Thursday, December 19, 2013

decking the halls 2013

I love everything about decorating for Christmas. This year I just added to what I started last year. More woodland, more kid friendly.

The decorating started right inside our front door. I found this adorable little snow globe that plays jingle bell rock. Everett loves it. I put it in our entry with our keys and a free printable and hope that it stays in one piece.

For the tree and mantle, I got a few more squishy ornaments that my kids can't break and added a few things I snagged from clearance or my sister snagged from out her back door in Reno, Nevada.

pinecone from Nevada, argyle tree - target clearance 2012, bird- target 2013, miniature tree- walmart

hedgehog from Pier 1 and the rest from Target

We actually found an immense 9 foot tree for 30 bucks right around the corner from us. Sure, it was so big it bent and broke the tree stand and caused the tree to fall over ... and sure, it needed 4 strands of 20 foot lights to cover it... but I love it. 

This year I wanted to devote a place for all the kids Christmas stuff. I wanted it to be something they could play with and get into whenever they wanted and something that would get them excited for Christmas. I ended up using a corner of the living room that we keep their toys in. I made sure that we have all our Christmas books, nativity set, Christmas countdown and a little tree they can play with. Our chalkboard reflects what I hope we're doing this month. Making the emphasis Jesus' birth and not Santa. We aren't completely ruling the jolly fellow out, but we just want to place the emphasis on the importance of the best gift ever! We added our Christmas card display there too, since Everett loves looking at the pictures of our friends and family.

I still have my own nativity display atop our bookcase, so little fingers can't break things. I absolutely love these two printables that I got last year. I added some of our woodsy pinecone garland from last year and love the way it turned out. 

I just love this view. If it was acceptable, and my tree wasn't real, I would leave it up all the time. Just looking at it makes me happy. Now, I'm off to enjoy that tree and some afternoon coffee. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

the last time

Today in the car I told Everett we were going to go to a CA-prise (surprise) on our way home from bible study. To which he replied, no mommy its a SURPRISE. It caught me off guard. When did he stop saying that? Did I miss it somehow?

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Everett is getting into a stage where he wants to be mister independent. He wants to get his own drink, pick out his own clothes, and buckle himself in. On more than one occasion that he's let me know he'll hold his own hand in the parking lot, which is hilarious and terrifying all at once. It got me thinking. I wonder when will be the last time that I help him do something or the last time he will say something adorably wrong or the last time he'll want me to do something with him. Will I recognize that's the last time? Will I remember those moments? I realized just the other day that he has stopped calling Graham "baby brother Graham buddy" and I think it's actually been months since he last said that?!

I think sometimes that phrase "enjoy every minute" can be overwhelming for a mom of two little boys. They keep me busy and tired and on my toes; however, I think that phrase came about because for so many people they forgot that these years would end. The years where Everett tells me I'm "the great mommy in the whole wide world." The ones where he asks me to take a nap with him every single day. The ones where he cries every time I leave and tells me "but mommy I love you - I don't want you to go!" I know that I will miss his little voice, and the way he fiercely loves me, and the way he always, always wants me around. And, so those moments that those people can't get back? I've got them. I've got them right now to enjoy and live in and appreciate. Every day won't be perfect, but there are moments of goodness in all of it. And I don't ever want to be the old woman at the grocery store telling someone to savor these moments, because I didn't get the chance to when my kids were little.

So here's to appreciating as many of these moments as I can. Here's to living in the now so that when it is one of those "last times" comes, that I know I've enjoyed the heck out of them.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Praying that today all of your love, family, friends, and blessings would show you just how great God is and speaks of his kindness to you (and me). 

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

a big boy room for Everett

Everett moved into his big boy room LAST August. Yeah, like a year and a half ago. I had Graham soon after and his room went on the back burner. Both boys were sick and contagious this week, so I was finally able to complete the last few projects. I made the Emerson quote sign and strung the garland and called this bad boy done.

Starting out, I knew that I wanted the room to be a light gray with navy and white and pops of red added in. I didn't want anything too theme-y but I did want to include lots of dog things since Everett loves them. Any and all dogs: he wants to pet them, say hello, and is constantly playing with ours. So, that was my jumping off point. I brainstormed a lot and made a Pinterest board devoted to his big boy room.

The biggest project by far (and the cause for the delay) was the dog sign on the wall. In the end though, it's also my favorite part of his room. I love when something I envision actually becomes a reality. The other awesome piece is the chevron quilt that my mom made. It's perfect!

It took a year and a half, but I love this room. I love the personal stuff like my favorite picture of Everett and I when he was little and his bed that I painted white. It's a bed that I slept in growing up and so did my sisters and so did my dad. I love the chevron, polka dots, dogs, and initials. I love the signs I made, because I made them for Everett. I love the quilt and curtain that my mom made. And best of all, I love that Everett loves it just as much as I do.

