October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I'm not sure I've ever wished anyone a Happy Halloween.

I've never really liked it. But its' kind of growing on me.

I'm learning that perhaps Halloween doesn't have to be Satan's holiday after all.

As I've been thinking about my own childhood and how my parent's raised me, what I've found is that what I'm thankful for isn't that I wasn't allowed to "celebrate" Halloween. Because honestly, I often feel like I missed out on some fun.

But, it's that in the not celebrating it, I've become the kind of adult that is careful and thoughtful about how I want to raise my son. I guess, what I'm thankful for is my dad's perspective, because it's helped me become a better mom. If anything, my dad instilled in me the ability to pause in many situations to not only think about what I want to teach and model for my son, but how I want to live my life too. And some of those things are very much the same, and some are very different.

This, my friends, is what we call honoring our parents. Just a little Halloween lesson for today. (o:

In light of that, I can take my own upbringing and experiences, and I can choose what Halloween can look like for us. I can subtract severed body parts and horror movies and make it what I want. For us, that means costumes, candy, pumpkins, and silliness.

And today is Halloween!

We've carved our pumpkins.

A bowl of full of cavities, I mean candy, is waiting to be handed out to all of our neighbors kiddoes.

I pulled together a little costume for Tommy to dress him up as a pirate. If he doesn't end up letting me draw a beard on his face, he's just going to look like a kid in some really beat up clothes. But I made do with our non-existent costume budget and that's all that matters.

I have some delicious apples ready to be dipped in caramel as a fun Halloween treat.

And Charlie Brown's "The Great Pumpkin" is out and ready to watch tonight.

I think I just might be "celebrating" Halloween.


So in light of the fact that I'm dressing up my son, participating in trick-or-treating by buying candy for strangers, and I've carved a real actual jack-o-lantern face into a pumpkin I guess all that's left to say is....
Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2011

It's my potty and I'll cry if I want to

I have the cutest kid ever. Seriously. I mean look at this boyish face. How could you not love that?
He's such a blast. And I'm so thankful for him. Next to Todd, he's the biggest blessing in my life and he has forever changed my outlook on what having boys would even look like. I never saw myself as a "boy mom" until he came into my life. Now, it seems like a role I was just born to play.

As we headed into the weekend of potty training, I tried to be as positive and optimistic about this situation as possible. We had a super fun day on Friday since we would be staying in all day Saturday and Sunday.
I decorated the bathroom so he would wake up to awesomeness and be so excited to use the potty that he would never want to go in a diaper ever again. I rocked the bathroom out with streamers and balloons.
And I did decorate with underwear. Elmo underwear. Buzz Lightyear underwear. Dinosaur underwear. Every kind of underwear any little boy could imagine or hope for.
We got new books and cars and the best Elmo potty around. It said encouraging things like "Good job!" and "You're grown up just like Elmo!"
We stocked up on stickers and M&M's - the rewards for actually going in the potty. (And if anyone says anything negative about the M&M's being a reward I might punch you in the face because I'm a little on edge right now. Or I could just nicely say "Please keep those comments to yourself." Just go for which ever version speaks most to you should you feel inclined to lecture me about treats for potty training.) Either way, we have M&M's and stickers. It's how we're doing it.
And then the weekend happened. And wow. Just wow.

I actually found myself missing 3:00am feedings. Seriously, if I ever have another child and I'm up in the middle of the night when I'd rather be sleeping, I will seriously remember this weekend and remind myself, that there will be worse days.

In all fairness to Tommy, it wasn't that bad. He's getting the hang of it. But there were lots of accidents, lots of tantrums, lots of trying our patience and testing us too. It felt really hard for me to keep making him go because he would just cry and cry and staying cheery and happy for him is SO hard when I just wanted to cry myself.

If the bathroom looks like this, you can imagine Todd and I. We went to the grocery store tonight after he went to bed thanks to the in-laws sitting at the house for us. I've never been more excited to go to the store in my entire life.

But, it's been a very long two days. We've been told to press forward and to remember he's not going to "get it" in two days. I guess I thought maybe he would? Or I was just hoping it was going to be as easy as everything else has been with him.

