Saturday, July 27, 2019

Goodbye, Twenties: A 30th Birthday Reflection

And then, just like that, my twenties were over. I am a naturally reflective person by nature, nostalgic to a fault. My heart warms at fond memories and my husband is always amazed by the minute details I can suddenly conjure from the past, so specific that I'm nearly back in those very moments. Last year I wrote a birthday reflection on year 28, looking specifically at the year and all the iced coffee, chiropractor visits, and running goals that it brought. But now I feel the almost weightier task of reflecting upon an entire decade. The twenties: a time of so much unknown, so many major life decisions, such huge life events. A time of figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and who you want to share all of your days with. At 19, thirty seemed so far away- so old, so mature. And then I blinked, and here I am, starting my age with a new digit, new dreams, and a new outlook on life.

I entered my twenties as a single sorority girl, YoungLife leader, and English Education student at Mizzou. I had my eyes set on graduating college, finding my first "big girl job", and hopefully finding a nice young boy who loved Jesus and would chase Him right alongside me. I was right in the middle of an incredible community of folks my same age- something I definitely took for granted, but didn't realize until I was an adult out in the work world struggling to find the same type of deep and equally reciprocated friendships. I often wrestled with the lack of dating interest from guys in my college circles, but I see now that the time alone as just me was a gift: a pause to figure out my faith, who I was, and where I wanted to go without depending on someone else.

Now, I leave my twenties as a nearly nine year teaching veteran, a wife of six years, a home owner of six years, and a mom of one sweet baby boy with another kiddo on the way. Along the way, I fell in love, got engaged, got married, traveled the world, learned a lot, changed a lot, bought a house, bought a car, grew a baby, birthed a baby, jumped into the working mom world, coached some kiddos, started a blog, worked some side hustles, and jumped into a really big dream I alluded to in my recent post The Edge Pieces. There have been many ups and downs along the way, but I truly believe that I'm right where I'm supposed to be, and that I wouldn't be here without the hills and valleys I climbed to get here. And I can't wait for what's next.

If I could say one thing to a 20 year old, it would be this: there is so much good ahead. You will find way more joy than you ever thought possible in the sweet snuggles of a snoring baby on your chest, a simple evening home laughing around pepperoni pizza, and the soft murmurs of intentional conversation with those who really "get you". When gray hairs start to appear and laugh lines suddenly show up, you'll be less worried about your appearance and more grateful for the joyful moments that you've seen each and every day you've aged. You'll care less about the "popular" crowd and scene and more about just carving out and protecting precious time blowing bubbles with your not-so-little boy or sharing prayer requests with your best girls over brownie sundaes. You will look back on your twenties and you honestly will. not. miss. them. Because (for the most part, Lord-willing) you're still young, still healthy, still have amazing parents who are healthy and even better grandparents, and there is much too much life ahead for you to look back with sadness, longing for what came before.

I'm realizing more and more that aging is a gift, and that many would love to be able to see their loved ones hit 30. It is a number, not a definition or quality of life. It does not mean that I have to become old and decrepit, and it certainly doesn't mean I have to fully "grow up", because I'm not sure I can ever sign up for that. Instead, it means that a new era lies ahead: one where I get to watch my babies grow up, both marvel and hurt as they gradually need me less, chase after my dreams fully and more capably, grow older and more deeply in love with my husband, and not worry one bit about what others think or what the world says I should or shouldn't do.

So cheers to you, 30. I think you're going to be the best decade yet, and I'm excited for all that lies ahead! I'm so thankful for the amazing friends and family who have loved me for all or part of my first thirty years, and I'm ready for the next thirty to really knock my socks off. Goodbye, twenties. Hello, thirties! Let's do this thing.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Baby K is on the Way (Again): Coming January 2020

Oh baby, it's time for another one!! #BabyKisontheway: again! Ever since the start of 2019, I've been excited and ready for another baby, and it looks like God had that in the plans for us as well. We are so blessed. It's been super hard to avoid sharing for a while, but I feel like shouting it from the rooftops today! We're having another baby, y'all!! If you're interested in the details on my due date, how I've been feeling, and how we told our family, as well as some adorable videos of Eli discussing his new sibling, then this post is for you!

