Happy Birthday to the Court-ster!

She's been by my side through some of my best (and worst) moments.

We have almost always lived in the same town since we were small children.

After high school, we both found ourselves at the same college in beautiful NC.

She made me many a bowl of oatmeal when we were both broke college students, and somehow made it taste like a 5 star brunch.

During/ After college, we watched each other meet, date and marry our husbands.

She was there when I found my wedding dress.

We gladly donned bridesmaids dresses and watched the other become a wife.

Soon after, our husbands got on board and also became best friends.

We lived 5 and then 30 minutes apart during our respective first years of marriage and spent many weekends eating good food and loving life!

She was there the night Lucy was born. She came back the next night and the night after that.

She brought me her classic chicken and rice casserole and sweet tea to help me in the throes of a nasty bout with PPD when Lucy was only a few weeks old. (Is there anything better than your best friends and comfort food when you're sad?)

She helped us move. They actually followed us to Augusta and helped us move in. She helped me set up my kitchen while I stood back and thanked God for such a blessing.

She and her love moved back to our home state around the time we moved to Georgia, thus solidifying several years of frequent visits!

She was with me the day I found out I was pregnant with Abby.

We've shared a love for Le Creuset, travel, relaxing with our loves, cooking good food, making our houses homes, Mason Jars, Anne of Green Gables, Friends, good music, and great coffee.

I HONESTLY don't know where I'd be without her and SHE TURNS THIRTY TODAY!!!!!!!

Welcome to the club, Courtney! I love you and am so honored to call you part of my adopted family.

(Courtney, don't be mad. I HAD to post these pictures. Are you mad?! Love me!)


Flawed Mommy 101

I got in the kitchen early and baked blueberry muffins (one of her favorites) and blended a purple smoothie, put it in her favorite heart cup with a straw. Mentally cheering myself on for the healthiness of the breakfast about to be set before them and myself, I presented her breakfast and waited.

Waited for---
a smile,
a thank you,
an "ooh mommy! These look yummy!"
or even a grunt of appreciation.


Only a "Why'd you give me a GREEN straw?!? PINK is my favorite color."

I calmly walked out of the room in order to avoid losing the chance for a lesson in thankfulness in my own bad attitude which was waiting just below the surface. Then I became grossly aware of my recent penchant for pity parties. Frankly, I've noticed a lot of this lately. So much effort. So much thought and preparation. So very little thanks. So. Much. Work. So little acknowledgement. Even the thanks I do get seems buried in my own unending to-do list of what must be done next.

Now, let's be honest. Motherhood is certainly almost always a somewhat thankless job. Especially mothering small children, because they are in the years when they must learn gratefulness. They learn what it looks like, what it sounds like, hopefully what it feels like. But in those days of training, we are the ones who absorb the excess ungratefulness. We take it all with a grain of forgiveness (on our "good" days) and gently teach them how to be thankful. But it IS. SO. HARD. SOMETIMES.

This morning, I was unloading the dishwasher and pondering how frustrating it can often be. How tiring. And often, aren't you just physically worn out? Tangibly tired in well-doing when all your effort goes seemingly unnoticed. It's interested how just a little gratefulness from the ones we serve goes a long, LONG way. For them and for us.

And then it hit me. (or should I say He gently stirred my heart in conviction...)

Are you acting like a 4-year old who doesn't quite grasp the sacrifices I've made for you?


Um. yes. The answer is all too often yes.

I'm like a child, sitting in a room FULL of toys, saying... "What can I play with?"

I'm lavished from every single side with spiritual and physical blessings abundant and all I can do is sigh at the kitchen floor that is dirty. Again. When what I should be doing is overflowing with Praise that my children are healthy enough to make messes. And that we have enough food that it's ok if a few crumbs fall to the floor.

I'm living in abundance with God as our provider and I'm asking, "Why this job!?" and "When a better one?!" or rather, "Why a green straw? Don't you know I PREFER pink?"

How can I possibly teach my little ones gratefulness when all they see is weariness and worry on my face?

