Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What I'm Learning about my Son (And Me)

We've successfully transitioned into "the school years" over here; "successfully" would be defined as the absence of total meltdown from any persons involved.  Additionally, we've added a smattering of extracurriculars to the schedule:  Dance class for Kendall and AWANA for both kids at church. 

Kendall sprinted for Kindergarten, as expected.  I walked her in to class the first week of school, and now I get daily requests for me to "drop her off."  None of this comes as a surprise- school is an environment that excites her, and we had her "Miss Independence" pegged long ago.  Her brother is an entirely different animal, a species I am unfamiliar with in many ways.

Where Kendall is my stage performer, Carter is my "Mommy, don't watch me" kid.
Where Kendall exhibits an eager, soft spiritual side, Carter leans in (or out) with more trepidation.
Where Kendall thrives on rewards, Carter cannot easily be bought.
Where Kendall needs variety and a platform for creativity, Carter prefers repetition and simplicity.

None of the above characteristics are traits I share with my son.  And, I realize he is only three, and many more personality traits will manifest over time.  But it is quite amazing watching his personality emerge on it's own, without notable influences from me.  It's a testament to the creativity of God- we are all so divinely and frustratingly unique.

There is one pattern of behavior in Carter that resonates strongly with me.  And by strongly, I mean I can often feel his frustrations myself.  Carter likes to get from Point A to Point B with as few obstacles as possible.  Or none.  No obstacles, no detours.  The most obvious way this is playing out these days is leaving the house.  When we leave (for school, church, etc.), I must tell Carter 1) where we are going, 2) what we are doing, and 3) when we will be BACK home.  His eye needs to be on the prize, and the prize is ALWAYS being back home. 

The times you will find Carter in tears at school or AWANA are trips to the music room, or game room, or playground, or ANY OTHER DETOUR that he was not aware of at Point A.  I cannot tell you how true this is of my own personality.  "Detours" in plans can shake me up so badly that I can no longer recognize I'm still moving toward the goal.  If you're thinking that this mentality would make living a faith-filled life difficult, you are right.  It's a struggle every day to lay down my lack of foresight at the feet of Jesus.  In the very broad scope of things, I know where Point B is, and I'm heading in that direction.  The rest of life....all detours.

Mommyhood is teaching me more about myself than I could have ever dreamed.  And here, I thought Mommying was all about knowing your children inside and out.  I'm grateful that many of Carter's unique qualities will serve him well in life.  He is sweet and affectionate, polite and compassionate.  He is organized in thought, analytical and calculated.  I hope I can be a gracious helper when life throws him (us) little (or big) curveballs.

And to help him actually throw those curveballs, I'll leave that to his Daddy. :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Best and Worst of Humanity

Airports are fascinating places.  If you ever want to see some egregious human behavior, you can start there.  The tension of connections, the anxiety of air travel, the outrageous food prices...all create a portal where people feel free to become rude, self-centered jerks.

We recently returned from a trip to Oregon.  We spent some time with Chris' family following the passing of his grandfather, and planned to return home to Charlotte with a comfortable connection in Salt Lake City.
We've got a ticket to ride!

All smiles en route to Portland!

It started out well.  We enjoyed a complimentary breakfast at our hotel, and planned to eat lunch in SLC, our connection.  While in flight to SLC, the pilot notified us that SLC airport had just closed due to a wind storm, and there was a chance we would turn back.  We flew another 30 minutes or so before feeling the plane veer sharp left, as the pilot announced our immediate return to Portland, followed by a change of plans...we would divert to Boise to refuel, and wait for SLC to reopen.  We landed in Boise and sat on the tarmac for over two hours before getting in the air again to SLC.

Upon arriving in SLC, we waited in quite a long line to rebook our connection, which we had now missed.  We had also missed lunch....and dinner...being cooped up on a plane all afternoon. Rebooked on a flight early in the morning, we searched for a hotel to camp at for the evening.  There was only ONE still available, so we bypassed food and headed for the shuttle.

