Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This Is Our Heart

Next to all of the details of our adoption and process, the most asked question we get is "WHY?" And understandably so. I am super excited to share what led us to the decision to adopt. 
For me, adoption has been a life long desire. The first time I can consciously remember talking about adoption was when I was in first grade. I can remember exactly where I was standing, playing house with a friend. We were discussing important things like what our make-believe jobs were and how many kids we had. I told my friend that I was going to have 5 kids, 4 of whom were adopted. I don't know how I knew what adoption was. I don't think I knew any kids that were adopted at that point. Something about it just appealed to me. I told my mom throughout my childhood that I didn't want to have biological children, I wanted to adopt them all. Obviously God changed my heart on having bio kids, and I'm thankful for that because my girls are pretty great ;) But, the desire to adopt has never left my heart. 
When I was 15, my dad and step mom adopted my beautiful sister from China. I had the incredible experience of traveling with my dad to China for 2 weeks to bring her home. This only intensified my desire to adopt. Going through that whole process, and also experiencing it with several other families in our travel group was, well...I can't put it into words. From the first day all of these baby girls were placed into their parents arms, it was evident that they were perfect for the family that they were placed into. From little details like how one little girl had her adoptive daddy's nose (how is that even possible?!) to personality traits that these 15 month old girls had in common with their adopted families, it was evident that there was Someone way bigger than us in control of these placements. There has never been a doubt in my mind that my sister was meant to be in our family. We were not complete before her.

Moving on into adulthood, after I became a Christian, my desire once again intensified. Thinking about how God adopted me as His own child through the Cross and how adopting a child into your family is a symbol of that very thing just leaves me speechless. I know that I am called to do this. 
You may notice that I've only been talking about myself here. What about my husband? Has he wanted to adopt for forever, too? The answer to that is no. He did not have a deep, burning desire as a young child to one day adopt a baby (I might possibly be the only 5 year old who wanted to adopt, if we're being honest....), but as a Christian man, yes he does. Over the last several years, we have talked and prayed on and off about adoption. If we were to adopt, would we do so in the states, or go out of the country? How would we finance it? When would the timing be right? Would it ever be right? We continued to pray about it in spurts. Every so often, something would put it on one of our hearts and we would pray about it for awhile and for whatever reason, every time, the door would close. Sometimes we would be praying about a specific country and we would go on to find out some things about their program that wouldn't fit with our family after a few weeks and that was that. This time, the door never closed. 
As we continued to fervently seek the Lord and come to a decision on whether or not this was something He wanted our family to do, the desire for both of us only grew stronger. We read scripture supporting adoption (Matthew 18:5, Acts 7:21, Psalm 27:10, John 14:18, James 1:27), we prayed over the decision and we sought counsel from our families, pastors, friends, and other wise believers. The bottom line is that adoption is biblical. No, we do not believe that God calls everyone to adoption, but we believe that He is calling us. As one of our pastors put it "People, including me, will be very reluctant to discourage you from doing such a wonderful thing. Please hear that. Adoption is truly a courageous and selfless thing. It is a ministry, and one you need to be specifically called to do because it requires extra grace. And perhaps your desire is evidence of that calling." Adoption is a ministry. Just as some individuals or families are called to serve overseas missions, or are called to start a specific ministry-maybe geared toward mothers, less fortunate people, or homeless, some are called to adopt. 
We tried to come up with reasons we should adopt and reasons we shouldn't. Let me just tell you that any reason we came up with that we "shouldn't" was quickly erased from our mental "list" because of the bigger reasons why we should. Is it going to be a lot of work? Is it going to be an emotional process? Will it be crazy expensive? Will we go through hard trials with it? Will the process be trying on us? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding YES. But. And that's a big BUT. It will be more than worth it. The day that our child is placed into our arms, nothing else will matter. 
Some people have been telling us that our child will be so lucky to have us, but I think it is quite the opposite. We will be so lucky to have them. So blessed to raise them and point them to Jesus. We are thankful that God has burdened our hearts for adoption. As Christians, we have asked God to break our hearts for what breaks His, and He has answered. He has broken us down and here we are....waiting to see His plan for our family. Ready to serve Him by taking in one of His children...our child. Prayerful for what is to come, and how our story can best glorify Him.
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Adoption Details

