Monday, July 28, 2008

Catching Up

Thought I'd catch you up on a few things that have been going on around here. I have some pictures to post but I can't figure out how to do it. I have a new camera. And I have issues with doing things right the first time when I have something new. So I'm not even going to try to figure it out until my husband is home to show me how. So I'll post those later. Is it true for everyone else that extra busy times come in seasons? Things have been nice and slow and then all of a sudden, we have three weeks in a row of jam-packed schedules and a bunch of stuff to do all at once. (As of now, August looks really calm and open.) This week is the third in that three-week period for us. And I really like it! I do. I struggle to find the balance. But it's been a good few weeks. Full of rich experiences with people. And another benefit of being gone so much is that when I clean my house, we're not home to mess it up quite as fast! But you still don't want to walk barefoot in my house right now. It's not that clean.

I've had a hard time getting caught up in life. Those who are around me much know this. I felt like there have been numerous projects that have gone undone and they just seem to hang over my head all the time. I've felt so behind for so long. And the black cloud of non-productivity in these things has really affected my efficiency in doing all of the normal, daily mother/wife duties. A couple of weeks ago, Joel and I were talking about it. He was such a great listener and then he told me he thought I should just get a baby-sitter for a day and work on all this stuff. Oh. My. Goodness. That made my day. We never spend money on baby-sitters. But he was wise enough to know that's what this overwhelmed mama needed! I decided to get a sitter to come for two half-days last week, and I ran all those errands that I've been putting off because I didn't want to drag my kids along, and then I locked myself in a room for hours just to work on different things. My parents also watched the kids for part of one day. So, I got a lot of sitter time last week, and I don't really love being away from them so much within that time frame, but it was very helpful and did allow me to spend more focused, energized time on/with them when we were all back together again. It felt so good to finally cross some things off the list of to-do items, so I am very thankful for that time. So that was last week...being as productive as possible and getting as much done as possible to get caught up.

I'll just talk about this getting caught up thing some more...I had realized it had been since the first week of February that I've felt mostly caught up. I've come to the conclusion that I am in desperate need of some organization in my home and life. Disorganization contributes to a whole lot of other things that make me less than what I ought to be as a wife, mother, and friend. It is essential that I get organized and that I do it fast! I've decided I need to be one of those people who goes nonstop all day long to check off the list ( the "list" is not just about duties and activities, by the way, but also about relationships and intentional relational investing, especially with my children) and just stay very active all day long, then just crash into bed at night. I know people like that. And it seems to be working for them. I want to be like them. The disciplines of stillness and solitude are Scriptural, and that kind of refueling is essential. But the kind of "rest" I'm talking about not taking during the day is the kind that's just about me relaxing, being lazy, etc. There will be opportunities to relaxing alone time, and I'll talk them! I just think right now I'm in a season (an overwhelmed one!) where I need to spend most of my days on these tasks, working hard to get them achieved, and taking less time just to play. No more "veg" time when kids are napping. I've got to be working!

So that is my new plan. I'm staying busy. And working to get these projects done. And guess what, I'm resting great at night!!

Parker is too! She's ten weeks old now, and it's flying. She's been sleeping great at night! I'm loving it. Many of you know that night sleep with Jonah just didn't happen. So this has been a pleasant surprise! During the day, she eats a lot more often than I really enjoy, but I'm scared to mess with anything and stretch her feedings out since nights are so great. Last week was her two week appointment and she weighed 11 and a half pounds! Not quite as chubby as Jonah was at this age but she's still got some cute rolls. She's been sweet and much happier than she was her first month of life! Yesterday she was a stink bug though. Lots of crying. Very little sleeping. Hopefully she's over it today. Speaking of today, a playgroup we're a part of is meeting at our house in about an hour for a splash day in the backyard. So this isn't going to be near as much of a catch-up post as I had planned. It will have to come in installments!

