Monday, February 27

Coffee Anyone?!

Do you love coffee as much as  I do? I posted about my appreciation for coffee (and my deeper understanding of my father in the process) over at A Little Monkey Business! Because, after all, who could keep up with the monkey business if not for the coffee...Read more here!

Friday, February 24

5 Minute Fridays:Grit

(Today I have joined up with the Gypsy Mama for 5 Minute Friday...check it out...a whole lot of writers, getting together to sew words together around one word...and in the process creating community).


Where does one start with a word like "grit"...I confess, I started with the dictionary (probably a small "cheat" considering I'm timing myself and did not include my "time" in the dictionary. Probably also the former English teacher in me coming out)...

Nevertheless...there were two definitions, both accurate, and telling...

1. A hard shaped granule
2. firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship...(synonyms being "fortitude" and "spunk"

What strikes me as interesting is that in one capacity, grit (the hard shaped granules) could be irritating, bothersome and frustrating...

If I were on a long journey, so to speak and there were "grit" in my would drive me batty.

But isn't it the "grit" in our lives...the little, hard things...that inevitable form strength. Isn't it the daily frustrations, the rebellious children, the difficult neighbor, the challenging co-worker, the needing to make ends meet when the finances are is the grit in our lives that makes us stronger...

Grit of one sort develops the grit of another...

I want to be a woman, a mother a wife, a daughter of Christ who is firm in mind and unyielding in the face of difficulty...I want to be "gritty", but it takes facing "grit" to get there...

I only become that woman as I learn to react more firmly, more responsibly, more Godly in the face of challenges in my life...

As we learn to respond to the small, hard pebbles, we become larger, stronger, more able...


Tuesday, February 21

Bumper Sticker Taglines

I decided this morning that if I could create a bumper sticker this is what it would say...

"I'm Not Lazy I Just Have Kids"

I wish I were artsy and knew how to create a cool little button for ya'll to add to your Pinterest pages, but I'm not...So if you're artsy and know how to create buttons and Pinterest postables, I give you permission to use my tagline and create away. Just send it over this way so I can use it too! 

This was the best I could come up with in the meantime...

I would take that bumper sticker and place it strategically on my car so that when I drop my children off at preschool, or when we are unloading ourselves in the parking lot at Target and a stranger happens to walk by and witness an odd assortment of unmatching shoes, several old plastic bags, a sippy cup, crushed goldfish, a backpack and a purse,  also falling out of the backseat with my children...they will not be tempted to think...

Geez should clean your car once in a while. 

I would also place it on my front door, near the doorbell. This way when the UPS guy shows up at our house (like he often does because Scott has a lot of work stuff shipped here since he works from a home office on many days), he won't be able to stare wide-eyed behind me at the blankets, odd balls, shoes, tools from overdue construction projects, dirty floor mats and unfinished flooring laying right near the front door and think...

Geez lady...think you should clean your house? 

I would also place one on Ava's backpack. This way when her teacher happens to see her with it and help her put her papers and folders in, but finds one odd sock, a headband, an old juice cup, and my checkbook in the bottom, she might be less tempted to think...

Geez mom...think you should clean this out?

Heck...I'm just going to slap those bad boys all over my kitchen floor, bathroom mirror, all entry ways to the house and on several random walls in conspicuous places. This way when a neighbor unexpectedly arrives and sees dishes towering in the sink, clutter covering every conceivable kitchen surface, random books, toy parts, DVD's and ribbon scattered across the floor, and unidentifiable sticky, gooey ick on the floor near the table... they won't be as tempted to think..

Wow...aren't you home all day...why do you DO?! Maybe you should clean your house. 

Of course I'm just having some fun here, but it dawned on me today, because my children are away for four days (they're with their grandmother in Ohio),that  as I cleaned the living room and knew it would stay cleaned, as I wiped the bathroom counter tops and realized it might be the only time I'd have to do it all week, as I picked up the odd shoes from around the first floor of the house and placed them back in the mudroom...that I'm not the lazy, completely disorganized mother I often create myself out to be in my own head...