Thank you to everyone for all of your support and excitement on our adoption announcement! Every adoption looks different, and it is often a foreign concept to many, so we expected many questions and are happy to answer them! I wanted to share a little bit about our heart for adoption and answer some of the questions that we have been frequently been getting about the specifics of our adoption. 
I will start with the questions about our process, then share more about our decision to adopt tomorrow.
Are you adopting domestically or internationally?
We are adopting domestically! We prayed a lot about international adoption for a lot of years, but at this time, with two little ones at home, we felt that domestic was a better fit for our family.
What agency are you using?
We are using a multi-agency approach. This was a new concept to us, and it is really awesome! We have an incredible adoption consultant through Christian Adoption Consultants. She networks with many agencies in certain states to give us more of a reach and decrease waiting time for us. There are a lot of awesome things about this approach besides the shorter waiting time, which I would be more than happy to share as we get more into it! 
Are you adopting a baby or older child?
We are adopting a baby. We want to respect birth order for our girls and adopt a child younger than they are. We have preferenced a newborn and would consider a young baby as well.
When will you get a baby?
There is no real way to know. The average wait time using CAC is 6-10 months after completion of the home study. If this proves to be true for us, we will likely have a baby by this time next year, but possibly much sooner. We have to wait until we are chosen by a birth mother! 
Will your adoption be open or closed?
We are going to take this case by case, depending on what the birth parents want, etc. Most likely it will be semi open, meaning we will have some communication with them.
Where are you at in the adoption process?
We have signed on with our consultant and are now gathering documents and paperwork for our home study. We have been in touch with the social worker who will complete our home study and will start working on that this week. Once we gather all of our paperwork and documents (there are A LOT...physicals for all 4 of us plus our dog, references from friends and family, fingerprints, background checks, bank statements, tax records, proof of insurance, and more...), we will meet with the social worker once at her office a few hours away, and then she will come to our home once. Basically, she will be looking at all aspects of our life to determine whether we are fit to be parents (I sure hope they say yes, since we already have two kids lol!). This process could take a few months, then we will be able to apply to agencies and that is when our official wait for a baby begins!
How much does adoption cost and how will you afford it? 
Many people are shocked to find out that domestic adoption costs somewhere around $30,000, but that being the average, it could really be between $25-$40,000. No, we do not have $30,000 laying around, as I'm assuming most people who adopt do not. The reason adoption is so costly is because of the services you are paying for. You are not "buying a child", you are paying for legal help, traveling costs, paperwork, medical expenses, etc. If you think about how many people are putting in lots of time to help you with this process, it makes sense why it costs so much. That being said, we are prayerfully hopeful that the Lord will provide the funds needed. No, we are not going to sit around and let the money fall into our laps. We are cutting our own bills and expenses where we can, will be applying for lots of adoption grants, and planning fundraising events to help with the costs. We believe that God has led us down this path and won't leave us stranded in the way of finances. We are also blessed that there is an adoption reimbursement at my husband's company, where they will give us some money toward our adoption (not a ton, but a significant amount) after the adoption is complete. This, combined with the adoption tax credit will certainly be of help. 
What am I missing?! We are going to try to be an open book about the adoption process, so feel free to ask any questions that I may have missed in the comments, or shoot me an email! We are happy to answer. 
I will be back tomorrow to share more about our heart for adoption and what led us to this path. 
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Sunday, September 28, 2014

We Are Adopting!

Our family has some big and exciting news to share...

I am looking forward to sharing more details about our process and how we came to make this big decision! 
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

3 Years Old

My beautiful big girl is 3 years old today. I can't believe I'm even typing that. It seems like literally yesterday she was coming into our lives (I know every mom says that, every year, but it is so true). This girl has brightened my life more than I EVER knew possible. She has such a joy about life and such a zeal for the Lord, it melts my heart. After experiencing lots of frustration and heart ache while trying for her , she truly became my miracle baby. (Well, both of my kids really are miracles in totally different ways!) I know God has big plans for this young lady. I hope and pray that she always loves Him with her entire heart, the way that she does now, at age 3. 

