Thursday, May 30, 2013

Read-Aloud Log April/May 2013

Our in-house librarian and cute little book worm thought the picks from the past couple of months were great!


March/April Little Kid picks:

Boynton, Sandra. Are You a Cow?

DK Publishing. Baby Surprises!

Fujikawa, Gyo. Mother Goose.

Katz, Karen. Baby Loves Spring: A lift the flap book.

Laden, Nina. Peek a who?

Mackenzie, Carine. (Learn about God series) (God is faithful, God is kind, God has power, God knows everything, God never changes)

Stinson, Kathy. Red is Best.

Wilson, Sarah. Love and Kisses.


Mommy Favorites:

Clarkson, Sally. Ministry of Motherhood.

Hertzberg, Jeff. Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day.

Hunt, Gladys. Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life.

Macaulay, Susan Schaeffer. For the Family’s Sake: The Value of Home in Everyone’s Life.

Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House in the Big Woods & Little House on the Prairie.


I decided a couple of months ago to start rereading some classic children’s book and believe it or not I had never read Anne of Green Gables before. It was such a good book and I loved rereading my favorite Little House books:)

Favorites for me included Ministry of Motherhood, For the Family’s Sake, and our new favorite pizza dough recipe came from the cookbook above. Seriously, that book on pizza has transformed our dinners. There is a GF recipe and a regular one and you can make the dough and keep it for up to 14 days in the fridge making pizza whenever you like. Amazing.

For Elizabeth I would say the favorites were Mother Goose, Love and Kisses, and any of the Carine Mackenzie books. The board books by Mackenzie are some of the best I’ve come across in accurately conveying the character of God in a Biblical and yet child friendly way. I’ve found myself encouraged after reading through them as well.


Any favorites these past few months?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Things we’re loving: May Edition

I can’t believe it’s already the end of May! I feel like I just wrote this post and now here I am writing this post. We’re ready for this upcoming holiday weekend and although our days are wide open, we’re hoping to relax, spend time outside, and tackle a few minor house projects. Hopefully the weather will continue to be nice! This month we’ve tried a few new things and I love sharing our finds!

1. Honest Company Products


I heard about the Honest Company almost a year ago due to their super cute diapers and finally decided to give it a try. I was on the hunt for a few products that were more natural for Elizabeth going into summer since everything goes into her mouth. I ordered their Body Wash/Shampoo, Lotion, Bug Spray, Sunscreen, and Bubble Bath. And then when I was offered another discount, I bought a reusable swim diaper for Elizabeth. So far I love everything. Most of all I love not worrying about what is going in her little body when she eats her bath bubbles and those upcoming days when the mosquitos are out in full force and her hands go in her mouth. The products smell great and when you use a $10 off coupon (code: INVITED10) the prices are not that outrageous.

2. Citrus Lane


Picture from Citrus Lane

Have you heard of the new box subscriptions that are supposedly the big new rage? I gifted my dad with a similar gift for his birthday through Sugarwish and then when I saw how neat Citrus Lane was I decided to give it a shot. Citrus Lane is a box subscription that delivers age appropriate toys and goodies monthly to your door for a set price. It’s definitely not something that I would do every month but I tried it this last month and we received some really fun things. I used a $10 off code again and for $15 (after discount) we received a box for Elizabeth that included a Stacker, snack, gift for mom, dish soap, and a book. I think it would be really fun to give as a gift and of course, it’s fun to receive! To sign up and get $10 off your first box click here: Citrus Lane.

3. Natural Soap


Picture from Pumpkin Seed Soap Shop

I’m going to be honest here…I don’t usually get into the whole green trend. We do a lot of “green things” (recycle, cloth napkins, natural cleaners, etc) but we still use pretty conventional soaps, lotions, etc. Well this past month I bought soap from Pumpkin Seeds Baskets and Soap on Etsy to help support their adoption and I don’t think we’ll go back. I was totally a skeptic but Alex and I are now totally in love with what we affectionately call the “soft soap”. I’ve been a lotion user for over 15 years, every day after my shower and after using this soap I only need to use lotion once or twice a week. The soap keeps our skin incredibly moist and extremely soft. Totally converted. I just gave my mom some from another local company, Apple Valley Natural Soap for Mother’s day and I hope she loves it too:)

4. Pretty Tea Cups


Alex gave me a very pretty tea cup from Anthropologie for Christmas and I’ve been loving it ever since. I’ve found myself lately pouring tea in the afternoons and reading while Elizabeth is napping. It’s such a nice way to spend some down time and having a pretty cup makes the whole experience more enjoyable. Of course, any cup will do, but I love beautiful tea cups! I’m loving these ones right now as well…










