Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guess what?!

I am alive! I'm still here - ahahahaha! Bet you thought you'd lost me for good, huh?
In an attempt to revive my blogging presence I've decided to blog about the things I'm thankful for every day this month...except I'm doing it over at my photography blog. Hehe...sneaky, huh?
Actually, I've been terrible with blogging there too - I am months behind in updating photo sessions - but I'm trying to be better.
Anyhow, if you're interested in what's going on in my head, you can at least get a small glimpse over there!
Hope you all are well!!

This is my "Gee...I feel kind of guilty for not blogging in forever and I'm trying to be better but I'm not really sure how it's going to work" face.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

For the Benefit of the Fraternal Order of Police

I am so excited to be hosting my first fundraiser to benefit the FOP. I figure most of my readers know who the FOP is and what they do but for those who don't, check out THIS link.

I did my first boudoir photo session a few months ago and I was totally hooked! I loved the creativity it inspired in me and I loved how my client felt about the pictures afterwards. I knew that I was going to have to find a way to combine these boudoir photos with my love for law enforcement...but how?? ;)

I decided that doing a boudoir 'event' was going to be the way to go. I contacted another police wife and she totally got the ball rolling! My friend Melissa jumped in and made up a gorgeous flyer for us, the W Hotel got on board and donated space for us to do the pictures...and the Boudoir Benefit for the FOP was born!


I'm really excited about this benefit and I wanted to share it with you all here. If you have a moment head over to Facebook and 'like' us to show us a little bit of love!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dennis the Menace

Yesterday was just one of those days.

The kids were all in rare form - argumentative, crabby, needy. The list goes on. After lunch we found Brooklyn and Simeon playing in some cans of paint we'd left out to dry. It was pretty easy to clean up but Brooklyn was devastated that she had ruined one of her dresses. Mike got a huge bucket of soapy water for them to clean off with, which he later found them giving it to the dog. To escape the craziness we made the decision to head to Target for a few things we needed where every single one of our children was out of control. Running up and down the aisles, throwing temper tantrums on the floor, pulling things off shelves...it left me thinking that somone really ought to parent my children. (Oh...wait...)

On our way home we stopped by my folks to pick up a blender (since I had broken ours the day before) and while walking back to the car Mike and I noticed that the kids had not only painted themselves...they'd also painted the passenger door and hood of our car. (Insert ridiculously heavy sigh here.)

After arriving home I made the kids play outside. Brooklyn insisted she needed to nap (thank God someone in our house was thinking clearly) so she put herself to bed. Mike continued his work in our garden and attempted to clean the paint off the car while I started on dinner. While deciding which herb to use in my pasta (Basil or oregano? Basil or oregano?...decisions decisions!) I heard Simeon crying outside and, as usual, prepared to give him kisses.

When he walked in the door and came over to me I was a little surprised by the fact that he didn't want me to put him down after his kiss. Usually one kiss and hug does the trick and he's back to being his normal crazy two year old self. When I asked him what happened he said Lincoln hurt him. This is not unusual - his older brothers like to treat him like he is as big and as coordinated as they are. He didn't want me to put him down so I took him to the living room where I noticed he was holding his arm. He still continued to cry and every time I moved him he cried more. I felt that something might be off so I went to the back yard to ask the older boys what had happened.

The conversation went something like this...

Me: Boys...I need to know what happened to your brother.
Lincoln and Judah (laughing): Oh mom...it was soooooo cool!
Me: What was?
Lincoln: We pulled this branch down, right here (points to a tree branch a good two feet over his head) and we pulled it back, and Simeon was standing right there (points to an area of the yard below the tree) and we let it go! It hit him in the chest and he went flying! It was awesome!
Me: (kind of getting nervous) How did he land?
Lincoln demonstrates how Simeon fell...on his arm.

So I went to find Mike.

"I think something is wrong with Sim's arm. He's not using it, he won't stop crying, the boys said he landed on it weird...I think it may be dislocated or broken."

Mike glares at the boys. "I just told them ten minutes ago to stop pulling those branches back."

He came into the house where Simeon was getting more and more agitated by the minute. He moved his arm and fingers around a bit and then said, "I think he's fine."

I, in usual form, began to cry and stated, "No, he's not. I'm taking him in."

After a little back and forth about where I should take him Mike put him in the car while I looked up wait times for the walk-in clinic down the road. Before I walked out the door Lincoln said, with tears in his eyes, "I didn't mean to break him mom." I think any irritation I had toward him dissipated in that moment. A quick hug to comfort him and I was off. Simeon screamed the entire way. When we got into the waiting room of the clinic he was screaming so much I could hardly hear the receptionist. It took all of three minutes before she said, "You know, they are going to triage him right away and get you to x-rays."

The x-rays were a painful experience for him but they determined he had indeed fractured his elbow. (Insert my brief moment of pride at the fact that my Mother's Instinct had been correct!) The fracture was in such a location that the doctor decided we should head south to Seattle Children's Hospital to see their orthopedic team. Then he said we were going right away - he wanted us to be admitted through the ER. Great.