This girl loves other people fiercely. She truly is the best big sister in the world. I have loved watching her not only love her little sister as a sister, but also as a friend. She helps her with everything, she teaches her new things, and they want to be together all the time. Some people say I'm naive to think that they will always get along so well, but it is something I pray for every day. I know they will always be the best of friends.

She is such a snuggle bug, and always has been. She loves curling up with mama or daddy in the mornings, for books, after nap, before bed, well anytime really! Her love language must be physical touch and that's totally fine by me. I kiss her millions of times every day and am constantly in awe of how she is mine. Watching her grow up has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Going from this itty bitty little thing who is 100% dependent on me, to this independent, curious kid has been incredible. She is constantly learning new things, inquiring about something new. And let me just tell you, this girl is a stinkin' hoot. The things she comes up with...man. She is constantly cracking everyone up. She is her father's daughter, that's for sure! 

I am beyond blessed and thankful for be called Mama. She is such a treasure and the perfect soul for our family. Thank you, Jesus, for blessing me with this angel. For blessing me with the ability to be her mother and for putting her in our lives.
Happy birthday, my precious 3 year old girl! 
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Bucket List 2014

I usually like to make a bucket list every season. 1) because it's just fun and 2) because I feel like it helps me be more intentional about doing fun things with my kids. We almost never get to every single thing, but if we are ever having a bored day, I can pull something off the bucket list and go do it! We love fall, so these were really easy to come up with. 

What fun things are you planning on doing this fall?! 
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall Favorites

Happy Fall Y'all! Fall is most definitely my favorite time of the year around these parts. Well, weather wise. I sure love me some Christmas season. I grew up in Colorado where the weather is pretty much always perfect, or at least always at least semi-enjoyable. The cold isn't THAT cold. The hot isn't THAT hot. But then I moved to the Midwest. The summers are miserably sticky hot with 100+ degree temps and lots of humidity (except this summer which was super mild). The winters are so painfully bitter cold--last winter we had a week or two where we got down into -40 some degrees with wind chill. NEGATIVE FORTY. Insane. We stay inside all winter, every winter. Then there's the spring, which is a total tease. It'll start getting warm (and by warm I mean 35), and then it snows again. Then when the snow finally melts it takes all spring so everything is muddy and gross for months. Soooo needless to say, fall is perfect here. The leaves are SOOOO beautiful. The temps are perfection. Everything about fall in the Midwest is so enjoyable and I'm glad it's here! 
Anyway, enough about the weather. 
Here are my fall favorites this year....
I've got pumpkin roll going in my scentsy right now...
I'm pretty dedicated to my scentsies because of my kiddos. My daughter stuck her finger in my scentsy when it was on a month or two ago and obviously didn't get burned so I feel like it's just the safest thing with little ones and I rarely burn candles anymore. That being said, nothing will ever replace my love for Yankee candle's Farmer's Market scent. If you have never smelled this, you need to run to the store and sniff it now...
It's everything I've ever wanted in a scent.
Boots. Obviously.
Whenever I have a specific kind of boot that I want, I'll search for literally years until I find the perfect pair and then I keep them forever. I mean I only wear them a few months out of the year, between the time it  cools down and the time it starts to snow (where I can't wear anything but boots that grip the snow), so they last for years.

Cardigans. I seriously love a good cardigan. They just go with everything, don't they?! 

Scarves. I have an actual scarf problem. They, too, just go with everything.

Tunics & leggings. I got this tunic last year and it is hands down my favorite. Go getcha one! Everything about this tunic is perfect and I need one in every color. EVERY color! Definitely going on my Christmas list this year. (Oh yeah, and if you become a VIP member, you get $15 off your first purchase!)

This is the pumpkin bar recipe I use that always blows people's minds. I'm getting ready to make my first batch this weekend for my daughter's birthday party! They are perfectly moist.

Caramel Apple Spice. I love getting these at Starbucks but I've recreated it at home and gotten a lot of inquiring minds on the recipe. So yummy! This is pretty similar to what I do.

Soups and chilis. Mmmm. At our house, we are big fans of Taco Soup, which I'm planning on posting the recipe for the next time I make it. There's just something about warm soup in the cool fall evenings. Especially crock pot soups where you come home and it's all done for you! 

