For family and friends

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Spy Night for Awana. We may have gone a little overboard. These are actually after so the mustaches are starting to come off. Too much fun. Except that not many other kids dressed up so there were just three random pastor’s kids walking around like… thugs? gangsters? Spies! Not so subtle. = )

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And there was one random nursery occupant with a mustache.
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Hope and Sophia got to go on a super special date with Daddy, so Mommy had the two little girls all to herself for a whole day! Of course we started with painting. And non-pajama clothing is totally overrated.

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Beautiful Gracie.
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Proud of the final product.
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I really like hers. She went up and down the row of colors. So organized.
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Dinner at the counter while Mommy does dishes.

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Painting fingernails and toenails also made the agenda.

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Hope reading Charlotte’s Web to her “baby.”
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Waiting not-so-patiently for lunch. The face was too much, I had to take a picture.
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Taking turns stirring the pot while we make homemade yogurt.

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I hope everyone is doing well! We love and miss you all.

Christie

A little optimistic reality for expectant and first-time moms

Sometimes I read posts that try to encourage young mothers by contrasting the long-term influence, joy, and blessing of motherhood with the current state of walking around as a sleepless, friendless, spit-up crusted, hardly ever attractive-or-cordial-with-one’s-husband zombie.

Women are encouraged to take heart and embrace the mess of motherhood knowing that one day they will miss these precious years.

I often wonder if those reading who have not yet had children are terrified. “I won’t shower for days? I’ll have to walk around with {fill in the blank} disgusting baby substance all over my clothes? I will growl at my husband every day when he walks in the door? My toddlers will scream uncontrollably while I try to remember these are actually the best years of my life?” Where is the exception clause?

So I felt it incumbent upon myself to tell whoever might be reading that it is not always that way.

I personally don’t think I’ve ever gone an entire day without taking a shower. Sure sometimes I would have rather it been right when I woke up and it ended up being right before I went to bed. Yes, there were things that totally fell apart after I had my first baby -namely doing dishes, making meals, and keeping laundry clean. But I wasn’t that great at those things to begin with. And little by little after the initial “black hole” post-pregnancy time, things started to come back together.

*I call about the first six weeks after delivery the “black hole.” Simply because though life still clicks along and happens, I can never remember anything about it. You look back and wonder how anything got done, but know that somehow you did eat and sleep and bathe.

I know a lot of moms, young and old, who’s lives did not completely fall apart when they had a baby.

Will there be days that are hard? Yes.

Will there be disgusting things to clean up? Yes.

Will you be able to keep every up every personal and domestic habit you enjoyed before children? Probably not.

But will your days be characterized by less-than-human conditions? Probably not.

Now are there people who have a really tough time regaining a “new normal” after having kids? Who do feel like they can’t struggle to the top of messes and sleep-deprivation and schedule changes and sickness? Of course. And if that is what one finds themselves enduring, that person needs hope. And if posts like the above-mentioned help, then I am sincerely all for that.

But if you’re out there, about to have a baby… take heart. Don’t be freaked out by drama and “realism.” Yes, you’re about to face a challenging time of life. But it’s doable. It will look different for every person and family; every child produces unique joys and challenges. Chances are, sometime during the first few months, you will figure out how to venture out of the house with a new little one in tow. Perhaps there will even be a grocery trip or a meal made. You will discover with great joy that you’re little sweetie can lay happily in a crib while you get a shower. Or maybe they’ll be cool enough to sit in a bouncy seat in the bathroom while you sing your favorite tunes and scrub away. Maybe not, but you will figure it out eventually. (in most cases, people do!)

Motherhood is a privilege, a great adventure, and above all a gift. God gives grace and new mercy every day.

So from one very average, imperfect, “real” momma to another, you can do it; and if you haven’t “done” it yet –it’s not so bad. I highly recommend it. ; )

Girl or Boy – my feelings heading into the ultrasound

“Are you hoping for a boy?”

“Do you keep trying for a boy?”

“Is Dad going to get his boy this time?”

imageIt’s only normal for people to wonder. And it’s only normal for us to wonder how they can’t see how much we love our all-girl life.

“How’s your husband do with that?” every last talkative stranger has asked.

“Actually, he loves it.” I reply. “He is king of the hill around our house. Those girls adore him.”