How We Found Out

We got pregnant with Eli the very first month, so we really weren't sure what to expect this time around. I was comfortable with trying for another baby once Eli turned two, so basically during the month of February. I didn't get pregnant for the first three months, but then May rolled around and I was only a few days from expecting my period. I felt different than I had the previous months, even though I got sick from the KC water issues back in March and was kind of convinced I was pregnant then, even though I wasn't. Anyways, I woke up early to use the bathroom on Thursday, May 9th and decided to take a test. I almost threw it away shortly after, thinking it was negative, but something made me keep it (though I was half asleep). I got back up out of bed and looked again and thought I saw a really faint line. I just wasn't sure.

Both Aaron and I inspected it that morning, and I sent a photo to a close friend who told me she thought it was positive. I took another test the next morning, May 10th and had the same result: super faint, yet a line. At this point, I was so done not knowing. I didn't want to get too excited about a false positive or test defect, but I needed to know definitively either way. So I dropped Eli off a few minutes early at his daycare, and then stopped by Sunfresh to buy a "pregnant" or "not pregnant" test at 7:15 am. They were locked in a case and there was no one working the pharmacy, so I was out of luck- who knew!? Luckily, there is a CVS right next to the High School I teach at, so I went inside and bought the more pricey ClearBlue test so I would have some clarity. I literally took it in the faculty bathroom at my school, and there it was: I was pregnant! I had to put on a pretty good poker face right away for my kids and co-workers, especially since I didn't have my pregnancy "confirmation visit" until May 29th, which was almost the last day of school.

When I'm Due

My official due date is January 19th, 2020 (although I was measuring almost a week ahead at my 12 week appointment). This means that Eli will be not quite three years old when Baby K makes his or her arrival. I had wanted to wait a bit longer to have another kiddo, and we are really excited about this age gap. We're hopeful that Eli will be completely out of diapers by then, and we will also just slide him over to the other bedroom and keep our gender neutral nursery without buying another crib. I don't have near as many days saved up as I had when I went on leave with Eli, so we're still figuring out just how long we'll take off when the Baby comes, but most likely I will only have to go back to work for about a month before summer comes, so that will be a nice way to ease back into it. To be honest, I'm a little nervous about going back and being a working mom with two kiddos, but I know that God always equips those that He calls to things (plus I've got some amazing help with grandmas, family, friends, and Eli's sitter).

How We Told Our Family (and Some Friends)

Since we found out just two days before Mother's Day, we considered telling our families then (when they were all at a lunch at our house), but we decided to wait and tell them on another day. I was seeing my mom and Aaron's mom every week when they came to watch Eli, so I knew I wanted to tell our families soon, because I felt like I was hiding something. We also never tell anyone else until our families know, so this meant we were keeping it a secret from basically everyone. I've always had the approach that it was okay to tell family and super close friends earlier, because I was going to need their support anyways if something did go wrong. It sure was sweet secretly knowing I was a mama of TWO on Mother's Day!

If you're a video person, just click here and you can see several announcements in action (along with my very favorite videos of Eli talking about being a big brother). I'll give you a hint- he is convinced he's getting a certain type of sibling! He just kills me.

For those of you word folks:
We decided to tell my parents the following Friday night at dinner. I needed to get a stroller from them anyways, so I talked to my mom about meeting up to grab that, then just casually asked if they had dinner plans. I had bought a couple of "One Question a Day for Grandparents" journals back around Christmas time, and they had just been sitting in the basement until we needed them. I planned to write "Becoming a Big Brother: January 2020" on a sticky notes and tuck it onto the January 19th page for my mom to find- with the journal being a thank you gift for watching him this year. I bombed on filming their reaction, but we did get a video of my parents talking a little bit about it (see video above).

