Friday, December 16, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Friday, December 2, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Story of Stuff

Watch this 20 minute video....then show it to your kids, your friends, your parents, your neighbors.  

And stop consuming!

It's not about the presents....

...but His presence.

Anyone remember that cheesy Christmas saying?  If you grew up in a mainline protestant church I'm pretty sure you do.  While it is extremely cheesy, I feel that it is a good reminder.  Christmas is a special, wonderful time.  It's my favorite holiday :)  If you are a Christian, Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of our Savior with our families.  If you aren't, you still make an effort to spend quality time with your loved ones.

Lately, I have been so frustrated with the consumerism surrounding Christmas.  When I look back on my childhood Christmas memories, I don't remember what gifts I received each year.  If I think really hard, I only remember the times I really hoped for something but didn't get it (sorry, Mom....I was kind of selfish!)  When I was growing up my mom was the only one caring for my siblings and me.  I have two brothers and two sisters.  As you can imagine, money was tight.  I remember my mom frequently stressing about not having enough money to buy us presents each year.  I always told her that we didn't need them, but as a parent I can totally understand that need to be able to provide a gift for each one of your children.  And the feeling of failure when you are unable to.

My family was on the receiving end of a lot of generous giving.  Those families whose names you pick off of Christmas trees hanging up at the mall or in your local bookstore?  We were that family.  This was slightly embarrassing for me growing up.  I remember being ashamed that one year our school principal brought us a bag of gifts that had been donated to the school for poor families.  Now, however, I am able to see how much my family received and I am forever grateful.  I saw first hand the generosity and kindness of others.  That generosity is what I remember most about our Christmas presents.

What I also remember from our Christmas celebrations are the traditions that we celebrated.  Each year we would go out to a local tree farm and pick out a real, live Christmas tree.  This tradition is so strong that when Joe and I were engaged and we began discussing different traditions we may have in our family I jokingly told him that a real tree at Christmas was part of the marriage.  You get me and a real Christmas tree every year :)  When I was a kid, my siblings and I would take turns picking out the tree each year.  I was notorious for picking out monstrous trees.  Trees that wouldn't fit through the front door.  Trees that fell over when ornaments were placed on them.  Trees that required being tied to the window frame with bungee cords just so they could stand straight.  My Christmas trees are the stuff of legends and my siblings and I tell the stories of these trees every year.  It's so fun to hear everyone's perspective on the event and laugh together.

These are the things I remember most about Christmas growing up.  Naturally, these are the things I hope our children will remember.  I don't want the focus to be so much on the presents that they forget the traditions and time we spend together as a family.  I don't want them to be so intent on what they receive as a gift that they forget to give to others.  I want them to experience as much (if not more) joy giving gifts to others as they do getting gifts.

So beginning this year, we are no longer going to buy presents for our family.

Yes, you read that right.  We are not going to buy presents.  We are going to give gifts that are homemade, creative and are more about the time spent together rather than the physical gift.  There are lots of ideas on the internet about alternative Christmas gifts.  Buy Nothing Christmas has some great ideas.  This year I think we are going to give our girls some pajamas (hopefully second-hand) and a night at a hotel together as a family.  I have some really great ideas for my husband that I will share after Christmas.  We will also make giving to others (other than family) a big part of our Christmas traditions as well.  The gifts for those in need will probably be brand new, but we will make sure to buy from locally owned, independent businesses rather than corporations.

What are you holiday traditions?  What alternative gifts will you be giving this year?

Friday, November 18, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

*my brother is in the process of moving into our basement....hence the extra "stuff" in our living room*

Friday, November 4, 2011


This girl....

decided to stand up on her own two feet and walk today.

I'm not ready for this.
Hold me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Today, I remember my Seraphim, who we lost 2 years ago.  I remember all my friends and family's babies who never saw life outside of their mother's wombs.  I remember my family member's baby who lived for just a short time in this world.

memory stones at a Dia de Los Muertos art show
I found with my miscarriage that many people simply did not know what to do or say to help me through my grief.  Some had wonderful intentions, but said some of the most hurtful things.  Others simply said or did nothing at all.  That was even more hurtful.  If you know someone that has gone through a miscarriage or infant loss, don't just ignore it.  Do something.

Here are some things that were helpful:

A home cooked meal.  Food was the last thing on my mind during my miscarriage, but I knew that I needed to eat.  I didn't have the energy to cook.  A few families brought us meals and they were well received.  I cannot express to you how grateful we were for those meals.  Even if I didn't eat much, I knew that my daughter and husband were getting some good food.

