Normal Day Treasures

6 10 2015

normal day

The sun is back. It’s been a long time since we have caught even a ray of it! Today can pretty much be chalked up to a perfect “normal” day. I thought a lot about how grateful I am to have a generally positive attitude, as I was pulled in a million different directions at work while my sons were away from me at daycare. I began to look for the treasures hidden in the day, reflecting on each one as its own silver lining. I hope to collect these thoughts later in my journal of blessings (inspired by Ann Voskamp).

The fog settling over the valley was so pretty during my drive to work this morning. Stumbling over my words as I tried to explain fog to my 3-year-old.

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My 12-month-old waving goodbye to me from the comfort of his teacher’s arms. A tear-free transition. Finally.

Arriving to work 10 minutes early and using the time to walk a prayer circle behind the school. Still in awe that I get to work in such a beautiful place.

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And feeling blessed that at my new job, I get to be a full-blown counselor. Almost 100% of my time is spent directly with students individually, in small groups, and in the classroom (I log my hours in NoteCounselor after school every day). When I’m not directly with students, I’m talking to their parents or conferencing with their teachers, also direct hours. It makes for busy days, and my principal has begun to exclaim, “You came back!” after some of the most eventful days.

Getting a handwritten card from my principal, just thanking me for being at the school and being a positive light.

Having one of the most respected teachers in the school, the one who never speaks when I teach in her classroom, seek me out in my office later just to say, “Thank you. You have such a calm and soothing voice for the kids, you talk to them in such a way that they have no choice but to want to follow your directions.”

Me: an awe-struck puddle on the floor.

Missing lunch to facilitate the toughest small group of them all, and seeing the boys’ tough exteriors begin to crack as they slowly trust each other. Finding a pocket of 10 minutes afterward to eat a bowl of hot soup and a full-size Hershey bar.

At car rider duty, a parent sincerely telling me, “It’s so nice to see a smiling face every single day. Thank you.”

Staying after school to coach a running club, running alongside a new coworker who is exactly my pace, and finding out we grew up in the same hometown.

My 3-year-old, after spotting me at daycare, running toward the gate with open arms, not yet too cool for such affection over Mommy or for falling head over heels to hug me.

Finding a free book for the boys in our mailbox: “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat.”

Wolfing down leftover Greek dinner my husband made last night before leaving the house one last time for the evening.

Driving through my favorite canopy of trees today…

…six different times.

The first and sixth trips with cups of hot coffee.

Opting to let my hairdresser straighten my hair before I left. (I ALWAYS leave the salon with wet curly hair.) Laughing with her about the 3 wiry white hairs I found on my head this week.

Teaching my 3-year-old how to play a board game before bed. How to roll a die. How to take turns and play fairly.

Watching his excitement as he taught his daddy how to play the same game while I watched, nursing the baby to sleep.

Trying on pretty Stitch Fix items, debating what to keep and what to send back.

Finding quiet time to blog and do laundry.

Grateful for my decision to cloth diaper as I hung them to dry. Looking forward to having a new friend over next week who wants to learn about cloth diapers.

Thinking about the 5 cute little cloth diaper pails, lined up all in a row at daycare.

Being able to answer my toddler when he asked, “Mommy, are you coming to the pumpkin patch with me and my class?”

“Yes, Mommy is coming.”

I’d rearrange the world for you. 

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Reclaiming Life Lately

6 09 2015

Last year was an act of learning to juggle a toddler and a newborn as a working/commuting mom, and our schedule was hectic and seemingly unforgiving. I wouldn’t trade my kids’ ages for the world, but I am slowly trying to make large and small decisions that will best impact our family, fine-tuning our routines in an attempt to simplify and gain minutes.

JOB | One of the biggest changes I made this year was switching my job (not my career) to a new location, cutting my commute in half. I also don’t have to be at work quite as early anymore, so that also allows me more time at home in the mornings and evenings.

SCALE | I bought a small digital postage scale and now save dozens of trips to the post office when I need to ship things I’ve sold online, which is about 3-4 times per week. I just use PayPal, which is cheaper than USPS anyway. Game-changer!

CLUTTER | I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and have spent a good chunk of time lately de-cluttering. Marie Kondo teaches how to evaluate every item in your home to determine whether to keep it or discard it. Just read it, I promise. I am the most sentimental person and I threw away things I never would have before!

I used to hate cleaning and now I actually look forward to it because I know I’m only surrounded by the items that I love and will use. My husband and I have a large master bedroom that was a constant source of stress for me with all its clutter and heavy, tired furniture. After reading Kondo’s tried-and-true, step-by-step method of “tidying,” I was able to get rid of at least 5 truckloads of stuff from my bedroom and one closet alone – some donated, most tossed, some in a yardsale pile. Once I de-cluttered, I realized we no longer had a need for 4 – FOUR! – of the large pieces of furniture in our bedroom, which were just there hiding junk! As a treat for our reclaimed space, I scored an oversized mirror at HomeGoods to hang against one newly-bare wall. (This wall used to have a changing table piled high with mountains of baby laundry all over it. We never even changed the baby on it!)