We do clean, it simple gets undone. We do like to organize, there simply is no time. We do wipe the counters they simply get pawed, and wiped and toothpaste dirty again within 18 hours. I do prefer Ava's backpack to be organized, it's just that by the time we get home and need to unload everything out of the car I also have hungry children, grocery bags and mail in my arms...the excess needs to get dumped somewhere, right? 

So, today, in my quiet and still house I'm relishing in the knowledge that A) I'm not lazy, B) I'm as tired and scattered as I am because I am always moving and grooving and making quick decisions because that is what the day requires of me C) This is all a season...and with every season things change...Next year it will be crayons and glue sticks and art projects from school that scatter the house and demand organizing prowess on my part! D)Your brain does start to come back into your head (slowly!) when you have a day to think, clean and process...

Scott and I are counting our blessings for the sweet princesses that we miss, for the loving family members that love our girls as much as we do and who take opportunities to love on them for days at a time, and for the grace and space that it allows us to catch up, breathe deep and realize we haven't gone completely crazy after all.

...and, perhaps most importantly, that we still enjoy spending time together in the midst of it all! 

Friday, February 17

Giving Thanks for the Unexpected

Unmet expectations. A change in plans. Suprises. Joys. Heartache. Worries.

Amy Julia Becker's experience as a first time mom was, in many ways, no different than mine, yours, the moms in my MOPS group...any mom you might meet at Target.

The feelings are universal, though each mom's journey is as different as the children we bring into the world.

For Amy Julia Becker this meant first time motherhood was also accompanied by words she did not expect. Down syndrome. Special needs. Increased risk for heart problems, eye sight impairment, challenged mobility, among a long list of other possible challenges...Things every mom hopes she never has to hear...Things that are difficult and challenging to process, especially when the come unexpectedly.

In her book "A Good And Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations and a Little Girl Named Penny" Becker recounts her first year as a mom to a beautiful little girl named Penny. A little girl who happens to have Down syndrome. A little girl full of smiles, giggles and joy.

I met Amy Julia at a writing conference almost four years ago now. She is a good writer, a great mom, a bright and insightful woman (I won't lie...I envy her degree from Princeton!). She has a wonderful knack for telling the stories of her life in a way that makes them personable, relateable and inspirational.

Her book is as much about her spiritual journey as it is about motherhood. About how our spiritual journeys can become confusing when we're not sure how to reconcile our circumstances with our Christian faith...when the two things don't seem to make sense together. It's about those times when life doesn't go as we had planned and we're not sure we like the fact that it might be going just as God had planned...

She says...

I didn't open my Bible often those days. I didn't pray much eaither. I would have liked to ignore God all together, but my whole adult life had been consumed with Christianity. I couldn't get away even though a part of me wanted to. 
...I closed the Bible, my finger holding my place. There was so much of me that didn't want to remember the abundance of my life as a Christian. I had a shelf of journals, and I could take down any one of them to find answered prayers, verses from teh Bible that spoke to my everyday life, whispers of the Spirit of cofmort, purpose, blessing. And here was Jesus saying, "Don't you remember?" 
I couldn't forget. The time on the beach where I had heard words as distinct as an audible voice saying, "I am with you."... The time in college when I was afraid to go back to school said to my mother, "I just want someone to be there with me to hold my hand." That same evening I had gone upstaris and picked up a dusty book filled wiht Bible verses from the bootom shelf of my bedside table. I opened at randome and read, "For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you." And when I returned to school the next day, here was a card from my grandmother in my mailbox. Printed on the inside was the same verse, as if God wanted to make sure I was paying attention." 
The other reason the book really resonated for me was because I have a very good friend who has a sweet little boy with Down syndrome. He just turned 1 last month.  She too experienced the confusion of unexpected news...finding out in the hospital, after his birth, that things were not as she and her husband had thought or planned. 

Living life with her through our phone calls, reading Amy Julia's book...they have been eye opening to me. Eye opening to the fact that being a mother to a child with Down syndrome is not all that different than being a mother to any other child...As a matter of fact my friend Sara's  sweet little boy is often the least of her troubles...His big bright blue eyes often smiling away while his two older sisters wreak havoc on the house and their mother's mental health!

