31 August 2015

A new chapter.

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Is it just me, or has summer has gone by in the blink of an eye? Just 19 days left until we move into our new home and the clock is ticking. On top of moving and packing, there’s lots of change happening around here. This summer will definitely go down as a new beginning for our whole family.

Perhaps the biggest change affects the girls.

On September 8th, the day after Labor Day, the girls will officially be going to school.

There are various reasons why Morgan and I made this decision. I can tell you it wasn’t easy but it was the obvious one and one that I’m quickly coming to terms with and embracing as each day passes.

Looking back, I can now see the Lord’s hand in this as He gently placed this possibility on my heart last summer. Even though we always said we took homeschooling year by year, in my heart, I guess I wanted to believe we would homeschool for the whole duration. Since last summer, I went through several periods of denial, hard-headedness, avoidance, and fear. I finally got to a point where I was humbled enough to accept the fact that OK…maybe ONE DAY down the road, this would/could happen. But in all honesty, that’s where I wanted to leave it.

Little did I know, ONE DAY is suddenly HERE. And all those loose pieces that maybe didn’t make sense as they were happening, just fell into place. 

Ultimately, my sentimental emotions and the fact that I would miss the girls terribly did not win out. Neither did my selfishness, pride, or anxiety about sending them to school for the FIRST TIME EVER after 6 years of homeschooling. We had to choose what would be best for the girls during this particular season of life. Undeniably, for our family, it was school.

I almost cried in the principal’s office last week. That’s how tender my heart was at the thought of letting the girls go. I did cry on the way home. Why? Because I just knew in my heart God was asking me to TRUST Him with this and I’m not gonna lie, it was hard.

It’s still hard.

But God. He is FAITHFUL. He knew I couldn’t let them go unless all the little details fell into place. And He knew it would be very difficult for me to say yes unless Morgan led the way. We couldn’t be more pleased with the girls’ new school. It’s really an answer to prayer and then some. In many ways, it’s an extension of our church and I could not ask for a better transition for them.

And what about the girls? How are they feeling? Are they scared, nervous, excited?? YES, YES, and YES!!! They are all of those things.

 

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I’m so grateful they have each other. Nine going on 10 is a big change, in and of itself. They are not little anymore. They’re becoming beautiful young women. We could not be more proud of how smart, strong, brave and mature they are. We’ve planted the roots, now it’s time to let them bloom.

 

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We look to the Lord because we trust Him to know what’s best for our family. We cling to His word and His promises because we know He is faithful. We go when He says GO because we want to obey and grow and live the life He’s called us to live, even if it scares us. And although it makes us uncomfortable, we understand that faith means taking risks. And Jesus didn’t come, just so we can play it safe. He’s proven to us time and time again, He knows what’s best and He is good.

Change is undoubtedly the hardest thing in life to go through. Rarely do we ever feel completely ready for it. Sometimes, opportunities are presented to us and we just have to take that leap of faith to see what God has in store.

I’m sure I’ll be writing much more on this subject of school but for now, prayers would be greatly appreciated during this time of transition for our family. Most of all, if you see the girls, have an encouraging word and be excited for them as they start this new chapter of their lives.

And maybe give mama a hug, too. :)

26 August 2015

Mamas, teach your boys how to dance.

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One evening, Morgan took the girls to Tae Kwon Do (TKD) so Zach and I got some extra “mommy and me” time. I had the music on so I began dancing with my boy in the living room. And then it hit me. Yes, this.

We mamas have to do more of this. We have to teach our boys how to dance.

I imagined myself dancing cheek to cheek with him on his wedding day and I got all teary eyed.

Lord willing, let it be so.

But I also imagined a free and fun kind of dancing. The kind where your hearts sings and you’re overflowing with happiness and abandon.

 

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After all, who really  enjoys being a wallflower? Life is not meant to be lived apprehensively up against a wall. Life is a gift! It’s meant to be celebrated, used, and sometimes, risked. As mamas, we get the privilege of showing our children what that might look like. But as I’m joyfully swinging Zach around, I’m reminded that it’s not my steps I want him to follow. I want him to listen for the beat of what makes his own spirit soar.

For some men, stepping out on the dance floor could mean the equivalent of pure social torture. I want my son to have the courage to step away from that wall. To possibly risk embarrassment but overcome it with his desire to truly live in the moment. Hopefully, one day, there might be a girl who will want him to lead. Hand in hand, cheek to cheek, one awkward step at a time. Lord willing, he and his forever dance partner will find their groove together.

Dancing, is of course a metaphor for joyful living and embracing the moment. So much of that is a choice we get to make every single day. 

Mamas, let’s not be wallflowers. Let’s not raise wallflowers. Let’s take make opportunities to dance with our kids and show them how it’s done.  :)

P.S. I hope you dance.

And just for some giggles. Check out Mama Song.