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Where a once-overflowing computer desk was, I staged a chair, ottoman, side table, throw blanket, and lamp to create a relaxing reading nook. It’s actually where I’m blogging right now!

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This freed up a lot of the furniture that had been crowding our living room. We also removed the footboard from our king-sized bed, which made a world of difference in opening up the room – who would have guessed that such a simple change would have such a big impact? I found new lamps at TJ Maxx that are brighter and more whimsical.

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I only use my dresser for running clothes and gear, but I followed the book’s advice on folding vertically and it worked!Before and after

Eventually we want to change out basically everything – the paint, flooring, bedding, and curtains (and paint the furniture and add new hardware), but right now we have other priorities. Still, it has been fun making lots of trips to HomeGoods and TJ Maxx this week for inspiration!

HomeGoods TJ Maxx

CRIB | We finally transitioned our 11-month-old out of the Pack-n-Play in our room into a crib in his own room for the first time, which we meant to do when he turned 6 months. Of course I loved having him right there with us, especially with nursing, but it’s also nice not to have to tiptoe around or worry about turning lights on anymore.

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With these changes, I’ve been able to devote more time in the mornings to getting my kids dressed, and we all eat breakfast together now. And I can sleep in 15 minutes later than I did last year! I now have the option of swinging by the house after work on my way to daycare to unload my car and get a few chores started/done so that I can be more present with my family once we are all home. Otherwise, I’m running around trying to get things washed and repacked for the next day during my precious family time. Our things all have a place now, so nothing is left just lying around creating more visual clutter. It’s SUCH a breath of fresh air!

I hope that you all are able to make the most of your time this holiday weekend! I’m so excited that fall will be here soon!





When God Calls You to Move…

24 07 2015

So I blog, but I never share the things I write in my paper prayer journal. But here is the series of thoughts  I wrote this summer… and how I feel that God led me to step out of my comfort zone to leave the job I LOVE to move to a job much closer to home.

July 6, 2015 (31st birthday): God, please help me to grow closer to you this year. And to be nicer. And to yell at my kids less. And to love big. And find grace. Laugh at myself more. Ask for help more. Notice more. Help me to seek the quiet place where I can hear You. Help me to give my best yeses. God, thank you for loving me. And for putting my husband on my path to braid my walk with his. Thank you for the blessings of my boys. Amen.

July 14, 2015: God moves in big ways. This summer, the elementary school close to my house has been on my heart as a potential place for me to work sometime in the future. Currently, I commute to another city for my job. It takes me 2 hours roundtrip, including daycare dropoff/pickup. I met the principal and secretary of the school while taking the boys to a summer reading program there and enjoyed talking to both of them. Just for fun, I had timed the commute and later had a playdate at the school. [But still, there was no reason for me to anticipate an opening there anytime soon.]

Last night in my women’s Bible study we talked about discerning God’s will. We are reading the book, “Is That Really You, God?” by Loren Cunningham. One woman mentioned that every opportunity we face could either be a potential detour or God’s will for us. We talked about how it’s easier to steer a moving vehicle, so maybe we should just go for opportunities – don’t agonize over the decisions. God will be in all the places. Maybe our calling is more about glorifying God for the opportunities we are given – recognizing that the pieces coming together come from God. Another friend likened listening to God to playing hide-n-seek with a toddler – He’ll give signs and not hide so well that we can’t find Him. He’ll “stick a foot out, make some noises” – God doesn’t try to trick us, but sometimes we think He is.

“Have you checked your life lately against your original call?” We also talked about the discipline Cunningham describes of not talking about your calling until God gives permission to do so. Today, by chance, I ran into the counselor at the elementary school near my house. I made the choice to go over to her to say hi, and when I asked her about her summer, I learned that she had just gotten married and moved out near my school — really?! I jokingly told her that we should trade, since I live right around the corner from her school, and she will be commuting as well. She said, “you know, we should!”  She immediately sent an email to our supervisor, and I did the same. We learned that the process to switch is quite simple – both principals have to be in agreement, we both submit a written request to transfer, Central Office approves it, and it’s a done-deal. I didn’t think I was one to overshare until today. I am bursting to tell EVERYONE how things seemed to be lining up for a move.

Can a door opening be a counterfeit? Or only if it steers me away from His will? “The will of God is doing and saying the right thing in the right place, with the right people, at the right time, and in the right sequence, under the right leadership, using the right method, with the right attitude of heart,” Cunningham wrote.

