Our Song

Somewhere in Wisconsin, we gave up.

“All Summer Long” was playing on every radio station in every town we passed through.  Every attempt to change the station had met with a new rendition of “All Summer Long.”

Our white flag was up.  We would listen to this stupid song.

By Illinois, we were singing along—my new husband and I—in that red Nissan Sentra stuffed with my possessions and our wedding gifts.

My feet on the dashboard, his hands on the wheel, our new rings sparkling, that song playing over and over again.  These are the things I remember from that three day drive to our new home.

Our conversation was light and easy.  Our tans were fresh.  We were poor and I was worried about being a wife, but I knew that I was supposed to be sitting next to that man.

Town after town, county after county, state after state, that song played.

By Tennessee we knew all the words.  We joked that years from now, we would remember this song—not the carefully selected first dance song from our reception—as “our song.”

It wasn’t a song we would have picked, or even particularly liked, but it had become the soundtrack to our great adventure.

Somewhere in north Florida, where the stations get scarce, I fell asleep.

I remember David waking me up 45 minutes outside of what would be our home.

“Want to see where we are living?”

I suddenly felt a pit in my stomach.

We drove through the outskirts, through suburbs, through downtown.  With each exit we passed, my anxiety grew.  Would I like this place? Was it right for us? Would we make good memories here, or would it be a chapter we’d want to forget?

“We’re almost here,” he said, jarring me out of my reverie.  “This is our neighborhood.”  

And just then, the song began again.  I had to smile.

Our great adventure wasn’t ending with this road trip.  Our great adventure was just beginning.

I heard that song today as I drove with our baby, and thought of that road trip and the guy who made it with me. We aren’t as young, aren’t as tan, aren’t as carefree as our 22 year old baby selves.


I mean really.  We look 17.

But our great adventure continues.

On this summer day, almost six years later, I am not wistful for that time.  I like being connected to a community, like knowing my way around the city that once seemed so confusing, like being more confident than that girl was, like knowing more about my husband than that young bride knew.  We are closer now than we were then, thanks to joy and pain alike, and I wouldn’t trade that closeness for anything.

But I still have a special place in my heart for that song, for those memories, for that hesitancy mixed with anticipation: what comes next? 

If the last six years are any indication, it’s going to be good.




Coffee Date

Here are a few things I’d share with you lately if we were having coffee.

-This last month has been so fun, but busy.  I’m tired and probably need to put the brakes on and try to protect our time a bit more.  Highlights have included our family beach trip, Holy Week, Easter, three Easter egg hunts, Youth Sunday at our church, a date night, graduation open houses, a trip to Orlando for David, a few parties, youth groups, Bible studies, two moms’ nights out for me, many play dates…

photo 1-4


Zoe egg hunt

…here I would probably trail off as I realize that talking about busyness is not that exciting.  But before moving on, I’d reaffirm my commitment to making sure we’re not overly busy in May and that we have a few nights home per week to just be together staring at each other’s faces.

-David and I got to go to a ball last weekend.  The person who traditionally gives the invocation got sick, and although anyone can pray, they felt the need to bring in a professional (which totally cracks me up.)  Enter David, and our free admission to one of the biggest social events of the year in our area.

photo 4-4

Just FYI, general public and fancy event planners, HE IS AVAILABLE FOR MORE OF THESE EVENTS.  Anytime.  Feel free.  You won’t be bothering us with an invitation 🙂

-I finally met my next door neighbor, who is a stay at home mom and has a 2 year old.  I’ve been trying to hunt her down for the last few months to introduce myself because I would hear a child playing in the yard while I was out with my child and I’d think “why are we playing outside in separate yards when we could be hanging out and letting our kids play together?!! I’m supposed to love my neighbor and I don’t even know my neighbor!”

It took a few tries, but we have had a few play dates now and I finally have someone to commiserate with about the music that blasts on a daily basis from the high school across the street.  She texted me last week “are you hearing this music?!! What is with this playlist?!” As we compared the various music we’ve been subject to recently (football team, what’s with the opera music?!! lacrosse team, great dub step) I thought we’re going to get along just fine.  

Plus, she gave Zoe her new favorite possession: an Elmo that snores…and is apparently very thirsty.

IMG_2358A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.  (Proverbs 14:1)

This is not exactly the kind of verse you would want to embroider on a pillow and present to someone at their wedding shower, but it’s always struck me as the kind of thing you SHOULD say to someone as they’re preparing for marriage.