More importantly, how can I have any hope for "Rejoicing in the Day that the Lord has made..." when I cannot remember to Praise Him for HIS moment by moment goodness to us.

Meditating on this today:

"Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us,
and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise.
Give Thanks to Him; bless His name.
For the Lord is good; His lovingkindess is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations."

Psalm 100


Dear Lucy

Before you were born, May 26th was just like any other day. It held excitement no doubt, being close to Memorial Day, Graduation, and many other promises of Summer right around the corner. But our "Mays" were forever changed once you arrived.

You were born on a Tuesday. Tuesday. As in "Tuesday's Child is full of Grace." I was unaware of this at the time, but I see now how very FULL of GRACE you are.

 In actions, you are gracious to be sure. You are kind to everyone around you and always looking to share something if your sister wants it. (Well, almost always!) 

In poise and personality, you are definitely GRACEful. You have had this girlyness about you from day one. Always finding joy in wearing a dress and a bow. So much so that you are inclined to pitch a little fit when you have to wear shorts or pants!

 In life, you have been both evidence of God's grace to us and evidence of His grace to you. The hours surrounding your birth were a bit scary for your Daddy and me, but HE had you safe in His care the whole time. You arrived unharmed and perfectly pink with a tiny head of downy soft hair. As soon as you were here, the doctor held you high so we could see and you cried out. I will never forget the feeling of you moving inside me one minute, and crying and wriggling with slightly disgruntled life the next.  I hope that even in my very last moments of life, when many details of life have long escaped me,  I will clearly remember the sound and sight of the miracle of your birth. 

On the night you were born, your Daddy and I greatly changed. We were unaware of how you would deepen and further strengthen our love and courage. As you grew in the days that followed, I was overwhelmed by the responsibility of parenting, and that has yet to change.

Sometimes I watch you coloring, laughing with your sister or playing with your dolls and I wonder if we are doing "it" right.

I wonder if we are loving you rightly, loving you as the Father loves us.

 I wonder if you KNOW how much and how far we love you.
 I flat out worry about being the mother you need.

I wish that in these moments of uncertainty I would always have a mental return to that warm night at the end of May. How in a few hours, what began as a routine Dr's Appt. (to be followed by our plans to have dinner at Crabtree Mall and an attempt to "walk you out!") quickly changed into a rushing to the OR for a necessary C-Section to "get this baby out as quickly as we can." Your Daddy and I didn't even have time to worry or realize what was going on. That was God's protection on us I believe. We were 482 miles away from OUR parents, about to become parents of our own. Whoa.

And in the moments following your birth, it mattered not that our plans had changed. It did not matter that there was no "birth plan" followed or even that I couldn't hold you or even nurse you for almost 24 hours, (well that one stung my heart a little.) ALL THAT REALLY MATTERED is that we could clearly see how God Almighty had faithfully carried you from the moment of conception to the moment of your birth.

He has carried you every minute of every day these FOUR years. That little head that had scarcely enough hair for a velcro bow, now has an abundance of waist-length curls. Those tiny pink hands  do kind things whenever able and know how to color in the lines with great precision! Those eyes, so big and dark, staring at me those first few days, (as if to say-- "are you sure you got this?") have deepened into your Grandaddy's shade of green and sparkle at any hint of giggle.

May you always remember that you are HIS and as you continue to grow until you grow right out of our house, may you trust HIM with your life.


Favorite Things Party

A couple of months ago, I hosted a "Favorite Things" party for the women in our small group. If you aren't familiar with a "Favorite Things" party, it is a relatively new idea and so much fun!

Basically, when you invite everyone to come you ask them to think of one of their favorite $6.00 items and bring THREE of that item. They bring them to your house unwrapped and then you do a fun gift swap in which everyone leaves with three new, different items to try.

Everyone also brought either an appetizer or a dessert. (What's a party without fun food, right?)

 Right as everyone came in, there was a table with these buckets. The one on the right was for door prizes, so they added their names once. The one on the left was for the actual favorite things so they added their names three times. Once the party began, I dumped the one on the left into a gift bag and passed it around. Everyone drew three names, (no duplicates and they couldn't draw their own name.) and then those three people got one of their item. As we went around the room, each person explained why they brought the item they did and handed it out to the three names they drew. It was a little confusing at first, but it was so fun once we got the hang of it. 