At the ER they told us they needed to do another x-ray to determine the grade of the fracture. Once that was done they told us they reccomended surgery to fix the elbow. The location of the fracture in conjuction with the fact that there isn't much growth in that area led them to believe that if they didn't fix it it would heal in an improper position leading him to have wonky arms as he grew older. (Please note...no doctor actually used the term wonky but I'm pretty sure they wanted to.)

It was difficult for Mike and me to say yes to the surgery. Although we knew they felt we should do it, the thought of putting him under anesthesia was scary, and subjecting him to pain is never something we want to do. While they said his arm could heal incorrectly if left alone, they also said there was a small chance it could heal fine. We were put at ease a little knowing that there would be no blood loss and that the risk of them having to cut his arm open was miniscule. After prayer and discussion we decided we would go ahead with the surgery.

Around midnight Simeon was sent in for surgery. Although it wasn't an emergency situation they felt that it would be better to do the surgery right away instead of waiting a couple of days. Simeon hadn't eaten since lunch and for me, the thought of putting him through that again was heartbreaking.

So, here I am, nine hours after surgery, totally exhausted watching my sweet baby sleep with a giant cast and sling on his arm and a Looney Tunes hospital gown on.

He came out of surgery well. The nurses said the first thing he said was "Owie" and then "Momma". Love my baby boy! He has two pins in his arm that will be removed in three weeks and a totally awesome cast that I'm pretty sure will make him the most popular two year old in Sunday School.

I am so thankful for everyone's prayers yesterday - although I was anxious at times I never felt too overwhelmed and Mike and I both were able to remain calm. I am thankful for the Lord's protection over Simeon as that branch could have hit him in the face and I can only imagine the kind of damage it would have done there. He is a brave little trooper and I cannot wait to get out of this hospital and take him home! Thank  you to everyone who prayed for us and texted me during the evening and night - you all blessed me more than you know.

Car painting and a broken elbow all in one afternoon. This kid sure is doing a good job of living up to the nickname bestowed upon him by his uncle...Dennis the Menace.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Milestones

Today marks a very big milestone in my life. One I am exceptionally proud of and one that has taken me many many years to attain.

Today is the two week anniversary of me making my bed every day.

Not my bed. Not even close. I wish my bed were this nice. And my room were this clean. And I'm a little jealous of all the pillows. Anyway...moving on...

Before you close this page and stop reading, bear with me! That may seem like something really dumb to be proud of. I mean, everyone makes their bed, don't they? At least, that is what my mother would have you think. My grandmother ingrained that into her. Make your bed every. single. day. My mother, being the good daughter that she was, always did. And my mom taught me to make my bed every single day. Except...I didn't. Unless I was threatened with being grounded or having something taken away, I rarely made my bed. When I was in college and lived with my grandparents, and I didn't make my bed, my grandma would just make it for me. She also picked up my room, did my laundry, cleaned my bathroom and made me lunch everyday...but that's a story for another time. (PS...I loved living with my grandparents.)

My point is, I've never really made my bed. I don't know why. Perhaps it was my inner rebel (more likely my inner slob) but I just never grew out of not making my bed.

When Mike and I got married he would just make the bed. I felt a little guilty, but not guilty enough to make the bed. The only time I made the bed was when I changed the sheets. And then I was an animal. I wanted everything straight and lined up and the corners to be perfect. I would place the pillows just so and arrange the comforter exactly perfect ... because once a week I liked having a nicely made bed and crisp sheets to climb into. Mike hated it when I changed the sheets because I would get so anal about how the bed was made.

He called me The Sheet Nazi.

Once a week, I cared. And I hated it when he helped me put sheets on the bed because I'd just have to redo his side. We've been married over ten years now and this has been my song and dance for the entire time.

Never make the bed unless I'm putting clean sheets on. Then, and only then, be a royal terror about how the bed looks and the blankets are organized.

So, basically, my bed-making habits are a big fat joke.

15 days ago, when I attended my homeschool support meeting, we had a wonderful woman named Pam speak to us about children and chores. Trust me, I was there with a notepad and paper ready to take notes. I could not wait to get the answers on how to get my kids to help out around the house. I figured if anyone was going to help me, it was going to be the mother of eleven, yes...11...children.
Pam will have the answers!!!

So, with pen and paper ready to jot down every word that came out of her moth, I listened intently to what she had to share. And she had a lot to say.

To me. About me. She offered me hope and helped me to see that chores...

Begin with me.

I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't see that before. Teaching my children how to do things requires that I teach them by example.

And Pam very gently and sweetly encouraged me to start small.

"Start," she said, "by making your bed every day. Once you have that mastered, move onto something else. Picking up your room. Once that is mastered, add something else. Baby steps. Teach your children by being the example."

