Friday, November 7, 2014

fall exploring

This fall we've been really intentional about spending time outside exploring. We've spent many afternoons taking walks in the woods with Grammy and exploring the fields and woods around our house. We spent a fall weekend with Mimi and Pop at the cottage in search of trails, bald eagles, and big trees. This fall I've been reminded of how very much I love being outside. Most weekdays I wake up with the sun and watch it rise over the farm. It's the best. One morning, Everett came with me. I hope Everett and Graham will have a love for the outdoors. I hope we can cultivate a sense of adventure and a love of nature in our kids. I hope that amazing creation points them straight to the God who made it.






















Thursday, September 25, 2014

sayonara summer uniform

As I type this it's raining out and somewhere around 65 degrees. Lame. Fall is here and, as much as I love it, I'm sad to put away summer clothes. Mainly, I'm sad to put away the boy's cutoffs.






It all started last summer when I was looking for summer shorts for Everett. I don't know what it is about little boys shorts, but they stink. Everything I found had 16,000 pockets, was too large, too long, or too big. So, I did the only thing I could thing of, which was go to Goodwill. I picked out 2 pair of jeans for like 2 bucks each and cut them off at the knee. And thus, my cutoff obsession began.



This spring I didn't need to go to Goodwill, instead Everett wore holes in 4 of his pants. It was even easier than the year before, because I only needed to cut off the back side of his jeans. I cut off a pair of Graham's jeans and may have cut off a few of mine too. Aaron started looking around and asking what in the world I was doing. No jeans were safe. ;) If you saw my kids this summer, you would've seen them in cutoffs. The kings of cutoffs perhaps, they didn't really have a choice.






I've learned a few things from cutting off jeans. First, choose skinny or straight jeans or your kid looks like a pirate. Second, mark where you want to cut the pants or you may cut daisy dukes for your 2 year old. Lastly, don't cut all of the pants of a certain size or you will have no pants for the next kid. Life lessons people, life lessons.




So long cutoffs. We will miss you. Until next year that is...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

two years of the Graham man

I don't even know where to start. This boy of ours. He is so much wrapped up into such a little thing. I liken Graham (and really my kids in general) to a volcano. It's like they lay dormant for the first year of life and then year two they explode. Graham did just that.



This year Graham has been wild, fun, hard, adorable, ornery, sweet, cuddly and crazy. He has had me wanting to just kiss and squeeze him to death and moments later wanting to sell him on craigslist. And then, he looks at me with this sweet face and I am kissing and squeezing him again. It's a vicious cycle. But that face, oh that face. I just melt every time I look at him.



Graham man,
You are making me a better mama. You're teaching me how to have patience and to pray more than I ever thought possible. You have the sweetest face and the sweetest voice. You love to do what Everett does and then often like to do your own thing. You are curious and strong willed. You love keys and balls and hats. You love holding my hand and, man, I love holding yours. You always want to be working and doing jobs.  You seem happiest when you're helping mama. You wander off and don't mind if anyone follows. You look like your daddy and eat like him too. You only use about 10 words, but always know what you want and how to get it. Life is busy and full and better because of you.




Happy 2 years my sweet baby. I'm madly in love with you, even and especially on hard days.

Mama

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

so long sweet summer

We had such a fun summer --- so full of family and friends and fun stuff.
Living on Stern Farm with Grammy and Pop. Feeding the horses. Learning how to swim. Riding bikes at Great Pops. Fishing with Pop pop Anderson. Exploring the burgh with Mimi and Pop. A trip to Canada. Learning how to ride a two wheeler. A trip to the cottage. Playing at the pond. Afternoons with cousins at the pool. Catching fireflies. Laying in the hammock. Afternoons at the Youngs. Eating dinner by the pool. Trips to the library. Cousin sleepovers. Picnics in the park. Ice cream dates with the Tulleners. Catching toads. Having a yard to play in and explore. Campfires and s'mores. Saying good bye to the Lusbys. Kennywood with the Anderson fam. Graham's little left arm run. Helping in Great pop's nursery. Getting a niece! Jumping off the diving board. Going to the Steelers/Eagles game. An afternoon of pony riding.

Summer, you will be missed. You were one of the best yet.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

eight years

Life is half as hard and twice as good with you Aaron. Eight years ago marks the best, happiest, and wisest decision to date. I'm so glad you're mine. Here's to eighty more!