It’s a reminder that the little things I do every day build or tear down my home and my family.  Do I appreciate my husband as a unique person, different from myself and possessing many good qualities, or do I get mad that he doesn’t do things my way? Do I thank my husband for the tasks he completed to help out our family, or complain about the ones he didn’t do? Do I show my daughter that she is interesting and worthy of full attention, or do I give her half my attention as I clean or check things off my to-do list? Do I call my parents and siblings to hear about their lives, or do I call them to talk about mine? Do I pursue my own selfish ambitions, or do what my family needs? Do I use my time wisely or squander it?

I want to build my home.  No question about it.

-On a similar note…I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “speaking life.”  I feel like there are so many opportunities every day to speak life, encouragement, and inspiration into others’ lives.  I pray that I see and use them instead of just wasting or overlooking them.

Then I’d ask a lot of questions about you, because I hate talking about myself for an entire coffee date.  THE HORROR!

What have YOU been thinking about lately? 

Day in the Life: 15 Months

If you’re just joining us, I’ve been trying to write a “day in the life” post every 3 months so that I can keep track of how Zoe is growing and developing over time.  And now…15 months!

MARCH 31, 2014

6:00 Zoe wakes David up.  I unwittingly stay asleep.

6:05 am I awake with a start thinking, “it’s already 6:05? David and Zoe have probably been up for an hour! How did I sleep through this?! I have to get out there and relieve him! Poor guy!”

I rush out of bed apologizing and David says “babe, I was trying to let you sleep in!I realize that I’ve thwarted his plan AND the possibility of extra sleep.  Dang.

6:15 I give Zoe a bottle with one hand while typing an email with my other hand to my friend Jaima about the color of Zoe’s snot—things you never thought you’d be writing, much less doing.   [Explanation: we have a play date scheduled for the afternoon with Jaima and her son Jackson.  Zoe has had a runny nose since Saturday, but still has clear snot.  General mom etiquette means that you disclose potential sickness as well as snot color, which could indicate a cold (green) vs. allergies or a non-contagious stage of a cold (clear.)  The more you know, right?]

6:30-7:00 I play on the floor with Zoe while drinking my coffee out of one of my favorite mugs, enlarged here for your reading pleasure:


I bought this mug when I had a job full of “MBS.”  It used to make me smile before I headed to my cube for the day.  I like drinking out of it even more now because what I do is NOT mundane (and it makes me feel edgy.  Don’t box ME in.)

David sits down to eat some eggs and toast.  Zoe suddenly develops an interest in being on his lap.  I wonder why?

Zoe eats daddy's eggs7:00 I make Zoe her own breakfast so she can stop mooching off of daddy.  Toast with PB&J for both of us.  David hangs out with us and talks.  Zoe says “no no no” to yogurt and throws her bananas off her tray.

7:20 David goes to our bedroom to get dressed for the gym.  Zoe trails him.  I pack our bag, water bottles, and snacks for our stroller fitness class and begin cleaning up our breakfast dishes. Meanwhile, back in our bedroom, David tells Zoe where she and I are going.  No joke—she finds my exercise pants, gets David to help her put them on, and comes out to get her stroller.

Just like mommy! Oh wait, I actually strap my child into the stroller correctly…


…and thankfully have not had this type of wardrobe malfunction during class.


We are dying laughing.

7:30 David leaves for the gym.  I toss a load of dirty laundry into the wash and begin getting Zoe dressed.  Today, this involves a tantrum about shoe choice.

Zoe's shoe tantrum

“But mom, I don’t want to wear my brown shoes.  I want to wear my red shoes.
I mean, my silver shoes.  I mean one red one and one
 silver one.  I mean no shoes.
Oh, the tragedy of my LIFE!!!!!”

8:00 Zoe is dressed.  Finally.  I throw contacts in my eyes, my hair in a messy bun, and some exercise clothes on.  We sing a few songs and take a quick selfie before we begin heading out the door.

Photo on 3-31-14 at 8.11 AM8:10 I realize Zoe is leaving the house without shoes on.  WHAT?!! I thought we had already been over this…

8:20 We are off.  Usually, we listen to upbeat and peppy worship music.  Today, we’re listening to our Christian radio hosts share some profound truth about grief and faith.  I find myself sobbing.

8:45 We arrive and meet up our friends Heather and Quinn.  We also meet a new friend, Caitlin, and her little son as we all unload our strollers and workout gear.

9:00-10:00 A great workout.  Zoe happily sits in her stroller enjoying the songs, movement, and an organic cereal bar.  I had asked Heather to take a photo during the workout, but she (and I) are too distracted by the burpees to remember.  (Fun fact: Zoe LOVES recreating all of our moves at home and burpees are her favorite.)

10:10 Heather, Caitlin, and I have taken the babies to the “family bathroom” to change their diapers.  I don’t usually talk about diaper changes when I do these posts, but this one was notable because all three kids were hysterically wailing as we changed them.  House of pain, party of 3.