Baby Steps. That resonates with me. Baby steps got us out of debt. Baby steps are helping us change our eating habits. Baby steps are going to help me become a better home maker - the kind of home maker who has a clean house every once in awhile. Baby steps are going to help me be an example of how to do chores - and help me teach my children how to do chores.

So, I began making my bed. And 14 days later, I think it's become a habit. Maybe? This morning I didn't want to make the bed. You know...taking the 45 seconds out of my morning and applying my sheet nazi skills is apparently difficult to do? Maybe it's not a habit until I don't even notice I'm doing it. Maybe not. Maybe it will never be something I want to do.

But, I hate to admit this...it's nice to crawl into a made bed every night. When company comes over I'm not embarrassed to keep our bedroom door open. I don't have to rush to throw things together if someone has to use the bathroom in my room. And the made bed kind of makes the other messes look more messy, so by default I've been picking those up to.

So, today I celebrate two weeks of having a made bed. Something small that represents something so big.

To celebrate, I might just finish folding the load of laundry that has been sitting on top the the dryer for four days.

I know, I know ... I'm an overachiever.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Now Let's Never Mention That Again

The other day while we were at the park, my four year old daughter looked up at me and, very seriously, asked me, "Mom...why aren't people staring at me and telling me that I am a beautiful princess?"

I'm pretty sure my jaw hit the floor.

Then I remembered she'd spent the last three days in the dress she wore in my brother's wedding in October, the dress she wore in my other brother's wedding a few weeks ago, and her Christmas dress. She has been covered in more tulle, sparkles and satin than is normal and had been receiving comments everywhere we went about being a Princess.

By golly, that day she was only wearing a plain ol' little brown sun dress.

And people had the audacity to not stare and comment.

In that moment I saw every insecurity I have as a woman in my sweet little daughter. I know how desperate I am for approval, how much I want to be noticed. It seems so silly that after 31 years of life and 10 years of marriage I still need affirmations from those around me.

"See? I've lost five pounds!"
"Did you notice my new jeans?"
"I got a new hair cut!"
"Well...yeah, I've been working out a little."

The thing is, I get approval all the time. My husband never ceases to let a day go by without telling me a) how beautiful I am to him b) what a good mother I am c) what a good cook I am and d) how much he loves me. My children are a little less obvious with their affections but still, they affirm me. I get the morning snuggles, they need me to kiss their owies to make them better, they come to me when something is wrong...and I get unsolicited "I love you's" from them. I am affirmed by them every single day.

More than that...I know how much I am valued by God. There are countless Bible verses telling me how much He cares for me and beyond those, I have seen Him answer my prayers, felt Him touch me and heard Him speak to my heart. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am loved, cherished and wanted by Him.

Still and yet ... I look to others to affirm me.

I think this is a constant struggle, not just for me, but for women everywhere. And I hate, passionately, that this struggle is already beginning to manifest itself in my daughter.

What to do?

First, I reminded Brooklyn how much her Daddy and I love her. I reminded her that Daddy says she is pretty and the most beautiful little girl he knows. Remember?
"Yes. Daddy says I'm his favorite little girl."
Then I reminded her how much God loves her.
"Yes. Jesus loves me."
Isn't that enough?
She looked at me and smiled and said, "Yes. It is enough."

And you know what? It was enough for her! She didn't sit by me and say, "Are you sure? Are you sure you think I'm a beautiful princess? Are you sure God thinks I'm a beautiful princess? I don't know...my hair is kind of messy today. I still have peanut butter smeared across my cheek from lunch. I did smash some food on the front of my dress. Are you sure I look ok, Mom?"

She never mentioned it again.

I want to be like that.

I want to be like my daughter. When insecurity rears up and makes me question myself, my ability or my worth, I want to be able to say to God, and my husband, "You are enough."

And never mention it again.



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's the little things

Life is busy right now. It's a good busy. Sometimes I feel a little crazed, but overall, I feel like it isn't so bad. We are finally getting the hang of homeschooling (I think?), my photography business is picking up after the winter slump, my last sibling was just married off, we got a puppy (oh geez), we are finally trying to finishe the living room remodel we began forever ago ... it's a very fulfilling kind of busy, but busy nontheless.

So, in my busy moment today, I was growing frustrated and took a moment to breathe...

And out of the corner of my eye ...





I can't help but wonder how long those little guys have been hanging there? Have I been closing the blinds every night without even noticing? Did it just happen this morning? Have I really been that busy?


This reminds me...it is spring (despite the freak snow showers we've been getting) which means, it is time for spring cleaning. And oh my goodness...my windows are embarrassingly dirty. One more thing to add to my busy list.

I kind of like the army men though. I wonder if I can clean around them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ahoy Matey!

My boys are slightly (read: totally) obsessed with anything pirate right now, so when I received an email from Charles over at Costume Discounters I was totally excited to see that they had plenty of pirate costumes in stock. Judah's birthday is next month and the offer to choose a costume to review couldn't have come at a better time.