Still July 14, 2015:

After dinner tonight, my husband said he felt a push to take me on a prayer walk at this local school. As we neared the school, we almost chickened out because of the rainstorm surrounding us as far as the eye could see. As we approached the city lines, we could see that it had already rained. But we both felt like this school was where we needed to be that night. The local Christian radio station was playing “Praise You in this Storm” – my husband noticed and pointed it out to me.

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The cloud formations were stunning. The lightning started during our prayer walk, but we continued walking around the perimeter of the school, each of us praying. We also talked a lot, and oddly enough, our toddler walked slightly ahead of us, not even begging to go to his favorite playground.
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We found a little track around the school, and I thought about potential coaching opportunities. I started the “Girls on the Run” program at my school.

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“We have about 5 minutes before the rain hits,” my husband predicted. We made our way back to the car as quickly as we could with our two little boys. As we walked, we saw a hint of pinkish/coral-colored light coming from behind the school buildings. It drew us in and took our breath away as we found the best view of the sunset right from our car.

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God had used the oncoming rain to bring us back to our car at that very moment, just as the rain grew heavy and intimidating. We strapped in the kids, and the moment we were inside our car, the amazing sunset faded back to blue and the rain started. If we had been a minute later, we would have missed God’s handiwork.

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But as the rain cleared once more, He backlit the clouds with the beautiful tips of coral again, long enough to grab some pictures.

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We were driving home when we began to notice the sunset again. I had already remarked to my husband that I felt like God had used the sunset to wave at me after my prayer walk. He kept driving, taking a different way home, as I began to wonder what other signs God would give me. We rounded a curve and this.

Just this.

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The most spectacular sunset I’ve seen. Once home, heat lightning took the stage.

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We have been talking quite a bit about calling in Bible study this week. We each received a bookmark listing of favorite scriptures collected from the group. I looked up the very first verse on the bookmark. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 was the reference. I read past it, and then I found 1 Thessalonians 5:24: “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” Last night in Bible study, we talked about hearing from God. But how do we know if it’s what God wants or what we want?? I had even wondered hypothetically about this other elementary school – should I start praying for it, or is that just something I wanted?

God painted quite the picture for me today. If God wasn’t nudging me the way a mom hints at a toddler playing hide-n-seek with her, I don’t know what to make of His miraculous signs.

God, this is in your hands. Please help me know what to do to move forward if this truly is Your will for me. Amen. 

July 15, 2015: 

I woke up this morning pretty nervous about the conversation I would be having with my current principal about a potential move, especially since it would follow our team meeting in which we’d be planning out the year. But instead of rehearsing what to say, I prayed that God would give me the right words to say at the right time. I felt like a MLB player being traded! I sent the principal a email to request a quick chat after our team meeting.

After the meeting, someone wanted his attention. And then he got a phone call. I wondered if this was Satan’s way of trying to get me to chicken out. (I don’t usually think of situations happening in this way, but that’s how this Bible study has made me to interpret things recently). God opened so many new doors for me today. In my meeting, I learned that this local elementary school would be building a new facility simultaneously with our new school, with identical floor plans, both to open in two years. So switching schools would not delay a new building for me. And my son would start kindergarten in a brand new school! My principal mentioned that he felt like he was in the major leagues, choosing players in the draft. The same thought I had.

Later that night, our toddler was a hot mess and was screaming for attention while I was trying to tell my husband about my promising conversations. I ended up hitting my head on my son’s metal bed frame pretty hard and lost it – I started yelling. Satan was trying to steal my joy in that moment. Would you know that the moment we finally finished our conversation, E was happy and content again!

So many doors have opened so easily – and our prayer walk last night was a bold proclamation from God.

July 16, 2015: 

No news today, except that my principal reached out to the principal of the other school about the possibility of an exchange and told me that she is on vacation.

Today was a faith day. It’s out of my hands, and God is in control. I don’t feel rushed with timing – I’ll be where I need to be. And I’ll be happy with either place.

I do think about it, but I feel at peace so far. I haven’t told any of my friends yet… that scares me. We leave for vacation to Tennessee on Saturday, and I have a feeling things will have to get real pretty soon after that.

We went back to the elementary school tonight for another spectacular sunset. I wrote “FAITH” on the rockwall with chalk. Here is where I need faith. My biggest fear is that this decision is irreversible! I’m most worried about missing my dearest friends, making new friends, and the unknown.

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July 17, 2015: Reading “Is That Really You, God?” – excerpts that spoke to me today as we planned for our trip to Tennessee:

“What do you want me to do now, Lord?

“in obedience he made travel plans,”

“Everything was happening too quickly and too spectacularly, and the amazing series of events was not over yet” (169).