10:20 Play time at the mall play area.  I love this place because everything is sized well for a toddler, there are no hard edges, and it’s carpeted and climate controlled.  I eat a Greek yogurt as I chase Zoe around, and as usual, she wants some.  Heather DOES capture this moment.


During our playtime, Zoe makes friends with a two year old.  They chase one another around giving “high fives” for a while.  Then the two year old teaches her how to fist bump.  Classic.

11:15 Quinn has his one year photo shoot this weekend, so Heather asks for help finding him an outfit.  She has made an inspiration board for his photo shoot on Pinterest, which impresses me.  We find an outfit right away.

11:25 Zoe is looking sleepy, so we head towards the car, pack up, and hit the road.  She falls asleep about 10 minutes into our drive.

11:45 We run into a minor car accident outside our neighborhood.  We sit there for a few minutes waiting for the traffic to clear.  I can see one of the drivers—a teenage girl.  She is hysterically crying, but is being comforted by a bystander.  The woman is holding her, rubbing her back, offering her a phone, and generally reassuring her.  I am too far away to do anything helpful, but I pray for the girl and thank God for sending this woman to help her and for letting me see this glimpse of humanity outside my door.

11:55 Home. I wake Zoe up and head inside.

12:00-12:15  I take a few minutes to clean up our toys from the morning and switch some laundry while Zoe plays.

12:15 I put Zoe in her high chair and begin her lunch courses: green beans, cheese, multigrain crackers, and cherries.  David comes home and I tell him about our morning.  He says, “you had some deep car rides today.”  Oh, my poor husband.

12:20 My friend/mentor Jennifer from Rochester calls during the green bean course.  I talk with her as I make and eat my own lunch (spring mix with goat cheese, almonds, apple, and poppyseed dressing and some multigrain crackers) and bring Zoe her courses one at a time.


“Stop talking on the phone.  I should be your sole focus.”

12:50 Zoe drinks her bottle while I check emails.

1:10 Zoe throws down her bottle and begins running around energetically.  The car nap has invigorated her.  We play, then I read her some books in an attempt to wind her down.  I tell her to pick the “last time” book.  She chooses a 150 page Curious George treasury.  Nicely played, Zoe.

1:35 I put her in bed and leave the room.  She shouts “NO NO NO” for a while, then says “Dada? Dada?” hopefully.  I giggle and hop in the shower.

1:45 I get dressed, and begin to clean the bathrooms so that I can meet my goal of cleaning them 3 times in March.  It’s the last day of the month and I have no excuse not to meet this goal beyond “I hate cleaning the bathroom with every part of my being.”

2:15 Zoe is still chatting in bed, which is super unusual for her.  I decide to give her 5 more minutes before giving up on the nap and going to get her.

2:20-3:45 Zoe is asleep. I finish cleaning the bathroom, unload the clean dishes and load our dirty dishes from breakfast and lunch (the pants incident distracted me earlier,) clean the kitchen, send our friend Cailin some soy, dairy, nut, beef, and wheat free recipes (her baby has developed allergies and she is nursing, so she has had to dramatically change her diet,) check Facebook and a few blogs, write back to some emails, order some stuff on Amazon, and do my quiet time.  Around 3, I eat half of a Larabar ALT bar and drink some green juice.  Ahh.  This is nice.


3:45 Jaima is not scared of the snot.  We had planned to meet at 4 at a park, but Zoe is still sleeping.  Jaima graciously agrees to drive over with her son who is awake so that we can still catch up (I mean, so the BABIES can socialize.  Right.)  In preparation, I go outside and clean Zoe’s water table.

4:05 Zoe wakes up.  She is not happy.

4:10 Our buddies arrive.  Zoe is so excit—oh wait.  She’s throwing a tantrum.

IMG_2233Eventually, Zoe calms down (although she remains prickly towards me and our visitors and refuses to eat her snack of craisins and kamut puffs.)  Jackson remains unphased and plays with his favorite toy at our house—Zoe’s wooden work bench.


We play inside for a few minutes before heading outside.  Zoe and Jackson love our backyard.  As we play, Jaima and I discuss her latest reading—Happiest Toddler on the Block and Leaning In.

5:05 Zoe cries because David is home (THE HORROR!) and cries again when J&J are leaving. Transitions are a little hard for her right now. After warming up to David and getting over the tragedy of our friends leaving, she runs to grab the dog’s leash and walks to the back door calling “DOG!” with the leash.  I guess she understands our routine.  We call David’s best friend/Zoe’s honorary uncle Kenny to see if he wants to join us for a walk (he does.)  We take the dog for a 1 mile walk.

