Monday, September 30, 2013

Rain Boots

So, I already shared these photos over the weekend on my Instagram, but I love them so much I had to share them on the blog too. A couple of weeks ago I decided that Eva absolutely needed some rain boots. I looked at several places for some but most stores didn't have any and I didn't want to buy them online since you're never sure how they will fit. I was so happy to find these at Once Upon a Child in Highland Village (the best place to buy gently used kid's clothes). Not only are they cute, they will allow for lots of fun in the rain, and they are practical for letting her walk to the car when it's pouring and my arms are full.
Eva wasn't the only one rockin' the boots on Saturday. I've had my boots since my good ole UNT days when I had to walk to class in the rain :) We were hanging around the house that morning and as soon as Ryan realized that it was raining (finally!!!!!) we put on our rain gear and played outside. It was pouring rain sprinkling lightly but we still had fun being silly in our boots.
Melt my heart. Why are little kids so stinkin' cute in their rain gear? Add an umbrella and the cuteness multiplies even more.
Yes, Ryan looked cute too. He didn't have boots. Only his rain coat which is really a windbreaker. At least he got in the rainy day spirit and played along. 
Love the rain. Love my little girl. Love kisses under the umbrella.

Friday, September 27, 2013

An Awkward Welcoming

The other day I attended an event. For the sake of respecting the event and the organization behind it, I don't want to share the name. We will just refer to it as "the event." So I had been thinking about attending the event for a few weeks. Someone had mentioned it to me before and said they thought I would really enjoy it. I looked it up and found out when and where it was. The website for the organization had a contact option, so I even took the time to email the coordinator and ask what I needed to do to attend. The website also encourages people who want to attend to "jump right in!" Seems easy, right????

Flash forward to this week. I decided that since I hadn't heard back then it would be fine for me to just go to the event. They had free childcare and I was really happy to get to take Eva. I've been looking for something that will give me encouraging, non-mom time to grow as a person while at the same time giving Eva fun meet-friends time. Eva was really excited when I told that she was going to go and play with some new friends.

So we get there and I figured out where to take her. I was in the processing of dropping her off when they started looking for her name on the list. "Umm, she isn't going to be on a list, " I said. "Oh I'm sure she's here somewhere...." says the nice childcare lady. I'm thinking, NOPE, she is definitley not going to be on that list because nobody ever told me there was a list. "You registered, right?" asks childcare lady. I tell her what I was already thinking, that no I did not, because nobody ever told me that I needed to. So she kindly says that she will take me to the coordinator. I explain who I am (AKA, the mom that didn't register) to the coordinator. She tells me that the event is pretty full, and that there is typically a waiting list. At this point I'm pretty bummed out and Eva is getting impatient and begging to go play. How can I tell her that she might not get to go make friends? The coordinator decides that maybe she can go ahead and let Eva stay. I politely mention that I really don't want to drop Eva off if I won't be able to stay for the event, because to come back after 5 minutes and drag her from fun new friends will be guaranteeing massive toddler sadness. The coordinator says she thinks it will probably be okay.

She walks me down to meet the Boss Lady in charge of the event. Boss Lady looks very confused at why I would possibly show up for the event if I hadn't registered. I mentioned that I did email her, to which she remarks that it probably went to her junk mail. Okay.....so I'm awkwardly standing there with Boss Lady while she tries to decide what to do. I'm trying to be nice, and tell her that I understand if there isn't any room to stay, but that I'd love to even sit in the back if that is an option. I also mention that my child will be heartbroken to have to leave new friends minutes after meeting them. She is clearly worried that there won't be room or that going against the policy might cause a nuclear explosion, although she assures me that she "wants me to feel welcomed." At this point I am trying so hard to be polite and understanding although I really just wanted to cry. I hate feeling awkward. I hate feeling like an inconvenience. I wanted to just grab my child and quietly slip away but I also really wanted to stay. The whole point of "jumping in" to this experience was to have fun and learn!