We were certainly not dressed for the snowy, chilly weather that greeted us outside at the curb.  Both kids folded into us, shivering as we waited for the hotel shuttle to arrive.  A group of people outside had been waiting and hopped on the shuttle as it pulled up.  The driver promised he'd return in 15 min, so we stepped inside the doorway to wait it out.  As we did that, a large group of people sauntered outside, discussing hotel accommodations...we were all going to the same place.  Waiting inside was no longer an option if we wanted to get on the shuttle, so we returned to the curb.  As the shuttle pulled around (40 minutes later), hysteria ensued as people threw themselves onto the shuttle ahead of us.  I've never seen such reckless, animalistic behavior up close.  Despite pleas from kind onlookers around us, no one volunteered to "let the children go first", though we had been standing there longer than any of them.

We brought our shivering children inside and weighed our options.
OPTION 1: We could stand out in the cold and fight for the next shuttle (another 40 minutes, surely).  That would land us at the hotel late at night- with no bags- and the prospect of fighting these same idiots for a shuttle in the morning.

OPTION 2:  We could sleep in the airport.

The second of the options seemed surprisingly better, especially since it involved food in the immediate future.  (Mama gets hangry.)  We decided to go for it, and I immediately burst into tears.  I immediately felt guilt for not fighting harder and getting a bed for my children.  I was writing speeches in my head, berating the greedy herd that put us in this position, while wandering the airport looking for food.  By this time, everything had closed....except McDonalds.  Good ol' disgusting McDonalds.

We bought a couple blankets and neck pillows and settled some chairs in the corner of the terminal.  As we tucked them in, Kendall looked at us and exclaimed "we're really sleeping at the airport?!"  As expected, she dropped off to sleep immediately, and Carter followed a couple hours later (that kid....).  Chris and I soon gave up on the prospect of sleeping, scrolled through our phones, watched the clocks, grabbed coffee at 5 a.m., woke our sleeping kids and headed for our gate to check in.
Early, when the adventure was still "fun"ish.
Fueled by coffee and adrenaline, we boarded our plane.  Sadly, the snowstorm outside caused a 70 minute delay, and because of this, we would now miss our connection in Atlanta.  Rebooked a couple hours later, our final leg got us home to Charlotte without incident.

Chris described this whole experience as brushes with the worst of humanity.  And I'm fairly certain I've done a good job showcasing the darkest points of our travel experience.  But I'd like to note that we encountered some amazingly compassionate people along the way:

  • The young man wearing a hoodie and Beatz headphones who allowed our family and a woman in a wheelchair to step in front of him at the rebooking counter.
  • The businessman waiting for the shuttle who offered us sweatshirts from his suitcase when he saw our kids shivering.
  • The retired teacher who berated the crowd on our behalf in a failed attempt to get us on the shuttle.  "Sorry...I'm a retired teacher.  Gotta stick up for the kids" she said.
  • The flight attendant who supplied us with extra cookies and kind words.
  • The foreign lady with a severe limp seated 5 rows in front of us, who came back to our seats and handed my kids activity books and colored pencils at the beginning of the flight.
  • The flight crew and pilot that welcomed Carter into the cockpit, let him push some buttons and presented him with "wings".
I'd like to think of the above acts of kindness when I recall this trip, but I probably won't.  I've already recounted our travel nightmare numerous times without mention of the many instances people went out of their way to be compassionate.   That's usually the way it goes, isn't it?  The purpose in writing this particular post isn't simply to rant about our experience, but to catalog the goodness we encountered along the way lest I forget it tomorrow.  Those people will never know what their small act of generosity meant to this tired, frustrated Mommy. 

And in the end, by the grace of God, we got home safely.  Needless to say, we all slept very well :)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Running Low on Fruit

THIS is not the grand herald back to the blog I have been anticipating.

Today, I'm feeling cloaked in guilt and failure, and it's barely afternoon.

You see, it's been a rough morning at "the office".

My eldest child accidentally spilled a large glass of apple juice, leaving a huge mess on the table, her brother, her brother's blanket, and her brother's beloved Curious George.  This sent her brother into a meltdown of massive proportions.  Hurrying to clean the sticky mess and calm the wet and hysterical child, my own breakfast- toast- was left in the toaster too long.  As I fiddled with the new washing machine, changed Carter into new pajamas, and refilled the thirsty girl's glass of juice, a dark cloud began to hover over my attitude.

