was laid off almost 3 years ago.  This week God answered our prayers.  He has a wonderful new job! We rejoice in the victory, but the job is over 4 hours away, so it means that they will be moving.  Major change from the 5 minutes it takes us to get to their house now.  Victory is not always easy.

What we cling to in weeks like this is that victory is ultimately the Lord's.  We are promised that throughout the Bible.  In Jeremiah 29:11, it says "For I know the plans I have for YOU,' says the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a future and a hope." The Lord's plan is for us to be victorious.  In Revelation 17:14 it says, "These will make war with the Lamb, but He will triumph over them.  All those that accompany him shall share in the victory."

This week we cling to His promises, rejoice in victory, but we grieve for our loss.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

making up for lost time

All 3 girls are sick.  This is a first for us.  They are incredibly healthy and if one gets sick we have been good about keeping it from spreading.  Not this time.  Skylar is on the mend but Bailey and Reagan are just starting the flu bug.  So, today's comic relief was a welcome reprieve.

Skylar returned to school today but it completely wiped her out.  She rested for a while, and then started talking.  And didn't stop.  I had to laugh because she wouldn't even let me get a word in edgewise.  She hardly took a breath in between sentences.  I think she was making up for being so lethargic and quiet the last few days.  I hit "record" on my phone so I could capture her chatty-ness.  I don't know how to upload it here so below is a transcript of my favorite "story".  Just try not to laugh.

"Mommy, do you know what would be fun? If we could get a pink car for me, the kind with batteries and pedals that go when you push down on them, and we could get a car for Reagan and Bailey that was a police car that had pedals and could go fast, but not really fast, cause that's not safe, but just kind of fast and they could chase me in my pink car.  Then I could jump out and run and Bailey could jump in the pink car and Reagan could stay in the police car and I could hide behind a tree and when they drive past me, cause I'm a good hider, I could jump in the police car and Reagan would be so scared that she would jump out and then I would be chasing Bailey who thinks that she's chasing me, and we could drive all around our neighborhood, chasing each other and then come home and have a snack and laugh.  Wouldn't that be so fun?!"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to Basics

Martin Luther King Jr. used to say that some days his schedule was so busy that he had to spend two hours with God, instead of one, just to get it all done. I wish I had that perspective.  I wish I was better at just giving my day to the Lord before I go and mess it all up with worry and chaos.

It's been over a month since I blogged.  It wasn't a purposeful fast, it just didn't fit into the schedule.

In the last year or so we've been trying to get "back to basics." We're eating better, exercising, spending time as a family, budgeting, etc.  So, it came as no surprise last week when my devotions were about being child-like in our faith.  How much more "back to basic" can you get? I started to research exactly what that meant and in the process I came up with a top ten list of ways that we can become like children in our faith. I even prepared to share it with the ladies at one of our church leadership meetings.  But, if the Lord is going to have you teach something, He makes sure you learn it first.

One of the characteristics of children that we can learn from is believing that God is capable of anything, even the little stuff.  I had gotten out of practice in asking the Lord for the little things.

Yesterday Skylar woke up with a bad headache and a 104 degree fever.  She has the flu.  It has been almost two years since the girls had any kind of virus so our ibuprofen was nearly empty and expired.  We made it through yesterday with just acetaminophen, but today it just wasn't working.  I put a plea on facebook for someone to grab us some ibuprofen while they were out and no one responded.  I got discouraged and frustrated.  Brian has been visiting his family back east, and my mom is up north at my cousins.  So, my normal go-to helpers weren't around.  I finally just stopped and prayed.  Within 2 minutes I got a text from a fellow school mom.  She was heading to the store and wanted to know if I needed anything.  She doesn't have facebook so she never even saw my request.  Then my neighbor texted and asked if I needed anything.  Then I got an email from a friend asking if there was anything she could do to help.  Not only did the Lord answer my prayer, He answered it in abundance.

It was a good reminder.  A humbling reminder.

I still have so much to learn.

Today I'm going back to the basics.  The laundry can wait.  My goal for the day is to sit with my precious girl and possibly shower.  :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

crazy days

September has been crazy! I started this blog as a way to document what's going on in our family but I've been too busy to even write posts! All of that changes next week.  We are slowing down.  For some reason, September was the month of visiting friends.  It felt like summer, but instead of just having lazy days to play, we had school to contend with (among 50 other things). We LOVED seeing so many friends though, and the girls are already asking when we get to see them all again. :)

I haven't downloaded pics yet, but promise to soon.  Here is a random recap of the last few weeks for us:

The girls are loving the new school (and we are too!).  We successfully completed a few "homeschool" days, and they are quickly becoming our favorites.

