Tuesday, March 3, 2015

a hand full (five years) of Everett.

I can't believe it. It's been 5 years since Everett made me a mama. I remember his birthday and the days after so vividly. I remember wondering how we were going to do this. The truth is, some days I still wonder that, but I also wonder how in the world I got so lucky to have this sweet boy as my own. He's a mama's boy through and through. He looks like me. He's wild and crazy like his daddy. He has grown into his role as big brother and loves Graham so well. There have been countless mornings that he wakes me up to watch the sun rise with him. He loves listening to worship music and playing with legos. He is so smart and loving. He has the best dimples. He expects everything to be easy for him, so we've started learning what perseverance is and how sometimes we have to keep trying until we get it. He is a great helper. He loves playing with his friends and cousins. He says the funniest things, often sounding like a 50 year old, not 5. He is still shy at first, but also loves to have everyone's attention. I'm so grateful that he's mine. I'm so grateful for the gift that he is to us. I'm so humbled by the responsibility to raise him in this world.

Everett man,
Never stop being the funny, wild, kind kid that you are. You are a gift to everyone that knows you, especially me. I'm praying that in this year full of transitions you will know how important, loved and precious you are to us and to the Lord.

I love you dearly,

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

lots of love - Aunt Barb

Last Wednesday, I got a call from my dad. My Aunt Barb passed away unexpectedly from a flu related heart attack. I was left reeling. It was shocking and hard to even fathom. My aunt had never married and, therefore, treated my sisters and cousins much like her own kids. We were the pictures on her desk at work and the stories she told her girlfriends. She was the aunt that, as a kid, always bought us the cool toys and took us cool places. As an adult, she and I bonded over our mutual love of history, Downton Abbey, well manicured nails, and my 2 little boys. As I walked around our little home, I found signs of Aunt Barb everywhere --- a christmas card from her still sitting on the windowsill, an album she made Everett of her visit to our house and numerous toys and gifts she gave the boys. As the week went on, I thought about all the things that my aunt meant to me and I realized I wanted everyone else to know those things too.

On Monday, we celebrated her for the incredibly important woman that she was to us and I had the privilege to speak about her. I prayed all week that I would be able to honor her in the way she deserved and hope that I did. There is a void that she leaves that can't be filled. It's so hard, but I'm so thankful that I've had someone in my life who loved me like she did.


"Over the years, I've realized that there were things that I could always count on my Aunt Barb for.

First, I could always count on Aunt Barb being late. We knew that if she said she would be there at noon, that meant she would actually be there around 3. It was "Barb time." My dad often tells me I've inherited the late gene from her.

Another thing I could always count on my Aunt Barb for was expanding my horizons. Whether it was introducing me to Estee Lauder make-up as a teenager or getting me some kind of unique and artsy gift, she always had a way of taking me outside of my norm. Aunt Barb was always showing up to family events with some kind of intricate Martha Stewart or Paula Deen recipe. So, while the rest of us were making lasagna or cold cuts, Aunt Barb was bringing an arugula salad with pine nuts and goat cheese. The funny thing is that as I got older, I started asking for the recipes.

But more than anything, I could count on Aunt Barb to love me in very intentional ways.  From attending countless soccer games and school events and graduations, she always showed up and supported me. As an adult, I knew that she loved me by the way she continued to pursue me --- she pursued me to spend time with her and came to visit us, even all the way in Philly (and you know how much she hated to drive). She sent letters and cards and little packages for the boys. When I'd talk about Aunt Barb Everett would say, "You mean Aunt Barb who always gets us fun things?"

When she first got a phone and could text me, she signed her texts like an email: LOL, Aunt Barb. Finally, after a few weeks, I had to ask her what was so funny. She let me know that when she wrote LOL she meant lots of love. I noticed after that she signed all her cards in that unmistakeable font with lots of love, Aunt Barb. And I think that phrase speaks a lot about her life. It reminds me of the verse in Ephesians that says, "Be imitators of God, therefore, and live a life of love."

Despite the heartbreak of losing her, I am grateful. I'm grateful for her influence in my life. I'm grateful for the 31 years I did have with her. And most of all, I'm grateful for God's intentional love for all of us and that because of Jesus, I get to see her again.

Love you lots Aunt Barb. We'll miss you terribly."

Monday, January 5, 2015

year of Immanuel

In a nutshell, 2014 could be summed up as uncertain. We went into the year uncertain of whether or not we'd be able to sell our house. We went through the process of selling the house and all the uncertainty that comes with that. Then we moved into my in-laws with an uncertainty of how long we would be there before a house would show up on the market that we loved and could afford. Looking to 2015, there is still so much uncertainty; however, I am confident and thankful for the evidence of God with us. 

This Christmas I kept hearing songs and seeing reminders that God is Immanuel, that God is with us. And so, I've been mulling over it, thinking about it, and thankful for it.  I've taken some time to look back on all that uncertainty of 2014 and seen so clearly that God was right there with us in those things. When we were uncertain about losing money to sell our house, God was with us. We found out later that our neighbors weren't able to sell their house and another house is just now selling for 40k less than we sold ours for. We were uncertain about moving in with Aaron's parents, but God was with us. My kids have had the joy of spending hours with their Grammie and Pop and their Great Grand pop. We have been able to save and recoup the costs of selling our house. We were here to walk through a cancer diagnosis with my mother in law and provide distraction, noise, joy and hopefully a little help too. 

Looking back I can see with clarity that in my uncertainty, God was with us. I'm so thankful for a God who walks so closely beside me. A God who is so personal and loving and kind in all things. This year I am keeping my focus on Immanuel. I am not going to focus on the things that I still don't know - like where we will live and how soon we will find it. I don't know and for now I'm at peace with that. I don't know what this year will bring in the face of cancer and my mother in law, but there one thing I do know --- He is with us. This year in the good and the bad, I will remember that. I will remember in the heartache and in the joy, that He will walk alongside me in it. I am so grateful.

via Hand Lettering Co

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

a very windle christmas card

May your Christmas be wild and fun and full of joy  - from our family to yours. 

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.


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!