Tuesday, September 28, 2010

s'more, please ...

"Help me, Momma. The fire burns me."

Ben was happy to have a graham cracker.

Yum ...

Greg may be the master marshmallow roaster, but I prefer my s'more making strategy, which involves more chocolate than my husband's way.

friends, football & fall

We're thankful for our friends the Frenches. Andy and Greg are friends and do some work together. Courtney and I are friends and cook [among many other things ...] together. And our kids get along really well.

And we watch football together. I'm sure Andy's thankful we helped convert Courtney into a college football and basketball fan. We especially enjoyed Saturday's 52-16 win over UT-Martin and the feeling that fall might really be making its grand entrance.

Fall on the Farm

For the third year, we went to MSU's Fall on the Farm. One of my favorite things about this is I can think back to the previous years and be in awe of how big my girl is getting. We went when she was 17 months and again when she was 2 1/2 years old. This year she seemed ... so ... big ...

Here she is riding Sophie, although she wanted to the pony's name to be Addison, which I assume would be after one of her preschool friends.

She went down this slide again and again and again. By herself.

And we introduced Ben to a cow and a pig ...

"Hey, Cate, what do you think about this pig?"

He spent most of the rest of the time in the stroller, but, as you can see, he didn't seem to mind.

Really, everyone had a good time. Want to see more pictures? You can. Right here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

little friends

As you can see, we had a fun time babysitting Davey last night. I wanted to get some pictures of the boys because, well, that's what I do. And I've done it several times before. But, of course, my daughter wanted to be in the middle of it all ...

And then she cried when I wanted to get one of just the boys ...

You can tell my boy was the wiggly one. Davey just sat there through it all, watching my much louder children.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ben @ 10 months

Here we are. Double-digit months. Makes him turning a year seem just around the corner, which, really, it is. Two months. In most ways, these 10 months have flown by. And in every way, I'm so thankful to be out of the newborn stage. I love watching Ben's personality develop, seeing him discover new things and witnessing sibling interaction.

At 10 months, Ben ...

* has seven teeth and I can see the eighth one trying to break through.
* pulls up, often. But hasn't tried walking much. And that's OK with me.
* says "buh-bye" inconsistently when someone leaves, when we walk out of a store or when I lay him down. He does not say it on command.
* wore shoes for the first time last week.
* tries hard to keep up with Cate.
* likes to get into new things, which has resulted in some hand slaps, which usually result in tears. And while I don't like to see my boy sad, I also didn't like him laughing when I'd tell him "no" in a firm motherly voice.
* loves his bottle [and holds it like a pro!] and barely tolerates baby food. The boy wants to eat what everyone else is eating and when everyone else is eating.
* makes much noise.
* takes two naps. Sleeps 11-12 hours at night.
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Want to read about his growth? You can ... 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8 months and 9 months.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Date Night! ... Overnight!

I went on a road trip this past weekend. And I didn't take one picture. Not with my camera. Not with my iPhone.

And I had a great time.

I didn't want you to think my lack of pictures was a negative commentary.

Rather I was just enjoying being with my husband. Just my husband on our second overnight date in 3 1/2 years. Plus, I have other pictures of St. Louis. We really like it there.

We spent all day Saturday and part of Sunday in St. Louis. We ate at Old Spaghetti Factory, went to a Cardinals game [and watched Ryan Ludwick beat his former team], watched "The Town" [which I highly recommend], ate a late dinner in our awesome hotel room, stayed up late, slept in, shopped at Archiver's and watched most of the Titans game [rather, turnovers ...] at Buffalo Wild Wings, where we eventually got a table even though we weren't wearing football jerseys like most of the grown men in there.

It was good to talk, laugh, not worry about getting someone fed or to bed. And it was wonderful coming home to my kids after they spent their Saturday and Sunday with Gran-Gran.
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This was our second road trip in what will be three trips in five weeks. First, there was Chicago, and next up is a family trip to Branson. Ah, yes, continuing our tour of the Midwest ...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

the joys of technology
and a giveaway

We can buy anything we want online, from cheap bedroom furniture to diapers. Most stores have online shopping options, which is nice because I live in a small town that doesn't have a Target, Babies R Us or Old Navy.