I've broken down crying. I've kicked myself thinking I misunderstood and maybe he wasn't ready like I thought he was. I've had poop on me and to my surprise I didn't freak out and go ballistic like I thought I would. We went through about 53 pairs of underwear. I thought quite seriously about calling it quits earlier today.

In this whole process, I'm most thankful that Todd is so supportive. He let me go to church today all by myself so I could get away from the potty stuff for two hours. And he kept encouraging me to keep going - that Tommy would get it and we just need to stick with it. I love that I have a team-mate in this and he hasn't left me to figure this out all by myself. My husband ROCKS for real.

Tomorrow, I go to work. My mom-in-law who watches Tommy for us is ready to help us stay consistent with what we've put in place this weekend.

I need a shower and probably another good cry.

Potty training isn't for wimps. And this whole process is most definitely weeding the wimpy out of me!

October 28, 2011

Book Review: My (not so) Storybook Life

I met Liz four years ago at Mabel's House, shortly after starting my own blog. I was drawn in by her unique decorating style and her her uncanny ability for telling witty stories about her every day life adventures. Liz has amazing taste and sense of style - she's even been featured with Better Homes & Garden!

Maybe when you've read someone's blog for years, you feel as if you really know them. And though a "blog-friend" is quite different than a "real-life" friend, there is something unique about that kind of bond. We are connected through writing. The writing is what brings us together really - the need to, the longing to, and the desire to just write what is in our hearts because we feel like we must.

Earlier this year, Liz wrote a book and it officially hit the shelves last week. I've been so excited about it that I actually cried on Monday when it arrived on my doorstep. I don't know Liz in "real-life" but I do know just a taste of what having this book published means to her and her story.

Perhaps I'm biased, (I kind of doubt it though) but seriously - the book is outstanding. I laughed (and quite literally) out loud. Liz identifies with characters in some of our most favorite literary reads too - Juliet, Scarlett O'Hara and Marianne Dashwood - just to name a few. It's quite clever really. And I don't want to give anything away, but there is a wedgie incident that had me rolling with laughter.

You probably don't want to miss out on that. Because if anything, who doesn't love a good wedgie story?

But not only did I laugh, I cried too. It's a touching and true story about a real relationship. Her book tells a beautiful tale of how the beginning and the ending of a friendship forever changed her life and her faith. And Liz made me feel like a normal woman. She offered me a fresh perspective, that frankly, I needed for my own self when it comes to how I feel about measuring up to being this wife-mom-homemaker-woman that I thought I was supposed to be by now. All this to say, the story is not just humorous; it is thought-provoking, heartbreaking and inspiring.

You can order My (not so) Storybook Life by Elizabeth Owen from Amazon. So go there, do it! Buy it! And if you're thinking about what to get your favorite girlfriend for a Christmas gift, this book would be ideal. I'm planning on doing that very thing for a few of my own besties.

The book is great, because Liz is great. She tells her story with honesty, humor and authenticity. I loved it and I think you might too.

*You can read more about Elizabeth Owen, blogger and now published author, at Mabel's House.

October 27, 2011

Potty Training

I've never been a by-the-book parent. And that's just been my choice. I didn't even like to read the What To Expect When You're Expecting book because it totally freaked me out. I've just jumped in to this mommy thing and taken it as it comes. When I've had questions, I just ask our doctor or my friends.

But the one thing I can't get enough books and information about is the one thing I've been dreading since I realized I'd have to do this someday.


And it's time. It's been time and I've just been in denial.

Potty-training commences at some point this weekend. As soon as we go buy the potty chair and throw some kind of big-boy party for him, that is. I've read that a big-boy party is apparently quite effective. And this is why I don't read books - because I'm suddenly throwing a potty related party and decorating with Elmo underwear. *sigh*

I don't think I've ever dreaded anything more in my life. And Tommy is ready - he's been ready and it's me that's been putting it off because it just feels so complicated. I mean, I obviously got the hang of it at some point and so did Todd, but it feels impossible to figure out how to teach a human being how this works. Seriously, if I could hire someone out to do this for me, I probably would.