5. Step 2 Big Splash Waterpark


I would be wrong to not include something Elizabeth is loving right now so here we go. We bought this water table just about a month ago and it is getting so.much.use. Now that she’s walking I didn’t want to deal with the in and out of a baby pool (trying to walk out) so I figured this was the next best thing. Also our lawn is being fertilized this summer and since she’s putting everything in her mouth, time on the lawn just isn’t that safe. So onto our deck she goes and she could stand outside and play for hours if we let her. So far we haven’t put any of the fun toys on it…that way she’ll have something to look forward to for next year.


Wishing you a happy Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Design Style: Home edition

We’re up to our ears in design decisions. We’re planning out our eventual whole house spruce up and we’re having to come face to face with our likes and dislikes. Obviously we can change things, as we’re future planning and nothing is set in stone, but we do like to have some vision going forward. This renovation project is in so many stages and I’m married to a man who does this for a living so this is kind of like how the shoemaker’s kids never had shoes. It’ll get done eventually:)

But as far as design style, everyone has their own bents. We like most styles but we gravitate towards a few in particular. I took a fun design quiz and for me the quiz always came back with the same two styles…I am cottage chic/Nantucket style…I love white slipcovered furniture, rustic accents, bright colors, vintage mixed with modern, and most of all it must be comfortable. Alex leans that way as well although he really loves everything in Restoration Hardware, some industrial and some more traditional pieces than I do. Bringing the two together and trying to do this all right the first time around has made us sit back and take inventory of our tastes. Obviously, like with anything, tastes can change, but it’s hard to make big decisions if you have no idea what direction to head.

So we’ve hired a local interior designer to help us settle on some choices. We live in a 1960’s split level but dream of a cape cod craftsman and obviously the two cannot be combined. We need new windows, doors, trim, etc. and we needed a second opinion. Even though Alex is a designer and was allied ASID we still felt the need for another opinion. Kind of a like a Doctor getting another Doctor’s opinion. We CANNOT wait to see what they put together for us! Before getting here, our friend Anne, who has incredible style and is an amazing designer, helped us get our house from chaos to looking almost there. SO if anyone needs some design advice, her fee is less but her skill is amazing!

After finally having figured out what I like, by taking inventory of every page I’ve ever ripped out of a magazine and kept, I found that many of them look the same. Knowing this came in very handy when picking out our sofa. Now with some renovations planned for our house, it’s becoming even more useful when planning our kitchen renovation. We are certain this will be one of the first projects we tackle and we’re hoping to complete it in 2013.

Our kitchen style, thankfully, is in total unison. We will be recreating the kitchen we built for our last flip house on a slightly smaller scale and with a smaller budget. And we’re doing something we’ve always cautioned others on and we’re putting marble on our countertops (at least that is the plan). I still can’t believe we are doing that! We don’t have that much counter space right now and still will not after our renovation so we decided if we were going to splurge somewhere it should be there.

So here’s the inspiration photos:

The amazing kitchen from the Little House Blog


Our flip kitchen renovation

We thought about doing something more bold, like painting the cabinets a color, but at the end of the day we want to stay timeless and make the most of the small space.

Here’s our kitchen in it’s current state:


Actually we have a larger shelving unit on the wall and a new light fixture but everything else is original. Because the square footage is not huge on the main level, the walls will not be coming down. Instead the doorway will be opened up at an angle and we’ll be using every square inch within those walls, including the area in the soffits, to create the most workable kitchen.

So far we know we will have flat panel, shaker style door, white cabinets, wood floors and hopefully marble counters. And the rest of the details are below. There will be pantry and our first broom closet (cabinet) along one wall to help with our storage issue. If you can imagine, the cabinet above the dishwasher is the only cabinet that houses food stuffs. ONE UPPER CABINET. No walk in pantry, nothing. So the extra cabinet space will be highly embraced.

kitchen reno


We can’t wait to start this project and hopefully (Lord-willing) it will start this fall. But like life, who knows what will happen between then and now. Maybe it could even happen sooner:)

So tell me, do you know the kitchen you would have?

(by the way, never in a million years did I imagine the possibility of being able to have my dream kitchen and if this happens, this would be it)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Elizabeth-11 months old

334 days you have been with us.


And not one of them was guaranteed.

All of them a gift. A much grace filled gift.