But it hasn't always been this way.

While walking through Murray State's campus with a friend last week, I reminisced about how I didn't have a computer of my own in 1997, the year I got my first email address, which came with my parents' tuition payments to my higher education institution. This memory came to mind when I walked by the building that had a convenient computer lab between my dorm and the journalism building. Then I thought about how much has changed in 13 years.

My husband and I just started enjoying the convenience of movies being delivered to our mailbox and Wii. Plus Facebook, Twitter and blogs make the world seem smaller than it did when we weren't all so well connected. And I really love my iPhone.

And thanks to technology, you could win you a $65 gift certificate to use at one of CSN Stores' more than 200 online stores, which allow you to shop from home for anything from practical cookware to cheap bedroom furniture to entertaining toys.

So how does technology affect your life? Answer that for me in the comments section and you'll be entered in a random drawing to win that $65 gift certificate to CSN Stores I mentioned earlier.

For additional entries, follow me on Twitter [one entry] and Tweet about my giveaway [one entry for each daily Tweet]. Leave links below if you do these things.

The contest is open to anyone in the United States or Canada, as those are the countries to which CSN Stores ships their products, all this week. Also, for entries to be valid, I need to have your email address so I can tell my friend at CSN where to email the gift certificate. I will draw a winner Sunday, Sept. 26.

Friday, September 17, 2010

You Never Let Go

... Oh no, You never let go/Through the calm and through the storm/Oh no, You never let go/In every high and every low/Oh no, You never let go/Lord, You never let go of me/Yes, I can see a light that is coming/For the heart that holds on/And there will be an end to these troubles/But until that day comes/Still I will praise You, still I will praise You ...

Cate is into asking the names of people, songs and restaurants. And we listen to many songs when we are in the mini van, so I'm often answering, "What's this called?" when the iPod on my iPhone, which I hook up to a cord attached to a tape [Yes, a tape!] that lets me listen over the vehicle speakers, plays a new song.

So, we were listening to this song recently ...



... and I hear from the seat behind me, "Momma, what's this one called?

"You Never Let Go."

My 3-year-old is into details like her momma. "It's a boy?"

"Yes, Jeremy Camp."

Then she listens and apparently thinks. "It's You Never Let Go like when I'm on the swing?"

I love when she puts together different memories, connecting moments. She remembers what happened when she let go once last year, just after Daddy pushed her. She didn't tell us she was ready to let go. She just went. And landed hard. But she got up and back on the swing. "Yes, like that. You don't let go of the swing. And God doesn't let go of us."

Thankfully, when we prematurely let go, or don't hold on tight enough to our convictions and to the promises of God, we're able to get back up, and continue on. Because our God never lets go. Even when we do.

Come By Here

This is worth sharing, so you too can listen ...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hey, Summer, let go ...

My husband reminded me the other day that Summer is still officially here. I love her, but she seems to be lingering. I'm eager to wear jackets and jeans and dress my kids in their fall clothes. I'm ready for cool nights around my fire pit and s'mores.

Cate and I read "Autumn is for Apples" and "Let It Fall" [Hooray for Scholastic book orders!] a couple nights ago. And she informed me she wants to plant an apple tree in our yard. I tried to explain the slow, long process of tree growth and told her to talk to her daddy about planting a tree. But I did promise her I'd look into planning a trip to an orchard. She asked if there were be a ladder and informed me she'd need one to reach the apples.

Now we're left to embrace the last week official week of summer. And we did so with a picnic at the park yesterday with some friends. Mostly Cate wanted to use the picnic basket I bought her several weeks ago at a yard sale. I had been delaying her desires for a picnic because of the nasty humidity that seems to be letting go.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Worth Repeating Wednesday

Both pity and judgment are too easy and are therefore the enemies of genuine understanding, which, to some degree, requires that we enter into at least a portion of the struggle of those we would genuinely understand. But because that might be painful, and because we are allergic to pain, we flee to the less costly emotions of pity and judgment.