Skylar's teacher used to be Belle at Disneyland so it took her a while to remember her first name.  It's so much easier to just say "Belle." :)

Reagan was nervous about starting at a new school because she was worried about all the other kids already having friends and not including her.  So we prayed that she would meet someone on the first day and make a friend.  We were in her classroom less than a minute when a mom said to me, "Are you guys new here too?" Our girls ended up being at the same table and became fast friends.  Now they are in separable and so sweet to watch.  It was neat for Reagan to see how God answers prayer.  The best part is that her new friend loves Jesus, just like Reagan.  Her mom and I are starting a mother's prayer group and hoping to see some great things happen at our little school.

I thought Bailey would miss her sisters, but she is loving the extra attention.  Of course she's still happy each day to go get Skylar.  We've used the time to do some "school" of our own and her writing skills are improving fast!  She sounded out her first word last week so she tells everyone that she can read now.  :)

I participated in my first consignment sale.  I finally parted with the rest of the baby clothes. (sniff. sniff.).  It felt good to get some bins out of the garage but the smell of the baby clothes took me right back to when they were tiny.  Don't worry, I still have two bins of "keepsake" stuff that I plan to make into a quilt for each of them.  But the rest needed to go.  I'm officially hooked on this consignment sale.  It's only twice a year, so I can save up my items and make a nice profit.

Last weekend we had a snake in the house.  Granted, it was tiny and not too scary, but still.  A snake.  In the house! Thankful for my wonderful husband that took care of it quickly.  Don't worry, it wasn't a rattlesnake, but still....a snake.

I have full laundry baskets calling my name.  Right after we go swimming, that is. :) It's HOT today!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Recycled centerpieces

We have events or barbeques at our house frequently so I'm often in search of ways to dress up our table (or kitchen island).

I've also been spray painting anything in my path lately.

So, when I needed something to put some fairy wands in that I made for a friend, I grabbed a pickle jar from the fridge, convinced Skylar she wanted to eat the last pickle, washed it out, and spray painted it.  I was officially hooked on re-using jars.

So, when I had a ladies event at my house this week, I took a look at all my jars that are "waiting to be painted" and decided to do something with them.

I put a little sand from the sandbox in, added a tealight and some raffia, and voila!

I don't think we'll ever throw away another jar.  :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Yesterday was a first for us.

It was the first day of school.  At a new school.  And it was Skylar's first day of kindergarten.

We had prepared her the best way we knew how.  She can write her name, read short books, and knows how to count to 100.  More importantly, she knows when to say 'please' and 'thank you', how to raise her hand, how to follow directions, and how to be a friend.

We picked out an outfit, packed her backpack with 30 pounds of supplies, and made a snack.

The night before school started, she was getting misty-eyed.  When I asked what was wrong, she said, "I'm excited to start school, but I'm sad to grow up."

Me too too.

Yesterday was Reagan's first day of third grade.  She made a friend in the first five minutes and after school she said, "I have a feeling we're going to be best friends.  She's very polite and sweet and she loves God!"

My girls are growing up.

Lord give us the strength and wisdom to continue raising them in the way they should go.

celebrating with frozen yogurt after school!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beach beauties!

Ok, so first of all, html and I are not bff's.  Please pardon the bloggy mess if you are visiting the actual site. :)

We had a wonderful day at the beach with some of our friends yesterday.  It was actually chilly when we got there, but the sun came out and we warmed up quickly. The girls could have played in the water ALL DAY.  The most incredible part was that there were three moms (and my mom as the grandma for the day), and ELEVEN girls, ages 8 and under.  There was no fighting, whining, or complaining.  They were eleven of the most incredible girls (my 3 included, of course).  They were all so sweet, and well-mannered.  I was thankful to be able to spend time with other moms, working hard to raise Godly little women.  It made for such an enjoyable time! There was plenty of girly shrieking at the waves of course!!

Bailey's "cheese" grin.  She's part bulldog apparently. 

The water was frigid when we first got in! That didn't keep them out of the water though!

My precious oldest has grown up so much in the past year. 

Pure.  Joy.  

This beach has a playground on it.  How cool is that?! 