With laundry going and kids now enjoying breakfast calmly, I attempted to remake my breakfast.  No sooner had my toast popped up than another "catastrophe" arose.  Our son, who is taking strides toward potty training, makes a huge, smelly mess in his pull-up.  This is a conversation we've had with him SO many times recently.  I expressed my disappointment and he "promised" to tell mommy before his next poopy.

I cleaned him up, cleared the breakfast table, and looked over at my unbuttered, now-cold toast on the counter.  I thought about what an inconvenience my children had been this morning, as I attempted to salvage my breakfast and my deteriorating attitude.

Both kids are recovering from colds, left only with the residual cough that lingers for-freaking-ever, each cough soon sounding like nails on a chalkboard.  This surely contributed to the irritability and bickering taking place in the playroom as I finally had something to eat.  After finishing, I made my way upstairs to mediate the troubled children.  In between coughs, they make their demands.  They want to play Legos, but MOMMY, I CAN'T OPEN THIS BOX.  MOMMY, I CAN'T FIND THIS PIECE.  MOMMY, I GOT A SCRATCH.  Five minutes later, Legos are old news.  They want to watch The Wiggles instead.  But not THAT Wiggles, Mommy, "the one where Anthony makes the bear go to sleep!"  I have no idea which "one" that is.  We have 15 episodes on our DVR.  I'm clearly taking too long to find it as Carter bursts into tears.

I abandon the Wiggles mayhem and decide to get Kendall dressed for the day.  Except I can't find the ONE undershirt I need for her to wear.  I look EVERYWHERE.  Under beds, through drawers, in laundry baskets, coming up empty each time.  WHERE HAS IT VANISHED!?  I swear, if one more thing goes wrong today...

And then, I smell poop.  Someone dirtied his pull-up AGAIN.  I step aside to collect myself, and then I let him have it.  I raised my voice and he burst into tears as he looked me in the eyes.  He cried as I hastily wiped him up and put a fresh pull-up on him.  And instantly, I felt guilt set in.  I am so disappointed in myself for letting this morning defeat me. 

I sent the kids to the playroom and sat down to get right with God.  My Bible opened to Galatians 5:22-23.  "But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  I'm pretty sure I was devoid of every one of these this morning.  I brushed tears away as I asked the Holy Spirit to take control of my day.

As I did this, my son came down the stairs bearing a picture he had drawn.  Despite my hostility toward him earlier, he said he had made it for me.  "Who is it?" I asked.  "It's me and sissy and Mommy."  I gave him the biggest hug, and asked him to forgive me for yelling at him earlier.  His hand gently patted me on the back.

I grabbed a book I was given years ago called "The Mom Walk" by Sally Clarkson and perused the prayers.  This one seemed to fit my day....perhaps it will encourage you when "one of these days" happens to you- as it will.

Dear Gracious Father, 
How thankful I am that You have covered me with Your unconditional love and acceptance.  Help me to dwell in the freedom I have as Your child to rest in Your grace, even amid my own immaturity and failures.  Help me to live in the knowledge that You are ever cheering me on and supporting me in my journey toward Your beautiful character.  May it become more evident in my life bit by bit.  Help me to extend that sweet grace and love to my children so that they may perceive the life-giving love You have for them by learning it from me.
Because of Jesus' grace I come to You.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Kendall's Royal Salon

For Kendall's fifth birthday, we gave her (and a number of her adorable friends) the royal treatment.  I called in Grandmas and friends to help me pamper this group of princesses from head to toe...curling up their hair, accessorizing with make-up, painting their pretty little nails, and decking them out in royal duds.  Each princess brought their own princess dress and, would you believe, not one was a duplicate!  At the end of our morning together, we treated their moms and dads to a royal promenade- for each to show off their styling.  We had a blast!

Kendall loved her celebration, and being surrounded with special friends.  And WE have loved each of our five beautiful years with our sweet girl!

Ready for the party!
Sweets and treats
Coloring princess pages

Let the pampering begin!

The most beautiful girls in all the land!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Where We've Been and Where We're Going...

