The Big Giant Summer Recap Post

I just got back from a walk, and I think I felt the faintest hint of fall in the air! Granted, it may have just been because many of my neighbors have already decorated their porches for fall (overzealous much?), but it’s coming! 

As evidenced from my lack of posts, the end of our summer was very busy–but amazing! Both of my girls grew so much over the summer, and I loved having a front row seat to watch and cheer them on! I’ll recap a few (ok, a GAZILLION) highlights in a minute.

First, a quick housekeeping note…I am an idiot and accidentally reformatted my entire blog while trying to increase the font size. I hope you enjoy the new look.  If you don’t, please don’t leave any complaints or suggestions, as I clearly don’t know what I’m doing.  (And I used to be a marketing & communications specialist?!! HOW?!!!)

And now…the highlights of summer!

At the beginning of summer, I had Zoe set a few goals for the summer.

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In case you can’t read her handwriting, she wanted to go to camp (she went to gymnastics camp and a Moana-themed theater camp),  read books, go to the pool, learn to swim, and have play dates. I loved that she set both “fun” goals and “stretch” goals–and she achieved them all! Go Zoe!

Our summer was structured very nicely.  After all of the transition of our spring, I sensed that my girls really needed a focused, calming routine.  I intentionally scheduled nothing for the first few weeks of summer, which let us start those rhythms.  After those first few weeks, I scheduled some sort of special trip, camp, or event about every three weeks.  Basically, just when it would start to get boring, we would go do something really fun, and come back grateful and tired and ready for the routine again.

During the weeks we were home, I started most mornings with reading and journaling with the girls at the table.  Then, we would make art, go to my workout class, visit the splash pad or park or library or have a play date, or play/garden in the yard.  Most afternoons, we would have an hour of quiet time, ~45-60 minutes of TV time, and head to the pool.

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We DEFINITELY had some bad days, but for the most part, both girls actually listened to me, and it was like they finally understood that if they behave, we can have more fun.

We had deep conversations about how God sees us and how we should treat others, and although there were plenty of boring moments, I was really honored to spend so much of my time helping to shape our girls’ character and understanding of the world.

In between those “routine” weeks, here were a few of our exciting highlights!

Three days in Lake Lure, N.C.  I’ve already shared a few photos from this one.

-A week at Sunset Beach, N.C. A member of our “Florida family” got married at her family’s beach home during her extended family’s annual beach week.  We were gifted a house for the week and SO enjoyed exploring this beautiful area with our own little family, celebrating one of life’s most joyous events with our dear friends, and getting to know the extended family.

Three of the four of us had a formal role in this wedding (and I wound up playing “backup flower girl,” a role I have now played in two weddings).  Enjoy the following photo montage:

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In addition to normal beach activities and all of the wedding festivities, we took the girls fishing several times (successfully, I might add!!!), made many art projects on the screened-in porch, caught a planetarium show on a rainy day (Zoe: “ARE WE REALLY GOING TO SPACE?!!!! IT FEELS LIKE WE ARE!!!”), and cheated our way through a beach maze.  The beach there is BEAUTIFUL, and David and I swapped off kid duty to take a few runs and walks that let us explore a bit further than our kids’ legs and patience would allow.

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-Riley’s 4th birthday! In honor of her favorite show, Spirit, we had a horse-themed party at a bowling alley.  She received many Spirit-themed gifts, enjoyed a horse-themed cake, got to play her first arcade game, and generally loved every minute of the day.  I do not host elaborate kids’ birthday parties, but I love planning little details that will mean a lot to them!

She now owns every horse and rider from the the Spirit-themed Breyer horse collection, in addition to other Spirit merchandise. When I think of summer 2018, I will remember horses.

The face of someone whose wildest dream has come true.

Vacation Bible School! I taught preschool VBS at church and both girls attended. This was so fun! The girls got really into the VBS songs (which were actually good…) and we are still singing them on the reg. Plus, they now quote VBS themes to one another like, “it’s okay! When you’re scared, Jesus rescues.” BLESS!!!!

9 days in Durango, Colorado…first, the four of us stayed at an Airbnb located on a farm for a few days.  The best word that I can use to describe this place is “magical.”  Our hosts were LOVELY and let us participate in the life of the farm. We were able to pick peaches, apples, raspberries, and tomatoes and eat them right off the tree/vine/bush…

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IMG_4988IMG_4991Watch cows get fed and feed chickens in the little coop in the background of this picture…IMG_4996Enjoy a magical afternoon of rest and relaxation in the shade…IMG_4998IMG_5005And not just see, but FEEL two amazing sunsets, complete with the soundtrack of crickets, rushing water, and cows mooing. IMG_5017IMG_5013IMG_5009We also made friends with their neighbor, who invited us over to a party he was having.  We met goats, sheep, ducks, a fish hatchery veterinarian, an arborist, and a stay-at-home mom of two. It is Colorado, so we also met some players in the legal marijuana industry.  One of my biggest joys in life is traveling and experiencing new cultures, and it was SO fun to learn about the lives of the people we met. I soaked up all the hospitality and left more convinced than ever that there is still so much light in the world.

Then, we spent 6 days with my family in the Purgatory Resort area and continued the growth and exploration!

