still here. still blessed.

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.


look back: bear's 2011

I realize I was MIA most of 2011. It was a full year for everyone though. Here is Bear's year in review.

Some snow, lots of inside play, Daddy in NY for work

trip to Jamaica, Daddy's new boat

playing outside, riding bikes, "after schooling", starting actually playing with Monkey

Easter, art, t-ball

baseball games, the zoo, end of 1st year of pre-school

trip to IL, Grammy & PaPaw, fishing with Poppy, U of I

Subfest, 4th of July, swimming, lots of brotherly play

Momma's birthday, trip to IL for a wedding

Sesame Place, Daddy's birthday, Nanny & Poppy visit, Pre-school starts again

apple picking, Papa & Nana visit, pumpkin patches, Grammy & PaPaw visit, Halloween

family time, Thanksgiving, decorating for Christmas

turning 4, baking, Christmas


embrace the camera: january 19

I loved participating in Emily's Embrace the Camera challenges last year. I just finished the little boys' yearly photo books, and I realized Momma pictures were in short supply. I'm going to attempt to capture us in our everyday life so 2012 has more Momma and every day moments. Those are the ones that mean the most to me.

Monkey has been rocking the undies wearing business since day 4 of our plan. We might be spending a higher portion of our day hanging out in the bathroom, but it's a process. I am so proud of the little guy. I can't believe how big he is.

one undie wearing 2 year old and one proud momma in the bathroom

Hop on over to her blog and see all the other mommas and their babes.


day one: monkey style

My Little Monkey,

Today, I decided to undertake a grand adventure with you. You threw away your diapers, and we took a step toward being a big boy. I just went back and read the entry from the first night we did this with your brother, and all I can say is you are a much easier child sometimes.

You turned two about 3 weeks ago, and I decided we should try this whole potty business with you. Since our method involves staying home for (at least) 3 days straight and we're always on the run, it seemed a good time to hunker down and get it done. You had shown no real interest in using the potty besides using it as a chair while fully dressed. You did tell me once before you had to go, and I managed to get you there on time. That was about a month ago and a total fluke.

I'm not sure why I wasn't as stressed with you as I was with your brother. Perhaps because I knew it was a stage and the first day was going to be emotionally draining. Perhaps because your big brother was testing his boundaries and my frustration had another direction. Perhaps because I'm already dreaming of the facebook status that tells the world 2011 is the last year of diapers for our family.

Daddy is "home", but he's in month 2 of shift work so we don't see him awake very often. He was quite surprised to come home from work and find you running around in a t-shirt, baby legs and real undies. Daddy was nice enough to order pizza since I was so focused on keeping our floor as clean as possible.

Our biggest issue was getting you to go to the bathroom at all. I stuffed you full of juice, gave you some salty food to make you drink some more, and offered some more milk and water.

Bear caught on halfway through day 2. I have no idea when in this 3 day process it will click for you. You did stop yourself after a little dribble tonight. You wouldn't go once you were on the potty, but you at least knew you weren't supposed to use the floor for that. I know you though, Monkey. I have become a master on bodily functions in my 4 years of mothering. I knew you had to poop, waited until you could not go back, and pushed you into your potty chair. You weren't a fan of Momma wrestling you in, but you did like the sticker and cookie reward after.

I can't wait for what tomorrow is going to bring. I know we'll be able to do this, and I am so happy to be able to stay at home and do it with you.



merry christmas

merry christmas

and a happy new year.



We raise them patriotic.


(incourage) brighten a day

I worked at Hallmark in high school. True story. It made me a bit of a card snob; American Greetings just doesn't cut it. The Hallmark I worked at also carried a line of Christian based cards under the label DaySpring. You can find their products online and in most Christian bookstores. I've always loved their simple messages and comforting colors.

As a mom, I've also become much more aware of the things we have in our house. I want the boys to grow up in a Christian home and that means more than bedtime prayers and church on Sundays. I want to live a Christian life to the best of my abilities. That means lots of love, forgiveness and faith.

I remember a sermon when I was a kid that talked about what our houses say about our faith. If someone came into your house and looked at your calendar, would he know you were a Christian? If he looked in your checkbook would be see you living a giving life. If Jesus walked into your house right now, would you be ashamed of any of the books, magazines or shows on your DVR?

One of the things I want the boys to know is that we are meant to support each other. While we can't fix everyone's troubles, we can offer encouragement, prayers and love. While mission trips are great and needed, there is plenty of support we can give from our own homes.

Back before Bear and Monkey entered my life, I would spend hours searching for the perfect card. Now, I live more in the grab and go world. When I was glancing through their products, I loved the set of Hope & Encouragement cards. Real cards have the ability to change someone's day, and the 10 pack was more realistic than buying cards one and a time. There's always someone in my life that could use a pick me up. Having the cards already at home means I won't be making excuses for not doing my part to lighten other's burdens. I was a little concerned with buying a bulk pack. You know they always put the most adorable one on top and then you get the awkward ones at the bottom. I was so pleased that every single card was just as meaningful and honest as the last.