5:40 We’re back home.  Apparently, it’s “help yourself to a snack” time around here.

helping herself

Since Zoe skipped her afternoon snack, I let her eat her second organic cereal bar of the day.  I also put the box up higher in the cabinet 🙂 I pour a glass of wine for David and me, put out some hummus & carrots, and snuggle with David for a few minutes enjoying our happy hour.


5:50 I begin cooking.

6:10 Zoe eats some dinner—quesadilla, carrots, grapes, and avocado—while David supervises her and I cook.

6:30 David and I scarf down dinner—a pasta and roasted chickpea recipe from Real Simple served with some asparagus.  It’s pretty good, unlike my last Real Simple creation which literally tasted worse than my own vomit during my recent stomach bug (I should be a food critic, I know.)    

IMG_2246While we eat, we give Zoe some “discovery jars” we made for her yesterday during nap time.  These are a Montessori/Reggio Emilia idea that I got from our church preschool and Heather, who used to teach there.  Basically, they are bottles filled with interesting things to explore.  I try to plan a few new sensory learning activities each week.  This one is a hit.

Zoe exploring

6:50 We eat a dark chocolate square for dessert.  David gives Zoe a bath while I do the dishes.

6:55 I realize that Java is suspiciously quiet and find out why.


“Oh, hi! Nothing to see here. Just chewing on some very appropriate dog toys—
one of Zoe’s farm animals and one of her hair bows.  Carry on…”

7:10 David has wrestled Zoe into her PJs.  She comes to see me, then runs into her closet to hide.  We play “where is Zoe?” for a few minutes.


7:15 David and Zoe enjoy their nighttime ritual: sports and a bottle.


7:30 Zoe, David, and I sit on her bedroom floor and read three books together.  Then we put her in bed, hold her hands and say a prayer, and leave her room.

7:50 I switch the laundry and begin writing a quick summary of our day.  David makes some popcorn.

8:10 I show David some research I did for a project we are working on.

8:30 We watch last night’s episode of “The Good Wife” on the couch, then spend some time chatting about where the writers of the show can go from here. I still can’t believe Will is dead.  I put the last load of laundry into the dryer.

9:50 Bed time!

Glutton for punishment? Feel free to read our 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, and 12 month posts, too!

To My Valentine

This morning, I heard my husband say the sweetest thing:

“Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you so much! This is a special day because it’s all about love, and I love YOU.  You will always have a Valentine for your entire life.  You’ll never be lonely on Valentine’s Day, because I will always be your Valentine.” 

But my husband wasn’t saying these sweet words to me.  He was saying them to Zoe.

And with those words, I was reminded again of why this man is my Valentine (Zoe, we can share.)

Let me explain.


Last night, I hosted my weekly high school girls’ Bible study.  We wore pink and red and ate Valentine’s day cupcakes and treats while we talked about love, reading these words from Colossians 3 (MSG version:)

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

The girls and I talked about how in high school (and even in early adulthood,) girls don’t always look for these characteristics in guys.  The boy with compassion and quiet strength isn’t always our first pick; no one ever says “have you met the new guy in our class?!! He is so humble!”

But when it comes down to it, these characteristics are what make someone a good partner.  A good friend.  A good lover.  The best person for you to spend your life with.

Any guy can scratch his head enough and eventually come up a romantic gesture or a compliment.

But he can’t come up with character without a lot of effort.  He can’t show Colossians 3 love without a lot of dedication and intention.

The guy who unselfconsciously tells your daughter that he loves her and that she always has a Valentine when he doesn’t even know you’re listening is the guy you REALLY want to be with.  He’s the one that will spur you on to be your best; he’s the one that will make you feel the most loved; he’s the one you need.

I’m so glad I have that guy.  I’m so glad he picked me.  XO

Life Lately

My last post was on the deep side.  Here are a few shallower updates from our life these days!

1.  We recently became a 3 car family.

You know, American consumerism and all.  David has a car, I have a car…naturally, our non-licensed driver needed one too!


Thanks to our sweet neighbors for the hand-me-down…and evidently, the giant hand-up to Zoe’s ego:


“They see me rollin…”

2.  Zoe now says 4 words.  None of them are “mama.”  

I’ve been beaten out by a “dog,” a “dada,” a “cat,” and a “duck.”  A DUCK.  Seriously.


Zoe fell in love with ducks on our recent trip to Telluride, Colorado with my family.  The house my parents rented was like something from MTV “Cribs” (it even came with an Escalade!) and had wonderful mountain views but Zoe could have cared less about any of that.  She cared about the ducks in the backyard.

She was so motivated by the thrill of ducks that she learned how to point out the window of the house and say “duck,” prompting her eager servants to take her outside.  Once outside, she would simply stare at the water saying “duck! Duck! DUCK!”  Can we say “obsessed?”