24 August 2015

Is blogging dead?

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It’s true. Many long-time, influential bloggers are calling it quits. Why? It seems it’s become too laborious to regularly pen a provoking thought or conversation. As someone who likes to write, I get that.

Blogs have been a wildly popular medium for about 15 years but with the expansion of social media and platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, some say blogging as we know it, is simply dying.

I recently went 16 days without writing a word here. I’m pretty sure it’s the longest I’ve ever gone in over 9 years. I can tell you it didn’t happen on purpose (computer issues) but during that time, I tried to embrace the silence and view it as sort of a summer break.

As a result of not having a computer, I relied more on my phone. For me, the smart phone is a convenience (and a luxury) but it certainly doesn’t satisfy any sort of creativity or expression that longs to flow from my heart. More than ever, I found myself thinking in shorter, quicker segments and therefore my conversations, attention span, and my patience began to mimic just that. With all of our modern conveniences, I find it way too easy to get swept up in the hurricane of a society that craves speed, instant gratification, and mere morsels, rather than any meat or substance.

We are far too easily pleased, aren’t we? Instead of chewing on a thought or really savoring the beauty of a story, we want the quick, condensed version so we can scroll ahead and move on. Maybe you’re even doing that now? :)

A funny thing happened while I was on my unintentional break. I desired to write even more.

In fact, as the days passed, it became clearer to me that I must write more. I realized it’s an integral part of who I am and how I process things. I usually have many thoughts and opinions on various topics rolling around in my head and sometimes, they don’t become clear until I write them down. For a long time, I feel like I’ve had writer’s block. Sure, I can easily chalk it up to “mommy brain” and the season of life I’m in right now. But other times, maybe I’m just a little afraid to share what’s really on my heart. You know, just in case someone might disagree with me or find out I’m not who they thought I was. 

So, it just becomes easier to refrain from meaningful words and record pictures here instead. At times, it’s all I’ve got. Don’t get me wrong. We love the pictures. We love looking back and remembering all the special moments of our lives.

But what about this blogging business? Is it really dead?

For many, I suppose it is. The world is just moving too fast.

For me, this little piece of mine on the world wide web has never been about business. It’s never been about followers, comments, advertisements, fame, fortune, or having a post go viral.

I’ll continue to write because I have a song to sing and a story to tell. And for a long time, maybe I let the outside world distract me or maybe I let the whisper that said your story is not interesting enough to settle in. But until the Good Lord closes this book of mine, I’ll keep on. Even if my writing is bad. Even if it’s only for myself, my family, and a small handful of friends.

I want to write more bravely and honestly. Sharing the things that stir my heart, create passion, and maybe even scare me a little. Sometimes, my perfectionism gets the best of me. It lures me into captivity and I become chained by my own fears. Before we know it, we’re immobile and our souls become cowards.

But the title of this story is called Brave Soul. And thank God, the story’s not over yet. 

 

SHe who is brave 

Come on.  Let’s be brave together.

Birthdays, brunch, and a little bling!

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Melissa and Jill. These two girlfriends are so precious to me! The fact that their birthdays are in the same week made this celebration EXTRA special!!

 

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We were all in the same CBS core group this past year and Shannon will soon be my new neighbor!

After church, we had such a sweet time sharing brunch together at Wilma & Frieda’s. The food was delectable, the gifts were fun and sparkly, and the company, simply divine.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful sweet friends! I’m so grateful to God for both of you.  

“Friendship is a wonderful thing. The love of friendship is often stronger than the love of brotherhood and sisterhood. There is a cord of tenderness and appreciation binding those who are friends which is lovely beyond words to express it…”

“…A person is made better or worse by his friends. If they are well chosen and faithful they build up and make strong the best that is in one. Every true hearted girl loves her friends with a devotion that beautifies her life and enlarges her heart.”

–Karen Andreola, “Beautiful Girl”

Thank you for making life more beautiful, ladies!

22 August 2015

Princess Tea

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The girls and I enjoyed getting all fancy for the Refuge Pregnancy Center’s Annual Princess Tea.

 

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Jill outdid herself with all the details of our Frozen themed table.

 

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It was so nice to have Grandma join us this year as well!

 

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We love you, Grandma!

 

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They loved seeing all the princesses but their favorite… ELSA!!

 

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And, as a fun little memory of the event, the girls won this mini PINK Christmas tree from the raffle. It’s complete with mini tiaras, wands, bracelets, tulle, and pink lights!  

We were so happy to be able to support another fantastic Princess Tea benefitting the Refuge Pregnancy Center.

The girls have been looking forward to it all year and they had the best time! 

20 August 2015

Mini Blueberry Galettes

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So, last week the girls made these adorable mini blueberry treats.