We thought about telling Aaron's family that same weekend, but it was his sister's college graduation so we didn't want to take that from her. Instead, we waited until the next weekend, Memorial Day weekend, to tell them while we were all on our trip to Branson together. We used the same strategy with Aaron's mom that we did with mine over a pizza lunch. We also told my brothers and my sister-in-law at a dinner at my parents' house. My sister in law is a labor and delivery nurse who had recently graduated and gotten a job. We wrote in the card that she was going to be an awesome nurse, it's just too bad she wouldn't be at North Kansas City in January 2020!

We also had a lot of fun telling friends and family here and there with memes and the help of a server, over meals and date nights, and on our extended family trip to Colorado when Eli wore his "Big Brother" shirt for the first time. I didn't get photos and videos of all of those moments, but they sure were sweet. A second baby isn't as much of a "shock" as the first, but we still felt like it was worth celebrating and trying to tell people in some fun ways!

How I'm Feeling

I'm at 13 weeks pregnant, and all in all, I've been feeling pretty great! Compared to when I was pregnant with Eli, the morning sickness hasn't been as bad! With him, I was throwing up multiple times a day when we were in Greece, but this time around I've probably gotten sick less than ten times total. I have felt fairly constantly nauseous, and been pretty dang tired. Thankfully, I didn't feel sick until the last couple of days of school. One day while we were potty training Eli, he went over and fake puked over his little potty because he had seen me do it. He also told me that "Daddy's working. Mommy's puking." You're not wrong, buddy! But thankfully, just like when I was pregnant with E, this has all been during the summer, so I've been able to take naps while Eli is napping and rest as much as I needed. I'm so grateful I wasn't having to do that while being at school all day and wrangling Eli in the evenings. Also, let's just say that they aren't kidding when they say that bumps show up way quicker the second time around than they do the first time! Some of it is bloating, but still. I'm already seeing differences in my body that I feel like took much longer the first time I ever grew a baby. And apparently, I love taking my unborn children on trips overseas, as Baby K just got home from a 9 day trip to Scotland and England. Bumpdates to come!

Where I'm Planning to Deliver

Baby K will be born at North Kansas City Hospital just like Eli was. I have an amazing doctor that I love in the women's center there who delivered Eli, which was an overall fantastic experience! (Read all about his birth story here!) I know the drill there and feel very confident in the labor and delivery and mom and baby teams there. Of course we have no idea what this labor and delivery will look like, especially since Eli was ten days early, but I've got a bit more experience this time around, so no childbirth classes or as much reading for me!

Are We Going to Find Out the Gender? Do We Want a Boy or Girl?

In case you didn't know, we didn't find out if Eli was a boy or girl, so it was a total surprise the day he was born. (Here are our reasons why if you're curious, or are considering waiting for a surprise too!) People have asked us if we're going to find out this time, and I don't think we are! We already have gender neutral stuff for those first few weeks. We LOVED having Aaron tell me it was a boy in the delivery room, and of course we really just wanted a healthy baby. We would love to have a girl, and Eli is convinced he's getting a baby sister, but we also think that having brothers would be super fun (and not disappointing)!! We have always talked about having three kids, so it's not necessarily out of the question to have another shot at a girl if we have a boy this time. We'll see what happens!

Aaron and I are so, so grateful for the chance to love on another precious life, and we feel so blessed and overjoyed that Eli will be a big brother. Growing our family has always been a dream of ours, and we just pray this baby will continue to grow healthy and strong and will love Jesus with all that they have! We already love this precious gift so much. Thanks for being a part of this adventure with us!


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The View from the Valley

Life is a series of pits and peaks, ups and downs, highs and lows. It's easy to go from the highest high to the lowest low in a matter of minutes, often forgetting the joy and goodness of the previous season- trading it in for the heartache and hurt of the present instead.