3.  I have a stalker.

Although Zoe does not use my name, she still finds a way to communicate how much she loves and wants me by reaching for, lunging for, and/or crying for me 75% of the time that anyone else is holding her.  When we are “reunited” she hugs and kisses me like we’ve been separated for an eternity, even if I have been standing there the entire time.

Here’s a photographic example.  Context: I had been doing something next to Zoe while she played on the floor when she suddenly decided she HAD to be held by me RIGHT THEN.  I picked her up.  The following passionate reunion occurred:

photo-45The joy, the ecstasy!
(I love my sister’s face in the background of this photo.  It’s like “what the HECK?
She was there the entire time! Why the dramatics?!”)  

Her obsession with me has become a bit wearing.  I now do almost everything while holding her (including showering) because she becomes inconsolable if I leave her alone.   The other day David thought she had gotten injured because she was screaming so loud.  Nope, I had just put her down on the floor next to me while I went to the bathroom.  Apparently I’m now supposed to hold her while I do that…?

Zoe, there’s a song about this and most people find that song really creepy.  Just think about it. Moving on…

4.  David and I celebrated our fifth anniversary!

Five years ago we walked our little baby selves down the aisle and got hitched.  I have made three truly great decisions in my life: accepting Jesus into my heart, choosing to live at a time when life felt hopeless, and choosing to make my life with David.  I’m so thankful for him and the constant encouragement, support, growth, accountability, humor, and fun he brings into my life.  And he is SUCH a great daddy to our little girl.  I just love watching them together!

Zoeanddaddy(Not sure why this picture is so small.  Click to see expanded cuteness!!)

For our anniversary, his mom (who was visiting from Seattle) graciously agreed to watch Zoe overnight so that we could get some R&R.  I had a difficult time with this concept at first as Zoe and I haven’t spent a night apart since she came home from the hospital.  Zoe had been inconsolable recently when someone besides me tried to put her to bed,  and I was scared that she wouldn’t go to sleep, would wake up and wouldn’t be able to be comforted, or would just be really upset.  For weeks before the trip I was wavering back and forth about whether I could go through with it.

An hour into the trip I was enjoying a poolside margarita and thinking “WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG?”

David had kept the destination a secret until we got there, and it was a perfect and very thoughtful pick: a resort about 25 minutes from our house so that we could go home if Zoe needed us.  Now that’s romantic!

Thankfully, everything went fine and we were able to enjoy lots of pool time, massages, a nice dinner out, delicious dessert, and a few walks by the water.


034The best part? This view.

045I haven’t seen my legs under blankets at 8:30 am in months.  Getting to STAY in bed with a cup of coffee and a newspaper full of juicy stories to read?!! Unbeatable.

5.  Fantasy football season has begun! A scene from our draft party:


We have 10 players across the US in our league this year.  May the best man sister & brother team win!

Thanks for reading!

5 Things I’m Loving Lately

I thought I’d update you on a few things I’ve been totally digging lately!

1.  My stroller fitness class.  

My friend Heather and I started going a few weeks ago and man, we are having a BLAST! We meet with 8-20 other women in a mall before it opens.  Over the course of an hour, we are led by an instructor through each wing of the mall doing running, power walking, and sprinting intervals, plyometric exercises, mat exercises, and resistance band training…while pushing our strollers and involving our babies in our workout with songs and other activities.  It’s an awesome workout and so much fun!  I bought a package of classes intending to go once a week (it’s kinda pricey and 25 minutes away) but I’m having a difficult time practicing moderation.  I want to go every day!!

It makes me so happy to involve Zoe in my workout and to be in such a supportive, positive environment with other moms.  The class is truly focused on building strength, energy, and health so that you can be a hands-on mama.  I find that so many exercise programs don’t value health as much as they value a specific body shape, and that mindset just isn’t appealing to me after some of my life experiences.  I’m thrilled to find a workout that really resonates with my heart and my core values.

Heather took this fun little picture of Zoe and me working our other core 🙂


After class, Heather and I settle into the “family area” of the mall and feed our babies while we chat.  Sometimes we’ll grab a coffee or a snack from home and hang out for an extra hour while the babies play and grab each other’s faces and toys.  By the time I get home, I’ve already had a great workout, fun time with Zoe, and an uplifting conversation with a friend, and the day is only halfway over!

And the other moms in that class are so inspirational.  On Wednesday, a woman was breastfeeding and still doing the warm up.  If that didn’t sink in, I’ll say it another way…a baby was LATCHED TO HER BREAST and she was doing squats with perfect form.  Inspirational!