“After such a stunning series of Bible-story-like encouragements, we had to plunge ahead with negotiations,” “I suppose God had to be so overwhelmingly obvious with me because He knew I might give up otherwise” (170).

I love my current school. My very best friends are there, and many of us went through pregnancies together. I am so slow to warm up to people that starting a new job would be way out of my comfort zone. It always seems to take me a whole year in a new place to feel really comfortable – just thinking back to when I went to college, grad school, started new jobs, churches, etc.

But 2 Corinthians 12:9 promises, “Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Moving and being new is a weakness for me. 

I do ask the “why” questions – what is my ministry that I need to be at a different school right now and leave all my friends? And then I maybe found the answer I needed to hear:

“If the guidance moves people into a deeper relationship with the Lord, then the direction is probably from God” (172)

As divine guidance begins to unfold, it always seems to come with hard, gritty work. Gone is the thrill of the original leading” (178).

July 20, 2015: From Hebrews 11:1 (Message) “By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home… they accepted the fact that they were transients in this world… through acts of faith… they were protected.”

From James 1: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.

Right now, the light is pouring down through the canopy of trees at our cozy cabin in Tennessee, where we have now been for 3 days.

“Act on what you hear: But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” 

This morning I woke up doubtful, I admit, even thinking that staying at my current school would be a welcomed answer – back into my comfort zone. Not hearing anything from either principal has me doubting where I am supposed to be, so I sought God’s word this morning to get my faith in check. I’m listening to the songbirds in Tennessee, sitting in a wooden rocker on the porch with my Bible, journal, and coffee. Truly a gift. Light is streaming through the woods, and I literally just heard a tree fall!

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As I bowed my head, I breathed in the sound of the songbirds. I told God I was ready to listen. The birds went silent for a moment. As I thought about what that could mean, I realized God was clearing the way for me to listen. And then the big AC unit went silent on the porch, and the songbirds went completely silent again throughout the woods. And I really felt God telling me to “stay with me on this.” After the stillness, I heard the chatter of my little boys inside the cabin, and I have to remember that my family is the reason I’m even considering this leap of faith. I’ll admit that when I woke up this morning, I wondered if God put me through this process just to see how far I’d step out in faith, just as a test. And then maybe He’d take it away from me once knowing that I grew closer to listening to Him in the process. But I continued to read in James today about this: “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil to say, ‘God is trying to trip me up.’ The temptation to give into evil comes from us and only us.” 

So, my friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.”

Maybe Satan is trying to have me doubt God’s plan. Trying to rationalize why I don’t have answers immediately. I’ll admit I don’t often see how or when Satan is trying to creep into my thoughts, cutting through my line of faith. But that doubt, that justification in radio silence is Satan. God wants me to put full-faith in this. And that could mean more waiting. But it won’t last forever.

God, help me to find more moments of quiet with you. To put my faith to work and give me patience in your process. Keep Satan at bay, the Satan who is trying to get me to rationalize why this plan may not be happening, at least not right away. You put this desire on my heart for a reason when you did (this summer, and especially that night of Bible study), you brought me to this quiet place in the woods (instead of our original plan to go to the beach), in the cabin of a good Christian couple — I read that your gifts are “desirable and beneficial.” This isn’t just a desire of my heart, but a gift of time with family that will be priceless. I truly believe You found me here this morning.

I am looking at some leaves on a branch of a nearby tree, and they started to raise up in the wind. And as I watched them lift and lower, the lyrics “You’re the whisper in the wind” came to mind… is it maybe Lonestar? I’m Already There? Right then, before my eyes, a bunch of water fell from the treetops right along those leaves, just in that one tiny spot.

Thank you, God, for Your counsel. The affirmation in signs that I heard and saw today. For your promise in Scripture and how it always comes at the right time, when we’re seeking Your guidance. Help me to continue to listen for Your voice. Amen. 

The tree branch waved again, the crickets fired up to add a layer of sound to the songbirds’ calls, and there is music in the woods again. And I can hear my baby crying inside now!

July 20, 2015: Had to return to my treetop porch again this afternoon – we are having a beautiful storm – heavy rain, thunder, yet we are completely protected on this porch – dry, safe, and warm. The rain is cleansing. It’s not pouring through the leaves where I saw it before. Actually, there are pretty pink blossoms where I look up.

James 4 (Message): “In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.”

1 Peter 5: “God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.”

July 21, 2015: When I returned to my spot on the porch again this morning, my toddler asked why I was coming. “To pray,” I answered. “Why?” asked my 3-year-old. His new favorite question.