It is so hard not to be jealous of the peaks from the view in the pits. We view others at their best and compare them to us at our worst, and it's easy to let this make us jealous and negative. The woman celebrating her degree - you'll never know the hours she sacrificed, the sleep she lost, or the test she had to re-take three times to pass. Your friend who glows in her recent pregnancy announcement? You don't see the pain she felt every month for a whole year when that second little line didn't show up. That couple sharing the lovey dovey anniversary post that makes you feel even more single? You just don't see the years they waited to find one another, the failed relationships, the counseling, the things they've had to work through.

It's easy to forget the peaks behind us, and feel alone in the midst of our pits, because our society doesn't often share both sides with the world. We don't hop on to post an Instagram photo of us losing our cool with our kiddo or sitting in a long period of waiting, just hoping and praying that a new hill will rise up ahead of us, offering us relief. So it feels like we're the only one walking that path, when in reality there are so many trudging along that same road.

But in those moments, let's remember: celebrating someone else's "peak" with them does not make us any less likely to someday celebrate our own. Nor does it negate the hurt we may feel in our season in the "pit", looking up at the happy moments for others. We can feel both emotions, both pain and joy, at the same time and they can both be valid and real. They are.

So let's choose to build each other up. Let's choose to celebrate and also empathize: to feel joy and pain alongside those we live life with. Let's trust that, even when it seems like we'll be stuck in a valley forever, there is a hill up just ahead- good things waiting for us, better than we could have planned, if only we can hold on, trust just a little bit longer. And then, when we finally reach that peak, there will be people there along with us, celebrating, cheering, crying tears of joy knowing the ups and downs that have been there along the way. Then the valleys will fade as part of a beautiful struggle that led to this incredible end.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tuscan Villa Styled Shoot

It began over a poolside chat, lathered in sunscreen and soaking up some rays on a peaceful July afternoon. Some of the sweetest conversations seem to happen on summer pool days, the breeze whipping through chlorinated hair and the scent of Coppertone confirming that it is indeed my favorite time of year. This day was no different. My friend Lacey of Lacey Rene Studios is not only one of my dearest friends, but she's also an incredibly talented photographer. And one thing that makes her so talented is her flair for design, for dreaming up perfect angles and beautiful styles that seem to make sweet photos effortlessly appear.

On this particular day, she was telling me of her vision for her next styled shoot. If you aren't sure just what a styled shoot is, I'll get to that, but let me tell you- she is the queen of them! Styled shoots are basically an amazing chance for incredible vendor teams to come together to create beautiful visions for future brides and grooms: usually themed and handcrafted with each vendor putting in their best work. (See below, I mean WOW!) One role in the styled shoot is that of "model", and when Lacey asked me and Aaron to be the bride and groom for her Tuscan Villa Styled Shoot, you better believe I was immediately in! (Plus, I'm 1/4 Italian, so this particular shoot was kinda in my blood, right?!) The shoot was especially meaningful to me, as it rained the day of our wedding, and we were unable to take any outdoor photos together. Now we would have them! 

The details came together, and after initially planning on September, the rainy weather pushed the shoot to October. I actually got to go to Savvy Bridal and try on several gorgeous dresses with Lacey, which was so fun! I loved the one we landed on! On the morning of the shoot, I showed up to school in a button up shirt and with no makeup on. My high school students probably thought I was sick, but oh well! I took a half day, so I left early to get pampered by the best of the best: Hairs by Henley and Dani Jo Bell Makeup Artistry. Then I came home to grab Aaron, and we literally got into his truck in a suit and wedding dress to drive to the shoot. Our neighbors probably saw us and wondered what the heck we were doing!

It was actually really cold out the afternoon of the shoot, but I didn't mind. My hubby and I were getting the best little date, hanging out, taking sweet photos together, and getting to step out of the crazy that was all around us. Aaron even got put to work hanging up curtains and rolling wine barrels around. No joke though, Lacey can make anyone look good! I feel like I'm awkward and don't photograph well at all, but she always makes me feel beautiful!