Finally, Boss Lady tells me that there is room at one of the tables. I take a seat at a table and get ready for the event. And here is the redeeming part - the event is TOTALLY AWESOME! The women I sat with were super friendly and welcoming. I really liked what I learned about and what we did. I can totally see why people would recommend this organization because it was really great! Also Eva was so happy when I picked her up and had done a cute little craft.
So what is my purpose to this blog? It really isn't to vent about my experience, because it was overall very positive and I ended up being so glad I went. I wanted to share my story to say that it taught me an important lesson in being welcoming. Whether it is at church, or hosting youth group, or having anybody ever in my home, I want them to feel welcomed. I never want anybody to ever feel like they are an inconvenience or that there isn't room for them. I would rather give up my chair or my meal or my time than ever have walk away feeling left out. Thankfully, I am used to awkward situations in my life and I feel like I have a decent ability to shake it off and keep putting myself out there. I am also able to understand that their reaction wasn't personal, they were probably just thrown for a loop and didn't know what to say. That's okay. I really did enjoy that morning and I am thankful for the opportunity to learn about making people feel comfortable.

Moral of the story: Be nice to new people. Show them they belong. That's how everybody deserves to feel.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The World's LONGEST Living Room

When we first looked at the home we live in now, one of the things that stuck out to me the most was the living room. Our living room is extremely long, especially for the size home we have. In comparison, our kitchen is tiny. I remember thinking, "Why did they build this house to have such a long living room and such a tiny kitchen? Did the builder make a mistake?" I didn't know how on earth we would make the furniture we have look normal or where we would keep all our kitchen stuff that didn't fit in the kitchen. And then....we started hosting our student ministry gathering in our living room. You know what fits really well in a long living room?  20-30 students. Lots of pillows. Folding chairs.  I feel like God absolutely, positively knew that we would be able to use this living room to reach and disciple students. How awesome is that?! Our furniture looks fine, and we keep all of our extra kitchen stuff in the playroom closet.

However, Bara Church is now ready to take the next step. We have had many students and families join us and feel that God is calling our church to ARISE and BUILD. We are looking towards the possibility of a permanent building in the future....maybe one with a space for youth?!?! Two Sundays ago our church got to watch this video sharing our vision and hopes for the future. It is exciting!!!
The church in the Bible always refers to the people gathering together. It isn't specific to a building. We are the church. But having a physical place to allow for more opportunities would be amazing. Part of Ryan's job is to oversee the weekly set up and tear down for our church, and the other day he calculated how many 100's of Sundays he has done this while at Bara and our former church....it is a lot! He will happily, joyfully continue setting up, but wow, what a blessing it would be if that time could be further directed towards other areas of ministry.
Also this Sunday we had three people get baptized after our service. Ryan got to baptize one of our youth and was so encouraged to get to partake in his first baptism as a pastor. Our pastor Joel joked about how the baptism trough looked a bit unsteady and cold this Sunday, and that maybe one day we could have a more permanent baptism tub. Haha, we shall see!

We are looking forward to seeing where God will lead Bara....how He will accomplish such a seemingly gigantic mission....who He will use.....who He will bring to Bara! Please pray for our church in the coming months!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Going Green and Having Balance


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Lately I've been feeling like I need to start eating healthier again. On the wide pendulum of healthy eating versus terrible eating I probably fall somewhere in the middle. I rarely eat fast food or soda. I love cookies and brownies. I try to eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal, but I also eat more bread and pasta than some would recommend. If I try to eat only according to one diet plan (such as Paleo or South Beach or whatever) I will probably give up as soon as I break the rules. On the other hand, if I tell myself to make healthier choices and make a plan for doing that I'm actually pretty good at sticking to it. I'm decently smart, I know what choices are better for me than others.

My take on exercise is pretty much the same. I feel like I am fairly active and I workout a couple of times a week. If I told myself that I had to work out five times a week I would be overwhelmed and give up after the first few times I missed a workout, but having the perspective of just being more active and working out when I can keeps me more on track and motivated. When it comes to eating right and exercising and just being healthier overall I find the best approach for me is just balance.

In the past 10 years, I'd say the healthiest I've ever been was when I was making baby food or offering new table foods to Eva. Since she didn't eat very much I wanted to make sure that all of the foods I gave her counted. I didn't offer her things that were processed or sugary because I knew she would fill up on those and not want the healthier options. I also wanted to be a good example so I mostly ate the same foods I offered her. Lots of fruits and vegetables.  A little bit of lean meats. Some dairy like yogurt or cheese. Whole grains.  I felt so good and energized! Then as she got bigger I got more relaxed with letting her have some other treats and on the go snacks...which led to overall less healthy eating in our home. Not terrible, but not great.