The “why” piece I may never know. I know the why on my end, but not God’s end. I read that God’s promise would be desirable and beneficial. Closer to home, and my boys could go to the new school with me when it opens in two years. I’m mostly at peace with the idea bc it has so blatantly been God’s will. In fact, if I did not listen to God and heed His guidance on this, I would be worried. I do worry about not seeing my friends on the daily. But maybe I don’t need to ever know why.

Reading Genesis 3 this morning: “If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce, it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”

July 22, 2015: Back on the porch. After my devotion about keeping my faith on Monday, I got an email from the other counselor that very afternoon! God’s timing is so, so incredible. In my faith, my walk, and in what He brings to fruition. Because I know He has a plan for me, I’m a little less-scared about the possibility of a new job. I decided to read Jeremiah 29:11+ in a different version, in the Message:

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”

I’ve always loved the NIV of this: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” “I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. 

I’m excited about a change, knowing that I have followed God’s lead through this process, as much as I am learning how. So I know there must be something good waiting for me on the other side. I always assumed I’d move eventually, I just didn’t realize it would happen so fast, and now! I’m hoping it will solve many questions for me down the road… God, continue to lead me to You, even as we leave this beautiful cabin today. Help me to find a new quiet time with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

July 23, 2015: We are back from our trip to Tennessee. Lots of commotion today – emails from several people who are all just waiting on me to send one quick email to Central Office officially requesting a transfer before everything can be finalized. I drafted the email but couldn’t pull the trigger on it just yet… I still felt like I needed to know more about what I was getting into. I felt like it was still a weak line in my faith, but I didn’t want to be completely blind-sided after leaving a position I love and have invested so much of myself in over the last six years. I was so afraid something was being overlooked, something was being sugar-coated. This whole process has been way too easy!

And so… an hour-long phone call to the new school. Another phone call to the woman with whom I’m switching positions. And then a 2-hour tour of the “new-to-me” building with my new principal. I heard everything I wanted to hear. I saw why this school needs a new building, too. She kept saying that this whole thing happened so quickly and that “it must be fate, it must be an intervention.”

And this is where I can’t forget about God. In my hesitation to share the news with my dearest friends, in my excitement about a fresh start, in my fears of the unknown and in my relief over logistics and no more commute, I need to praise God for this gift He has given me. And so, I shared parts of this story with my new principal. And it is here that I’ve shared more bits of the story.

It’s not over yet.





10 ways to transition from maternity leave

4 01 2015

So there’s a post in the queue tomorrow about heading back to work, but after I cried 3 times today at church about returning to work, I decided to reflect on what I’ve done to make the transition something to look forward to:

one | Daily inspiration.  I found a giant pack of Starbucks travel cups at our local warehouse for a few dollars. I wrote myself encouraging, inspiring, and funny messages for each morning that I’m grabbing my coffee and heading out the door. Yes, they are disposable, but if it’s one less thing to carry home amidst 2 kids, 2 diaper bags, my school bag, lunch, purse, diapers, wet bags, wipes, water bottles, my pump, infant car seat, jackets, kids’ lunches and bottles, and whatever else I’m sure to forget,* then it’s worth it to me. And one less cup to wash between pump parts and a zillion tiny bottle parts. Judge away. I’ll be washing cloth diapers. 🙂

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two | Random acts of kindness. I’ve planned a few random acts of kindness for my coworkers, which I’m excited about delivering. Do good, feel good.

three | Organizing clutter. In a quest to simplify before life spirals out of control, I decluttered my bedroom and office space. I used the “to do, to read, to file” method of sorting mounds of papers.

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four | Simplifying and notes of encouragement. I bought Emily Ley‘s weekly edition of her Simplified Planner and chose some pretty wallpapers with encouraging messages for my phone’s lock screen. I also put a fun background on my desktop at home.

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five | Preparing our family for change. *I dropped off a ton of stuff at my kids’ school/daycare so there’d be less to carry and/or forget tomorrow when we’re rushing. I also talked to the nursery teachers, asked a million questions, and let E see his old teachers from September to get him back in school-mode. He got a new lunchbox for Christmas, which I’m sure he’ll be proud of.

six | Getting back in teacher mode. I spent a bit of time last night reacquainting myself with my office, which I’ve only visited a few times in 13 weeks. I planned lessons for Monday that I’m excited about and read through all the notes my sub left me. I unpacked a ton of stuff and hung up new photo magnets of my kids. And we went out to dinner afterwards… so it felt more like a date, less like work.

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Maybe no one will notice if I keep the baby in there all day??

seven | Looking the part. On Friday, my kids simultaneously took 4-hour-naps. Of course it would happen on the last day of my maternity leave! I used the time to try on work clothes that I haven’t worn since before I was pregnant – over a year ago! I have been wearing pajamas for the last 3 months! I put together several outfits that still fit, took pictures of them, and made a quick-reference cheat sheet (now taped in my closet) that I can use to quickly choose an outfit each day.

eight | Changes for E. We had store credit accumulated 5 years ago at a local furniture store, so we used it to buy E a big-boy bed! We’ll put it together this week – I’m really looking forward to this new change!