Well, helloooooooo stranger!  (brushes dust from keyboard)

It's been pretty lonesome at the blog lately.  No worries, I have no plans to abandon this sucker completely.  In fact, we'll be needing it much more very soon (teaser...)!  I'm not sure what form it will take, but it will certainly continue to bring you the latest and greatest from the Stavenger family.

You may be wondering, WHERE have I been?  If you're social media savvy, you know I've had my hands full with a big project.  Remember when I told you that maybe, MAYBE in my distant dreams, I could make a go of being a calligrapher?  Well, I took a big step towards that dream by opening my own Etsy shop!  It's been a learning curve, I'm still figuring out the ins and outs of the business, but for the most part I've been very happy with it.  Now I just need to get some more prints out the door, and I'd be even happier.  OH!  You want to order one, you say?  Head on over to All The Pretty Letters and check it out!

Now, for the biggie.
And I do mean big.

A couple years ago, we started searching for the perfect place for our family to put down roots.  Our sights were set on the great state of Colorado, and we began to pursue a job there for Chris.  Unfortunately, we felt God closing doors all over the place.  Housing was expensive, jobs weren't available, there was an uneasiness in our spirit...the list goes on.  Reluctantly, we surrendered that dream and opened ourselves up to ANY direction God may point us.

As we explored various corners of the country, one area in particular caught our eye.  Having never been there, Chris and I visited Charlotte, North Carolina a year and a half ago.  We fell in love with it.  Both of us felt a strong pull in our hearts toward this city.  And though we had no immediate plans to relocate, we added it to our list of possibilities for the future.  The future came quickly last spring, with a near-miss landing a job.  It was disappointing, but we put our trust in God's timing and resumed life as usual.

Then, a few weeks ago Chris had the opportunity to interview for what seemed to be a job tailor-made for him.  It exceeded every expectation he had, and they were quite satisfied with him.  We waited anxiously and prayerfully for "the" phone call for several days, and when it came, we excitedly accepted the offer.  This means, of course...

While I'm SO excited about what is to come, I'm in the process of sorting through a lot of emotions...namely, the anxiety that comes with a cross-country move.  I know some of you have done this, and done it frequently, so I covet your advice and recommendations!  Also causing me an element of sadness is the impending separation from our friends and family here in Fargo/Moorhead.  I'm grateful that we will always have a reason to come back and visit, with some family rooted in this area.  

So that explains why the blog has been a little sleepy, and why it may be pretty sparse in the weeks to come as we have much to do in preparation for this adventure.  But on the other side of this mess, you can count on frequent updates from us as we attempt to keep you all as near as possible virtually.  Thanks for being a part of our lives, and for your support in all of our endeavors!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Play-Doh Prodigy

Kendall has had her OWN little obsession lately.
Oh, you heard? 
Well, it surpassed the "hobby" stage a long time ago.  At this point, the Play-Doh company should be personally thanking me.

After watching a few Play-Doh tutorials on YouTube, I noticed Kendall's interest increase dramatically.  Not only did she want to do play-doh ALL THE TIME, but she started mumbling under her breath as she was playing, creating her own "video" as she constructed her creations.  As a mom who isn't opposed to a bit of iPad play (there, I said it), but would like to encourage as much time away from the screen as possible, I've been thrilled she wants to spend so much time playing imaginatively.

As a reward for weeks of good behavior, Kendall chose a new Play-Doh princess set and has been working non-stop on perfecting her princess gowns.
Using her favorite tool, the "extwooder"
My little fashionista...perhaps I have a future costume designer on my hands! 
Lucky mommy...I get served up delicacies like this on a daily basis. 
At some point in all of this madness, Kendall asked if she could make her own video.  I was excited to comply, dusted off the video camera, and pressed "record".  Twelve minutes later, she was done with her first video...and four hours later, I was finished editing it down to five minutes.  In case you missed these gems making the social media rounds, you can find the links below.  I'm sure they'll give you the urge to crack open some fresh cans of soft play-doh and get to work!

