Monday, June 4, 2012


I found myself in a struggle the other night between selfish nature and motherly love.  It wasn't the first time, but this time struck me differently.  

I often find great relief when the kids are all tucked in bed and on their way to slumber, and I can finally use my brain for other things, or just to get to choose what to do or at what pace.  Even when I’m not doing something for myself, per se, like making a grocery list or putting together sandwiches for lunches, at least I am doing it while absorbed in my own thoughts and without interruption.  Or, even better, while carrying on adult conversation with my husband.

So when that interruption came, I sighed and wondered how long this would take out of my time tonight.   

And then came the request:  Lucy told John from the top of the stairs that she just wanted to snuggle with mommy.   


As hard as it is to give up the few moments each night that I get to myself, and as much as my mind already was recalculating what I could or could not accomplish tonight before I went to bed, I found my way upstairs to her bedroom.  She scooted over and made room for me with a sweet smile, and I settled in next to her and rubbed her back and stroked her hair.  And then I was overcome with emotion (and admittedly a little guilt) for my selfish thoughts from moments before.  I became very sad that I had begrudged this precious time that my daughter requested with me.  But my now eight-year-old is growing up.  In a few years she probably won’t ask me to come snuggle with her anymore.   

Heaven, help me.

I don’t remember what age it was for me, but I have a very clear memory of the first time I told my mom that I would put myself to bed and that she didn’t need to tuck me in.  I wonder if she rejoiced or cried. Or maybe a little of both.

That day is coming for Lucy, too.  Sometimes, when I am answering the endless bedtime requests, I can hardly wait.  And others, like this night, I feel it will be far too soon.   

And so I gratefully and lovingly snuggled with my daughter who needs me—who wants me—and quietly mourned the coming day when I no longer hear the voice at the top of the stairs after bedtime.  I just pray that I have answered her call often enough that she knows I am always here for her, and she can always ask.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I've been hearing the hype for a while now about a certain website that acts as a bulletin board for everything and anything on the internet. This is probably not the first time you've heard of Pinterest.

The accolades often sounded like this: "I found this AMAZING recipe on Pinterest and now I'm being asked to audition for the next Top Chef!" Or this: "Got this FABULOUS craft idea from Pinterest and it kept my kids busy for 8 hours today!" Or this: "A new parenting tip I saw on Pinterest is practically raising my kids for me!"

Well, those might be slight exaggerations. But what kept me away from exploring this miracle-making site were comments more like this: "I wasted so much time in Pinterest today that we're having cold cereal for dinner." Or this: "I discovered Pinterest yesterday and so completely neglected every other responsibility in my life for the last 24 hours." Or this: "I spend so much time pinning things to do that I don't actually have time to DO any of it."

Or something to that effect.

So I joined. Or rather, I requested an invitation. And three days later they emailed to invite me to join their elite society of "pinners." (Do they do a background check or something?? So strange.)

One week later, it certainly has proved to be something on which I must deliberately limit my time. I could spend hours exploring possible recipes and birthday party ideas and decorating techniques and crafty how-to sites.

But I've also found some really practical stuff that I've already used, and I just had to share a few things from our weekend that all involved some fabulous ideas I found on Pinterest.

First, with Valentine's Day coming up, I showed Lucy a couple of fun ideas of things we could do for her classmates. We settled on one, went out for supplies, and spent a good part of Saturday lovingly making these gifts for her friends and teachers.

After 10 minutes in a 250-degree oven the crayon pieces looked like this:

And after cooling in the pan for a half hour, we flipped them onto parchment paper.

And the finished product, with Lucy's loving touch:

(We had to make sure they knew that, unlike most of their Valentines, it was not to be eaten.)

If I ever do this project again, I will use fewer of the dark colors, but Lucy was still delighted with how they turned out.

While the hearts were melting (oh, that's a pretty funny pun!), the kids stayed busy thanks to an idea involving a 77-cent roll of masking tape and our family's plethora of matchbox cars.

The kid-fun was great, but I can't neglect to mention the many drool-worthy recipes I have found on Pinterest. I tried a super easy recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Soup that did not involve an immersion blender or any bizzare ingredients. The kids even loved it, and hubby and I fought over the leftovers. It rivals Panera's soup of the same name, though I don't think I can beat their bread bowls. I'll be making a double batch next time.

I didn't get a photo of the soup. But I did take a picture of this:

Our Valentine treats at home were red velvet cupcakes from a box with homemade cream cheese frosting. And yes, I found the recipe for that on Pinterest, too. (Only 3 ingredients!: 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 3 cups of powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla -- totally makes the boxed mix worth eating!)

So as I carefully bide my time on a site that is endless with ideas, I'm grateful for the practical inspiration I have found so far.

Just thought I'd share...

[NOTE: This is not a paid advertisement. No goods or services were promised in exchange for my expression of adoration for this new-to-me discovery.]

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Growing Up

Yesterday I looked up and suddenly Josiah looked...tall. He and I had been playing a game with his alphabet flashcards, and when he stood up it was as if I was looking at him for the first time in a year, like a distant relative who lives far away and wants to pinch his formerly-chubby cheeks and give him the look-how-much-you've-grown and the-last-time-I-saw-you-you-were-this-big speeches.