So with all that, today I made my first attempt at making the ever popular green smoothie. Our blender is always out and active because smoothies are one of the most popular foods with Eva. I can change up the type of yogurt and fruit I throw in and there are several healthy options that she will actually eat. I added a few extra fruits to my grocery list this morning and even bought a bag of "super greens" (spinach, kale, etc) at the store so I could jump right into this. This was my guide that I used.

Okay, it may sound gross, but here were the ingredients I used today. Stay with me....
1 cup milk (I used real milk because that's what we buy and I'm fine with that)
1 large handful of super greens
4 strawberries, 1/4 banana, 6 pieces of frozen melon
1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp honey, and too much ginger (oops!)
2 ice cubes

It was actually good. Not like chocolate cake good, but way better than I expected. I couldn't taste the spinach at all. And here is the real test.....my toddler even liked it. She asked for a sip and made such a funny face at first. I think she expected it to be like her smoothie. But when I left it sitting on the table she kept going back and taking sips of it. I was proud of myself for eating more spinach than I have this entire year and I felt healthy :) I think I'll try it again tomorrow.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Homecoming in the Town of Mayberry

Here in Mayberry Trophy Club, if we do one thing well, it is getting together to show some town spirit! Our town high school had their homecoming football game Friday night so naturally the town held a big parade on Wednesday.  I absolutely love the spirit and that everybody is so rallied around the high school. It's just so unlike where I grew up that it almost catches me by surprise. Even in college, I'm sure UNT had a parade or something but I don't remember going to much other than one bonfire. So I am totally embracing our football loving, parade cheering, small town vibe. Eva and I wore our matching orange chevron to the parade so that we would be trendy as we cheered for the Bobcats. The highlights of the parade were the Bobcat Dazzler drill team, the soldier with the American Flag, the Varsity football team, and of course the tons of junior Bobcat cheerleaders and junior Bobcat football players from all of the elementary teams. Not pictured: Eva covering her ears in fear every time a firetruck drove by. 
Naturally after everyone is all pumped up from the parade, you have to throw a town homecoming pep rally! We all headed up to the high school field to watch the cheerleaders and Dazzlers perform and to see the homecoming court nominees. Afterwards they had an awesome fireworks show. This was the best fireworks action shot I could get...next time I think I'll just google "fireworks" and use that instead. Trophy Club sure knows how to have a pep rally! We kept Eva out until almost 10PM which is very unlike us....that is how much I love all this small town excitement.
Friday evening we went to watch the big football game. Ryan was happy for Friday night football. Eva was happy for her special Bobcat blue beads. I was happy that the weather was reasonably cool for it being the first home game of the season. I was also thankful that our friends the Fords were there with their three kids so Eva has plenty to keep her entertained. We made it through the Dazzler's half time show before Eva and I headed home after another late night. PS. I secretly wish I could be a Dazzler.

I don't have any photos, but Saturday night Ryan got to be a chaperone for the homecoming dance. Nothing says classy like young high school students in love shaking their money makers on the dance floor. He was home by midnight so I guess it wasn't too risque :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Her special day

After her big birthday party day, we still wanted to make Eva feel special on her actual birthday. You might at well celebrate special days, right? That's how we think about it. The things we did weren't huge, but they were super fun for Eva. Starting with....a birthday morning pancake! I saved her Elmo candle and put it on her pancake and then she got to watch her new Veggie Tales movie while she ate. After breakfast we headed off to church to see all her friends. She got a birthday hug from Jesse and got to play with Reece and her other nursery friends. For a girl who loves church and other people, this was perfect! 
Even though it was her birthday, she still had to take a good nap. Even grown ups wish for a birthday nap :) She finally got to wear the new Toms that Aunt Mel gave her. Then we took advantage of her kid's club birthday coupons. She got a free cupcake from the Barnes and Noble Kid's Club and a $3 gift card from Geoffrey the Giraffe to spend at Toy's R Us. We showed her all the choices she could make to spend her $3....I LOVE her face when we show her choices. She gets this huge smile and you can tell she is trying to make up her mind. She ended up choosing a little pink toy mixer that's just like my grownup one. Then we took her to the pet store to look at all the pets. We did not buy any pets. But a nice lady did let her pet her two dogs. Eva loves dogs. 
Sunday night we had a youth party to for the Cowboy's first game. Eva got to play with Duke, the biggest dog ever, watch the game with friends, and dance around on the ottoman during the commercials. No, she doesn't like to be the center of attention. Where would you get that idea?! Haha, okay she loves it. I think people sang Happy Birthday to her 10 times that day and she soaked up every minute of it. Love my little diva!