We took the train from Durango to Purgatory, which offers beautiful views of mountains and national forest.  Tip: if you do this, get your dad to buy the tickets.  (At one point, this boy in the less-expensive train car in front of ours peeked wistfully into our car and said to his dad, “they have a servant?!” No, we have an attendant, and his name is Aaron.)

I’m not sure if it was more fun to see the views, be on a train, or continuously order drinks and snacks.  (And when I say continuous, I mean that my sister may have consumed over 6 glasses of locally-brewed ginger ale and that Zoe ordered water, hot chocolate, ginger ale, & lemonade…and those were just the beverages…)

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So many beautiful hikes! Once, we took our rental Jeeps to a 4wd-only-accessible hike.  That was my first “Jeeping” experience and it was so much fun!! Here was the hike I took almost every day…a lake loop right in front of our rental house.

We checked out the resort activities, including the Alpine Slide, pony rides, paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaking, tricycle rental, and bungee trampoline. Zoe tried so many activities (even solo paddle boarding). I couldn’t believe how brave she was!

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The livery.  Right behind our rental house was a livery. My horse-crazed girl was in heaven and we took twice-daily visits to visit “Silver!”

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The livery also owned a free-range llama named Tony, who made daily visits to our house, sometimes accompanied by his free-range goat friend.  You can’t make this stuff up.

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My girls’ trip to Florida! I went on a Wednesday afternoon and packed in time with three separate friends before leaving Thursday afternoon for a beach weekend in Longboat Key with my friends of 10 years.  THEN, on the way back on Sunday, I spent the afternoon with my old neighbor and her sweet girls. I came back overflowing with happiness (and a strong desire to abstain from alcohol for at least a week).

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-Deepening some friendships here in NC.  I have a semi-regular “girls’ night” crew now, and have been having a wonderful time building connections with the young families at our church.  I also joined a book club of women from church who aren’t in my “young moms” demographic, and enjoy having an excuse to read and discuss books. In July, we had our book club on a boat!

Okay, that was an INSANE amount of highlights. Obviously, it was an amazing summer. I am so thankful for all of the memories we were able to make!

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What was the highlight of YOUR summer?  

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Changes

So, we moved to North Carolina.  I feel like I should punctuate that with an exclamation point, because shouldn’t I be excited about this big change in my life?, but that feels a little false.  I could also punctuate it:

So, we moved to North Carolina?

Or:

So, we moved to North Carolina…

Perhaps the ellipses is the most accurate, because I don’t know what’s next!

We have been here about nine weeks, and a lot has happened during that time. So, upon several requests, I am bringing the blog back (at least for this update).  IMG_3840.JPGSome of this story is just David’s, but in short, he has been wrestling with his call for a while.  We both absolutely loved our church in Florida, but he was feeling restless.  When he was first approached about applying for a new position, I was in one of the hardest seasons I have ever been in and flat-out told him NO.  You cannot disrupt our life right now; it is hard enough.  I cannot cope with more.  If you are gone any more, if we have any fewer resources at our disposal, if I have to implement one more change, that will be the straw that breaks me.

Although I told him no, it began an almost two-year conversation about what a new call might look like.  What would make us leave the people we loved and the important work we both did in our community? What would be “worth it?” Every few months he would hear from a church wondering if he was interested in an interview.  We said no every time.  We both acknowledged that we would likely move at some point so that David could advance in his career track, but you don’t leave a job when things are going well (or so we thought).

Things got easier with the kids.  Last spring, I was offered an exciting job opportunity.  The position would require me to stay in our area for the next three years.  David told me that I should take it–then told me three days later over tacos and my tears,  “I don’t think I can commit to staying here that long.”

This timeline was new to me.

(I want to pause here and say that marriage is a growth opportunity.  It’s easy to say the vows; it’s harder to make choices that prioritize another person’s happiness over your own.  Deciding, ok, your fulfillment is more important than mine—I’ll figure it out is SCARY. Yet I believe it is what we are called to, and I believe that God will bless us when we are obedient.

There are, of course, more complex layers to this decision involving long-term finances and health insurance and childcare–and in some of those decisions, David has laid down some of his happiness for us.  So don’t interpret this as my martyr story.  Healthy, loving families sacrifice for one another; marriage generally works best if you do, too. Moving along…)

I didn’t commit to the job opportunity.  But the conversation had shifted something anyway.  I noticed that David began to say “when we move” instead of “if we move.”  Things were going well for him AND for me professionally and personally, and the kids were thriving, so I pretended I couldn’t hear him.

In November, David went on a weeklong retreat for pastors.  I sent him away somewhat rudely, telling him he needed to figure out why he was so restless.  I assumed they would tell him to try harder to have a positive attitude, or something.  Instead, the vocational coaches told him he was restless because he was ready for a senior pastor position.

He came home and had barely updated me on the retreat when two churches contacted him to set up interviews for a senior pastor position.  Two in one week.  And here is where I sort of lost my mind, because THIS WAS MOVING SO FAST, and when I said, “figure out your restlessness” I didn’t mean, “move our family in the next few months.”

Yet just eight weeks later, I found myself in a tiny rental car, driving towards a a small town in North Carolina.