An offer to babysit.  One of the things about my miscarriage that was so difficult was that my baby was actually on my ovary, which is called an ectopic pregnancy.  I had to receive a couple shots to ensure the baby would no longer grow on my ovary (heartbreaking) and then had to get my blood drawn every couple days for a week, then a couple times the next week, followed by a few more the next couple weeks.  Needless to say, that was a lot of running around.  Since I didn't have set appointments at the lab, it was first come, first serve.  Sometimes I would walk in and walk out in 5 minutes.  Other times I would wait for 45 minutes before I was able to have my blood drawn.  Some of my friends offered to watch Z for me when I would go get my blood drawn and I was very grateful.  Family members offered to take her for a whole day the week after the miscarriage occurred so I could rest and grieve.

Something to make me laugh.  Some of my friends had beautiful flowers delivered.  That was very much appreciated.  But the thing that I remember most was what my sister-in-law and brother-in-law sent to us.  They had called us to see if we would be home when the delivery was scheduled, but I assumed it was flowers.  Then Joe answered the door and started laughing.  I was laying on the couch and asked what was so funny.  He walked into the living room with an edible fruit bouquet.  It was totally unexpected.  I could not stop laughing.  I'm sure that they meant for the bouquet to be comforting, but it was so much more than that.  It was the first thing that put a smile on my face in the midst of pain and grief.

A chance to tell my story.  Loss makes people uncomfortable.  Having recently lost my Great-Grandpa and my Grandma, I know that people don't like talking about death.  But something about losing a baby makes people infinitely more uncomfortable.  I don't know what it is.  Lots of people told me they were sorry and praying for me.  However, not many people were willing to listen.  I read somewhere that telling your miscarriage story can be almost as important as sharing your birth story.  I had a few friends that were willing to listen to all of my story and while it was painful to share, it was also healing.

Time to grieve.  One of the most common questions I was asked when I shared about my miscarriage was, "When can you try for another baby?"  This was incredibly infuriating to me.  I had just lost my baby.  I felt rushed, like everyone thought if I could just get pregnant then I would be "over it".  I needed time to grieve.  And because the grief was so tied to my baby's existence, it was hard to let go of that grief.  I wasn't ready to even begin thinking about having another baby.

Gentle words.  I heard a lot of painful things that were meant to be comforting.  Things like, "You're lucky you weren't too far along..." or "Maybe your baby was disabled..." or "I bet it's just a late period..."  When you are trying to think of what to say to people who are grieving the loss of their baby, don't speculate.  Uncertainty is such a big part of a miscarriage, the last thing I needed was people trying to figure out what reason God would have for letting my baby die.  What I needed to hear was "I'm very sorry...." or "I have no idea what you are feeling, but I am here..." or even "What can I do to help?"  Choose your words carefully, but make sure you say something to acknowledge the loss.

Understanding and patience.  Grief makes many things difficult.  Everyday things.  Brushing your teeth, changing your clothes, even breathing is difficult after a loss.  Many people were there for us immediately after the miscarriage, but a week, two weeks, a month later?  Not so much.  A month after my miscarriage I would still spontaneously burst into tears in public, still have difficulty completing everyday tasks.  I would still get angry at every single pregnant woman I saw (sorry to all my pregnant friends during this time!)  Life was just hard.  But everyone else had moved on.  I was in need of some understanding and patience.

Support from those who have experienced loss.  Specifically women and men who have suffered a miscarriage or infant loss.  There is a special bond between people that have experienced this kind of loss.

A name for our baby.  This one was probably the most healing thing we could do.  I'm not sure how something as simple as naming our unborn child could have such a healing effect, but it did.  Since we named our baby after Saint Seraphim of Sarov, we also got an icon of the same saint.  It's a tangible item to help us remember.  No matter your faith or religion, you can get something physical in remembrance of your baby.

To those who have suffered a loss, do you have anything to add?  What helped you during your time of grief?

Friday, October 7, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

...makes me smile

Hello!  Here's what made me smile this last week...

These beautiful fall days...
Celebrating the day Lu was born...
Celebrating the day Z was born...
Help from my family when I was overextended...
Birthday parties...
Organic brownie box mixes...
Prairieland chocolate milk...
New wooden toys...(that I'm maybe a bit more excited to play with than my girls are!)
Late night Apples to Apples with family...(my family is FUNNY!)
A nice cup of coffee with breakfast...

What made you smile?

p.s. I'll get back to posting links to cool stuff around the web soon....

Friday, September 23, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

One Year Ago...

I can't believe it's been a year since my Lu was born.  I know that time flies that first year...I prepared myself to savor every moment.  And yet, it feels as if that first year escaped me. did my little one grow so fast?

I realized that I never shared the beautiful photos my brother took after Lucia was born.  Our intention was for him to be there to photograph the birth.  I was in the middle of intense labor when my doula asked if we should call him.  At the moment, the thought of having a person snapping pictures during my contractions really set me off.  So I asked her to wait.  I didn't think of it again until it was almost time to push.  So....he missed the birth.  I was really bummed about it for a while, thinking I would have loved to have the birth and everything that led up to it photographed.  In hindsight, I think it was good he wasn't there.  I'm glad he was able to capture what he did, but obviously my gut knew that I wouldn't be entirely comfortable with photography during my labor.