I am thankful for these gifts in my life...the gift of a book that opened my eyes, the gift of a friend whose life took an unexpected turn and the grace I have watched her walk through it with...these things, they strengthen my faith and expand my heart.

Becker makes an incredibly insightful observation at the end of this story. She defines the one thing we all have in common: We are imperfect because we are human.
Penny wasn't a perfect child. Neither was William. We weren't a perfect family, and we never would be, at least not by the standards I would have set out for us years earlier. But we were coming closer to our telos, our true perfection, because we were learning what it meant to be human, what it meant to be whole.

If you are looking for an inspirational read I would highly recommend "A Good and Perfect Gift"...It is a story that will encourage you to count all of your blessings-- both the expected and the unexpected.

Tuesday, February 14

More Than This

It was a day where I missed not one appointment, but two.

A day in which, upon waking, I had no knowledge of the whereabouts of my cell phone, debit card, or credit card.

No, my purse had not been stolen. I had individually misplaced all of these items...over the course of several days.

It was a day in which I was feeling a little unglued...mostly because of the missing items and the missed appointments...partially because I was fearing what this meant for me as a person, what it meant for my ability to ever be successful in ways I'd like to be; as a mother, a writer, a wife, a housekeeper, a daughter of God with gifts worth offering.

I'm not even going to ask if any of you have days like this...I think I'm afraid to know the answer.

The debit card showed up on the top, wire shelf in my closet. Just laying there, lonely and out in the was a completely random act of luck (or more likely God since I was praying for some help in getting my life together!) that I even found it. I actually had joked with my mother in law that I don't even look intentionally for these things when I lose them because I would spend hours looking with no success, only to find the item several days later in a spot I would have never guessed it would be found.

This happens WAY more often than I'd like to admit.

 Since that is the shelf where my jeans are kept I assume I had put it in the pocket of a pair of jeans after a purchase and had forgotten to put it back in my wallet...fortunately for me it slipped out of the pocket and onto the shelf where I could find it, retrieve it and return it to it's rightful home before the debit card police (aka: husband) had to take matters into their own hands.

The credit card showed up in an odd pocket in my wallet while I was at the grocery store digging around for my missing bonus card.

My mother in law found my cell phone in the drawer of a table in our living room. I never put my things in that drawer!

After she found the phone and I turned it on I listened to two messages....

One was the reminder call for Ella's 3 year well visit at the doctor's office. The message was left on Friday about her appointment at 1 on Monday.

Can you guess what the second message was...

That would be the call that said I had been charged $25 for a missed doctor's appointment ...That's right. Ella's well visit that I had scheduled 8 months prior and had completely forgotten about because the reminder phone call and message were left on my lost cell phone.

Later that day the psychologist I've been seeing called. He wanted to know where I was, we had an appointment scheduled.

In my defense I had called the phone number on his business card on Sunday evening to say I wasn't going to make it... He never got the message-- which I'm confused about since I did call... unless I somehow dialed the wrong number...

In the 3 or 4 times we've met he's pretty much told me that I don't have anxiety problems...That I'm simply a normal, overwhelmed mother, which at first made made me feel better and then little silly and self conscious about going to see him in the first place...

Maybe he should read this blog post and reassess.

So imagine my surprise when, upon walking in the door and sorting through the mail on Monday afternoon after all of this had happened, I found a brown paper package from a publishing company.

A book? I wondered.

I hadn't ordered anything...

I opened it up and pulled out a book titled, of all things, "You're Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be" by Holly Gerth.

Where in the world did this come from and why did it come to me?

Come to find out I had filled out my contact information on a form that said I would like to review the book at a writing conference I attended in the fall. I had completely forgotten about the form, the book, the reviewing...all of it.

Ironic the book should arrive on this day...

I decided God had a message for me that day...(This was all just this past Monday if you must know)...I am amazing  (because I'm created by an amazing God) and  I have a few things to work on in order to reach my full potential...

                     You are amazing and you have some work to do. 