Over a long weekend, I learned that this church wanted and needed my husband’s exact skill set.

I could see the opportunities in front of the church and the growing community; I could see how his gifts would allow this church to expand their ministry and share God’s love with more people.

But I was so comfortable in Florida. I was happy.  Life was running smoothly(ish)—finally. 

IMG_3404As I spoke, journaled, prayed them—these objections disturbed me.  I used to want to be a missionary in another country—and now I wouldn’t BE MISSIONAL because I was too comfortable? Since when was my comfort a good decision-making standard? And was my happiness truly contingent upon being in a 5-mile geographic radius, or was God big enough to fulfill me anywhere? Could I trust God to help me handle the transitions that would come with a big life change, or not?

Long story short, through lots of prayer (mine were mostly “DON’T DO THIS TO ME PLEASE DON’T DO THIS TO ME CRAP I THINK YOU MIGHT WANT ME TO DO THIS”) and with the help of wise counsel and a good offer, we decided to take the job.  I still wasn’t totally jazzed, but the logical part of me saw how all of this was good, and I didn’t want to hold us back with my selfishness.

Mechanically, I got ready for the move.  But my heart wasn’t in it.

IMG_3063About a month later, just before we announced our move, I was perched on my kitchen bar stool, reading and journaling and doing my best to work through all this when I got to Romans 10:

For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

And for the first time, I could picture more than my comfortable life.

I pictured the small town, growing by the day.  I pictured the church–which has been ministering to the community since the 1700s.  I remembered the search committee’s description of the church: their sincere desire to share good news with their community, and their longing for someone to equip them to be the best messengers possible.

I realized that while I was begging NOT to be sent, they were begging TO be sent.

And then God hit me over the head with this thought (from my BSF lesson):

IMG_3070What if I stepped out—and something amazing happened in someone else’s life because of it? What if someone found Christ because I agreed to move? That would be worth it. 

And here, I found a vision that compelled me more than my comfort.  I still wasn’t (and honestly still am not) happy to leave my friends and community, and man, it has been a lot of work, but I feel purpose in this transition.  David is doing a great job.  The church is thrilled to have his leadership.  The community is responding.

We have a new house, in a wonderful school district.  I have six new friends’ names and numbers in my phone.  I even got here in time to plant a garden…and it’s growing!

IMG_4026I didn’t picture this.  I didn’t plan this.  But once again, I find myself “journeying with Him.”  Surrendering to the mystery of the journey.

Even enjoying the journey.

Maybe I’ll blog about the journey?

2017 Goals / Powersheets Review

We’re 19 days into 2017 and I have to say, so far, I have liked this year, minus the news that someone close to me is sick.

I usually do some posts about goal setting around the New Year, but this year, I took it offline and went through Lara Casey’s Powersheets goal-setting system.  Powersheets are not for everybody—my mom said “this is a NIGHTMARE” when I showed her the book, and David kept karate-chopping the air and saying “POWERSHEETS” dramatically whenever I would talk about it—but I’m really enjoying the way the system encourages you to break down bigger goals into small action steps.

I’ll keep my 55 pages of “whys” and “what I want to cultivate” to myself in case you’re on Team My Mom and all of this make you want to barf, but I still wanted to share a few of my goals, in case they encourage anyone else!

My big goals for the year are: 

  1. Establish a pattern of intentional action, celebration, & rest.

  2. Infuse my life and work with more creativity.

  3. Develop a deeper awareness of God’s presence and voice. Live with awareness of spiritual reality.

  4. Keep cultivating a fun & flourishing marriage.

  5. Embrace and enjoy this season. Engage in the little moments and enjoy them as gifts. Use what I have now instead of looking ahead/behind.

  6. Be proud of how I use my energy.

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Through the Powersheets process, I created small action steps that let me see that I am making progress on these goals. It’s really energizing and encouraging.  Here are a few of my daily goals for January that fit into the big goals:

Read the Bible/have quiet time every day.  I’ve been waking up whenever my first child wakes up (usually between 5-5:30) and giving them a little bowl of dry Cheerios to eat in their bed with some books.  Then I go out to the kitchen and journal and read with my tea until 6 am when the kids are allowed out of bed. I’m using the One Year Bible and so far, I’m keeping up!!! At one point, I got three days behind and almost gave up because every day is a lot of content, but I spent two nights catching up and I’m back on track! Whoohoo! Since I have committed to this goal, I am also going to bed earlier, so I feel better rested in general.

Complete one cleaning task per day. I made a list of all the “once a month” cleaning tasks, and am doing one per day. (For example, today, I washed our windows, mirrors, and appliances.)  This way, I don’t have to strain to remember what should be cleaned—I just consult the list and see what seems like fun not awful to do that day.  I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier.

Have “present lunch.” I’m trying to sit down and engage in conversations with or read to my girls during lunch time, instead of shuffling through the mail, cleaning up the dishes, scanning my e-mail, texting a friend to coordinate afternoon plans, etc.  Mealtimes are hard for Zoe and she often doesn’t eat lunch on Riley’s schedule, so the bonus of living out this goal is that I often end up getting 1×1 time with each girl.