Lacey captured amazing photos of all the details, and I was blown away by how gifted the vendor team was! If you're looking for folks for your wedding or any other special event, I can highly recommend each and every one of them!

DRESS: Savvy Bridal
RENTALS: Ultra Pom
INVITAION SUITE: East and West Designs
TABLE STYLING: Judy Morefield
PHOTO + CONCEPT DESIGN: Lacey Rene Studios

The team did such an amazing job that Lacey was able to get the shoot published on Confetti Daydreams! The post went live on May 31st, so we waited to release the gallery until then. See their post here: Olive + Herb Themed, Organic Wedding Inspired by Tuscany.

After I changed out of the dress, Aaron and I headed up to enjoy a little dinner at Tin Kitchen, because I obviously had to put my hair and makeup to good use by making it a date night! I'm definitely printing and hanging up these photos soon, with no shame. I love that we have our original wedding photos, but these "5 and half years married" photos will always be special to me too! We're just aging like fine wine, right!? Marriage truly just keeps getting better, and I'm excited for the years ahead!


Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Edge Pieces

We've been hinting at it for a while now, but we've been on a pretty crazy journey for the last year and a half. Dreams are being dreamed, leaps are being taken, and we're stepping out in faith as we march on towards something new, something huge, something we're passionate about. I'm excited to share more about it soon- hopefully this summer, but for now, here's a glimpse into what this journey has been like. And this is only the beginning.

Growing up, I spent many of my Sunday afternoons working on puzzles. We journeyed up I-29 to my grandparents' house in St. Joseph, and while the Chicago Bears most likely were losing on TV, we helped odd shaped pieces find their home: a small portion of a much bigger picture. We spent hours doing this, mindlessly turning pieces side to side, often trying to shove them into a space that was a touch too small or shaped just a bit differently than the prized missing piece should be. And of course we always began with the end in mind, framing out the edge pieces and watching the outer borders of the picture taking shape, checking the box for guidance as we dreamed of having all thousand pieces set in their proper place.

There was nothing worse than getting near the end and hunting for missing pieces: those that would inevitably find their way down under the table, nestled in the teal carpet and impossible to find as we blindly ran our hands back and forth. The frustration grew as we checked the dog's mouth, the hands of my baby brother, and the pockets of our hoodies and jeans. And yet, we would persist, not willing to give up all of our hard work, not willing to call it quits with only a few pieces remaining. And then, with a shout and even more joy than if we'd never have lost it in the first place: someone would find it. With a final pop into place, the puzzle would be complete.

But now, like so many others in different seasons of life, we're on a new journey, completing our own "puzzle" of sorts, this time without the box as a guide. We think we have an idea of how it all could turn out, a glimpse of the big picture. And yet we have so so many pieces that are still missing- yet to be found. So we're starting with our edge pieces, forming our borders, finding one little piece at a time and celebrating each step as though it's a mile. Every time that we tell another person our story and they want to be a part: another piece found. Every time we step out in faith, putting our money where our dreams are, spending every second of our spare time working to make this dream a reality: an edge piece found. Every time we speak our dreams and pray over them: one more piece. And another. And then we wait.

We keep sorting through the pieces, keep waiting, keep turning and trusting that the right piece will fall into the right place at the right time. That the people who need to be a part of this story with us are just waiting, there on the floor, for a sweep of our hands to finally find them. And then, one day, the puzzle will be complete.

But for now, we're dreaming and trusting, hoping and working, putting one edge piece at a time into place. And we can't wait to see all the other pieces that will show up in the days, months, and years to come. Because we know, in the end, this puzzle will be more beautiful than we could have ever imagined!

Be on the look out this summer for the first few parts of our story to unfold on the blog! We're so excited to share more with you soon, and we hope many of you will want to be a piece of this puzzle with us too! 