Seems folly to write of our days with you when hearts are hurting in Oklahoma, but to not embrace what we have been given today would also seem folly. And today we’re embracing you, celebrating you.

Elizabeth, you bring us incredible joy. It is our privilege to be your momma and daddy. To think there are only 31 more days until you’ve been tangible grace before us for an entire year seems almost unimaginable.

11 months, dear girl, filled with tears and laughter and cuddling and smiling. You are our kind hearted girl. You have a very curious spirit, always interested in how things work. You are spunky and as quiet as you can be, you can also be loud. Shrieking and shouting are your newest fascinations and you jabber up a storm. We’re impressed by your comprehension as you readily complete what we ask of you (for the most part). You love to be near your momma, “helping” in any way you can.

Your loving nature spills over in giving kisses, open mouth and all, and you are fascinated by kids that are younger than you. Even fascinated by those who are older than you but still immobile. Yes, you are on the go dear girl. You are almost running now that you have walking down and just today you stood up without having to hold on to something. You can cruise right up the stairs and love to play at the park on all the equipment. You love to be around people and as much as you sometimes like to interact you equally love to just take everything in. You are a very good listener and right now will obey momma and daddy when we say no. We’ve also seen some mini-fits when you can’t quite seem to communicate what you want. Although communicating is getting easier as you can sign “all done” and “more.”

I could go on and on about you…we love you so very, very much!

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11 months

Monday, May 13, 2013

Finding solid ground

Yesterday I rambled on and on about my conflicting feelings over my first mother’s day. Embracing this new role has come easy in some ways and has thrown me for a loop in others. It’s a work in progress.

But after much discussing, reflecting, praying and reading I’m finding some clarity…

Being a mother, after being a wife, was my hearts desire since I was a little girl. I never had those vast sweeping notions of being a doctor or lawyer or even have a career beyond the home. The only professions that came close as a little girl and then as an adult were a missionary or a teacher, both obviously very key pieces to mothering. When we got married, being a wife just seemed to fit. I love to serve Alex and keep our home. And as we awaited our next steps, I found joy in mothering other children.

But as we waited, I found my heart grappling with things I would hear throughout Christian circles and even within our own church (although rarely). The common phrase that motherhood “is a woman’s highest calling” and women are “saved through childbirth” began to weigh on my heart. And as we waited I worked though these…falling back on the fact that the Lord created us for His glory and our highest true calling is following after him. How could God withhold this “highest calling” from my life? Now I don’t believe these to be fully accurate.

And now that I’m on this side, I have tasted and seen what an incredible gift it is to be a mother. It’s a sanctifying, self-sacrificing, building up, molding, and discipling kind of work. And I love most every moment. My heart is full for the task the Lord has set before me and I’m ever grateful that I get to wake up and do what I’ve longed to do each and every day. Seriously. I pinch myself at times.

It’s a noble calling and one worth every ounce of energy. We have the joy of bringing up the next generation, using the wisdom and grace the Lord has given us to pour truth into another heart. It’s a good and wise profession to be a worker at home and to raise children. But I still do not think it is my highest calling. And as far as being saved through childbirth, I like this view from John MacArthur.

So yesterday, I fell into uncertainty as I faced a day I previously struggled through. In the past I focused on honoring mothers, our own and others, but the emptiness of my arms still stung. And now with heart and arms full this Mother’s Day I struggled through the fact that here I was, on the other side, embracing the gift of Elizabeth, the one who made me a mother. Why me?

Here I am, by the grace of the Lord, living a life I could only hope for. So undeserving. And still learning how to embrace this good, noble calling of motherhood when I still know the pain that comes in waiting and knowing so many who were struggling for joy yesterday. Knowing how to care for hurting hearts while holding the thing longed for is a delicate thing. And this expands beyond the walls of infertility.

God was good to give us Elizabeth. These past months have proved, only like few other times in my life, to be sanctifying months. We prayed when we waited for babies, not mainly for the task of parenting, but for the sanctification that parenting brings. And He’s answering that prayer ten-fold, for His glory and our good.

But by the end of the day yesterday, I found joy in accepting and embracing the gift of motherhood. God gave us Elizabeth, in His perfect wisdom, in His perfect timing and in doing so gave me the honor of being her mother. Why, I don’t know but I’m hoping maybe one day I’ll find out?

Sometimes accepting God’s good gifts can be staggeringly difficult.