Sit down for 1×1 reading time with each girl each day.  We usually do a bedtime story, but I want to do more reading with each girl.  So far, this has been the hardest goal because my children do not sit still for long!

img_9330My weekly (non-work) goals this month are:

Take a Sabbath each week–celebrate and rest! I started this over the fall, and felt the desire to continue to grow in this area.  I am reading an amazing book that is deepening my practice of and commitment to Sabbath.  One great idea from the book: make dinner easy on your Sabbath day.  The last two weekends, I have picked up a prepared meal from our grocery store on Sabbath, and it really lets me sink deeper into relaxation when I know that dinner is already taken care of and there aren’t any dishes!

Work out four times. I have been in a steady routine of 3x/week for the last year, but I was ready to challenge myself! Having this goal “forces” me to exercise one evening or weekend day each week, which builds on my weekly “Sabbath” goal since I find exercise really fun and recharging!

Listen to a podcast each week. This encourages my creativity and can also encourage me spiritually and/or in my marriage, depending on which podcast I’m listening to!  My favorite podcast is The God Centered Mom, but I also really enjoy Creative Empire, Coffee & CrumbsInspired to Action, and just about anything Lara Casey puts out.

Complete weekly life planning. Figure out what our obligations are, what we’re eating, who’s buying the groceries and when, what the girls and I will do during our time together, when David and I will work out, what my work projects are and when I’ll do them, and what needs to be done around the house.

Speak my people’s love languages. Looking at this goal each week helps remind me to speak love to my family members in the way they receive it, not just the way that is easy/natural to me.  For Riley, my cuddler, I seriously just have to remember to sit down throughout the day and make my lap available to her.  It’s a simple way to love her, but I’m not the “sit down” OR “cuddle” type, so I have to remind myself to do it. Within ten seconds, she’s usually on my lap, so I know it’s filling her little love tank.

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With the Powersheets system, you check in every day and every week and indicate with progress bars and check boxes how you’re progressing towards your goals.  I have found that it is really easy to remember to do this, and it’s so motivating to see that I am actually making progress on goals that otherwise feel abstract.  I love looking at my week with the goals in mind and deciding when I’m going to take small steps that add up to meaningful goals, instead of just hoping that I have time to take the steps.  I also really enjoy the Powersheets philosophy of setting meaningful goals, pursuing progress over perfection, and taking small steps that add up to your big goals.

Basically, if you’ve been on the fence about Powersheets, I either just convinced you to purchase them, or run far, far away, depending on your personality type.

This weekend, I’ll be checking out a potential future kindergarten for Zoe, organizing our storage room with David while my in-laws watch the girls (we’re turning it into a home gym space!!), meeting a friend for coffee, and skipping church and taking the girls to the beach to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday.  I’ll also be starting my friend Brittnie’s new book.  I can’t wait!

What are you up to? 

Quarter One Report

Well, the first quarter of the year has passed, and although my life these days is more “get that play dough out of your mouth” and less “get me that report by Friday,” I still like the idea of a quarterly report and thought I’d do a Q1 check-in to see how I’m progressing on my 2014 goals.

  • Goal Area One: Gracefully serve my family and be a hands on, present, thoughtful, intentional mom.
    • Intentionally structure our weeks so that Zoe and I spend time each week in music, learning about/experiencing nature, physical activity, reading, and social activities.  Take weekly field trips to the children’s museum, zoo, parks, etc.
      This is going really well.  I kept track of all of Zoe’s activities and experiences in March.  The list of experiences filled up a front and back sheet of paper (and I didn’t write any experience down twice, even if we repeated it) so I think I am doing a really good job of this.  We’re also doing a lot of sensory play activities and art projects.
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    • Swim lessons in the late spring or early summer
      I am still trying to convince David that this is a good idea.  Chime in with your most horrific drowning stories, people! I also discovered that a nearby dance studio offers baby ballerina classes for Zoe’s age group and has a summer session.  BABY BALLERINA CLASSES.  Now I’m torn about which to tell you to lobby for…make your own decision, I guess.  (Or stay out of our marriage.  You know, the healthy option I should have been advocating to begin with. )

    • Create a good eating plan for Zoe as we phase bottles out.
      It would help if Zoe would eat something besides the same 20 foods over and over again, but we ARE phasing bottles out and she is down to two a day now.  She is more adventurous at snack time than meal time, so I am trying to make sure that I provide healthy and mostly homemade or very low processed options for her snacks…unless we are on a beach trip.  Then she gets ice cream 🙂photo 1-3

      In response to my health consciousness, Zoe learned the word “Cheez-It” last month.  I didn’t grow up eating Cheez-Its, don’t buy them, and didn’t even know that you spelled “Cheez-It” with a “z” instead of an “s” until I Googled it three weeks ago.   I gave them to her ONCE at playgroup because another kid had them and she was begging for them.   Apparently it was an experience to remember, because she can identify them in or out of the packaging and say “Cheez-It” with perfect diction.

    • Build on Zoe’s “rules” as needed to keep her safe.
      Added to the list: 1) we brush our teeth in the bathroom—not while running through the house and 2) no playing in the trash can.  Added to my life: a pouty face.