Thursday, May 9, 2019

No Matter What

Putting Eli to bed is one of my sweetest joys. Every night, we cuddle up in his cozy gray chair, his soft blond hair resting against my chest as I hold him close, knowing that each day he's growing a little older and we're a little closer to the day he'll no longer fit into my lap. His finger inquisitively points out his favorite parts of the Paw Patrol and Mickey books for the millionth time, and I succumb to his pleas to read one more, and then another. I finally tear myself away, standing as my not so little baby wraps his arms around me, then reaching down to place him gently onto the fitted gray sheet where he's slept since his first week. I zip up his SleepSack as he pulls the neck of it up over his mouth, and the same blessing I say each night echos through the room. As the soft lamplight illuminates his grin and I marvel at how big he's getting, I hope and pray that my words would take root in his heart and mind, and that he would always know that he is so unconditionally loved: no matter what.

"You are prized and precious, liked and loved, chosen and cherished, blessed to be a blessing. You're a child of God, and a treasure in our family. Sleep in peace, new mercies in the morning. I love you so much, no matter what, and I always will." 

It's amazing how you can love someone so much that it doesn't phase you when you're cleaning blueberry vomit out of their hair at midnight, or holding them for an hour at 2 am, slowly rocking back and forth and and delighting in their milk drunk, sleepy smiles, forgetting how exhausted you are. And you expect absolutely nothing in return. Even when they grow up and throw a fit on the ground in the Target aisle, scream "NO" at you and crinkle their stubborn little face when you ask them to come put their shoes on, or chuck their steamed carrots haphazardly over the dining room carpet, there's nothing they could do to make you love them any more or any less than you do. Their behavior does not impact your love: it's a choice, and it's unconditional.

There's something about recognizing the basic and unmet needs of a child that makes you pause and give them more grace. For a good portion of their early life, they're helpless, depending on you fully for everything from diaper changes to their next meal. No loving parent would ever intentionally neglect their children in these areas, nor would they ever expect their child to contribute or "earn" their love in return. They don't always understand why we aren't giving them another cookie or letting them touch the hot stove, but we know it's really for their own good. Someday, when they're chasing their own kid around, they'll get it. And yet, even as a parent myself, the concept of true unconditional love is both obvious and foreign at times.

As someone who often mistakenly determines my own "worth" or "lovability" based upon my personal successes, sometimes it is easy to feel that I am failing in many ways and am therefore unlovable. That loving me unconditionally would be stupid of others, and that I have in fact earned less and need to strive to earn more. That my actions determine whether or not I can expect someone to accept me as I am. And because of this, I often blame myself for the hard times in life when they come, for the seasons of wait, the botched timelines, for the rejections or disappointments, rather than trusting in the greater plan. I sometimes take the absence of the things I may desire as a sign that I have messed up. A sign that I haven't done enough to "earn" the good things, and that I am somehow being "punished". It can be hard to grasp the Lord's unconditional, unearned love when we are stuck loving others around us conditionally- only if they earn it. If this person does this specific thing, then I'll love them. Or, if it's easy and comfortable, then I'll love them. Or even, if they're nice to me and their presence in my life doesn't make me feel threatened or less than, then I'll love them.

But that's not how God works. He does not love (or bless) us based upon our good works, our kindness, or what we've "earned". If that were the case, the only thing we would've earned at all was his judgment and eternal death for our sin. But instead, He died for us, taking on our sin, showing us immense grace, and loving us in the depths of our imperfections. Just like the loving father that He is, his intentions are to help us and not to harm us, even when it seems like he's withholding things from us. Even when we, as dependent, imperfect, and impatient children don't understand it, his timing is perfect, his plans are good, and He loves us regardless of our constant failures. I am thankful that we have a big God who chooses to constantly and unconditionally love us, no matter what.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

With This Ring

Almost six years ago, Aaron and I vowed ourselves to one another, slipping shiny new rings on each other's fingers while pledging our love in front of friends and family. But vows aren't just something you say one day and then move on from. They're constant: whispered through our actions, cemented in our sacrifices, and renewed as we learn from our mistakes. They're words and truths that keep us grounded and remind us of how we truly feel about each other: even on the days when it all doesn't feel like roses and fireworks. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, when I catch a glimpse of the gorgeous promise glistening on my left ring finger, I'm reminded just what a circular piece of metal can mean: just how much I can, and did, and will continue to commit myself to- with this ring.