I’m passionate about them learning their way around the kitchen. You might say it’s the “Home Economics” part of our homeschooling. Believe it or not, I didn’t know how to cook a thing until I got married!

Well, I take that back… I made Morgan a sandwich when we started dating and he said it was the best sandwich he’d ever had. Lucky for me, he’s easy to please. :)

The girls have always loved helping in the kitchen and they’re eager to learn. They especially love baking so whenever I find an easy baking hack, I go with it.

 

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They’re also learning about kitchen gadgets and how to use them safely. Faith is pictured above using the zester for the first time. No fingers were lost and no blood was shed. :)

We saw this recipe on the Pioneer Woman a couple of weeks ago and it seemed so simple, we just had to try it.

The best part about these…

It uses store bought pie crust. Oh, the horror! ;)

This makes a perfect little tea party treat or an afternoon snack.

By the way, we also learned that the word galette is French for a flat round pastry filled with fruit.

Whatever you call it, it was delicious and so very easy to make!

 

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I bet you could make them with raspberries as well and they would be wonderful!

 

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Topped with whipped cream (or vanilla ice cream) and voila!

 

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Thanks for another winner, Pioneer Woman!

 

Mini Blueberry Galettes

Ingredients
  • 1 package store bought pie crust (2 rounds of dough)
  • 2 cups Blueberries (generous)
  • 1/4 cup Sugar, Plus Extra For Sprinkling
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 whole Lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch Of Salt
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • Whipped Cream, For Serving
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Stir together blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, juice of half the lemon, vanilla, and salt in a bowl. Set it aside once it's all combined.

Unroll the two discs of dough. Using a 5-inch round pastry cutter (or you can trace a knife around a 5-inch bowl) cut three rounds of pastry from each disc. Re-roll the scraps and cut 2 more. Place them on 2 baking sheets lined with a baking mat or parchment (4 rounds each pan). Evenly distribute the blueberry mixture between the six discs (approximately 1/4 cup per round).

Gently fold the over the edges of each crust, folding the dough in on itself to create a small rim of crust.

Make an egg wash by beating together the egg and water. Brush edges of each pie with the egg wash and sprinkle the crust with sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes until golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow pies to sit on the pan (they will leak a little juice while baking, but this is fine!) for 5 minutes. Remove to a platter and allow to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream. Divine!

Beach Getaway

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Well, hello there! I’m finally back. :) I took a little break, mostly because we’ve had computer issues. After 9 years, my laptop was finally ready for retirement. Hopefully, this new one lasts just as long.

Anyway, I’ve got lots to blog about!

Starting with our beach getaway last weekend!

Warning: There might be an OVERLOAD of pictures of our littlest one. (Sorry, but he’s just TOO DANG CUTE!!)

P.S. I’m not really sorry. :)

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Feeling the power of the ocean under his feet.

 

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Sisters Forever.

 

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My sweet view.

 

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“I think I’ll eat this rock.”

 

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“Mmm, salty and hard but I like it. “

 

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Sand beard.

 

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He didn’t mind eating sand AT ALL.

 

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In fact, he licked it all up! BOYS!!! :)

 

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Swinging at the park with daddy.

 

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Oh, the JOY!!

 

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Happy little boy.

 

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Swings with sissy.

 

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My new FAVORITE picture! What blessings!

 

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Naptime in the shade.

 

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Look at Zach’s face! Hilarious! No sweets for you, baby.

 

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My sweet baby.

 

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Amen.

 

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It was great to be able to stay in Del Mar for the night so we could really soak up our time at the beach. The hotel didn’t have a bathtub for the babe but we made due with the big kitchen sink! 

 

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Dinner across from the beach at Roberto’s.

 

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Silly sisters.

 

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Me and my boy.

 

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Strolling along Seaport Village and enjoying the cooler temps along the coast.

 

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Faith finds a colorful new friend.

 

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Zach’s first time on a carousel.

 

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He loved it!

 

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Weee!!!!!! Carousel by the Sea.

 

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Grace enjoys her clam chowder bread bowl.

 

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We were so blessed to be able to spend a couple of days at the beach. The temps reached 118 here in the desert so it was a MUCH welcomed and refreshing change. It was fantastic just to be able to walk around and enjoy the coast, any time of day. Not a luxury we get here in the middle of August!

Truth is, this was probably our last trip to the beach this summer. The Lord must have known we needed a little getaway because life is about to get a little more crazy around here!

Last week, we put in an unexpected offer on a new house and… WE GOT IT!!

That means we’re MOVING next month! Our move-in date happens to be Zach’s exact homecoming anniversary!  We’re thrilled to be owning again after almost 5 years of renting. The Lord has had us on quite a journey the last 5 years.  

By now, you’d think we’d have this moving thing down, right? Still, September is always a very busy month for us so we’re feeling a wee bit overwhelmed, too.