Up until now our costumes have consisted mostly of hand-me-down's and 75% off clearance racks at Target. Yeah, yeah...big spenders over here. Those costumes have lasted a decent amount of time, and are ok, but the material is thin and cheap and they aren't very good for outdoors. Yes...I let the kids wear their costumes outdoors. You don't think Darth Vader and Optimus Prime can be restricted to the confines of our house do you? I assure you...they cannot. If the costumes get snagged or pulled on they tend to come apart pretty easily. I'm just glad my kids are more gentle on their costumes than they are on their regular clothes!

Judah and I sat at the computer forever (these decisions are important when it comes to what one will be wearing at one's own sixth birthday...right?!) and he finally settled on the Swashbuckler Pirate Costume from the boy's costume section. I expected that, as with Target and Wal-Mart, it would arrive in a flimsy plastic bag, if anything at all. I was shocked when it showed up in a garment bag. Seriously? I don't think I've ever purchased anything that required a garment bag...except my wedding dress. (side note: I need to go shopping more.) I pulled the costume out and it was so velvety soft I literally rubbed it on my cheek. Yeah...that sounds weird. I also sniff the clean laundry when I fold it. I guess the sensory stuff is important to me? There is nothing scratchy on this costume! Not only that, the stitching is strong and the fabric is thick. Even though Judah will be wearing this for his spring birthday, he'll also be wearing it the rest of the year for play. This thing will still be around when Simeon is his age!

The only disappointment was the little boot covers. The strap snapped when Judah put them on the first time. It's not a big deal, as the covers stay on without it (and I suppose I could break out the ol' sewing kit to do a stitch or two...heh heh.) but Judah was sad it broke right off the bat.

I am more than happy with this costume. I don't like spending a lot of money on things like costumes because a) my kids ruin them and b) shouldn't I know how to make this kind of stuff? Isn't that what homeschooling stay-at-home mom's do? Please say no.

When Mike came home from work and Judah modeled the costume for him he suggested we start buying our costumes from Costume Discounters. The prices are very reasonable and honestly, the quality can't be matched by the discount department stores.

So he's not wearing the rest of the costume, but he was wearing the hat. Please notice the very piraty "ARRGH" expression.
I'm sure it's obvious that I did this review in exchange for a free costume. I like me some freebies. However, in all honesty, I'm glad we tried it out. We would truly purchase from this company when we have a costume need. I like having stuff around that can handle the wear and tear that four children can dish out and this costume is made to last.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

As any good American with Irish heritage will be doing today, I will be eating corned beef and cabbage for dinner and, of course, wearing green. I seriously look forward to corned beef all year long.

In the name of homeschooling (and knowledge) I decided I should look into who St. Patrick even was and why he is celebrated. The story, for those who don't know, is pretty awesome. Basically he was captured and sold into slavery in Ireland, finally escaped, but went back years later as a missionary to the same place he had been enslaved. I found a great little history HERE if you are interested in the version with actual facts.

While reading his story I was overcome with emotion when I read the words to St. Patrick's Prayer, which
is supposed to have been composed by him in preparation for this victory over Paganism. I'm embarrassed I've never read it before and that, at 31, I'm finally beginning to learn a little bit of history of the Church. I'm just thankful I'm finally taking an interest now, and am even more thankful I came upon this.


I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,

The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,

In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.


I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.


I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,

Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.


I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.


Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.


Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck], (yeah...my kids loved that part.)
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.


I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I think, today, I will celebrate those who have gone before me in the faith - those who are strong enough in their faith to do what is unthinkable and terrifying to most everyone else. I will celebrate those who, even today, put their lives on the line for their faith and for Christ. And considering my son wants to be a missionary someday (..."Mom, when I grow up I want to be someone who goes around town talking about Jesus"...) I will start spending some time praying for those who are out there right now...will you join me?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

When your dad is a cop ...





It's been a bit since I've posted, and it's been even longer since I posted anything about being married to a police officer.

But, this afternoon, while wasting time on Facebook (and after having spent the majority of my day reading The Help...) I came across this article, posted by a good cop friend of ours. I just really loved it and wanted to share it with the rest of you.

It's titled When your dad is a cop every police death is personal ...
Although it is written from a son's perspective, I feel like it may as well be titled When your husband is a cop every police death is personal. Because really, it is. Every single time I feel like it could have been my husband and I feel at the same time thankful and guilty that it wasn't.

Good job Travis Mayfield on your well written article.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Debt Story: Part 12

I apologize for the lack of details in these last few pieces of our debt story. The truth of the matter is, once we had our momentum going to get the debt paid off, and once Simeon had been born and we'd sold almost everything, things settled down into a paycheck by paycheck process. The details of each of those weeks of waiting has been lost into the abyss everyday life and parenting four children; however, there are a few things I still remember during those last few months and those are what I've chosen to highlight here.