    • Begin to introduce spiritual concepts to her at an age-appropriate level (“pray,” etc.) along with concepts of basic manners (“please,” “thank you,” giving hugs and caring for friends, etc.)
      She loves to pray! She insists that we do it before dinner and gets mad if we forget.  She claps when we are done.

    • Continue to give her lots of time with her extended family and help her learn their names through FaceTime and photos.
      I want to make her a photo wall to help with this goal, but I don’t want to just tape photos to the wall (nor do I want to put a ton of frames on the wall.)  Does anyone have any cool Pinterest-y photo projects to share?

    • As the one who spends the most time in a caregiving role, do my best to create a family culture that is loving, peaceful, gentle, & fun, where Zoe feels safe, secure, loved, & valued.  Zoe won’t benefit from a ton of formal instruction on faith and values this year—but I want these things to be so obvious by the way that we live that she has a foundation for the future.  I’m with her the most, so I have to live it the most.
      I feel like our home has been very peaceful and loving lately, and we just took a family vacation to the beach which helped make some fun family memories.  The biggest threats to me achieving this goal are fatigue and being distracted by less important things that feel urgent.  I pray that I can focus on what matters.
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  • Goal Area Two: Be a thoughtful, loving, present wife who prioritizes David’s needs.
    • Pay attention to what he says.
    • Purposefully save energy for him.
    • Make dates a financial priority.
    • Continue doing devotions together each week and pray together more often.
    • Speak his love language.
      The last few months have been a sweet time for our marriage as we have grown closer and more tender towards one another in our shared grief.  I think we are doing a great job at loving each other.  That being said, our last date night involved going to a worship service (#pastorswifeprobs) so we need a romantic evening out stat.  I also want to pray more together before bed and make sure we do our couple devotion most Sundays.
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  • Goal Area Three: Physical Health – I want to care for myself spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  Physical health isn’t the most important thing in my life, but the way that I treat my body affects the other parts of my life, my emotions, and my ability to have the energy I want to have for my family.  I want my physical state to enable me to confidently tackle everything else in my life…not to distract me or slow me down.
    • I want to be intentionally active most days of the week.  Ideally, I would attend my stroller fitness class 2x/week and work out 1-2 other times per week at our gym or walking 2-3 times per week.  I feel the best physically and mentally when I do this.
      I have been doing a good job attending stroller fitness classes twice a week, but I need to utilize David’s babysitting services more so that I can go to the gym on the weekends.

    • Eat healthfully because it gives me the most energy…but still eat dessert regularly.  I unintentionally lost weight when Zoe was born and spent a good part of the year struggling not to lose more weight and to put weight back on.  I am back at a healthy weight for me and need to continue to eat more than what I am actually hungry for so that I can be as healthy as possible for my family.
      Success.  However, I am ready to begin eating a bit more mindfully again.  
  • Goal Area Four: Spiritual health and personal passions:
    • Continue daily morning quiet times.
      I have had to adapt this goal to “doing a daily quiet time.”  Some mornings, I am able to get Zoe to sit quietly for a few minutes while I do it at my preferred time.  Other days, I do it during nap time or read scripture while spooning yogurt in her mouth or cooking dinner.  Flexibility isn’t my strongest skill, but I’m working on it 🙂

    • Continue listening to sermon podcasts when I get the chance during the day.
      I have done this all of twice in 2014.  Note to self: do it more!

    • Use my new prayer journal a few times a week to be more organized with my prayer life.
      This fell by the wayside because I got mad at God and seeing my old prayers was making me more angry.  I’m back to praying, but not in my prayer journal.  I did make a prayer bulletin board that helps me visualize the people that I am praying for, which has been neat.

    • Try to carve out two times a week for writing.  Improve my writing and clarify my sense of purpose for my writing.  Read writers who inspire me and encourage me to be better. 
      I attended a writing class in February and have been doing plenty of reading.  I’ve been trying to write twice a week, even if I don’t publish it, and most weeks I meet this goal.  In the upcoming quarter, I want to clarify my writing goals further. 

This quarter, I also made the hard decision to stop working for the nonprofit I’ve been working for for the last 4 years.  I am still doing some consulting work here and there, but I want to be more strategic about what I do now that Zoe is down to one nap and my work time is limited.  I want the projects I take on to build new skills, build new connections, and allow me to use the skills I am most passionate about, and I want to do project-based work instead of weekly work so that I have more time to spend on writing and enriching activities with Zoe.  Although it was a big adjustment at first, it was a decision I made from my core and I am glad I made it.

IMG_2013Moving forward, I want to continue my success with the goals that have been going well and pick up the pace in a few areas.  I welcome conversation about how these goals (or your own goals!) are going in 2014!

 

2014: Bring It, Part III

I’m sure you have all been waiting with bated breath for the conclusion to this short series, right? 🙂

But really…I continue to have interesting conversations as a result of sharing my goals and goal-setting process, and I LOVE knowing what my friends are working on and where I can pray for, encourage, and support them.  In that spirit, here are my 2014 foundations and goals—the things I’m hoping to build the year on and around.