But seriously. I think I may have gasped. And I almost started crying (which is a big shock to all of us, I'm sure).

This is my child who, six months ago, was weighed and measured and charted in the 10th percentile for his age. I have counted on him being small forever, but my picky eater is now beginning to ask for seconds (sometimes) and taking solid two- or three-hour naps (most days), which logically equals a growth spurt. For the last six months we have had to roll his 4T pants so they fit, but suddenly we don't have to anymore. And every night he says, "Daddy, let's wrestle. I ate protein today!"

He's growing!

To that realization I say both hooray! and boo!

Or perhaps he's been growing all along and it was just my perspective that changed yesterday because I knew I was about to register him for Kindergarten.

Which I did this morning.

Be still my heart.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Break... or Bust

Oh, Christmas Break. The prospect of having Lucy out of school for 18 wonderful days had me thinking up all kinds of activities to make memories, celebrate the season, and avoid hearing the words, "Mom, I'm bored."

To be fair, she rarely ever says that, but I wanted to make this a super special time for all three of our kids, so I came up with some grand ideas for making Lucy's Christmas break extra special and memorable this year: outings and museums and bounce houses, baking and shopping and lots of time with friends. There are so many fun and festive (and free) things to do this time of year, and I planned for us to do it all!

Or maybe just most of it.

Enter the stomach virus.

First it took Adam down on Thursday night. Then Josiah on Saturday. John was next on Sunday, followed closely (albeit less severely) by yours truly on Monday. We thought Lucy made it through unscathed, but last night proved us wrong.

Pardon my soapbox here, but my good friends know that I don't mess with a stomach bug. I know that the virus is strong and stubborn and can live on inanimate objects (think faucet handles, remote controls, and action figures) for up to two weeks. Yes, TWO WEEKS. And before making contact with other human beings, one should be free of ANY symptoms (including the follow-up fever) for AT LEAST 24 hours. So we are on Day Seven of our self-imposed seclusion, only appearing in public in the fresh air of the great outdoors.

You can thank me later.

And so this morning I was reflecting on what I believed to be a total bust of a break.

No museums. No playdates. No hosting friends. Baking has been less than appealing. And the thought of a bounce house was positively nauseating. Josiah even missed out on singing "Away in a Manger" with his Sunday School class in front of our church.

But I have to tell you that not once have I heard complaints of boredom. The kids have been playing well together, agreeing on what movies to watch (and there have been many), keeping busy with making crafts and Christmas presents for our extended family, and spending lots of time reading and asking to be read to. And I often hear the countdown to the day after Christmas when we will get to see Grandma and Grandpa in Indiana. Love that.

We've also been able to have some Christmas fun in between episodes of illness, too.

Before this all started, Lucy and I got all dressed up and had a girls' night out last week to see The Nutcracker (her first time).

And we took a horse-drawn-carriage ride down our hometown's Main Street, all lit up with Christmas lights.

We bundled up to take a walk through some special lights displays in the falling snow...

...and even got to pet a couple of real reindeer! (Their tags said "Dasher" and "Dancer" -- the only red noses were our own.)
And today, as the snow continues to fall (12 inches and counting!), we can look forward to what we know will indeed be a very White Christmas.

But whether or not we are healthy or sick, whether our Christmas Day is white or brown, we still have so many reasons in this season of celebrating the birth of our Savior and King to rejoice and be thankful.

(Not the least of which are Clorox and Lysol.)

And we've gotten to spend LOTS of time together.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Let It Snow

We've been enjoying a beautiful Fall this year with lots of outside playtime and sunshine. As we head into December and anticipate a different kind of fall--that of the temperature and perhaps some snow--I had to give some space to share a few photos from our first big snow day earlier this month. School was cancelled, Daddy built a sled ramp, and we consumed large amounts of hot chocolate throughout the day. I'm already looking forward to more days like this!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

An Historic Decade

Most people remember a great deal about where they were and what was going on in their life when the events of September 11, 2001 occurred.

Some people also recall what happened in their lives on the day before: the last day of "life as we knew it."

I do, too, because September 10, 2001 was a milestone birthday for my dad.

On that particular birthday of his, I remember having a busy day at work because I planned to leave early. John and I had just taken a 'second job' as ushers/crowd control for the Denver Broncos. We were cheap labor, but we got to be in the brand new Invesco Field at Mile High for the very first game ever, which happened to be against the rival Raiders.

All day I reminded myself to call my dad. (He lives 1,100 miles away, and I'm notoriously bad for getting cards in the mail, so it would be my only birthday greeting to him.)

I remember rushing out of work, quickly changing clothes at home, and hopping in the truck to head downtown. Before we had even hit the highway, I was singing "Happy Birthday" to my dad over the phone. We chatted for a while, then arrived downtown and assumed our duties in the seats of the north end zone.

The game went late, and the next morning John and I both overslept, which meant we were still at home to watch the events across our nation unfold.