Oh, can I hire someone to do this? Are there professional potty trainers out there?

Joking aside, I'm afraid this will break me maybe. Probably because I've heard a lot of horror stories. It's the possibility of being peed on in public or having to deal with a poop situation in the middle of a grocery store that I'm afraid of. It's happened to people I know, so why would I be immune to some kind of awful accident?

Maybe it sounds dumb to say, but I'm just afraid I'm going to suck at this. Or I'm going to break down crying in front of him because I can't get him to stay sitting on the potty for more than five seconds or because he's crying because he doesn't understand what we're trying to get him to do. All of it just feels potentially traumatic I guess.

Seriously, if anyone has any kind of encouragement or tip or magical technique that I can use that will make any of this "easier," I can use all the help I can get. Send the tips and advice and encouragement and book titles my way for real.

Say a prayer for me. And friends (and you know who you are), please remain on stand-by for an emergency margarita session. I might need a night (or two or three) out to remain sane in this whole thing.

Oh and pray for this little guy too; that he can put up with his crazy mama while he tries to learn the art of peeing and pooping like civilized people do.
He's such a big boy now. I kind of can't believe it's already time for this.

October 26, 2011

Edge of Glory

I've done a lot of writing today. It's been one of those days where I feel like I'm on the edge of something big.

God has been stirring some things around in heart. I've felt unearthed and undone as though God is about to plant something very new into my heart and let it grow there. He's been taking out all of the metaphorical weeds inside of my heart and pruning the landscape of my soul. And He's just now doing it because I've told Him to stay out until now.

Interesting how God doesn't force Himself on us. If we're not ready or we tell Him no, it's almost as if he says, "Okay. I'm here when you're ready." I love that about God. He's not in a hurry. After all, all things are made beautiful in HIS time, not ours.

I'm done being angry with Him. I'm done fighting back. I just don't want to anymore. I need Him. And more than that, I'm wanting Him. I feel like I have so much to say and I don't even know where to begin. Maybe the words will come here and maybe they won't. But it feels big and I need to sit with this and sit with Him for a while.

Maybe all the lyrics don't fit quite right, and you can like her or hate her, but Lady Gaga's song feels very fitting tonight for where I'm sitting with God. I'm hanging on a moment of truth, and I'm on the edge with Him...

I am most definitely on the Edge of Glory.

October 24, 2011

The 2nd Annual Pumpkin Carving Party

Perhaps I love throwing parties so much because it's really just an excuse to get together with friends. And I'm always looking for an excuse to get people together.
We had our second annual pumpkin carving party last night. Last year's event was such a hit, we decided to do it again and make it a yearly thing.

Our group of friends has changed a lot it seems. We seem to have several different groups of friends from all different places and not everyone knows each other anymore like they used to. I found myself caught in the middle of missing the way things used to be and hoping for how things can look now as we've experienced so much change around us. Going to a still newish church, friends that have left, friends that have returned, friends that feel new, and old friends that feel like family.....all of that has changed how even throwing a silly pumpkin carving party can look.

So we gathered some old friends to join us.
And we missed the friends that weren't there too.

These two kept us laughing all night long. My cousin Aimee and her boyfriend Grayson.In my book, they have celebrity couple status now, so I call them "Graymee."

But really, a party is just a way of bringing people together to share some laughs and food and a good time. To connect and fellowship and just have fun.
And even if everyone starts out not knowing every single person there, we all seem to become friends by the end of it. Parties have a way of doing that maybe.
As far as the carving went, I still maintain that cleaning out pumpkins is still disgusting. But I survived. Now that I know what I'm doing, I was able to clean it out a lot faster than before.
It's always fun to see the designs that people come up with. We have very talented and artistic friends. I especially love the "Pumpkin Pie."
Since I botched my pumpkin last year and salvaged it by carving a giant heart into it, I was determined to be more successful this year. Considering it's only the second pumpkin I've ever carved, I think my very happy pumpkin face turned out especially awesome. And quite happy.
Todd and I put ours out on the front porch. He did a fun house scene on his pumpkin and my camera simply doesn't do it justice.
My fun jack-o-lantern all lit up.
The party was a success. Awesome pumpkins were carved. And old and new friends all meshed together to have a little fall fun.