Party like a TWO year old.

We had Eva's 2nd birthday party on Saturday at a park in Trophy Club. About a minute after her 1st birthday was over I saw on another blog an idea for a You Are My Sunshine themed party. I thought that was so cute and over the months began pinning lots of ideas. I decided that it made perfect sense to have a sunshine party at the park.  Then I began making a guest list. It started with immediate family only, which was about 15 people. I slowly began adding more friends and more family to the list and it quickly became over 40 people. I had many wonderful conversations with my husband about how many people we actually felt like would be a good number - husbands love having conversations like this by the way. Then about a month before her birthday I actually went out looking for a few crafty items for the party....things to make it a cute and creative Sunshine themed party. I saw some cute Elmo stuff....and I thought about how much Eva LOVES Elmo. I thought about how she would definitely be excited for Elmo decorations, and how maybe she wouldn't care as much about my original idea. And I began thinking about what Eva would want for a perfect party for her.....close family, the park, presents, cookies. It was a pretty simple list. SO THEN (after lots more "well, what do you think???" conversations with my husband) I decided that we would keep guest list to just immediate family, and that maybe I would keep the decorations simple, and that we should definitely have an Elmo theme. All because this is what I felt like my little girl would love the most :) I have posted way more photos here than some might want to see, but I don't care. It was my baby's party and I want to share all the fun photos! I am also going to skip most the narration because the photos tell the story best. Here is Eva's Elmo Party!
Table 1: I made a 8X10 Happy Birthday Eva sign with Elmo in the background. That was about as much crafting as I did for this party. Then I bought 2 balloons, which sadly flew away towards the end of the party. You can't even see how cute the balloons were and Eva didn't get to play with them afterwards....but life goes on.  I decided to do a cookie/brownie dessert tray instead of cake because all of the homemade cakes with Elmo's face looked creepy and had too much red frosting and it wasn't in our budget to do a catered cake - Eva was perfectly happy eating a giant M&M cookie! I did get Sesame Street tablecloths because they were an inexpensive and easy way to add color and Elmo.

{I do want to make it clear that I am in no way against super amazing, creative birthday parties with tons of laughing children. If that's what you feel like doing, then go for it! And invite us!} 
Table 2 had Eva's tickle me Elmo and the rest of the food. About 2 days before the party I even changed the time of the party (which you can do when you only invite 15 people) so that we wouldn't be outdoors during the hottest part of the day....which meant that I also changed up our foods from lunch to more snack foods. I know there are amazing pinterest moms out there shaking their heads at the simplicity of this party set up. That's okay, because it was really so great. Easy food. Easy decoration. Extremely happy toddler. Happy and peaceful mom and dad. No regrets.
We had talked about her party for a few weeks but the morning of the party we didn't mention it. My mom came and stayed with Eva for a little bit while Ryan and I set everything up. When she arrived at the park we yelled "Surprise!" and she took off running for us. It was an incredibly sweet moment. Even though she knew the party was coming she didn't know it was right then and her surprise was so joyful! 
She was excited to see all the Elmo's. And of course she wanted to eat a cookie and open presents immediately. Waiting is so hard for a two year old!
How did she know that we got her a hoola hoop? We wrapped it so well. 
Wait a minute. That looks like a regular old big kid walking down the sidewalk. She is only two, right? 
Giant giggles and hugs for her cousin Mallory. 
 Take a close look at those blonde curls. She may not have much hair, but oh how I love those curls.
Play time! Covered playgrounds are the best thing ever. The whole time we were there we only saw two other kids, so basically we had the entire park and playground for just our family.
All four cousins. These little girls are some of her favorite people. 
Kayden wanted her picture taken like this - what a cheeseball! 
Swinging with both grandfathers. 
Blowing out her Elmo candle on top of her giant cookie! We practiced blowing out candles ahead of time so she did it just right.
 Haha, why do these girls look so worn out? It looks like we are forcing them to eat their treats.
 Time for presents!
A baby doll stroller from Mallory, Aunt Amanda, and Uncle Brian. 
Baby doll bunk beds from Mama and Daddy. I bought these at the TC garage sale in April and have been dying to give them to her since then. I did a good job waiting :) 
Big button toys from Mamy and Grandpa. 
And a Boo doll from Nana and Papa. Good thing this girl loves playing babies. 
 Mallory got right to work putting Elmo to sleep.
Eva pushed Boo all around in her stroller...
 And then Mallory pushed Eva and Boo around in the stroller :)
 All the girls played with Eva's counting bears and balance.
 Kayden showed off her cartwheel skills.....
 And then Ryan showed off his cartwheel skills!
It was a super fun birthday party! At the end when we were all cleaned up I stood in the pavilion and thanked God for such a special morning. We are so blessed by HIS GRACE that we even got to be with our wonderful family, on a slightly cloudy day, in a beautiful park, celebrating the fact that our daughter has been with us for two whole years!  I think Eva was happy to be with all the people who love her most!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday, Eva!