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nine | Wedding! My baby brother gets married this week! So it’s really not even a full work week back for me!

ten | Snuggles. Lots and lots of baby snuggles and prayer. Let’s be honest, that’s mostly what I’ve been doing.

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Be sure to check back tomorrow morning!





oh hey Friday | linkup

15 08 2014

Linking today with Karli and Amy for oh hey, Friday and a quick recap of our week!

oh hey ONE | 

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This week we were back to school for real, and E is back to his school (daycare) and in a new class. He seems to like it – a lot of the kids and teachers are the same. He has to wear Pull-ups and make trips to the potty now that he’s 2. I also got a new co-counselor this week, and we’ll be sharing an office before/after my maternity leave. I already miss my friend who left, but this new guy seems great, too! Side note: This pic of E is actually Day 2 – my laptop erased Day 1 pics (where he was in dressy clothes) after I transferred them from my camera… 😦

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oh hey TWO |

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This happened. So adorable. They were making… 

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oh hey THREE |

…this dessert pizza. We went to an engagement party for my husband’s brother and his sweet fiancée and brought this dessert – one of our favorites! Fresh fruit on a homemade cookie crust. 

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oh hey FOUR |

34 weeks pregnancy 2014

This week, I hit 34 weeks… we are getting so close! Read my recap of how I almost went into early labor last Friday night HERE. I see my midwife every week now!

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oh hey FIVE |

Looking forward to celebrating my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary with 70 friends and family this weekend, then doing our maternity/family photos before this little guy comes along for real!

Happy Friday!





Three decades

6 07 2014

I love, love that I share back-to-back birthdays with my son – his is the day before mine! So while I reflected on him turning 2 this weekend, I’m also reflecting on turning 30!

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I could think back to high school to things I might have done differently, but I’ve been able to do so many awesome things during my 20s (and before) that I really don’t have regrets.

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Travels before 30 | Ireland, Canada, Kalispell Montana and Glacier National Park, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Utah, Arches National Park, Four Corners, Disney World x3, New York City (a lot!), Panama City Beach FL, Myrtle Beach (a lot!), OBX (a lot!), New Orleans, Chicago, mission trips to Jeremiah Project x2, Kinston NC, Brooklyn, Charleston, New Orleans, Homestead Resort – Hot Springs VA, Atlanta, lots more!

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Cool experiences | Helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon, hiked Arches National Park, rode a segway around Chicago with my best friend, did a handstand on the Four Corners, held an alligator, did the Busch Gardens Roller Coaster Insider Tour, ran 5 half marathons (Disney Princess, Charlottesville Half, Shamrock Half, Crawlin Crab, Myrtle Beach Mini), ran the Disney Marathon and the Shamrock Marathon, rode an elevator to top of Empire State Building and the Hancock Observatory, served as President of the UVA BSU and Alumni Committee, pet sharks, climbed the Statue of Liberty, ran a Spartan race, ran countless 5ks, 4-milers, 8ks, and 10ks, spun the Price is Right wheel, shot clay pigeons x2, camped out at Chick fil-a’s First 100 event, served as camp counselor, took ballet for 13 years, gave tours at Colonial Williamsburg for 8 years…. and so much more!

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Medical | Spinal fusion, 4 wisdom teeth out, 3 pregnancies (1 baby, 1 miscarriage, 1 on the way), hit by a deer, stepped on 2 nails, nursed my son for 18 months

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Milestones | Became an aunt, graduated UVA, graduated William & Mary, got engaged, got married, rented first house, started first school counselor job, built first house, started new job, adopted 2 dogs, lost 1 dog, miscarried, had a baby, joined one church, joined a new church, dedicated our baby boy, owned 4 cars, became pregnant with a second son.

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Hobbies | reading, jewelry-making, blogging, photography, running and races, Bible studies, teaching Sunday School at church

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…So what’s next for my 30s…? I don’t need to fixate on what I want to do next, because most of the adventures I’ve had were not things I planned a decade in advance. We’re fairly spontaneous except when it comes to growing our family and planning big trips! Oh, and running marathons. Because that took 9 months.

  • I think it’s safe to say that I definitely want to have a baby once I turn 30, and take a long (14-week) maternity leave to be home with my 2 boys…

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  • I really want to go on a hot air balloon ride. I won a tethered launch at school when I was 13 that got canceled due to rain, and both of our hot air balloon rides over Las Vegas were grounded due to high winds. And just recently for our 6th anniversary, they wouldn’t let me because I’m pregnant. So this is the closest I’ve come:

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October 2010

  • I would love to travel more – London, the National Parks in CA (Redwood, Sequoia, etc.)
  • Run more half marathons. Not making any commitments to run another full just yet!