October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Patching

It was a cloudy and breezy day today, so we decided to see if we could chase down autumn. Since our last pumpkin patch related outing got rained out, we decided to have another go-round. We found a different pumpkin patch in town with some fun activities to do so we made our way out there late this morning.
As we planned our day, I was reminded of a post I read a few weeks ago. It echoed the desires of my own heart about the mom I want to be and the childhood I want to create for my son.

Kelle says this in her post, "The story my kids will tell someday depends on me. I am writing their book, and I want their childhood chapters full of traditions and stories and memories of the comforts of home."

That has sat with me since I read it. Tommy's story is forever linked to my own - who I am, what my own story is, and how I influenced his personality and thoughts and beliefs about life. And along with that, I have the privilege of giving him memories and traditions of things we did every year together as a family. Memories and creating them, are important to me. Probably because I sacredly cherish many of my own from childhood.

I hope we can do some of the same things together - year after year. Build real relationships and traditions, grow as a family, and make memorable memories.

Like searching for the perfect pumpkin at the pumpkin patch.
And having Opa and Oma joining us for our little adventures.
We all went on a hayride together today too.

The last time I was on a hayride was when I was 16 years old. And it reminded me of being a daydreamy teenager who would hope and wonder about taking hayrides with some amazing guy that loved her. Days like today, as I was sitting in the midst of soft straw feeling the breeze hit my face, holding my precious boy in one arm and the hand of my husband in the other....it just makes me smile for my teenage self.

And I had a good imagination, but I could have never dreamed up this face.
It really couldn't have been a more lovely October day. It was one of those days that made me happy not just to be alive, but to be LIVING.

I got the "perfect" picture I've been hoping for. Totally by chance, but I finally got a great one of me and my boy.
I have more to say about tradition and memory-making and things that have been milling around in my heart for awhile about these things. About being a wife and a mom and having my own little family, especially as the holidays are quickly approaching. And those things will come.

But for now, I'm just enjoying all of the memories we made today.

The silly memories.
The pumpkin patch memories.
And the resting on his daddy's chest memories.
Oh, if he remembers anything, it's not the pumpkins and hayrides I hope he remembers. More than anything, I pray he remembers how good and safe and wonderful it was to do that very thing.

October 18, 2011

Ode to Autumn

Autumn is warm and cozy and comfortable.

Autumn is tomato-basil soup, hot and steamy, and shared with a friend.

Autumn is scarves and tall boots and sweaters.

Autumn is pumpkin pie and nutmeg and spices.

Autumn is lighting candles and snuggling under blankets.

Autumn is costumes and make-believe and silly and pretend.

Autumn is candy and goodies and faces carved into fat pumpkins.

Autumn is memories of my mother and missing her.

Autumn is restful and quiet, still and reflective.

Autumn is windows open, breezes blowing in - airing out the old and breathing in the new.

Autumn is family adventures and hayrides and walks all together.

Autumn is thankfulness and gratitude and being mindful that what we have is just enough.

Autumn is tradition and memory-making.

Autumn is shorter evenings and longer sleeves.

Autumn is golden sunsets and turquoise skies.

Autumn is party-throwing and finding excuses to have more get-togethers.

Autumn is hand-holding and snuggling up and kissing more softly.

Autumn is s'more making.

Autumn is pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks.

Autumn is face time on the couch with friends sharing tears and laughter and hope about real things.

Autumn is harvest and reaping things sown.

Autumn is celebrating and rejoicing.

Autumn is beauty, rich and vibrant in color.

Autumn is change and newness and hope of things to come.

And Autumn....is finally here.

October 16, 2011


He had been gone for an entire week. I'm pretty sure it was the longest week of my entire life. It felt like it. That week felt like a month, maybe even two.