Some coming posts (besides the pictures) will be an update on the posts here, here, and here about building relationships with nonbelievers and an update on some of the house projects I've been doing. And many thanks to those of you who gave accountability on that when I asked for it!)

I'll just tell you one last thing. I got myself a mentor. I'm so excited. There's a woman I've been wanting to ask to meet with me regularly in a mentor-type relationship, and I finally did yesterday. I'm so dumb, I actually asked her, "Will you meet with me and tell me things I need to know?" I'm thrilled to death that she said yes! Her name is Lisa, and I'm pretty sure you'll hear a lot about my Lisa time in future posts. I don't know when we're starting exactly, but I can hardly wait!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Great Big Maternity Sale

Ok, this is going to be uninteresting and irrelevant for most of you, and I wanted to post it where you have to click on the title to see the remainder of the post. But apparently, I'm not smart enough to figure that out. So if you're not interested in The Great Big Maternity Sale, I'm sorry to put you through this. I have a number of great maternity items that I'm planning on selling in the consignment sale here in town at the beginning of September. However, some friends have asked about buying from me, and I thought it might be better to try to first sell to friends. So. If you're pregnant, might be in the near future, or you know someone who is or might be soon, then look through the pictures of what I am selling and let me know if you're interested in purchasing anything. I always like to get rid of stuff quickly, so these are amazingly good prices. And the clothes are all in excellent shape. I've made mention of the few that have some wear, so you'll know. But of course, you can come by my house (those who live here, obviously) and check it out for yourself. Since I needed a little bit of cold-weather and warm-weather clothes, I have some of both but mostly versatile pieces that can be worn either season. For example, I have lots of short-sleeved and sleeveless shirts that were great solo in the springtime but in the winter, I was able to layer them under sweaters and jackets. If you're interested in anything, call me and let me know when you'd like to come by this week and take a look! We'll be around most of the week and I'll have this stuff out for your easy viewing pleasure!
Happy shopping...

Ok, first of all. PANTS. Maternity pants look so weird in pictures when not on a body. They look really funny! But these actually are all pretty flattering pants. I like my pants long, so these are all long in length.

Taupe wide-leg, low-rise dress pants, Liz Lange Maternity, size 6, $10:

These are my VERY FAVORITE! Low-rise, wide-leg Old Navy khaki pants, size small, $12:

Navy-ish casual pants with a slight flare leg, Old Navy size small. (Slight fading but still really cute, I happen to think!) The waist band can be rolled down for a low-rise fit or kept up for more support, $7:

Low-rise bootcut jeans (a little stretch in them), Old Navy size small/long, $10:

Medium-rise (also stretchy) Liz Lange Maternity jeans, size 2, $10:

Wide-leg dressy black pants, Motherhood Maternity, size small, $10:

And now, for SKIRTS.

Low-rise jean skirt that hits just above knee. Babystyle, size small, $10:

Low-rise grey (sweats) skirt, Babystyle size small, $8:

Low-rise, straight black skirt, Planet Motherhood size small, $5:

Here's a DRESS.

Green summery dress, Motherhood Maternity size small, $12:

3/4-sleeve or long-sleeve SHIRTS are next.

V-neck, side-ruched fitted shirts (grey or fuchsia), Old Navy size small, $8:

White stretchy shirt, Liz Lange Maternity size small, $6:

Beige top that ties in back, New with tags. Oh Baby!By Motherhood size small, $9:

Black scoop-neck top with bell-sleeves (LOVED wearing this one), Liz Lange Maternity size small, $8:

Fuchsia turtleneck tunic (was a dress but I had it shortened into a long top to wear over jeans), Old Navy size small, $7:

Black V-neck fitted sweater (a little wear on the ribbed part, you know, when the sweater gets little fuzzies), Babystyle size small, $5:

Purple striped, fitted shirt, Liz Lange Maternity size small, $6:

And now for the short-sleeved and sleeveless SHIRTS.

