Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Free Printable: Grace, Love and Coffee

Hi!  You know, or you may know that I often say "running on coffee and grace".  I'm not really sure when or where I picked up that phrase but it is very true.  Today when googling around for something else related to that, I found this quote (although I couldn't find who coined it either) "This house runs on the grace of God, love and strong coffee."  I don't know about you, but that fits us to a "T".

So I decided to make a sign for our house out of that, although a little tweaked and including some references for verses that relate to why Grace and Love are so important.  So I came up with this one below and really liked it....
and then I thought it would look good with this fun pic faintly behind it...

and then I couldn't decide whether I liked either of those, or wanted to print it on colored paper, reverse the back and white on the first one, or just keep it simple...

So I'm still sitting here pondering that, and I thought I would offer it (them) to you for a free printable.  If you click on the picture and make it full size, you then should be able to right click and save photo from there.  If that doesn't work, or you are are unable to get a high enough resolution to print an 8x10 please let me know and I will email you the higher resolution one!

Also, if you have any feedback on backgrounds, colors, etc, please let me know.  I believe I am very happy with the wording, spacing and fonts, but am undecided on the final details.  Thanks in advance for your feedback. :)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mommy Style Monday: Must have toys

This week for Mommy Style Monday we have the theme of toys!  
 Have you heard of these Indestructible books?  They have all sorts of different ones but the best part if that they are Chew Proof, Rip Proof, Non Toxic and Washable!  How cool is that?!?  We love board books in our house but we love this one for travel and playtime.  (Not that books are really toys....but I still felt the need to include these!😃)
 I will get into some current favorite real toys below, but I had to add these pics of two of little J's favorite things to play with recently.  He loves to rearrange magnets on the fridge (sounds awful I know, but we have lots of these pretty good sized ones that are thin and large (if that makes sense)) and a designated area on the bottom on the fridge for him to put them and move them.  He's 17.5 months old and mostly understands not to put them in his mouth.  I don't recommend the magnets for younger kids at all--but once they are a little older it's lots of fun.  I'm already plotting some letters for him to use next!  He also is in love with his new little tiny frisbee.  He will play peek-a-boo forever with it and just carry it around.  So cute.

Probably like most of your kids, little J has quite the collection of toys (both new ones we got for him or as gifts, and hand-me-downs!) which is awesome!  These are a few of his favorites right now(that may even change tomorrow), even though some are geared toward younger kids than him.  If there is one thing I have learned as a parent, is that you cannot predict what your child will do or like.  Keeps things interesting, right?  ;)

I went ahead and put links to the toys on amazon so you could find the names in case you are interested.  Little J was being a bit of a stinker for photos...so that's why I took them on his little toddler table instead of with him modeling them.  It's fun that he is getting old enough to really be able to play with the mega blocks and build things with them.  He got the Thomas Flashlight for his birthday and cannot go a day without carrying it around.  We even took it to Ouray with us.  (Came in handy for us adults too actually!:)  The giraffe popper is not only super cute but so much fun for him!  (Still!!)  This adorable dump truck helps kids learn cause and effect and has the cutest little songs and things it says!  Noah's Ark is of course a big favorite in our house for all of us.  I love that you can illustrate the Bible Story with a Fisher Price toy!  And the gears car is so nice and compact and provides different ways to configure the gears to help little J understand how it works.  

Here is a list of all the other Mama's participating this week:

Kiana at Glitter & Donuts
Madeline at CaseyLand
Jessica at Mason Jars and Lemon Bars
Britt at My Little Sunshine
Chelsea at Tessa Marie
Sue at Sue's News
Monica at It's All About
Melissa at The Frolics of Mama Llama

If you are interested in joining MSM go to either Kiara or Madeline's blogs to sign up!  There is a different theme each time!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Let's build up instead of tearing down: Part 1 (Exposition)

Hi friends,

After recently doing some soul searching and deciding to make my way back onto facebook to be able to stay connected with friends both where we live now, and back in NC (and other places), I've realized that I would like nothing more than to be real with you.  I want to be transparent, and although I've already shared some rather personal things with you, like our move to NC and making friends, our adoption journey, announcing our news, bringing our son home, our diagnosis of infertility and thoughts I had about it,  my favorite age, and other things throughout the years, I also want to share with you why I felt SO prompted to write the words I wrote yesterday in "Let's build up instead of tearing down".