I arrived at the airport early. I was convinced that if I got there earlier, his plane would also. I anxiously awaited at the bottom of the escalator - keeping an eye on Tommy who was fascinated with the vending machines and kept screaming happy screams and entertaining the airport janitors. We waited there for what felt like hours even though it was actually fifteen minutes.

And then I saw his shoes - his camo Crocs that he wears with everything. His feet were the first to appear coming down the escalator toward us.

And then there he was - my man. Teary-eyed. A look of love and relief washed over his face when he saw us.

I felt something inside of me I haven't felt since the beginning of us.


They were as real as the first time I ever felt them with Todd - the night he first held my hand. I didn't know I would feel those ever again, but I did. I smiled and rejoiced within myself at feeling them.

Tommy stood there for a moment, a bit shocked to see his dad, even though I had talked to him all day long about going to get daddy that day. And then he ran to him and put his arms up and I cried because I was hoping he would gift him with that kind of homecoming.

We hugged and kissed and Todd held Tommy and I held him and my sunglasses fell off my head. We stood in the middle of the airport, our little family - standing, loving, embracing, reuniting. Precious sweet moments that I wish I could bottle up into something tangible so I could have that moment with me for always.

There has been a shift between us in the last several months. The kind of shift that has felt disrupting and messy to navigate through together. And in that, I had feared that maybe we lost something along the way. The thing you lose when you stop feeling butterflies and you push away passionate kisses and you start asking questions you never thought you would ask.

Todd's trip to Michigan was an answer to a prayer of my heart that I had longed to see become a reality for a very long time. His going reminded me that God is at work in the hearts of others that I love, even if I can't see it in the ways I am wanting to see it.

As hard and long as last week felt, I needed that time. I needed him to be gone. I needed to live life without him for a week. I needed to have the opportunity to miss him like that. I needed to take out the trash and feed the dog and put gas in my car and sleep in my bed all alone - to feel the weight of his absence and the absence of who he is in our home and family. He needed to be there, and I had to be here. I think most of all, I needed to know that the thing I was fearing we had lost hadn't really been lost after all.

Our reunion was sweet. Our weekend together has been so wonderful that I didn't even pick up my camera to capture anything because all I wanted to do was hold his hand and rest in his arms and catch up on kisses. It seems I discovered this weekend that I not only love my husband, but I am still very much in love with him.

And I wasn't expecting butterflies. They just came - unexpected and fleeting and magical - they came.

October 13, 2011

Awfuls, pumpkins and felt flowers

I'm running on steam and coffee this week. I'm not sleeping well with Todd gone. And a blurby kind of post is all I have in me today.

Someone told me after paying for my McDonald's coffee yesterday, that I have cat eyes. I've heard a lot of things about my eyes over the years, but that was a new one. Cat eyes? Really?

Todd usually takes Tommy to daycare on Thursday, but with him gone this week, I had to do that myself today. And I'm not sure who had the bigger meltdown - him or me.

On Tuesdsay, I broke the bathroom sink right off the wall. I literally went to turn the faucet off after washing my hands and the thing fell to the ground and broke. Thankfully my boss also found it hilarious, because I couldn't stop laughing! I'm pretty sure things like that only happen to me.

Tiffany was in town over the weekend. And we had to take at least one crazy picture while we were out and about. This was us trying to make pumpkin faces.
Speaking of pumpkins, we've decided to give the pumpkin carving party another go this year and I'm determined to brush up on my carving skills and do something awesome. I cut a giant heart into my pumpkin last year because I ruined it with my original design. Carving is a lot harder than it looks!

Oh and also, I think I'll be baking some pumpkin bread this weekend. All this pumpkin talk reminded me.

This week my boss has bought me two Starbucks coffees. And then today she gave me this awesome chunky necklace and a pair of earrings she bought at a trade show. I am spoiled, but I've decided that this is okay.