  • Gracefully serve my family and be a hands on, present, thoughtful, intentional mom.
    • Intentionally structure our weeks so that Zoe and I spend time each week in music, learning about/experiencing nature, physical activity, reading, and social activities.
      • Take weekly field trips to the Children’s Museum, zoo, parks, etc.
      • Swim lessons in the late spring or early summer
    • Create a good eating plan for Zoe as we phase bottles out.
    • Build on Zoe’s “rules” as needed to keep her safe.
    • Begin to introduce spiritual concepts to her at an age-appropriate level (“pray,” etc.) along with concepts of basic manners (“please,” “thank you,” giving hugs and caring for friends, etc.)
    • Continue to give her lots of time with her extended family and help her learn their names through FaceTime and photos.
    • As the one who spends the most time in a caregiving role, do my best to create a family culture that is loving, peaceful, gentle, & fun, where Zoe feels safe, secure, loved, & valued.  Zoe won’t benefit from a ton of formal instruction on faith and values this year—but I want these things to be so obvious by the way that we live that she has a foundation for the future.  I’m with her the most, so I have to live it the most.
  • Be a thoughtful, loving, present wife who prioritizes David’s needs.
    • Pay attention to what he says.
    • Purposefully save energy for him.
    • Make dates a financial priority.
    • Continue doing devotions together each week and pray together more often.
    • Speak his love language.
  • Physical health: I want to care for myself spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  Physical health isn’t the most important thing in my life, but the way that I treat my body affects the other parts of my life, my emotions, and my ability to have the energy I want to have for my family.  I want my physical state to enable me to confidently tackle everything else in my life…not to distract me or slow me down.
    • I want to be intentionally active most days of the week.  Ideally, I would attend my stroller fitness class 2x/week and work out 1-2 other times per week at our gym or walking 2-3 times per week.  I feel the best physically and mentally when I do this.
    • Eat healthfully because it gives me the most energy…but still eat dessert regularly.  I unintentionally lost weight when Zoe was born and spent a good part of the year struggling not to lose more weight and to put weight back on.  I am back at a healthy weight for me and need to continue to eat more than what I am actually hungry for so that I can be as healthy as possible for my family.
  • Spiritual health and personal passions:
    • Continue daily morning quiet times.
    • Continue listening to sermon podcasts when I get the chance during the day.
    • Use my new prayer journal a few times a week to be more organized with my prayer life.
    • Try to carve out two times a week for writing.  Improve my writing and clarify my sense of purpose for my writing.  Read writers who inspire me and encourage me to be better.

There are a few categories and goals that I am keeping private for now, but those are some that I felt comfortable sharing online.  I am already really enjoying 2014 and am so excited for the rest of the year to unfold.

Photo on 1-4-14 at 6.31 PM #2

 

 

Day in the Life: 9 Months*

(*Yes, Zoe is actually 10 months now but I am just now getting around to posting this “Day in the Life” that I wrote when she was 9 months old. Putting in the photos was my hang-up!  Forgive us–I’ve been just a bit busy over here!)

If you’re just joining us, I’ve been trying to post a “day in the life” post every 3 months so that I can keep track of how Zoe is growing and developing over time! Feel free to read our 3 month and 6 month posts.

The 3 month post has all my “disclaimers” about this project, but to review: I am not Martha Stewart and do not kill myself to keep our house clean or make elaborate meals, I work part time, Zoe is bottle fed, my husband works down the street and stops by a lot, and I do not detail diaper changes in these posts because that’s boring.  And without further ado, here’s our day!

SEPTEMBER 17, 2013:

6:00 am Zoe screeches to wake me up.  She has been sleeping through the night most nights recently and tonight was no different.  SCORE!! I get up and make her a bottle and let David keep sleeping.

6:10 Zoe enjoys a bottle while I start my quiet time: an online study on Daniel.

6:30 Zoe and I sit on our living room rug.  She plays while I drink my coffee and try to finish my quiet time. I say “try” because I don’t think you can truly call it a “quiet time” if a toy is screaming “ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT, GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM” on a loop as your baby presses the button over and over again.  We roll a ball back and forth and Zoe gets really excited about it, so I get all of her balls out for optimal ball play.

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6:50 Daddy comes out.  The following adorable scene takes place (click it to enlarge if you want and imagine a baby voice saying “dada!!!” for full effect)

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6:50 David and Zoe throw a toy to “dog” a few times before he leaves at 7:00.  After he leaves, Zoe and I continue her “dog” theme by playing with the dog bed and reading a book about dogs.

Zoe and dogsZoe’s latest “leap” is supposed to be categories.  Can you tell?

7:15 Breakfast for both of us! Zoe eats Cheerios, banana, yogurt, & corn (hand feeding herself everything except the yogurt!)  I eat an oatmeal pancake with yogurt and blueberries.  While we eat, we listen to a morning worship playlist I recently made on my new obsession, Grooveshark.

8:00 I clean Zoe, her tray, and the floor up and we both get dressed.  If you haven’t heard, getting dressed is a HILARIOUS game also known as “keep away!”

Zoe clothes

Needless to say, it takes a while to get clothes on her body.

8:30 I put Zoe in the stroller and we take “dog” on a walk through the neighborhood.  Zoe eagerly looks for cats, pointing and shouting “CAT!!!!!” whenever we see one.  I come up with a joke: what diagnostic test does Zoe perform on our walks? A CAT SCAN.  I tell Zoe and Java and neither of them laugh.  May need a little work…

9:00 We’re back home! Zoe has a bottle while I read blogs.