Fall activities are always fun, but even more fun with little ones!
We love the pumpkin patch, hay rack rides, apple orchard, fall leaf hunts, jumping in leaf piles, and everything else having to do with leaves, apples or pumpkins. 

What do you love about fall?! 
Linking up at the blogtember challenge!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

10 {Free or Cheap} Family Night Ideas

Ever since we have implemented a family night in our house, we've tried to mix it up so that we aren't just going to the park week after week. Not that there's anything wrong with the park, but these nights are a great opportunity to do more than just eat at a restaurant. Sometimes it can be hard to think of something to do with two little toddlers, though. Since it is summer right now, it is easier to come up with fun things to do since we have the beautiful weather outdoors, so there's that. The hard thing can be coming up with ideas that don't cost a pretty penny. Have you been to the movies lately?! It could easily cost our family $50 to see a movie in the theaters, with tickets and a small snack.
Here are 10 of our favorite things to do for family night: 
::One:: Find a body of water
Go to a lake or a pond and try to skip rocks, feed the ducks or just explore. Isn't there just something about water that everyone loves?! Sure it's fun to go boating or do some bigger water activity, but just being at the water is great too. If it's a beach, even better!
::Two:: Pack a picnic
Sometimes we drive through Chick-Fil-A and get dinner to go, take it to a park, eat at a bench and then play and go on a walk around the trial. It's just more fun than eating dinner at the kitchen table! We like to pack picnics from home as well.
::Three:: Ride the carousel
Kids of ALL ages (including the adult kind...) love carousels. My kids would ride them 25 times if we would let them. We like to go on free family night at the mall so they can ride as many times as they want, and as our stomachs can allow, without breaking the bank! 

::Four:: Spend the night at a cheap motel
This is one that we haven't done yet, but is on my list! My husband's parents used to do this when he was a kid and he has such fond memories. They would go just down the street to get an inexpensive motel room for the night, order take out, swim in the pool and have a slumber party. What kid wouldn't love that?! 
::Five:: Children's museum
We love the children's museum! It is so much fun for our kids, and for us. They get to learn and to explore a bunch of new, cool things each time! We could easily spend a whole weekend at ours, but usually only have a few hours. There are always coupons around for our local children's museum, so be sure to search around first!

::Six:: Make treats for family and friends
Kids love to be helpers in the kitchen. And let's be honest...they love being batter tasters. Making and delivering treats together is such a fun way to spend time together doing something you don't do every day, and brighten up someone else's day.

::Seven:: Go to a sporting event
There are always tons of baseball, tee ball, soccer, and volleyball games going on at parks and rec centers. In high school, my friends and I would go to the baseball fields and watch random community teams play, just for something to do, and it was so fun! Kids love sports, and young ones are really intrigued by the game and the crowds!
::Eight:: Go on a scavenger hunt
Either make up your own, or search online. It doesn't have to be complicated. You could even just give your kids things to look for around the house! 
::Nine:: Get in a fight
A pillow fight, a water fight, whatever other kind of fun fight you can think of. 
::Ten:: Go to the zoo/museum/pool/etc
On free day. They all have them at least once a year. Check their websites and mark your calendars. Plan some family fun nights around these free events! 
What other fun family night ideas do you have that are free or cheap?! 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

All Things Pumpkin

What is it about pumpkins? I just love them. I love everything having to do with them. My oldest daughter is about to be 3 and I am planning a pumpkin patch party for her. I've tried to really stay off of Pinterest for the party planning because I really wanted to try to come up with my own ideas for the party and not just steal everyone else's. But planning the party has definitely made me have pumpkin on my mind! Here's all the pumpkin stuff I'm loving this fall, some of which may show up at the party...
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes :: Pumpkin Moon Sand  :: Pumpkin Cupcakes 
Pumpkin Putty :: Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins :: Pumpkin Buns :: Pumpkin Bowl

I totally wanted to do the pumpkin booty pic last year with my kids but I completely forgot. I kinda feel like my oldest is too big for it this year so I may have missed out. Or maybe I'll just paint their booties and never show anyone the picture...until their graduation slide shows.....

Any pumpkin recipes or pumpkin anything you are loving right now? 