Multi-print top, Babystyle size small, $10:

Striped, fitted shirt, Old Navy size small, $7:

Aqua-blue babydoll top, Babystyle size small, $8:

Pink, semi-sheer (needs cami underneath) fitted top (has a small hole but I kept wearing it because the hole is on the underside of the pregnant belly so not really visible!). Babystyle size small, $4:

Olive and tan top, Dolan size small, $10:

Pink paisley top, Motherhood Maternity size medium, $8:

Mint green v-neck tee, Old Navy size small, $7:

Brown tee, new with tags, Motherhood Maternity size small, $6:

Other TANK TOPS. Some great alone, others for layering or make good workout tanks.

Long, fitted ribbed tank (in grey or grey/yellow striped), Babystyle size small, $7:

Baby blue tank top, Motherhood Maternity size small, $4:

Ribbed tank top (in pink or hunter green), size medium, $4:

And then some ESSENTIALS.

White, spaghetti-strap cami (This is a must-have to wear under LOTS of things), Liz Lange Maternity size medium, $7:

Black Bella Band (wore this during first trimester all the way through and for several weeks after giving birth! It was the miracle worker!), one size fits all $12:

And lastly, a SWIMSUIT.

Black tankini, Motherhood Maternity size small, $10:

The Great Thing About It Is....

This title reflects the phrase I hear ALL the time now around my house, in reference to "The iPhone." Joel has been enjoying a new phone and all the perks this particular one has, and he regularly tries to impress me with its goods. And I've been feigning annoyance. I know he likes it when I act like it bothers me to hear about the iphone. It just reminds him that he has one. And that he's happy he has one. But seriously, we don't have to talk about the iphone all the time, right? Like, maybe limit it to 20 references a day. That would be nice. Oh, it's pretty funny because Jonah was asking Joel something the other day, and instead of saying, "Are you talking on your phone?" (which is what he would have said two weeks ago about the old phone), Jonah said, "Are you talking on the iphone?" He said "THE iPHONE"!!! That probably won't be funny to anyone but me and Joel, but it cracked us up. This phone is so amazing, I guess, that it needs a "the" in front of it and needs to be called by its proper name to set it aside from all of the other lesser cell phones. Whatever. It's great, but it isn't saving the world yet. I'm a little uninterested in "the iphone" because I could care less what kind of technological anything I own. But Joel is slowly but surely teaching our son to care about which tech things are the newest and coolest. Blah.

BUT, the great thing about it is...that it can capture my little girl's smiles, like this one:

We had a great day yesterday...the four of us went to Dallas to do a couple of fun activities we've been wanting to do with Jonah. We went to Grapevine Mills first to have lunch at Rainforest Cafe. Jonah recently went there with my parents and it is his newest love, so we went back. Several friends met us there for lunch, which was so nice. My friend Megan and her new husband Nick were there (such cute newlyweds), and my friend Lizzy (from college) and her husband and adorable little girl met us there. Her little girl Autumn is super cute. It was fun seeing them, although it's so loud in that restaurant that it was hard to carry on conversation with everybody. Whenever I spend time with close friends from out-of-town, I always leave feeling like it just wasn't enough time. But we had so much fun, just the four of us. We went to the Dallas World Aquarium, which is just one of the coolest places ever. I mean, seeing a real live manatee up close is just quite an experience. We had a great time. Parker slept through most of it. By the way, she was an angel the entire day. She got a little fussy at lunchtime, but thankfully, there were extra arms to hold her! (Thanks Meg and Liz!) It's been a rare occurence lately to have both kids have good days on the same day, but we were blessed with Jonah having an appreciative attitude and Parker being sweet and smiley (or asleep) for the day. I wish I could remember to take more pictures. I meant to get some with our friends and a ton more of the kids. Unfortunately, most of my aquarium pictures didn't turn out because of all the glass and reflections. We finished the day with dinner at Chipotle, left downtown shortly after 5:00pm, but thanks to that wonderful HOV lane, we were home by 7. It couldn't have gone better.