Lots of squealing girls chasing the shore breaks

My beach beauties!

Someone commented that Skylar's eyes matched the ocean.  She was right! 

We hurried home, shook off the sand, and headed to Open House at the girls' new school.  We're excited to start next week, and so glad we squeezed in a beach trip before the summer was over. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Married Mothers Manifesto

Found this today and thought it was worth sharing:

"We are all raised with "do's and don'ts" from the time we can move.  Our rules change as we get older and then we realize that everyone has different ideas about what we should or should not do. I learned early on in my life as a mother and wife that God has far different expectations than we could ever imagine.  So I wrote my own set of "rules" to look back on when I get pulled too far from the road I should be traveling.  Hopefully they speak to you too.  

I will not obsess over the 5, 10, or 15 pounds that show up on the scale and destroy my self-esteem.  
I will lace my shoes up and do something about it.

I will not downplay or minimize a compliment. ("Oh you look great in that dress!"... "Oh, it's just a slimming color.")
I will accept it gratefully and smile and pay it forward with a compliment to someone else that just might need it.  

I will not make excuses for my house being too small, or not decorated, or too lived in.  
I will remember that God can use any house when it is offered for His glory.  

I will not believe that being married means I can stop trying.  
I will give my husband the best of me, and not the leftovers.  

I will not expect my husband to meet my every need. 
I will try to bless him each and every day.  

I will not feel guilty for needing a few moments away from my children. 
I will remember that God's voice is loudest when I am quiet.  

I will not compare myself, my house, my children, or my husband to others. 
I will treat my family as the gift they are. 

I will not continually hope for the next phase of life. 
I will embrace this season.  

I will not spend our money, and incur debt on frivolous things. 
I will store up my treasures in heaven.  

I will not let my children become "those kids" that people dread being around.
I will shepherd my children and teach them how to become responsible, respectful, adults.  

I will not be in such a hurry.
I will smile at strangers. It may be the only one they see that day.

I will not be so busy.
I will spend time just playing with my children. 

I will not be judgmental. 
I will give someone the benefit of the doubt.  

I will not lament over what we don't have. 
I will make our house a home by the attitude and atmosphere I set. 

I will not be a screaming, yelling woman.
I will remember that a gentle tone turns away wrath.  

I will not live a life of regret. 
I will tell those close to me that I love them.  often.  

I will not beat myself up over mistakes.  
I will remember that God's grace is sufficient. 

I will not be anxious.
I will pray.

I will not let anger fill my heart.
I will pray.  

I will not walk in fear of the unknown.
I will pray.

I will laugh at myself.  
I will treasure my "now".  
I will learn to cook healthy meals.  
I will let my children eat cake for dinner sometimes.  
I will say please and thank you. 
I will remember that God made me, and He doesn't make mistakes."

What would you add??

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

She's still 5

Most days I feel like I'm running at full speed just to keep up with my "list."  I know there will always be something else to do, so I end up doing only what is absolutely necessary each day.  That means the big projects often get pushed aside.  Skylar's 5 year pictures were no different.  We have a tradition of doing portraits at 5 years old (in a white dress) in our family.  Someday I would love to display my moms, mine, and all 3 of my girls, in one frame.  Reagan's portraits were a little pricey so we've been holding off on doing Skylar's pictures.  But her bottom tooth started getting wiggly....and I really wanted to have them done before she lost her baby teeth.  Thankfully, I've been able to pick up photography as a little hobby and when we were asked if Skylar could be part of a magazine shoot in San Diego, I jumped at the chance to take some pictures of her myself.  I'm still saving up for that DSLR, but I was thrilled with what we got.  She may be five and a half, but it was worth the wait.

It doesn't hurt that she's so beautiful and totally photogenic. :)

Now to pick a favorite.....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Baby Blues

This weeks theme at I Heart Faces is "Beautiful Eyes."  How could I not enter a photo of my sweet middle girl and her gorgeous baby blues?

Last week we had a little outing down to San Diego and I took advantage of the setting to take some 5 year old shots of my girl.  We have a tradition of photos in a white dress when you turn five.  I'm only six months behind :) But, they were totally worth the wait.

This shot is SOOC.  Yes, her eyes really are *that* blue!

Go check out the other "beautiful eyes" at

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Not all 'healthy' is created equal

I have a friend (and I'm kinda hoping she doesn't read our blog!), that recently tried to make the "switch" to organic foods based on my recommendations.  After almost a month she emailed and said "I don't see any difference.  It's too expensive and frustrating.  I'm going back to the way we did things before."