 I had a table set up for everyone's items to be displayed on. These ladies brought some really great items! Bath & Body items, Downy Unstoppables, Nail Items, Fun Lip Balms, Cups, Etc. I brought rolls of Chevron Burlap from Hobby Lobby, (upper right corner.) So fun! 

 I made these bags ahead of time for everyone to take home with their items in them. I got the free printable card from (where else?!) Pinterest and attached it with colored ribbons. 

We had several soda and tea choices and no one even touched them because they loved the Spa Water! I added gallons of water, plus some ice, and sliced oranges, lemons and limes and a few strawberries. I will definitely do this again. 

And fun napkins-- a must for a party with ladies! 

 I made this sign in photoshop and framed it for decoration

And THIS is one of the items I received.. EOS Organic Lip Balm--- I had seen it before but never tried it, and all I can say is WOW. This is the Sweet Mint kind. I love that it is in the ball shape, because I never lose it in my purse. So, thanks Kelly--who thought to bring this as her favorite thing! 

I also received two other things I love, 
One was this Stir and Sip cup by Copco-- it is perfect for Iced Coffee (ask me how I know.) and also Ice Water! I love that the straw is a stir-er as well. Two months later, I still love it!

I also got this combination of Tazo Chai Latte Concentrate and this sweet little bird, who immediately took up residence in my kitchen window. (LOVE BOTH!)

I *HIGHLY* recommend hosting a Favorite Things party with your friends, female family members, or whoever! It was so fun and I think we will definitely do it again in the Fall! If you want more info, just look up Favorite Things Party on Pinterest!


A Gift

           In the (nearly) four years and 9 months that I have been a mother, I've been given many "Mother's" gifts. Every year, at this time, my thoughtful husband has sought out some sweet card, cooked some delicious meal or made brunch or dinner plans, and given me some generous and often sacrificial gift.

He's a real keeper, that man of mine.

He's the kind of husband that makes being a mother to small children so much more... doable. He is kind. He helps. He anticipates the need for an occasional pizza night based on the days' events. He sacrifices his own comfort on a regular basis to allow me bits of quiet time by myself. He knows how much this energizes me. He knows that just a bit of time to be alone and think.. or read... or write or browse Target with an Iced Coffee in hand literally helps me be a better mother. He doesn't expect or desire that I "do it all" all the time. He is my best friend and my teammate at this parenting thing. Being a mother next to a father like him, it's the kind of gift I would wish for every mom.

I remember the night I became a mother (well, the night she was born... technically I became a mother about 9 months before that.) It was 9:19PM when I saw and heard this little bundle of pink burst into this world with a very sweet and disgruntled cry. The Dr. (whom I'll always believe saved both our lives) lifted her up and I saw her tiny mouth drawn up in displeasure at being pulled from her nice warm spot.

She turns four in two weeks. FOUR. (This mama is in denial like you wouldn't believe.)

Three years later she was joined by another little pink one, also displeased at being evicted from her cozy spot. Except this time, there was no polite cry. She screamed her blessed head off. So much so that I distinctly remember hearing the nurse and the anesthesiologist say, "Whoa. She is MAD."

She turned 15 months old this week and she has a zest for life and everything in it like I never imagined.

They are growing so much faster than I would choose. But isn't that one of the greatest gifts of all? Being able to witness them growing? Sometimes at night, I peek in on them. Watch them sleeping. Pull up the covers under their little chins and whisper things I want them to know. Those moments usually catch in my throat and I leave their room quietly, soberly thanking God for entrusting them to us.

I think one of the basic common lamentations of all mothers of small children is how fast they grow. Everyone always told me (and still tells me!)

"Hold on to every precious moment."
"They'll be in college before you know it." 
"Enjoy these days. They won't always be so small."