But when you know there’s another baby in your belly, and you don’t know what it is it yet, your mind does begin to wonder what it would be like.

Thoughts of ease, of keeping things how they are, of a new adventure, something totally new, of insecurity, of really dirty bathrooms… all run through your head.

But after five months of waiting, the time is finally here. Lord-willing, this morning we will find out if our newest little baby is a boy or a girl.

And this is how I feel about it:

First, I will just be happy to hear that sweet heartbeat and see that tiny baby moving around in there. We are not owed anything, and should we discover some bad news, it would be our place to give thanks for the joy this child has already brought and receive with trust and joy whatever plans God has for the future.

Second, if it was a girl… I would be so excited. I can’t say it enough, we love our all-girl life. Each one is so uniquely wonderful and adds so much to our family. Their love for their dad and for each other is enough to fill my heart to overflowing. I can’t even imagine the fun another one would add.

Third, if it was a boy… I would be so excited. And scared. And then excited again. What would I do with it? How would I talk to it? I have no idea!! It would be so much fun to figure out! I have a name that I really love that we would get to name it. We would get to welcome a whole new set of toys into our home… trucks and dinosaurs and army men. We would have to figure out a whole new family dynamic.

imageSo which one do we want? I’ll admit there have been times where I strongly wanted another girl and other times where I really wanted a boy; but right now… I really don’t care.

Every time I try to imagine either one, it’s just really exciting.

New little baby,

I can’t wait to find out what you are. But I want you to know that I couldn’t love you more if you were different in any other way. Your sisters are already crazy about you. And Hope, Sophia, and Mckayla will love you so much even if you are a girl. Just look at how much the older ones love Mckayla. And Gracie, bless her heart, if you are a boy… she will learn that not all boys are dirty and stinky and mean, she will love you very much. 

Stay safe in there, okay? Your sisters all pray for you and your Daddy and I, too. We love you so much and can’t wait to see you. 

Love,

Mommy

P.S. Enjoy the calm while you can, because once you are on this side you will be in for the adventure of your life! xoxo

If I said and you said

If I said that I’ve craved and willingly eaten a pickle for the first time in my life,

that the stupidest commercials, signs, songs, -even seeing a man put his arm around his wife in church- are makng me tear up like a silly goose,

that going to bed earlier is becoming more and more attractive,

that getting frustrated for no reason at all is becoming easier and easier,

that hugging Mckayla holds a new level of sweetness for me,

that my house is growing messy and I can’t seem to do anything about it,

that I can only eat about 3/4 of what I used to, but that I’m very thankful for any appetite at all,

that Paul coming home at the end of the day seems like a great prize that I wait all day for,

that some mornings we’ve had to postpone school so Mommy could rest on the couch,

and that $.77 boxed macaroni and cheese has made it back into the lunch rotation,

you might say that I may be pregnant.

And you would be right.

= )

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New Year’s Day questions for my kids

I have a lot to do today. We have not been operating at full steam around here, but the chaos caused by daily life has kept clicking right along.

On the list would be to make more of a dent in the laundry, clean the bathrooms (gag), start thinking about a menu and grocery list for the week, and check the calendar to see when we’re scheduled to resume homeschooling.

We’re going to fellowship with some friends in the afternoon, so I almost began strategizing about how to accomplish my tasks by lunch.

But I want something about this New Year’s Day to be special for the girlies. My six and four-year-old are old enough to sort of understand the concept of “out with the old in with the new.”

So my idea is to ask them questions about last year, and see what their opinions/desires, even goals might be for the New Year.

You never know with kids; sometimes they’ll really surprise you.

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Here are my ideas for questions:

*What was your favorite thing about last year?

*What was the worst thing that happened last year?

*What do you think you learned last year?

*What is one thing you really hope happens this year?

*What would you like to do more of this year?

*What part of obeying Daddy and Mommy do you think you should work on this year?

*How do you think you could be more loving to your family this year?

*How do you think we should try to help other people who don’t have as much as we do this year?

*What is something you would like to learn this year?

*Where is somewhere you would like to go this year?

*If you had a choice between Mommy reading to you more or teaching you music and piano more, which would you choose?

*What is one thing you want to work on this year?

*What would you like Mommy to do more of this year?

