Help! It’s raining and I have young children!

. . . as if I’m eager to go outside and play every day. . . I like the idea of going outside. But then we go outside and I get terribly bored. Isn’t that a horrible thing for a mother to say? That’s a story for another post.

So, let’s say I really did want to play outside with my kids today. It’s raining and not really nice enough out that we would play in the rain and I don’t think Isaac (at almost 11 months) would get any enjoyment out of it. Instead, this is what we did:

Ethan wanted to make me a Mother’s Day card (another one!) and Audrey wanted to color. I joined in and it was fun! Audrey and Ethan wanted to make something for Nana, too. So, they helped me come up with this cute little cards to send to Nana and Gpa F and to Gpa H. (Watch your mail next week, Nana!) which list a couple things to pray about for each child. We’re also sending blank ones to the grandparents to fill out so Ethan and Audrey can pray for them.

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you that those were not the original prayer requests submitted by the little darlings. Ethan’s request was that Christmas would come soon. Audrey’s was that she could go shopping and buy a vacuum cleaner and something else I don’t remember. The things I ended up writing down were the things we came up with as a compromise. I can’t wait to send these off in the mail.

And then the sun came out.

Views Around Our House

Isaac is doing much better. No trouble with eating or drinking and keeping food down. We did have to see a doctor today for some other issue going on in the diaper region that seemed, shall we say, painful. If it alarms the daddy during a 5:00am diaper change enough that he immediately does some Google searching then the mommy gets to take the baby to see the doctor during the day. That’s the way it works around here anyway! We’re dealing with a little infection that should clear up soon and I’ve probably said too much for my sensitive readers so I’ll leave it at that.

But, isn’t he cute? Seriously!

Audrey has been trying a few different looks for the big wedding coming up in 8 days. This wont detract too much from the bride, will it? Hah! She wishes she could wear my veil! She cannot wait to wear her dress!

Ethan came home from AWANA last night with a gift for me! I feel like such a real mom when I get homemade cards.

I’m also on a spring cleaning/ simplifying/ purging clutter kick. No toy is safe! And how many pairs of pants and underwear does one child need? Would 20 pairs of underwear be sufficient? If so, Ethan should be safe several times over. I tossed lots of pairs today. Sorry if you were hoping for hand me down underwear. Isaac had about 20 pairs of pants in his current size. I decided he didn’t need that many. I packed up some and added it to my give-away and garage sale pile. I also switched Isaac’s dresser with Ethan and Audrey’s and I organized Isaac’s closet.

And now I’m feeling a little sleepy and thinking that my 5:30 wake-up call to go running. Off to bed with me! Maybe.

Looking for some inspiration? Check out the inspired room. What a lovely site! It will suck you in (just warning you!).

Friendship for Grown-ups

I just wrapped up reading Friendship for Grown-ups:What I Missed and Learned Along the Way by Lisa Whelchel. I knew a couple of things about Lisa as I started reading this book. First, I knew her as an actress in the very popular sitcom from my childhood, The Facts of Life. Second, I knew that she loved Jesus. So, I have one thing in common with her! What I found out in reading her book was that we had another thing in common- our desire to be safe and protect ourselves got in the way of close friendships. There came a point in her journey that, “the desire to experience connection was stronger than the desire to be safe.”

That’s the story of this book.

She chronicles how her experiences, from growing up fast out of necessity (due to the industry she worked in) to later living as a pastor’s wife, made it easy for her to make many surface level friendships, but she had to work very specifically at developing relationships that were deep and meaningful. The book details her journey of learning to be vulnerable,  how to identify safe friends and how she succeeded and failed in her journey.

Lisa was very influenced by the writings of Henry Cloud. So much so, that it seemed a little distracting sometimes. Beyond that, I enjoyed the book. She has an informal and inviting way of writing and the subject matter was timely. The message that we were created for relationship and that rewarding relationships require work may seems obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you’ve read any of Lisa’s other books you know she often includes ideas for practical application. There is little danger that one will read the book and think, “What should I do now?” (at least they shouldn’t if they see the over 20 pages addressed to “Practical Steps for Developing and Growing Friendships” in one of the appendices!).


**I received this book for free from Book Sneeze for the purpose of reviewing it. What a deal! I get a book for free just for sharing my honest opinion!**

Journal and Story-led Scrapbooking

Three of my favorite things:

1) My family, 2) Writing, and 3)Reminiscing by looking through old photos

This is why I love scrapbooking. I get to combine all 3 of those things.

Ethan turned 5 this last weekend and I wanted to see if I could get his scrapbook up to date by his birthday.  I had finished a couple of layouts, but I had not done much since his birthday last year. We keep all our photos in Picasa on our computer. I browsed through the months and started thinking about what really characterized Ethan this past year, how he liked to spend his time, what he was  excited about, and the big milestones. The main question I kept in mind was “What do I want to remember about Ethan from this year?” I picked photos based on the answers to that question. It was an incredibly freeing way to choose photos. We have hundreds of them and it can easily be overwhelming. Narrowing down the choices this way made it much more enjoyable. And, because we have the photos on our computer, I’m not losing the photos I didn’t print. They are still there.