Here are a few of the photos...

This was taken almost right after Lu was born.  I was in the herbal bath my midwife prepared waiting for Lu to come join me. I remember feeling so exhilarated...though you may not see that on my face here.

This photo right here is my favorite of the bunch.  I literally gasped when I first saw it.  I remember just being in awe of this little person that I was holding.  And still totally shocked Lu was a girl.  I was convinced my entire pregnancy that I was having a boy.

Right after our bath the midwife took Lu to weigh her.  She used an old, metal scale.  I remember looking at the scale and wondering how many babies had been weighed on it.  So many.  I also remember that I had washed our towels the night before and they were still in the dryer.  I'm pretty sure I had to ask the midwife's apprentice to go get them out of the dryer for us in the middle of labor.

Here she is on the scale...I love seeing her wrinkly skin in this one.  She weighed 7lbs 6 oz....just two ounces more than Z.

Still in the bathroom...Joe and the midwife dressed Lu while I soaked in the tub.

Joe with Lu after they got her dressed.  He told me that when he got back to the room it was all cleaned up from the birth already.  Those apprentices are fast!  I love the look on his face here....exhaustion and joy (he worked pretty hard during the labor and birth too).

This photo is so interesting to me.  It's right after my bath.  I remember feeling so relieved and incredibly empowered...but I look totally wiped out.  Our priest is praying for us and Joe is beside me holding Lu.  Our doula is on the floor nursing her son.  This moment felt strangely sacred.  There was a lot of love in that room.

This was taken in the evening, after Joe and I returned from the emergency room.  I had to go to get sutured since our midwife does not suture.  Azalia had been out with her Abita (short for Abuelita) and Tia Sarah all day.  They took her out to celebrate her birthday, which was the following day.  Although Z was present for the birth, this was the first time she got to hold her sister.  I'm so glad that my brother captured this moment.

Many, many thanks to my brother, Nate, for these after birth photos.  They are such a treasure.

Monday, September 5, 2011

We are still here...

Hello friends. 

It's been a while since our last post, hasn't it?  I just wanted to write and say that I'm taking a little break from this space.  We have been busy beyond belief.  Health issues (relatives, not us!), babies, school, work and some house remodeling...all the things that fill up life quickly.  I do plan on returning to regular posting sometime this month, though I'm not sure when.  I am also trying to figure out what I want this blog to be about.  I don't want it to be just another "mommy" blog.  I also don't feel qualified to make this a faith blog.  But I want this space to make a difference, to educate,  to encourage and to open people's eyes.

To my readers, what do you like to see here?  What are your favorite posts?  To my friends who know us well, what do you think?  

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Printed Word

source: flickr

I was in Barnes and Noble this last week and was struck by an ad I saw there.  I normally visit my local, independent bookstore for all my book needs, but I was waiting to meet with my advisor at school.  I had both of the girls and B & N happens to be next to the school.  Anyways, the ad I saw showed a young child sitting in a window seat.  Sunlight is streaming through the large window and the child looks thoroughly engrossed in whatever it is he is reading.  But he wasn't holding a large picture book or a well-worn paperback novel....he was holding a Nook.

This picture stopped me in my tracks.  I honestly felt that this ad looked like it could be a scene from a science-fiction movie.  The story would be set in a world where physical books no longer exist.  Everything you read is on a portable mini-computer.  Then, a deadly virus destroys these mini-computers and the world is left without the written word in any form.  All the classics, Tolstoy, Austen, Shakespeare, all vanish.  The world then slowly declines until mankind is extinct.

Dramatic?  Maybe.

Then I began to think about what the world will look like when my daughters are my age.  Are books going to become like records, collected by a few, die-hard fans?  Will the printed word even exist?  Will they have a physical connection to books like I do?  Will they enjoy the weight of a book in their hands?  Will they see the way a paperback's spine shows its wear?  Will they feel the softness of a book's pages as they turn?  Will they be able to open a used book and inhale its sweet, musty scent?

There is something about the connection with a physical, printed book that makes reading that much more enjoyable.  Will this same connection exist with an electronic version of a book?  I have my doubts. I just can't see how the experience of reading a physical book can be matched by reading a book with the newest piece of digital technology. 

So, from this point on, I am making a commitment to read the printed word.  Hopefully, this love for the printed word will be passed on to my daughters, and they can help books and other writings remain a physical part of their world. 

Do you own a Nook or a Kindle?  Do you read books on your phone?

Are book an endangered species? 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Forgiveness. . .

Author's note: This is the beginning of a series of blogs I started and never finished. This one was begun in January of this year. I just finished it today. I've been so inconsistent with blogging that my wife has started to give me assignments. I'm proud to say that I initiated this series. It will get done. . .probably.