I suppose that is a message I can live with. It's a lot better than what I would have come to on my own...that I'll never get over my bad habits, I'll never find a way to be organized, I'll always lose my credit cards and phones, and car keys and earrings and post it notes and appointments and...alright I'll stop there.

While I haven't read the book ( just arrived 2 days ago!), I flipped through for a nugget of encouragement since the title was so catchy and so appropriate for the kind of day I was having. This is what I found:
"Our hearts pull us toward home (heaven) as they whisper, "You were made for more than this," and yet we're also made for this moment. Out of all of history, God chose this time for you to be on earth. He knew the exact second you would enter this world with a cry and change it forever..  
In between the laundry, the endless trips to the office, the mundane parts of being human , we can forget that we're part of a bigger story, a greater plan.  
And here's the thing: we only get one you. There never has been and never will be, another you in this world...That's why I feel so passionately about you being who you are and embracing it. We don't need a copy of someone else-- we need the one and only, original you." 
I am certainly "a piece of work"...a piece of God's work. And thank GOD He's not done with me yet...


I love that verse....

               "He who began a good work in you WILL be faithful to complete it."    

I am a work in progress...not a finished product and that is a good thing. That gives me hope. That makes me smile. That is a reminder that failures are o.k., they're part of the road to improvement.

So, in the meantime, please excuse the mess...this girl is under construction and construction is messy...but, it's a means to an end so I'm pressing on....

Thursday, February 9

Happy 3rd Birthday!

Today is little Miss Ella's 3rd birthday!

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl.

Ella is our wild child. The stubborn one. The hilarious one. We call her the tough cookie, the hurricane, the little monkey, the crazy goose. She embraces life with 172% of who she is. I'm delighted and blessed to be her mom. I also pray for wisdom everyday that God would show me how to mother her!


Ava is SOO incredibly excited to celebrate her sister's birthday. I love that.

We were wrapping presents last night...Ava made a pile of presents that were from her to least half of the gift I had purchased for Ella. At first I thought, Hey wait a minute...I want to give them to Ella!

But to see the excitement in Ava's eyes...well, that's what it's all about.

I did need to defend my role as mom and my desire to give her at least a few of the gifts I bought her...So I told Ava one of those "When I was younger..." stories...

When I was young...Miss Ava...guess what? I didn't get gifts from my brother and sisters...

You only got gifts from your mom and dad?

Yep...just my mom and dad. whole pile here they would all just be from your  mom...


She turns up her nose and makes a face...

Oh. Well then I guess, I suppose I'm a pretty lucky girl cuz I'm giving these all to Ella...

I just smiled. Yes, you are a lucky girl.

And I'm a lucky mom.

Then later...We were signing Ella's card...

Ava, what would you like to say to your sister...

       "Dear Ella...I hope you like all of these presents and you have to share them with me."

       "Ava...I think we could find something nicer to say..."

       "Oh. O.k. Dear Ella, I wanted to give you all of the presents but mommy had to give you some."

       "Uh...try again...How about Dear Ella, I love you and you make me laugh?"

       "Yeah...Yeah....that sounds good."

  So...anyway...We have two days full of fun planned...

This birthday headbands...frosting cupcakes for later...

This afternoon...the bouncy house place, as the girls call it...

Tonight...spaghetti and meatballs (Ella's choice!), cupcakes and presents...

Tomorrow...Oh boy, watch out-- the Mexican fiesta in honor of Dora and Ella is on!

Don't worry...I'll take pictures.

Happy Birthday Ella!

Monday, February 6

Managing Momma Monday: Top 10 Reasons I Keep Exercising

When I was thinking about the theme of many of these Monday posts-- "Managing Momma"-- I started to ask myself, 'What are some of the key practices you incorporate into your life that truly help keep you going in a big picture sort of way'?

Exercise was one of the first things that came to mind.

I know. I know. Many of you are rolling your eyes at me right now...

Exercise...Bexercise...Blah, blah, blah...whose got time for that?!

I bet you have more time than you think...especially when you use going for a run as an excuse to avoid that huge basket of laundry sitting in your living room for just a little while longer. Who isn't looking for an excuse for that?!