Although, I prefer to put my scrapbooks together chronologically, this approach allows for more freedom than just scrapping one event after another. I did layouts on relationships between Ethan and his siblings. I did a page just about what he likes and doesn’t like. I did one page on his obsession with video games. The focus was on telling Ethan’s story and not just show-casing fancy paper, stickers or the latest scrapping technique. I love all of those things, but they can get in way of actually getting things done sometimes. I’m focusing on simplifying so the photos can spend less time in boxes or on the computer and more time in the kids’ albums. Even at the ages of 3 and 5, Audrey and Ethan ask me to read “their” books. I have a few pages to wrap up still, but here are some of the highlights:

Ethan got a brother!

I love this page of things about Ethan. They are the sort of things you think you’ll always remember when you’re living it, but are actually easy to forget as they grow.

2-page spread on Ethan as the first-born. I wrote about what it was like to see him become a big brother and how he often asks who I love the best!

A close/cropped shot of the journaling (I know it’s still hard to read- sorry).

Documenting a trip to Chetek.

The picture of this page isn’t as clear. It’s an entire page of photos of Ethan playing the Wii/PlayStation. I wish I could say all he did was look at books and build things, but this is our life. It’s something he loves and I thought I should document it.

This approach took the focus off of the paper and embellishments and put it on the story. The journaling became more important. You might not be able to read them all, but I did a considerable amount of writing on each page. As much as I have had to force myself to journal on the kids’ scrapbooks, I have to admit that has been Ethan and Audrey’s favorite parts when we look through their albums. It’s quickly becoming my favorite part too. Our blog archives have become a great resource as I think of what to write. Another awesome source of inspiration has been the book writing motherhood by Lisa Garrigues. It’s full of tips and writing prompts specifically geared toward helping mothers “mine their everyday lives for stories to preserve, publish, or pass on.”

Project Life- April 18-24

Wowza! What a week it has been! Our week started with Nathan and Isaac both feeling sick. I went to church with Ethan and Audrey so we could leave Isaac and Nathan to rest.

On Monday, I got sick too. And so there were three of us sick. Isaac just seemed to be wilting.

On Tuesday we switched to pedialite because we were worried that Isaac was getting dehydrated. He wasn’t getting anything down. Poor baby.

Wednesday morning we decided it was time to take Isaac to the ER. He wasn’t getting better and just seemed to more and more lethargic. We spent more than 5 hours in the ER before they admitted us for an overnight stay.

On Thursday after successfully keeping breakfast and lunch down, Isaac got to come home! He wasted no time tracking down so snacks his sister had left out!

On Friday, Isaac was still not completely back to normal. He was still pretty tired, but it was so wonderful to see him playing and having fun at home.

On Saturday, Ethan turned 5! We let him have free reign for the day and he enjoyed every minute of it!

I made a robot cake!

I was looking through cake ideas online and I asked Ethan if he would like a robot cake. He thought that would be a fine idea. I had planned to have time a little earlier to work on it, but this week ended up being crazy! We canceled birthday party plans that involved having people over and planned to let Ethan have a fun day with us here at home. So, I did the cake on Saturday.

I used the template and instructions from bettycrocker.com and it worked pretty well. I had trouble getting the cake out of the pan, but a little frosting fixed that. Ethan wanted chocolate frosting on the cake so it’s obviously not the grey color that shows on that link.

I should be looking happier in this photo, but I was exhausted! We had a good weekend when it was all said and done. Nathan and I both wrote our Love and War posts and it was fun to discuss our thoughts on the first chapter. Our whole family was at church- together! It’s been a long time since we were all healthy and in town to be able to do that. Ethan, Audrey and I had a squirt gun war in the front yard. If you ever wonder what to do with my kids to entertain them, grab a squirt gun and you’ll be ready to go! Isaac is doing very well! Thank you for praying for him.

IMG_3912.JPGIMG_3913.JPG

IMG_3906.JPG

Love & War: Week 1 (Amy)

Chapter 1- Remembering What We Wanted

There were two separate things that caught my attention in this chapter.

First, John says that he wishes someone had taken him aside a few weeks before getting married to tell him that, even though he and his bride were both fine people, that there would very soon come a point where they would have conflict and that-

God is going to use your marriage to get to issues in your life that he wants to address.