2. Date nights.

We have been super blessed by people that want to babysit Zoe for free, which means David and I can make date night a pretty regular occurrence instead of a once-in-a-blue-moon thing.  On Wednesday, a mom and daughter from youth group babysat for Zoe for free AND gave David and me a gift card to go out to dinner.  We had delicious sushi and wine, great conversation, a walk by the water, and (most importantly) connection.

Parenting means that you spend a lot of time working side by side but not as much time looking into each other’s eyes and having real conversations.  Having the chance to put on a dress, wear foundation, hold hands, and actually have a real conversation about goals for the upcoming year was priceless.  I’m so beyond grateful that we have this support from our church family!

3. Cadbury Milk Chocolate with Roasted Almonds Bar.  

Cadbury Roast Almond

Normally, I’m like “STAY AWAY FROM MY CHOCOLATE, NUTS”  but my mom bought this for me and I didn’t want to be rude, so I tried it.

Thank you, mom.  And if you try it, thank me.

4.  Zoe’s first word!

She can say the word “dog!” Well, what she actually says is “daaah” or “di-gggah” but she says it consistently when she sees our dog Java or other people’s dogs, so I’m counting it!

photo-43 copy

Zoe and my parents’ “di-gggah,” Rudy

I suspected that “dog” would be one of her first words because she’s obsessed with dogs, but I had hoped that by giving up my hard-earned career and being a stay-at-home mom who pours 24/7 effort into her I might get to hear “mama” first.  Apparently that sacrifice went right over her head.  We’ll see how that works out for her when I move out in a huff and she’s left in the care of a bichon poo.


Sleeping on the job? Better learn my name pretty quickly, Zo.

5. Not-so-quiet quiet time.

For the last 9 years, I’ve been really intentional about creating time in the mornings to study the Bible, pray, and journal for 20-60 minutes.  It was always one of the best things about my entire day.

Since becoming a mom, though, my quiet time has changed.  Some mornings I get it in, but other mornings I’m working from 5 am on (and my boss is pretty demanding!)

Motherhood makes me SO aware of my need for God and desirous of growth.  So, I’ve tried a few different methods to ensure that I’m still connecting with God.

The kicker is that what works one week may not work the next because babies and their needs are always changing, but I feel a whole lot of grace in this area.  I anticipate and appreciate the times that I get to devote my full attention to a “quiet time,” and I desire that connection with God so even when I can’t do the “ritual” I still invite God into my day and experience His presence.  Here are a few other techniques that have been working well for me:

-listening to sermon podcasts while playing with Zoe or doing household chores (I love North Point Community Church’s podcasts)

shereadstruth.com.  The study consists of a short Bible reading followed by a meditation and a community forum where other women share their perspectives on the passage.  Right now we’re doing a Women of the Bible series that I LOVE.  I read the Bible passages out loud to Zoe (I do voices!) and then read the meditation and community forum on David’s iPad while I sit next to her on the floor.  She doesn’t seem to notice that I’m distracted as long as I occasionally make animal noises (e.g. “God is love.  MOOO!”)

-for a while, I did a workbook study because if I got interrupted, it was easy to find where I was in the workbook and just pick back up.

-listening to Christian music and Christian radio

-thanking God for His presence as I see and experience it throughout the day

If all else fails, put your daughter in a onesie with a Bible verse on it.  You may not have actually connected with God that day, but you LOOK pretty spiritual.


What is one (or five!) things you’ve been loving lately?!

Happiest Couple

A few weeks ago, David’s best friend gave us a few free hours of babysitting on a Saturday afternoon.  David and I went to a great farm-to-table restaurant for brunch (I had a PERFECT quiche with a mixed greens salad, and he had a greasy bacon/egg/cheese sandwich.  We were both happy.)

After that, we had been planning on doing something active–kayaking, going for a walk, etc.–but it was gray and windy outside.

And so we found ourselves at a bowling alley at 1 pm on a Saturday, surrounded by children’s birthday parties and frat boys sipping beer and watching sports.

We played two games (rounds? I don’t know bowling terminology…) of bowling, each winning one.  David tried to improve my bowling form.  I giggled at his victory dance.  We congratulated one another for good turns.  It felt great to be together, enjoying one another’s company, knowing our daughter was being cared for by someone who loves her.  It felt nice to have a break from constant parenthood and be able to spend time with my first love and be fully present with him.

We went to turn our shoes in and the owner said, “I have to ask.  You two are the happiest couple! You smile more than anyone I’ve ever seen.  What’s your relationship? Are you married? Girlfriend/boyfriend?”

We told him we were married and he said “no kidding.”  He asked our ages (he thought I was 18, haha) and then asked what we did for a living.  David told him he worked at a church and he said “that makes sense.”  Then he asked me what I did and I said “I stay home with our daughter.”