Just another opportunity to trust the Lord and cling to Him through all the challenges and changes of life. 

Ready or not… HERE WE GO!!!

04 August 2015

Thoughts on staying fit in your 40’s (and beyond) and living life on purpose.

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It’s no secret Morgan and I started building our family a little later in life but that’s the way God planned it so I’ve never questioned it. And knowing that our Good Lord (as well as Zach’s birth mom) chose us to parent a newborn in our 40’s (and 50’s) gives us a great responsibility and privilege. As with anything, we know by saying yes to God, He’s the One who supplies us with the strength we need for the journey.

I’ve never been one to let something like age determine much in life. We’ve all known 30 year olds who believe and act like they’re old and 80 year olds who believe and act like they’re young. Age is relative. Especially when you know your days are numbered and Who holds them. It then, becomes a matter of how  we choose to live each day.

Despite the time I’ve got left here on earth, I want to live each day well, with purpose.

That leads me to staying fit as I grow older and being the best version of me I can be. For the last 10 years, I’ve been consistently exercising 3x’s a week. As I’ve mentioned before, I usually run. I don’t particularly like running (AT ALL!) but I get the most bang for my buck. I love doing yoga. Especially now, in my 40’s. If I had more time, I’d incorporate it more often. I always feel stronger and more able afterwards.

Although my typical routine is short (it has to be), it usually does the trick. My motto: As long as I’m dripping with sweat afterwards, I’ve accomplished my goal. Of course, I have all the normal insecurities of any woman but I try not to dwell too much on my size, weight, or looks. Especially in front of my kids. Instead, we try to encourage and educate our kids about staying healthy and making good choices.

Sometimes, I go through through phases where I like to challenge myself a bit more so I sign up for a 5K or agree to do 90 days of P90X with my husband. Remember that summer? I sure do!

Other than that, when weather permits, I love to get outdoors and do something fun with my family. Like go for a hike!

I also go through phases at night when I’m a total couch potato. Meaning I veg out on the couch, indulge in another glass of wine, and watch way too many episodes of Bizarre Foods or Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Just keepin’ it real, ladies!

In fact, I’m coming off of one of those phases right now. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with vegging out on the couch, having a night cap, or watching TV but when it becomes a daily habit, that’s just not my idea of a productive evening. I remember going through a similar phase when the girls were little. It must have something to do with the fact that mama was just plain tired from taking care of littles all day. By the time they were in bed, all I wanted to do was chill out and do absolutely nothing!

Anyhow, as I said, I’m intentionally coming off that phase right now and I’ve been craving a new challenge! I usually run before 6:30 am but I never seem to get through a whole yoga session in the mornings without interruption. Maybe switching it up to nights would work better? Hey, at least it’s a start to getting me off the couch! :)

So, what’s my inspiration? First and foremost, it’s my kids.

The girls have always seen me make exercise a priority but now that I’m pushing 45 and I have a very active one year old, I feel like I have to step it up a notch. Zach is ALL BOY. He’s one strong little guy and he’s on the move! The bottom line-- I want to experience ALL of life with him. Lord willing, together, we still have mountains to climb, waves to ride, zip lines to traverse, underwater caves to explore, and many more exciting and fun adventures ahead of us. I don’t want any of my limitations to come between living life to the fullest and being actively involved in all those moments with any of my kids.

In other words, I don’t want to be a sideline mom. I want to be a fearless mom who paves the way by example and encouragement.

I’m also inspired by my mom and other women like her who just never give up. They don’t let age determine their ability. At 72, the first thing she does every morning is walk. She’s also been playing competitive ping pong DAILY for years. My mom is a TWO time cancer survivor so her body has been through some pretty harsh treatments and surgeries but each time she made it through, she changed her habits for the better. I love it that she feels better when she’s active, too. She’s a great example of trying your best, at any age. She doesn’t compare herself to anyone else.  She simply does what she can. 

Life is a balancing act, isn’t it? I’m most happy when I’m centered. For me, being centered means making time to take care of myself in all aspects of life: spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It’s a conscience choice we get to make, daily.

The goal is definitely not a size, or a number on the scale, or even the way I look. Gravity and age take no prisoners. The natural progression of aging on a body is merciless. However, as women, we can attempt to age with grace and embrace the years as a gift rather than a curse.

For me, I find myself adjusting my sails as I get older. I have to plot a new course, in order to keep moving forward. In many ways, if I’m not taking a step forward, I feel like it’s so easy to step backwards (not that stepping backwards is bad, sometimes it’s necessary). There’s definitely a delicate balance to growing intentionally as well as giving yourself some grace.

My goal: to fully ENJOY this life He’s given and entrusted to me. To be brave enough to LIVE it on purpose, for Him. To go the distance… to finish well and finish strong.

What’s your motivation to move forward and stay fit? Who or what inspires YOU?? I’d love to know!

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