Dreams Come True (And the Big 3-0)

When I was 16 years old I mapped out my ideal future. And by mapped out I mean I literally drew a map with “landmark” sketches of the things I wanted to achieve and my hopes for what would happen.

It was the time when gel pens were cool and I had a set of glitter ones that looked especially pretty against my notebook with the black pages. I filled those pages with quotes and Bible verses, doodles, resolutions, and even a couple poems.

And my map of course.

I found the notebook recently and it made me smile to look back at those teenage musings and see where I am now. I was especially interested in the first page where I had drawn in a big cloud and filled it with my dreams for the future.

Some were serious, some pretty silly. Some have happened, some never will. And some are still waiting… on that page and in my heart.

I’m turning 30 tomorrow. My life hasn’t followed the map I idealized 14 years ago and my silver gel-penned list of dreams haven’t all come true.

But there are dreams my teenage self never could have imagined, like the feeling of her little hand in mine, and those dreams are so much better.

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There are dreams left to fulfill and dreams yet to discover. But right now I’m so thankful for the dreams come true… and this wonderful journey of life that God has given.

The Edge of the Bed

“Mommy! Mommy!”

Her little voice pulled me out of bed sometime around 3am last night. Down the hall to the room with the moon nightlight shining on the ceiling. She was standing in her crib, stuffed animals tucked tight against her, hair covering half of her face.

I picked her up and cuddled her close, “What’s wrong sweetheart?”

She looked at me with wide eyes and pointed back down the hall to our room. I carried her there, settling her in bed between Steve and I. It didn’t take long for her to stretch out, diagonal across the middle, pushing me to the edge of the bed. She drifted back to sleep.

Me on the other hand… I stayed in a hazy half-sleep for a while. Her feet against my back, as well as the knowledge that I’d have to pick her up and carry her back to her crib, kept me partially awake.

I don’t know when I finally did lift her up from our bed, kiss her soft forehead, and lay her down in her crib once more. I do know that my alarm went off too soon afterwards and I hit snooze an extra time.

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I used to think I wouldn’t be one to let my kids come in bed with me. I was wrong.

Maybe I bring her in because it’s easier for me to lay back down with her quiet by my side than to listen to her cry. Maybe I just can’t resist those middle of the night cuddles. Or maybe Faith changed the way I parent. I guess I’ll never know that for sure, but I suspect that’s true in some ways.

I’m tired today, but that’s okay. Someday she won’t call my name in the night, won’t need me to lift her from her crib to hug her and kiss her and comfort her. But until then… I don’t mind the edge of the bed.

 

 

 

Choosing Thankfulness

There’s a difference between feeling thankful and being thankful.

Tomorrow we’ll sit around a table with family. We’ll share in delicious food, conversation, and laughter. We’ll take a little extra time to be thankful for all that we have.

And I will feel thankful. I already do. I feel thankful deep inside my heart for so much in my life right now.

But what if I didn’t? What if it was hard to feel thankful?

I’ve been there before. Three years ago when we were headed into Thanksgiving and Christmas and a new year, all without the baby we had hoped and prayed for.

That November I challenged myself to write about something I was thankful for every single day. I made a decision to be thankful, even if it was hard to feel thankful.

And you know what? It was wonderful. It was healing. It made me focus my heart and mind in the right place which, in turn, helped me to actually feel thankful at a time when I thought that would be so hard to do.

Although I still have those moments where my emotions or temporary circumstances distract me from an attitude of thankfulness, the lesson I learned three Novembers ago sticks with me.

I wrote 1 Thessalonians 5:18 on the door of our broom closet as a reminder this November…

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As Christians let us not forget that it is God’s will for us to give thanks in everything. Let’s make a choice to be thankful always, not just when we feel like it or when the calendar tells us we should. We can honor God by choosing to live a lifestyle of thankfulness. It’s not always easy, but I know from experience that it can have a powerful impact on your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

PS I’d love to blog more often but once again it’s a case of the page being empty because life is full. Hoping to have some more frequent updates soon!

 

 

Here’s to Our Adventures

She wants to look for animals.

I know because she told me, then took my hand, leading me toward the edge of the yard. It’s where we watched a bunny nibbling the long grass, set a toad free, and listened to a bird who was hiding in the bushes.

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It’s where the weeds start to grow and tiny bugs swarm in the air. It’s a place like many I loved growing up, a place to imagine and explore.  But as an adult  somehow my mind keeps wandering to questions like  “how many mosquito bites will I have by the time we leave?”

Oh for that carefree feeling of childhood.

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I love that she loves it out here… outdoors with nothing but nature to entertain.  It’s simple and beautiful and reminds me of myself as a child. I love that she wants to share it with me.  I love that, through her, I can relive some of my own childhood memories.

I love the feeling of her little hand in mine.