This is a topic I could disucss for days, so, let me address here a few reasons why all things labeled 'organic' are not always healthy.

As with all things in life, I like to take a comprehensive approach.  In parenting, there is no "one" method that works best for each child.  Our kids are not textbooks, so we need to adjust what we do and how we respond for each one differently.  With exercise, you can't just run for 30 seconds everyday and expect weight to fall off. With being healthy, you can't just make a switch to buying foods that have "organic" on them and expect to feel different within a few weeks.  In fact, eating organically is a long term investment.

Many of the pesticides that leave a residue on our foods are known carcinogens and cancer takes years to surface.  By eating organically now, I'm investing in my children's future by not exposing them to harmful chemicals.  Likewise, organic foods do not contain GMO's (genetically modified ingredients).  GMO's have not been around long enough for us to know their true impact.  Again, until we know the long term effects, we try to avoid them.

With milk, chicken, and beef, the non-organic versions contain antibiotics (which can lead to antibiotic resistance), and hormones to make the animals mature faster.  Those hormones are passed on to the person eating the food, or drinking the milk.  Doctors are noticing that children are maturing faster (girls as early as second grade) and some have linked this fact to the hormones in our food.  Obviously, just a month of eating organically won't make a difference here.

In addition, the 'organic' industry has exploded so there's a lot of money to be made by misguided consumers.  Just because something says "organic" on it, does not mean it's healthy for you.  Granted, when choosing between a regular and an organic cookie, the organic is the lesser of two evils, but not by much.  Cow manure is considered organic but you don't see me feeding that to my kids either.  :)

Our bodies were not made to process refined white flour and refined sugar.  We were made to eat foods that are whole, natural, and fresh.  Just because a cookie has an organic label on it, doesn't make it any easier for our bodies to process.  Does that mean that we only eat fresh, whole, natural foods at our house? No.  But we're careful about the quantity.  The bulk of our diet is made up of the good stuff.

We also (in that comprehensive approach) make sure that our kids get plenty of exercise and we take daily vitamins (with extra D and probiotics).

If you're considering a switch to 'healthy' eating, I encourage you to do some research on your own.  And give it more than a month.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vacation Week Two (aka: picture overload)

After we left our dear friends in Indianapolis we spent the entire second week of our vacation in Wisconsin.  From Indy we drove to Sheboygan, WI.  It's right on Lake Michigan (which the girls kept calling the 'ocean') and there's a fabulous hotel with a waterpark.  We planned our stop in Sheboygan because, as much as we LOVED being with family and friends, we also wanted a day to be just our family of five.  The indoor waterpark was a big highlight for the girls. We had to remind them to eat and drink while we were there because time just evaporates when you're having THAT much fun!

The boardwalk in front of the hotel on the lake

 Our hotel room was an "aquarium" with bunk beds and a tv just for the kids

 The Indoor waterpark! 

 My favorite shot of Skylar

 Reagan loved it!

Bailey wasn't too sure at first.  Just through those windows....Lake Michigan.  So beautiful!

This was her favorite part!

 The girls after six hours of playing in the water.

 Taking a walk outside before we left

 Skylar was exhausted from playing (but at least I got a sweet shot out of it).

 We left Sheboygan and headed north to my cousins' house in Merrill. They have chickens.  And kittens.  And horses.  And a tire swing. The girls were in heaven!

 It was SO beautiful and relaxing (and hard to leave).  

We went back down south to Milwaukee for the wedding that started the planning of this whole trip. 
We even squeezed in a visit with some Virginia friends that happened to be vacationing in WI too!

 Our first experience with real frozen custard.  YUM! We definitely enjoyed all the food Wisconsin had to offer.  Best cheese, sausage, bratwurst, and custard we've ever had. We should have planned the wedding at the beginning of our trip because my dress barely fit by the end!

 The girls checking out the golf course at the rehearsal.

 The wedding day! 

My handsome man got to wear a tux!

 The girls danced late into the night at the reception.  I love this one of Skylar.  She was having so much fun just jumping up and down to the music!

 Dancing with daddy....

Headed home from a whirlwind vacation!

It was truly the trip of a lifetime for all of us.  We're grateful for all the family and friends that made it do-able by opening their homes.  We had a blast! Someday I'll catch up on the laundry.  :)


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