9:15 Zoe falls asleep.   I catch up with personal and work emails, type up our day so far, and do some dishes.

9:45 I have a business call for a nonprofit board that I’m a part of (I’m actually the president, which I thought would be “fun.”  We haven’t gotten there quite yet.) I fold laundry in between referencing documents.

10:25 Off the phone.  In a very rare moment of stay-at-home-momdom, I don’t know what to do with myself next.  This particular work week I am working 14 hours total facilitating workshops, but I’m working with a team that’s doing all the prep work so I don’t need to do anything ahead of time.  Since I’ve been working more hours than usual for the last two weeks, I’ve been a freak about time management and I’m caught up with my chores.  There’s…nothing to work on.  Weird! Wracking my brain, I decide to clean the bathroom, then realize that David’s best friend has all of our bathroom cleaning products at his house.  I text him and ask him for it back, wishing it could teleport to our house.  Then I putter around anxiously.  I hate unstructured time so much.  AHHH!!

10:45 Zoe wakes up and I pounce on something to do.  This is her face when I go in her room:

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I talk to her in an animated voice and she slowly wakes up.  She’s SO CUTE!

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As soon as she seems ready, we head to playgroup.

11:05-12:15 Tuesday playgroup! I love these women and babies so much.  I’ve noticed lately that if Zoe is not sitting on my lap while she plays, she wants me to be right next to her.  She frequently checks to make sure I’m still there by reaching her hand back to feel me.  If she can touch me, she’s okay.  If she can’t, she turns around, holds her arms up, and cries until I pick her up.  It’s sweet.  I stay right next to her as she excitedly plays with new toys.

12:25 Home from playgroup and time for some lunch.  David is finishing up his lunch and Zoe enjoys greeting him before he heads back to work.  For lunch, Zoe eats peas, yogurt, peaches, and bread with pesto (my little foodie!)  I top a whole wheat pita with pizza sauce, goat cheese, & mushrooms and bake for a little “pizza” lunch for myself.  A few bites in, I begin to feel sick.  I have a hard time finishing the meal.  (Postscript: I realized a few days later that the pizza sauce had gone bad!! Eww, and no wonder…)

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While we eat, we listen to Zoe’s “Nursery Rhymes” station on Pandora.  I try to pay attention to her reactions to songs and “like” or “dislike” the songs so that it’s truly Zoe’s station.  Her station has slowly merged into Motown with the occasional Barney.  That’s my girl.

Zoe begins dancing and waving her hands to the music, so I hand her a spoon that she can beat to the rhythm.  She loves rhythm.

IMG_1516After a while, I take the spoon away so that I can clean her up.  THE INHUMANITY!

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1:15 Bottle time! I catch up on news on CNN.com while Zoe drinks her bottle.

1:30-2:15 One of the rhythms I’ve tried to set in our day is an after-lunch “reading time.”  We cuddle on the couch and I pick out books based on what Zoe has been around lately (if she’s shown an interest in cars, I get out our car book…if we’ve been around animals lately, I get out animal books…if we have been around other babies, I get out books with photos of babies…if she’s been making a lot of sounds with her mouth, I get out books that let me make funny sounds…why am I still typing? You get the gist.)  At first, Zoe just tried to eat the books and/or hit me with them, but now she actually sits on my lap, listens, and turns the pages.  She is also really into “lift the flap” books.

David happens to stop by to make a cup of coffee and takes our picture.  Aww.

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2:15-2:30 Zoe has been teething for the last 2 days, so in a “teething only” act she lies down on me and just relaxes.  I point out shapes in the ceiling (in related news, we are getting our roof redone soon…)

2:35 I lay Zoe in her bed.  No protest whatsoever.  Then, I Facebook a little, catch up on our day on this blog post, and read a book.   As mentioned, I don’t have much to do today.  My stomach is still hurting and I don’t feel good, so taking it easy actually appeals to me on a physical level, if not a mental one.

3:15 Although I don’t feel better, I decide to get up and accomplish something.  I dust the house.

3:45 Zoe wakes up.  I want to take her to the park today so I get us changed into “park appropriate clothing” (for her, a swimsuit, sunscreen, and sun hat) and put her in the car.

4:10 We arrive at the park! It’s a beautiful waterfront park with a splash pad and playground.  I take Zoe through the splash pad, push her on the baby swing, and help her “climb” and pull up on the toddler playground.  We meet a 3 year old girl who wants to talk and sing to Zoe, so we hang with her and her grandmother for a little bit.  Zoe loves big kids and is very happy to be around one.  It’s so cute 🙂

4:50 We leave the park.

5:05 Home! Time for a picture…

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…and our usual family evening dog walking session.  We spy lots of cats!

5:30 David gives Zoe a bath and changes her into her PJs.  Meanwhile, I make an easy dinner: vegetarian burritos and salad for David and me, and carrots, pears, peas, and pieces of whole wheat tortilla with almond butter for Zoe.

5:45 We eat dinner.  Note to self: don’t eat burritos when you have already been feeling sick to your stomach.  I feel worse.

6:15 Dinner’s over.  We play with Zoe in the living room.  She is REALLY into standing these days and shows off her tricks!