I've tried to heed their advice. Really, I have. I try to take the pictures. Write the blog posts. Write the funny things they say in my little book of quotes. Play "Go Fish" and leave the laundry a bit longer.

But what no one ever prepared me for was the heart-wrenching beauty and wonder of actually witnessing them grow. As in, grow before my very eyes. Like watching a flower bloom in elevated speed. 

That's enough to make you feel like your heart's going to burst wide open with joy, pride and pain all at the same time.

It's obvious when I look at pictures of a few years or even months ago. It's clear when I fold up last season's clothes that were practically hanging off them at the beginning of the quarter. It's ever so evident when I notice them doing or saying something new.

But it is so very startling when I see traces of my babies still in these faces that are changing every day. As Lucy's face becomes more and more that of a little girl (mere months from going to school!) and less of a sweet, round baby-faced toddler-- I want to stop time right in its tracks. Lately I have noticed it more when she laughs or cries. Funny, how those two emotions, so different from one another, but they both have been seen on her face since she was a wee baby. I hope she keeps those traits all her life. I hope she keeps a bit of innocence and delight for the rest of her days.

Sometimes I instigate tickle fights just to see her face light up with the hilarious laughter that reminds me of my little cherub faced itty bitty thing.

And I know that she will just continue to grow and change and grow and change. As will her sister.

I know I am powerless to keep them small. I would never want to. (Well, okay sometimes I do.) But I never want to clutch my fingers around their "baby-ness" in mock ownership of two little people who belong to HIM and have merely been entrusted to us for a season. I never, ever want to stand in the way of His teaching and growing and drawing them to Himself. 

I only hope to be WORTHY and FAITHFUL and point them to God one day at a time. 

So for all the Mother's Day gifts I've been given. All the times I've been praised or encouraged or blessed for being a mom--

The greatest gift of all,

is simply being used.  The best honor I could ever be given is this role.

This seemingly (to some) insignificant task of leading little ones.

This front row seat of watching these little souls grow (every day) to know a little bit more of who they are, and why they are here.

Let us all love them LAVISHLY and be humbled at the GIFT of raising them up.


Monday Morning Mayhem

Okay, so there's actually no mayhem. It's only 8am! But, being brought up baptist, I know the power of  good alliteration.

       We love a good Monday around this house. Not as much as a Friday, but still. Monday is known here as "Reset Monday." The idea originally came from Amy's post here over at Amy's Finer Things. It really inspired me, and we have referred to Monday as "the day we press reset" ever since. There's something so fresh and hopeful about Mondays. No matter what pile of laundry you've left undone in order to play with your family; that sink half full of dishes you really should have completed but ignored in favor of sitting on the couch with your husband; the amount of times you ate dessert; WHATEVER it is, is waiting to be redeemed on Monday. Truth be told, I even loved Mondays when I was working. Seriously. Of course, Sunday nights once the sun went down, I loathed the thought of getting up and leaving my baby at home. But by Monday morning, once I got to work and got in the groove, I loved the prospect of a new week.

And as the great Anne Shirley (or rather, L.M. Montgomery) said,

(photo from Teaching Literacy, via Pinterest)

How was your weekend? We had a supremely relaxing weekend. It rained most of the day Saturday and Sunday-- as it did for you too I'm sure. Saturday morning we got up early and went to a local strawberry farm and picked 2 gallons of berries. (So yes, I'm trying to get up the motivation to make jam in the next day or so!) 

It was chilly and we picked spring berries wearing jackets and and long pants, but it was so nice. After a quick stop by the store, we spent the remainder of the day at home, relaxing. I cannot remember when this has happened recently. The kids took great naps and Lance and I lounged around and watched golf (well, he did. :) and mid-way through being totally chilled, a supreme feeling of panic overtook me as I realized that a mere two weeks away was Lucy's 4th birthday party. We planned it a week early this week, because of Memorial Day so.. it's coming right up. I don't even want to think about her turning FOUR. *Living in Denial*

So I jumped off the couch and ran out to Hobby Lobby while the kids were napping. (Our hobby lobby may be in the same parking lot as a Starbucks. They may have been having Frap. Happy Hour. I may have purchased one for a mere 2 dollars. I may feel the need to stay far away from there for the next couple of weeks until Happy Hour Days are over.)