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Here’s to finding animals, forgetting the bugs, and having many more adventures together little one.

These Summer Days

Earlier this week I said I would write soon to catch up on what’s been going on this summer, but the more I thought about it the less I knew what to say.

In many ways my summer is full of days that are all very alike.  There is a routine that comes with having  a little one in the house, and usually we stick to it.  There’s a lot of playing and reading and eating and cleaning with some relaxing “Mommy time” thrown in during naps.

And while there are times this feels repetitive, for the most part I enjoy the simplicity and the chance to share these moments with my little girl.

Of course we mix things up with outings here and there… or “adventures” as I like to call them.  As crazy as it may sound, I haven’t often looked at the Summer List I was so determined to make and follow.  We’ve done some of the things I wrote down anyway, without me checking.  Maybe they’re so solidified in my mind that I don’t need to look.  Or maybe, just maybe, I’m  getting a little better and going with the flow and adapting instead of planning every moment…  Steve might disagree, but one can hope, haha!

There are projects still to be done and I know I need to set aside time for that, but overall I’m trying to embrace these summer days and enjoy them while they last!

Her First Vacation

On Sunday we returned from a wonderful vacation to Tennessee.  This was our first vacation with Natalie and the first traveling we’ve done since she was born, so to say I was looking forward to it is an understatement.

At the same time, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a vacation with a toddler.  How would she do on the long car ride?  Would she adapt to sleeping in a new place?  Would she be happy coming along with us on all sorts of adventures?

Well, I have to give kudos to Natalie for being a super traveler.  She was content and flexible almost all the time and we were able to do many different things together.  There were a couple more challenging spots here and there (for example, sleeping in the pack n play wasn’t a favorite thing), but overall she was a champ!

If Natalie could, I think these would be some of the highlights she would share from her first vacation…

 

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Dixie Stampede!  Here’s a family photo on the cabin porch after dinner and a show at the Dixie Stampede.  She especially loved the horses, and I couldn’t decide what was more fun to watch, the show or her reactions to it!

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Aquarium of the Smokies.   She was a big fan of the penguins and the tunnel where she looked for sea turtles and watched the sharks swim over her head.

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Dollywood!  I squeezed myself next to her for the first ride, but from then on Natalie loved going on all the kid stuff on her own.  The carousel was another favorite (carry over from the excitement about horses after Dixie Stampede maybe?) and she rode it 5 times or so.

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Movies and play time at the cabin.  She also loved swimming in the indoor pool but I didn’t capture a picture of that unfortunately.

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And I can’t help but throw in one of my personal favorite things (which usually happened during nap time) – reading and enjoying the amazing view from the cabin porch!

I know Natalie won’t remember the trip, but we certainly will.  It will be fun to return in the future and relive stories with her as she gets older.  I am so thankful for the time we spent together and I will cherish our first vacation memories forever.

PS We stayed at Highland Plunge, a fantastic cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN.  It’s a beautiful and fun area for the whole family, a place I’d definitely recommend!

 

One Year Later (Time Capsule)

Last summer, as part of my Summer Challenge blog series, we put together a time capsule to be opened on August 1st, 2015.

On August 1st, 2014 we filled an envelope with letters Steve and I wrote to ourselves, a picture that Natalie “drew”, and a camera card full of photos.  This August 1st we were actually on our way home from vacation, but I planned ahead and packed our little envelope because I was determined to open it on that day!  So, sitting in our hotel room, we took a look back…

We started by reading our letters.  It was so interesting to see what we were thinking about and hoping for at the time and how things have turned out since then.

Some things inspired and motivated us, some things were hopes we’ve seen fulfilled, and other things didn’t go the way we wanted or planned.  Isn’t that true of life in  general?  There are good changes and happy moments mixed with tough obstacles and unexpected disappointments and we certainly can’t plan it all out ahead of time!

Looking through the photos on the camera card was also really fun.  The changes in Natalie are most significant of course, but I had also taken a bunch of pictures of our house (since we had only moved in a little over a month before) and it was interesting to see the differences with that too.

Here are just a couple Natalie comparisons from last year to this year…

August 1st 2014 she was sitting and rolling but not yet crawling… August 1st 2015 she was running all over.

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Last year she was eating pureed sweet potatoes, this year dinner was hot dogs (per her request) at a little restaurant near our hotel.

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On a random note, I noticed that I was wearing the same shirt both years, haha!  We also drank milkshakes both nights – totally unplanned and not something we do often.  Funny… I guess some things change less than others.

I told Steve that this is something I’d actually consider doing every year.  It’s pretty simple and could be a special thing to share as a family.  We certainly enjoyed it this year!

PS I’ve been enjoying my summer so much that I haven’t spent any time sitting at the computer updating the blog.  I hope to write more in the next week or so and catch up on what’s been going on lately!