Tommy calls waffles "awfuls." It cracks me up. And when I make them he also says every time, "These awfuls are like pancakes!"
Todd and I saw the movie Courageous last weekend as part of his birthday outing. It was outstanding and seriously moved our hearts - we both cried off and on throughout the whole thing. It made us want to be better parents and take raising our son even more seriously than we do.

I'm officially obsessed with felt wreaths after making my own. I've even started a board on Pinterest dedicated to my new obsession. I've even thought about trying to make them to sell, though I might try and make a few more first. But seriously - they're so cute and fun and I just want to sit in a pile of felt and hot glue myself to happy land. It's sick I'm telling you. Or I've just found a new hobby and this is all perfectly healthy. Either one.

Because of this new obsession though, I'm now looking at everything in my house and wondering what it might look like with a felt flower glued on to it. At some point, felt rosettes might take over my house.

I also learned I have a "thing" for burlap.

I found this yesterday and could NOT stop laughing. When auto correct on your phone goes terribly, terribly wrong. I dare you to try and not laugh at this.Told you that was funny. And to my Grammy and my Gramma - I'll explain to you what "auto correct" and "cameltoe" are later.

Oh and also, one last Pinteresty thing, I've added a button up at the top of my blog, so if you read this blog and you want to see my boards or follow me there, you totally can because I figured out how to do that.

Two more nights without my beloved. I miss him like crazy and have never looked more forward to a Saturday evening in my entire life.
It's a gorgeous day today. The breeze is blowing and it's a cool 73 outside. Perfect "fall" weather for this Texas girl. Happy Thursday ya'll!

October 12, 2011

Understanding or Peace?

I was doing my Bible Study last night and came across a familiar passage in Philippians. One that I've read countless times over the years.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

In all of the years that I've tried to UNDERSTAND what God is doing in my life, I've never been granted that understanding. Sometimes there is just no making sense of why things happen or why God does or doesn't allow things.

And being told that God is going to work all things together for good may be true, but how people tend to use that verse (Romans 8:28) and want to apply it to me and my story has felt hurtful - my heart is missed, my feelings are invalidated, and it somehow seems to excuse the sad or awful things that have happened.

It IS true. God does work all things together for good. And I'm so grateful that He does because I desperately need Him to do that! He makes beauty from ashes and restores the years back to us that the locusts have eaten. All of that is true and I've experienced it to be true. For me though, it just hasn't been that simple. I haven't read that verse and been instantly comforted by the truth of it. I've just been angry, because how God works things together for good isn't how I would do it, and it isn't the kind of good I would have originally picked either.

Which is why He is God and I am not.

Reading this Philippians passage last night filled me with something new though - PEACE.

God's peace - and having that peace - is so great and so far reaching into our souls that it does more for us than merely being able to make sense of or understand our circumstances, our stories, or just this world.

And His peace guards our hearts and minds. Our minds can think bad things and hearts can often feel unpleasant feelings. His peace protects us from our own thoughts and feelings and where our hearts and minds tend to wander.

I looked up the Greek word used in this passage for guard/keep. The word is phroureo and it means: To guard, protect by a military guard, either to prevent hostile invasion, or to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from flight. I love that word here. He guards and protects our hearts and minds like a war general. He prevents our hearts and minds from experiencing hostile invasion. He keeps us close to him so we can't leave, even if we've been besieged. I'm curious about where I've resisted His protection in this place too. There is a lot to ponder here about what it means for God to guard my heart and mind.

It's clear that His peace goes beyond my inability to understand what He's doing in my life - and I think I'm beginning to feel okay with that.

I think maybe I'm beginning to make peace with God after all these years. And as a result, He is granting me the kind of peace that surpasses my understanding. The peace that I've been looking for all this time....

October 11, 2011

The mother of all lists

Yesterday, I created the mother of all to-do lists. It's giant and detailed and it's two pages long.

I made a to-do list for the entire week. From the meals I was going to eat, to the things I was going to do when I went home and wasn't at work. I mapped out my every day from waking up until going to bed. I even added in extra ideas of things to do or get done if I had time leftover after completing those day's activities.

Like I said - the MOTHER of to-do lists. Pretty sure I've never made one like this before. But I felt like I had to. I needed to.

