Hiking Adventures

I can’t remember who said it today, but someone said, “You don’t meet grumpy people on hikes.”   I think there is something to being outside walking through God’s creation.  This was our first hiking adventure that we included our kids and friends.  Some other friends of ours did this trail a few weeks ago, and they have little ones like us.  I figured if they could, we could at least attempt it.  It was a huge success.  Hooray!

IMG_5800If I had time as a pregnant mom of three young children, I’d love to make the pink flower photo and the blue flowers with the rock behind into art pieces.  Since the likelihood of finishing such a project is slim to none, I am super grateful for the nice camera we have that captured what I saw.IMG_5805


Yes, I know the picture is totally out of focus, but I said right before it was taken, “Let’s take a picture!  I want to document we all made it!”  Next time I need to check the clarity of said documentation.  But hey, the plants in the foreground are crystal clear!


Hooray for new adventures!  The weather was perfect, the company was fabulous, and the kids did an awesome job.IMG_5802

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Adventures begin with one step.IMG_5751

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Dear Valentine’s Day

Dear Valentine’s Day,

You are not my favorite.


The one weary of commercialism


Dear Writer,

You used to enjoy me.  What happened?


Valentine’s Day


Dear Valentine’s Day,

Well, yes. Truth be told.  I did enjoy you in elementary school.  The preparation to make a giant envelope to carry my valentines was a nice break from the things I struggled in at school. Getting tons of cards and sweets was fabulous.  But that was before an interest in boys arose.


Still not your friend


Dear Writer,

So, what happened?  Wasn’t it all fixed once you were dating Kyle?


Valentine’s Day


Dear Valentine’s Day,

Do you know what it is like to feel tons of pressure and expectation?  Do you know what loneliness is like when you aren’t dating and Valentine’s Day comes without anyone to make you feel special?

And dating doesn’t necessarily make it easier.  I remember panicking as I tried to figure out what to get Kyle for Valentine’s Day.  Of the five love languages, I am close to a zero in gifts.  Then there is the worry of, is this enough?  Then there is the expectation of also receiving something that will make you feel warm and fuzzy, and I know I am not the only one who has been let down due to unrealistic expectations.


Irritated with materialism


Dear Writer,

Okay, so things haven’t always been warm and fuzzy.  Has that improved since you have been married?


Valentine’s Day


Dear Valentine’s Day,

Thankfully, early on in our marriage we both figured out that we are close to zeros as gifts being our love language.  So, the anxiety of trying to buy something left when we agreed not to buy anything.  I think that most years we have gotten each other cards, but the best part is dinner.  For most, if not all, of our married years, we have gotten pizza on Valentine’s Day.  For many years, it was heart shaped.  That changed for Eliana’s first Valentine’s Day ,because she had a double ear infection and was a mess while getting teeth.  Kyle got a regular pizza, and showered me with acts of service by picking up dinner and coming home early since I too was in need of help.

With all of that said though, you still are not my favorite.


Thinking of others


Dear Thoughtful Writer,

So, even though you and Kyle have sorted out Valentine’s Day, and I no longer cause you direct stress or anxiety, you are still not fond of me?  Why?


Valentine’s Day


Dear Valentine’s Day,

Here is why you are not my favorite.  People I care about are lonely today because of an expectation in our culture that they need flowers, candy, cards, or even jewelry to feel loved today.  I feel like you take away value from my single friends.  They have value!  They are important!  They are created in God’s image!  But that is easy to forget today since they have been bombarded by commercials and advertisements that lie and say they would be happier dating or married.  There are plenty of dating and married people that will be let down today.  Some will place high expectations on today, but their other half might not even remember that today is a holiday.  Oh, and don’t even get me started on the debt you encourage. 




Dear Writer,

How can I help? Or better yet, how can you?


Valentine’s Day


Dear Valentine’s Day,

I don’t know how to change our materialistic, commercialized culture.  So, I don’t know how you can change.  But you have given me something to think on.  I can be thankful that God loves me more than anyone else, and that I don’t have to earn his love.  His gift of grace is far superior than any earthly good.  I can be thankful for the pizza we will enjoy which will be a night when hopefully my children will not complain about dinner.  I can also let my single friends know they are valued today.







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Goal Setting

A friend of mine often encourages taking baby steps toward goals.  Well, my goal for today was to take pictures of my kids in the clothes they whole heartedly believe match.