If I wrote them today, here's what they'd look like:

With this ring, I promise to love you even on days I don't feel like it. I promise to choose you again and again, each and every day for all of my days. I promise to do my best to ease your burdens in areas I can since you handle so many other things that I can't.

I promise to laugh with you, dream with you, and throw all I have into making this about much more than just us. I promise to listen, and to do my best to understand, even when we both think we're right. I promise to learn and change together, rather than apart, and to always keep fighting for us.

I promise to always hold your hand, to keep you and our marriage a priority even when we have kids, and to never stop dating. I promise to be open and honest with you, even when I'm not quite sure how I really feel (which will happen a lot...sorry). I promise to wipe off your shirt after I'm done crying on it, and to make last minute plans on occasion because spontaneity and adventure keep us fresh- even though I like to plan.

With this ring, I promise to be your best friend, to always assume the best, even when it's easy not to- to stay in my lane and to value your wisdom. We both know things aren't always perfect, but I promise to forgive and forget, to say I'm sorry freely and without reserving my grudges. I promise to kiss you before bed and when I wake up, to do my best to back the car out of the garage without hitting anything, and to remind you to check the important emails out of the thousands within your inbox.

I promise to laugh at your silly jokes, to stay up way too late watching Parks and Rec while you sleep on the couch, and to make you fresh iced tea because I know it's your favorite. I promise to bear your burdens to the best of my ability, to walk by faith and not by sight, and to sit back and marvel at the wondrous story God is writing in our lives. I promise to be your helper and to stand by your side, even when times get hard and we're forced to navigate through uncharted waters.

With this ring, I promise that my heart is and will always be reserved solely for you. I couldn't live this life with anyone else, and I'd never want to.  I promise to love you, no matter the numbers in our bank account, the hairs on your head, or the days we have left together. You're it, forever. Thank you for loving me and pursuing me in a way I never knew someone could, regardless of my many faults. I love you. Thank you for choosing me to be your bride, today and every day. Because this ring, and these vows- they aren't just for one day. They're forever.

Engagement | January 2013

Date Night | April 2019

Thursday, April 11, 2019

One Fork at a Time

I stand there, bare feet touching the hardwood floor, exhausted from the day, yet finding my patience as he reaches in again and again. His fingers, still slightly sticky from the cookie he polished off at dinner, grasp the handles, one fork at a time, slowly handing me the clean dishes. I thank him each and every time, praising his hard work. His longing to be involved makes my heart melt. He looks from me to the silverware basket and back, a gleam in his blue eyes at the joy he feels from helping me accomplish this mindless task. To him, it's not a chore, it's a delight, and it's something he gets to be a part of with his mama.

There are moments of frustration for us both: the top rack, littered with Shakespeare's plastic cups and now clean ice cream bowls, is two inches too high for him to reach in and help unload. He's ready to shut the door long before we're done unloading, or when I still need to fill it up with a new round of dirty dishes covered in spaghetti sauce and leftover olive oil. To be honest, it would be way easier for me to just do it myself. There are less "two year old" battles to potentially fight, and I would undoubtedly be much more time efficient. Our sectional couch is calling my name and I'm worn and tired. But I see him learning, and growing, and reveling in the way I am including him. And that makes it more than worth my time, much more than any "relaxing" option may be, no matter how tempting This is Us and a mug of hot tea sounds.

 So I linger, and I'm patient, and I let him tell me about the bowl that holds his "goldfishies". I let him point out his bright blue cup, or work hard to get his tiny fork unjammed from the corner where it's caught. After some struggle, I help him break it lose, and thank him as he drops it from his palm into mine. I answer his sweet "What's that?" question about sixteen times, using the opportunity to strengthen his vocab and work on sentence structure, as only an English teacher can. And I marvel at the ways he's learning and at the way my heart could burst with pride and joy and overwhelming love for his sweet 28 pound self in this exact moment.

