Chubby Babies & Gratitude (….also chocolate)

I don’t want to brag, but I make some pretty chubby babies. My first born was a shocking 9 pounds and his baby brother was not to be outdone at 9 pounds 6 ounces.

My older son in particular never slept. I am only partially exaggerating. As an infant he would be awake for 8 hours at a time. And he loved to snuggle but he was not content to sit. We had to walk with him so he could look at everything. His little eyes would be wide and bright, just taking in the details of our surroundings.

And through the trials and drama of life and motherhood, he was always there. My little sidekick. Truthfully his intense personality was one of the things that forced me to hold it together when I thought I just might fall apart.

Our first baby changes us. They bust into our formerly organized and well- rested (mildly self absorbed) lives and mold us into experts on all things baby, people with softer hearts, and into a new person called mom.

My friend Carolyn over at Bison Booties did a great post the other day about babies growing up and I couldn’t agree with her more.

The thought of my sidekick turning into a big boy and sending him out into the world….well that makes me want to eat a whole lot of chocolate. And binge shop. And type all the sad face emojis.

But I won’t.

Chubby Babies & Gratitude (....and chocolate)

A few days ago I was looking at the schedules for the activities we have enrolled him in, feeling a mix of sadness and excitement, when I heard that still small voice of truth: be thankful.

I cannot believe my chubby, ever-awake little sidekick is now a tall and skinny string bean who is going to start preschool. But every time I want to think sad thoughts about this, I am going to replace them with one thought: thank you.

Thank you that he sleeps through the night.

Thank you for his quick wit and crazy plans.

Thank you that he is growing up healthy and strong.

Thank you for the front row seat to this little firecracker’s bright future.

He has a few years before he is actually grown up. Before he loses his first tooth even. But I know the time will go by in a blur. Gratitude in every phase is going to be the thing that keeps me from being the awkward, tear-streaked lady in the background of every picture.

Gratitude….and most likely chocolate.

Menu Plan Monday: June 15th

Things to know about me this week:

1) I have declared a one-woman war on the squirrels who insist on digging in my flower pots. I know some people are like “oh, come on, they are so cute”, but as I confessed here, I am a flower hoarder and I take their transgressions seriously. It. Is. ON. (By the way, if you know of any squirrel repelling tricks besides sprinkling nutmeg and cayenne pepper on the soil or yelling at them through the window like a crazy lady, please let me know)!

2) I haven’t put laundry away in a week. Its clean and folded semi-neatly in baskets in the laundry room. Other than some inconvenient, towel-clad runs through the kitchen to get to our clothes, I don’t see any major problems with this so it might continue for some time.

3) My older son will be turning five in a few short months and he might as well be turning 25 as far as my emotions are concerned. We are in the process of getting him signed up for karate (or “kung fu” as he calls it), swimming, and preschool. He is basically a grown man. (I really want to type all the sad face emojis. But I won’t. I will share why in a later post).

So, clearly, my life is full of serious issues right now. That may or may not be why I felt compelled to include a dessert in this week’s menu. Nothing solves problems like eating dessert on the patio, while you watch your kids play, defend your plants from squirrels, and pretend like you really have your house keeping act together.

Or something like that.

Here is what’s for dinner this week:

Peach Pie: Yes, peach pie is first. Life is short, people.

Crock pot Cashew Chicken + steamed veggies + rice

Simple Italian Shrimp + steamed broccoli + garlic bread

Taco Salad + chips + guacamole

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Burgers + fresh corn + watermelon

Creamy Chicken Mushroom Soup

Pizza Night

Have a great week!

When Bible Study is Boring

You know that old joke “as long as there are tests in schools, there will be prayer in schools”?
Well I would venture the mom version is “as long as kids resist naptime in homes, there will be prayer in homes”.
As a mom I truly live 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing”- and I bet you do too. Whether it’s praying that my kid didn’t break anything when he flipped off the couch (despite my telling him not to fifty times prior) or asking God to please please PLEASE make both my boys take a decent nap, I am praying all the time.
And I think that it’s good to talk to God throughout our day and certainly to rely on Him through the challenges of daily life. But we can’t count solely on those desperate two second prayers to enrich our relationship with God.

We need to dig deeper.

Digging deeper can be hard though. I am not one of those people who reads a passage of scripture and is fascinated by what each word means in Hebrew. I’m just not. I needed to work a bit to create a prayer and study time that actually appealed to me. Because if it appeals to me, I will make time for it- and now I actually look forward to it.

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I think sometimes we have a picture in our mind of what prayer and Bible study “should” look like and for a lot of people…it’s a very boring picture. It shouldn’t be that way though! God made each of us uniquely so it would make sense that we would all relate to Him differently.

If you are of those people who are fascinated by the Hebrew definition of words- go you! I have learned a lot from people like you! Maybe you are one of the people who “paints your prayers” and your Bible has become a true work of art- so cool! I might try that too! Maybe you like to snuggle up with a cup of coffee and read and write. If so, you might like some of the resources I suggest below!

While we can’t take an “al a carte” approach to what we believe, we do have flexibility with how we choose to expand our knowledge of it.

Here are some resources that have helped me study and pray in a way that is meaningful to me. I hope you try them or at the very least are inspired to find resources that work for you.

She Reads Truth: I love this online resource! There are a variety of studies to choose from. Each study is broken down into multiple days with a few different scriptures to read and then a devotional. What I particularly like is that the authors of these studies have taught me to read through a “God lens”, learning more about Him (as opposed to reading through a “self lens” trying to find a takeaway message about myself).