That floored him.  “I can’t BELIEVE you are a stay at home mom! You guys have a daughter? And you are out having this much fun together, such big smiles? I can’t believe it.  You guys are blessed.”

It made me smile.  A lot.

I tend to be really hard on myself (which shouldn’t be news to anyone reading this.)  In this new stage of life, I’ve felt like I sometimes have less attention and energy to give to David than in the past. Although he’s very understanding and says there’s no problem, I feel the difference as more and more of our time is spent as “working time” as we care for Zoe instead of as “couple time.”

I love the “working time,” because it’s really “family time,” but I worry sometimes that we won’t know how to enjoy one another anymore in the “couple time.”  And while I feel like the happiest wife in the world…I worry sometimes that David is secretly like, “where did she GO?!”

I guess it felt good to hear how obvious it is that we still enjoy one another…that it’s obvious how much David loves being around me and spending time with me…that we’re obviously happy together.

It also felt good to win at bowling.  So there’s that!

Anyway, my point is…moms, take it easy on yourself! You’re probably doing better at this whole “balance” thing than you realize!

Funny Moment of the Day

True story:

Zoe woke us up a few times last night, so this afternoon I went to Starbucks to pick up 2 drinks–one for me and one for David.

I ordered my drink (iced soy latte) and told the cashier, and my husband wants a tall blonde.” [as in blonde roast]

Without skipping a beat, the cashier said “well, your husband should appreciate what he has.  Nothing wrong with a short blonde.” 

Well played, Will at Starbucks.  Well played.

Getting Pruned

When I talk with other parents, I hear this comment over and over again: “becoming a parent made me realize how selfish I had been before kids.”

All I can think when they say that is this: becoming a parent makes me realize how selfish I AM.  As in present tense.

For example…

Becoming a mom has made me realize how overly focused I can be on MY priorities.  

I’m a huge list-maker.  Most of the time my to-do list isn’t even fun; I just get a sense of relief and achievement from checking things off.  Historically, when I haven’t been able to finish the tasks on my list because people or life get in the way, I’ve been grumpy and difficult.  Sure, I justified it by saying “now our house is in shambles” or “I just can’t relax until these things are done!” but the bottom line is, I didn’t get what I wanted, and it irked me.  Why did people have to get in the way of my priorities?   

Now that it’s Zoe, and the things she wants are, y’know, LOVE AND AFFECTION, I see my selfishness and realize: instead of being mad that someone else is “hijacking my time” with their needs, I could choose to MEET their needs, and I could choose to do it with joy.

If I did this even a little bit more in my marriage, in my work with high school students, in my dealings with store clerks and other drivers and people that I interact with on a daily basis…I think people would feel greater love from me, and I would definitely feel a greater love for them.

Becoming a mom has made me realize how wrapped up I am in “me” time.

Again, I have the arsenal of excuses—“I’m an introvert!” “I work hard!” “I deserve this!” “This recharges me!”

But the bottom line is, sometimes I don’t feel like dealing with other people’s needs.  I want to focus on myself.  But when I’m looking at my baby’s trusting eyes, I realize “there’s no way I can check my email right now” or “there’s no way I can stop playing with her right now to do something selfish, even though I’m bored/want to watch TV/want to do xyz.”

Zoe will only be seven weeks old for seven days.  She will only be learning these things this week.  She will only be smiling this way this week.  “Me time” isn’t bad, but there’s a time and a place for it, and it’s when she’s asleep or when David is home and wanting to engage with her (and he needs “me” time too!)

Becoming a mom has made me realize how important it is for me to focus my efforts on my marriage.  

The last year was a great year.  David and I were busy, and we knew it was for a season, but sometime along the way I think I subconsciously started taking advantage of David’s kindness and understanding.  I started making excuses about why work was a higher priority than him at the moment “just for this season” and I started allowing him to do way more than his fair share of housework “because I was working more hours.”  (Which was true, but wasn’t fair to him.)  I stopped doing some of the things that make him feel loved and cared for because of my stress level and busyness from work, but I never expected HIM to stop doing those things for ME.

Marriage needs to be a partnership.  And it’s fine for one person to pull more weight for a season, but it needs to be a season.

When Zoe arrived, I took an honest inventory of who was pulling the weight in our relationship and I realized that this season of David pulling the weight wasn’t going to end unless I made some drastic changes.  And so I decided to stay home with Zoe, in part for her and in part for my marriage.

Now that I’m here, I need to remember that I was a wife before I was a mother and that I can’t be a good mother without being an engaged, loving wife.  David and I set the example for Zoe and together we create our family culture.  That means I need to save energy for him.  I need to save patience for him.  I need to pull my weight with the late night wake-ups and the tired days and the “I’ll let you go out and hang out with your friends” time.  And I need to pull my weight with the romantic gestures and the making time for fun too…it’s equally important to anything I would do for Zoe.