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

How I Got Started Blogging

Ahhhh blogging. Today's prompt in the blogtember challenge is to share about how you got started blogging.
Well, you may or may not know that I have actually been blogging for 5 or so years. I had another blog prior to this one where I shared mostly family stuff. It documented my pregnancies, my children's babyhoods, family trips, etc. It was mostly for sharing stuff like that. I started it as a semi-newlywed just for fun. Someone I knew had started a blog and I really knew nothing about blogging. I loved to write and thought it looked like fun, so I just opened up a blog one night and that was that! I actually ended up making so many friends around the country and had such good experiences come from that blog over the last several years. 
I kind of took an unintentional break from that blog when we were moving (I hadn't really been posting too consistently since getting pregnant the second time, anyway) and thought a lot about the direction I wanted it to go. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that I didn't want to keep publicly blogging about my kid's lives. Not that there is anything wrong with it, and I loved doing it, there were just some things that I felt like it might be better to keep on a smaller scale. I am so thankful for that blog because it was basically their baby books! I kept everything they were doing on the blog and I'm thankful to have those memories and details. I, of course still post some things about my kids on here, but not in as much detail. 
I started this blog because I wanted something for myself. I wanted a place where I could go to relax (writing is relaxing for me) and it could be my own little space. I love having this blog to write about things that are important to me! It's a nice little hobby I can pursue from home, during nap time :) 
What about you? Do you have a blog, and if so, why did you start it?! 

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kicking it back to 2007

Today's Blogtember prompt is about relationships. Very fitting because YESTERDAY marked 7 years of togetherness with my love. 7 years. It's so hard to believe he has been in my life that long. And married for almost 6! Time flies, but of course we all know that. 
I thought in honor of that day, I'd share our little story of how we came to be a couple.
7 years ago, I was entering my junior year in college, and he was going to be a sophomore. We had gone to college together the previous year, even living in the same dorm, just a few floors apart, but didn't know each other at all. Even though it was a very small, private school, we just hadn't crossed paths. We didn't have any friends in common, weren't in the same activities and didn't have any classes together. We first met in the spring, right before school let out for summer. We had both applied to be Resident Assistants (RAs) for the 2007/08 school year. We both got the job and were assigned to the same (even smaller) dorm. We met at our very first 'get to know you' meeting in the spring. We had to do a few activities together since we were in the same dorm, and there were just 4 of us in that building so we were forced to talk to each other. I thought he was really funny but that was about it. I was a pretty new Christian and was really focused on that, and not looking for a relationship at the time. He had a girlfriend anyway, which I didn't know at the time. Well, we sat down to write letters to our residents and I kept feeling like there were eyes on my paper. Finally I looked up, and he was totally copying my letter! Such a dork. So that was where we first met. I think we became Facebook friends after that and we went our separate ways for the summer. 
In the fall, we had to come back to school several weeks before anyone else for RA training. That was seriously probably one of the funnest few weeks of my life. We all got to know each other so well and everyone became fast friends. We were together from sun up to sun down every day for 2 weeks straight. 
One of the first nights we all hung out during training. We went out for pizza and obviously he chose the seat right next to me ;) (Hi, Rachel!)