Thursday, July 3, 2014

6 years of Marley dog

6 years ago, I was dying to have a dog. We had just moved into our house the month before and I was determined to convince Aaron how great a dog would be.  I was also trying to convince him to get a bigger dog. He grew up with dachshunds and I grew up with German Shepherds. We decided on a beagle mix (who knows why) and I found one advertised at a local animal rescue. We made our way to LaMancha Animal Rescue and fell in love with Marley. He was the cutest little puppy. We also thought he was a she, but it turned out fine. hah. (Read the story here)









I loved the name Marley and Aaron agreed. We didn't really know what we were getting into. Marley was the CRAZIEST puppy! He had more energy than any dog I've ever seen. I ran with him, walked with him, and even bought an attachment for my bike that he could run along with me. We spent countless hours training him. We have multiple funny stories with him... like the time he jumped out of our car and ran into Walmart. Thankfully he didn't get any further than the Auntie Anne's pretzel shop in the front of the store. Or the time Aaron went for a run with him and forgot a poop bag. Of course Marley decided to poop right in front of someones house who was home and watching, so Aaron took off his sock and cleaned up the poop with it. Run = over. Also, he threw out his sock. hahaha



At about 1.5 Marley started to slow down the crazy. We brought Kai home, and then Everett, and then Graham. He's slowly become our crotchety old man-dog. He likes to sleep all day on our bed. He loves the boys because they are constantly dropping their food for him. I am hands down his favorite human. He's my favorite dog, most days.  He's a good companion. He lets Everett take him for walks. I'm still so glad we rescued him. 

Happy 6 years my Marley dog. Here's to many more!





Wednesday, June 18, 2014

bring on the adventure

"Uncertainty brings fear, but it also brings adventure.” 



As of 1 week ago, we are homeless. Not in the sense that we have no where to stay, but just simply that we don't own a home anymore. It was 1.5 years of praying, working, decorating, cleaning, stressing, and simplifying that led up to selling the house. It was a day that went smoothly, but one that I'd never like to repeat. At the age of 24, when we purchased the home, we were under the impression that you always make a profit when you sell your house. Not true anymore. It was a good lesson and also a really hard lesson to learn. We probably didn't understand the enormity of taking on a mortgage payment.  The repercussions came slow and steady throughout living there--- things like needing to work when I wanted to be home with Everett and not being able to move for over a year after we wanted to and using a large chunk of our savings to sell the house--- were consequences that we had to deal with. It feels good to put it behind us, like a weight lifted. And, we also feel better about buying a house second time around. We won't rush or make decisions based on anything but what's best for our family. It's a good feeling. 

There is some uncertainty from here on out. We are unsure of where our next house will be or if we'll find it or be able to buy it anytime soon. If we've learned anything though, it is to wait patiently on what God has for us. And waiting is hard to do. We live in a world of instant gratification where waiting for the internet to load is an annoyance, let alone finding a house. But, if we've learned anything from buying our first house, it's that waiting is worth it. Waiting longer to save, longer to find the right house, waiting to find the house God has for us is worth it.

For now, we're staying at Aaron's parents. We're incredibly grateful for somewhere to stay in the in between. We're living in 2 rooms, so it'll be an adventure, but, the Lord really has a sense of humor. I have been praying for a yard for my boys and dogs for the last 2 years. Aaron's parents live on 60 acres of awesome with a pool and pond, fields and woods. We've already loved walking out our back door into a beautiful yard. As always, I'm amazed at the way the Lord provides for us and how often it looks different and better than I planned.














Here's to a summer of adventuring and a house that will be worth the wait!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

moving on from morgantown

Two weeks from today, we go to settlement on our house --- our sweet little townhouse in Morgantown that we've lived in for 6 years. Aaron and I bought this house when we were 24. We both worked full time and had been married a little over a year and a half when we bought it. Previous to that, we lived in a tiny apartment and decided buying a house was the next thing to do. I was tired of living in such cramped quarters and wanted a dog. Aaron was happy to oblige. There was so much buzz about it being a great time to buy and we felt like we better buy before the market went back up.  It was 2008. After buying our house, the market did a nose dive. Hindsight is 20/20, right? It was okay though. In the next 6 years,  we rescued 2 dogs, had Everett, I quit my job and got a better one, had Graham, and Aaron got a new job. We did a lot of living in this little house, a lot of growing, and are leaving with a much fuller car and much fuller hearts.