Every morning right around 7:15 my eldest daughter cracks open her door, softly pads her feet down the hall to our room, creaks open our door and, with hall lights streaming in from her face says, "Daddy, I'm hungry. Let's go eat supper or lunch." Today was different. She came into our room, crawled into bed with us, and said, "Daddy, will you forgive me for all the ways I've offended you?"

We've taught her to do this every Sunday before church, but for her to do it, especially on the morning after a night when she had been particularly naughty and resistant to bed time was rewarding.

I don't believe that God racks us with guilt over and over until we finally say sorry. It feels that way sometimes, but the truth is, that he is more concerned with our wholeness, our healing than anything else. When I slow down and start to feel the manifold ways in which my wandering, my selfishness, my pride, my self-pity, my envy, etc. has wounded me, when I start to feel how dead I am without Christ, then I can realize through repentance what life is, what it is to truly live.

I'm not there yet. I still like to be right. I like to throw tantrums, I like to get angry and stay that way, 'cause "damn it, I deserve to be angry once in a while. It's my right."

"Wound our souls with your love," we say as we pray at the sixth hour, the hour that Christ was nailed to the cross. But I wonder if I really want this. If my heart were truly opened completely to the love of Christ, what great pain I would feel every moment of the day for having betrayed, ignored or just plain forgotten this love! Guilt doesn't even begin to explain it. It would be more like stubbing your own toe, or burning yourself on the stove, or slamming your own hand in a door over and over and over. If I have begun to become a "little Christ", then He is in me, His life is in me, He dwells in me.

"Heal my soul for I have sinned against you," it says in the Psalms. The love of the Holy Trinity, powerful, dynamic, unquenchable draws me back to myself where Christ dwells, where open arms await the repentant heart.

I forgave my daughter for all the ways that she's offended me. I must forgive everyone everything, all the time. God, help me. And forgive me for being impatient with my daughter this morning, for not listening to my wife on the phone as she reached out to me after a hard day, for forgetting to pray, to think of You. Guide me into repentance, into confession, that I may be opened, sensitized to your presence where there "is fullness of joy."

Friday, August 12, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

...makes me smile

Happy Monday!  We (sans Papabear) just returned from a short little trip to Iowa to help my sister and brother-in-law move (there was no actual moving-in involved due to a late moving truck) into their new apartment!   No links this week, I didn't have much access to the internet while we were gone.  Here's what made me smile this week:

Playing at the sprayground...
Taking our wagon on it's first road trip...
Rest area picnics...
My sister...
The cute little town in which my sister & bro-in-law live...
The fact that they are only 5 hours away (!)...
Lu getting her third tooth...
Lu deciding to stand up on her own two feet (without assistance)...
Watching Z make memories with her Tia & Tio...
Spending so much time with Abita (short for Abuelita)...

What made you smile last week?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mama's Milk

“Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed.” –Luke 11:27

“Mother, remember the blink of an eye when I breathed through your body.” –Sam Beam

“Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
You made me trust you at my mother’s breast.” –Psalm 22:9

This month is breastfeeding awareness month. In honor of this month, I have purposed to write a tribute to the ladies in my life who have made this a priority in their lives.

First up is the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, who nourished at her breast the Lord Jesus Christ. “All generations shall call me blessed”, she said, and so we do. What an example of selflessness, of dying to ourselves so that we may truly live. From the cross, Christ said to John “Here is your mother”, and so, in the deepest sense, she is the mother of all who believe, the mother of the Church. “A sword shall pierce through your soul”, it was said to her, and she was continually submissive to pain, to suffering. She conquered just as her son did, by lowering herself to the level of slave, of servant. What has all this to do with breastfeeding? Everything! This seemingly simple, natural, biological outpouring of a mother for her child is at once the essence and the image of what it means to be like God. We are all as humans meant to pour out ourselves for each other, to be united by our mutual submission to each other, to give each other 100% of who we are. The mother of God has given herself completely to God and in so doing has given herself completely to all. By her outpouring of milk, of her own life, she has nourished us all, given us life by bearing and breastfeeding Christ who “is all and is in all”. And so I honor her, the most blessed mother, who continually intercedes for us now filled with the love of the Holy Trinity.

Next, I’d like to write about my own mother. She breastfed me. She raised me with a deep regard for nature, for music, for people, for God. I know it was hard for her, but she poured herself out. I was the first of my siblings to be born at home. When I look back at the pictures from the day I was born, I can see exhaustion and satisfaction in my mother’s eyes. She took me to the breast that day and comforted me. How thankful I am for that fact, and how rarely I think of it. We all have been cared for by our parents in one way or another, to one degree or another, but to have spent those first hours of life, not in the nursery, not under a heat lamp, but in my mother’s arms, in my parents bed with yummy colostrum in my tummy, is a great blessing for which I rarely express gratitude. Those of us who have been breastfed from infancy often don’t realize what a great gift we’ve been given, especially in a society that disdains anything that keeps us from doing what we want. Thank you, Mom.