Working to pay off our debt had been an exhausting process. With every paycheck we paid our bills and put the rest toward our credit card. Watching the balance slowly melt away every month felt empowering and gave us the momentum we needed to keep moving forward. Even though the sacrifices were difficult, we felt rewarded at every turn. In a sour economy Mike was given raises. When people were watching their livelihoods fall apart, losing their homes and their belongings, we were feeling the freedom of financial fear slipping away. Seeing God bless us in a financial way was almost overwhelming and there were times we felt a kind of guilt for being blessed.
Between paying off our credit card and paying off our car there was really a lull in life. Each paycheck came in and the money went right back out. We were able to keep our emergency savings account at $1000 and somehow managed to live well below our means.
We preached getting out of debt as if our lives depended on it. We sold so much people were afraid to give us anything. Once, Mike's brother complained that he was worried to lend Mike a t-shirt for fear that we would try to sell it on Craigslist. Our own children cried and begged us not sell our television when my brother-in-law (who was working for the cable company at that time) came over to help Mike with some internet issues. We feared we would scar them for life. My mother even felt inclined to remind me that "salvation is not in [your] finances."

Admittedly, we were obnoxious to be around.

When we began to tire of the process, when I wanted to go out for dinner, when Mike wanted to buy something for the house, when I grew tired of carrying a calculatter around the grocery store we reminded each other of where we'd been. We remembered not being able to buy groceries without using the credit card, we remembered Mike having to work overtime just to pay the bills ... when we remembered where we had been and the goal that lay ahead, our energy became renewed and our resolve was refreshed and we were able to keep going.

In the beginning of our journey, when we decided we were not able to tithe and would have to give from any excess, we were surprised to see there was always excess for us to tithe from. Our lawn turned brown, the gravel in the driveway became spotty and I spent a lot of time at home with the children but one day ... one day we made a payment and our credit card was paid off. It had taken us less than 6 months to pay off over $12,000. In an unbelievable fit of happiness and joy I made our final payment and Mike called to cancel the card forever. And then we began working on paying off the car.

Making the final credit card payment..I can't help but remember selling this computer cabinet to help pay off the car!

First it was an additional $570...then another $430... every once in awhile we made a payment of $20 or less towards the principle balance. I remember wondering where all the money was coming from? How is that we could live so many years depending on a credit card to get us through, and now money was pouring in above and beyond what we needed. Literally so much more money that we were going to pay off our credit card AND our car within less than one year of each other?

On July 20, 2009, two days before Mike's birthday...we made the final payment on our car. We were able to make a payment of $1013.20 and we were out of debt completely. I felt completely overwhelmed with emotion and unable to process what we had just accomplished. My heart felt light and happy and I could not stop smiling. Mike was working that day but the kids and I kept yelling "We're debt free!". I felt like I was walking taller and lighter...it was a feeling I find very difficult to describe.



Two years earlier we'd gone to Outback for Mike's birthday dinner. We'd invited some friends to come with us and decided we should pick up the tab - we, of course, had no money so we'd put everything on our credit card. After dinner I took Mike by Best Buy for him to pick out the iPod he'd had his eye on. Again, we put the purchase on our credit card.

Now, after having made a payment of over $1000, we went back to the Outback to celebrate again ...

We paid cash. And regardless of paying on credit or with cash...the food there still stinks.

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mommy's Busy ...

My sweet cousin started a Mommy's Prayer Group on Facebook. My cousin, Jessica...she's amazing. She has a really awesome story and when I look at her I see this happily married mother of two adorable girls and I can see visual tangible evidence of a God who loves and cares for us. I love that every good thing in her life she says is from God and that all the trials led her closer to God. She's truly an amazing woman.

So, this Mommy's Prayer Group...I ignored the invite for a few days until I noticed some of my other friends were posting stuff so I finally gave it a look. The reason I ignored it is two-fold. First, I don't really want to join another 'Mommy Group'. I just don't. I have a bad attitude and I need to let it go.

Secondly, I'm not sure I want to open up to these women.

I have major pride issues. This all started in infancy (my infancy, that is) and has only festered and grown the older I get. After having children it pretty much blew up and out of control. People would say things to me like, "Wow! How do you get out of the house with four kids? I can hardly do it with one!" and I would think, "Because I'm awesome." Or they would say, "Your baby sleeps through the night? That's amazing!" and I would think, "Yeah, I know." Or they would say, "Your kids are so well behaved! Good job!" and I would think, "Hell ya."

The other day a woman said, "You have four kids AND you homeschool? You must be a saint!" Outwardly I smiled but what I thought was, "Doing this thing...this mothering and homeschooling thing...it is going to kill me. It may literally kill me. So if that's what it takes to make one a saint then I suppose I am." The reality of it is, every time I get a compliment I think, "If you only knew. If you only knew how they cried as we were trying to get out of the house and how I sobbed for ten minutes in the parking lot. If you only knew the amount of nights my other kids weren't sleeping and how sleep deprived I really am. If you only knew that my son just threw a fan at my head (true story) and that I drank three glasses of wine in order to cope with it."

If they only knew.

My problem has been (and often, still is) that I don't want them to know.