But speaking of Chipotle, do you prefer the burrito or the bowl? I say once you go bowl, you never go back. Joel just made the switch to bowl, and I am pleased with his decision. If you need me to give you a list of all the pros of eating your Chipotle burrito in a bowl instead of a tortilla, I will. I'd be quite delighted to!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lessons in Silence

I love to use this blog as a vehicle for sharing what Christ is doing in my life and what He is teaching me and how He is helping me to grow. I believe everyday events such as my children's developmental milestones and our daily activities can be an expression of God's glory and there is just as much purpose in sharing those kinds of things on the blog as there is in talking about the specific "Christian-related" things. (I use those quotes to denote my disbelief that there are realms of life that are unrelated to Christ. I don't believe that at all. He is of all and in all and through all, and the redemption offered to us via the cross is available and adequate to restore all of creation, not just souls.) While I believe that, I do enjoy talking about things specifically related to personal spirituality. I haven't done that in a while. And it's bothered me. I haven't felt like there's been much to share. Oh, I know God is at work. It's just that He's working in an entirely different way than He ever has before in my life. Or at least that I can remember. It's different. And I haven't been able to articulate one single thought to summarize what has been going on in my life spiritually the last couple of months. And I don't like that one bit. I'm not used to it, actually. Anyone who possesses any spiritual gifts in the realm of teaching or discernment or anyone who just experiences such things regularly or from time-to-time by the Spirit's help will know exactly what I am talking about. I'm not an expert on spiritual gifts, but for several years, I have really enjoyed studying them...the theory of them and then the beauty of how they actually work together in real church life. And here's one thing I've noticed: If you're a "teacher-type", then there's this little part of you (actually the Spirit inside of you) that can respond a little sooner to various circumstances or experiences with an understanding of truth. (Obviously, that happens when walking in the Spirit, not all the time.) But a teacher is likely to immediately look for application of truth. We want to know "the lesson" in something, and as soon as we know it, we want to share it with others. I happen to think God has specifically designed that particular spiritual gift to work in that way. We teacher-types get passionate about learning truth...even if we're going through something huge, one little truth to cling to and lay claim to is all we really need. We see how God is changing us and what He is doing in and around us, and that can really satisfy us. And then we find even greater satisfaction when we get to see that work passed on to someone else.

So, what happens when we don't exactly "see" it? When the reality of what He is doing can't be wrapped up in a cute little package of insightful, summarizing words and succinct paragraphs?? I so like it when the lesson comes in a cute little package and sometimes with an even cuter little bow on top. And I'm learning that it doesn't always happen that way. God has been so sweet and near to me the last few months, but I don't really have one clue where He's going with it all. Not one single insight into the lessons of truth He has for circumstances I've found myself in. My daily life is looking different than it did a few months ago...schedules and demands have changed, and I feel I am still in this adjustment period of trying to get in a new groove while not totally understanding what that new groove should even look like. It's been an interesting time. What a lot of mothers experience when they have their first baby, I am just now going through; I am so busy with everyday basic-parenting (not even spiritual training and those kinds of things, just meeting plain 'ol survival needs) and household responsibilities that I have felt the enemy trying to push me into questioning my effectiveness right now. In the past, my ministry has extended beyond my immediate family, and right now, God is having me focus a whole lot more on these three other people living in my home. While I don't believe God has us focus entirely on our husbands and children to the exclusion of loving others and playing our role in building up the Body of Christ, I definitely know that He sometimes leads us to focus much more of our time and energies on the needs of our families than at other times. He reserves the right to lead us to those seasons as He wishes. And I'm in one of those seasons now. And I don't resent it one bit. I love the opportunity to give of myself to my sweet babies and to focus on deepening and strengthening my relationship with my husband. I recognize that I am blessed to be given this time. But I can't say that I never let Satan have any success with such deceptions. There are some days that I let him discourage me about what I am not accomplishing outside of my home. Or inside of it. And what has made it easier to think like that has been this seeming silence from the Lord on the whys of some of the things He's taking me through right now.