And I’m learning there’s grace for that.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

thoughts on mother’s day

today is my first real mother’s day with a real live baby to cuddle and love. and I’m terrified of the emotions that have come with it.

every day I feel blessed to be elizabeth’s mommy. to hold her and snuggle her and teach her and love her. she’s still and always will be an example of God’s incredible kindness towards us. we don’t even come close to deserving her.

but the emotions that found me leading up to this day frightened me. my first real mother’s day and expectations that I began to put forth in my mind from the world. I remember when we were waiting and expecting having a better mindset on mother’s day. Yes, mother’s do deserve to be celebrated but it’s still just another day. because when you are waiting and hoping and grieving this day seems to be viewed with better clarity.

one year in the waiting I remember the elder or pastor, not our main pastor, asking all the mothers to stand up. to stand up. and to this day I can remember the emotions. tears flowed instantly and out I ran. I can remember thinking “all I want is to be able to stand up.” that was my worst experience with mother’s day to date.

but this year…it began to feel like it needed to be a day How would Alex celebrate me. What pinterest inspired craft would he come up with to show his love (seriously, what was I thinking…what men go on pinterest to make a craft for their wife?). Satan got ahold of me. And last night as I sat with my husband I went full circle with all my emotions.

Yes, I need to hear from him that he’s proud of me and yes, I need to hear that the job I’m doing is worthwhile. But I don’t need to hear that I’m perfect (far from it), that I’m the world’s best mom (I’m not), I don’t need to hear how I’m a saint for doing my job (again, far from it).

funny how a heart can be so fickle. in the waiting I longed for this day and made it less than what it should be and on this side I longed for this day and made it more than it should be.

and I know so many for whom this day is hard. they get to be celebrated but they are unable to celebrate their own mothers. they don’t get to stand up but they have mother’s to celebrate. and some are unable to do either.

why do we do this? I’m still baffled by all the emotions and how the world can make one day so puffed up. what a good reminder to keep my head in the Book. to remember where the best accolades will come from. where to keep hope.

One day I’ll hear the greatest words, “well done” and all the cards and worldly accolades will be rubbish in comparison.

just thinking this all through and trying to find the happy medium.

happy mother’s day…

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fun in the Sun

Somehow when spring ushered in we also gained a toddler. Discontent to crawl anywhere anymore we’re having fun trying to run. Here’s our girl on one of our unusually hot spring days playing at our new water table.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Move over Bob

Yesterday I went on my first run with Elizabeth. I can’t believe I just wrote that. I never thought I would want to push a jogging stroller. I didn’t register for one and later only added one to her wish list so that I could keep it on the radar in case I wanted to eventually think about running with her:)

But then Christmas came around and I forgot to delete the stroller. And my parents, who love to be active, of course jumped on the opportunity to gift our family with the jogging stroller. Not ones to say no, we now found ourselves with another stroller. One that kept taunting me from the closet. So we took it out a few weeks ago and took it for a test drive and then yesterday I got up the courage to run with it.

And it wasn’t so bad. Running with Elizabeth that is. Running while pushing a stroller is not for the faint of heart but instead a workout in and of itself. But I did love the opportunity to get a workout in and be outside with Elizabeth. So I’m coming around to sharing my “get-out-and-breathe-run” time. The nice part was that I could still put my headphones in and she was happy as a clam to just people watch and take in the scenery. Not sure how long that will last but it was nice.

After doing some research, I ended up choosing the Joovy Zoom 360 jogging stroller over a BOB. I knew it would get used often but I did not want it to be our main stroller as a jogger is a bit bulky for errands, etc. And I knew if we were going to buy it ourselves  that we did not want to spend over $250. In our neck of the woods you cannot usually find a used BOB for under $250 so I knew we had to think outside the box. I read a lot of reviews prior and thought the Zoom looked like the perfect alternative to the BOB. (This Instep is also another great inexpensive alternative as well!)

In comparison with the BOB, the Zoom is a bit heavier but it comes with the parent console, rain-shield, and tire pump. It felt heavier when running yesterday but at the same time running with a stroller does up your workout so it’s going to be tougher anyways. I love how upright the seat can be and how roomy all the pockets/under stroller storage are. I’ve never ran with a BOB so I cannot comment on the differences in run but I’m sure they are similar. Runner’s World also just named the Zoom the best budget jogger for 2013.