How do I tell them that being a mother is the fulfillment of every dream I had as a child? But sometimes, I feel like being a mom is a living nightmare?

How do I explain to them that I would give my life for my kids? But at times, I feel like they are stealing the life right out of me?

How do I explain that I love the sound of when they say, "I love you Mommy!" but they tell me they love me in order to get a bite of my food or out of going to bed and I doubt they really love me at all?

How do I tell them that today, for the first time in over two weeks, I cleaned the bathrooms and mopped the floor? And I really half-assed it, because I didn't want to bend over to clean out the tubs. And then I double half-assed it because I only cleaned the kid's bathroom because I don't have the energy to clean mine.

Will they find me cruel if I admit that I wait until the kids are in bed to eat dessert because I'm so sick of having to share?

Would they understand that I love homeschooling but at the same time think it would be so nice for the kids to be gone all day so I could have some time alone?

Will they forgive me if some days the only reason I am excited for Mike to come home from work is because the kids will have someone besides me to talk to?

Would they still want me to pray for them if they know I spent half the day hiding in the bathroom so I could hear myself think?

Will they think less of me if they know that I totally blew it and instead of kissing my daughter's owie screamed at her not to be so clumsy and to JUST LISTEN to me for once?

If they know the real me, the me with faults, the me with struggles, the me with issues...the me, that sometimes, doesn't like being a mom at all...will they still let me be a part of their group?


I guess my answer is, I'm not sure. Maybe they won't. Perhaps they will snub their noses at me and think (as I have often done) that they would never behave as I have.

Or maybe...

There's a chance that I'm the reason that Jessica decided creating a prayer group for moms was a good idea. Not me precisely, but me as in, other mothers like me. Maybe, just maybe, one of the other moms yelled at her kids this morning too. Perhaps there's another mom out there who hasn't cleaned her tubs in a couple of weeks. There may even be a mom or two who don't really like being a mom every minute of every day. I wonder if there's a mom out there who's already had a glass of wine today?

So, ladies...this is me. My children, ages 7 1/2, almost 6, 4 and 2 1/2, are the greatest gifts God has given to my husband and me. As my friend Kimberly so succinctly put it, no one else in this world can melt my heart and make my blood boil in the same instant.

I'm a mothering mess and I'm pretty sure, if you're still reading, you know how to pray for me.

It's nice to meet you.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The obligatory Valentine post

Although Mike and I have never made a very big day out of Valentine's Day, since the kids have come around we've started doing little things we think they will enjoy. It's not that I don't like Valentine's Day - I really do. It's just that we celebrate our anniversary right before it and we generally put quite a bit of energy (and money) into that. By the time Valentine's Day rolls around our wallets are fairly skinny.
The kids though - they get left out of the whole anniversary deal (doy) - so we make Valentine's a little more about them. This morning Mike made them heart shaped pancakes and bought each of them little heart shaped boxes of chocolates. They were thrilled! I'd also bought them some off brand croc's that were on clearance at Target - they'd been begging for some forever and for $3? How could I not?
Mike surprised me and had a huge bouquet of flowers waiting when I woke up (after letting me sleep in!) as well as some mango nectar. I found an awesome recipe for mango margaritas to make for me and my sister-in-law during the SuperBowl but I could not find the stinking mango nectar! He knows what makes me smile.
The kids sure love being spoiled and ... so do I. My kids pick up on that. All week Lincoln has been bringing me 'secret' Valentine's. And this morning, after breakfast, Brooklyn handed me her box of chocolate.
"Mommy," she said, "this is for you." She gave it to me with a huge smile and a giant bear hug.
"Are you sure?" I asked. They were actually hers, after all.
"I'm sure Mommy. Happy Valentimes. I love you."
And then I opened this ...



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Random Sprinkling of Vacation-missing Thoughts

Wanna see something?



The other thing I wanted to show you was this ...



Actually, that's not really it either but since most of the country is covered in snow and ice I thought a gorgeous tropical sunset might make you smile.



Also, even though the sun is shining and we finally have a break from the rain, I cannot, for the life of me, get warm. I stand in front of the oven, in front of the fireplace, drink tea ... nothing helps. Not even the extra 6 pounds (gulp) I gained during our trip is able to keep me warm. But the memories...oh the memories...at least my heart is warm.



This is what I really wanted to show you. It's the painting Mike bought me while we were in Lahaina. The people we rented from are amazing artists and every night we came sauntering back up to the house they would be out on their porch painting away. Steph was working on this one when we arrived and I fell in love with it right away. There's just something about it that spoke to me ... I feel like it encapsulates my life so well. Steph, and her hubby Auggie, have a whole collection of amazing pieces they have worked on individually and together. Their son also paints, amazingly well, and they display most of it for everyone to see.

There were quite a few pieces I loved.




The pictures I took don't do the paintings justice. (Kind of on purpose since selling their art is their livlihood and I don't want anyone to cheat and just copy...not that any of you would.) If you are ever in Maui you have to stop by their little studio in Lahaina and check out what they have to offer. And if you aren't ever going to Maui, then I feel really sorry for you. Heh heh. They have a website you can look at and peruse...even if you can't buy right now, it's worth a look.