*What would you like Mommy to do less of this year?

*What do you want to pray for about this year?

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This is a very rough, in-the-moment sketch; but I really want to try it!

Maybe this could be a sweet New Year’s Day tradition?

Here’s to resolving to spend time asking and listening in the morning!

Happy New Year!

Lempa Creative – our favorite photographers

Hey everyone!

Just wanted to highlight our favorite photographers today!

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Dale and Jill Lempa of Lempa Creative have done photos for us twice now. Both times have been super fun and stress free – which is saying something when four little kids are involved! Best of all, we have amazing photos to remember these special years of our life.

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My current header image is from them. If you know Hope, it captures her personality perfectly. Also, images for my About page and facebook page are from them.

To see the shots from this year, click here.

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I cannot say enough about how Dale and Jill work so well with children. They’re laid back enough to not stress everyone out and patient enough to get the shots that we all Mommy really wants.

While Mckayla was a little distressed over not being able to see Mommy and Daddy during a certain shot, they caught these of the older girls.

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So cute, right?

Also, they listen so well to your ideas and really strive to give you what you want as well as adding in their own expertise and creativity.

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Here are some links if you’re interested about learning more:

Lempa Creative (this link is for their blog)

Portrait Portfolio

Eighteen Reasons to Hire a Professional Wedding Photographer (great post from their sight)

We cannot recommend them highly enough! Check out their website for engagement, wedding, family and individual photography.

Thank you so much, Dale and Jill! We’ll treasure these pictures for a lifetime.

For family and friends: third week of school

These pictures will not portray an ounce of glamour, but wow, did we ever have a fun week! Hope you enjoy: I’ll just make a brief caption at the bottom of each picture.

The boxcar kids. They lined up all the boxes, called it a car, and went to McDonald's.
The boxcar kids. They lined up all the boxes, called it a car, and went to McDonald’s.
This carseat box was golden entertainment for a day and a half. During this picture, Hope, Sophia, and Gracie were in the box hiding from a storm.
This carseat box was golden entertainment for a day and a half. During this picture, Hope, Sophia, and Gracie were in the box hiding from a storm.
Yummy impromptu orange chicken dinner made for Paul after the girls were in bed. Perhaps my summer-long lack of cooking mojo is coming to an end. (fingers crossed)
Yummy impromptu orange chicken dinner made for Paul after the girls were in bed. Perhaps my summer-long lack of cooking mojo is coming to an end. (fingers crossed)
Almost too much for this safety nut to handle. Hopey stirred a pot on the stove for the first time for her bread-making history project.
Almost too much for this safety nut to handle. Hopey stirred a pot on the stove for the first time for her bread-making history project.
These pictures rather melt my heart.
These pictures rather melt my heart.
Gracie sweet hands having a chance to work with the dough. Picture by Hope.
Gracie’s sweet hands having a chance to work with the dough. Picture by Hope.
Best shot of Mckayla helping (taken by Sophia)
Best shot of Mckayla helping (taken by Sophia)
She did so good!
She did so good!
Mommy and Hope got to bake homemade bread for the first time together.
Mommy and Hope got to bake homemade bread for the first time together.
Mckayla was no help at all, made it quite an adventure, and should be very, very thankful that she is so cute.
Mckayla was no help at all, made it quite an adventure, and should be very, very thankful that she is so cute.
I think Sophia's been wanting to use a real rolling pin for at least two years.
I think Sophia’s been wanting to use a real rolling pin for at least two years.
We really made bread! After a whole day of work on it, it was so yummy! Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. Hooray!
We really made bread! After a whole day of work on it, it was so yummy! Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. Hooray!
Finished my first wreath on Saturday afternoon, just in time to celebrate the first day of fall. I was very, very happy.
Finished my first wreath on Saturday afternoon, just in time to celebrate the first day of fall. I was very, very happy.
The girlies always want me to take a picture when they pile on to Daddy. They were trying to act like they were asleep.
The girlies always want me to take a picture when they pile on to Daddy. They were trying to act like they were asleep.
This is one loved Daddy.
This is one loved Daddy.
How is it possible that this little girl is heading off to Cubbies? (she loved it!)
How is it possible that this little girl is heading off to Cubbies? (she loved it!)

That’s our week in pictures!

Love to all,

Christie