--Jason Gray in his blog post that is worth reading in its entirety

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Everlasting God


Strength will rise
As we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Waiting is inevitable. But God will give us His strength ...

even when we're ready for the day to end because we know that His mercies are new every morning,

even when I didn't expect this season of busyness to be so hard on me, someone who thinks she's independent and strong but misses her husband when she doesn't see him for lunch and dinner in the same day,

even when I know my heart is being transformed so I can be a better wife and husband yet I don't really know what I'm waiting for.


Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our strong deliverer
You are the everlasting God

I'm not in control. God is reigning over this world,

over my life,

over my family,

over my heart,

over my schedule,

over my to-do list,

over my chores

and over my fears.

I have hope.

I am delivered.

And I have an everlasting God to thank.

Today.

And tomorrow.

I'm not certain what tomorrow will bring, but I am promised that my God will be with me.

And He'll deliver me from the temptation to be a perfectionist in my marriage,

in motherhood,

and in friendships.

And one day I'll figure out that when I let go, life is more relaxing,

filled with more surprises and fulfilled promises,

less complicated

and oh-so much more freeing.


The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary ...

I grow weary. And sometimes I believe that's God calling me to rest.

And other times it's God calling me to let go,

and let him reign over me, my heart and my life,

where He belongs,

where He promises to care about the details of my day,

where He can see the big picture and orchestrate a perfect journey for me to get to wherever I'm going from here.

And this does not make him weary

because He's everlasting.


You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

He's my defender,

especially when I'm weary and cranky.

So maybe I should let Him defend me while I choose to rest in Him,

in His comfort,

in His promises,

in Him alone.

My husband would probably appreciate me resting with my everlasting God before I explode with my frustrations that are exaggerated because I'm frustrated with

things out of my control,

people's responses that I can't control,

moments that I wish I could do over,

and busyness that is temporary and passing.

Instead let me have a heart full of praise

because God is everlasting and He's on my side.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Go Racers!

Hooray for football season!

There was a good blue and gold crowd, much passing on the field and enough touchdowns for Racer I to make his lap around the track more than once. Unfortunately, there wasn't a win. Murray State was picked to finish last in the conference, so there's still time for the team to surpass those expectations.

There are more photos from the game ... well, the photos are actually of us at the game, and not so much the actual game ... in my Facebook album. Should you actually want to read about the game, you can do that here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

boy love

From the day we brought our baby boy home, I realized boys were indeed different from girls. My boy was a fussier, needier baby than my girl. Although when he started sleeping through the night, he mellowed out.

Now that he gives kisses, I once again realize boys are different than girls.

Even their love is aggressive.

And then they team up. Ben and his friend Davey shared some aggressive but somehow still sweet boy love on me a few weeks ago.

Roselyn

Meet Roselyn. She's six months and two days older than my Cate. Roselyn lives in Villa Nueva, Guatemala. Her town depends on a couple dozen local factories. This not-yet-4-year-old girl, who lives with her working mother, is responsible for cleaning and running errands.

We decided recently to sponsor Roselyn through Compassion International. For just $38 each month, we're hoping to impact her life. To bless her. So she can be a blessing to her family and her community.

This week I received our sponsorship information in the mail. I've also been reading this week first-person accounts from bloggers in Guatemala spreading the love of Jesus there and the ministry of Compassion International here Coincidence? I doubt it. Really, I serve a God who is into the details of our lives. I have no doubt God wanted me to learn more about Roselyn's country.

And God wanted to remind me about what he's called me to do.

I want to teach my daughter that there are people all over this world who need Jesus. They live in other places, worlds apart, but there are little girls who like to sing and draw, just like my Cate does. I want my daughter to be able to learn the power of praying for a situation that is completely out of our control. And I trust that one day she'll see how our minimal financial sacrifice and our prayers and our letters sent to a land we have only read about have blessed one girl. And that one girl blessed her family and her community.

Last night I read "A Short Guide to a Happy Life" by Anna Quindlan. Her words stayed with me as I thought about Roselyn, a girl I've never actually met. Life is made of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won't happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to live them, and to live, really live.