And before you think I've just gone crazy, let me explain.

Todd is gone all week - he left on Sunday and won't return until Saturday evening. He's in Michigan attending The Journey with Open Hearts Ministry where I have been twice now. His going there is an answer to a long-time prayer of mine. But with him gone, I am left here alone in the tension of his absence. Waiting, hoping, praying, longing....waiting.

"Hope's waiting is dark." - Anne Voskamp. That quote feels true for where I am at this week.

I tend to be destructive when I'm alone. Being alone often times sucks me back into damaging patterns and I did not want my week to look like that this week. Which was why I formed the to-do list of epic proportions. I wanted to remain alive and tender and feeling everything that came for me as my husband is there and I am left here. And maybe making a list and planning every hour of every day until he returns doesn't sound like a way to remain alive and tender, but for me - it really is. Being able to map out my day, my meals, my time spent at home, especially after Tommy has gone to bed for the night, is what I need to remain grounded and present.

I'm tired of living my life checked out and numb. It's a fight to live any other way than that, but it's worth it to try. Todd is worth it - I'm worth it. And I feel like Todd's heart needs mine to be alive this week. Even if it's just on my knees and uttering prayers to God throughout the day.

Lists aren't always a good thing for me, but in this case, it's an act of kindness for my heart. The list isn't just to keep me busy and distracted - though that's part of it for sure. It's to keep me mindful and conscious, to keep me praying, and to help keep me from running to my addictions to soothe the tension of where I have to live this week. I'm not just cleaning out closets (and catching up on my long lost organizing challenge); I've made time for reading and Bible study and exercise and possible Pinterest projects.

I didn't get to everything on my list last night. But I didn't do any damage to myself either. I made my dinner and I played with Tommy. I talked to God while folding my laundry. I cried a little bit when I was folding Todd's socks and hanging up his shirts because I just love that man so much..... I organized my spice cabinet and cleaned up Tommy's toys. And I read a book until I got tired enough to fall asleep without my husband next to me.

This week is an opportunity to make a conscious decision to just live differently than what I would tend to do if I let my "old self" call the shots of what I do when I'm alone. The list is a guide and a reminder of how I want my days to look - mindful, prayerful, productive, kind, still, and quiet.

October 9, 2011

Family Photos

This was our third year in a row to go take pumpkin patch pictures. It seems like one of those things that you just do when you have kids.
I've looked forward to this Saturday for weeks. Watching Tommy play in the pumpkins, taking family pictures, and just enjoying a day that felt a little bit more like fall.

The photo of the day: Tommy wasn't anywhere near a pumpkin, but it's a fabulous picture of my handsome son, that will most definitely be blown up and framed and hung on the wall.
Going with a two-year old on any kind of photo shoot presents challenges in and of itself. It's the trying to get that one perfect shot where you are all looking at the camera and smiling that makes it hard. I seriously don't know how people achieve these "perfect" family photos with boys this age.
It didn't seem like we had much on our side that day. We made it to Boerne in between rain showers on Saturday. The ground was muddy and it didn't take long for Tommy to make a mess and then get it all over us. And as far as that "perfect" family photo I was hoping for....
Well, the afternoon looked more like this instead.
He's a boy. He's two. And he had his own agenda. We were outdoors and he was exploring and getting dirty.

And I wanted the "perfect" family photo. The Christmas card worthy shot where we all looked "perfect." Where we were all smiling perfectly, and each hair on our heads was in the right spot and no mud that got on my jeans could be seen. A picture where I looked slimmer and where Tommy would calmly sit in in our laps and give us his charming little smile - that kind of "perfect."

Apparently I am hell-bent on wanting to appear perfect. Maybe like anyone, I just want our little family to look like we have it all together. I guess I hope to convey whatever message you want to send when you post your "perfect" family pictures on your blog and send out your "perfect" family photos with your Christmas cards. That we're "perfect" and happy and content and healthy and fabulous - or whatever it is that I'm wanting that "perfect" picture to say about us.