I also loved that at the top of the pack they included a sheet for you to list 10 people in your life that could use some encouragement. What a simple way to remind others that you care. Spending 5 minutes listing people out is another way to keep the cards and love from being shoved to the bottom of the to do pile. (You know you have a pile just like that on your counter.)
Head over to DaySpring to see how you can brighten a day or read the reviews of others to get some ideas for simple acts to encourage others.

I was sent a package of these adorable cards for free to share them my opinions with others. There is no other compensation besides the package of cards and allowing me to brighten someone's day.


still here

We're still here. I just needed a time out to spend time with my family and get back to the things that I really value.
I have lots of things to share. But, this will do for now.


face the rear

The AAP updated their guidelines for car seats today. They now suggest that children rear face (look out the back of a car instead of the windshield) until they are 2 years old.

I posted a link to the Chicago Tribune article on Facebook last night. I was shocked at the immediate strong negative reactions. Why are so many moms against safety? People commented that their legs looked smushed and that their kid would have hated it.

Our parents didn't wear seat belts when they were kids. They survived. Is this evidence that seat belts don't work? Should we all demand that the government is crazy for recommending them?

Children's joints are different than adults'. How many times have you seen a kid sleeping in a way that looks completely awkward and uncomfortable? They like small spaces. Their legs will not be broken. (I've heard that there has never been a documented case of a child breaking a leg because they were rear facing. I can't find any proof of this right now though.) Besides, you can fix a broken leg. You can not fix a broken spine.

Just because you survived or your older children survived does not matter.
What should matter is if you were ever in a car accident rear facing keeps your child safer. 5 times safer. While you might be proving a point by switching your child forward facing at a year and 20 pounds, is that really a point worth making? Is the potential of that choice being responsible for killing your child worth it? No one is trying to control you or your child. They're trying to keep your baby safe. In a way that requires no extra money or effort.

Parenting is full of making your kids unhappy. Of not doing the "fun" thing. I think my mom told me when I was about 16 that it was her job to make me unhappy. Her job was to make me safe and unhappy.

Each parent has the right to make their own choice.
Just make it an informed choice.



In case you couldn't tell, we're really excited for spring weather to be here.
Even if it is just for a day.


embrace the camera: march 17

I love that Emily asks us to take a picture with our kids each week. Bear is quite the self centered little kid, and he loves having his picture taken. I love how he's all decked out in his St Patrick's Day gear. I made his shirt, and my mom sent him the green visor. Just Momma and Bear hanging out while Monkey takes his nap.


coming home

When Hubby and I chose to get married, we both knew he was in the military. We both knew that our life together would involve long absences and hard good byes. We were both willing participants in this adventure of being a military family.

Bear and Monkey never got that choice. They never had the option to say "yes it's worth it" or "no I don't think I'm up for the emotional roller coaster". We signed them up. Their life is just as rough as mine is. And, they have no idea about the reasons why Daddy disappears or any real concept of how long he'll be gone.

I worry sometimes about the things we put the boys through. I want someone else to take on that burden for a while. Can't it be someone else's turn for their Daddy to leave?

Lifetime has started a new TV show called Coming Home. You need to watch it. Please spend 15 minutes to see what life is like for these kids. I'm not asking you to send your Hubby away for months; I'm asking for 15 minutes to see what these military kids go through.


best thing

I teach Sunday School for third and fourth graders at our church. This Sunday's lesson was on Matthew 17 and the transfiguration. In the story, God says "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 17:5 KJV).

The kids all made signs for the best thing they could hear God say about them. We talked about how God really feels that way about each one of us, and we all have the potential for those signs to be true.

We are the kindest people.
We always try our best.
We are good.
We are loved.

God's compliment was one of the best I've ever heard though. I want to be wanted and loved and make God happy.

What's the best thing anyone could every say about you?


2011: month 2

Two months have gone by since we all made big lists of how our 2011s were going to go. I thought it was time to check in to hold myself accountable and to see how everyone else is doing.

My goals were:
*Read 30 books. I've read 9 so far which makes me 30% of the way there. I'm really hoping to exceed my goal. I go in stages where I devour books and then nothing happens. Well honestly, Facebook and TV happen, but nothing productive happens. I'm glad I've stayed on track so far.

*Be serious with the budget. We went on our huge vacation in February. I've been cutting back and trying to only buy what we need (or really, really want). It's a slow lifestyle change, and that's the kind that's going to stick.

*52 dates. Fail. The only real date we've gone on was on vacation when we ate dinner by ourselves. We do have one scheduled for next Saturday. This is something that I really need to make an effort to improve.

*Be patient. Despite yesterday's huge failure, I feel like I'm making strides to be the mom I want to be. Finding me time and time for my faith have really helped me grow. There will be the screw ups, but that's also a time to show Bear and Monkey that Momma isn't perfect and how to handle the times when you need to say "I'm sorry."

How are you doing in 2011? You still have 10 months to make it happen.


in order to get the best view

sometimes you have to do a little work