Dear Eva Kate,
Happy 2nd Birthday! I've been thinking about what to write to you on your second birthday...what words to share with you....what pieces of memories I would want you to read later in your life.

I think I will start by describing your personality. Friendly. Funny. Strong. Fearless. Opinionated. Compassionate. That's pretty much you. You will be friends with anybody, you love laughing with us, you are so strong physically, you are independent and brave in most situations, you know what you want, and you care how people around you feel. That's how God has created you. I love who you are. 
Right now you weigh 22 pounds and stand 32 1/2 inches tall. You are a small two year old but your personality is so big you could never be overlooked. You have been a hungry girl all summer and eat all the time - and then you use all that energy to RUN, RUN, RUN! I know I've read that some kids don't officially run into later on into the preschool age, but I promises you that you run all the time. And you run fast. 
One of the hardest parts of being your mama right now is navigating through your toddler emotions. When you feel things, you feel them strongly. It can be so hard when you are crying over not getting what you want, but I want you to know that I am thankful even in those hard moments. You are helping me learn to be patient. You are teaching me to be humble. And most importantly I am learning more about God's great big love for me - for US - as I see constant parallels. Sometimes you want something that I know isn't best for you, and I have to say no in the moment because I love you. Sometimes I'm waiting for you to calm down so that I can bless you with something even better than what you thought you wanted. And that's just like God. So I wanted to share that with you in your letter so that one day when you read this you will know that I absolutely always loved your toddler-self, even through tantrums, and that one day if you are a mama too, you will hopefully keep that perspective. 
Your favorite things to do right now are to play outside, "cook" with your kitchen toys, take care of your baby doll, and use crayons or paint to make art. You are so cute when you are playing with your little toys. You also love to make a pallet and watch a movie. Your favorite movie right now is Monster's Inc. and you are a big fan of Elmo. 
You get excited and run to the playroom door when you see Daddy coming home from work. You like to knock on the door and then run around to the front door to greet him. Then you run away from him before he can tackle you with hugs and kisses. You and Daddy have such a beautiful relationship and he loves to make you laugh. We both know that Daddy is the funny one :) 
You recently moved out of your highchair and sit at the table in a booster seat. You made the move because you insisted on sitting in a chair right next to your daddy. You are becoming a bit more picky with your food....you would eat fruit all day if you could. Vegetables? Not so much. You do an okay job of at least trying to eat what we eat for meals. And since you eat all day long I'm sure you are getting plenty of good stuff in your tummy.
You are still a pretty good sleeper. Most nights you are down by 8PM and sleep until 8AM or so. You will take a nap for between 1 1/2 - 3 hours (if I'm lucky!) around 1PM each day.  You are doing a great job sleeping in your toddler bed, although lately you prefer to sleep on the floor sometimes. I laugh when I'm watching the monitor and I see you throw your pillow on the ground. As long as your sleeping, I don't care where it is.
Your vocabulary is exploding! Mostly you say 1 or 2 words together, but you talk to us all the time! If we don't understand what you are saying you just keep repeating it over and over (and over...) again until we figure it out. Some of my favorite words that you say are "come on," "smoothie," "birthday," and "monsters." You like reading and reading along with me. You also have started "singing" your own songs to yourself sometimes.
The day you were born seems like so long ago, and yet your first birthday only feels a few months away. Time has a funny way of passing. Each day I am truly thankful to have you in our lives. Being your mama is the best! You are my favorite little girl in the whole world.
love,
Mama