Source list:
Bed- family hand me down
dresser- Ikea
chair- Pottery Barn Kids
lamps- Homegoods
toy/book baskets- Target
number art- Homegoods
dog hooks- Ikea
dog bank- Amazon
scripture art - etsy (Fancy that design house)
dog sign/emerson quote sign - DIY
polka dot pillow - CB2
red letters- Michaels (spray painted)
red garland - DIY (wool balls from the felt pod)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

intentional thankfulness

Thankfulness leads to more thankfulness.

It's something easily forgotten. I wrote this 2 years ago. Last November, I chose one thing to be thankful for each day. And today, I sit here wondering why it's only one month a year that I remember how much better life is when I'm intentionally thankful. It's like I just simply forget. I hate that. It's not that I'm ungrateful the other 11 months, but I am also not always actively calling out gifts and things to be grateful for all year round. I'll remember on an anniversary or birthday, but then forget all the little things in between. I forget to remind myself when I'm frustrated or struggling to call out all the good, to call out all the things I can be thankful for.

This year, I am determined. I'm determined to make it more than just a November thing. I'm determined to call out the thankfulness of a full life all year round. I'm starting with this November and a jar of thanks. And, I'm going to fill it with a year of goodness.

I found these printables:

And a $10 jar from Walmart that I stenciled: 

It was easy and cheap and exactly what I wanted. Everett and I started today. It was the perfect day to start really, since I've got 2 sick kids. It was good to think about what I did have to be thankful for instead of what I could be frustrated about.

My heart is in such a different place when I'm thankful. I pray this year my heart would be full and overflowing with thankfulness for the life and people and grace I get to experience.

Monday, November 4, 2013

radio silence

Have you ever had days/weeks/months/seasons that were just so full? Sometimes too full? The ones where too much of a good thing rings true? That's been the last 5 months for me. Overcommitted, full schedule, birthdays, celebrations, vacations and weekend road trips, small groups, bible studies, playdates and more playdates. It's all such good stuff, but I've been left feeling exhausted.  Last Sunday, I skipped church and just spent some time in silence. I think that might be the thing I miss the most as a mom. I never missed it before having kids because there was plenty of it. Now, most days are loud, noisy and messy (and awesome), but lately I have missed the quiet. The last 5 months have been so busy and loud that I haven't had time to really think. I haven't had time to fully process. I haven't had time to do all the things I want to do well. And, I haven't really had time to blog. The thing is though, I love to write. So, this month, I'm committing to finding some silence and some time to write. I'm finding some time to document my sweet kiddos and this busy season for us. I'm finding the time to tell you about my trip to Kenya and the way the Lord is using that in my life here.

Here's to a few more posts, some time to write and think, and maybe a little more silence.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

month by month

the proof is in the pudding. my baby isn't small anymore.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

a year of Graham

My Graham man,

365 days later and I am more smitten with you every day that passes. We didn't know that you'd be a boy or a little brother for Everett to play with. We didn't know that you'd steal our hearts from day one. We didn't know you'd love sleep and food as much as your dad. We didn't know that you'd be the gold standard in babies and ease us into life with 2 kids. We didn't know you'd be so different from your brother and yet just as amazingly awesome. We didn't know that you would make our family feel more complete.

The things we did know were that this year would pass quickly and it did. We knew we would savor it and you so much more than we let ourselves with your brother. Your first 5 months you fell asleep on us every night and we didn't worry that you wouldn't be able to sleep on your own. We held you and rocked you as long and as much as we wanted. We let you move at your own pace not worrying about the next milestone or "thing" that you needed to be doing. We just got to enjoy you. It was as if your contentment and laid back-ness just rubbed off on us. I'm so glad I can look back on this year and know that we spent it living in the moments and not worrying about all the things we did the first time around.

You are starting to be wild and crazy like your brother. I love watching your personality showing up in different ways. I love watching you chase after Everett and love watching you want to be with him. I love that you have like 12 nicknames because of your dad and brother and uncles. I love the way you greet me with a huge smile every morning. I love the way you smile biggest for daddy. I love being your mama. Life is better, happier and fuller because you are in it Graham.

I love you endlessly.
xo- Mama

Friday, August 23, 2013

11 months

Graham has turned into a little wild man this month. It's so much fun. He wants to be playing whatever Everett is and gets into everything.

He is eating like a maniac. If he's in his high chair, he expects to have food in front of him. Most meals he eats more than Everett! He shovels in food by the handful. I've tried to teach him the sign for more, but every time I use it he looks at me and yells, as if saying "Mom, I'm not signing this to you. You know I want more food!"

He's starting to sleep in a little later. He's been my early riser since the beginning, usually waking in the 6-7 hour. The past few weeks he's been stretching it to somewhere between 7-8. Thank the Lord! We Windles are not morning people. Graham has 6 teeth - 4 on top and 2 on the bottom. He's sporting a signature Michael Strahan smile that Everett had as well. Never has a gap toothed smile looked this cute.

Even with all his wildness, he is still as sweet and laid back as ever. After leaving him for 10 days, he picked back up nursing like it was nothing.  This month was so fun and so busy. It's looking like life with 2 little boys is going to be as wild, busy, and fun as I imagined.