And I believe sponsoring Roselyn will help my family really live. And surely it will help her and her family really live. May we all find beautiful, shimmering rocks in the plain cement.

Sure, it's just one girl. But I want to share what we know of God's faithful promises with her. Because every girl [and boy] deserves a chance to know that. Makes $38 a month seems less like two lunches out after church or 1 1/2 cans of Enfamil formula for my 9-month-old son and more like a minimal price to share some of the good we know.

And then I can say, like Quindlen: I learned to look at all the good in the world and to try to give some of it back, because I believed in it completely and utterly.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rainy Friday

I've mentioned before both my love of summer and my yearning for the transition to fall. Today seems like that kind of in-between day. The sunshine is a dear friend of mine, but I am embracing this rainy day.

Our stroller exercise class that is usually outside was moved inside for the first time since we started in mid-June. I ran only drive-thru errands [three banks and a post office ...]. And I don't plan on leaving the house again today.

Some friends are coming over for taco soup, chocolate chip cookies and Settlers of Catan. That's a seriously perfect combination of friends, fun and food for a night like this. And I'm OK if the outside temperature doesn't reach the called-for 85 degrees.

And, OK, so I'm also hoping it's not the hot, humid 88 degrees indicated for tomorrow on The Weather Channel app on my iPhone. The predicted morning showers are fine. But I'd really like to have a cool, fall evening for Murray State's first home football game. My daughter really wants to see Racer One run around the track, so hopefully MSU manages to score too.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy the feel of fleece socks on my feet and the quietness of my kids soaking in the dreariness that is perfect for napping. Then I'm sure Ben will pull himself up to another window to watch the rain and Cate will lead her baby brother on another trail to discover their toys in new ways.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chicago!

We spent Labor Day weekend in Chicago with my mother-in-law, brother-in-law John, sister-in-law Christine and niece Mae Rose. The weather was fabulous, our condo was in a perfect location for walking everywhere we wanted to go, and my kids were excellent travelers.

Here's what we saw when we looked out the windows in our condo on the 35th floor of a 55-story building near Lake Michigan ...

[From the living room window]

[From our bedroom window]

Even Ben liked the view, and, really the window ledge that was a perfect height for him!
_______

We walked to Shedd Aquarium, which made for beautiful views along the way and fun times once we arrived.

This octopus was my favorite part of the aquarium. I was fascinated with watching him move. And, yes, I was happy he was behind a glass wall.
_______

I took lots of pictures on this trip. I found myself slightly obsessed with trying to capture the skyline, the contrast of having the lake on one side of Lake Shore Drive and tall buildings on the other and, well, the metal bean at Millennium Park. Seriously ...

_______

We (minus Christine, who graciously volunteered to stay with the babies, who would have each had to have $28 tickets ...) went on an architectural boat cruise down the Chicago River. It made for some good picture taking of all the fabulous buildings.

I liked this view from Lake Michigan. We stayed at the building on the far back right.

That's the famous Sears Tower, which is now actually called the Willis Tower. I don't know anything about this Willis company, but I don't think the big bucks paid for the building naming rights will be worth much because it'll always be the Sears Tower, especially to us tourists.

I loved, loved, loved this building. Well, really, the skyline reflection in the building. It's the Kohn Pedersen Fox building. They have three buildings right in a row, but this is by far the prettiest.
_______

The 94th floor of the John Hancock Building makes for some beautiful views. Especially this one ...

That's the view to the north. I love the contrast of the lake shoreline and tall buildings.

Cute photo opportunity! Look at them pretending to wash windows!

Cate wore that visor all day. Seriously. I was so sure we'd end up shoving it into my backpack, but she proved me wrong. She wanted to be like Gran-Gran.
_______

We walked. Yes, there was much walking. And I loved it. We stopped at a park area along Lake Michigan between the John Hancock Building and Navy Pier ... and had an impromptu photo shoot ...

_______

So, yes, now at Navy Pier, where the 140-foot ferris wheel had Cate's attention from the night we arrived until the evening she actually rode it ...

_______

There are many, many, many more photos here in my Facebook album.