Last, but not least, I would like to praise my wife who has dutifully nursed our daughters for almost 24 months (not consecutively) so far. What a challenge! She has pressed on through discouragement. I’ve watched her feed our daughters during long trips in the back seat, watched her feed an infant who continually wakes up time-after-time when laid down for sleep. She rarely complains and makes me wish I had more to give to our girls. We both have set out to give our daughters the best start possible. Breastfeeding is such a huge part of that. The nutrition and the bonding, the comfort and the closeness are all so important for that first year or so of life. My wife is doing an amazing job, despite all the setbacks. It is my goal as a husband to encourage her as much as possible and this is one way of doing that. Keep it up, baby! You are amazing and I love you!

To all the breastfeeding mommies out there, God bless you! Don’t give up!

Monday, August 1, 2011


It's two in the morning.  Lu's cries rouse me from my sleep.  I mumble, "Lu's awake" to my husband, who grunts and rolls over.  I get up and walk to the crib.  We had been bed-sharing up until 9 months, but then Lu decided that she wanted to have a crawling party every night instead of sleep, so we began to sleep in separate rooms.  I miss our bed-sharing time, but I also cherish these times in the night when she wakes.  It wasn't always this way.

When we transitioned from bed-sharing to crib sleeping, I was riddled with guilt.  Since we follow a lot of attachment parenting principles, bed-sharing was something I pictured us doing for a long time.  It became clear to me, however, that I was not getting better sleep when Lu slept with us.  In fact, I wasn't sleeping.  At all.  Papabear was sleeping, Lu was sleeping, but I wasn't.  So we decided to try sleeping in our guest room to see how Lu did without us.  She did wonderfully, waking only once a night, some nights sleeping till early morning.

I love breastfeeding.  But the last couple of months during our bed-sharing period I began to resent breastfeeding.  I was so frustrated with my lack of sleep that I couldn't treasure this relationship.  Then we made the switch to crib sleeping.  Lu would wake once or twice in the night and I was still resenting having to nurse her.  We are against crying it out, so we decided to either nurse or rock Lu to sleep whenever she woke up.  Most of the time, I have to nurse her to sleep.  I found myself rushing during those night feedings.  Trying to get her back into her crib as quickly as possible, even if she wasn't ready.  She would fully wake up as soon as I laid her down, and the process would repeat over and over.  I was not enjoying this at all.

Finally, I decided to surrender.  I put out of my mind all expectations that I had, or I had heard, about how much sleep she should be getting, and let go.  I made a conscious decision to take a deep breath every night before I walk in to nurse Lu back to sleep.  To release all my expectations of the evening and just be.  No matter the time of night.

That first night after my surrender was peaceful.  Lu didn't even fully wake to eat.  She nursed for a short time, then I laid her back down and knew that she felt safe and loved.  I didn't look at the clock, I didn't rush.  I enjoyed her.

Breastfeeding is full of surrender.  Surrender to your little one's hunger and needs.  Surrender to your little one's schedule (which is more often than not different than our own).  Surrender to less sleep.  Surrender to a messy house.  Surrender to a quieter, slower pace of life. 

I'm willing to surrender, because I've been through this before.  I know that it's gone in the blink of an eye.  I see Z, almost four, doing as much of life as she can by herself, because she's "bigger", and I remember the days when she was nursing contentedly at my breast.  It went by so quickly.

And so for now, I will surrender.
photo by Z



I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Don't Worry

It was just a simple cup of coffee.  A latte, to be exact.  But this simple beverage reminded me that God is faithful.

I left my house this morning with a lot on my mind.  I have a final paper due on Friday morning.  My daughters were sick this week and still don't seem to be totally over whatever it was they had.  This last weekend was wonderful, full and left me longing for simpler times.  Times when my husband and I could go out whenever we wanted and not have to worry about being home by midnight or how much money we were spending.   My heart was heavy with many things as I walked out the door...but the many things could be boiled down to one specific burden: worry

Life is hard right now.  Money is tight, my husband's health isn't the best, my daughters are wonderful yet challenging.  Life is also good.  I have a loving husband who is continually patient with me, daughters who are joyful and sweet, and wonderful friends.  And heart is full of worry. 

Worry that we don't have enough money to pay our bills (in reality, we don't).  Worry that I will do something to land my daughters in therapy when they are older (I probably will).  Worry that my husband will grow tired of being patient with me.  Worry that we won't make it through.  Worry that even our basic needs for food, clothing and shelter won't be met.  Worry that I will have to do this, life, all alone.  Worry, worry, worry, worry.

I walked out my front door and went to our station wagon.  Our new-to-us station wagon.  One we could not afford on our own.  One that was provided for us.  One that was an answer to prayer.  I was driving a physical reminder of God's faithfulness...and yet my heart was full of worry.