Monday, August 5, 2013


I never usually have a hard time writing down my thoughts or expressing them. But today, I am having trouble. The past two weeks I have gotten a taste of life in Kenya. I have seen injustice. I have seen poverty. I have seen sickness. I have also seen redemption, joy, and dependence on Jesus in an amazing way. My mind still feels jumbled as I try to process where to go from here and what Jesus has called me to in response. My mind feels like it is straddling the Atlantic with a foot in Pennsylvania and another in Kitale. I long for this trip to not be a distant memory or just an amazing experience, but instead, a catalyst for change. I long to see change in my life, in my family, and in my community because of all that I was privileged to experience. For now, I'm taking it one day at a time until I find my words again.

Monday, July 22, 2013

the summer of kristen

That's what Aaron has dubbed this summer. I think it has a nice ring to it. ;) I turned the big 3-0 on July 1st. Aaron let me know he had two presents planned. One was a date night to the city on July 6th. The second was my present that was scheduled for July 11th. Those were the only details that he'd give me. Needless to say, I was super pumped! We are both pretty low key and usually do a date night and a small gift for birthdays. Aaron was going all out - I couldn't wait!

I had an idea that he may be planning some kind of surprise. No one said anything and Aaron didn't slip up on any details, but I just had a feeling. Our dinner date was supposed to be in Philadelphia at a fancy and expensive restaurant. Anyone that knows me well knows that I'd rather order a pizza and take the extra money to go shopping. haha. I really do love date nights though, and was looking forward to an evening kid-less. We showed up at my in-laws to drop off the boys. I noticed a few of my good friend's cars parked out front. When we got out of the back door there was a big "surprise!" and there stood 80 of my favorite people. Like I said, I wasn't totally surprised, but when I started to look around, I noticed that it wasn't just my local friends and family. Surprise! There stood my mom, sister and nephew from Pittsburgh, my aunt from Ohio, my friend Sara and her family from Scranton, and my friends the Curytos from North Carolina. I started to cry. I cried harder when Aaron told me that he'd invited my best friends from growing up and my younger sister from Nevada and that they had tried to make it. He had spent months planning, trying to surprise me and wanting me to feel incredibly loved. I found out later that when he was "working late" the night before, he had actually been grocery shopping and setting up tables and tents and working to make the party perfect. I was so overwhelmed with all of the details and love that went into that surprise. That man is amazing. And so are my friends and family. We spent the rest of the day swimming and hanging out and eating. Best gift ever.

Until the next week. I woke up on the 11th to a note from my husband. He took a half day off of work and booked me an amazing afternoon.

The afternoon was perfect and relaxing. I couldn't believe how much thought and time and love went into all of my birthday celebrations. Husband- you did an amazing job of making me feel incredibly loved and celebrated. Best birthday ever. xoxo.

Friday, July 12, 2013

ten months

double digit months. How did that happen?
monthly faves include:

learning to play - SO big!

a new nickname - Graham-apotamus. sweet boy has some fierce top teeth coming in that remind us of a hippo. it's darn cute.

his favorite new face.

good gracious child- we love you so. happy 10 months!

Friday, July 5, 2013

kenya & the neema project

Even before we brought Everett home from the hospital, we prayed Psalms 127:3 over him and hung those words on his wall.

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him" 

With both of our kids, we prayed for them and wanted them and were so excited to bring them home and love them. They were planned for and on purpose. I never worried about where they would sleep and what they would eat. There were parties and gifts and cards given in anticipation of their arrivals. I knew they would have a safe place to call home. I never worried about taking care of them by myself, knowing I had a strong, loving, and faithful husband to walk beside me in parenting. 

In a village thousands of miles from Morgantown, there are women, girls really, who have known none of those comforts. They have been raped, abused, or forced into a life of prostitution to put food in the mouths of their children. They have wondered where there next meal may come from and if their children will be safe for another day. Their stories are heartbreaking. Many of them, teenagers who never made the choice to become moms. Many not wanting the overwhelming responsibility of a child when they were almost children themselves. 

A few years ago, I heard the stories of these girls and the Neema Project; a program reaching these young girls. A program created to educate, rehabilitate, and love these girls in a society and world that had seemingly forgotten them. Ever since hearing about Neema, I have had a special place for them in my heart. I have prayed for them, provided when we could, and desired to meet these sweet girls.

At the end of this month, I get the privilege of traveling to Kenya to visit the Neema girls. I get to celebrate the graduation of a handful of the girls from the program that they have worked so long and hard in. I get the privilege of speaking to them about a God who created and loves them and hasn't forgotten them. I get to encourage them as mothers and women. I am excited and anxious and a overwhelmed all at the same time.

I'd love if you'd pray for me. Pray that I would be able to encourage and love these young moms. Pray that we would continue to build relationships with the people from the village, the teachers and all of the people that we come in contact with. Pray for Aaron as he is responsible for our two little boys for 10 days. Pray for my mother in law and sister in laws as the help us watch the boys. Pray for Everett and Graham- that they would understand that I'm coming back and that they would do okay without me. Pray that lives would be changed, including mine.

kenya team- 2013