While my journey with Him these last couple of months has taken me through battles with insecurity and misidentity, pain of rejection and disappointment, I don't have this nice little understanding of what He's doing exactly or what all He wants to show me. The journey with Him has been rich, but I can't tell you how He might use it. Does anyone else really like knowing how God is going to "use" some experience of yours (especially the difficult ones) in perhaps someone else's life?? We can be so comforted by that. And that's not an entirely bad thing, as 2 Cor 1 suggests. It's just that sometimes I think God just wants me to learn quiet trust. Instead of wanting me to breeze through circumstances, He's asking me this summer to just sit in them a while. Sit a little longer. Sit as long as it takes for God to complete His work. And I admit, that's hard for me. I tend to look at my circumstances and experiences with a perspective that says, "Ok, God. Got that lesson. Checked it off the list. Let's move on to the next thing please." And right now, we're not moving on. I can get pretty restless in that place. I think He has lots to teach me during this season of life when activities have changed and my ministry is in the realm of what seems more mundane. And I just have to keep sitting in it until HE is ready to make things clearer. And so I sit, continuing to work through these issues of identity and purpose and contentment as I walk through (or run, trying to catch up) each day of loving on my family. Just trusting that things will be good on the other side even if I don't know what they'll be and knowing that in the midst of unclear vision presently, things are still good.

This all just makes me wonder about what my motives can so easily become. Is it that my excitement about spiritual growth and the Christian life flows mostly from what I see God doing or rather from who I trust Him to be when I cannot see what He is doing? I think joy will only be the reality when my focus is on experiencing His presence more than the lessons. When I realize that a real live journey with a real live God looks more like Him leading me through a dance (in which I don't always know the next step until we take it) than a cookie-cutter expectation of what He's going to show me and when.

What I appreciate so much about the Lord right now is that even though many of His revelations about things occur on His timetable and not always on mine, He still is a God who delights in revealing Himself. When He withholds "lessons" for a time, He does not withhold Himself. Love Him for that.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fun Pics

Where have I been, you ask? I know you didn't really ask. But I'll tell you anyway. Getting addicted to Facebook. That's where.

I don't have any pictures of all the cousins together, or any of Nathan. I'm waiting on my mom to send me some of those. But here's what I do have...

Parker with her cousin Brady, who might be the smiliest baby in all the world:

Just the girls...Parker Jane with big cousin Maggie:
My parents' community group at church had a get-together out at the lake, and since my parents had Nathan and Maggie with them, their sweet group called us to come join them. Jonah caught a fish:

And here are some new ones of growing Parker Jane...

The bathing beauty:
The sleeping beauty:
A really bad hair day:

And one sweet smiley girl:

She is 7 weeks old today. Crazy! She's doing great. Since we're staying home a lot more, I'm going to try and at some point accomplish some projects around the house that I've been wanting to do for the summer. For accountability's sake and the sake of my weird brain that requires list-making, here's a list of the house projects I want to accomplish before the end of the summer:

  • Paint bookcase in living room and finish "accessorizing" that room
  • Paint rocking chairs on front porch
  • Finish decorating Jonah's room: Paint bookcase, hang stuff on walls
  • Finish decorating Parker's room: Have sign painted for wall, find shelves for wall
  • Paint laundry room - walls and cabinets
We're going to venture out today to a local family event for the 4th...I don't know if we'll make it until the fireworks show. But we're going to try. Happy Independence Day, everybody!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fun Times