So here it goes....

I had taken our vehicle to the dealer to get some warranty work done as well as an oil change/tire rotate.  My son and I were going to wait in the waiting room for the work to be completed.  Now, this dealership is pretty great--we didn't even by our vehicle there but they always greet us with a smile and give little J a matchbox car or stuffie or something.  I love that they are so kid friendly with a little corner of the waiting room reserved for little kids, ready with toys, cars and a little table with chairs.

Since my little guy is only 17 months and still is cool with hanging out in the stroller for a little bit as long as there are toys, books and snacks.  I just loaded us up with the stroller when we got to the dealer and made our way back to the waiting room.  Little J did great, as usual, waiting about an hour for the car to be ready. Many people came and went from the waiting area while we were there.  There is coffee in there, so many employees come in for that and then leave quickly, other patrons were waiting for work to be done and some waited for the shuttle.

After little J and I had been there for about 30  minutes this customer came in and immediately commented on how cute little J was.  She sat a few chairs away from us and ate a salad(or something) from Whole Foods.  She would look over periodically and smile or play peek-a-boo with my son.  (Which for the record, isn't my favorite for strangers to do, but as long as they are nice I don't really mind...)  Then, when she was done eating, she looked over and started a conversation with me.  She asked how old J was, and how great that age is.  She told me that she had a 20 and 25 year old, and still missed the little years.

Then, she goes on about how tired and awful I looked.  She inferred that I looked old.  And then, she went on to say that I would "look so much better and younger with a little makeup on".

What?!?!  I thought.

I didn't really know how to react....so I didn't really say anything and didn't really have anywhere to go because although my son was playing happily in the stroller in the waiting room, he was make kind of loud, happy noises and we couldn't just go into the showroom (or so I thought at least...)

The funny thing?  I had put makeup on that morning.  I had gotten up an hour earlier than normal to get myself and my child ready, to get our vehicle there on time (actually about a half an hour early because that's the way we roll....).  I was going to fix my hair, but ended up putting it in a pony as soon as I saw the rain outside.  I put under eye concealer on, some blush (so I didn't look like a zombie with my pale skin) and some mascara.  I had clean clothes on, and real clothes instead of yoga pants.  My son was well dressed and all of our toys and books were neatly packed with snacks and other necessities for the day.

I thought I looked pretty put together.  Apparently NOT!

But what I don't get??  For real.  Is, why???, on earth, would she even say anything to me about looking tired, etc, etc?  I mean, who really care about looks anyway?  It SO doesn't matter.  Looks won't get me a job.  (Unless maybe you are a model.)  Looks won't make me a better person.  Looks won't make me a better mom.  Looks won't make me a better American.  Looks won't make me a better Christian.  Looks won't make me a better _________, you fill in blank.  You know what I mean?  Who cares about looks?

Plus, God made each and everyone of us beautiful and unique.  We were not accidents.  So, by insulting others, we insult our Creator.  I don't care if I am pretty or ugly, or whatever.  I don't get my sense of worth from outward beauty.  I get my worth from my Creator.  The One who made me, and you and everyone else.  The one who has spent time to know me, to see me, to be near to me.  The One who makes everything possible.  The One who we were created to worship.  The only One whose opinion truly matters.

Bottom line, we have no idea what's going on beneath the surface in most people's lives--especially someone we briefly meet.

And as for the tired part.  Yes, I probably looked tired.  You know, I am a mom of a toddler who goes pretty nonstop (which is awesome and a bit tiring, even though I only have one kid) AND I haven't been sleeping well for two months because of my stupid back...  So ya, I probably did look tired.  And, I probably still do.  Why go on about it or even address it?

She could have said encouraging like, "I know those toddler years can be so tiring, but you are doing a great job." or something.  Or she could have just kept her mouth shut, and stuck with how cute my baby is.