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She also gets interested in my camera and takes a selfie.

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6:50 Zoe starts rubbing her eyes and looking sleepy, so I begin her wind-down ritual for bed and give her a bottle.

7:20 Zoe is really cranky but won’t go to sleep.  I bring her back out to the living room and try to show her some toys and books.  She is very disinterested and keeps rubbing her teeth and crying.   I think her teeth hurt.

7:30 I don’t know what to do with her, so I decide to try something new.  I give her a cold teether from the fridge and let her lay on David and me for four songs worth of a “Praise Baby” DVD someone gave us.  She has only watched TV once before (when I was sick and David was out of town…such a bad combo) and she seems soothed and intrigued by the novelty.

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7:45 I don’t want her to watch any more TV.  She is obviously tired but disinterested in playing, so we take her for another loop around the neighborhood in her stroller.  It’s almost dark outside.  This finally seems to calm her and let her know it’s bedtime.

8:05 David gives her another few ounces of her bottle and lays her in bed.

8:20 Bedtime sticks…for now! I’m working most of the day tomorrow, so I prep Zoe’s food for the day for her sitter and pack my lunch.  My stomach STILL hurts, so I sit through yesterday’s episode of “The Colbert Show” and call it a day. I’m in bed by 9:00.  David stays up because he is not 85 years old.

I can’t believe that next time I write one of these “day in the life” posts, my baby will be ONE YEAR OLD.  I am indescribably grateful for every moment with this beautiful and perfect gift from God and I am trying to savor every day!

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Grace in Unexpected Places

For the last 1.5 weeks, I’ve been in Minnesota on a working vacation.  And I’m kind of having a love affair with Minnesota right now.

Here’s why: I can sit outside without risking immediate death from suffocation.  I’ve been eating delicious veggies nonstop (who knew swiss chard was so amazing?! The geniuses who put my CSA box together, that’s who!) Wild turkeys and their adorable babies.  Bunnies.  Deer.  Wildflowers.  People gardening in their own yards (someday, we’re going to visit and Zoe is going to incredulously say “people garden without getting paid for it?!” Heavy sigh…)  People biking everywhere.  Outdoor markets.  People who have known me for years (this morning, one of my mom’s friends called me just to say that I am a great mom and that she has had so much fun watching me grow over the years.  Seriously.)  Popcorn from our favorite popcorn spot, the one Google can’t find.  Coffee from Caribou.  Getting to see my best friend.   Newspaper headlines about rattlesnake bites and a grocery store remodeling instead of rape and murder.

And the casualness.  Oh, the casualness.

Usually, the lack of glamour in Minnesota makes me roll my eyes.  But after spending the last 11 months in my proudly pretentious area with no real break from its constant drum of “look cool” and “act cool” and my constant inner drum beat of “I will not give in to this, there are more important things, gahhh maybe my life WOULD be better if I had those Tory Burch flats…” let’s just say that I find the silence and lack of inner conflict refreshing.

People, I’ve been taking daily walks in ugly T-shirts and a freaking camouflage hat advertising an exterminator that I stole from my brother and no one even looks at me funny.

I’ll pause and let you re-read that sentence.  And then maybe look for return tickets for me because I’m clearly going a little too far with my newfound freedom.

Anyway.

In the past I haven’t always been as charitable towards Minnesota.  At times, I’ve referred to being here as “doing time” or “being trapped.”  And it’s true.  Minnesota has never been my choice.  My parents moved me here against my will three days before I started high school.  I never felt very attached to the state, even when I grew close to the people.  I got out of here as soon as I could and came back only for what I viewed as forced periods of time in between exciting adventures.  After my freshman year of college, I didn’t even bother changing my laptop clock back to central time.  All summer, I calculated two hours difference instead of having to admit that I was here.

But there came a time when I HAD to admit it.  I had to come home for a while to deal with some really ugly things in my life.  And even though I didn’t want to be here, I eventually had to face the truth: I was in the place I least wanted to be in, in a situation I didn’t want to be in…and maybe there was a reason for it.  Maybe there were things for me to learn that only this place, these people, could teach me.  And so I stopped running and stayed still.  Finally.

That year, I watched the frozen ground turn soft again.  I watched the dead come back to life. And I slowly felt my heart thaw.  As winter turned to spring and then the warmth of summer, I walked these hills on stronger legs and marveled at the salvation I had found here.  When it came time to leave, I actually cried.

A few days ago, I went through a box in the basement.  A box from that time.  It would have been triggering at one point, and at another point it would have made me cry in sadness, but this time, I just pulled out item after item from my life and smiled.  Here was the photo of my best friends from our junior year of high school and the shawl a friend gave me on my trip to Greece.  Here also were the letters my friends wrote me during that winter.  The books I wish I never had to buy.  The photos that show a girl so in need of grace.  The journal, full of punishing writings I no longer feel condemned by.  And a pair of jeans I had forgotten about.

I tried them on.  Perfect fit.

I’m not wrapping this post up in a bow because…life is not like that.  But those jeans made me smile.  This place has surprises for me still.

He has surprises for me still.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a middle school baseball game to attend.  I’ll be the one in a camo hat.

Want more? This song says it all.