I thought I might as well share the real them too rather than the smiles that are 1 in 15 pictures.  So, enjoy!


Yes, her pants have shamrocks on them! And yes, she wore this exact outfit on Christmas Eve!

img_5500Look at that face!  Gotta love it!  I see it often.  She has a matching outfit on, but she pointed to the closet and said, “ESS!!!”So, we added the dress.  She picked out the boots too!img_5507

Thankfully, Eliana’s school is uniform with pazazz.  So, she does have a hot pink shirt on to go with her pants.

Real life isn’t all smiles, but it is full of character!


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Lydia is Two!!!!!!!

img_5464The gift of a camera taking 5 pictures in a row is that one of them has all of our eyes open AND facing the camera!  We were blessed to have family join us in celebrating Lydia’s second birthday.


I realized that Lydia wasn’t old enough to ask what she wanted on her cake, so we went for simple.  She did pick out the chocolate cake though!


She has been patiently waiting for the cupcakes all afternoon!  She doesn’t always eat dinner well, so we got sandwiches.  Once I figured out she wanted them cut into bite size pieces, we were golden!  She was so much more delighted to see the cupcakes this year than she was initially to see them last year.


GramE helped make sure she got every bite!

img_5495She did have to inspect just to make sure.

Lydia is a blessing in our home.  Her smile brightens our days.  She is shy, and takes a bit to warm up to people.  With that said, don’t be surprised if she lets you know she doesn’t want eye contact, to be picked up, or if you are too close.

Her vocabulary has gained quite a few words in the last month.  She is up to 28 words and 16 signed words.  She has also taken an interest in toilet training, which I’m not quite ready for.  Lydia loves her sisters dearly, is delighted when Dad comes home, and gives great hugs.  She loves books, Legos, and anything her sisters are up to.  Her favorite meal time is breakfast.  We love her dearly and are thankful God has her in our family.



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The Gift of Art


a gift given by the best Artist

an outlet

a relief

a place of peace

a way to restoration

a comfort

a blessingimg_5195

Eliana made this math sentence and drawing in kindergarten.  I am so thankful that she goes to a school where the arts are encouraged.  She was able to use art to help her remember Pop Pop, my grandpa, who had passed a few months before.  Art, a way to help us process, grieve, remember, and treasure.


Eliana did this piece this year.  I love her drawing.  I hope she gets a better hang on spelling than I ever did.


Art, a way to say thank you to the neighbor who gave us a fish container and a fish.


Art has been a blessing to me.  I struggled with reading among many other things growing up.  When it is hard to read, everything seems hard.  Yet, I had a teacher who used art regularly to help us learn.  Those were the moments I was able to shine and feel like I was actually doing something right in school.  In high school, it was the sweetest gift to be in art.  I didn’t have an easy teacher.  She pushed us out of our comfort zones and had HIGH expectations.  An A was not an easy thing to get in her class.

I am grateful for the gift of a puzzle from my mother-in-law.  I spent hours creating art and listening to music as a way to unwind from the craziness known as being a mom.

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October Moments

img_5111There are many times when I wish limg_5115ife was full of warm fuzzy feelings.  I wish I felt like smiling all the time like this scarecrow Eliana made as school. I wish my children showed love like they did when they made my birthday card.


img_5122I am thankful for the moments I am able to capture of pure delight like this picture of Lydia who is in her favorite place, outside!


This may seem like an odd picture for me to share.  Eliana’s eyes are closed.  We still don’t have grass in the backyard (why when we are in a drought???).  Natalie is in motion.  Here is what I want to show, Natalie is smiling.  She is having a great time combining swings and playing on them.  Keep that in mind for later.


Eliana is flourishing in the first grade.  She is thoughtful, creative, contemplative, and willing to share her sweet smile for a moment.


Like I said, remember that before I asked her to come over to the fence, she was smiling.  Sadly, this face is the one I often get from her and her big sister when I ask them to help around the house.  It is the same face I get at most breakfast and dinner times.  We go easy on Mom at lunch and often make sandwiches or quesadillas with fruit.  I figure a but of reality is a good thing.  Although I wish for warm fuzzies all day, parenting is HARD!  Trying to cultivate gratitude and a willingness to work does not come naturally to my children.


This is more what parenting looks like for me.  One happy, one distracted, and one grumpy.  They all take turns with the emotions.


Sometimes parenting is being thankful for the moments of joy captured in the day, praying for wisdom, and washing the day in grace as they sleep.


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