One of the first nights, a bunch of us were looking for a place to sleep because our dorms weren't air conditioned and it was the beginning of August in the midwest which = 100 degrees and 95% humidity. We just could not get to sleep in the heat. Someone mentioned that T had the code to get into the honors lounge which was air conditioned but no one could get a hold of him. His friend finally did and said he was having girlfriend problems so he would not be around that night. I felt bad for him, but again, that was about it. We all went on training to be RAs all day, and hanging out all night. One night, he, his room mate, another one of his friends, me, and a friend of mine were all watching a movie. It must have been a Saturday night because I got a text from a friend of mine suggesting that I invite all the RAs to church in the morning. I asked everyone who was in the room and the general consensus was either that they were a) Catholic so they had mass to attend at the Chapel. b) they had another church they went to in town. Or c) they were uninterested. Then it came back to him, who hadn't said anything. So I said "what about you? Do you want to go to church in the morning?" His only response was "um, no." I pushed it for a minute, just kind of teasing him and encouraging him to come, but it was obviously very uncomfortable for him, so I dropped it pretty quickly. My friend left, and the others with us got really into the movie, but we started talking. He was talking about his girlfriend and a bunch of stuff that had happened between them that summer (well, she wasn't really his girlfriend at the time...they were kind of determining what their status was), and I just felt so bad for him. Somewhere along the way, it had started to get late so he offered to walk me up to my room. On the way up we got to talking more and just couldn't stop. I had been through a break up of a several year long relationship the year before, so I had some insight to offer him and he seemed to really want it. He was really confused about what to do and other things. One thing that we talked a lot about was how for me, during the hard break up season, a lot of prayer, knowing that God had a better plan for me, etc. was what really got me through it. He quickly dismissed those thoughts each time, but slowly throughout the night he started to become more receptive. Even though it was probably past midnight, he was wanting to go across town and put flowers on this kinda-sorta-girlfriend's car because she started school the next day. He's ridiculously sweet like that. I suggested to him that because of the way he had been treated all summer, and was still being treated, maybe that would be something to hold off on. Maybe there was something better out there for him. I still had no romantic feelings for him at this point. He was obviously not in a good place relationship wise, and what was bigger for me is that he was obviously not a Christian and didn't want anything to do with it. Finally, sometime late late late that night, he agreed to at least try church. To see what it was like and see if it was something that interested him. I am pretty sure that we stayed up until at least 4 a.m. talking. I remember when he was leaving I awkwardly said "I kinda feel like we should hug". Lol! I am not the huggy type at all, but this guy had just poured out his heart to me for the last 6 hours! He laughed, and we hugged and made plans to meet up for church in a few short hours. I'm not 100% sure, but I think that that was the night he became interested in me. 

The next day, we went to church in the morning and out to lunch after, before hurrying back for RA training. Things after that are kind of a blur, but I am pretty sure we spent just about every waking hour together after that. He had been really interested in the church service and had a lot of questions for me about God. We would talk a lot about that. About who God was, the Bible, prayer, etc. We talked a lot about relationships and just life in general. I was starting to develop feelings for him, but had my guard up so far. I would not let myself start to like him. It was too risky to me. He was in this kinda sorta break up that I really wasn't sure if it would become a full on break up or if they would get back together like the girl wanted. I wasn't sure if his new interest in God was genuine interest, or just fleeing thoughts. I just wouldn't let myself go there. Over the next week we continued spending a lot of time together and he asked to go back to church the next week. I told him that I thought it would be good for him to talk to a Christian guy about some of this stuff. I knew of one guy and that was about it. He was a young married man, who was just a little older than us who went to another college in town. I was friends with his wife, they were pretty new Christians, and I knew he really wanted college aged guys to mentor. I called his wife and she talked to her husband who agreed to meet Sunday after church. We rode to church together, but I left after and someone else planned to take him home. During their meeting, he had a lot of his questions answered, but more importantly, the gospel was explained to him in depth, and he received Christ! The funny thing is, he didn't tell me, or anyone, for about another week. He just kept it to himself like it wasn't a big deal until I told him it was a HUGE deal!!! (Back story that doesn't have to do with our relationship: the guy who was mentoring him was a new, married Christian who had a heart to become a pastor. There were NO other guys his age in our church so he had been praying for a long time for God to give him a ministry partner. Well after my husband became a Christian, God put him on a fast track in ministry and grew him up very quickly! 7 years later, These two guys are still best friends, work their day jobs in cubicles right next to each other, and have planted a church together. God is so faithful!) 
Are you still with me here?! I will wrap it up soon, I promise! 
We continued spending time together and I think after I learned about his salvation, I started letting my guard down a little. I was still cautious because he was freshly out of a relationship and I just didn't know. But I started to like him. A lot. We continued spending all of our time together and we could talk literally forever and never run out of things to talk about. One night he was up in my room and we were watching a lightning storm together. I was laying on my bed and he was sitting in a chair across the room. I had a whole wall of giant windows in my dorm room so we turned the lights off and were watching the storm and talking. He started telling me this super intense story about a time where some guy chased him and his cousin through town and without going into deals, it was like a movie and he was definitely in harm's way. For some reason with the lightning bright, the thunder pounding and him telling me this terrifying, but very real story, I had this thought pop into my head out of nowhere. This is the guy I'm going to marry. This is my husband. I have NO idea where this came from. It obviously wasn't a romantic story. We weren't even sitting by each other, and I was looking out the window, not at him. We weren't even dating! But that was the moment I knew. He had already fallen madly in love with me, what can I say?! ;) But that was where it clicked for me. I was falling in love with this guy that I wouldn't even allow myself to admit that I liked! 
The rest is pretty much history. We continued spending all of our waking moments together, until finally on September 12, 2007 he asked me to be his girlfriend. Obviously I said yes and never looked back. We were engaged just a little over 2 months later, and married the next year! When you know, you just know! 
7 years, (almost) 3 college degrees, at least 9 cars, 1 apartment, 2 houses, 2 dogs, and 2 beautiful babies later, I still think back to that stormy night, and thank God for helping me see that he was my husband. 