Sometimes I think this is the way that the Lord sees us, his children. How what we have to contribute is not necessary in order for him to accomplish his plans. How we are quite honestly probably a hindrance more than a help to him most of the time. And yet, He still includes us. He lets us a be a part, lets us have a role in the broad plans He has, in the beautiful story that He is writing and weaving together. A loving father, much bigger and greater and more patient than my selfish and broken "earthly mama self", a father who is not surprised by our frustrations along the way, our temper tantrum moments, or our inability to express our emotions at times.

And yet, he keeps showing up, opening the door, letting us a be a part of his tasks at hand. We are not the reason He accomplishes his works, it's quite the opposite: He accomplishes them in spite of us. And yet, I am so grateful that he lovingly takes the approach he does. It is such a gift to be a tiny part of his big, master plan. I am thankful for a loving, patient father who lets me get my hands in on things that point toward his glory: one grubby little hand, one tiny fork at a time.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

5 Easy Ways to Jazz Up Your Living Room

When I gave our front room a farmhouse refresh, I had a dark couch to work with, along with dark oak trim. I wasn't feeling up to repainting the entire room, buying a new couch, or painting the trim. But I'm getting to the point where I think I'll be ready to purchase a new, more modern sofa some day, or at least dream about it: I mean, have you seen how beautiful a Barcelona style sofa is?? Its presence alone is like art, but like any piece of furniture, you need to enhance the mood of the overall ambiance with some well-chosen d├ęcor objects (and the same is true for any sofa you may currently own). Here are five easy ways to help jazz up your sofa, and really your entire living room!

1. A Beautiful Floor Lamp

A modern floor lamp can make your sofa feel all the more stylish. Tall and oversized lamps are preferable to the smaller ones, as they have a large presence and tend to look pretty amazing as a whole. Just take a look at this image: the minimal layout feels positively striking in itself, but it’s actually the presence of the floor lamp that enhances the visual value of the whole setting. Their metal accents match the monochrome theme of the sofas really well and adds interest to the living room aesthetic. Yes please!


2. A Textured Area Rug

Any couch needs a proper area rug accompaniment to seem holistic, and the Barcelona style sofa is no different. However, you have to be extremely careful about the kind of rug that you pair it with. Tactile texture is important because the sofa itself is extremely sleek and elegant, so the texture of the rug will set off the clean design of the sofa even more. Shag rugs and Beni Ourain style Moroccan rugs are an excellent option. You can also experiment with different colors to make the ambiance feel more interesting. 


3. Plants and Greens

You can also use indoor plants to ramp up the presence of your sofa. Nature is an excellent contrast to the sleek output of this particular sofa style. The leafy green of the planters would beautiful the black and chrome visuals of the sofa even more. Just a single planter by the side of the sofa would add a refreshing aura to the whole set up. Alternately, you can also hang some planters from the ceiling or set something up on the side or coffee tables. I love adding pops of green life into our rooms!


4. A Gorgeous Coffee Table

The modern design of the Barcelona style sofa needs to be accompanied with a beautiful coffee table for proper presentation. Now, this pairing totally depends on the type of interior design theme that you’re going for. The transparent one in this image presents a contemporary output. You can also use a classical style, a traditional brass, or something else entirely depending on the kind of look that you’re going for.


5. Shelves and Art 

Finally, you can enhance the look of your sofa by complementing it with beautiful artwork and shelves. Floating shelves are pretty stylish and seem really interesting – especially when you’ve got a furniture piece as simple as this sofa. You can also use statement art in the backdrop to enhance the overall outlook of this sofa.

There are numerous other accessories that you can use to beautify your sofa and living area, especially a drop-dead gorgeous Barcelona style sofa, but these five ideas will definitely help you get started with the process. Happy decorating!