In conclusion, I’m not chastising myself or putting this out there in hopes that you will argue with me and say “you’re not selfish!” It’s not up for discussion, really. It’s what God is showing me and how He’s pruning me, and I’m grateful for it.

“And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons…

We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  –Hebrews 12:5-7, 9-11

Blessings of 2012

In my last post, I said that I wanted to reflect on a few of the biggest blessings in my life in 2012.  Obviously, Zoe’s adoption was the biggest blessing of my year, but there were a few other quieter stories that I think will be fun to share.

1. The blessing of meaningful work.

I’ve been working for the same nonprofit for about 3 years.  I am very passionate about our mission, and I feel so blessed to get paid to do this work because I know that I am making a difference every day.  Still, I’m an “idea” person, and I kept seeing ways that we could do the work even better.

In January 2012, I was promoted to my dream job within our organization, which meant I finally got to put all the ideas swirling around in my head to good use! The last year has been an AMAZING year of professional growth for me.  I have learned a LOT about our focus area of social and emotional learning, managing people and organizational change, creating relationships and partnerships, program creation and evaluation, budgeting, and vision casting.  I’ve made great relationships and had some neat opportunities to travel, speak, and train others.  I am so grateful to God for the blessing of meaningful, energizing, pour-yourself-totally-into-it-and-love-it work.  It was exactly the challenge I needed for my 26th year of life.

2. The blessing of a crazy extravagant romantic getaway.

Since getting married, David and I have made it a priority to go on a “romantic getaway” every year.  We’ve been to St. Augustine, Savannah, and Amelia Island (I’d recommend any of them!)  We usually drive to our destination, stay at a budget B&B over a long weekend, make sandwiches for lunch, and eat nice dinners out.  It’s always really fun and special and we feel extravagant for 3-4 days.  Other than that, we’ve always always vacationed with our families, as I only have 2 weeks of vacation time and when it takes you a full day of flying and driving to get to your family, you don’t have time or money left over for a longer romantic getaway.

But this year.  Oh, this year!

First, I got a raise.  Then, my office closed for 10 days and my boss encouraged us all to “go have fun!”  David and I didn’t have to think twice—we knew this might be our last chance to take a vacation without kids.  We were going to fly somewhere, spend money, and have an adventure!

Enter California! We spent 10 glorious days wine tasting, hiking, biking, eating delicious food, and enjoying the beauty of California.  We didn’t know that we would have Zoe within months, but God did, and He blessed us with an unexpected opportunity to have extravagant FUN as a couple first.

3. The blessing of my sister.

When we found out that our baby would be joining us, oh, A YEAR earlier than planned, I kind of freaked out a little.  I knew I wanted to create a cozy, bright, gender-neutral space for our baby, but I am awful at decorating…and I only had a few weeks before the baby would be here!

Enter my fabulous sister.  Kelsey had recently resigned from her job and her husband had recently deployed.  Basically, she was bored and I was needy, so I asked her if she would like to “Trade Spaces” (except I wouldn’t do anything to her space…so probably there is a better show reference, but I don’t watch HGTV.)  Anyway, she said YES, convinced her husband of the dire need of this situation, and flew down for a week!


IMG_0298I was kind of a wreck that week.  I don’t cope well with mess and disorganization, I had no artistic vision, and I was stressed to the max about my ability to get everything done before Zoe’s arrival.  Plus, I suck at crafts.  But Kelsey created “mood boards” for the room that guided all of our decision making, dealt with my stress and emotional outbursts, and stayed up til 1 am every night creating a lovely space for Zoe.

IMG_0007In 2012, I was SO blessed by my sister.  And every time that I walk into Zoe’s nursery, I think about how much I love you, Kels.  Thanks for blessing me!

IMG_0299Pausing for a picture in the middle of the creative process around 11 pm

4.  A broken toe.
I mentioned in another entry that I broke my toe during our second week with Zoe.  Though it was really painful, it’s actually been a blessing.  It has taken away any option of going to the gym (as tennis shoes HURT) so instead, I’ve been taking a walk with Zoe every day.  In the process, I’ve been able to bond with my baby, enjoy the Florida winter, stave off some “I’m in the house ALL THE TIME” crazies, and get in a great day-to-day rhythm with Zoe.  I’ve noticed that going outside improves both of our moods.  It’s been so fun to start each day wondering, “what pretty park should Zoe and I visit together today?”

So that’s it! A few of the biggest blessings of 2012.  What blessed YOU in the last year?