That's right, there are days when I say...Alrighty Lisa, you can either go to the gym/running right now, or you can clean the bathroom or fold the laundry...

You've never seen me run out the door so fast...literally!

In all seriousness, I'm not shirking my responsibilities to my  home, but, at the end of the day there are ALWAYS things that need to be done. Always.

Because there are ALWAYS things that need to be done and I am ALWAYS making choices, and prioritizing and deciding what is and isn't going to get done in a given day I am one who adds exercising into the mix of choices.

Really, what is more important in the long run, a folded basket of laundry or strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system so that you'll live longer?!

Please don't tell me it's the laundry. If you believe it's the laundry you can't be my friend anymore! (Just kidding...wanna come over and fold mine while you're at it?!).

In the spirit of "managing momma" and by that I mean, what are the things that we can do as women to make ourselves stronger for our families spiritually, emotionally, relationally and PHYSICALLY, I have put together a little top 10 list of the reasons that I continue to exercise regularly and consistently (3-5x a week, depending on the time of year and what I have going the Winter-- it ends up being 3+ times a the summer, when I can go for a quick 30 minute jog at 7:30 at night, I'm much more likely to fit a few extra days in).

Lisa's Top 10 Reasons to Keep/Start/Re-Start/Exercising!

10. The cardiovascular benefits. Exercise and getting your heart rate up is really good for a WHOLE host of things going on underneath your skin...things you can't see, but are important to think about. If you want to know more about those benefits, click here.  Besides...if the kids are getting "under your skin" why not run away (in the cheeriest terms!) for 1/2 an hour and do something beneficial for what is really important under your skin.

9. Keeping up with the kids.  Of course keeping up with them now is good, but as they get older and start playing sports and wanting to do fun outdoor activities I want to be able to keep up with them! I can't wait until Ava and I can run our first 5k together! In that spirit, I suppose exercise is a great way to bond too.

8. It keeps my husband's eye on me...Hehe...This one is more for his benefit than mine, but it always cracks me up when I put on a pair of tight running leggings and I'm staring at myself in the bathroom moaning and groaning about extra baby weight, and my belly bulge and I come downstairs and Scott says..."Woo Hoo...I LIKE your butt in those pants."  I'm laughing aloud even as I right does't take much to attracts our guys attention...I suppose that's a good thing!

7. It's good for your marriage in other ways too! Alright, I'll admit I didn't know this (why would I, I'm a woman!), but when I did a quick online search for 'benefits of exercise', I was SHOCKED to see an article on the Mayo Clinic that listed this is a reason..."It puts the spark back in your sex life".

I'm gonna leave that one alone...and let you figure out if it works for you or not! I'm not so sure this is true...just sayin'.

6. It offers some legitimate down time and mommy time. Have you ever had one of those days either where your husband comes home and looks at you and says "Get out of need to regain your sanity!" or your babysitter shows up and you have 2 hours of free time, but don't feel like going to Wal-Mart and have no idea how else to productively use the's legitimate, good for you, mommy time...and worth the $10 to your babysitter!

5. Boosts your confidence. In part because you've done something good for yourself, in part because your butt and legs will start to look a little that's  "lift" that's worth working towards and it's free!

4. Keeps my sanity in check. I don't medically know how this works, but it does. According to the Mayo Clinic it also reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression. For me,  when I have had a frustrating day I LOVE getting on the treadmill. I let the frustration propel my legs forward and before you know it, I feel less frustrated and have burned 300 calories in the process.

3. Endorphins. Endorphins. Endorphins. This is connected to #4. When you exercise your body kicks out "feel good" brain chemicals called endorphins. They make you happy. I think I may simply be an endorphin junkie. I suppose there are worse things.

2. Offers me a "finished" task for the day. How many of you moms have a long, long, long list of things that DON'T get done on a given day? How many of you moms try to finish things around the house only to be interrupted, needed, or guided off track by the requests and needs of your kids? When I'm's just me and my headphones for 35 good solid minutes. Check!

1. Alright...this is the REAL reason I run...I am a snacker...

There, I said it out loud. Is there a snacker's anonymous group out there I can join.