I'm all for relationships and being real, but there is a BIG difference between being REAL and RUDE.  Let's not be the latter, friends.  Life is simply, too short to be rude.  Let's choose to build others up folks!

Here is the original part of this, Let's Build up instead of tearing down but I have now titled it part 2 since I wrote this one above as the part 1 and exposition!  Thanks for reading friends.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Let's build up instead of tearing down: Part 2

I think we could all use some building up instead of tearing down, right?  Right?  If you'd like to read just why I decided to write this now, please read the Exposition and Part One here.

So when we see a friend hurting (whether it is from emotional, relational or physical pain), let's say an encouraging word, pray with them and maybe even offer to bring dinner over.  Please don't tell them "God will only give you what you can handle" because that is a lie.  In fact, it says more than once in the Bible that He will give us more than we can handle so we have to rely on Him and His strength.  (Check out Desiring God's post on this)

When we see a tired mom, let's tell her she's doing a great job, offer encouragement (not judgement) and maybe also offer a prayer, coffee, meal or even offer to help around her house (or watch the kids depending how well you know each other!).  Please don't tell her she looks tired.

          But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

When you see a friend struggling to conceive, or maybe who has lost a baby, let's pray with them, offer to go to appointments with them (if they are comfortable with that or you are already very close), talk with them or just hang out with them.  And of course, meals are always nice especially depending what they are currently going through.  Please don't offer advice or share what you think the next step is, or sometimes even what you did when you went through that unless they ask.  

          Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Proverbs 31:30

When you see an empty-nester, offer kind words, ask them about their kids, offer to take them out to coffee or offer a prayer.  Please respect them, they have been here longer than the rest of us and they know a whole lot more too.

          ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.  Matthew 19:5-6

When you see Newly-Weds, offer them congratulations, encouragement and a prayer.  Please don't give them advice or talk about marriage in a negative light.

          And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:24-25

When you see a single mom (or dad) offer an encouraging word, offer to bring dinner or help with the kids or an oil change/something around the house.  

When you see a working mom, offer a word of encouragement, offer to help with dinner or housework so she can have more time with her little ones, offer her a prayer and your support.  DO NOT make her feel bad for making a different choice than you possibly did.  She may have to work, she may want to work, she may like to work, whatever the case.  Let's show her encouragement!  Remember the Proverbs 31 wife worked!

When you see an elderly person, offer to help, open a door and pray with them.  Perhaps even invite them over for dinner and listen to what they have to say.

          A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.  Proverbs 16:31

When you see a college student, offer encouragement, a prayer and maybe even a home cooked meal.

          We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.  Proverbs 16:9

When you see a mom with {what you would consider a lot of} kids, encourage her, comment on how lovely her children are, what a blessing they are--because they are!  (just ask anyone who has had trouble conceiving or is single and desperately wants to be a mother)  Please DO NOT comment on how many children there are or ask if they are all "hers" or "natural" or anything else that may tear her down.  

            I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

Let's build each other up friends.  We only have once chance at life.  We can offer each person we come into contact with either grace and encouragement or the opposite.  Which would you rather receive?

I, for one, would love to receive encouragement and an extra heaping of grace.  Because after all, this mama runs on coffee and a whole lotta grace!  

If you are in Colorado, or have lived here for any amount of time in the last 20 years you may be familiar with a popular News Anchor named Kyle Dyer.  You also may wonder why I am bringing her up in this post.  If you are familiar with Kyle, you know she always tries to have a positive impact on everyone she comes into contact with.  I don't know what her beliefs are, but I sure don't know many people, let along Journalists who have that philosophy.  I think we all could learn something from her perspective.  She just announced this week that she is leaving channel 9, and I am interested to see what she does next!  

Friday, August 19, 2016

My Favorite Age: A Letter to My Son

Dear son, my sunshine, the light of my life,

Yesterday you turned 17 months old.  In some ways you seem much older, perhaps it is because you are very tall for your age and just have the sweetest disposition, or maybe it is because you are our first child, but then in other ways I just can't believe you are that old already!  I mean, didn't we just bring you home?!?  Oh?  That was well over a year ago?  Ok...  