True words.  And I like the reminder that marriage is hard–even in the best marriages. The problem with advice before the conflict is that no one actually thinks they are going to need it themselves. It’s certainly been true in my life that my “issues” have been magnified in my marriage. I’ve always struggled with developing healthy, close relationships. I’ve always wanted them, but I’ve never known exactly how to do it because I have a hard time allowing myself to be really open vulnerable. That would never cause any struggle in a marriage would it? 😉 I’ve learned to get beyond that a little in marriage, but it’s put a heavy burden on Nathan when he becomes the “one” person I feel safe with.

Second, I’ve been thinking about the question, “What was it you wanted when you first fell in love?”

I think the answer for me is that I wanted to be “chosen”. I wanted someone to see me, fall in love with me, and pursue me. And I dreamed of a husband who would adore me, provide for me and protect me. And he would do the “heavy lifting”- fix things that needed fixing, provide our primary income, and lead our family spiritually. Now that I type that out, I remember conversations in our premarriage counseling about what our expectations would be for roles and tasks in our home and family. I think it would be great fun to get that list out again (6 1/2 years later) and see how things have actually played out.

*you can find Nathan’s thoughts here.

Love & War: Week 1 (Nathan)

Chapter 1: Remembering What We Wanted

After the very well-written introduction, I was expecting chapter 1 to be good, and I wasn’t disappointed. I was, however, very surprised: This is a book about marriage. Written by a married couple. The last thing I expected was for them to reveal that 2 years into their marriage, they were considering divorce. It didn’t happen — they went on to relate a story about their 25th wedding anniversary — but I wasn’t expecting that sort of down-and-dirty reality in chapter 1.

This is a book written by imperfect people about the very real problems that confront married couples. It means a lot that they can be this open about the struggles they experienced in their own marriage.

There were a number of key points in this first chapter that struck home with me. The first was that when boy meets girl and they get married, they both enter the relationship as “deeply broken people.” No one can claim differently. Everyone is imperfect in at least some ways. In addition to dealing with the work of a marriage relationship, these personal issues must still be addressed!

All those fairy tales about a boy and girl who find themselves thrown together into an adventure in a dangerous land, and how they must come to work together if they have any hope of making it through, but they are both carrying a tragic flaw, an Achilles’ heel that pricks the other constantly and they barely do make it through — those fairy tales pretty much have it right.

The second thing I noticed was that though I can definitely see that I am a broken person, I am broken in very different ways than the authors. I see far more insecurity in myself than John relates. He identifies one of his main issues early on as being too overachieving and narcissistic. I, on the other hand, feel that I do not push myself hard enough, content to let things happen as they will.

The next thing that jumped out at me was that the authors consider having a “shared life” and “living for the same things” as key triumphs in their marriage. It’s not enough to simply be there for each other, supporting each others’ individual goals. As a couple, you must be pursuing the same prize, working together and not simply backing each other up. I want that for Amy and me.

Finally, they wrap up the chapter by asking us as reader what we dreamed our marriage would be like before we said I do and even back when we were kids. I identify with John’s dreams quite a bit, especially his first one: “I wanted to be believed in.” I too wanted (and still deeply desire) that.

I also look back and see that I had always wanted my wife to participate in “some grand adventure” with me. If I think back to my adolescent and teen years, thinking about books and movies that tickled my early understanding of what a relationship with a girl might be, I remember things like Goonies and the Princess Bride. Relationship that grew stronger as the couple (or couple-to-be) overcame very real obstacles in their adventure.

Chapter one got me thinking. I’m excited about chapter 2.

Love & War- Introduction

How exciting is it to sit across the living room from my husband blogging at the same time about the same thing! Ahhhh! Well, I think it’s the same thing. That will be some of the beauty of this. We’re reading the exact same thing, but I don’t know what he’s going to choose to write.

Let me get a couple of disclaimers out of the way. First of all, Nathan and I are not disciples of John and Stasi Eldredge. I picked the book because I thought that reading a book on marriage with my husband would be a growing experience for us. My hope is that the book will give us things to think about, discuss and process together. We may or may not end up agreeing with everything the authors say. Second disclaimer: We’re not professionals or experts when it comes to marriage. We’ve been married for 6 1/2 years. During this short journey, I’ve become a bit of an expert on the things that I’m doing wrong. With that in mind, I thought I should probably approach this book with the idea that I’m reading it to learn how to be a better wife not how to tell Nathan to be a better husband. Alrighty. Moving along.

The introduction of the book has Stasi relating the experience of listening to her husband officiate a wedding ceremony. At one point in the ceremony he says this:

. . . you are about to abandon yourselves to each other, throw caution to the wind, forsake independence, isolation, and all others. You will vow to each other your undying love. Before you do, we must call this what it is—this is perfect madness.

and later she relays John’s charge to the couple:

You have what it takes. Hold this close to your hearts. It can be done. And it is worth it.

Well that was good enough to keep me reading. As we go through this book, Nathan and I will each post weekly on the same day. That’s our only format. How it will specifically end up, we don’t know!