The last few weeks have been wonderful. My brother and his family were visiting all last week, and his oldest two are still here in town. Pictures to come. Jonah has had so much fun with his cousins...I so dread them leaving. Jonah always has a hard-time saying good-bye to them, but I expect his disappointment to be much bigger this time. He's had longer time with them this visit, and they're playing together so well these days. And of course there have been numerous fun and exciting things to do, such as a camping trip last week at Beaver's Bend and a visit to Wolf Creek Lodge coming this week. In between, there have been boat rides on the lake, lots of pool time, and currently they're all at Pump It Up. Next week will be a tough week, I think, adjusting back to the reality that Jonah's world isn't really all about constant entertainment! But it's worth every bit of it, in order to spend as much time with Nathan and Maggie as possible while they are here. These have been sweet times.

Parker Jane has been growing like crazy. A week ago, she was 10 pounds, 8.5 ounces. Even her hair has grown. We were concerned about possible milk allergies because of a horrible rash that has lingered on for almost a month now, but the doctor says it's a really really really bad case of heat rash. Ugh. Can't get it to go away. But she's getting easier. She is almost happy! I really do think she's close to deciding she likes it here. She wakes up once to eat during the night. Last week, she went all night three different times! Those were amazing days. But the last few nights, she's been giving us trouble going down. Starting next week, I'm going to start working on getting her on a schedule. I think it's going to be pretty challenging. But the rest of the family is ready. So I really hope she decides to be.

I just got back from a trip to Walmart - my first with her with me. Oh my, we were there about 30-40 minutes and probably were stopped at least ten different times by people who just wanted to look at her and say things like "Look at that hair!" and...well, pretty much just "Look at that hair!" It's wild hair. It sticks straight up on top and now in the back so her profile looks kind of like a rooster. It's pretty funny. So cute though. At least I think so. She's smiling a lot, you know, when she isn't screaming, and I love her smiley face. She smiles, and her whole face just glows. It's precious. So anyway, about Wal-mart...she started out asleep and gave me about ten minutes to shop in peace, and then she was not a happy girl. I was afraid this would happen. We've previously made several quick CVS trips, and none of them have gone well. She sure knows how to make a scene. She made several today...only not for too long because her softie mom picked her up and carried her every time she cried. It was insane. At one point, I thought I might slap the next person who looked at my crying baby and cheerily said, "Uh, oh, it looks like somebody's not very happy!" YA THINK??!!

But life is good these days. I'm savoring the moments and I get sad a lot thinking about how fast time is going. I want it to slow down. And except for this past week, we've slowed down quite a bit since she's been born. As much as you can with an active three-year old. But I'm liking the pace. The only frustrating thing is that I spend a lot of my days being very productive, not taking the time to be lazy for one second, and at the end of the day, I look back and see that all I got done was related to feeding people. Just feeding the people in my home takes up every bit of time I have! Parker eats a lot more often during the day than Jonah ever did, but it's ok with me because she sleeps better at night than he did. But milking just seems to consume so much of my day! But even though this can frustrate me to see so many other tasks left undone and incomplete, I'm trying to keep it all in perspective. God's perspective, that is. And when I choose to go there, I see that He has orchestrated all these things and uses them for good purposes. Beautiful, eternal purposes. And I consider these times I get to spend meeting the needs of little people the most blessed experiences. It's a good life, even if I am tired.

Oh, and I'm figuring out a thing or two about what this little girl wants. I've learned she likes noise. The sound of water running is the one that most consistently soothes her when she is upset. I've found myself doing things I never thought I would do! I know it's wasteful, but several mornings this week, I have put on my make-up while running water in the bathtub so she'd sit quietly in her bouncy seat. And today, she fell asleep right before we got to Walmart, so I decided to go past Walmart and keep driving for a little while to make sure she was good and asleep before moving her from car to grocery cart, in hopes that she would sleep for a while in the store instead of waking up as soon as the car stops, like she usually does. So, I'm sorry, Environment. But how "green" can you be when you have a high-maintenance baby??