I arrived at the bookstore and set down my bag, filled with my laptop and school books.  As I walked away I hoped that my bag would be there when I returned.  I began to order an iced latte and reached for my wallet.  The kind barista told me how much I owed.  Then as I looked in my wallet I realized I did not have my debit card.  In my haste I had forgotten my card at home.  I did not have enough cash so I told the barista to forget it, that I left my card at home.  She looked sympathetic and I apologized for being so scatterbrained.

I returned to my table and began to take out my laptop and books.  I worried about how long it would take me to write this paper.  I worried about my girls at home and hoped they were doing alright.  I worried if I would have the energy I would need to last the day.

As I began to type my paper I noticed the barista walking towards me with a drink.  She smiled and set the drink down on the table beside me.  "I just made it for you's such a bummer when you leave your card somewhere."  I was speechless and for some reason I wanted to cry.  "Thank you...that is really sweet" I managed to reply.  She walked away and continued to work while I continued to type my paper.  I'm not sure if she did or will ever know the effect this simple drink had on me.

Suddenly, I felt reassured that God is faithful, no matter the circumstance.  Maybe it's silly that I felt that way after someone gave me a free latte.  But I did.  This simple act of kindness helped melt away my worries and made me feel like I would make it through.

I would like to say that I walked away from this experience ready to let go of all my worry and trust that God will provide for my every need.  I didn't.  I began to worry about as soon as I walked out to my car.  But that's what prayer is for, right?

Orthodox Prayer In Time of Need
Almighty God, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, come to my help and deliver me from this difficulty that besets me. I believe Lord, that all trials of life are under Your care and that all things work for the good of those who love You. Take away from me fear, anxiety and distress. Help me to face and endure my difficulty with faith, courage and wisdom. Grant that this trial may bring me closer to You for You are my rock and refuge, my comfort and hope, my delight and joy. I trust in Your love and compassion. Blessed is Your name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, July 25, 2011

...makes me smile

Monday already?  Did the weekend go by as quickly for you as it did for me?
Here's what made me smile last week:

This little rabbit...
Family movie night...
Spending time with lots of family...
This perpetual calendar...via (oh, hello friend)
Late night popcorn with my man...
Celebrating the Grandparent's (in-laws) 60th (yes, 60!) wedding anniversary...
This bedroom...(via Design Sponge)
This rainbow popsicle...
News about this upcoming book release...
The end of my first term back to school since Lu was born...

What made you smile last week?

Friday, July 22, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

...makes me smile

Hello friends!  Here's what made me smile this last week:

Waking up to birthday greetings from my favorite people...
An ice cream date with my Z...
This baby/mama photo-shoot...(via The Feminist Breeder)
A birthday date with my man...
Market meals from Bread & Cup...
Birthday breakfast with my mom and sister...
This unique chore chart...
Cheap, real food meal plans...
My very own birthday song...
Feeling so very loved by friends and family...

Tell me...what made you smile last week?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dear Mommy...It's Your Birthday

Joe and Z recorded this (with the help of our friend, Travis, from Smith's Cloud) for me for my birthday.  It may be the best present I have ever received.  
Enjoy :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

p.s. this photo was taken by me with my brother's DSLR...i want one :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

...makes me smile

Hey friends!  I know it's been a while, but I'm back with some things that made me smile these last couple weeks:

4th of July hamburgers...
Singing in the church choir...
This new tumblr...(via CUP OF JO)
Mason jar sippy cups...(via Twig & Thistle)
This piano...
Test driving station wagons...
This baby turtle...(wish I would've thought of this for Lu!)
This vintage baby dress...
Watching Lu try to stand...

I want to know...what made you smile this week?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Charitable Consumerism

You should watch this video:

and tell me what you think.  Does this kind of charity make us lazy?  Is it a little like putting a bandage on a wound that clearly needs stitches?   Does real change happen by helping out a little?

p.s. My lovely sister sent me this thought provoking!

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Sometimes, life forces you to slow down.  I've been feeling the weight of our busyness for quite some time now.  Papabear has been working so hard.  I have been working, going to school and trying my hardest to keep a tidy house (ok, maybe not that hard).  Our girls are growing, oh so quickly, and I find that I am failing to keep up with their pace.  It feels as if every weekend is taken up by work or other family obligations.  And all I want to do is sit and catch my breath. 

Although this isn't the way I was looking for rest, I got it.  Monday evening I missed a step while I was walking down the stairs.  I was also holding Lu.  I came down on my left foot, hard, and it bend backwards.  Thankfully, Z was right behind me and she was able to retrieve the phone for me and I called Papabear.  I somehow managed to get out "I...hurt....myself!" and he was on his way.  He called our Priest who made it here first.  Papabear misheard me on the phone and had informed our Priest that I hurt my mouth.  I explained how I hurt my foot, then Papabear walked in.  He looked extremely relieved to not see blood coming out of my mouth.  I was trying to convince him to let me wait until the morning to get it checked out, but he was adamant about going somewhere right away.  My brother came over to watch Z and we were off. 