P.S. At our pre-school Back-to-School night, Kendall's teacher mentioned that the best thing we can be doing as parents is giving kids play-doh at home...it helps them strengthen fingers and develop fine motor skills.  I'd say we're a step ahead on that front :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Don't Quit Your Daydream

In fourth grade, my teacher required all students to purchase a real calligraphy set from the art store, complete with ink cartridges and pen.  The thought of a public school teacher doing this today is laughable, but "back in the day," classroom teachers had a little bit of freedom in what they could add to their core curriculum.  That's why my sixth grade teacher could write and have us perform a musical, that's why my fifth grade teacher showed us how to prepare fried calamari, and that's why I was introduced to calligraphy in fourth grade.  In retrospect, God aligned me with a succession of teachers that encouraged and honed my artistic aptitude (though I'll pass on the calamari, thanks.).

In college and the years following, I used my amateur penmanship skills to serve many friends and ministries.  I addressed hundreds of envelopes as wedding gifts.  I penned banners and scripture cards and dabbled in graphic design.

And then, I moved across the country to a place where no one knew about my artistic skill.  No one asked me to create anything for them, and that was okay with me.  I was planning a wedding...I was establishing my home...I was beginning a family....I was caring for babies....and the creative side of me fell by the wayside.

I had actually forgotten that I was capable of making pretty things (though I'm proud of the two beautiful children I made every day) until a friend reached out to me out of the blue.  He is a former radio personality who has gone into full-time ministry and I've done several projects for him in the past.  This time he asked for a scripture piece to put in his new office.  I actually wrestled with the project, unsure if I could even DO that anymore.

What that little request prompted took me by surprise.  I did some sketches, played with watercolor, restocked my art supplies with the basics, and soon I was craving some time at my desk!  I joined a calligraphy community online, began watching copperplate tutorials, and have been doing daily drills to refine my formal scripting skills.  It has all been like a huge exhale...removing the dust from skills that became dormant somewhere along the road, and setting some pent-up creativity free.

Perhaps I could make a living at this in the future, perhaps not.  For the time being, I'm going to keep that vision alive and move toward it.  The possibility of doing something I love full-time seems too good to be true.  But I've witnessed so many friends make their dreams happen, I believe it can be done!  Keep your eyes open for more projects in the future!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Let the Little Children Come

Mark 10:13-16 
"People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them."

In response to the above passage preached a few weeks ago, Kendall and I sang "Jesus Loves Me" for the church.  I was overwhelmed with nerves on Kendall's behalf, but it wasn't necessary...her excitement never waned.  Though slightly distracted by a close-up image of her on the big screen over her shoulder, she confidently sang and blessed the congregation with her sweet song!

For the video of this performance, check out www.bethelfc.com Sunday service for June 29, 2014.  Kendall's song starts at 1 hour 20 min.  OR follow this link to my facebook video:   https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10100111409716517&l=7490065596377833727

Friday, June 27, 2014

Right Before My Very Eyes...

I suppose there IS some magic still happening in our household....
My babies are vanishing right before my very eyes!

 Our dear friend is a talented photographer, and graciously spent a morning capturing these precious littles on film.  (We snuck in some playtime, too!)  Here are some of our favorite shots:

And, proof of the magic...
this was NOT that long ago!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ruining the Magic.

My brother was the magician in our family. 
Inspired by David Copperfield television specials, as many of our generation were, it became a hobby for him.  He worked tirelessly on his sleight of hand techniques and became pretty good.
(above:  Halloween of yesteryear, and stupefying guests after our wedding)

Derek knew several tricks...cards, coins, little magic gadgets he'd acquired along the way.
My dad had ONE trick.
He'd rub a quarter into his forearm and make it disappear. 
And, at risk of sounding sadly gullible, I bought into that trick until the brink of my teen years;
A DECADE of believing my Dad had a stash of quarters in his arm.

All you need is one good trick.  I found mine years ago.  It became my go-to jaw-dropper, baffling hundreds of students over the years...the perfect incentive for those rough substitute teaching days.

In an inspired moment following watching "America's Got Talent" with my kids, Chris showed the kids a trick of his own.  Their eyes were bright and filled with wonder!  Mommy took her turn next, bringing my trick to the eager audience.  Perfect execution...mic drop...I'm out.  "Whoa!" the kids shouted!