We moved to Morgantown so that we could be close to the turnpike for Aaron's job, but it was further from all of our friends and family in the area. We've spent the last 6 years driving 30 minutes for church and playdates and Windle family gatherings. My kids became pros at car naps and transfers. Our cars put way too many miles on them. We found things to love about Morgantown though. I will miss the Amish farm stands and Shady Maple's breakfast buffet. I'll miss being so close to the turnpike and, subsequently, closer to my parents. I'll miss the view out my back deck. I'll miss neighbors and friends in the area. It's a bittersweet move, but an exciting one. We're so looking forward to being closer to our church community, our friends and Aaron's family. We're looking forward to a yard for our kids and dogs to play in. We're looking forward to finding a home to raise our kids in and make lots of new memories.




It's funny to think how much life has changed in 6 years. I can't wait for all the adventures to come in our next place. Now, back to packing.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

choosing joy & changing perspective

This phrase is something I think about a lot. It's something I try to do a lot. Choose joy. It's something that sometimes just isn't easy. This week it's been a struggle to choose joy --- between 2 sick kids and a sick husband, little sleep, spending mother's day getting projectile vomited on, and bumps in the road to selling our house--- it's been hard. So much about this idea of choosing joy is, for me, about perspective. So often it's easier to see the negatives. It's easier to gripe or complain or feel bad for myself than it is to look at it differently. Sure, I would've loved to spend Mother's Day being relieved of duties and relaxing, but the reality is, my husband treats me like it's Mothers Day most days. I'm incredibly grateful. Sure, I would love for my kids to not get sick, but I have the ability to get them medicine and am able to stay home with them. My kids are really healthy and I'm so thankful for that. Sure, I'd love for everything to be easy with this house selling process, but regardless, we have a roof over our heads and a wonderful house to call home. We are able to sell our house and I'm thankful.

Thursday was a long day. Aaron was at rugby and we still had about 45 minutes until bedtime. What I wanted to do was put a movie on and plop the kids in front of the tv. I'd had it with the day and the week really. Instead, we went outside and played. The boys rode bikes and played with chalk and we went on a walk. It was the perfect opportunity to choose joy. The perfect opportunity to choose the joy in those moments over the frustrations of the week. And you know what, it was there. The joy was there in those moments that I chose to look at the smiles on their faces, and the sweet moments of sharing between them, and how proud Graham was that he climbed up on Everett's bike.





Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation. --- Rick Warren


This quote just spoke to me. Spoke into my frustrations and current situations and reminded me of the reality of the hope and promises of God being in all those details, even the hard ones. It reminded me of the temporariness of these things and the assurance of His great love for me. Some days choosing joy is harder than others. Some days I just need to change my perspective. Some days I just need to recognize all of the things to be thankful for. Life will not always be what I want it, but I can choose how I live and react to it. I can choose joy even when it's hard and I can give thanks for the good and I can rest in the assurance that it will all be okay.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

life magnified (thoughts on Kenya - part 1)

Coming back to life in Pennsylvania after 10 days in Kenya has been a strange experience. Life here- the good, the bad, the amazing, the ugly has all been magnified because of what I experienced. My mind felt foggy as I tried to figure out how to process what I had seen and experienced in Kitale. I realized that some of the problem is the excess that I was hit with immediately upon returning. All of the stuff that I allow to compete for time and space in my brain- commercials, email, tv, social media, people, relationships, things. Part of the fog is just simply that my brain is so full all the time that there's no room for just silence, for processing. When we were in Kenya, there were times that I longed for the comfort of home --- times that I wanted a slice of pizza, to not sleep under a mosquito net, or to not have mud on my feet constantly; but, the thing that I quickly realized when I came home was that parts of me longed for that uncomfortableness. Parts of me that wanted the simplicity of life that is so lacking here in the US.

So, I have struggled with how to tell people about what an amazing experience it was. I've struggled with how to put into words all that we were able to be a part of there. And my biggest struggle has been how to process this and how to respond. Last week, I was looking at my bible app and a verse came up - Romans 12:1. It was such a moment of recognition for me- a moment where even though I still didn't have all the words I needed or the ability to process everything, I was able to clearly see that the Lord knew just how he wanted me to respond.




I think it was a reminder to me how easy it would be to slip back into life just as I left it, and to be honest, some days I do. But, the Lord is working on my heart. Working on how I spend my days and how I spend my money. He is slowly changing my heart and has used girls in Kenya to remind me that my everyday can be spent dependent on him, focused on him. Those girls longed for a relationship with Jesus in a way that was compelling and desperate and simple. I am praying that as I continue to process this trip and our time there that the Lord would how to love him like that.


*** This was written 9 months ago. Just this week, I was reminded of my trip and these feelings and spent some time processing. It's in these moments that I'm so thankful I wrote this down as a reminder of their longing for Jesus and their dear hearts.