Val Marie Paper: Prayer Journal
This little book has been amazing for actually moving my prayers from tiny (often selfish) snippets to prayers of compassion and purpose. The journal is set up in a monthly format with sections for praying for other countries, our nation, friends, family members and ourselves. There are also spots for recording answered prayers, specific scriptures and other thoughts.  This little notebook has made a big impact on me.

Savour: Daily Devotional by Shauna Niequist

This devotional is like sitting down with your best friend and having a mini heart to heart. Sometimes it’s encouraging, sometimes it’s challenging, and you always walk away just a little bit better for the conversation.

Bible study and prayer are completely vital to our well being- and they don’t have to be boring! If you haven’t found a way to truly study and connect with God, I encourage you to try something new. Keep trying things until you find what’s right for you.

Your relationship with God is worth pursuing!

Menu Plan Monday: June 8th

It’s going to be a tasty week!

I am really looking forward to this week’s menu because I planned two nights featuring my obsession with that bottle of spicy orange goodness: sriracha!

Recently when I told a group of people that I would like to just squeeze it straight out of the bottle into my mouth, they (being normal people who don’t obsess over spicy condiments) assumed I was joking and laughed. Totally not joking though. I love the stuff and I am so excited to try the sriracha lime chicken salad this week!

Not a fan of heat? Maybe you would like my other obsession: cilantro. The steak tacos with cilantro chimichurri sound amazing!

Whatever you like, I hope you find some dinner time inspiration!

BLT’s + German cucumber salad

Grilled Steak Tacos + cilantro chimichurri

Rotisserie chicken + rice + steamed broccoli

Egg rolls + sriracha mayo

Grilled brats + chips + watermelon

Sriracha Lime Chopped Chicken Salad

Pizza night

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week!

Lifestyle Photography: Beyond the Kids

Lifestyle photography has really stolen my heart.  I love preserving the real moments that make up our everyday lives. Not just the kids’ giant smiles, but their furrowed brows as they work on a project. Not just the pictures they paint, but the little fingers covered in paint. The real, the messy, and the spontaneously beautiful. That’s what this type of photography is about for me.

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Occasionally, though, I like to photograph things other than my boys. (gasp)!

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Seedlings and seed packets my mom brought me on a fun-filled morning.

There are so many beautiful moments in our everyday lives. I think it helps me to be happier in general if I am mindful to take a moment to appreciate the beauty around me.

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The beautiful colors of my favorite salad.

They say the best camera is the camera you have with you, and that’s very true for this type of photography. I loooove my “big girl” camera, but I always have my iPhone nearby, so it’s usually what I use for these spontaneous shots.

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A delicious Saturday lunch.

I have an iPhone 6 and I am pretty happy with the photos it takes. I usually edit in Instagram, but the phone itself has some decent editing features too.

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A beautiful sunset.

So when I am not playing mama-razzi and harassing my boys with my camera, what kind of things do I photograph? The vibrant colors of flowers or food or the blue sky and green leaves of a sunny day. Sunrise, sunset, sun flare. Anything or any moment that makes me smile.

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Relaxing with a cup of coffee on a peaceful morning.
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That time I dominated the dandelions along our fence.

Sometimes if it has been a rough day, just sitting down and editing some of these happy little photos improves my mood because it helps me focus on the positive. Not all the photos are something I would want to put in a frame, not all the photos get shared on social media. But they are pretty and meaningful to me. Taking the time to snap the picture really does give me a sense of gratitude and joy.

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I noticed this lovely sun flare opportunity one morning as I stumbled around trying to make my coffee!

So give your kids a break! Slow down and keep your eyes open. You might be surprised at how beautiful your life really is.

 

 

Brave Mommy

To all the mamas:

The mama with a dream.

The mama with a seemingly impossible challenge.

The mama working like crazy.

The mama trying to make right choices for her family.

The mama who is overwhelmed, overtired, and seriously doubting she is cut out for this job.

I see you. And you know what? I believe in you.

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Being a mom is certainly not for the faint of heart. I realized this quickly after the birth of our first son. Taking care of a helpless infant when I had zero experience with babies was a terrifying experience. But do you know what happened? I messed up a lot. But also….I figured it out.

Because that’s what a mom does.

Moms are some of the most courageous people out there, yet most don’t even know it because their love and bravery are completely selfless.

That’s why I know you can do it. Face the challenge. Make the phone call. Take that giant leap of faith.

Because you are a mom. And moms are brave.

Whatever you are facing today, you can handle it. Pray about it. Talk to people you trust. Take a deep breath. You can do this.

Doubt tells you that you will fail. Fear shows you all the worst case scenarios that could happen if things don’t work out.

Don’t listen to them.

If things don’t go as hoped, you and I know exactly what you will do.

You’ll try again. You’ll try something else. You won’t give up.

Because you are a mom.

And moms are brave.

Menu Plan Monday: June 1st

Here are my dinner plans for this week!

Sweet and sour meatballs + rice + broccoli

Chicken taquitos : The crockpot does a lot of the work for you on this one!

Asian noodle salad : This is my favorite meal EVER! Change up the veggies however you like, just don’t change the dressing- it is soooo good! SO good!

BBQ ranch chicken salad (see this post for a super easy homemade BBQ ranch recipe)

Burgers + veggie sticks + chips

Grilled chicken and veggie foil packets

Pizza

Have a great week!