A little bit of confused chatter took place as they tried to figure out how mommy put a quarter in the back of her head and spit it out her mouth.  And then I heard it...

"Want me to show you how Mommy does it?" Daddy said.
"Yeahhhh!!!"  Excitement ensued.

I shot Daddy a glare across the room that, if I were Elsa, would have frozen the kingdom and CERTAINLY would have stopped him from sharing the secret to my trick.  But lacking those wintery powers, I was helpless as the curtain was pulled back on my prized illusion.  Pretty soon, I had two tiny magicians giving this little trick a whirl.

I could have had them scratching their heads for years to come, but now "they know."  And I'm kinda sad about that.  Like, legitimately disappointed!!  But instead of whining too much about my ONE TRICK being RUINED here, I'm going to use this as a learning/teaching experience.  There is a code of ethics between magicians...here are 4 simple rules by which to abide (ahem, Chris Stavenger...)

1.  Practice, practice, practice!
2.  One trick per audience (leave them wanting more).
3.  Use a mirror.
4.  Never, EVER TELL!!

So there you have it.  Chris has implored me to "get another trick," but alas, my magic days are over. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Before and After!

Transition is difficult for me.  I felt myself physically tense up when Chris suggested that we try out a "big-boy bed" for Carter.  Now, my apprehension was, in large part, due to the fact that he still doesn't sleep all that great in his crib.  Also, his propensity for fleeing the bedtime scene is significantly higher than his sister (therefore, Mommy likes him behind bars).  But there was a large element of my psyche that just couldn't process this because...he's my baby.

Emotion aside, his new bed arrived on our doorstep and I gave myself one more night to rock him and tuck him into his cozy crib.  The next day, my very handy husby disassembled his babyhood and put a toddler bed in its place.  Our fingers were crossed as we kissed him goodnight...and I'm happy to report that he was SO GREAT all night!  Success!  Now, let's hope it continues as the novelty slowly wears off...

Before....and after.
In the process of freshening up his room, I set out to complete a project that has been waiting in the wings for quite some time.  When my childhood home was vacated, I snagged a few items for our home.  I asked for two rocking chairs...one that sits in our living room now, and a child-sized rocker that had belonged to my Dad.  I always intended to refurbish it for Carter to use, and if I didn't do it soon, he would be too big for it.  SO...I used this beautiful Fargo day to do some painting in our driveway.

Everyone loves a good before and after, right?

(L-R) My Dad's brothers pictured with the aforementioned chair, and fabric swatch options.
Annnnnnd, the newest addition to Carter's room:

Saturday, June 21, 2014


I go through phases with television viewing.  For a while I was totally into HGTV and all the Property Brothers brilliance.  Then I had a brief love affair with Fox News.  (It was brief.) After that, I swung over to the Food Network where there was some fantastic things happening, including Food Truck challenges.  If you haven't heard that Food Trucks are a huge, delicious fad right now, you've been living in a hole (or, perhaps, a tiny village in the midwest that doesn't have food trucks...or cable).

>>As a little aside, one of my childhood friends now owns a VERY successful food truck business in southern California.  If you're ever in the Santa Monica or Los Angeles area and have a hankering for gourmet hot dogs, do what the big stars are doing and get on over to Dogtown Dogs!<<

Anyway, one of these food truck shows featured a cuban food truck called "Babaloo."  I'm not sure if this truck is still operating, but it doesn't matter:  I snagged the recipe for their "Lucy! Lucy! Sandwich", and I'm now in LOVE.  This is a delicious summer sandwich, so I'm sharing the awesomeness with you:

 Avocado -Mango Spread:
Diced Mango
Diced Red Onion
Lime Juice
Sea Salt
(Combine these ingredients to taste.  This combo is, incidentally, SO tasty on it's own that you can just fork it in.).

Toast or grill bread of your choice (We use crusty french on a panini press).  Add grilled chicken breast (or grilled turkey breast) and Monterey Jack or Muenster cheese, top with a generous helping of Avocado-Mango spread and some lettuce if you prefer.  Enjoy!