The seat in really wide, it can hold kiddos up to 70 pounds, and has a long seatback. The canopy has two stages which I really like so you can customize how much coverage you need. The seat recline is done by a strap, so you just let out the strap to recline and cinch it up to get upright. I’m sure this will come in handy if Elizabeth ever falls asleep.The fabric is super easy to clean and very durable. The handlebar is not adjustable but I’m only 5’3” and I had no problem pushing it.

The fold is amazing…I wish our regular stroller folded like this and it is very compact once it is folded making it really easy to transport. Overall I think the stroller is a great bargain for runners/joggers. While some may say the BOB is better (I don’t know this to be true), you are getting a great product for a fraction of the cost.

Here are some pics


Elizabeth snug as can be


From the front (illustrating the side pockets)


Handlebar console (2 drink spots and a zipper pouch for keys/phone/etc)


Huge storage basket underneath that is fully accessible


To fold you just undo the red clip on the left and pull on the wire


Compact fold

I’m hoping the ability to take Elizabeth with me will help me get out to run more often…so if anyone is interesting in joining us, let me know!

(ps…I’m not fast without the stroller and I’m definitely not fast with itSmile)

Monday, May 6, 2013

You have not forgotten

This past Sunday we sang a song that has now become an absolute favorite. I’m not sure I have ever sang such a theologically sound song and my heart ached as we sang. Had we been in the waiting, walking through the unknown, I am certain tears would have flowed unceasingly on Sunday.

Simple truths about who God is and how RICHLY He cares for us…

Even in the valley He is faithful, even what the enemy means for evil He turns for our good, He’s working in the waiting, He’s teaching us to trust, He has not forgotten us.

Sovereign Over Us by Aaron Keyes

There is strength within the sorrow,
There is beauty in our tears
You meet us in our mourning,
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting,
Sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding,
You're teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper,
You have not forgotten us
You're with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever,
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
You are wisdom unimagined,
Who could understand your ways

Reigning high above the heavens,
Reaching down in endless grace
You’re the Lifter of the lowly,
Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me,
Your promises are my delight

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good,
You turn it for our good and for your glory

Even in the valley You are faithful
You're working for our good,
You’re working for our good and for your glory

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Desperate: A review


I’m not sure how I can sum this book up and do it justice. It has been a source of refuge and encouragement for my new mama heart. I was in the throes of discouragement when I picked this book to review and I remember distinctly all the tears that flowed as I read and read and read.

This book, Desperate, by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson, proved to me that I wasn’t alone. It seems like so many mamas, myself included, when things are good seem to forget the hard days. I remember when Elizabeth was really little thinking, “Why didn’t anyone tell me it was going to be this hard?” And looking back, no one told me because you forget and because it’s different for everyone.

But this book was a comforting companion to me. It unfolds the story of Sarah Mae, a mama in the trenches of motherhood and her mentor Sally, an older woman who’s been through the trenches and lived to tell of it. I found the questions Sarah Mae posed to Sally to be questions I myself have thought before and the answers from Sally to be incredibly refreshing and solid truth. Reading through the book there were many tears, many bookmarks, and many moments when my mind finally wrapped itself around a tangible way of doing things. This is not a how-to book but instead a book that points to One who can lead you in your own path of motherhood.

At the end of every chapter there are personal questions and action points. These are incredibly thought provoking and really helpful in figuring out where you are at and ways you can move forward or work on things. I found I needed to go back a time or two to reread the questions because I didn’t always have the time to work through them but each time I did, there was fruit. I also loved how they stress the importance of getting to know each child individually, offering grace, and finding some time away for you to refresh as a mother.

With so many parenting and how-to books out there and so.much.chatter and information available online, motherhood has the tendency to become overwhelming. I really enjoyed the purposed moments throughout the book to remember we are all going to parent uniquely the way the Lord has created us to and the way we figure that out is by asking him.

Seriously. Easy as that. And you know what, I needed to hear something as easy as that. My husband says that to me all the time. The only book we need to be in is the Word of God and He’ll be faithful to lead us in the way we should go. (in all of life but also in our parenting) Simple.

After reading this book, I’ve begun praying for the Lord to teach me to mother and show me what motherhood will look like for me. And you know what? He’s answering. And I’m finding myself filled with joy, walking a road of motherhood I never thought would be the road I would go down.

Writing a review of this book does nothing to tell of the riches that can be found by reading it. This book is an excellent read for everyone on the road of motherhood. It is encouraging, uplifting, thought provoking, and filled with wisdom. It would be a perfect gift for mother’s day!


{I was given an e-copy of this book in return for a review through Book sneeze, a blogger review program through Thomas Nelson Publishers.}