Sunday we celebrated Cinco de Mayo by grilling fajitas and making Tres Leches Cake ala Pioneer Woman. (So yes, working out, on my Monday to do list.)

OH! Before I forget, one of my FAVORITE books is free on Amazon Kindle right now. If you have a kindle, snatch it up!!! I have the hard copy and love it. If you are a mom, have a mom, know a mom, or want to be a mom someday, you should read this book. It's so funny and poignant all at the same time. And I just love Melanie Shankle. And you will too after you read this book! If you don't have a kindle (like me!) it is also available in paperback and very reasonably priced at most local bookstores, including Lifeway and some Sam's Clubs
(photo courtesy of the Big Mama Blog)

Here's her BLOG 
And here is a link to the video promo of the book.

Now, I'm off to plan a tea party for this little one, who was born like... 5 minutes ago.

 Speaking of Strawberry Picking, here I am FOUR years ago this week, doing the very same thing!!!

 Baby Lucy ready to pop!

3 days old and ready to go home!

We are so blessed.



Here are a few somewhat random and not so related topics---
I've been a bit all over the place mentally lately, so this will certainly compliment that.

1. This post from the amazing Ann Voskamp. I cried from the fourth line until the very last. (Oh, yes. I did.)

Two lines that cut me right to the core (speaking about holding on to our "todays" and our little ones.)

"You don't get to keep. You get to witness.
You don't get always. You get Awe." 

and then, "And every milestone moment always forks, and you get to choose which road you'll go--bitter or blessed."

We've had a lot of uncertainty lately. Well, I say that. At the end of the day there really is no actual uncertainty. Just the quietness of God on particular matters. That can sometimes feel like uncertainty--but I don't really think it is. There is nothing uncertain about the major points of our future, only that we are safely in His care and whatever He brings to us, we hope He will sustain and guide us through.

2. This Album, Jesus Wants my Heart by Daniel Renstrom. I was introduced to his music while in school in NC, and he has recently come out with this album geared toward children. It's appropriately referred to as a "Family Worship Album" as it is NOT annoying. Seriously, we have had it in our car for days on end, and I'm not the least little bit tired of it. I can rarely say that about anything else geared toward kids--but the nature of this album is so uplifting for any age! He has a great, truly artistic style and he pairs that with wonderful theological truths. Go right on over to iTunes right now and sample the songs! (BTW, the whole album is only $8.99! Worth every penny!)

3.  Since we're talking about really weighty matters here, I will mention that tomorrow is a very important day. Tomorrow begins ten days of STARBUCKS FRAPPUCCINO HAPPY HOUR DAYS!!!!!! That's right, between the hours of 3pm and 5pm from May 3-12, you may get HALF PRICE frapps!!!! So, grab a friend! Grab your love! Grab one for your SELF!!!! There is talk of this new Caramel Ribbon Crunch frappuccino. Not sure what that's about except, okay it sounds all kinds of awesome!

Speaking of caramel. I tried to make some today for the first time. I needed some for these (which I am taking to a friend who had a baby) and the store was all out of caramels. So, I thought, well I can make this!!! Something happened, and now I have a jar of beautiful caramel sauce, which *may* have a slightly burnt aftertaste. I'm not sure what I did, except the obvious: I burned it.
I have a close friend, (and when I say close, I mean I would give her my right arm if she asked for it--and all the butter in my freezer which I 'm saving for the apocalypse!) her husband *allegedly* makes A-MAZING caramel. I say allegedly because I've never tried it. (SNIFF.) Perhaps next time we are together I can get a TUTORIAL!!!!

And for my mom, and anyone else who came for pictures of my girls---

Here they are! From a recent trip to visit family

For those who have come here in hopes of hearing a tale of a washing machine come back to life, sorry to disappoint you. It's still just a pretty space filler in my laundry room. But there has been progress. Meanwhile, my dishwasher still works. Thankful for that, as we seem to use it more than any other appliance!!!