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Raising Adults

Years ago, when my now 3 year old was a baby, my husband and I read the book Premeditated Parenting (which I totally recommend, by the way). In one section of it, the author talks about what you want your teenage child to be like. Have you ever stopped to think about that?! They encouraged us to sit down and write out a list with characteristics we want our 16 year old to have. Now, when you have an infant, it’s hard to imagine that they will ever grow up to be that age, but it’s a good exercise. When you really start to think about the fact that you are raising an adult, it becomes a lot easier to be intentional.
Head over to the Project: On Purpose site today to check out the rest of my post! 
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Clothing Your Mom Bod

If you are a mom whose body went right back to normal and you walked out of the hospital in your pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, then this post is not for you.
If you are a mom who has trouble areas that were never trouble areas before, whose body shape has changed, or simply has some extra baby pounds to shed, then this post is for you! 
Before having kids, I never really had to worry about clothes not being flattering on me. Even in the year or two before having kids when I weighed a bit more than I preferred, I still had a flat stomach and clothes looked fine once I went up a size. After having kids....that's a different story. Even though I currently weigh almost 10 pounds less than I did before I ever got pregnant, things just aren't the same. I definitely do not have a flat stomach and the love handles I am rocking are a totally new thing to me. But hey, that belly housed an 11 pound baby, so it's bound to happen, and I am OK with it! I've come to terms with the fact that I could lose all the weight I possibly can and my shape just won't be the same. I know this isn't the case for everyone, but for me it is. I finally figured out several months ago, that it was more about the clothes I was wearing. I needed to find things that were more flattering for my mom bod, instead of trying to squeeze into pre-baby clothes that just didn't look good, even if they fit just fine. I wasn't feeling good whenever I got dressed and that can take a toll on you emotionally! Especially if you are already feeling self conscious after having a baby. Here are some of the steps I've taken to feeling better in my clothes again (besides working out and eating healthy). 