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Something Sweet

1 06 2014

We had a full weekend of family, running, and Busch Gardens, but for now I just want to record a few sweet happenings from our Sunday. A much-needed reassurance that God is always there with us during life’s highs and lows, even and especially in the small things. And when I look back on today, that’s what I want to remember.

We arrived home at our 22-month-old’s bedtime, so we unpacked, gave him a bubble bath, and went straight to rocking him to sleep. I’m sure he was exhausted, because he skipped his nap yesterday to run around Busch Gardens for 9 hours.

{Relevant side note: While at Busch, he dropped his beloved Wubbanub dinosaur pacifier as we continued walking. We had given it to him because it was already an hour past his normal bedtime, and we were still walking around the park. He also fell at the same time, so he had a meltdown in absolute panic of losing his best friend. It reminded me of Tom Hanks when he lost his beloved Wilson on Cast Away. Heartbreaking. Luckily, Wubba was easily found and retrieved, and all was right in E’s world again. Scraped knees forgotten upon reunion.}

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SO. As I’m rocking him tonight, both Wubbas safely in his arms, he lifts up my shirt just enough to see my baby belly. He pushed the pacifier nub against my skin and said, “baby? baby?” And then, I kid you not, his little brother kicked back. So E hunched over and planted a soft kiss right there on my belly, and I asked him if he loves his brother. He nodded, then switched to his giraffe Wubba and held it against my belly, asking for “baby? baby?” I asked him if the baby could have his Wubba, and he nodded again. At the same time, he put his dinosaur Wubba against my lips and mumbled a long prayer, said “Amen,” and pulled it away. He did this prayer 4-5 times. I love my kid. Love, love him! He is such a sweet boy and I just know he’s going to be a great big brother. I never know what he understands about the baby, but it was what I needed, right then, to remind myself of what this extra weight I’m carrying is really all about.

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Earlier today, we enjoyed a little something sweet to celebrate our niece’s birthday at a local park with Duck Donuts. Yum! We also enjoyed a light lunch at Firebirds Wood-Fired Grill after an afternoon of shopping on our way home. It’s already feeling like summer even though the students still have a full week to go and we have workdays after that!

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{Five on Friday}

30 05 2014

Linking to Carolina Charm and friends today to kickoff Friday! The theme of today’s {Five on Friday} is 5 leaps of faith I’ve taken recently.

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{one} Coaching Girls on the Run – This year, I started a site at the elementary school where I work, recruited 14 enthusiastic/skeptical girls, and co-coached them to complete their first 5k. It required a lot of faith in startup and then sacrificing countless hours from my family after school, but we are excited to celebrate their end-of-season successes with a pool party next week! I’ve passed the torch for next season to 2 good friends who will be amazing coaches while I’m on maternity leave. My co-coach and I applied to present at a state-wide counselor association conference about the Girls on the Run season that we coached. This will take place 8 weeks after my son is born!

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{two} Running a marathon during this pregnancy. And then another. {26.2 miles apiece – I didn’t go halfsies.} Collecting these medals for my little boy’s nursery. Hoping to earn him another medal tomorrow!

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{three} Signing up to teach Sunday school for the summer. Without indicating an age preference to teach, I left it open for where God needed me. Which, as I anticipated, was with preschoolers. After attending a prayer breakfast at Panera the week before, one of the sentiments that stood out to me was when our children’s minister said, “We need to get on our knees and pray for the hearts of these children.” I knew then I needed to listen for where God could use me the most.

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{four} Switching from using doctors to using midwives. I’ve never blogged my birth story (it’s safe in my paper journal), but for me personally, I’m a believer in trying to stay as intervention-free as possible during childbirth. My preferences have a lot to do with my spinal fusion as a teenager and all the years of interventions I’ve had since so that my spine could support the weight of carrying a pregnancy to term. (I’ve been told twice that it couldn’t.) I was so blessed to have a healthy natural/med-free/intervention-free delivery the first go-round, but I had to advocate for it. Justify it. And the thought that I may have a different doctor this time around who may not be as agreeable was creating unnecessary stress on me. So I switched to a practice where the type of childbirth experience I hope to have is supported more readily. And God only knows how delivery will go and what might be needed, but if it’s one less thing to stress over now, I’m happy!