Photo credit to wholegreenlove.com

Friday, June 20, 2014

Why I Didn't Buy Him a Father's Day Card.

A few months ago, Chris and I visited the Mall of America for our anniversary (romantic, right?).  While we were there, we (I) did some card shopping at Papyrus (adorable stationary that definitely costs a pretty penny).  We (I) carefully chose some beautiful and meaningful cards.

But Chris was all like, "Why does anyone spend six dollars on a card?"
And I was all like, "HUSH!  They're like tiny pieces of art!"
And he was like, "They're just going to be thrown away."
And I was all, "The sentiment will be enjoyed...and I'll be keeping mine." (I picked out my own Mother's Day card.)
To which he said, "Well, don't spend that much on cards for me."
And to which I replied, "Oh, don't worry.  I won't."

When Father's Day rolled around, I kept my promise.

Pinterest to the rescue, I downloaded some card templates and fancied them up a bit.
Then, I interviewed each of the kids separately with a fill-in-the-blank activity, beginning with Carter since he's a big ol' copycat these days.  The following is what they said about their Daddy:


My Daddy's name is Daddy.
My Daddy is 2 years old.  (holds up 2 fingers)
My Daddy is big tall.
My Daddy's favorite food is noodles.
My Daddy's favorite color is deen (green).
My Daddy's job is to clean up.
My Daddy loves to play wif me.
My favorite thing to do with Daddy is play wif Daddy.
My Daddy makes me laugh when he nuddles me.
My Daddy taught me to catch.
My Daddy is the best at (whispers) nuddlin' me.
I love my Daddy because I love him.


My Daddy's name is Chris.
My Daddy is 60 years old. 
My Daddy is (this big) tall.
My Daddy's favorite food is pancakes (big ones!).
My Daddy's favorite color is green and blue.
My Daddy's job is to fix people.
My Daddy loves to make things, like salad and pizza, and loves to smell flowers and candles.
My favorite thing to do with Daddy is play with him and snuggle with him.
My Daddy makes me laugh when he tickles me.
My Daddy taught me to sing.
My Daddy is the best at baseball, 'cause he always catches the ball and hits it far away.
I love my Daddy because he hugs me and loves me.

After all of that, I think Chris is probably right.  He LOVED his cards and the sweet words from his kids.  THESE will be the cards we end up keeping for years to come. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

He Is Alive!

Let this be the soundtrack for your Easter season.

Kari Jobe - Forever "LIVE" from Robert Elam on Vimeo.

FOREVER  (Kari Jobe)

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Savior of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon Him

One final breath He gave
As Heaven looked away
The Son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated

Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grief and Joy

Grief is such a long, weird roller coaster.  I haaaate roller coasters.

Life seems to plug along as usual, punctuated by happy memories or poignant reminders that tug at the heart and cause deep, proud exhales.  Then the next moment may find you evoking the spirit of Ron Burgundy, screaming "I'M IN A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION!Such was the case this past Friday.

Several things contributed to my grief-ridden outburst.  First, a close friend of ours experienced the death of a sibling.  His only sibling.  I can relate to the imprint this loss will have on his family, but not to the sudden, tragic way that it happened.  The unanswered questions regarding a life abruptly halted is a different kind of grief burden. 

I lost my brother in a different way... one that I had time (though not enough, never enough...) for which to prepare.  The implications of that, trying to understand what my brother was feeling as he courageously fought a losing battle, are an entirely different burden.  To be honest, I don't allow myself to "go there" very often- hardly ever anymore.  But I did on Friday after reading about a friend's life-threatening diagnosis. 

She bravely beat breast cancer last year- while pregnant, no less.  She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and life post-cancer resumed, until she discovered a lump on her arm last week.  We awaited her news which she graciously shared with us via social media:  "It is not good news. I have Stage 4 cancer. It is in my arm, lungs, liver, bones, and brain. We pray that chemo and radiation (and God!) will work a miracle, but we do not expect one. "All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live." 

I thought about her two young children who don't realize they may lose their mommy, and it hurt my heart more than I could bear.  I lingered in the sadness for a while, I had some meaningful conversations with my husband, and then I forced myself to stop thinking about it.  I have that luxury, unfortunately she doesn't. 