All of that to say ... I finally have an original piece of artwork that I cannot wait to display in my home.


I took this picture the first hour we were there. I wanted to capture the warmth and water so I would never forget. If I stand in front of the oven and look at this picture my legs start to defrost.

A little.



Monday, February 7, 2011

My MP Designs

This post is looooong overdue!


My dear wonderful friend Melissa who has helped me and guided me along on this whole internet adventure has finally (I only say finally because she should have started doing this on a professional level long ago!) begun her business designing websites, logos, watermarks, etc. You name it, if it has to do with making a website look amazing, she can do it. (Not to mention, she's also a homeschooling mother of four so I'm pretty sure she can do just about anything anyway!) Since I began blogging she has helped me out with my blog headers and designs and she was the first person I went to when I decided that it was time to take my photography business live.

She is genuinly talented and I encourage you to check her out at My MP Designs.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Home Again

Ten years ago today, I married the man of my dreams. I so love him and spending 8 days with him, completely alone, affirmed that he is indeed, my most favorite person of them all. God willing I will never tire of waking up and looking at his face.

Getting home from vacation on the actual day of our anniversary was a good decision. It's as if we've come home and been reminded of the wonderful life we've made together and being with our kids after an 8 day absence has made us appreciate the gifts that they are even more.



I missed this.


I even missed this.

And this ...

is a replica of our wedding cake. We're eating it for dessert tonight!
(Mike says we'll eat it for dinner. Ha!)

Every detail is the same as the original...even the roses on top.
Thank you Patty. You are wonderful. :)

I have lots to say about our trip. I have many posts that I began and never posted, mostly because I was busy doing things like going to the beach and taking long naps. I'll finish those up soon, though.

For now, I'm going to enjoy my husband and the pitter patter (...crash, bang, scream) of little flip-flop clad feet running around our house.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Church

Do you like church?

I do. I really like church. I like walking into a building designed specifically for teaching me about and worshipping God. I like worship music. I sing loud and raise my hands and bounce on my toes if the beat is just right. I like seeing people I know and I like reading my Bible. I like praying and being prayed for and I like getting my children to a place each week where they are being taught about God and what He has done. I really really like church.

For all of its mistakes, for all of the hypocrites, for all of its shortcomings - I genuinly love church.

And yet ...

We haven't been to church for awhile. A long while. It's just a struggle to make it there. With Mike working every other Sunday, and us having only one car, it seemed that slowly and steadily we began attending church less and less. For a long while I made the effort to take Mike to work, bring the kids home to get dressed, and then get to church. It was a difficult process; there was only an hour turn around time before Mike had to be at work and church began. It was a constant rush and more times than not by the time we got to church I was frazzled, angry, and sweaty. I would spend the first 45 minutes of service calming down and the next 45 feeling guilty about how I treated my kids that morning. Then service was over and even though I'd been there I hadn't actually been present. When the fall came around and my kids started sleeping longer I gave up on driving Mike to work. It had been stressful when the kids were up early, but once they began sleeping longer it was enough to make me cry and I gave up. That left only two Sundays each month that we could attend church and some days someone was sick, or we overslept or we just needed a day to stay home. Before we knew it, we hadn't been in almost two months.

When we haven't been to chruch in awhile, it feels good to walk in and have someone say, "Hey! We haven't seen you in awhile!". When that happens I feel like I have been missed, that people care about me. In fact, in the couple of months we missed church, I received a few emails and some phone calls from people just to see if we were ok. It was difficult to say that we were mostly being lazy and that everything really is fine ...
Saturday night we were visiting with some good friends who had taken a break from church for awhile. After a few months they decided to start attending again and we were talking to them about how we hadn't been for awhile, either. We also talked about the big hullabaloo that was caused last week while the Seahawks played their final playoff game. One large church in our area canceled Sunday morning services and had a football party instead and we discussed the 'controversy' (which was highly overrated in my opinion) over it. Then I said something that made me sound like a really shallow Christian.

"I've missed church for much less than football. In fact, my kids are filthy and the boys need haircuts. I highly doubt we'll be at church again this week."

I hate even typing that out to admit to the world.

Sunday morning Mike woke up early and made coffee ... and then told the kids to get dressed because we were going to church. And for the first time in almost two months we went. And when I took Judah to Sunday School and his teacher said, "Judah! Where have you been? We've missed you!" it felt like coming home after a long absence. And when Judah replied, "We've been sleeping!!" I felt like a total loser...{sigh}.

Mike told me later that he felt that it was his job to make sure our family gets to church and he apologized for not getting us there. I didn't need him to apologize, after all, I've enjoyed the benefits of sleeping in. But it did feel good to have him acknowledge what his role in our home is. And, for the record, I don't think going to church makes one a good Christian. But, for me, not going to church makes me a lazy Christian, and honestly, that's not something I want to be known for.