I continue to find places where I am striving to appear to be something more just to gain someone else's approval and acceptance of me. I still attempt to seek out my worth and value in someone else's opinion of me. I wish there was a button I could just turn off and suddenly just not give a damn about what everyone else thought about me and my outfit and my weight and my hair. I wish I could make the harsh and critical voices I hear in my head just disappear because most of the time the loudest voice in my head being harsh and critical is my own. I wish I could wake up one morning and suddenly just be at peace with myself. And that going out to do something like take family pictures, is just be a fun activity of making memories together.

It's been hard for me to post some of these pictures. I spent that afternoon staining Todd's shirt with my mascara as I cried and cried. Because I thought I looked awful. Because we couldn't get Tommy to cooperate. Because it rained after being there for 15 minutes and we had to leave. Because I thought he hated going there and having to take pictures with me and Tommy. Because it wasn't nearly as fun as I had conjured up in my head. Because it just wasn't PERFECT!

As I've gone back over some of the photos of the day, I've tried to offer myself some grace and kindness. To maybe see something different than just what I looked like or how we couldn't get Tommy to smile for the camera and get some all perfect photo that I wanted to have.

Our lack of "perfect" pictures is evidence that maybe we just let Tommy be the wild little boy that he is. We didn't force him to sit in any pictures - we just let him be a kid.
And in the letting him be a kid, he invites to remember laughter and silly.
That being playful and light-hearted and not-so-serious is way more important to us and our little family than appearing that we're perfect and we've got it all together.
In all of the not-so-perfect pictures, that day was evidence of a boy who knows he is loved by his dad.
And adored by his mama.
It wasn't what I was hoping for. No picture had it all and I'd be lying if I didn't say I was disappointed in how they turned out. I was disappointed in how I looked in them, how I can't hide my body the way I wish I could, how I couldn't force my son to sit still for five seconds for a picture - none of the pictures were "perfect." And it's OKAY.
Tommy could care less about what he looked like or what others thought of him. He was enjoying the day, making messes and glorying in them. He was playing and laughing and reminded me that's what we were really there for anyway.

I think maybe I have a lot to learn from him.

October 6, 2011

A Perfect Day

Driving through the Texas hill country today was a different experience than it's been in the past. With the drought, things are so dry and parched and several places along the side of the highway show remnants of where wildfires have run rampant. It's definitely taken away some of the beauty that you can usually see here this time of year.

I saw several crosses though on our way up. Reminding me that we really live in "God country." Where some people, especially in this part of the state, are bold and vocal about their faith. And no matter the fires and the droughts and whatever happens, there is the reminder of the hope we have in the cross. It made me smile. It reminded me of the places that I can continue to hope because of that cross.
Todd and I pulled into Fredricksburg this afternoon to spend the day together. He's on "vacation" from work and I took the day off so we could do something out of the ordinary together. You can't see from this picture, but we drove through "Friendship Lane."
It doesn't look like fall here yet (or ever really), so we have to manufacture it. I love the shops and storefronts embracing October. Pumpkins and mums just make me happy.
There are oodles of shops along the main drag in this little town. It's been years since we've gone together. And this was mostly for me, seeing as the shops are full of mostly girly, knick-knacky things that I convince myself I can't live without. Though I did good today. I purchased a $6 dollar necklace and called it a day.
And sometimes, I just can't help myself. Photo ops just present themselves.
We stopped for lunch at a little cafe and had some of the best cornbread I've ever tasted. And we shared conversation and some tears and some hopes about what the next week might look like for Todd as he heads off to Michigan.And with us, there is always time for silly.
I hope that when we've been married twenty years, we still take pictures like this. I don't care how embarrassed our kids get. It's fun to laugh and play and I hope that we never forget how or get too old to do such a thing.
We ended the day with some homemade ice cream.
I had "Pecan Pie" and Todd had "Ultimate Fudge." Oh Lord was that good ice cream.
It was one of those days where we just held hands. All day long.
We aren't perfect. Our marriage isn't perfect. And we rarely do anything perfectly together.

But today, was kind of a perfect day.