A little over two hours and a few x-rays later I was told I just sprained my foot.  Let me tell you, friends, that a sprained foot is extremely painful.  Both my mom and my MIL said it's too bad it didn't just break because it would heal faster that way.  For now, I get to wear a cast shoe and rest as much as possible.  As you can imagine, this can be difficult with two little ones.  But our amazing family has stepped up and helped out a lot this week.  I am so grateful to have them nearby. 

These past few days there has been a lot of rest (for me) and lots of cuddling on the couch with Lu.  While it's not the ideal situation, I'm grateful for the time I've had to slow down and rest. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

...makes me smile

Happy Monday!  Here's what made me smile last week:

Celebrating a friend's 30th birthday...
A long, relaxing bike ride...
Parking lot tacos...
This quilt...
Watching Lu snuggle her daddy in the middle of the night...
New Father's Day traditions...
This brunch birthday party...
A month of Instax...
These crayons... (via Design Mom)

Have you seen anything lately that made you smile?  Contact me with a link!  If it makes me smile too then I'll add it to my list the following week. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

Father's day has always been a little hard for me.  I had some great father-figures growing up (Uncles, you are amazing) but it's strange celebrating a holiday for a person who is completely absent in your life.  Truthfully, Father's Day was the one holiday I found myself dreading year after year.  It served as a painful reminder of what I was missing in my life. 

Now that I am married and my husband is a father, I can look at this holiday in a different light.  I am incredibly blessed to have a husband who is caring, attentive, selfless and loving.  He is everything I never thought existed in a man.  To watch him father our girls is an honor.  He is very much a co-parent with me and I know I couldn't do this parenting thing without him.  I am blessed to know that my girls will grow up knowing their father loves them, that any doubt of that fact will not be present in their minds. 

Tomorrow we have a few things planned, but mostly we are going to spend a lovely, relaxing day with our favorite Papabear. 

Enjoy Father's day and give that father, uncle or future father a big hug for me. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We're Off!

We're off on our second road trip of the summer!  We'll be celebrating a family wedding.  Hope you all have a fabulous weekend and I'll be back in this space next week.  Look forward to some activity bag posts and a giveaway (hopefully in the near future!)  

Monday, June 6, 2011

...makes me smile

Monday already?!  Here's what made me smile last week:

Digging in the garden...
Spending so much time outdoors...
This tree stump...
Sunday lunch with my family...
This stamp set...(via Angry Chicken)
My 8 month old's love of green beans...
This party idea...
This dog...(I'm not sure why...but this dog kind of reminds me of Lu!)
This family photo...
Sleeping in on Saturdays...

See anything that makes you smile?  Contact me with a link!

Friday, June 3, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Activity Bags

We recently traveled to Jackson, Tennessee to watch my little sister graduate from college (so proud of you seestor!)  The trip is a little over 10 hours from Nebraska.  Since we have two little ones (one of which is still breastfeeding like a champ) we decided to break the drive up into two days.

I wasn't really worried about how Lu would do on the trip.  She's such an easy baby and pretty much just needs a smile and some "mommy milk" to keep her happy.  Z, however, would be a challenge.  We had a few people offer to loan us a car DVD player.  Both Papa and I were really against the idea of letting her watch T.V. in the car, especially because it's so stimulating for her.  Can you imagine spending 10+ hours in a car with an energized and agitated 3 year old?!  We certainly didn't want to.  So we had to come up with something different.

That's when I discovered activity bags.   Hallelujah!

The concept for activity bags is pretty self-contained activity per bag.  But the possibilities are endless.  This post was VERY inspiring.  I ended up using a lot of the links found there.  I decided to make 20 activity bags for the car.  I wanted to have one bag for every hour we would be on the road.  I knew that some of the activities wouldn't fill an entire hour, but I thought 20 was a good goal. 

I decided to tell my daughter about the bags, but not share what they contained.  This made the bags a little more special and helped her become excited about them.  The minute we were in the car she wanted her first bag.  She played with it for a while, then asked for another, then another, then another.  I got nervous, seeing her go through so many bags in such a short amount of time.  I started to panic a little, thinking, "I should've made 50!  What was I thinking?!  20 isn't enough!"  And then, she slowed down.  She asked for specific bags and played with some activities more than once, sometimes three or four times.  I breathed a sigh of relief and smiled, knowing that the bags were a hit.  My husband surprisingly remarked, "She hasn't said she's bored ONCE on this trip".  I was so pleased.