And then, to cap off the week, was a frivolous little made-up holiday called "National Sibling Day," showcasing itself primarily on social media.  My news feed was inundated with photographs of friends with their siblings.  And while this has never bothered me before, I was particularly sensitive this year.  

I wish I could have one more day with my brother.
I wish he could see my children, laugh and play with them.
I wish my children could know their funny, gentle, generous Uncle.
I wish my husband had a brother-in-law to battle in Fantasy Football.
I wish that grief hadn't destroyed my family.

So, yeah.  I let the tears flow.  It was physically and emotionally exhausting, but cathartic.  I needed it.  And now, having spent time grieving the pain of death, I can redirect my focus to the JOY of the RESURRECTION that defines this week, the overcoming of the grave through Jesus Christ and the hope of a pain-free, beautiful eternity in the presence of our God.

I love this season.
1 Peter 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... (NIV)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fantastic Firsts

I definitely wrote 2013 on a check yesterday.
(Yes, we still use that primitive form of currency from time to time.)

Anyway, here we are....in our third fourth month of 2014, and I feel like I just exhaled the whole Christmas season.  It's true that being a stay-at-home mommy can seriously mess with your notion of time.  Endless days upon endless days, they bled together as "stay-at-home mom" became a literal description of my life this winter.  And though I've been much more diligent about blogging this year (insert huge pat on the back!), I've realized that I missed documenting some pretty significant moments over the last few months. 

Though this post exists mostly to get these events officially "on the books," perhaps you'll enjoy celebrating some of these fun milestones with us!

Kendall was SO excited about her first trip to the dentist!  She was a great helper, and took home a PRINCESS toothbrush- a highlight of her life!!
Out with the old and in with the new...we thanked God for the many years and memories we had with our Honda, and welcomed our Nissan Maxima to the family!
This winter has been SO cold, we haven't had many opportunities to play safely and comfortably outside.  So when the temp spiked to 30 one day, we through on whatever snow gear we had and spent some time in the snow!

This was a first for the kids- they built a snowman with very little help.  And they named him....wait for it.....Olaf.
We were so proud of Kendall as she performed with 70+ children in one of our Sunday services.  They sang "The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy" and "Away in a Manger".  She had a bit of trepidation the first time around, but by the second service, she was a superstar (complete with curtsy to close it out)!
On Kendall's fourth birthday, Chris and I took her to see "Frozen" at the theater.  The experience was memorable, as she giggled through most of the film.
We ALMOST made it through the winter without any significant illness.  But the "big one" hit in March, when Kendall came down with bacterial pneumonia, dismantling a family trip to the cities as Mommy and Kendall stayed home.
Leave it to the second to be the first.
Carter completed his first Parent-Tot recreational gymnastics class.  It is a perfect outlet for him to burn energy, and I enjoy the quality time with my second-born.
And, just because I am a proud Mommy, I'm going to attempt to upload a couple videos here, too.  :)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

That Moment When...

That moment when you look at your child and can really see yourself...

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
-Psalm 139:13-14

Friday, March 21, 2014

Reasons My Son Is Crying.

If you haven't seen this website, you must. Go now.
Especially if you have a toddler.
Especially if you have a toddler that cries.


Oh, I could fill a book with all the ridiculous reasons my children have freaked out.  I thought I'd keep my camera handy and capture some of these special moments from my own child.  It's tough being a toddler!  Here's the proof:
I chose to sing him "Jesus Loves Me" at bedtime.  He wanted "Step In Time" from Mary Poppins.

Daddy was giving Mommy a hug.
Daddy took him out of his carseat instead of Mommy.  "Mommy take me ouuuuuut"...for the next 30 minutes.
I put the tray of the highchair (which he doesn't use) in the dishwasher.
He asked me to put music on.  I put on Justin Timberlake.  He lost his mind.
He wanted hot dogs.  But not the hot dogs I gave him on his plate.  The OTHER hot dogs...in the refrigerator.
It's not all nuddles, people...but they certainly make these little bouts of insanity easier to sweep under the rug.