I think my snacking has gotten worse since becoming a mom. Kids go to bed. I stare at the mess around me. I turn on TLC and grab a bag of pretzels.

My exercising, allows for some of the extra snacking while maintaining my weight.

The problem is I'd like to lose 7 or 8 lbs...which is not going to happen if I keep snacking...nonetheless...I haven't that must count for something!

1. Again...Alright...I thought of one more...It's a wonderful example to set for your kids. That running, exercising and making time for it is FUN and important! 

Hope you've enjoyed my top 10 and are a teensy weensy bit inspired to fit a workout in this week!

Would love to hear how/why you fit your own workouts in during the week.

If you are a mom with a blog and have recently written a post about ANYTHING that has to do with making us mommas better at our jobs (this is a very loose and broad category) please link up here! I'd love to see 5 link-ups by the end of the week...otherwise I'm coming to track you down! (:

Thursday, February 2

What are You Molding?

I am a woman of few words this week...


Busy...aren't we all these days...

I'm trying to get up early to pray and journal and plan for my day, but lo and behold, I get into a groove and then the girls go through a phase where one or both of them seems to be waking regularly in the middle of the night...sometimes two, or three or four times...This week it has been little miss Ava and her bad dreams...

She is a tenderhearted child...more so than almost any other child I've met...She has crazy dreams about crocodiles trying to bite her arms and dinosaurs coming into our house. She wakes up a little freaked four times last night...Scott and I are working on some coping mechanisms with her; praying, focusing on her teddy bears and blankets...

My favorite is Scott's offered coping mechanism...take the scary and make it silly...Such as, if you have a dream about a pirate and you wake up scared, imagine said pirate with lipstick and a tutu on and being chased around by a clown...or some other silly concoction of images.

She gets a kick out of this in the morning when she is telling us about her dreams, but at 2 a.m. in the middle of the night...lets just say it takes a little more convincing.

Different kids. Different seasons. Different tactics.

Ella...let's just say she'd be the one dreaming that she was going to take the pirate down with his own sword...and then she'd wake up laughing.

That's why I love what Lisa Whelchel says at the beginning of her book Creative Correction:

"     As you well know, the parenting adventure is different with each child---and it's vital to recognize and adapt to your children's various temperaments, strengths, and weaknesses. Think of yourself as a sculptor shaping and molding the lives of your young ones. With each child, you may be working with a different medium. You could be endeavoring to form one youngster who appears as hard as marble. As an artist, you might use a chisel, hammers, even water, while scultpting your masterpiece. You may have another child who is more pliable, like clay. Even then, as a potter, you might use fire, a knife and your bare hands.
    It doesn't matter what substance you're working with be it wood, ice, bronze, wax, sand, steel or foam. Each raw material requires a distinct combination of tools to strike the balance between respecting its uniqueness and steadfastly pursuing the potential beauty within." 

I love this. I'm humbled by my responsibility in this. I'm grateful for a God who is bigger than my children's needs and who can guide me in loving them the way they need to be loved.

As a young teenage girl I LOVED Psalm 139 because of what it meant for ME...for my life...

As a mom I LOVE what Psalm 139 says because of what it means for my girls lives...

It means that even though I don't always know how to parent, what words to say, how to best quell the fears of my daughter's frightened heart, God does...Shortly after Ava was born we used a portion of this scripture at her infant dedication...I substituted her name....I just remembered this now, as I was rereading this verse...

For you eformed Ava;
you fknit her together in her mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for she is fearfully and wonderfully made.1
gWonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15  Her frame was not hidden from you,
when she was being made in secret,
intricately woven in ithe depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw her unformed being;
in your jbook were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for her,
when none was yet to be.

Wow...if that's not a reminder about the master craftsman, and the beauty that He is in control...of these nutty seasons of life...of all that we need, wherever we'll be, and where we need to go. Of all we need to learn about parenting and loving...All we need to do is trust...

Now...I need to trust that I'll remember all of this at 3 a.m. when Ava starts yelling for us and I'm bleary eyed and kicking my husband in the shin to figure out whose going to go into her room...

I'll try my best. I promise.