So, my question for you is ...

Do you go to church? If not, why? What is your biggest obstacle in getting to church?

A little more for the record...I've had bad experiences in church too. Really. Really. Bad. And I've known hypocrites and I've been a hypocrite and my pastor has really upset me and my friends have been hurt and things are said that I don't agree with and CHURCH IS NOT PERFECT. Sometimes it's downright terrible. So, I don't want you to think that I live in this la-la land place where I think church is the perfect representation of Christ. Yikes. But, like I said earlier, there is something beautiful about people who genuinly want to follow Christ meeting together and trying to make it work, and making the effort to look past the 'humanity' of it all has made church a much more enjoyable experience for me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Wedding

As Mike and I approach our tenth anniversary, I find myself being very nostalgic. It happens to me every year, but this year especially since reaching the double digits is such a huge milestone. Throughout the years Mike and I have talked about the early days of our relationship and it always always makes us smile and laugh. Speaking of laughing, I found a picture of myself while we were dating, wearing clogs and overalls. Wow. How could he keep his hands off of me? Eek.
In spite of my poor fashion sense during that time (er...I'm wearing sweats, fuzzy socks and a hoodie as I type this) Mike couldn't seem to get enough of me and now, ten years later, he still hasn't grown tired of me. I love it.
So, in my nostalgia, I'm posting some pictures from our wedding. I'm sure you won't watch it over and over as I have been doing ... but I hope you enjoy it. 

video

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Worthless

I'm worthless. Totally, completely 100% worthless.
My mind has been consumed by one thing and it has rendered me utterly useless.

photo credit


This is all I see. This is all I am focused on. (That's Maui...in case you didn't know.)

Mike and I are going for our tenth anniversary.
*Side Note: I can't believe we've been married for ten years. We were just kids when we said our vows! Not that we're much different now...I'm just a little stretchier and saggier. Viva la stretch mark! 

You know what my plan is while we're gone?
Nothing. I plan on nothing.

I plan on doing nothing so much I've kind of already begun my whole "do nothing" regime. A little premature, to be sure, since our flight doesn't leave for another 346.5 hours or so, but I like to be prepared. It's been awhile since I've done nothing and I want to make sure I'm in the right frame of mind. It's very important to be prepared.

My poor children. So neglected.
My poor house. So dirty.
My poor laundry. So unfolded.
My poor...poor...
What was I talking about?
I was thinking about waking up to the sound of the ocean outside my door and lost my train of thought.

Send help. Or send me to Maui. Either will do.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Day Late

Friday morning after Mike left for work he gave me a call.
"Hey...do you want to drive me into work tomorrow? Do you need the car?"
"Eh...I don't know. I don't really think I want to go anywhere."
"Really? You didn't want to spend New Year's Day with your parents?"
"Uh...is today New Year's Eve?"

What happened to this year?!

It seems like it just disappeared - which is so cliche to say but honestly, where did it go?

I have to admit I'm glad I spent some time blogging this year as I can look back and remember what the year held for us. Also, our external hard drive crashed a bit ago and if it weren't for dear old Google I would no longer have access to our year in pictures. Thank you Google. It is also fun to look back and see how my blog has evolved from focusing primarily on being married to a police officer and shifting to about just being married and being a mom. I feel more comfortable as a blogger, more like I've found my true voice. Here you can see some of my favorite posts of the last year.

In the last few years I have started the habit of making "Looking Forward To..." lists as opposed to "Resolution" lists. First, it makes me feel excited about what I put on the list, and second, if I don't get around to it, I don't feel like a failure. So here goes!

* I look forward to potty training my baby. Along the same lines, have you ever read the book by Karen Kingsbury, Let Me Hold You Longer? Get our your Kleenex.
* I look forward to enhancing my skills as a photographer and continuing to grow my hobby into a business.
* I look forward, immeasurably, to celebrating ten years of marriage.
* I look forward to spending less time on the computer.
* I look forward to establishing a routine and philosophy for homeschooling that works well with my family.
* I look forward to beginning a morning routine that gives me a good start to my day. Namely, exercising regularly, reading my Bible, and having a few minutes of quiet before everyone else is up.
* I look forward to getting a dog. A teeny tiny dog.
* I look forward to finally finishing the paint in the living room, bedrooms, and kitchen. Ok...I look forward to finishing the majority of projects we've begun over the last eight years we've lived in this house.
* I really truly look forward to everything this year has in store. There is so much uncertain and so much Mike and I have been talking about; what will this year hold for us? Often I find myself nervous and worried about the unknown, which is, just about everything. But I find myself even more excited to see how God is going to come through for us, how He is going to lead us, and how everything is going to come together. I am even looking forward to how He is going to stretch me and grow me - and yes, I realize that's a scary thing to say. I just know that with what He has taught me about Himself this year, I am unafraid of challenges and trials because I know He is leading me through them and orchestrating it all.

So, 2011...bring it on! I'm excited to meet ya!