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maternity leave

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{five} Time with my newborn. I’ve run a lot of numbers and had a meeting, and I’ve decided to take the full 12 weeks of FMLA maternity leave I’m entitled to in the fall, half of which will be unpaid. The way my due date lands just before the holidays, I will return to work when my newborn is around 14-15 weeks old, twice as old as his brother was when I returned to work after having him. Because of the conference I mentioned above, I will be actually taking intermittent maternity leave so that I can professionally present at the conference and count those as paid workdays in the middle of my weeks of unpaid leave.

Steve Jobs

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{Five on Friday}

23 05 2014

Linking up with Carolina Charm for {Five on Friday}!

 

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{one} We have been working each night on E’s closet makeover as part of the nursery we are designing for the new baby. The theme of the new nursery will center around this gorgeous crate (and a wall hanging) we picked up at HomeGoods… now if only we could find a match for the crate, since we custom-built shelving to fit it! (We have searched online, Amazon, eBay, Michaels, RedLaser and other barcode apps, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Pier One, Pottery Barn, other HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls with no luck!) I may have to post to the HomeGoods blog for help. I’m trying to avoid making one because I don’t want the nursery to smell like stain! I’m also using reclaimed wood, burlap, and Annie Sloan chalk paint as inspiration.

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{two} On Monday, I took a huge bag of stuff from my office to Goodwill. I’m trying to pare down before our new counselor arrives in the fall and I go on maternity leave! I then treated myself to a half-priced Happy Hour strawberry limeade at Sonic. I have yet to find something I really like there, though. Suggestions? I’ve tried everything! Even E didn’t like the limeade after begging for a sip!

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{three} I also managed to squeeze in making a wedding video for a coworker this week. It’s going to be a surprise from the parents played during their daughter’s ceremony, so I’ll hold off on sharing the link but they LOVED it. I used to make all the videos for my school back before I had a toddler running around… I forgot how much I love it.

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I am in Preschool

{four} On Wednesday, I attended a training to be a Sunday School teacher for 2.5-4 year olds for the entire summer… it’s going to be an adventure! I’m so grateful the lessons have tons of activities and materials to choose from that will fill the hour with good things!

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{five} On Thursday, we toasted my friend and co-counselor, Jenn, as she leaves our school to accept a full-time position at the other school where we have been sharing her for the past 4 years. We held the dinner at a fun local brewery. The sun setting over the mountains was gorgeous, the lights on the terrace were peaceful, the soft breeze felt amazing, and the conversation was full of laughs. A perfect evening for a girls’ night out! And the waiter didn’t even try to entice me to order a beverage because he picked up on my pregnant belly right away!

And then I still got to come home to rock my little boy. All is right in my world. ❤

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Happy Friday! And enjoy your long weekend if you have one! We’ll be celebrating our  annual “Patriotism Day” (and snow make up day) at work by having our students gather at the flagpole for a few patriotic ceremonies.





Week 22 // Month 22

21 05 2014

Bumpdate blog

Week 22: Bumps & Wiggles

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A little over halfway there and celebrating this 22nd week of pregnancy with my sweet boy who is now 22 months!

  • Affirmations: leg cramps, heart palpitations, back aches
  • Emotions: happy
  • Gender: BOY!
  • Names: We have a first name. ❤ Poor E cannot pronounce it, as hard as he tries! We probably have a middle name. But I also don’t like the finality of it all… I love looking at baby names!
  • To do: finish E’s closet makeover. E keeps insisting that we’ve been painting his new homemade shelves with a can of “milk!”
  • Movement felt: Constant, all from inside and outside, so my husband can feel, too! Enough now that I can see my belly moving. He moved a LOT while I was watching Frozen the other night, especially during the songs! And of course every time I eat candy.
  • Cravings: candy. spicy buffalo chicken dip. sour apple Blow Pops.
  • Workouts this week: long bike ride with my family, long walk last night before Life Group. Need to get in gear for an 8k coming up this month! Either that or just decorate a shirt to read “6 months pregnant” and skip training altogether. 😉
  • Crazy dreams and sleep patterns: Sleeping soundly with crazy dreams. I’ll take it! I have been spending 1-2 hours per night rocking E to sleep and then going to bed super late/getting up super early for work, so my hours asleep are quality, not quantity.
  • Best moments this week: A prayer breakfast at Panera with a group from my church. Feeling a call to serve this summer. The hours spent rocking E – especially when he starts to say nonsensical things as he’s drifting off to sleep, or when he gets extra-snuggly and burrows against me with his arm around my back. So precious!
  • Looking forward to: SUMMER. Teacher training tonight at church. Dinner party tomorrow. Graduation this weekend.

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  • What I miss: Just knowing how fast time is going to fly once this little boy makes his entrance! Yesterday I bought something to use for perspective on his milestone pictures (weekly or monthly). Will start sharing those in October, I’m sure!
  • Messages and prayers to baby: I decided to write them privately in my journal this week – pages and pages of thoughts!