Today, as we mark a decade since the day before the events of 9/11, we also celebrate another milestone decade of my dad's life. Since that day, so much has changed in our nation, our lives, our family. Among other things, my dad has taken a mission trip to Rwanda, touched innumerable lives through his small businesses, survived a head-on car crash and a second heart surgery, celebrated 47 years of marriage to my mom, and become a Grandfather five times!

It's been quite a decade, Dad. As you begin a new one, we pray that the next one will be just as exciting and blessed, but maybe just a little less 'eventful'! Happy Birthday!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Oddly Familiar

While keeping cool in our backyard baby pool, I had this sudden feeling of deja vu... something was strangely familiar from our trip to the zoo last month...

Is it just me, or do you see some similarities, too?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Roadtrip Recap

Holy smokes! I know that school started a few weeks ago, but for the last month my mantra has been, "Summer is not over, summer is not over, summer is not over..."

I thought I had all kinds of time to post the photos from our Grand Excursion this summer. And here I am staring September square in the face.

So, without any additional procrastination and delay, here are a few of the many highlights of our summer road trip, from Colorado to New York and everything in between...

First Stop: Somewhere in Kansas. This was the first time our kids shared a bed, and because they are both very active sleepers, it was so fun to see the various positions they ended up in. We thought we could use this someday to prove they really do love each other:

Second Stop: After spending a few days with my parents, John and I left the kids with Grandma and Grandpa and spent four (count them, FOUR) nights away as guests at this amazing home.

We were there with the leadership team and spouses from John's office and had a very refreshing time there together. While we weren't eating the most delicious meals or delving into how our personalities operate under stress, we spent free time in the backyard:

It was heavenly...

We also got to swing by our alma mater, Taylor University! Though it was a very brief detour, we enjoyed a quick drive around the one-mile campus loop. Naturally, we had to stop at Ivanhoe's for a shake, too.

After rescuing my parents from our children, we spent a few more days with them as the stars in the universe aligned. Okay, not really, but it almost felt like it when we got to see the Jones family and the Dillons, who all just happened to be passing through town on the same day!

We absolutely treasure these times with our dearest of friends...

We also got some cousin time. It was a treat to celebrate my youngest niece's first birthday with our whole family! And we spent as much time together on our days there as we could.

We love to visit my brother when he is on shift at the fire station. The kids get to sit in the engines and hold the nozzles and watch their Uncle slide down the fire pole. My mom especially loved this shot of all five of her grandkids sitting on the bumper of the ladder truck.

Once we had outworn our welcome in Indiana we loaded up the van and proceeded to the Adirondacks in upstate New York to see John's parents. Nana and Papa live close to Camp of the Woods with its perfect little stretch of beach. Of the ten days we spent with them, eight of those included beach time!

Adam's first exposure to so much sand was a big adjustment for him. This photo pretty much sums up how he felt about The Beach for the first six days:

I love that face -- it makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time!

But we made sure he had a nice little spot on the blanket under the umbrella, with minimal sand and a few toys.

It actually made my time far more relaxing than I thought it would be! I didn't have to chase him anywhere for the first time in months!

Put him on pretty much anything that was relatively sand-free and he was happy.

But one day toward the end of the week something inside him switched and he got brave and wanted to play with the sand...

...then he ventured out to walk on the sand...
(Look at those chubby little piggies!)

...and then he wanted to touch the water...

...and eventually the sand made it into his mouth, of course. That's my beach boy!

Swim lessons earlier in the summer helped give Josiah confidence in the water at the lake. He loved every minute on that beach and jumped and played and splashed and smiled until we dragged him out and dried him off.

Lucy built sand castles, went kayaking with Nana and Papa, practiced her new swimming skills, collected shells and rocks, made new friends, and nearly cried every day when we had to leave.

I don't blame her. Do you?

She also got to scramble up the camp's massive climbing wall -- THREE times!

John's folks took us on a couple short hikes to see some beautiful waterfalls.

(I know the next photo looks posed, but I was contemplating being at eye level with the rushing water--it was gorgeous and powerful. And I'm surprisingly pleased that my husband actually took some photos of me for a change!)

A friend of my in-laws took us on a lovely pontoon boat (a.k.a. Party Barge) ride around a peaceful neighboring lake.

Besides all this, we had a bonfire and roasted marshmallows for s'mores, met up with old friends, heard some gifted and godly speakers, ate mammoth cinnamon rolls, read and played board games, went antiquing, watched sea planes land, played miniature golf, and ate ice cream every day that we were on the beach. Yes, every day.

And never once watched TV or checked email.


Once our time in New York was up, we headed back to Indiana to catch our breath. Lucy got to fulfill a long-time dream (something she came up with about two weeks prior) to have a lemonade stand. Grandma made it extra-ordinary. And she earned about $8 in the hour they were out there!

Once we knew the kids were ready to numb their bottoms for another 18 hours, we loaded up for the last time and headed west toward home. Starting out at 4 a.m. brought us back to the Rockies in time to be welcomed home by this beautiful sight:

One minivan with car-top carrier, two adults, three kids, 24 days away from home, a total of 71 hours in the van, and 4,015 miles traveled across eight states.

It was indeed an unforgettable trip.