I've decided that this may very well be my favorite age and stage.  Although I keep thinking that and then the next one just gets better!  But right now you are so much more independent than just a few months ago when you turned one.  You can walk, climb, eat and do stairs (both up and down) all by yourself.  You can also do about a million other things by yourself now and it's so bittersweet.

So that's why I am writing you this letter.  I want to remember, and I want you to remember this time and how sweet the moments shared were.

Some of my favorite things about this age (in no particular order) with notes, prayers and scriptures.

- You love your mama and dada, and the rest of our family.  You are such a sweetheart!  You hug and kiss us often, and it shows that you love us.  You also blow kisses to just about everyone you see.  May you never lose your sweet, kind heart.

           Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Eph. 4:2

-You are saying more words and we have multiple conversations a day about everything from toys, to weather, to food, to what we are going to do.  You are super interactive and expressive in convos now.  Love it!  As you learn and grow, be quick to listen and slow to speak.

           Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  Col. 4:6

-You still love to be worn and also love to cuddle.  As you probably know, I am a big Baby/Toddler wearing advocate and I'm so thankful you still enjoy it!

           Your middle name means:  "attached" in Hebrew.  Which is what we prayed we would all become, before we met you.

-You are still such a great eater, and you feed yourself very well.  (Read:  Not too messy and usually eats everything we give him--veggies and all!)  Be healthy and eat well, but remember where to find sustaining nourishment.

           Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"  Matt. 4:4

-You were such a great crawler, that you may have gotten a little late start walking but wow!  Now you can walk well and even do some running.  You love to push the toy vacuum around and pick up toys.

           Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.  1 Cor. 9:24-27

-You continue to play so well alone but you are also getting the hang of playing with others.  These are both very valuable life skills.

            If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Rom. 12:18

-You love to sit down on the couch or in your rocking chair and "read" and, of course, be read to!  Also a very important life skill.  May you never lose a love of reading.

           Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105

-My little music baby!  You still love music and dancing to it!  You are starting to sing along now too, and you are just so sweet at it!  Music is an important tool in life too.

           Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.  Psalm 98:4

-You are so sweet and patient, which makes you a great shopper still.  Which I might add, is super helpful for errands and grocery shopping!  Also very important life skills.

           But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Gal. 5:22-23

I feel like this list could keep going on...so I may stop there for now.

And then sometimes you still fall asleep in your car seat on the way home from errands and I get some snuggles on the way to transfer you into your bed.  Love this stage.  This stage right here, right now that you are in is so, so sweet.  You are still little but so big at the same time.  I'm going to try my best to soak it up while I can.

Let's be honest though, I've loved every single stage, even through the ups and downs and they all have ups and downs.  We are so thankful for you little J, and your birth mother and for her choosing life.  We are so thankful for you, our son, the one who made us parents.  So thankful that we get to love and nurture you, and watch you grow every day.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  Psalm 139:13

I think the real reason I love all these stages, especially when you are so little is because you are exactly who God made you to be.  You are just you.  You don't have any pressures from the world trying to manipulate you into being one way or another.  You don't have anyone encouraging you to disobey (not that you don't on your own sometimes anyway though!).  You are just the sweet, darling boy God made you to be.  And you are so busy learning things and growing that sometimes when I take a step back and realize that this is my favorite stage because, well, you're my favorite.  I just love being with you.  I'm so happy I get to be home with you.  You know, if you read this post from like 5+ years ago I talked about my dream job...and I'm living it right now! :)

God has a special plan for you little man.  We may not know what exactly that is yet, but He does and with His help and all the others who will help us raise you, we will find out just what it is in the perfect timing.  And as excited as I am to see the man you will grow into, and just how you may change the world, I am also excited to watch you grow and sit here snuggling with you, reading a book and breathing in your sweet baby smell for as long as I can.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Marveling at God's Handiwork

Do you ever have moments, or days, where you stand in awe or marvel at God's creation?  Maybe it's a sunset, mountain view, your spouse or your child that has you step back and just enjoy the view.

The cool thing about that?  Not only did God create you and me, and every person unique, but he also numbered the very hairs on our heads.  He also takes joy in us and the beauty of His creation.