I'll do a couple of posts in the coming days detailing what went into each bag and where I purchased/found materials for the activities!  I'll also share what worked, what didn't and what I'll be adding for our next road trip. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Early Mama

Photo by Natanael Perez Studio

I'm the featured Q&A over at Early Mama today!  So head over there and check it out, then stay for awhile.  Early Mama is a great blog and tackles the issues that surround us young mothers. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

...makes me smile

Happy Memorial Day!  Here's what made me smile last week:

Tennessee...(I'll be posting about our trip later this week)
Anniversary cupcakes...(from this cupcake shop)
This DIY tent...
This hand carved stamp...
Watching my little sister graduate...
Spending so much precious time with my family...
Pinterest...(seriously, I may spend way too much time on here!)
My lovely friend KB's new-to-her bike...
Watching my daughter enjoy digging in the dirt as much as we do...

See anything lately that makes you smile?  Contact me, and if it makes me smile too I could feature it the following week!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sick and Tired (Part 2): Are You Gonna Eat That?

Papa here again. This post is about how I have changed my diet as part of my manifold plan for getting better. The whole plan takes into account my dietary, spiritual, social, physical and psychological needs.

Firstly, I have changed what I eat drastically. I have cut out pretty much all sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Sugar has been the hardest to do. Slightly because I have a sweet tooth, and partly because they put it in almost everything these days: bread, yogurt, ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing, most sauces and salsas. I have also cut down significantly on the amount of fruit I eat. I used to get 3-5 servings of fruit and like 1-2 servings of veggies. I have flipped that on its head. Also, I’ve cut down on carbohydrates in general. Only a couple servings of bread, rice and grains a day is all I need. This is always paired with something that is high in fat such as oil, butter, peanut butter, or, my new favorite, coconut oil.

Cutting out alcohol has been hard also. I enjoyed having a glass or two of wine with a nice meal or going out for a couple beers and pizza with a friend. I still crave a delicious dark beer from time to time. I don't miss it nearly as much as I thought I would, though.

Caffeine, mostly coffee, was the primary thing that triggered my heart palpitations and panic attacks. I think this is because of how it stimulates and depletes the adrenals and can cause blood sugar distortion. Anyway, I still take a sip of my wife’s coffee every now and then and remember the good old days of drinking two or three cups without breaking a sweat. Maybe decaf one day?

So that covers what foods I'm avoiding but what do I eat? I have lots of vegetables. We go organic and local as much as possible. Lots of spinach, carrots, celery, peas, kale, and green beans. I also have a lot of protein. Lean free range animal protein is the best for me. Fish is probably better, but I usually eat a lot of chicken, beef, turkey, and eggs. I’m supposed to have about half a pound of this kind of protein every day. I eat a lot of high fat and fermented dairy products: whole milk, cheese, and yogurt. I think we're getting ready to go raw, maybe goat, with the dairy. I eat berries as my fruit and sometimes an apple with peanut butter.

The frequency with which I eat is another thing I’ve had to adjust. I eat almost every hour. Usually I’ll rotate meal-snack-meal-snack in these hours. This helps to even out my blood sugar, which is a must if I’m ever going to get better.

I am also taking supplements. The ones I take are bovine (cow) and porcine (pig) extracts of the adrenal gland, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland. These are all to help repair their corresponding parts. I also take licorice extract (and now ginseng) which both help to give me a little more energy without being stimulants and going to town on the adrenals. I also take a product that contains Quercetin, Bromelain, Nettle and Vitamin C to help with allergies and immunity defense, a couple different kinds of vitamin B (to help absorb the protein and reduce stress), Vitamins A and D, and a probiotic. All that with a cherry on top is what I invite to the party in my tummy.

I give myself one day a week to cheat. Sometimes I have fried food with a load of toxins, or help my wife finish a beer, or take a bite of cake, or have late night pizza with cinnamon spirazzi. I usually pay for it in the morning, though, especially if I have alcohol and sugar together. This is a big no-no. I’ve been finding that I have more energy lately, and am pretty sure that when and if I ever emerge from this funk I will be a happier, healthier person.

I'll write more about my plot to overturn the sleepiness regime on the next post.

Friday, May 27, 2011

this moment

Inspired by Soulemama:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Friday, May 20, 2011


photo by Sarah Pfeiffer

Happy five years, my love. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

The family quilt

My lovely sister-in-law (the best SIL a girl could ask for) recently gave us a quilt that she made.  
And it is beautiful.  

The fabric, the colors, the patterns...I just love it.  

This quilt is going to get a lot of use.

Here's to summer picnics, naps in the grass, and all the other lovely things we may do with our new family quilt.

...makes me smile

Hello friends!  Here is what made me smile last week:

The fox above...(via Handmade Charlotte)
The smell of fresh cut grass...
Green beans from the farmer's market...
This pillow... (via Smile and Wave)
Sleeping in on Sunday morning...
Preparing for a big trip...
These paperless invites...(via Babble)
Handmade lavender soap...
These flower girl leaves...(via A Beautiful Mess)
Seeing my husband and baby cuddling together in the morning...

Have you seen anything that makes you smile?  Contact me!  If it makes me smile too, I could feature it the following week!