Identify your "problem" areas. This is one of the hardest things to do, but you already know what they are. I hate to even call them problem areas because they aren't a problem, but that's the best term I have here. The areas that make you feel self conscious or that are least flattering in clothes. Post kids, it's my stomach region. So for me, I am going to focus on finding clothing that flatters my middle section. Identify the areas you are having trouble clothing, and go from there.
Go through your closet. Take a look at your closet and pitch the things you already know aren't going to work. This was really hard for me because for a long time I saved things that I used to love in hopes that it would someday flatter me again. I had to come to terms with the fact that it might not. And it's ok! It really is. If you do want to keep them for the future, start a box or tote to keep them in until that day comes. After going through those, make a pile of the things you think might be ok and try those on. Take a good look in the mirror from every angle. Ask your husband to take pictures of the back if you need to. Do whatever it takes and ask yourself if you really feel comfortable in it, and if it flatters you at this exact moment. If it doesn't, add it to the other pile or box. 
Browse styles. Think about what is going to be most flattering on you. I used to wear pretty plain tops and jeans with cute accessories. Now, plain and fitted tops are the least flattering on me because they draw attention to my middle section, which is exactly what I don't want. I have found that patterned tops and tops with extra fabric on the front are my best bet! Look online, on pinterest, on style blogs, etc. for different options and decide what you think will be some of your best and most flattering bets. 
Ruffling on the front means nobody (except now all of you) knows what's goin' on under there.
Make a list. Now's the time to really narrow down what you're looking for. Maybe you are set on pants and it is tops that are your problem right now. Write that down. Write down a few specifics of what you are looking for so you can keep those in mind. I.e. tank tops or jackets. This will help you not to stray and just  buy pants because you know they work and make you feel good. Last spring, I knew I needed shorts so that was the number one thing on my list to find. I wasn't sure what style would be best, but while trying on clothes, I quickly figured it out...see the next point!
Go shopping! The best part, right?! Well, maybe. I used to just be able to walk in a store, grab my size and check out without trying things on. If I liked a shirt and it was in my size, it worked. Now, that is so not the case. I have to try it on and actually look at it from every angle, move around in it the ways I move with my kids, etc. to see if it is going to work for me. I go with a broad category in mind (I recently needed summer tops and shorts), and try on a few styles to see what is going to work. I found out that jean shorts are generally less flattering on me than colored shorts. Go figure! So I stuck with the one pair of jean shorts that I had, and bought a few pairs of colored shorts to get me through summer. 
Ask for opinions. Take a trusted friend with you, or text pictures to a few people and ask for their opinions. Keep it broad so there is no room for hurt feelings. Just ask them for their honest opinion...can you pull off that style? Is it flattering on you or not so much? Sometimes someone else will notice something that you won't notice, or vice versa. If everyone else says you look great in it and all you can notice is your muffin top, chances are other people aren't noticing it. But ultimately you should buy what you are most comfortable in! 
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Colorado Trip

Last weekend, we traveled to Colorado for Labor Day! Some of our dearest friends had their first baby in June and we wanted to see the little snuggler in person, as well as my family! 
We left Friday morning and drove about 12 hours to get to my brother's house where we were staying. 
We got in about an hour before my girl's and niece's bedtimes so it worked perfectly for them to play a little, then hit the hay! 
Saturday, we woke up, had breakfast and went out to my mom's house for the morning. The girls had fun exploring the lake (in their clothes! Thanks Grammie!), walking the trails, having lunch and a tea party with Grammie.

My sister-in-law and I had an appointment and I stopped in to see a high school friend at her salon while the girls napped at my mom's. 
After we left my mom's we went to see the new baby! She is so precious. My daughter has been asking me for months about holding "baby No-wuh". So stinkin cute!

After baby snuggles, we met up with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and mom at a local hole in the wall BBQ joint for dinner, then headed back home for the night and had a cousin photo shoot.
Sunday, we met up with some high school friends at the park for a little bit in the morning while the daddies played frisbee golf. Not pictured is my brother pushing both my girls in swings with one arm in a sling from shoulder surgery. Rock star!

Then we went to lunch and back to my brother's for naps.
My mom came over then, we played when everyone woke up then headed into town for errands and to eat at the Cracker Barrel. We don't have one here and my husband has been wanting to try it. It did not disappoint! Good home cookin'! 

Monday, we headed up to Estes Park after breakfast. We visited the site where my Grandma is and took some beautiful mountain pictures there. 

Can you tell who the ham is?! 

We had lunch and then headed to see this beautiful log home my grandparents built when I was little. So so many of my childhood memories are in this house. My brother recently noticed it was for sale, so we called the realtor and he graciously agreed to let us come see it! It was so fun sharing that with my family. 

We headed back down the mountain after that, dropped my mom off and said our goodbyes, then headed back to my brother's. My husband went to play frisbee golf again with his buddy, so the girls and I went over to see the baby again! We went back home and grilled out in the backyard while the cousins splashed in the pool and ran around enjoying the sunshine. It was a pretty perfect evening! 

We always had some good chat time after all the girls went to bed with my brother and his wife which was super fun. We are always busy with our kids and don't get to spend much time together with them since we live so far away so this was great! 
Tuesday morning we hit the road early and made the drive back. Both girls were a little short on sleep from the trip so we got a few extra hours of sleep in there during the drive and they did really well again. 

It's always great to go home and visit. It really makes me miss Colorado. I took a lot of things for granted when I lived there, and now that I don't, I really appreciate its beauty, and all the awesome things it offers! 
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