Today as my son and I went for a walk to get the mail after his nap, he was walking in front of me and I just saw his crown of hair glimmering in the sun.  It is so dark, so shiny and VERY curly.  So unique.  I love it.  I love it on him and of course, I love him. :)

I love that God doesn't ever forget a detail.

The details may not come in our timing, or even the way we, in our finite understanding, imagined.  But God is in the details.  In fact, He is in the business of details.

Monday, August 8, 2016

A week away

So we just got back from an amazing trip to Ouray, CO.  AKA, the Jeep Capitol of the World.  We actually spent about a week there on our Honeymoon 8 years ago, and both of us grew up going there--my family would jeep (four-wheel) and his would hike.   So needless to say, it is always great getting back there and this time did not disappoint.

My parents have been going there every couple of years to do Jeeping, and during the time they would have gone last summer....we ended up moving back to CO.  And my super sweet Mom flew out to help me drive across the country with almost 5 month old little J, so they postponed their 2015 Jeeping trip to 2016 and we decided to go at the same time so we could all Jeep together. (Well, in separate vehicles, but we stayed at the same campground and still got to see each other quite a bit!)

We all had a great time. It had been a while since big J and I had been Jeeping, and this was little J's first time so we eased into the week and due to some rain at the end of the week we cut the Jeeping a little short too.  We still managed to do 5 different trails and get to lots of gorgeous views of wild flowers, mountain peaks and all sorts of just beautiful places in the mountains of Southern Colorado.  It was fun to be with my parents who know that area well and could show us different ghost towns and other places we may have missed otherwise.

It was so great to get away for the week and basically unplug, relax and enjoy activities as a family.  Much needed time to reconnect and enjoy God's beautiful creation!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mommy Style Monday: Girls Day Out

I'm so excited to make my first Mommy Style Monday post!

Since moving back to Colorado at the end of last summer, I've had quite a few opportunities to have a Girls Day Out with my Mom and sisters.  Which is pretty rare because I lived in NC for 5 years, and one of my sisters also just moved back in January after living in KY for over 10 years...  Let's just say, we haven't gotten a lot of time to spend together in the last decade.  So this is a super nice change!  We usually have our children, all 12 of them, with us and it makes for a whole lotta fun to be had.

During this rather hot summer, we've enjoyed exploring splash parks, lounging by the pool or hanging out at one of the many lakes in the area together.  It's so nice to be close to family again, and although I know it may not last forever, it is so nice while our kiddos are young and they can grow up with cousins close by.

Since we are usually doing some sort of activity including water, we've been wearing easy things to slip over our bathing suits.  Most recently I've been enjoying a couple of dresses I got off the clearance rack at Old Navy, and this dress pictured below that I just got at Kohl's (on sale) last week.

I love the tiny cap sleeve, print and shape.  It is knit, so it's comfy and easy which are two of my must haves these days as a mom of a toddler, AND I think it's just so cute!  Which is really an added bonus. :)  (Here's a link to the dress, although my print isn't available online apparently.)  As for footwear, you can see these (old,Old Navy) wedges to dress this dress up a bit, but I also will wear it with my Chacos, because, well, they are Chacos and go with everything right? ;)

 Seriously though, I just bought my first pair of Chacos a couple of months ago and they are the most comfortable shoes or sandals I own.  You can wear them in the water, hiking, around town or really doing just about anything!  They have vibram soles and are adjustable.  I got the doubled strapped ones because I think they look a little more feminine, and I chose my favorite color (Dagger is it's name).*

Be sure to check out the other Mama's participating this week with the links below:

Kiana at Glitter & Donuts
Madeline at CaseyLand
Bekah at These Are The Days
Monica at It's All About
Amy at Harris Inc.
Melissa at The Frolics of Mama Llama
Sarah at The Strawberry Blonde
Rose at Babies & Bluejeans
Beverly at What a Day 
Susan at Sue's News
Anndee at Anndee Between the Lines

If you would like to join in the fun, check out  Kiana and Madeline's blogs to sign up for next week!

*This was not a sponsored post, I just linked to my outfit details in case you'd like more info on any piece!